I recently found out that "mustang" is a Hispanicism word of Spanish origin: it is adapted from "mostrengo" or "mestreño", which roughly mean "without rooting"; Merriam-Webster compiles "mesteño" (where 'ñ' sounds as the 'gn' in 'lasagna') as "runaway cattle".

Since large portions of the southern USA used to be first under Spanish, then under Mexican, rule, I wonder if there are other "proper" English words that are hispanicisms. I certainly do not mean words like "sombrero", "taco" or "tamal(e)", which are just calques of words in currently spoken Spanish; neither do I mean words like "concentration", whose etymology in both English and Spanish is Latin. I mean words in English whose etymology is original from Spanish. Specifically, I'd like to know if there are (US) English words, like "mustang" above, that are still colloquially used nowadays but derive from archaic Spanish.

Wikipedia doesn't return much, I regret to say. I found this question here, but it is mostly a harangue on Spanglish. Thanks in advance!

  • Colorado. Texas. Arizona. California. Nevada. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 23:42
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    Hoosegow. Lariat. Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 23:45
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    – choster
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 0:24
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    Taco etc are not calques, they are straight borrowings. Calques are loan-translations, where a word is analysed, the parts translated, and the results put together into a new word. Calquing is not very common in English, but an example which will at least be comprehensible to English speakers is insect, where the Latin root īnsectum was a calque of the Greek ἔντομον, both meaning "cut in", i.e. a body divided into sections. (Edit): gospel is an Old English example of a calque: God-spel ("good message") from Greek εὐαγγέλιον.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:24
  • Does tortilla count? Its meaning in the Americas has changed quite a bit from its meaning in European Spanish.
    – The Photon
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:29

2 Answers 2


Perhaps this Wikipedia page -- its list of English words of Spanish origin -- has more of what you seek.

BTW words such as "Hispanicism" aren't generally used to mean words of the sort you seek. Rather, Hispanicisms are those characteristic ways in which the English of those whose first language is Spanish differs from the English of native speakers.

  • I hadn't seen that one. Thanks! Glad to learn that "Hispanicism" is a false cognate :) Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 21:19

There are quite a few; unfortunately only a few come to mind immediately. I'm sure I will wake up in the middle of the night with more.

Hoosegow, meaning "jail" (as opposed to prison) used to be a staple of cowboy/Western fiction; it's derived from Spanish juzgado.

Calaboose also means "jail" and is also mostly obsolete except for Western novels; it's derived from calabozo "dungeon". (Thanks to @MichaelHarvey for the reminder.)

Tornado is apparently derived from Spanish tronado, "thunderstorm" - since both the definition AND spelling have shifted, I find it more interesting than most borrowings.

Lariat - a rope with a running noose used to catch livestock - is derived from Spanish la reata.

Renegade comes from Spanish renegado (same meaning), but is occasionally given the false etymology "runagate". This one is a straight borrowing, so may not meet your requirements.

Ranch, from rancho, is another straight borrowing, but is so common in American English that it's easy to forget it was borrowed.

Buckaroo, from vaquero (thanks @Robusto!) means "cowboy", but these days it's more commonly applied to kids: "Buckle up, buckaroos!"

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    I'll see your hoosegow and raise you calaboose. Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 9:54
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    Let's not forget buckaroo, from Sp. vaquero.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:00
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    I never made that connection! Who could forget The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension?!
    – MT_Head
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:06
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    Feel free to edit my answer to add any others that occur; this was a fun question (pace @choster).
    – MT_Head
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:11
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    Arroyo - a wash, gulch or dry creek. Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 20:55

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