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Spanish Words in English, Part II

As we saw in Part I of this series, many words of Spanish origin have been absorbed into the English language. You will find many English words of Spanish origin listed in American English dictionaries that you won't necessarily find in British English dictionaries, or in the latter they will be identified as Spanish words rather than English words with a Spanish origin.


Many words originating from Spanish are words that we associate with cowboys or the Southwest United States, which were originally territories of Spain.


I wore a sombrero once.

Caption 63, How 2 Travelers - Rethink What You Wear On the Plane!

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In English, a sombrero refers to a very wide-brimmed hat often seen in Mexico, but in Spanish, a sombrero is any kind of hat with a brim.


Ah, yeah, what a bonanza, a bonanza!

Caption 12, Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump

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A bonanza in English is a windfall or sudden good luck, which it can also mean in Spanish, although in Spanish it also means "fair weather."


California's central coast is a gorgeous stretch [weekend getaway] dotted with Spanish architecture, secret gardens, and chaparral-covered mountains.

Captions 2-3, Travel + Leisure - Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara

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A chaparral is a dense growth of shrubs or small trees, stemming from the Spanish word chapparo, which is a kind of evergreen oak.


The trip through the labyrinth of flooded canyons is impressive.

Caption 11, The Last Paradises - America's National Parks - Part 8

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A canyon is a steep valley, often with a stream or river at the bottom. This is derived from the Spanish cañon, which has the same meaning.


185 of their friends are holed up in a crumbling adobe church down on the Rio Bravo.

Captions 25-27, John Wayne - The Alamo

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The word "adobe," the clay and straw bricks from which buildings are constructed in many drier climates, came to English via Spanish, but the word itself hearkens back to ancient Arabic, Coptic, and Egyptian!


[They] look like... kinda like chaps.

Caption 21, Chicago Bulls - Kid Picasso - Part 1

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Not to be confused with the informal British English "chap" (a "fellow"), chaps are the wide leather leggings worn by cowboys. This stems from the Mexican Spanish word of the same meaning, chaparreras.


Further Learning
See if you can find the English meaning for other words with Spanish origins which are in common usage in the Southwest United States: arroyo, bronco, buckaroo, coyote, desperado, hacienda, machete, mesa, mustang, poncho, pueblo, ranchrodeo, serape, stampede, vamoose, vaquero, and vigilante. Then look at some of the video examples above English Yabla and see how they are used in specific context.


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