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Add to Your Vocabulary: Spanish Words in English

Updated: Feb 9

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Introduction - Add to your vocabulary

In my articles on French words found in English, I said that English borrows from other languages.

There are quite a few words in English that originate from the Spanish language.

As you will see, the spelling of these words differs very little, if at all from the original Spanish.

Here are fifteen Spanish words that are worthwhile becoming familiar with.

 Learning them will help develop your English vocabulary.

1 Patio

Spanish word: patio

Meaning: An open area attached to a house, a small courtyard or balcony.

2 Avocado

Spanish word: aguacate

Meaning: A dark green pear-shaped fruit with smooth, light green pulp and a large seed in the centre.

3 Stampede

Spanish word: estampida

Meaning: A sudden frenzied rush of animals or people.

4 Cockroach

Spanish word: cucaracha

Meaning: A brown or black crawling and flying insect with antennae, wings, and legs. They are household pests.

5 Tornado

Spanish word: tornado

Meaning: A powerful, destructive windstorm. Tornados are capable of destroying trees, buildings etc. and harming people.

6 Plaza

Spanish word: plaza

Meaning: A public area usually a building with shops and stores.

It comes from the Spanish meaning ‘place’.

7 Macho (even 'machismo')

Spanish word: macho

Meaning: To have manly characteristics and qualities. Macho men are strong, aggressive, unemotional, etc.

In Spanish, macho means male.

8 Cargo

Spanish word: cargo

Meaning: Goods transported via plane, ship, or motor vehicles (trucks and lorries).

Originates from the Spanish 'cargo' and 'cargar' – to load.

9 Ranch (rancher)

Spanish word: rancho

Meaning: A large farm to raise livestock or crops; a cattle ranch.

The word in Spanish means a group of people who eat together.

10 Lasso

Spanish word: lazo

Meaning: A rope with a knot that forms a ring for people to catch horses and cattle.

From the Spanish 'lazo', based on the Latin 'laqueus' meaning ‘noose’.

11 Canyon

Spanish word: cañón

Meaning: A deep narrow gorge with steep sides

Comes from the Spanish for 'tube' - cañón.

12 Guerrilla

Spanish word: guerrilla

Meaning: Someone who belongs to a small group fighting against larger forces.

Taken from the Spanish word for war: guerra.

13 Mustang

Spanish word: mestengo

Meaning: A small, lightly built horse.

The word comes from a blend of Spanish 'mestengo' (from mesta ‘company of graziers’) and 'mostrenco'. Both words mean wild or masterless cattle but more often applied to horses.

14 Vanilla

Spanish word: vainilla

Meaning: A sweet substance extracted from vanilla pods. Vanilla is a flavouring in food (ice cream, biscuits, desserts) and perfumes.

From the Spanish word 'vainilla' or 'little pod'.

15 Breeze

Spanish word: brisa

Meaning: A gentle wind

This word originates from Old Spanish 'briza'.


In this article, I have introduced 15 words from the Spanish language used in English. Some are more common than others.

The aim of the article was to teach you words to add to your English vocabulary.

Be on the lookout for more Spanish words that you come across in English and let me know in the comments.

Further Reading

To continue learning about other Spanish words in English, you can read the other article I have written here.

© Apex English Tutoring Jan 2022 - Updated January 2024

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About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

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