The origins of terms and their development through history.

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What is the etymology of the “diéresis” or “crema”?

This entry of the Diccionario panhispánico de dudas explains the uses of the diéresis or crema (the ¨ mark) in Spanish (it is mandatory over a u to indicate that this vowel must be pronounced in the ...
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2answers
587 views

Origin of “vos” pronoun

How did the vos personal pronoun come to be? Is it etymologically related to vosotros in any way? Did it develop before or after the other personal pronouns used today (tú, usted, vosotros, etc)? Was ...
5
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3answers
445 views

What's the function of the letter h?

What's the function of the letter h in Spanish? Even though it's not pronounced there must be a reason of its existence. Update: What I mean is the case when the letter h it's not accompanied by the ...
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2answers
3k views

Spanish etymology resources [closed]

Many questions on this site have been about the etymology of a particular word or phrase. For English, resources like the Oxford English Dictionary often give researched etymologies full of details ...
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622 views

Why does the preterite of “traducir” transform into “tradujo”?

As you will see below the preterite suffers from an odd transformation. Even native speakers make the mistake of conjugating the preterite of traducir wrong. For instance instead of traduje they ...
7
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1answer
482 views

What's the origin of the word “chido”?

What's the origin of the word "chido"? When did it become popular in Mexico? Examples: Qué chido esta tu carro. Estaría bien chido si ganara la lotería. RAE: chido, da. adj. ...
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4k views

Why isn't “good morning” “buenas mañanas”?

"Good afternoon" is "buenas tardes", and "Good night/evening" is "buenas noches". Then why isn't "good morning" "buenas mañanas" instead of "buenos días"?
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Usage of “mueco” vs. “mellado” for “toothless”

The RAE does not have an entry for mueco or mueca, a term commonly used in Colombia to describe a toothless person. However, the expression hacer muecas is understood in the traditional sense as a ...
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410 views

Origin of the phrase “la quinta …” to denote an undesirable or faraway place

The Colombian phrase la quinta porra denotes an undesirable or faraway place. For example, ¡Váyase a la quinta porra! conveys the same meaning as Go to hell! The earliest use I could find ...
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2answers
336 views

Is there a connection between “cuchillo” and “cuchara”?

Do these two words have any common root? I looked up in the RAE, and didn't find there any connection between these words. According to the RAE, cuchillo comes from Latin "cultellus", and cuchara ...
6
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2answers
468 views

Origin and use of “echar de menos”

I've always found peculiar that the phrase echar de menos is synonymous of the verb extrañar. For example: Te echaré de menos. is equivalent to: Te extrañaré. Based on TV, its use is most ...
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428 views

Why is “Usted” grammatically a third person?

In English polite form of address is "You" which is second person singular and plural. In Russian it is "Вы" which is plural second person. In Spanish (and probably French and Italian) polite address ...
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“Desde luego” meaning and etymology

Español Esta pregunta me recuerda a una frase similar, "desde luego", que no es eso literalmente, sino que significa "por supuesto" (según el DRAE): luego. [...] desde ~. loc. adv. ...
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4answers
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Why don't Spanish words start with “sp”?

I've noticed that there aren't any words in Spanish that start with sp. Latin words are altered to include an e in front of the sp. Even loan words are often modified to esp...: spaghetti => ...
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2answers
2k views

Origin of the mexican expression “güey/buey”

The common Mexican informal expression "güey/buey" (written as "wey" in text). Where did it come from? Since when did it become a common expression? Examples: A que güey estás. (You are so ...
6
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2answers
334 views

Origin of the name “Jesucristo”

The name Jesus translates simply as Jesús, and Christ as Christo. So why is Jesus Christ translated as Jesucristo rather than Jesús Cristo or Cristo Jesús? Google gives me a plethora of explanations ...
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Why “buenas noches” when it's only one night?

Why are buenas noches and buenas tardes said when they refer to only one night/afternoon? ¿Por qué se dice "buenas noches" y "buenas tardes" cuando solo se refieren solo a una noche o tarde?
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1answer
109 views

What is the origin of the word “tascalate”?

Another unusual Spanish word I collected in my travels is tascalate. It's a drink in Chiapas, Mexico and there are Wikipedia articles about it in English and in Spanish. But it's not in Wiktionary ...
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4answers
589 views

How did the words “mataburros” and “tumbaburros” come to mean “dictionary”?

The recent question about irregular plurals led me to a couple of odd and interesting words that apparently mean "dictionary" in at least one sense each: mataburros tumbaburros The connection ...
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3answers
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The letter “k” in Spanish

The letter "k" is rarely seen in Spanish. What is the origin of Spanish words containing a k? Are most recent loanwords from modern languages, influences from older languages (Latin or Greek), or of ...
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2answers
191 views

Matutino and Vespertino

I see matutino and vespertino, meaning morning and afternoon, used to describe parts of the daily schedule in schools and church. They sound very formal. Are there more words like them to describe ...
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1answer
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Is “al” a relatively new word?

I am curious about the history of the word "al". For example, was there a time when "a el" was the proper usage and "al" came later (presumably because of the slurring of speech)?
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1answer
589 views

Why are certain words ending in “a” masculine?

English: I'm referring to words like "el tema" or "el lema". Most words ending in "a" are feminine. This is actually the opposite of a similar question, ¿Por qué es la palabra ...
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306 views

Etymological origin of “false friends” between Spanish and English

Is there an etymological origin that can be called the main one that has created the list of "false friends" between Spanish and English? I'm constantly stumbling upon a new "false friend" when ...
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852 views

¿Cómo se pueden identificar palabras árabes en español?

Español Yo sé que los musulmanes, cuando conquistaron España, impactaron en gran medida al idioma. Hay palabras en español que son prestadas (y ahora son una parte del idioma). ¿Hay un método con ...
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3answers
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What is the correct order of object pronouns?

I know that there are (at least) three types of personal pronouns in Spanish (well, and English): direct, indirect, and reflexive. In cases where all three (or at least two) are present, what is the ...
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1answer
230 views

What's the origin of the Panamanian word “biñuelo”? Is it merely a corruption of “buñuelo”?

I was in Panama about five years ago and there was a common deep fried street food called "biñuelo". Of course there's a regular Spanish word "buñuelo" which means fritter. So is "biñuelo" just the ...
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2answers
209 views

Words and phrases with non-evident prejudice

Hace poco aprendí que el origen de la palabra algarabía es la pronunciación de árabe en la lengua árabe. Otro ejemplo notable es la palabra morisqueta. ¿Existen otras palabras o frases de común uso ...
6
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1answer
306 views

Etymology of “usted”

What is the etymology of the pronoun "usted"? What formal pronouns existed before, and when did the current "usted" come into existence?
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1answer
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Preterit of ser and ir

Español Pretérito de ser: fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron Pretérito de ir: fui, fuiste, fue, fuimos, fuisteis, fueron ¿Cómo han evolucionado los verbos "ser" e "ir" para tener ...
33
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829 views

Origin and usage of “¿” and “¡”

English I was wondering what the reason is that the inverted exclamation mark ¡ and the inverted question mark ¿ were introduced into the Spanish language and not into most other languages. Any ...
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297 views

Origin of contigo and similar “contractions”

What's the history of the words contigo, conmigo, etc? They're treated like contractions for con ti and con mi, respectively, but they actually make the word longer rather than shorter, as ...
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1answer
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¿Por qué es la palabra «mano» femenina?

En español, tenemos una regla en la cual, generalmente, se puede tener fé. Si una palabra termina con -o, es masculina. Sin embargo, palabras que terminan en -e o -a también pueden ser palabras ...