Spanish has many words formed by joining a verb with a noun which together describe the object that the word refers to:

cuentagotas, paraguas, rascacielos, etc...

When did these types of words first enter Spanish? Is this method of forming words from Latin, or a later development?

2 Answers 2


In latin there are also words formed by the union of other words, and it was quite common. The trick is, in latin the verb was positioned at the end of the sentence. So the compound words were something like calefactio or calefacio, that comes from calens (caliente, hot) and facio (from facere, hacer, to do), so calefacio is just a "hot maker". Notice that the verb part of the word is at the end of it.

Other examples that don't include verbs are respublica, that comes from res (cosa, thing) and publica (pública, public), and aquaeductus, that comes from aquae (agua, water) and ductus (conducción, maybe pipe?).

So, maybe we will have to track the origin of the compound words before the latin language. Maybe they are even older than the written expression.


It's just vocabulary.
The same happens if you use parachoques = bumper, that's like saying que para los choques (here para = detiene) or words like know-it-all = sabelotodo.

It's similar with the English compound nouns, you get to know them as a vocabulary. For instance, ashtray = cenicero, but nobody says bandeja para cenizas, because it's long and we can resume it with one word.

Even though, nowadays these verb + noun collocations are being created with anything, but that it's a regional thing probably.

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