One would expect that the Spanish word for 'sport' would be esporte (as in special => especial, spaghetti => espagueti, Spain => España, etc.). But it's actually deporte.

Why does it begin with de- and not with es-?

  • 21
    1) Why assume the words in English and Spanish should relate to each other at all? 2) Why assume Spanish should follow English instead of the other way around? Maybe the English word should be "deports" :)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:15
  • 2
    I don't think that's a valid reason to expect "sport" to be translated as "esporte" (or any word to be translated in a particular way), because English and Spanish do not share roots (in general). Canonical example: library, which is not the same as librería. The "method" would be sort of valid if you did this between French, Italian and Spanish, for example, because you have common roots in Latin and Greek.
    – Janoma
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:21
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    @Janoma: library and librería is not a good example for your point, because they do share common roots between English and Spanish. The words do diverge in their meaning and evolution, but not in their roots.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:24
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    "especial" also exists in English. I find this question as senseless as "if oranges are called oranges why lemons are not called yellows?"
    – Juanillo
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 16:21
  • 1
    @Janoma: English and Spanish do share roots...they are both Indo-European languages.
    – Aprendedor
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 22:44

3 Answers 3


In fact both English sport and Spanish deporte come from Latin deportāre / deportō.

The Spanish etymology at least as far as the spelling is concerned is quite straightforward. There never was an s.

It's the English etymology that picked up the s and lost the de. The reason is because English picked up the word from Anglo-Norman, the version of French spoken in England when it was ruled by the Normans. Anglo-Norman had desporter as a variant of deporter which it had inherited from Old French.



Bear in mind that the word 'sport' (the current concept, actually) is relatively modern - end of XIX century, and the fashion came from England. At that moment, Spanish speakers had several options to name the new thing:

  1. Import the English word: "sport"
  2. Adapt it to Spanish : "esport, espor, esporte..."
  3. Resurrect/recycle the archaic meaning of the verb "deportar": "to go outside to play some recreative activity", and adapt it to the new meaning, as noun: "deporte"

The first option was widely used at first (there are traces: some clubs and teams in Argentina includes "Sporting" in its name), but eventually the third won.

As pferor's answer mentions, the main meaning of "deportar" is to deport: expel a person from a country, it comes from de-porta (out-doors), and that relates to the other meaning (the archaic and the new one). That also relates to the English word, which comes from the French (and which includes the 's': desport).

I find it curious that the adaption from the old meaning of "deportar" to "deporte" didn't carry the verb: we don't say "deportar" but "hacer deporte".


Because deporte cames from deportar which cames from Latin deportāre.


(Del lat. deportāre).

  1. tr. Desterrar a alguien a un lugar, por lo regular extranjero, y confinarlo allí por razones políticas o como castigo.
  2. prnl. ant. Descansar, reposar, hacer mansión.
  3. prnl. ant. Divertirse, recrearse.

Although the main definition of deporte is “to practice a physical activity in a game or competition with specific rules”, its second acception means “Recreation, leisure, pleasure, fun or exercise, usually outdoors.” (Recreación, pasatiempo, placer, diversión o ejercicio físico, por lo común al aire libre.), and in that case it may be used as a synonym of the third acception of deportar.

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