RAE says no, wordreference says yes. Is it used or understood by the Spanish speakers?

  • 1
    Where does RAE say no? It's in the DRAE: «1. prep. Frente a, contra. Occidente versus Oriente.» May 8, 2016 at 20:37

3 Answers 3


No, versus is not a Spanish word. It comes from Latin, but the deal here is that it was first widely used in English for legal documents during the XV century.

It is not very clear but this word could be considered an anglicism since it was first used in English and then in Spanish. Since it may be confusing in regard with its origin and its usage as confrontation and not necessarily as a contrary or opposition of, the RAE recommends using contra or frente a instead.


versus. Esta preposición, que en latín significaba ‘hacia’, adquirió en el lenguaje jurídico inglés, ya en el siglo xv, el valor de ‘contra’, y con este sentido se usa frecuentemente en el español de hoy: «Kaspárov ‘versus’ Deep Blue: ¿quién ganará la partida?» (País [Esp.] 21.5.97); «Odiosas dicotomías: habla popular versus lengua de cultura, lenguas primitivas versus lenguas avanzadas» (Ninyoles Idiomas [Esp. 1977]). Aparece a menudo en la forma abreviada vs.: «Para hoy se prevé igualmente la confirmación de los escenarios de los partidos Colegiales vs. Olimpia y San Lorenzo vs. Guaraní» (Abc [Par.] 7.11.00). Aunque no es censurable su empleo —pues palabras españolas como adversario, procedentes en latín de la misma raíz que versus, presentan el rasgo semántico de confrontación—, se recomienda sustituir este latinismo anglicado por la preposición española contra o por la locución preposicional frente a.


versus. This preposition, that in Latin means 'toward', acquired in the legal language of English, already in the XV century, the meaning of 'against', and with this meaning it is frequently used in the Spanish of today: "Kaspárov, 'versus' Deep Blue: Who will win the match?" ... It is frequently seen in its abbreviated form 'vs' ... Even though it is not a unique usage word - as Spanish words like adversario that come from the same Latin root of 'versus', present an additional meaning of confrontation-, it is recommended to substitute this anglicised latinism for the Spanish preposition of contra or for the prepositional locution frente a.

  • So when in the evolution from Latin to Spanish did versus get dropped from the vocabulary? Or did it evolve into a Spanish word with a different form and meaning? Mar 4, 2012 at 1:58
  • Well I don't really know the reason why the word was dropped from spanish, there is no formal definition for it on the rae, just the note I put on the answer, that it is a preposition taken from English. It seems that Spanish simply took other words to replace it and had no natural development of using it as English did. But since English did, Spanish started to do it aswell because of its presence in so many English documents. That's what I understand of it in any case.
    – Jose Luis
    Mar 4, 2012 at 12:08
  • Actually it could be that Latin never used it the way English uses it. The Spanish words verso and versar evolved from the Latin word but never had a sense like verus does in English or Spanish. Makes me wonder how English got to use versus in a way that Latin did not... Mar 4, 2012 at 12:42
  • Pleas add the URL to the source, It is the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas at http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=versus
    – palopezv
    Jul 27, 2015 at 15:02
  • @Joze The real meanings of versus are "turned in the direction of, towards, facing" or "a line, row" (source). From these come both the meaning of verso in Spanish as in the head of a coin (cf., anverso) and verso as each line of a poetry piece or the piece as a whole.
    – palopezv
    Jul 27, 2015 at 15:13

It isn't Spanish, it's Latin. It is used in Spanish with the same meaning as in English.

See: http://dle.rae.es/versus

  • 3
    So you're saying it's not an English word either? Or you're saying it would be a Spanish word if it weren't for the RAE saying it isn't? Or you're saying we can mix Latin freely with Spanish? Or you're saying there's a special part of Spanish grammar covering how to incorporate Latin into it? Or you're saying Spanish doesn't have loanwords? Or you're saying other loanwords in Spanish have become Spanish but not this one? Feb 26, 2012 at 14:46
  • @hippietrail some of those questions belong to Linguistics. Personally, I think a simple rule of thumb should be as long as the word is commonly used within language, it is part of it. I think RAE is too purist excluding the word "versus" from search. Mar 3, 2012 at 20:25
  • I agree with you @Theta30. If Spanish was as conservative as some at the RAE seem to pretend it to be, it would still be Latin \-: Mar 4, 2012 at 1:56
  • @hippietrail Not quite. Versus is Latin and it will always be until the RAE decides otherwise and it hasn't is a long time. The Diccionario Pan Hispánico de Dudas is very clear! Cf., its definition of versus about it, versus is a latinized anglicism, that is, a barbarism.
    – palopezv
    Jul 27, 2015 at 14:59

Spanish people understand "versus" as an english word, with the meaning of "against", not with the latin meaning of "towards"

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