• What's the origin/etymology of these words? The only one that I know and it is common is reloj.
  • Are there any others recognized by the RAE?

3 Answers 3


"Reloj" originally comes from latin "horologium".

I've read that the "j" ending is a result of Catalan "relotge".

I can think of another word ending in "j", "carcaj" which means "quiver", as in the container used to carry arrows. Apparently this comes from French "carcais".

In this website they list some words ending in "j" although I would say only "reloj" and "carcaj" are actually used.

  • 3
    From that list, Boj is also quite known, at least in Spain because there is a quite famous novel called "Madera de boj" written by the very well-known writer "Camilo José Cela". I agree the rest are unused (at least I have never seen or heard of any.)
    – Javi
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 7:19
  • I agree. Reloj, boj and carcaj are the only ones I've ever heard from that list.
    – MikMik
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 8:48
  • 1
    Esto es tramposo, ya o sé, pero habría que agregar estas dos palabras son muy usadas: contrarreloj y puaj.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 11:58

There are few words in Spanish that end with "J", and some of them are derivations of foreign origin: reloj (Greek "ωρολογιον"), boj (Catalan "boix"), carcaj (Greek "καρκάσιον"). There are other rarely used examples.

One thing you should keep in mind: the pronunciation of the letter "J" has changed through the passage of time. These are the phonetic representations of "J" in Spanish:

  • medieval Spanish => /ž/
  • during XV century => /š/
  • from XVI - XVIII century => /x/ (south) /š/ (rest of the Iberian peninsula)
  • since XIX century => /x/

But there are also regional differences and it isn't uncommon to find places where it sounds like an aspirated "h" or /h/.

In Spanish the word "reloj" was originally "reloje" or "reloxe", but later the "e" was dropped and the words "reloj" or "relox" appeared.

Another example of two words that still coexist is the name "Jimena", that is often found as "Ximena", towns like "Xixona" or "Jijona" (the first in Valencian), etc.

  • ¡Bienvenido a Spanish.SE! He hecho algunos cambios en tu post pero no estoy segura de haber entendido lo que querías decir en algunas ocasiones. Puedes comprobar los cambios pulsando edited sobre mi nombre.
    – Yay
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 12:31
  • Thanks... problems with English (not even my second language)
    – roetnig
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 13:29

There are fewer than 30 words ending in -j in Spanish, most of which were inherited from Arabic at a time when j in Spanish represented /ʃ/ (i.e. the English sound 'sh'). The rest come from a variety of different origins:


word alt. orthography etymology
alioj Hisp. Arabic yašbAramaic yašpeAcadian [j]ašpū ("jaspe")
almiraj Arabic المعراج (mi'raj)
almofrej Arabic ﺍﻞﻣﻔﺭﺺ (almafráš)
almoraduj almoradux Hisp. Arabic almarda[d]dúšArabic marzanǧūšGreek ἀμάρακος
erraj herraj Hisp. Arabic ﺍﺭﻎ (arráhǧ, "polvo")
balaj balaje Arabic ﺑﻠﺨﺸﻲ (balaẖšbalaẖšī, "badajshaní")
borraj bórax Arabic ﺑﻭﺭﻖ (bawraq) ← Persian bure
cambuj gambuj, gambux, gambox Hisp. Arabic ﻛﻨﺒﺶ (kanbúš, "capuchón") ← Late Latin caputium

Latin and apocopy of Old Spanish verbs

word alt. orthography etymology
dij dije ? Latin dĭgĭtus uncertain
relej releje relejar
rebalaj rebalaje resbalar
pedicoj Latin pes, pedis ("pie") + cojo
maniblaj  ? uncertain

French and Gothic

word alt. orthography etymology
troj troja, troje ? Gothic thraughs ("arca") uncertain
carcaj carcax Old French carcaisByzantine Greek καρκάσιον (karkásion)
gambaj gambax Old French gambaisGothic 𐍅𐌰𐌼𐌱𐌰 (wamba, "vientre")

Catalan and Aragonese

word alt. orthography etymology
boj boje boxCatalan/Aragonese boixLatin buxus2
reloj, contrarreloj Old Catalan relotgeorollotgeLatin hōrologiumAncient Greek ὡρολόγιον (hōrológion)3 4


word alt. orthography etymology
aj ax, aje ax
puaj  — (compare with French ¡pouah!)

Foreign religious terms

word alt. orthography etymology
Aj Egyptian Ꜣḫ (Akh)
sij English SikhPunjabi ਸਿੱਖ (sikkh) ← Sanskrit šisya1
Pésaj Hebrew פֶּסַח (pésach, "salto")

American peoples

word alt. orthography etymology
chuj Spanish exonym for the Chuj people, language
itzaj itzá, Itza'

All of these (with the exception of Aj, almiraj, gambaj, rebalaj, Pésaj, and puaj) have entries in the RAE, and 11 of them have alternate forms with a terminal -je or -x.


  1. The RAE introduced this orthography by analogy with other transliterations of the group kh, corresponding to words of Slavic origin so transcribed in English. However, in Punjabi the sound of the word does not correspond to /x/, being on the contrary much closer to /k/, and the choice is therefore deceptive and unjustified etymologically; Much more reasonable alternatives are sik or simply sikh.

  2. ix is pronounced /ʃ/ in (Eastern) Catalan, and when this word was first loaned to Spanish the letter j represented the same sound.

  3. The current form of the word may partly be a back-formation of relojes, plural of obsolete reloje, which better conforms with the Catalan source and would explain the final "j", which is rare in Spanish.

  4. Compare with:
      • follaje from Occitan follatge
      • peaje from Catalan peatge or French péage
      • lenguaje from Old Spanish lenguage, borrowed from Old French language or Old Occitan lenguatge, lengaje
      • metraje, fuselaje, sabotaje, paisaje from French métrage, fuselage, paysage (comp. Catalan paisatge |

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