In English, mechanical "cranes" are thus named for their likeness to the bird, "crane".

In Spanish, the mechanical crane is called a grúa and the bird a grulla; is this similarity a coincidence, or are the words also related?

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    Also related with pedigree (esp: pedigrí from the french pie du grue) and maybe with Gruyere - the cheese, although this second one is not very clear. Maybe the Swiss village of Gruyeres was a place with lots of cranes.
    – enxaneta
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


They are indeed related:

... grúa, utilizada en castellano desde el siglo XV para designar una máquina destinada a levantar pesos, por su semejanza con la figura de una grulla, de largo pescuezo y prolongado pico. Mucho más clara que en español resalta esta semejanza entre la grulla y las grúas para nuestros vecinos europeos, que en sus idiomas disponen de una única palabra para designar ambos conceptos:

  • Kran en alemán,
  • crane en inglés,
  • grua en catalán,
  • grue en francés,
  • gru en italiano;

todos ellos, por cierto, de origen tan netamente onomatopéyico como nuestra grulla.

Further, they are even cognate to the English words via a PIE root:

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Interestingly, in Latin another mechanical device (a type of siege engine) was also named for its word for crane, "grus", due to the physical likeness.

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    RAE's dictionary confirms this, both grulla and grúa come from Latin grus, gruis 'crane'.
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 13:57
  • 3
    Dutch seemingly distinguishes (mechanical) "crane" from "crane bird" (kraan/ kraanvogel), but that addition of "-bird" is relatively recent; same with the German bird "kranich" where many birds get the "-ich" suffix; the bird name precedes the tool and hence its name. The root in germanic seems onomatopaeic for the noise they make, similar to the Greek root for stork. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 16:46

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