I was in Panama about five years ago and there was a common deep fried street food called "biñuelo".

Of course there's a regular Spanish word "buñuelo" which means fritter.

So is "biñuelo" just the Panamanian regionalism for "buñuelo" or do they have both words and use them for slightly different things? It's common enough in Panama to see that it's not just a rare misspelling or mistake.

Or could "biñuelo" involve some kind of wordplay or have a totally different origin to "buñuelo" and just be similar by coincidence?

Where does "biñuelo" come from and how does it relate to "buñuelo"?

(It's not in the DRAE or other dictionaries I've checked but it's easy to find via Google, especially in the plural.)

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    I've been collecting unusual Spanish words in my travels for years. Now I have an excuse to dredge through some of them at last (-: Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 15:12
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    There's a Facebook page for "Señoras que dicen "biñuelos" en lugar de buñuelos..." The one post suggests the word is "valenciano" as opposed to "castellano". I'm not sure what, if anything, we can learn from that. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 21:03
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    @JonEricson, we can learn not to trust things people post on Facebook ;) In valencià it's bunyol. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 13:34

2 Answers 2


Biñuelo is an Extremaduran1 2 3 4 variant5 6 of the word buñuelo:

U: En el habla rústica se sustituye por e: mermuración, mermurar, y también por i: biñuelo.

Though not in the DLE, it appears in two older dictionaries:


  • 1895 ZEROLO

Biñuelo. m. Amer. En Colombia, buñuelo.


Its prevalence in Colombian (and Panamanian) Spanish is readily explained by the fact that many of the early colonisers of Colombia were of Extremaduran (and Andalusian) origin.7


  1. El español de América (p.183)


  3. Diccionario de palabras de mi infancia (Calamonte, años 50 y 60) (p.34)

  4. Diccionario de Extremadura: Palabras usadas en Extremadura

  5. IX. VOCES CORROMPIDAS. e. Por cambio de vocales, en virtud de asimilación y simpatía: bracelete, chiminea, infriar, chocozuela, culumpio, tutuma, fundillo, tubillo, tulundrón, añidir, biñuelo, ...

  6. En el vocalismo destaca sobre todo la fuerte tendencia a la supresión vocálica ... y a la constante inestabilidad del vocalismo átono (... «biñuelo», 'buñuelo').

  7. La América española. El apasionamiento escenográfico, 1730–1810 (1990)


It's just a deformation (pretty common in the jargon of Caribbean countries).

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    Is the change from "u" to "i" particularly common? Stack Exchange likes well fleshed out answers! (-: Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 15:34
  • Actually isn't that common (at least not for what I know). Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 16:49
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    @hippietrail I searched Google Panamá and I always got back recipes for fritters. I also found a Peruvian blog with pictures of Biñuelos Arequipeños con miel (looked yummy). Colombians say that someone is a buñuelo when that person is really bad at performing some task. Soy un buñuelo para el fútbol (I am a really lousy soccer player).
    – Icarus
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 18:48
  • @Icarus, I'm from colombia. We don't use that al least not within the urban territories. It's used more to denote someone fat Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 21:03
  • @RandolRincón-Fadul: I disagree with your claim that is not used to refer to someone very inexperienced "or at least not in the urban territories". It's quite the opposite: It's more common its use to denote inexperience than someone being fat. A quick Google search for "buñuelo colombianismo", for example, will retrieve a bunch of links showing that "buñuelo" is the equivalent of principiante, novato, neófito, bisoño, inexperto, etc. See this Wikipedia article of colombianismos: es.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wikcionario:Colombianismos
    – Icarus
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 15:11

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