Have you ever wondered where the words you use in Spanish come from? You should know that Spanish, so rich and varied, has made so many linguistic friends over time. These “language loans” are the bridge that connects it with other languages and cultures, giving us such a wide and varied vocabulary. We at iNMSOL want to better explain what is meant by language borrowing through a few examples. Let’s dive into this linguistic backdrop: let’s go!

préstamos lingüísticos español

What are linguistic loans?

No, it is not about asking for a book from the library. A language loan is a word adopted from a language and adapted to your own.

  • Direct vs Indirect: While some loanwords fit as such (such as ‘golf’ from English), others fit phonetically and orthographically. (such as ‘´futbol’ versus ‘football’)
  • Calcos: When we literally translate a foreign expression, we are using a “cast.” Example: “rascacielos” from English “skyscraper.”

“Stolen” words (with affection!)

The number of words from other languages that we use everyday is really high.

Have a look! 


  • From English: ‘Gin-tonic’, ‘whisky’, ‘hobby’, ‘surf’, ‘líder’.
  • From France: ‘bufet’, ‘croissant’, ‘garaje’, ‘collage’, ‘bricolaje’.
  • From Italian: ‘soneto’, ‘novela’, ‘balcón’, ‘piano’, ‘grafiti’.
  • From Arab: ‘azulejo’, ‘aceituna’, ‘naranja’, ‘almohada’, ‘guitarra’.

How these words have become more spanish? The art of adaptation. 

Don’t think that we simply take words from other languages and use them in our conversation. Before we can do it, these words pass through a long adaptation process.

  • Phonetic adaptation The’sh’ sound does not exist in Spanish. For this reason ‘show’ becomes ‘show’ (spelled”chou”).
  • Grammar changes: In Spanish, words have a gender. Whereby,  Per cui, ‘la’ internet o ‘el’ internet,how do you say? 

A cultural mirror: what loans reveal about us.


It is not just about linguistic enrichment: these words are also a proof of our historical, cultural and social interactions. 

  • Historic influence: Arab words are an evident legacy of the Muslim period of Spain. Globalization and technology: A lot of technology and modern terms, such as email or blog, come directly from English. 




  • Why don’t we invent our words instead of borrowing from others?Sometimes we do! It is easier to use existing terms, though, especially for new concepts.
  • Are there Spanish words that have used other languages? Of course! Words like fiesta, rodeo o canyon (from Spanish cañon) have been borrowed from English.
  • Are academics against linguistic loans? Some purists do, but the Real Academia Española is wont to accept them when their use becomes commonplace in society.


In dancing to the rhythm of language evolution, language borrowings in Spanish are a key step that connects us to the rest of the world. More than intruders, they are guests who have taken a seat on the couch of Spanish, telling us the stories of distant lands and cultures. The next time you use one of these words, take a moment to savor the rich history and journey they took to get to you! Enjoy these lexical tapas that you sample every day!

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