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Interesting Etymologies 21: Hidden Spanish

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

"Hello again Word Lovers!" in this episode we are going to look at words in English that have come from Spanish!

escaramuza - A smaller fight within a battle, skirmish

emboscada - in the woods or bush, ambush

escorbuto - scurvy

Jerez - Sherry

Armada - The Spanish fleet that attempted to invade England in 1588. A very specific term in English that in Spanish refers to the Armed Forces.

Armado + diminutive suffix = armadillo (the armoured animal)

Multiple place names in USA derive from Spanish: Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Las Vegas and the world famous El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula.

Corral, cañón and sierra all find their way into English via American use.

Cockroach is from the Spanish cucaracha. Mosquito meaning small fly comes from Spanish too.

Alligator comes from the Spanish meaning The Lizard.

Explore the full Interesting Etymologies series archive here

As well as being the host of our Interesting Etymologies series, Charly Taylor is a stand up comedian and author. His latest offering is available now:

SkipDeLirio's Worst Ever Gig : A novel by Charly Taylor

Caesar’s army has returned from the long campaign in Gaul and the enemy has been all but defeated. Some of Pompey’s army, however, remains in Africa. Together with straggling Roman rebels and the local king Juba, they are gathering forces to prepare one last attack on what is now Caesar’s Rome. But there is one problem – a descendant of Scipio Africanus is fighting on the side of the Africans. And without a Scipio of their own, the superstitious Romans refuse to go to Africa to fight.

So Caesar sends out soldiers to find himself a Scipio. Luckily, there is a man of such name right there in Rome – a local drunkard and tavern entertainer distantly descended from the legendary warrior. Kidnapped solely on account of his ‘heritage’, the lowly clown is forced to lead out the troops in the battle of Thapsus. There, ‘history’ tells us, Scipio ‘disappears from the historical record’.

Until now.

This is the story of how ‘Nobody’ Skip DeLirio, with the cards finally all dealt in his favour, still managed to fuck it up. History will only take you so far. The rest is make-believe.

Order your copy here


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