11 Spanish Words You Never Realised Came From English 

Cocktails | © bridgesward / Pixabay
Jessica Jones

Spanish is a rich and varied language that, over the years, has borrowed words from several other languages. Many Arabic words made their way into everyday Spanish when Moorish rulers dominated the Iberian Peninsula, and these days, lots of English words are finding their way into everyday Spanish discourse. Read on to discover some common Spanish words that originally came from the English language.

Bistec – beef steak


Britain’s good old roast beef lends its name to this cut of meat in Spain, which is also sometimes called a filete (filet). Many Spanish borrowings from English spell the word as it is pronounced by Spaniards, so ‘beef steak’ becomes bistec.

Panfleto – pamphlet

Mitin – meeting

A public meeting

Many anglicisms to do with business have made their way into foreign languages, and Spanish is no exception. But rather than a business meeting, mitin in Spanish refers to a public meeting or a political party conference.

Drenaje – drainage

This is actually a triple-borrowed word: Spanish borrowed the word from English and English borrowed the word from the French drainage. The word became commonly used in English with the advent of agricultural technology.

Esmoquin – tuxedo

The Spanish esmoquin means ‘tuxedo’

This is a bit of a false friend: esmoquin in Spanish does not mean ‘smoking’, as you might assume, but ‘tuxedo’. It comes from the English ‘smoking jacket’, a jacket that was typically worn to – you guessed it – smoke. It was usually made from velvet or silk, and although not very common these days, the style was a favourite of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

Esnob – snob

You may have noticed that Spanish tends to add the letter e to the start of words that begin with s to make it easier for Spaniards to pronounce. Examples include ‘spaghetti’, which becomes espagueti, and the English word ‘snob’, which in Spanish becomes esnob, referring to someone who believes they are superior to others. Snobbishness is esnobismo in Spanish.

Fútbol – football


Football might be Spain’s most popular sport, but the Spanish word for the beautiful game comes straight from the English, ‘football’. Intriguingly, Spanish does have its own word for the sport, balompié, but it is seldom used. It does appear in the full title of some football team names, though, such as the Seville-based team Real Betis Balompié.

Cóctel – cocktail


No need to worry about learning the word for ‘cocktail’ when you’re travelling through Spanish-speaking countries; it’s practically the same as in English, with just a slight difference in spelling. The origin of the word is disputed, but the Oxford English Dictionary claims it comes from the USA, with the first recorded usage back in 1803.


Jogging is ‘footing’ in Spanish

Nothing to do with football, this is another false friend that actually means jogging in Spanish. Spaniards ‘hacer footing’ which means ‘go jogging’. Confusingly, Spaniards also use the English word running to mean something a bit more serious: a run that is a specific distance or timed.

Beicon – bacon


There’s nothing more satisfying than a hearty bacon sandwich, and when you’re in Spain, you will be sure to know the correct word for it, because it comes from the English. In much of South America, however, they use the term tocineta or tocino.

Lifting – face lift

Nope, it’s not referring to weight lifting, but to face lifting; the Spanish word lifting means ‘face lift’ and comes straight from the English term.

It’s not just Spanish that has borrowed from English. It cuts both ways! Check out some common English words that were stolen from Spanish.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article