List of Spanish words of Basque/Iberian origin

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This is a list of Spanish words which are supposed to be of Basque, Iberian origin, or coming from some other pre-Roman language in the Iberian Peninsula. Some of these words existed in Latin as loanwords from other languages. Some of these words have alternate etymologies and may also appear on a list of Spanish words from a different language.


  • abarca "sandal" (cf. Basque abarka < abar "branch", because they were originally made of branches). The word was loaned in Mozarabic and even in Arab pargha/bargha and from here to Spanish alpargata (Trask 2008, 74).
  • abertzale / aberzale "Basque patriot, Basque nationalist" (cf. Basque abertzale). Recent loanword as it is a Basque neologism from the 19th century.
  • agur "goodbye" (from Basque agur with the same meaning) (DRAE).
  • aizcolari (cf. Basque aizkolari). Recent loanword.
  • alud "avalanche (of snow)", from Basque elurte or uholde, olde "flood; avalanche" (Joan Corominas; DRAE); elurte is a blend of elur "snow" and lurte "landslide"[1] (see lurte below).
  • angula "elver", from Basque angula, from Lat anguilla "eel" (DRAE)
  • aquelarre "witches' sabbath" (cf. Basque akelarre "goat field", fr. larre "field" and aker "billy goat")
  • ardite "money of little value", fr. Basque dial. (Zuberoa) ardít "farthing", fr. Gascon (h)ardit, fr. English farthing (Monlau, Coromines).
  • ascua "embers" (cf. Basque askuo, askua, fr. hauts "cinder")
  • azcona "dart" (cf. Basque azkon "dart, javelin") (DRAE)
  • barranco "ravine, deep gorge" (also Catalan barranc "cavity carved into rock by flowing water", Gascon/Occitan barenc "chasm"), from Basque barneko, barrenko "deep down, deep inside", from barren, barne "bottom, inside (noun)", superlatives of barru "inside, interior" (adj.).
  • batúa (modern loanword from Basque)
  • becerro "yearling calf", fr OSp bezerro "bullock" (cf. Basque bet- "cow" (combining form of behi) + -irru). Alternatively, Coromines (BDELC, 71) has OSp bezerro from *ibicirru, fr ibex, ibicis "mountain goat", although this is semantically and phonetically dubious (compare rebeco below).
  • bizarro "galant, spirited" (cf. Basque bizar "beard")
  • boina "beret" . Modern (19th century) loanword from Basque. For the Basque word Coromines and Pascual (Trask 2008, 146) propose it came from Romance, from LL abonnis, obbonis "bandana, cap", supposedly from Gothic *obbundi, compound of *obe "above" and *bundi (cf. Old Saxon gibund "bundle").
  • bruces, caer de "headlong, to fall". Uncertain. According to Coromines the original was "de buzos" / "de buces", which may be related with "bozo" (cf. "bozal"), which may come from Lat. bocca (through an hypothetical Romance *bucciu).
  • cachorro "puppy" (metathesis of *chacorro < Basque txakur "whelp"); also Southern Corsican ghjacaru ‘dog’, Sardinian giagaru ‘dog, hound’. Ousted now dialectal (rural Huesca) cadillo 'puppy', but in standard Spanish only having the sense of "bur-parsley".
  • calimotxo "a type of punch (drink)". Recent loanword
  • carrasca "kermes oak" (also Gascon charrascle, charruscle "thunderclap", charrasclino "rattle"), from Basque karraska "thunder, crash of falling tree" (BDELC).
  • carpetovetónico. Adj. usually despective "terribly Spanish against any non core Spanish influence". Modern derivation from the name of the pre-Roman tribes carpetani and vetones.
  • cencerro "cowbell" (cf. Basque zintzarri, zintzerri "cowbell, sheep bell")
  • chabola "jail" (cf. Basque txabola < Occitan gabiòla; DRAE)
  • chacolí, type of basque wine. Recent loanword
  • chamorro "close-cropped" (cf. Basque txamorro "grub, subterranean bug or worm" or samur, xamur "tender, delicate")
  • chaparro "dwarf oak" (cf. Basque txapar)
  • chaparrón. (Probably neither a pre-Roman word, nor a Basque loanword, but according to the DRAE it is an onomatopoeia; while Coromines believes that even Basque zaparr is an onomatopoeia).
  • chapela, type of basque cap. Recent loanword (The Basque word is of Romance origin from Med. Latin capella).
  • charro "crude", charrán "rogue, scamp" (cf. Basque txar "bad, faulty"; also Gascon charre "ignorant, naughty")
  • chasco "trick, prank, deception". Dubious. Coromines concludes that it is an onomatopoeia.
  • chatarra "scrap iron" (cf. Basque txatarra "the old one")
  • chirimbolo "circular slice" (cf. Basque txirimbol)
  • chirimiri "drizzle", from Basque zirimiri.
  • chistera, from Basque txistera, from Latin cistella "little basket, fish basket".
  • chorro "jet, stream, gushing" (also Portuguese jorro, Old Gascon chourre "fountain"), from Basque txurru "torrent, waterway"
  • churre "thick grease" (cf. Basque txur "miserly, economical")
  • cococha "cod's chin" (Basque kokotxa)
  • conejo "rabbit", from Lat cuniculus, from Proto-Basque *(H)unči (modern untxi); alternatively, from Hispano-Celtic *cun-icos 'little dog'[2]
  • ertzaina, "basque policeman", ertzaintza, "basque police". Recent loanwords.
  • farra "loud party" (also Catalan parranda) (cf. Basque farra, farre ~ parra, parre "laugh") (BDELC).
  • gabarra (cf. Basque kabarra, fr. Latin carabus, fr. Gk kárabos)
  • gamarra "halter" (from Basque gamarra)
  • ganzúa "lockpick" (Basque gantzua)
  • garrapata "tick" (cf. Basque gapar, kapar "furze, gorse"); also Gascon gaparra "furze/gorse grove", Catalan paparra "tick, lice; licebane, stavesacre (plant)", Portuguese carrapato "tick"
  • guijarro "pebble" (perhaps Basque gisuarri "limestone"). Or rather a tautological compound made of Sp guija "pebble, small stone" + Basque arri "pebble, stone", from Old Spanish (1495) aguija, from Latin (petra) aquīlea, fem. of aquileus, also seen in aguijada "goad" < *aquīleāta) (Corominas, DLAE).
  • ikastola, "Basque language school". Recent loanword
  • izquierdo, -a "left" (cf. Basque ezkerda "the left (one, side)", fr ezker "left"; also Portuguese esquerdo, Catalan esquerre). Ousted Old Spanish siniestro (also Old Portuguese sẽestro), from Latin sinister.
  • jorguín "sorcerer" (from Basque sorgin "witch")
  • laya "spade" (from Basque laia)
  • legaña "bleariness in eyes, bloodshot", fr OSp lagaña (cf. Basque lakaiña "cord, roughness, knob on a tree", formerly "strand")
  • lurte "avalanche" (Huesca dialect, from Aragonese lurte, from Basque lurte "landslide", from lur "earth").
  • madroño "strawberry tree" (also Aragonese martuel, Catalan maduixa), from Basque mart-, as in martotx "bramble", martsuka ~ martuts ~ martuza "blackberry". For similar development, compare Galician amorogo, Portuguese morango "strawberry", both from amora "blackberry; bramble". Ousted dialectal (a)borto, from OSp alborço, from Lat arbuteus
  • mochil, -a (from Basque mutxil, diminutive of mutil "boy")
  • mogote "isolated mound" (cf. Basque mokor "mound", moko "beak, point")
  • moño "bun, topknot", muñón "stump", muñeca "wrist", all from *mūnn- "lump, bump" (cf. Basqe mun, munho "hill; breast")
  • morena "stack of harvested grain" (cf. Basque muru "heap")
  • muérdago "mistletoe", fr. OSp mordago (10th century), from *muir-tako (Coromines) (cf. Basque miur(a) "mistletoe", mihuri "seed, kernel"). Inherited visco only has the meaning "birdlime".
  • narria "sledge" (cf. Basque nar, narra "towing, sled")
  • nava "marshy valley, treeless plain" (cf. Basque naba)
  • órdago "Mus card game expression pronounced when you win" (cf. Basque or dago "there it is")
  • pelotari, "player of Pelota". Recent loanword
  • pestaña "eyelash" (also Pg pestana, Cat pestanya), from *pistanna, from Proto-Basque *pist- (cf. Basque pizta "rheum", piztule "eyelash")
  • pitarra, pitaña "rheum" (cf. Basque pitar "rheum")
  • pizarra "slate"; problematic. Many attempts to explain as of Basque origin, but as Trask points the related Basque word seems better explained as a foreign loanword in Basque (cf. Basque pizar "fragment"). Alternative attempts (Coromines BDELC 435) point to a reinterpretation of lapitz-arri (Basque lapits "slate" from Latin lapis, plus Basque arri "stone"), and misdivided as "la-pitzarri" according to the Spanish article la.
  • sapo "toad" (also Gascon sapou, Aragonese zapo, Asturian sapu; cf. Basque zapo, apo). Rivals inherited escuerzo, from Lat scorteus "rough surface".
  • sarna "scabies", from Medieval Latin (7th century, Isidore of Seville, Origines, 4.8.68), but as serna attested in Theodorus Priscianus (Constantinople, 4th century). Trumper,[3] however, after studying the variants of the word in the Latin medical treatises, proposes a Hispano-Celtic origin; cf. Middle Welsh sarn "mess" and sarnaf "to wreck".[4]
  • sarro "tooth plaque" (cf. Basque sarra "rust") (Coromines, BDELC); however, DRAE derives it from Latin saburra "grit, sand", despite the fact this word actually gave sorra.
  • silo "underground cave, granary pit" (cf. Basque zilo, zulo "hole" < Proto-Basque *süɫɦo); or, less likely, from Hispano-Celtic *silon "seed" (Coromines).
  • socarrar "to scorch" (cf. Basque dial. and arch. sukarr(a) "flames, fire", fr. su "fire" and karr(a) "flame"
  • soca-tira, "tug-of-war". Recent loanword, from Basque soka "rope" + Fr tirer "to pull".
  • toca "headdress", perhaps from *tauca.
  • vega "river-plain; water meadow", from OSp vayca (Trask 1997, 420), from Basque (i)bai "river" + relational suffix -ko (BDELC).
  • zamarra/chamarra "sheepskin jacket" (cf. Basque zamar "fleece")
  • zanca "bird leg, slim leg", zanco "stilt" (cf. Basque zanko, zango "leg"). Despite similarity with Italian zanca, the latter is from Lombardic zanka "tong" (cf. German Zange, English tong).
  • zarrio "gaudy, garish" (cf. Basque txar "bad, faulty"), Andalusian doublet of charro (see above; DRAE).
  • zarza "bramble", fr OSp çarça (mod. Portuguese sarça), fr early Basque (Oihenart; 17th century) çarzi (modern sasi "bramble", sarri "bush, thicket") (Trask 1997, 421). Ousted Old Spanish rubo, from Lat rubus.
  • zatico/zatillo "piece of bread" (cf. Basque zati)
  • zorra "fox" , from Portuguese zorra "dray; sly fox", from zorro "idle", from obsolete zorrar "to lag, drag" (DRAE), from Basque zuhur "clever, sly; cautious, discreet" (Trask 1997, 421), akin to Occitan mandra "fox", from adjective mandre, -a "wily". Ousted raposa, literally, "bushy (tail)"; inherited volpe still retained in Galician, volp in Old Catalan, and vulpeja (gulpeja until 14th century) "vixen" in Spanish.
  • zulo "hole" (cf. Basque zulo). Recent loanword
  • zurdo "left-handed" (also Galician mao xurda 'left hand', Portuguese surro, churro, churdo; cf. Basque zur "wood; stingy", zurrun "rigid, hard; pole, beam") (Coromines)
  • zurrón "sack" (cf. Basque zorro)


  • ardilla "squirrel", diminutive of obsolete arda, from harda.
  • argaña, from *arganna
  • árgoma "heather"; related to argaña
  • aro "big metal or wooden ring". Perhaps instead from an Indo-European word *aros "circle; wheel" (BDELC).
  • arroyo "stream", from LL arrugia "mineshaft" (Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.70), from Iberian meaning "stream, channel"; also Portuguese arroio, Friulian roggia, Italian (Val Gardena) roia, Venetian roza; related to Spanish cuérrago "riverbed".
  • artiga "busted sod, tilled earth" (> artigar "to till, bust sod"; DRAE). Coromines proposed instead: 1) Celtic or Indo-European word akin to Welsh aredig "tillage" or Old High German art "cultivated land". This comparison was already suggested by Hubschmid who related the term with Indo-European verbs such as Latin arare "to plough";[5] 2) Iberian [6]
  • balsa "pond, pool" (also Catalan bassa). Pre-Roman, probably Iberian (BDELC). (In Basque it is a Spanish loanword).
  • barda "boundary hedge, fence, or wall; brush, thorn, or straw covering over pens or orchards"; perhaps Iberian (also in [Sardinian language]). (BDELC)
  • barro "mud" (also Aragonese bardo, Catalan bard), from *bardum; alternatively, from Hispano-Celtic.
  • calabaza "pumpkin", from *calapacceu (cf. Catalan carabassa), from calappacu "lizard, reptile, turtle" (see galápago below).
  • cama "bed"; (Isidore, 7th century) (BDELC, 101), from Iberian.
  • caspa "dandruff"
  • cazurro "rude, unsociable, malicious", formerly "obscene, crass, lewd"; alternatively from Arabic qadur "unsociable, dirty"[7]
  • coscojo "kermes oak gall" (also Catalan coscoll "scarlet"), from Latin cusculius, from Iberian.
  • cuérrago "riverbed", from Latin Latin corrugus "canal, water conduit in a mine", from Iberian; related to arroyo.
  • galápago "tortoise" (also Catalan calàpat "toad"), from *calappacu.
  • gándara "low wasteland, wilderness", from Late Latin gangadia.
  • garabato "pothook; squiggle"
  • garduña "marten"
  • garma "scree, steep mountain slope"
  • gazapo "young rabbit" (also Portuguese caçapo)
  • gordo "fat", from Latin gurdus "thick, heavy, clumsy, awkward" (Quintilian, a.d. 35-100, Institutio Oratoria 1.5.57, used for stolidus "stupid"); also Portuguese, French gourd "numb, stiff', Italian dialects.
  • gusano (var. gusarapo) "worm" (rivaled by inherited Sp verme)
  • manteca "lard" (Pg manteiga, Cat mantega), from *manteica. Corminas suggests an Indo-European origin.
  • maraña "thicket"
  • marueco, morueco "(uncastrated) ram" (also Catalan marrà, mardà), from *mard-.
  • parra "grapevine, trellis" (also Catalan/Portuguese parra, Occitan parran); Corominas (BDELC) gives Gothic *parra, -ans "surrounded, encircled", yet no such form or related word is attested in any Germanic language.
  • perro "dog", originally "cur"; ousted Old Spanish can
  • rebeco "ibex", from older rebezo (1475), robezo (1434), from Old Spanish ueko, from Late Latin hybicum, from Latin ibex, -icis, from Iberian, with influence from Old Spanish reves(s)o "cantankerous, not broken in, untamed".[8]
  • sima "chasm"; Coromines considers to be dubious the comparison with some Indo-European words with meanings as "frontier" or "cord".
  • sobaco "underarm, armpit" (also Portuguese sovaco)
  • tamo "chaff"
  • urraca "magpie" (BDELC p. 564); alternatively from Hispano-Celtic *vracca "crone"; cf. Old Irish fracc "woman", Breton gwrac'h "old woman, crone", Cornish gwragh "crone, witch", Welsh gwrach "id."; derivative of *vraci: Br gwreg "woman", C gwrêk, W gwraig.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ But the DRAE includes lurte as a Spanish word used in Huesca)
  2. ^ X. Ballester and R. Quinn "Cuniculus - 'Rabbit': A Celtic Etimology", World Rabbit Science 10, 2002, pp. 125-129 ]
  3. ^ "Notte sulle malaltie suine e degli animali in genere e sulle voci albanesi per 'maiale' et sim"
  4. ^ Trumper, op. cit., p. 4, footnote 13.
  5. ^ See Llorente p.131
  6. ^ See the abstract in Moisés Selfa Sastre Toponimia del Valle Medio del Ésera (Huesca). Estudio lingüístico y cartografía Doctoral dissertation, Universitat de Lleida, 2000, page 145.
  7. ^ Francisco Marquez-Villanueva, Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages, ed. Jan M. Ziolkowski (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 100.
  8. ^ "Etimología de rebeco ‘gamuza’ y de reveso ‘rebeco’ y ‘(pez) rémora’", Boletin de la Real Academia Española, 81 (2001), 223-53.


  • Corominas, Juan. Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua castellana, 2nd ed. Madrid: Editorial Gredos, S.A., 1967. (BDELC)
  • Entwistle, William, J. The Spanish language: Together with Portuguese, Catalan and Basque, 1962.
  • Gómez de Silva, Guida. Elsevier's Concise Spanish Etymological Dictionary. New York: Elsevier, 1985.
  • Llorente Maldonado de Guevara, Antonio "Las Palabras pirenaicas de origen prerromano, de J. Hubschmid, y su importancia para la lingüística peninsular", Archivo de Filología Aragonesa, 8-9, pp. 127–157, 1958.
  • Monlau y Roca, Pedro Felipe. "Diccionario etimológico de la lengua castellana Madrid, 1856.
  • Oroz Arizcuren, Franciso Javier. "Sobre palabras preromanas en escritores latinos" in La Hispania prerromana : actas del VI Coloquio sobre lenguas y culturas prerromanas de la Península Ibérica : (Coimbra, 13-15 de octubre de 1994) coord. 1996, ISBN 84-7481-830-3, p. 207-216.
  • Real Academia Española. Diccionario de la lengua española (22nd edition). Madrid 2001. (DRAE)
  • Robert Lawrence Trask. The History of Basque Routledge, 1997. ISBN 978-0-415-13116-2.
  • Robert Lawrence Trask. Etymological dictionary of Basque" edited for web publication by Max W. Wheeler, University of Sussex 2008.

External links[edit]