english words used in spanish

Double Agents: 68 Sneaky English Words Undercover as Spanish Words

Are they speaking English?

No, they couldn’t be. But that word sounded so darn familiar.

You’re speaking Spanish with native speakers, and all of sudden something odd happened. You can hardly make sense of it. But—ah, again!—there’s another strangely familiar word that sounds distinctly un-Spanish.

You start to question yourself. Are you mishearing? Are they trying to make it easier for you to understand? Are you in some sort of alternate universe? The answers are no, no and probably not.

The reason those words sound so un-Spanish is probably that they aren’t Spanish at all—at least not originally. Spanish has borrowed a number of words from the English language.

So while you may study up on idiomstravel phrases and restaurant vocabulary for your impending trip, and you may even know slang to sound like a true Argentine, Mexican, Ecuadorian or Spaniard, you can also actually use some familiar English-language words while speaking Spanish.


What Are Loanwords and Why Are They Noteworthy?

It’s no secret that all languages borrow words from other languages. After all, some very useful words begin in one language and other languages need them too.

These words that are taken from one language and used as-is in their adopted language are known as “loanwords.”

More specifically, we can call words that originally came from English but are now borrowed by other languages “Anglicisms.” This term indicates their English origin.

It’s important to be familiar with loanwords, and Anglicisms in particular, because they make learning and remembering new vocabulary words much easier. After all, you already know the word in English, so memorizing the same word in Spanish will be a breeze!

Just take a look at the English loanwords that we’ve put together here, and you’ll know what we mean!

68 English Words Commonly Used in Spanish

The following words all came from English (most recently—they may have some deeper linguistic origins) and are now used in Spanish.

Some of these words have multiple spellings included. This is because they often appear spelled in multiple ways. There’s no real proper way to spell it. One version is usually closer to the English language while the other is made more traditionally Spanish.

Keep in mind that, regardless of the spelling, you’ll need to pronounce all of these words with a good, solid Spanish accent.

—Fashion and Lifestyle—

1. Panty / Panti

While this word will look familiar to English speakers, it actually has a slightly different meaning from its English-language counterpart. In Spanish, panty or panti actually refers to pantyhose or tights.

2. Smoking / Esmoquin

In English, “smoking” is a verb, but in Spanish it’s a noun. Smoking or esmoquin refers to a tuxedo or dinner jacket. Need an easy way to remember this? Think of the English term “smoking jacket.”

3. Nylon / Nailon

Both spellings refer to the synthetic fabric.

4. Piercing

Though it’s sometimes known as a perforación, the word piercing is often used to refer to—you guessed it—a piercing of any shape, size or body part.


5. Fútbol

Taken from the English word “football,” this word is used to refer to soccer (or what everyone everywhere, aside from people in the U.S.A., calls “football”).

6. Básquetbol

While it’s sometimes called baloncesto, which uses the natural Spanish vocabulary choices for ball (balón) and basket (cesto), basketball is also known as básquetbol throughout Latin America.

7. Tenis

No surprises here. Tenis means “tennis.” Be sure to place the emphasis on the second syllable (tenis) in Spanish. 

8. Hockey

This is another straightforward one. Hockey means “hockey” in both Spanish and English.

9. Rugby

This is identical in meaning and spelling—but not in pronunciation, of course—in both Spanish and English.

10. Waterpolo

Here’s a twist. Waterpolo is the Spanish equivalent of our “water polo.” Note the slight difference in spacing. Captivating, no?

11. Golf

Yup, golf is still golf.

12. Surf

While the English word “surf” is usually used as a verb to refer to the sport, in Spanish surf is actually a noun referring to the sport, so it’s more similar in meaning to the English word “surfing.”

13. Footing

This one is a bit tricky. In English, “footing” usually refers to the placement of your feet. However, in Spanish, it’s a noun meaning “jogging.”

14. Spinning

This indoor cycling is exhausting in either language.

15. Gol

Gol means “goal.”

—Computers and Technology—

16. Tweet

“Tweet,” “retweet,” “twitter,” “hashtag” and pretty much any other Twitter-affiliated term will be the same in both Spanish and English.

17. Email

Though sometimes called correo electrónico, email is also frequently used to refer to email. Pronounce both the and the mail strongly.

18. Post

When referring to an online post (though not other types of posts), post is equivalent to the English word “post.”

19. Chat

Chat is used to refer to online chats or chatrooms.

20. Clic

While this is technically a noun, it’s used to refer to clicking anything online. Hacer clic means “to click.”

21. Link

Link can be used to refer to online links, but not other sorts of links such as connections or chains.

22. Internet

This is the same in both Spanish and English.

23. Webcam

Again, the meaning is identical in both Spanish and English.

24. DVD

Though the abbreviation is the same, in Spanish the full name is actually disco de video digital. 

Unlike the rest of the abbreviations yet to come, this one’s letters are pronounced with a more Englishy accent, dee-vee-dee.

25. CD

This abbreviation is taken directly from English. To say the full words in Spanish, you would say disco compacto, so clearly the abbreviation is derived from English or it would be DC.

This abbreviation, along with all of the following, must be read out loud in Spanish letters with classic Spanish pronunciation.

26. GPS

This abbreviation also comes from the English abbreviation. After all, sistema de posicionamiento global doesn’t quite lend itself to the abbreviation GPS.

27. PC

This is used to refer to a personal computer in both Spanish and English.

28. FAQ

In both Spanish and English, this refers to “frequently asked questions” that webpages often post.

—Food and Drink—

29. Whiskey / Güisqui

What with margaritas, piña coladas and sangria, you’d think English had taken more drinks from Spanish than vice versa. However, drinks know no language boundaries and English-language drink names are now common in Spanish. Whiskey and güisqui are both used to refer to whiskey.

30. Gin-tonic

Gin-tonic is a gin and tonic.

31. Bloody Mary

This is a brunch favorite in either language.

32. Cocktail / Cóctel

Cocktail and cóctel are both used to mean “cocktail” or “mixed drink.”

33. Sandwich / Sándwich / Sanduche

No matter which way you spell it, it’s the same delicious dish that we English-speakers know and love all too well.

34. Beicon Béicon / Bacón

While tocino and tocineta are commonly used in Latin America, beicon, béicon and/or bacón are frequently used in Spain to refer to the salty meat.

35. Picnic / Pícnic

In both English and Spanish, this refers to an outdoor meal beloved by cartoon bears.


36. Yankee / Yanqui

Though historically used to mean a New Englander, this term in modern Spanish now usually refers to any American (sometimes as a pejorative).

37. Snob / Esnob

In both Spanish and English, this term refers to someone trying to be trendy or superior to others.

38. Gángster

Gángster means “gangster.”

39. Hooligan

While there are many Spanish terms that are equivalent to the English word “hooligan,” the loanword hooligan is more used to refer to trouble-making students or young people.

40. Hippy

This is the same in both languages. Peace, man. Both the and are pronounced like the Spanish letter i.

41. Hacker

This is the same in both Spanish and English.

42. Líder

Líder is derived from the English word “leader.”

43. Barman

While in English we more frequently call them “bartenders,” the Spanish word barman comes from the old-timey English term “barman” or “barkeep.”

44. RockerRockero

These words can be used to refer to a rock musician or fan.


45. Jazz

This is the same in both Spanish and English.

46. Funk

Funk in Spanish refers to the style of music.

47. Blues

Blues in Spanish refers to the style of music, not the color group.

48. Pop

Pop in Spanish refers to the style of music but not soda, the noise or the verb.

49. Punk

This mostly refers to the music style though it can occasionally be used to refer to a person.

50. House

House refers to a style of music, but it does not mean “house” as in the place where you live.

51. Heavy

Heavy is used to refer to heavy metal music.

52. Breakdance / Breikdans

Breakdance and Breikdans are used to refer to the dance style.


53. Bar

In Spanish, the word bar can be used to mean “bar,” as it does in English, a place where people go to drink.

54. Club

Club can be used to refer to virtually any type of club, from golf clubs to yacht clubs to nightclubs—most often nightclubs.

55. Pub

Pub means the same in both Spanish and English.

56. Camping / Cámping

In Spanish camping and cámping can be used to mean “camping,” “campground” or “campsite.”

57. Parking / Párking

In English, “parking” is a verb to refer to the act of parking a car. However, in Spanish it is a noun used to refer to a parking lot.


58. Bestseller / Béstseller

In both Spanish and English, this word is used to refer to popular books.

59. Comic / Cómic

These terms are used to refer to comic strips and comic books.

60. Hobby

Though sometimes referred to as pasatiempo, a hobby is often called a hobby.

61. Boicot

Boicot comes from the English word “boycott.”

62. Bol

Bol comes from the English word “bowl.” Whether it’s filled with helado (ice cream) or something else is a moot point.

63. Bypass / By-pass

In Spanish, this term refers to a heart bypass but not a road bypass.

64. Overbooking

This word has the same meaning in both Spanish and English. Once you’ve gotten bumped from a flight because of it, it’s a term you’ll never forget.

65. Marketing

Used exclusively as a noun in Spanish, this refers to the commercial field of marketing and the act of marketing a product or service.

66. Catering / Cátering

Though sometimes called hostelería, catering or cátering can also be used to refer to caterers themselves, their businesses and the general services they offer.

67. Zapping

Zapping is a colloquial term used for channel surfing

68. OK

Whether in Spanish or English, this is an agreeable term.


As you can see, Spanish uses a lot of English words.

With new terms entering each language daily, the overlap between these two great languages will only grow with time.

Learn them as you go—they’re basically freebie vocabulary words!


And One More Thing…

If you like learning colorful, memorable Spanish lessons like this one, then you’ll love FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Spanish learning experiences.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos—topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies and even magical realism, as you can see here:

Great App for Learning Spanish

FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

Top Apps for Learning Spanish

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

Top Spanish Learning Apps

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video. 

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU App from the iTunes store. The Android app is coming soon!

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