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Ten ‘English’ words adopted and adapted into Spanish

Ten 'English' words adopted and adapted into Spanish
Friki is just one of the English sounding words to become slang in Spanish. Photo: Antonio David Fernández / Flickr
The Spanish language is now peppered with words that sound English and often denote a modern sort of concept for which there isn't a Spanish word.

These slang terms have been adapted and adopted to mean something entirely different, so to a native English speaker they sound familiar yet strange at the same time.

Some of the words have become so commonplace in Spanish that you will have a difficult job persuading a Spaniard that they really don't exist in the language of Shakespeare.

The anglicized slang has become so widespread that the Royal Spanish Academy has even launched a campaign to try and put a stop to it.

Here is our list of the top ten terms you are likely to hear in everyday Spanish 

Alto standing:

The 'alto standing' rooftop terrace at the Ohla Hotel Barcelona. Photo:

A term used to describe anything luxurious or high-class, from an apartment to a prostitute.


Photo: Rafa Luque / Flickr

The noun for jogging, and 'hacer footing', as in to 'go jogging'.


Photo: Israel González / Flickr

Widely used to refer to a car park or parking lot, as in 'I can't find a parking anywhere!'


Photo: Dennis Skley/Flickr

The term 'hacer zapping' is commonly used in Spanish to describe channel-hopping or channel-surfing.


Photo: Phillip Pessar / Flickr

Used as a noun in Spanish to describe the act of customizing or accessorizing a car. The final product is known as a 'coche tuneado'.


Cristiano Ronaldo is crack. Photo: AFP

Nothing to do with the drug or a hole of any kind, crack is used in Spanish to describe someone who's great at doing something. So don't feel offended if a Spanish friend calls you a crack, it's actually a compliment.


Photo: Richard Patterson / Flickr

Instead of calling it ginebra y tónica, the Spanish have adopted the English name for the refreshing alcoholic beverage and just dropped the 'and' in the middle.

El office

Photo: Paul McCoubrie / Flickr

Somewhat confusing that the Spanish use the noun for a workplace to describe a pantry, breakfast room or utility room.


Photo: Antonio David Fernández / Flickr 

This word is used as a noun rather than adjective, this English-sounding Spanish-spelled word has been used in recent years for anyone odd or with unusual habits or looks.


Photo: AFP

If the dress code states Smoking don’t be tempted to actually don a smoking jacket. The term has been adopted in Spain to mean ‘black tie’ and is alternatively spelled 'un esmoquin'.

Can you think of any more examples? Let us know in the comments section below.

List compiled by Alex Dunham

Member comments

  1. Footing and jogging, more recently, have transitioned into “running”. It’s now quite normal to hear: “Hago running todos los días”.

  2. My all time favourite is the word “slip”. It was imported years ago by Abanderado (men’s underwear company), and the meaning in Spanish is “underpants”!!!

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