Ten ‘English’ words adopted and adapted into Spanish

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.

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

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. 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”!!!

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

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The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia

Even if you speak Spanish, if you're living in Catalonia, it's a good idea to learn some Catalan too. Here are some basic phrases you need to get by.

The essential Catalan phrases you need in Catalonia
Image: Photos_Marta/ Pixabay

While everyone in the bigger Catalan cities such as Barcelona or Tarragona will speak Spanish, it’s a good idea to learn some Catalan too.

Not only is this sure to win you some brownie points with the locals, but it will enrich your experience of living in the region and allow you to make new friends. This is particularly true when travelling to the smaller towns and villages in rural Catalonia too.


Greetings are a great way to start out practicing your Catalan. Your neighbours will be delighted and appreciate greetings in their local language. Because the phrases are short, they’re easy to remember and don’t invite long answers that you won’t be able to understand.

Bon dia – Good day

This phrase is used all the time in Catalonia, even more so than ‘Hola’. You would use it for greeting someone anytime up until the afternoon, after which you would say 'Bona tarda'. 

Encantat! Molt de gust! – Pleased to meet you.

Com estás? – How are you?

Bona nit – Good night

Greetings in Catalan. Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels


Being polite

Another very easy way to slip in some Catalan here and there is to use it in small polite phrases. Even if you don’t know the Catalan for the whole phrase, you could easily add please or thank you on the end.

Si us plau – Please

Moltes gràcies – Thank you very much

De res – You’re welcome

Saying thank you in Catalan. Image: Ka Young Seo / Pixabay 

Eating out

When you’re a bit more confident with your Catalan, eating out is the perfect time to put it all into practice. You don’t have to keep the conversation going a long time and there are particular useful phrases that you can memorise.  

Teniu una taula per dos? – Do you have a table for two?

La carta, si us plau – The menu please

El comte, si us plau – The bill please

No puc menjar… – I can’t eat…
This one may be useful if there’s something that you’re allergic to or can’t eat, such as gluten or dairy for example.

Eating out. Image: Ji-yeon Yun / Pixabay 


Like eating out, shopping is another perfect chance to put your Catalan out in the real world.

Quant costa això? – How much does that cost?

Tens un altre color? – Do you have a different colour?

Tens una talla més gran/petita? – Do you have a bigger/smaller size?

Pots ajudar-me? – Can you help me?


READ MORE: Ten colourful Catalan phrases you should learn right now