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The Unexpected Chinese Origin of these 5 Spanish Words

  • Post category:Vocabulary

Happy Lunar Year! Today, we embark on a fascinating etymological journey to uncover the Chinese roots that have blossomed in our everyday Spanish. Join me to discover the Chinese origin of these 10 Spanish words!

#1. Kétchup (ketchup)

This very well-known sauce made of tomato, vinegar, sugar and spices has its origin in the Asian continent. The word comes from the Chinese ‘kôechiap’, which means ‘fish pickle sauce’. Even though these two sauces are pretty different, the tomato one kept that name!

#2. Charol (patent leather)

Patent leather refers to a type of leather that has been treated or coated with a glossy and shiny finish.

The word ‘charol’ arrived in the Spanish language through the Portuguese ‘charão’, which was taken from the Chinese ‘chat-liao’, meaning ‘oily varnish’.

#3. Tifón (typhoon)

A lot has been discussed about the origin of the word “typhoon.” It is believed to come from the Chinese ‘Ta-Feng,’ which means ‘big wind.’ Apparently, the term entered the Greek language to later be reimported to Japan and China.

#4. ¡Chinchín! (Cheers!)

The Chinese root of these common Spanish expression was completely unexpected!

“¡Chinchín!” is an informal expression that Spaniards use when making a toast or clinking glasses together before taking a drink. It’s the equivalent to the English expression “Cheers!”.

All signs point to this expression coming from the Chinese ‘Qing’, which means ‘please’. With this gesture, we can request a toast with our family or friends.

#5. Mandarina (mandarin orange)

The word ‘mandarina’ reached the Spanish language through the Portuguese ‘mandarim’. This term referred to the Chinese bureaucrats from the 16th century, who wore orange-coloured robes. Hence the name of the colour!

That’s all, amigos! I hope you liked to learn more about the Chinese origin of these 5 Spanish words! Now you’re ready to use them! (especially “¡Chinchín!”). And, if you know any other words that came from the Chinese language, leave a comment! 🙂

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