Spanish is the second most widely-spoken language in the world. Its greatest influence comes from Latin, followed by Arabic. In fact, 25% of Spanish words come from Arabic. Spanish has been influenced by a variety of other languages, including romance languages, such as Italian and Portuguese, and other non-romance languages, such as Greek. Perhaps the influence of so many cultures and languages is the reason why the Spanish language has so many beautiful words. Picking the most beautiful ones is no easy task, but at Diáfano we’ve come up with our top 10. Build your vocabulary and learn these beautiful words.
Stemming from the Arabic law sha’a Allah, which is often translated as “God willing.” When followed by the conjunction que, ojalá is always followed by the subjunctive.
Light. One of the most beautiful idiomatic expressions in Spanish is “Dar a luz,” which means to give birth. If translated literally, it means to give light. Its origin lies in the Latin word lux, of Indo-European root leuk and the Greek word leukós.
Not all beautiful words need to have a beautiful meaning. And who doesn’t know the word loco by now? Some etymologists agree that it comes from the Arabic layqa. The only romance language with a similar word is Portuguese, which refers to loco as louco.
You probably know what this means, right? As delicious as it sounds, chocolate is a word from the Aztec language, náhuatl. Most words ending in -ate come from náhuatl.
To dream. What’s your dream? LIke in English, soñar is used for dreaming during sleep and dreaming about the future. Soñar despierto is to daydream. If you take away the ñ, the verb becomes sonar, which is to sound.
Beautiful. Like its Italian counterpart, bella is the epitome of beauty. Its origin lies in the Latin word bellus.
Sunrise, to wake up. The word literally means the apparition of light during the day and stems from the Latin manes, which means morning. When the day turns to afternoon, the verb atardecer is used. Anochecer is used for when the verb turns to night.
God. You need not be religious to recognize that Dios, spelled with a capital letter, is a beautiful word. It stems from the Latin word deus, which means to be of light.
Love. It proceeds from the Latin word amor. The Latin word itself is linked to an Indo-European root amma for mother, and the Latin word amare, meaning to love or to caress one’s mother.
Diaphanous, clear, see-through. It proceeds from the Greek word día, see-through, and phaneín, to allow light through. Call me biased if you’d like, but I named my company Diáfano when I founded it a few years ago, not only because it exemplified the clearness that I was trying to convey through my own Spanish methodology, the Diáfano Method, but also because the word is so beautiful. Who says you can’t have it all?
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Irma is a trained linguist, native Spanish speaker, and teacher. She is the founder and CEO of Diáfano.
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