Definition of Spanish in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈspanɪʃ/


Relating to Spain, its people, or its language.
Example sentences
  • When you come to Spain we'll play Spanish music, we'll sing and we'll even dance.
  • They know they will be able to find jobs where they can use their Spanish language and communicate with bosses.
  • Throughout the 18th century diplomats continued to take advantage of their residence in Spain to buy Spanish art.


1 (as plural noun the Spanish) The people of Spain.
Example sentences
  • The Dance of the Conquest recalls the victory of the Spanish over the Amerindians.
  • In Los Montezumas, the confrontation of the Spanish and Aztecs in Mexico is acted out.
  • The music of these poems remains in the Spanish; it cannot be conveyed in English.
2 [mass noun] The main language of Spain and of much of Central and South America (except Brazil) and several other countries. It is a Romance language with over 300 million speakers worldwide.
Example sentences
  • Now the newsletter is hosted on a dozen of sites and is translated into Spanish, German, French, Dutch and Italian.
  • He was a dominant player, and a dominant boxer, and he spoke French and Spanish in addition to English.
  • From the autumn, it will be broadcast in English and Spanish to 35 million households.



Example sentences
  • The persistence in the popular imagination of the notion of Carmen as the ultimate essence of Spanishness is troubling.
  • The idea of Spanishness has come to evoke Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jennifer Lopez, and support for the common man.


Middle English: from Spain + -ish1, with later shortening of the first vowel.

  • Paella on the patio

    Spain is a popular choice for Brits holidaying or moving abroad. This is hardly surprising when you see how many Spanish words in English are connected with relaxation and enjoyment.

    SPANISH paella and tapas are perfect for outdoor dining on a patio, originally the name for an inner courtyard in a Spanish house. The dish of rice with chicken and shellfish, cooked in a large shallow pan, goes back to Latin patella ‘a small shallow dish’—so the plate of food balanced on your knee has a close connection with patella as the anatomical name for the kneecap. Tapas, small savoury dishes served with drinks at a bar, used to come free, and were traditionally served on a dish balanced atop a glass. This was the origin of the name, since the word literally means ‘cover’ or ‘lid’.

    Sangria, a mixture of red wine, carbonated water, and a sweetener, would be just the drink for a patio meal. Its colour is the source of the name, which in Spanish means ‘bleeding’. Although sherry has a typically British feel to it, the name comes from vino de Xerez or ‘wine of Xerez’—the original name of Jerez in southern Spain, from which the drink came. After all this eating and drinking, a siesta or nap might be welcome. This Spanish word for a rest taken at the hottest time of the day goes back to Latin sexta hora ‘sixth hour of the day’.

    Certainly not relaxing, but traditionally Spanish, is a bullfight. A mounted bullfighter is called a toreador, from toro ‘bull’, and the bullfighter whose task is to kill the bull is the matador, a word which means literally ‘killer’. It goes back ultimately to Persian māt ‘dead’, the origin of the -mate part of checkmate ( see check). An English proverb warns us not to put off till tomorrow what we can do today, but the relaxed Spanish have given us mañana, ‘tomorrow’, to express a more easy-going attitude to pressing schedules. You could respond to any protests about slackness with que sera sera, which indicates that you have no control over the future. The Spanish phrase, meaning ‘what will be, will be’, was popularized in English by the 1956 song ‘Que Sera, Sera’, sung by Doris Day.

    See also amateur, castle, flamingo, sombre

Words that rhyme with Spanish

banish, clannish, mannish, tannish, vanish

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Span|ish

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