From pucho to carpa to caucho, Spanish in the Andes is peppered with words that come from Quechua. Part of that is because of the way Quechua was used in the 16th century.

“Quechua was thriving when the Spanish arrived to South America during the 16th century, and it quickly became the subject of systematic study for evangelical purposes in the viceroyalty of Peru,” said Américo Mendoza-Mori, a professor who designed the Quechua Language Program at the University of Pennsylvania. “Grammar texts and dictionaries were written, and college students were required to have some knowledge of Quechua or Aymara. That really helped for the preservation and expansion of the language. The Pastoral use of Quechua probably during the colonial times was key to incorporate [Quechua] words in Spanish and vice versa.”

But Quechua – one of the most widely spoken indigenous tongues in the Americas – didn’t just influence language in its immediate surroundings, it made a mark in different parts of the world. Both English and Spanish across Latin America have words that come directly from the language. Here are seven words that derived from Quechua.


Update, April 2: One of the entries has been removed, because the origins are contested. 

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Art by Alan López for Remezcla

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Art by Alan López for Remezcla