Spanish Glossary



abra – from abrir, (to open), a narrow pass between hills, a narrow valley.

acequia – irrigation ditch, canal; acequia madre meaning main irrigation – an irrigation canal.

acion – stirrup leather.

adios – goodbye. literal translation – “to God.”

adobe – brick made of clay, water and available straw or grass baked in the sun used to construct all manner of buildings where wood was in short supply.

agarita – wild currant. Food and Drink

agregado – a farm hand.

agrito – term applied to a variety of thorn bushes from which can be made a delicious jelly.

aguardiente – term applied to a number of liquors such as brandy, whiskey, and “high octane” tequila derived from the Mexican cactus plan called maguey. Food and Drink

alameda – from alamo – cottonwood tree, grove of trees sometimes along an avenue.

alamo – cottonwood tree,. A word from which many names are derived, e.g., Alamogordo, (big tree), Alamosa, (tree’d), Los Alamos, (the cottonwood trees), and the Alamo, (the cottonwood tree), a Spanish mission fort in San Antonio, Texas.

albondigas – meatballs; served with spaghetti or as an appetizer. Food and Drink

alcalde – title applied to the town mayor, but sometimes the judge, or chief of police.

alfalfa – from Arabic al-fasfasah, good fodder.

alforja – saddlebag

algarroba – honey mesquite.

algodon – – cotton, sometimes referred to cottonwood tree.

alla – “over there, yonder.”

alligator – from “el lagarto.”

amansador – a horse tamer.

amigo – friend.

amole – from Nahuatl also ammole, amolli – a plant from which soap can be made, such as the yucca root.

Anglo – a person not of Spanish or Indian descent.

angoras – Chaps made from goat hide with wool left on the outside.

anquera – from Spanish and Mexican saddle style, the rear leather piece over the horses’ rump which varies greatly in size and use

ante – from the Spanish word antes meaning before. To get in the poker game you had to “ante-up” before (antes) having cards or a hand dealt to you; also meaning pay up or to hand something over.

aparejo – Mexican pack saddle.

aperitivo – appetizer re Food and Drink

appola – the sticks on which small pieces of meat were roasted over an open fire, (Matthews, 1951). Food and Drink

arancel – aransel, – an import tax.

arciones – stirrup-leathers.

argolla del enteador – the ring of the saddle rigging straps.

armas – the predecessor of chaps, leather flaps attached to saddle to protect riders legs.

armitas half-chaps riding apron just below the tops of the old Spanish high boots fastened around the legs.

arriero – muleteer, a mule driver.

arroba – Spanish measurement of weight, about 10 kilos used to weigh Corriente or Long Horn cattle.

arroyo – a gully or wash where water runs only when raining; dry most of the year, and also used as trails or horseback roadways.

arroz – rice. Food and Drink

atole – 1. from Nahuatl for blue corn meal/porridge/gruel served as a beverage with sugar. Food and Drink
2. A family surname to a clan/member of the Jicarrilla Apache Indians, NM.

avocado – from Spanish “de aguacate.” Food and Drink


baile – a dance

bajada – down slope of a hill.

bamoose – corrupted Spanish for “vamos,” meaning, “let’s go.”

banco – a sandbank

band – a bunch of horses, wild or in remuda.

bandana – the neckerchief of a cowboy

bandera – flag

bandido – a bandit

barbacoa – barbecue, derived from barba (beard) of the kid goat and cueva (cave)- pit cooked kid goat Food and Drink

barboquejo – (stampede string), chin strap for hat strong enough for the wind, but not so strong so as to choke the wearer.

barranca – 1. a steep wide of a ravine or arroyo
2. a bluff.

barriguera – cinch

basto/baste – a pad or skirt of a saddle.

bayo – a bay horse dun or smokey color.

belduque – a large knife and blade.

biscochitos – Anise-flavored cookies, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Food and Drink

bisonte – bison

bodega – – grocery store/liquor store.

bolero – original Spanish style vaquero hat known today as the Santa Fe style.

bolo tie – from the Spanish bolas, boleadoras, two balled weights at the end of a forked rope, the gauchos,’ (cowboys’) equivalent of the lariat; a cord tie held together with a concha (shell, in modern times a silver concha) or a turquoise stone.

bonanza – prosperity or success.

bosque – a grove of trees or woodland

brasada – brush country

brida – bridle

briza – wind, breeze.

bronc – an unbroken horse or a cow horse.

bronc buster – breaker of wild horses.

brujo – a wizard

bufalo – American bison, buffalo.

buñelo – fry bread, also sopapilla served with icing or dipped in cinnamon and sugar. Food and Drink

burrito – flour tortilla filled with beans, meat, cheese, or potatoes, served with a chilli/salsa garnished with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Food and Drink

burro – donkey

buscadero – someone who seeks, usually applied to lawmen.


caballada – a band of saddle horses. Also remuda, cavallard, cavy (or cavvy).

caberos – from cabestro or halter.

cabestro – original horse hair halter.

cabeza del fuste – the head of the saddle tree.

cabrie – pronghorn antelope.

cabrón – a male goat. As ¡Cabrón! = bastard!

cacao – cocoa .

cacique – a village leader usually applied to Indian Pueblo clan heads.

cafeteria – eating place.

calabaza – pumpkin, squash, related vegetables. Hence calabash Food and Drink

calabozo – jail. Hence calaboze.

calaveras – skulls or skull location

calzoneras – pants split on the outside of the leg showing white under leggings.

cama – bed, or bed roll

camino real – the original public roadway established by the Spanish Crown, literally meaning, the royal road. Crimes committed on the Royal roads were punished more severely.

campana – pommel

canada – a valley or canyon

canelo – from “canela,” meaning cinnamon color in horses.

cañon – canyon

cantina – canteen, or a saloon or embibing waterhole.

cantle – the rear back bracing part of a saddle.

capirotada – sweet bread pudding with cinnamon, raisins, nuts, and cheese. Food and Drink

capon – a gelded horse

caponera – a group of gelded horses

caporal . – boss or foreman, ranch manager.

carajo! – an expletive meaning darn, shucks and the like.

carina – sweetheart, honey

carne – meat Food and Drink

carne asada – Mexican brazier-cooked meat. Food and Drink

carne molida – ground beef. Food and Drink

carrera del gallo – rooster race

carreta – the original wagon with two wheels drawn by oxen, camp cart.

cartucho – a bullet cartridge.

casa – house

cascabel – a rattle, a rattlesnake, a jingle-bob.

cattalo – cross between domestic cattle and buffalo.

cavallero – a Spanish gentleman, noble equestrian (knight), upper-class cowboy.

cavallo – a horse.

caverango – original Spanish word for wrangler. Caverango became corrupted ‘wrango’ which in English eventually became ‘wrangler’. A caverango (wrangler) is generally a young inexperienced hand who tended horses, (remudero), on a cattle drive.

cavraces – (caberos), a hair rope.

cayuse – an Indian pony.

cenizo – ash colored.

cerro – a hill.

chalupa – boat-shaped fried corn tortilla filled with beans, cheese, & lettuce. Food and Drink

chamisa – rabbitbrush, a silver-blue, narrow-leaved, deciduous shrub, 3-5 ft. tall & wide with pungent, yellow flowers in fall.

chamisal – thicket of chamisa

chaparral – thick bramble bushes entangled with thorny shrubs in clumps, small scrub oaks, a small thicket of scrub oak.

chaparreras, chaparajos, chaparejos – leather leggings to protect horsemen frombrush and cacti. Corrupted to ‘chaps’ in English.

chaparro – evergreen oak tree or a small boy

chapenton/concha – metal rosette used to secure saddle leather together.

chaqueta – the original word for jacket.

charqui – corrupted to ‘jerky’ in English .

charro – a gentleman equestrian

Chicano – from Mexican word originally spelled Mechicano used to refer to a wider spectrum of Southwest people of Hispanic origin.

chicharrones – cracklings made from pork fat with some meat attached. Food and Drink

chicos – dried sweet corn kernels that are fire roasted.Food and Drink

chile caribe – red chile pods ground and blended with water. Food and Drink

chile on queso – chile with cheese; served as a dip with tostados. Food and Drink

chile pequin – thin hot red chiles Food and Drink

chile relleno – stuffed chilli, green chile stuffed with cheese, dropped in egg batter, and fried. Food and Drink

chile, chili – hot spicy peppers integral to the cuisine of the vaquero; chile Colorado – red chile, chile verde – green chile. Food and Drink

chimichanga – fried burrito stopped with salsa and or sour cream. Food and Drink

chince – bed bug – hence chinch bug.

chorizo – highly seasoned Mexican pork sausage. Food and Drink

chuleta – pork chop with red chile sauce. Food and Drink

churro – the hardy breed of sheep introduced by the Spanish and responsible for changing the way of live of Navajos from wild nomadic to sheepherders.

cibolo – a buffalo .

cienaga – a swampy marsh.

cigarito – a cigarette

cincha – the saddle girth or cinch

cocinero – a cook (cowboy slang coosie ) ‘

coleador – a horseman who throws a bull by twisting its tail

colear – from Spanish infinitive, “cola” meaning tail, colear meant to throw an animal by the tail.

colear – to throw a running bull by twisting its tail

Comanceros – mestizos who lived wild and as go betweens for Comanche Indians and Anglos.

comarron – wild.

comino – cumin (spice)

compadre – a godfather, also used as a reference to anyone considered a partner.

companero – buddy/companion.

concha(o) – 1. Shell
2. a silver ornament used to decorate all manner of leather gear.

condor – the term for two species of vulture

conquistador – 15th century soldier who conquered lands for Spain.

contraenreatado – latigo

corcho – cork

corn tortilla – flat bread cooked on a griddle made from yellow or blue corn. Food and Drink

corona – 1. Crown
2. a type of blanket.

corral – a livestock pen.

corrida – from the Spanish infinitive correr, to run – a hunt, chase or bullfight.

corrido – Mexican folksong

cougar – from gatomonte (mountain lion) to cata mount – to cougar.

coyote – from the Nahualtl coyotl – a prairie wolf.

cristianos – Catholics, civilized people of European decent.

cuarta – quirt, a horse whip.

cucaracha – cockroach .

cuidado – Look out!

cuna – leather cradle used for carrying wood on a wagon.


desjarretadera – a hocking knife with curved steel blade attached to the end of a 12′ pole used to hamstring cattle’s hind leg before killing the animal for butchering.

dicho – a saying or proverb.

dinero – money

dogal – doggie, a motherless calf, (also a nose halter).

duena – chaperone, usually an older and fierce woman.

dueno – owner.


enchilada – covered in chile Mexican dish. Corn tortillas servied rolled or flat filled with ground beef and or cheese, onions, and covered with chile and a variety of toppings. Food and Drink

encino – oak.

encomendero – holder of an encomienda, a royal land grant including everything on the land.

enveatados – rigging straps

espuelas – spurs.

estampida – stampede the mass bolting of a herd of animals.

estradiota – old Spanish war saddle.

estribo – stirrup iron.

estufa – stove.


faja – a sash worn around the waist.

fandango – a lively dance.

fiador – ‘guarantor’, in Mexico and SW the bridle strap, sometimes corrupted into English to “theodore.”

flan – a baked custard with caramel sauce. Food and Drink

flauta – 1. Flute
2. fried version of a taco, rolled thin, dipped in sour cream or guacamole.Food and Drink

flour tortilla – flat bread cooked on a griddle made with flour. Food and Drink

fracaso – noisy disturbance, quarrel; hence fracas (pronounced “fray-cuss”)

freno – a horse’s bit.

frijoles – beans Food and Drink

fuste – the pommel part of a saddle tree.


gamuza – soft buckskin leather used for making moccasins.

garrocha – long pole used to prod cattle

gato monte mountain cat, cougar

gorditas – masa stuffed with seasoned meat and fried. Food and Drink

gringo – from griego meaning Greek but used to refer to all non-Indian strangers or newcomers, foreigners.

grulla – a crane, which is a dark gray color – hence becomes a term applied to horses of the same dark grey

guacamole – avocado dip Food and Drink

guajilla – Nahuatl for a small guard.

guia – a guide; vernacular – a pass/manifest for safe passage.


hacendado – the owner of a substantial hacienda or estate.

hacienda – a large ranch or estate.

harina – flour Food and Drink

hediondilla – a creosote bush.

herrar – to brand or mark with a hot iron.

hidalgo – a nobleman of Spanish descent.

hoja – 1. a leaf
2. a corn-chuck used as cigarette paper.

hombre – man.

hombre del campo – a rugged outdoorsman.

hondo – 1. the hole or slip ring end of the rope used to catch the animal.
2. meaning deep, used to refer to deep places like a deep arroyo.

horno – outdoor oven, made of adobe and beehive shaped. Introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, adopted by the Spanish and brought to the new world.

huevos rancheros – ranch-style eggs, served with tortillas and salsa. Food and Drink

huraches – sandals



jacal – a primitive hut or shelter.

jaquima – a headstall, bridle. Corrupted into the English ‘hackamore’.

jineta – leather saddle style suited to speed and maneuverability introduced to Spain by Moors and brought to Americas by Spanish colonists.

jinete – an excellent horseman, originally from the Moorish jineta saddle riders who introduced la jineta to the Spanish in the 15th century.

jornado – a journey.

juzgado – court which sentenced one to jail. Hence ‘hoosegow’ for jail or prison



ladino – a wild Corriente (Longhorn).

ladron – a thief

latigo – a strap that attaches saddle rigging to the cinch.

lazo – a rope – hence lasso

leche – milk Food and Drink

lepero – a gross or vulgar person.

llano – the flats or prairie lands.

lobo – a wolf.

loco – crazy, insane.

loco weed – astragalus, a plant with purple or white flowers when eaten drives animals crazy.

loma – a hill.


machete – a long chopping knife. Derives from diminutive of Spanish ‘macho’ – ax club, mace.

macho – literally means a male as opposed to female, “la hembra.”

mal pais – bad country, badlands.

maleta – saddle bag

manada – bunch of mare horses with a stallion.

manana – tomorrow, later.

manga – a poncho cloak; modern Spanish a shirt sleeve.

mangana – forefooting – roping an animal by its front feet.

mano – a human hand, also short for brother hermano – her-mano.

mantilla – a scarf or head-shawl worn by women.

manzana – apple or horn of a saddle.

marihuana – marijuana

marrano – pig, During the time when Spain was under Moorish rule, between 711A.D. and 1492, the word for pig more with greater frequency came to be known as “ Marrano ,” the etymology of which evolved from an Arabic root meaning “prohibited thing,” or “outsider.”

mas alla – further over there.

masa – dough made of dried ground corn and lime water. Food and Drink

masa harina – dough made of a dried mix to which water is added. Food and Drink

matanza – the slaughtering of livestock, a killing of an animal.

mayordomo – a ranch foreman.

mecate – a hair rope.

mechero – a fire making tool. Also machero

menudo – in New Mexico, pork skins used in posole, each pueblo (town) has its own specialty – generally a mixture of tripe, stew meat, chile, and local ingredients. Food and Drink

mesa – a plateau of land, literally a table top.

mescal – word used to refer to liquor obtained from the form the maguey/agave plant. Food and Drink

mesquital – a thicket of mesquite

mesquite – a small tree or large bush which grows in southern New Mexico to California.

Mesta – a stockmen’s association first organized by the Spanish in Mexico, (New Spain), June 16, 1529.

mesteno – a mustang; from “Mesta.”

mestizo – someone of Spanish and Indian ancestry.

metate – a hollowed stone (morter) used to grind corn, grain, and nuts used with a mano (pestle)

Mexican standoff – a no-win conflict circumstance where neither side will back down; taken from the time of the Mexican Comancheros who were extremely fierce, wild rugged, and would not back down from a fight no matter the odds.

miel – honey Food and Drink

mochila – a loose leather covering for original saddles when saddle trees were covered only with rawhide.

mollete – anise bread Food and Drink

morral – a feed bag.

mosquito – diminutive for Spanish word mosca (fly), “de mosquito.”

muchacho – boy.

mujer – a woman or wife.

mulada – a herd of mules.

mulero – a muleteer – one who tends pack animals.


nachos – tostados topped with cheese and green chile baked, served as an appetizer Food and Drink

naja – a small decoration hanging from the headband of a bridle onto the horses face.

natilla – pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. Food and Drink

nuece – pecan nut Food and Drink


ocotillo – a stick like cactus.

ojo – meaning eye; in the west used to refer to a spring of water.

orejanos – wild cattle, slick eared or unbranded.


pa hablar – to talk or discuss. Hence ‘palaver’

padre – father or Catholic priest

paloma – dove, paloma blanca (white dove).

palomino – palomill or cream colored horse with white tail.

panocha – unrefined brown sugar, candy. Food and Drink

pansaje – a social meal in the open air. Not quite a picnic, more a barbeque including groaning tables and animals roasted whole; like a “matanza” in New Mexico. Food and Drink

parade – from parda, a main herd of cattle on a drive.

partida – a subsection or band of men or animals.

pasear – to walk or stroll.

paseo – a walk or ride.

paso – a walk, step, pass-safe passage.

paso de la muerte – to ride bareback on a wild horse or bull

pastelitos – little pies that are served in square portions Food and Drink

pastor – a sheepherder.

patata – potato Food and Drink

patio – courtyard.

patron – the boss or owner.

pedregal – a stony place.

pelado – peeling off, hairless, stripped of possessions.

peon – peasant.

pequeno nin – little child, hence picaninny

perilla – a pear shaped saddle horn.

periqito – parakeet

pial – a rope thrown underhanded right back of the front legs under the belly of the running quarry, the loop opening ups so that the hind legs stepped into it

piale – underhand rope throw that catches the animals hind legs.

piloncilla – brown sugar cone – candy. Food and Drink

pinole – corn flour mixed with sweetened flour from mesquite bean.Food and Drink

pinon – a dwarf pine nut tree. Roasted, the nuts are delicious. Food and Drink

pita – fiber obtained from plants to make ropes, bags, and baskets.

plaza – town square .

poco – little.

poco pronto – Right now!

pollo – chicken Food and Drink

poncho – a blanket with a hole in the middle used to keep warm.

poncho – de poncho.

posole – traditional New Mexican stew made with hominy-corn kernels, pork loin, garlic, oregano, onion salt red chile treated with lime. Food and Drink

potro – a colt or untamed horse.

presidio – a Spanish fort

pretal – breast band.

pronto – right away, now!

pueblo – a village or town, in New Mexico, Pueblo refers to anyone of the Pueblo Indian tribes.

pulqueria – a liquor store.


quelitas – spinach mixed with pinto beans, bacon, crushed red chile pods. Food and Drink

querencia – to love, as in loving the land whence you came.

querida – sweetheart, darling

queso – cheese Food and Drink

quien sabe – who knows?

quirt – from cuerda cord, horsewhip.


ramada – a shelter constructed from brush.

rancheria – a camp settlement.

ranchero – a rancher.

rancho – the land upon which stock was raised

rayar – a horse stepping contest

reata – rawhide rope, anglicized “la reata” to “lariat.”

rebozo – a head and shoulder shawl worn by women.

refrito – literally – refried; refried beans that are cooked, mashed and refried. Food and Drink

remuda – saddle horses or a ranch or cattle drive.

remudero – a wrangler, young man, or boy who cared for the horse herd.

ristra – a string of chiles. Food and Drink

rodaja – a pointed rowel star at the end of the spur which rolls as the rider’s boot heel rakes the horse.

rodeo – from Spanish word, “rodear,” to encircle the herd; later meaning a cowboy skill contest.

rosaderos – saddle fenders.


salea – a soft sheepskin placed between a horses back and saddle blanket, (P. Watts).

salsa – de salsa, chile sauce made with fresh chile, tomatoes and onions. Food and Drink

salsa pequin – very hot salsa made with chile pequin sometimes labeld taco sauce. Food and Drink

salsa rancherita – thick sause (salsa chile) made with onions, green chile, tomatoes, and seasonings. Food and Drink

sandia – watermelon Food and Drink

santo – a saint or image of same.

sarape – a heavy shawl or small blanket sometimes with fringes at ends.

sasafras – – medicinal herb (English sassafras) used in soap or tea.

save – to know, infinitive form “saber.” Hence savvy.

sendero – a clearing for walking

senor – Sir or mister.

sierra – a mountain range or serrated/jagged mountain top.

siesta – nap taken early to mid day, by those whose day begins at dawn.

silla – saddle.

sombrero – a wide-brimmed Mexican hat, from sombra. (shadow)

sopa – sweet bread pudding with raisons, cinnamon, nuts, and cheese.Food and Drink

sopaipilla (so-pie-pia) – fried bread made with yeast or baking powder. Food and Drink

sortija – a ring race


tabaco – tobacco

tabasco – liquor or sauce which is named after the Mexacan state of Tabasco. Food and Drink

tablas del fuste – saddle tree slats

taco – a Mexican dish made with corn tortillas filled with minced meat or beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and topped with hot chili sauce. Food and Drink

talache – a hand hoe)

tamale – a Mexican dish consisting of minced pork meat chili, corn masa wrapped in corn husks steamed and/or baked. Food and Drink

tapaderos – leather covering over the stirrups to protect against brush.

tapajos – from tapa ojos – a blind for horses and mules.

tasajero – a building in which beef was smoked and dried

tasajo – jerky.Food and Drink

tegua – soft moccasin type leather.

teja – cantle.

Tejano – a Texan.

tequila – an alcoholic beverage made from the maguey cactus. Food and Drink

teshuino – teswin or Apache beer made from corn prior to arrival of Spanish. Food and Drink

tienda – store.

tomate – tomato Food and Drink

toro – a bull.

torta – stiffly beaten egg, fried and served with red chile. Food and Drink

tortilla – rolled flat bread made of wheat or corn flour cooked on a flat surface. Food and Drink

tostada – open faced taco or tortilla with melted cheese.Food and Drink

tostados – corn tortilla wedges fried crisp. Food and Drink

trigueno – the color brunet or brown applied to a horse.

tronada – tornado. The root-word of tronada is tornar – to twist or screw.

tule – depending on the region, a name applied to certain plants/trees found far out in the remote country, ergo, the saying, “out in the tulees!”



vaca – a cow.

vacada – a herd of cows.

vaciero – a man in charge of a number of sheepherders in a large outfit.

vainilla – vanilla. Food and Drink

vamos – let’s go! Hence vamoose, and mosey.

vaquero – a cowboy- hence buckaroo.

vara – a measurement just under 3 feet.

vereda – a trail.

vigilante – meaning guardian of the law, righteous, vigilant.



xerga – a cloth placed between the salea and pack saddle.


yerba buena – term used to refer to plants and herbs which can be used medicinally, such as mint.

yucca – a family of cacti which have palm like branches with sharp points.


zapato – shoe.

zorillo – skunk. Hence ‘zorillas’ used to describe Longhorn cattle with skunk like markings.

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