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definition - List of Tagalog loanwords

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List of Tagalog loanwords


The Tagalog language has developed a unique vocabulary since its inception from its Malayo-Polynesian roots. The influence of the Spanish, Nahuatl, Sanskrit, Arabic, English, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian languages can be seen in the Tagalog language. According to the linguistic expert Jose Villa Panganiban, "of the 30,000 root words in the Tagalog language, there are close to 5,000 from Spanish, 3,200 from Malay and Chamorro, 1,500 from English, 1,500 from both Hokkien (Min Nan) and Yueh Chinese dialects, 300 from Sanskrit, 200 from Arabic, and a few hundred altogether from other languages"[citation needed]. Some linguists claim that borrowings from Malay and Chamorro cannot be ascertained at this time, as words from the Old Austronesian language and those from Malay and Chamorro are still ambiguous and too similar to be distinguished.



Spanish has bequeathed the most loan words to Tagalog. According to linguists, Spanish (5,000) has even surpassed Malayo–Indonesian (3,500) in terms of loan words borrowed. About 40% of informal conversational Tagalog is practically made up of Spanish loanwords. An example is the sentence below, wherein Spanish–derived words are in italics (original in parentheses):

"Puwede (Puede) ba akong umupo sa silya (silla) sa tabi ng bintana (ventana) habang nasa biyahe (viaje) tayo sa eroplano (aeroplano)?" ("May I sit in the chair near the window during our voyage in the aeroplane?")

Most have retained their original spelling, pronunciation, and definition such as basura, delikadesa ("delicadeza" in Spanish), and demokrasya ("democracia"), or as in the examples, a close, indigenised variant.

Others have morphed like 'ku(ha)nin' (Sp.: 'coja' + Tag. '–nin'), which has inconspicuously developed into another pure Tagalog–sounding word. Another one is maamong kordero (from Sp. amo & cordero). Combined together, it conveys the description of a meek, tame, harmless human with Tagalog adjective prefix and suffix added. The compound word batya't palo–palo, a must word in the laundry business where many Spanish words proliferate. The words were taken from the Spanish batea for "washing tub" and palo for "stick" or "beater", something a typical Filipino might think had no Spanish provenance at all. Others are umpisa (empieza), pulubi (pobre), pader (pared).

Some have acquired an entirely new meaning, such as kursonada (corazonada, originally meaning '"hunch"), which means "object of desire"; sospechoso is the "suspicious person" and not the "suspect" as in the original; imbyerna (invierno) once meant 'winter' but is now a word for "bummer"; insekto ("insecto"), which still means "insect" but also refers to a "pesty clownish person"; or even sigue, a Spanish word for "continue" or "follow", which is now widely understood to mean "all right" or "go ahead".

Others use Spanish prefixes and/or suffixes, combined from Tagalog or other languages, without which the word can not be completed and convey its meaning. For example, pakialamero (from Tag. pakialam, "to meddle" and the Sp. suffix –ero, masculine subject); same as majongero ("mahjong", a Chinese word and the Sp. suffix –ero). Daisysiete is a corruption and portmanteau of the English "daisy" and the Spanish diecisiete ("seventeen"), now meaning a sweet and sexually desirable underaged (below 18, hence the number) female. Bastusing katawán (Sp.: basto & Tag.: katawan) is an example of a two-word term for a bombshell body.

Even after the Spanish era, Tagalog is still being influenced by Spanish as new words are coined, albeit along its own terms, viz., alaskadór ("Alaska" + Sp. suffix '–ador'); barkada (from Sp.: barca,"boat" to "clique"); bérde ("verde"="green", nuanced to "toilet humour" or "blue joke"); which are not readily understood in Spain or any Latin American country. In a strange twist, even if Filipinos have a chance to Tagalized words using foreign words, currently English—their most accessible influence—they coin words in a uniquely Hispanizing way i.e. "boksingero" (from Eng. "boxing") instead of using the Spanish "boxeador". Or "basketbolista" (from Eng. "basketball"), instead of borrowing from Spanish "baloncesto" to make it say "baloncestista" or "baloncestador" (although basketball is "básquetbol" in many Latin American countries).

Here are the examples of Spanish–derived Tagalog words in the following format: Word (Etymology – Original Definition/s if different from Nuanced Definition. = Derivative Definition if Compound Words) – Nuanced Definition. Shared Definition precedes Nuanced Definition if both exist.

Tagalog Spanish Meaning
Abante Avante Ahead,
Ahente Agente Agent
Ahensya Agéncia Agency
Ambisyoso Ambicioso Ambitious
Arina Harina Flour
Abiso Aviso Warning
Baryo Barrio Village
Bisikleta Bicicleta Bicycle
Bodega Bodega Warehouse
Departamento Departamento Department
Diyos Dios God
Edukasyon Educación Education
Eskwela Escuela School
Garahe Garaje Garage
Gwapo Guapo Handsome
Giyera Guerra War
Hustisya Justicia Justice
Hapon Japón Japan
Ingles Inglés English
Istudyante Estudiante Student
Intinde Entiende Understand
Kalye Calle Street
Kapasidad Capacidad Capacity
Kabayo Caballo Horse
Karne Carne Meat
Kolehiyo Colegio College
Kotse Coche Car
Kultura Cultura Culture
Kumusta Cómo estás How are you? (general greeting)
Kwento Cuento Story
Litrato Retrato Picture
Luho Lujo Luxury
Monarkiya Monarquía Monarchy
Mundo Mundo World
Nasyonalista Nacionalista Nationalist
Numero Número Number
Olanda Holanda Netherlands
Operasyon Operación Operation
Ordinansa Ordinanza Ordinance
Otel Hotel Hotel
Oras Horas Time,
Ospital Hospital Hospital
Pamilya Familia Family
Pilipinas Filipinas Philippines
Pista Fiesta Feast
Probinsya Provincia Province
Pulis Policía Police
Pwede Puede Can
Pwersa Fuerza Force
Realidad Realidad Reality
Relo Reloj Wristwatch
Republika República Republic
Reyna Reina Queen
Sabon Jabón Soap
Sapatos Zapatos Shoes
Silya Cilia Chair
Suspekta Sospechar Suspect
Swerte Suerte Luck
Tableta Tableta Tablet
Tsinelas Chinelas Slippers
Tsismis Chismes Gossip
Teknolohiya Tecnología Technology
Trisiklo Triciclo Tricycle
Yelo Hielo Ice


English has been used in everyday Tagalog conversation. This kind of conversation is called Taglish. English words borrowed by Tagalog are mostly modern and technical terms, but English words are also used for short usage (many Tagalog words translated from English are very long) or to avoid literal translation and repetition of the same particular Tagalog word. English makes the second largest vocabulary of Tagalog after Spanish. In written language, English words in a Tagalog sentence are written as they are, but they are sometimes written in Tagalog phonetic spelling. Here are some examples:

Tagalog English
Awtomobil Automobile
Awdiyo Audio
Basketbol Basketball
Biskwit Biscuit
Bidiyo Video
Bolpen Ballpoint pen
Byu View
Biswal Visual
Direk Director
Ekonomiks Economics
Indibiswal Individual
Interbyu Interview
Indibiswal Individual
Iskor Score
Iskrin Screen
Ispiker Speaker
Isports Sports
Istampid Stampede
Katsup/Kechap Ketchup
Keyk Cake
Nars Nurse
Kompyuter Computer
Perpyum Perfume
Sayt Site
Websayt Website

Also note, that Filipinos do a lot of code-switching. Which means, using English terms and phrases in the middle of a speech/conversation done in Tagalog.


English: "My birthplace is in Manila, Philippines. It is very hot but still quite nice over there."

Tagalog: "Ang pinanganakán ko ay sa Maynila, Pilipinas. Ang init-init doón, pero maganda naman."

Code-switched: ''Ang birthplace ko ay sa Manila, in the Philippines. It is very hot doón pero maganda."

Filipinos politicians and celebrities are known for code-switching, as are celebrities. A severe, oft-ridiculed form of code-switching is Konyo English.

  Cognates with Chamorro

Filipino language and culture is very similar to that of Guam and Micronesia. Filipino languages are very similar to Chamorro, the spoken language in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Chamorro people are closely related to Filipinos and there are many similar words in the languages. The majority Austronesian people of the Philippines are culturally closer to the Chamorro people, rather than Ethnic Malays, although the Filipinos have received influence from India and Arabia (because the Philippines is geographically closer to Asia) which also links them with Malaysia and Indonesia. However, Filipino and Chamorro also have thousands of loanwords from Spanish which add more cognates and bring the cultures closer. The close relationship between Filipinos and Guamanians was expressed by governor of Guam: Ricardo Boradallo who said: "The Filipinos are akin to the Guamanians historically, culturally and linguistically, more so than any other people in Asia". These are only a few words from the thousands of cognates between the two languages.

Filipino Chamorro English
Abo Apu Ash
Abugado Abugadu Lawyer
Aga Maga Early
Agila Agila Eagle
Alahas Alahas Jewelry
Alambre Alamle Wire
Alkalde Atkadi Mayor
Alpombra Atformbra Carpet
Anino Anineng Shadow
Apelyido Apiyidu Family name
Apog Afok Lime
Apura Apura Hurry
Araro Aruru Arrowroot
Araw Atdao Sun
Areglado Areklao Orderly
Armas Atmas Weapon
Asawa Asagua Wife/husband
Aso Asu Smoke
Asukal Asukat Sugar
Ataul Ata'ut Casket
Atip Atof Roof
Atis Ates Sugar Apple
Ayuno Ayunu Fast
Baba Ebaba Low
Baboy Babuy Pig
Bagyo Pakyo Storm
Balsa Batsa Raft
Bapor Bapot Ship
Baraha Balaha Playing cards
Barkilan Barakilan Rafter
Baston Baston Cane
Nigipin Nifen Teeth
Bayabas Abas Guava
Agwat Achago Distance
Baba Babas Chin
Pagaw Afagao Husky voice
Unan Alunan Pillow
Gamot Amot Medicine
Kamay Kanai Hand
Baka Baka Cow
Palanggana Palanggana Basin
Bangko Banko Bench
Suso Susu Breast
Tulay Tolai Bridge
Mantikilya Mantikiya Butter

  Cognates with Malay

Tagalog is an Austronesian language and a close cousin of both Malay varieties in Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Because of this close relationship, there are many cognates between the two languages stretching back many millennia. Many cognates were re-borrowed into in the language when Old Malay became the official language of trade and documentation during the pre-Hispanic era of Philippine history, as evidenced by the Laguna Copperplate Inscription of 900 AD and accounts of Pigafetta at the time of the Spanish arrival in the country 5 centuries later. This is a small sample of the thousands of cognates present between Tagalog and Malay.

Tagalog word Malay word Meaning
Ako Aku I (first person)
Balik Balik Return
Bansà Bangsa Nation
Daán Jalan Street,
Hangin Angin Wind
Itik Itik Duck
Itim Hitam Black
Kalapatî Merpati Pigeon
Lalaki Lelaki,
Langit Langit Sky,
Sakit Sakit Ill,
Mura Murah Cheap
Pangulo Penghulu Chief
Putî Putih White
Saksi Saksi Witness
Sarap Sedap Delicious
Sulat Surat Letter
Tamis Manis Sweet
Taon Tahun Year
Utak Otak Brain
Mahal Mahal Expensive
Sintá Cinta Love (Possessive)
Anak Anak Child
Kanan Kanan Right
Guntíng Gunting Scissor
Lima Lima Five
Ikaw Kau You
Durián Durian Durian
Tulong Tolong Help
Pulò Pulau Island
Rambután Rambutan Rambutan
Batò Batu Stone
Mulâ Mula Begin
Payong Payung Umbrella
Kita Kita We (1st person dual, i.e. "you and I")
Kami Kami We (excludes addressee)
Dingding Dinding Wall
Mangga Mangga Mango
Halagâ Harga Price
Ulan Hujan Rain
Buwaya Buaya Crocodile
Bawang Bawang Garlic
Apat Empat Four
Ánim Enam Six
Bangis Bengis Fierce,
Balitá Berita News
Kambing Kambing Goat
Kapag Kapan When
Buwan Bulan Month,
Laban Lawan Oppose (v.),
Opposition (n.)
Langka Nangka Jackfruit
Balimbing Belimbing Starfruit
Kulang Kurang Less
Pasok Masuk Enter
Bonsu Bungsu Youngest child
Libo Ribu Thousand
Utang Hutang Debt
Pinto Pintu Door
Kasultanan Kesultanan Sultanate
Lasa Rasa Taste
Batik Batik Spot
Bukas Buka Open
Tanghali Tengah + hari Afternoon
Dalamhati Dalam + hati Grief
Luwalhati Luar + hati Glory
Mahal Mahal Expensive
Sabón Sabun Soap
Kulong Kurung Jailed,


Tagalog Sanskrit Meaning
Asa Ahsha Hope
Bahala Bahala Fate
Bathala Bathala A supreme deity in Philippine mythology
Bahagì Bhag Part, portion
Balita Berita News
Budhî Bodhi Conscience
Diwà Jiwa Spirit, consciousness
Diwata Devata Fairy, nymph, god
Dukhâ Dukkha Destitute
Guró Guru Teacher, mentor
Karma Karma Karma
Kathâ Katha Creation
Mahárlika Mahardhikka Nobility
Mukhâ Mhuk Face
Salita Cerita Speak
Sutlâ Sutra Silk


Tagalog Hindi Meaning
Achara Achar Pickled
Tsaa Chai Tea
Beranda Veranda Roofed open gallery


  • Bagay (Tamil: Vagai) - Thing


  • Alam (Arabic: Alham) – Knowledge, understanding.
  • Hiyâ (Arabic: Hayaa) - to feel shame, blush.
  • Hukom (Arabic: Hukum) - Judge
  • Salamat (Arabic:Slamah) - Thanks


  • Alak (Persian:Araq) - Liquor
  • Chai (Persian:Chai) - Tea

  Min Nan (Hokkien), Yueh (Cantonese), and Mandarin Chinese

During the time when several Kingdoms existed in the area of what is now Luzon(in reference to the Luzon Empire or Kingdom of Tondo), diplomatic ties were established with the Ming dynasty. Contact also reached as far as the Sultan of Sulu. As a result, many Chinese words were adopted, such as:

  • Apo (Hokkien: 阿公/A–kong) – Grandfather (apo means grandchild/grandchildren in Tagalog)
  • Ate (Hokkien: 阿姊/A–chí) – Eldest sister (now a generic address for any female slightly older than the speaker)
  • Bakyâ (Hokkien: 木屐/ba̍k-kia̍h) – Native wooden sandals
  • Batchoy (Hokkien: 肉水/bah-chúi) – Pork in soup
  • Bihon (Hokkien: 米粉/bí-hún) – Rice vermicelli
  • Bitsin (Hokkien: 味精/bī-cheng) – monosodium glutamate
  • Chekwa (Slang/corruption of Intsik; derogratory)
  • Daw/Raw (Mandarin: Tao) – medial or final interjection to mark a statement as hearsay or unverified second-hand information (originally meant "God", "way", or "God's way")
  • Ditse (Hokkien: 二姊/Dī–chí) – Second eldest sister
  • Hikaw (Hokkien: 耳鉤/hī–kau) – Earrings
  • Jusi (Hokkien: 富絲/hù-si) – Cloth made from pineapple fibre
  • Impò (Hokkien: 阿媽/A–má) – Grandmother
  • Ingkóng (Hokkien: 阿公/A–kong) – Grandfather
  • Intsík (Hokkien: Din Tiak) – Chino; considered by some to be an ethnic slur
  • Kuya (哥哥; Cantonese: ko–ko; Hokkien: keh–ya) – Eldest brother.
  • Lumpia (Hokkien: 潤餅/jūn-piáⁿ) – Fried or fresh spring rolls.
  • Mami (Hokkien: 肉麵/bah-mī) – Meat and noodles in soup (Bam-i is also the name of another noodle dish)
  • Patì (Hokkien: ) – "Including"
  • Pancit (Hokkien: 便ê食/piān-ê-si̍t) – Noodles with sauce
  • Petsay (Hokkien: 白菜/pe̍h-chhài) – Chinese cabbage
  • Pesa (Hokkien: 白sa̍h) – Plain boiled
  • Santse (Hokkien: 三姊/San–chí) – Third eldest sister
  • Sitsit (Hokkien: ) – "psst!" a exclamation used to surreptitiously attract someone
  • Siyansi (Hokkien: 煎匙/chian-sî) – Spoon-like metal spatula
  • Siopao/siyopaw(Hokkien: 燒包/sio-pau) – Meat-filled steamed bun
  • Sotanghon (Hokkien: 苏冬粉/so-tang-hun) – Cellophane noodles
  • Suki (Hokkien: 主客/chu–khe) – Regular customer or usual store
  • Sungki (Hokkien: 伸齒/chhun-khí) – Malocclusion
  • Susi (Hokkien: 鎖匙/só–sî) – Key
  • Tikoy (Hokkien: 甜粿/Tih–ke) – Chinese New Year's cake
  • Tingi (Hokkien:) – Selling at retail/per piece
  • Tokwa (Hokkien: 豆干/tāu-koaⁿ) – tofu
  • Totso (Hokkien: 豆油醋魚/tāu–iû-chhò͘-hî) – Sautéed fish
  • Toyo (Hokkien: 豆油/tāu–iû) – Soy sauce
  • Tausi (Hokkien: 豆豉/tāu-si; "beans fermented/in brine") – Fermented black beans


During the era of several kingdoms in Luzon and the Visayas, trade was established with other Southeast- and East Asian countries (especially Japan and China). Borrowings from Japanese were most likely from this trade, such as:

  • Dahan–dahan (Nihongo: だんだん dandan) – Slowly, gradually.
  • Haba (Nihongo: 幅 haba) – Width or Breadth.
  • Kaban (Nihongo: 鞄 kaban – Bag, satchel.) – Sack of rice.
  • Kampay (Nihongo: 乾杯 kanpai) - Cheers!
  • Katol (Nihongo: 蚊取線香 katori-senkou) – Mosquito coil.
  • Jack-en-poy (NIhongo: じゃんけんぽん jankenpon) - Rock-paper-scissors
  • Tamang-tama (Nihongo: 偶々 tama-tama) - coincidentally
  • Toto (Nihongo: おとうと otōto) - younger brother
  • Karaoke (Nihongo: カラオケ karaoke) – A form of musical entertainment. Usually social in nature for Filipinos.

  Nahuatl (Aztec Mexican)

Tagalog gained Nahuatl words through Spanish and with the galleon trade with Mexico during the Hispanic era.

Tagalog Nahuatl Spanish Ingles
Akuwete Achiotl Achiote Annatto seeds
Ensaymada Ensaïmada Ensaimada A kind of pastry
Kamatsile Cuanhmochitl Guamáchili Sweet tamarind or Manila tamarind
Kamote Camotli Camote Sweet potato
Pitaka Petlacalli Petaca Coin purse
Sayote Chayotli Chayote A Mexican squash
Singkamas Xicamatl Jicama A sweet root crop (water chestnut)
Sukil Xochitl Suchil A flower
Tatay Tatl Tatay Father
Tiyangge Tianquiztli Tianguis Seasonal markets
Tsokolate Xocolatl Chocolate Chocolate
Tsonggo Chango Chango Monkey
Sapote Tzapotl Chico sapote Sapodilla, now called Chico or Tsiko. However the word Zapote remained in the minds of Filipinos as a place i.e. Zapote, Cavite
Sili Chilli Chile Chili pepper

  Arawak–Taíno–Caribbean/Central American

  • Bayabas (Always Plu.) (Arawak: Guayabo via Mex. Sp.: Guayaba) – Guava.
  • Kasikwe/Cacique (Arawak via Mex. Sp.: Cacique) – Chief, boss.
  • Kaimito/Caimito (Unknown but somewhere in Caribbean/Central American via Mex. Sp.: Caimito) – Star fruit.
  • Mani (Always Sing.) Taíno: Maní via Mex. Sp.: Maní) – Peanut. Slang for clitoris.
  • Mais (Taíno: Maíz via Mex. Sp.: Maíz) – Maiz.
  • Papaya (Arawak: Papáia via Mex. Sp. Papaya) – Papaya.
  • Patatas (Always plu.) (Taíno: Batata via Mex. Sp.: Patata) – Potato.

  See also


  Additional readings



All translations of List of Tagalog loanwords

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