Spanish Genealogical Word List

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This list contains Spanish words with their English translations. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources. If the word you are looking for is not on this list, please consult a Spanish-English dictionary. (See the "Additional Resources" section below.)

Spanish is a Romance language derived from Latin. It is the national language of Spain as well as of most Latin American countries. Spanish is spoken in many parts of the United States, in regions which once were part of Mexico as well as areas where Hispanic immigrants have settled.

Language Characteristics

Spanish words for persons, places, and things (nouns) are classified as masculine or feminine. El (the masculine form of the) is used with masculine words. La (the feminine form of the) is used with feminine words. Masculine words generally end in o, r, l, and ma. Feminine words generally end in a, ión, tad, dad, tud, and umbre. Nouns which end in or are masculine; an a is added to indicate the feminine version.

Most adjectives used to describe nouns are masculine or feminine. Adjectives which end in o are masculine. Feminine adjectives end in a. For example, the married son would be translated as el hijo casado, while the married daughter would be translated as la hija casada.

Variant Forms of Words

In Spanish, as in English, the forms of some words will vary according to how they are used in a sentence. Who—whose—whom or marry—marries— married are examples of words in English with variant forms. This word list gives the standard form of each Spanish word. As you read Spanish records, you will need to be aware that some words vary with usage.

Plural forms of Spanish words usually add s to the singular noun as well as to the article and adjective. Thus, el abuelo materno (the maternal grandparent) become los abuelos maternos (the maternal grandparents).

Alphabetical Order

Written Spanish uses three letters in addition to the 26 letters used in the English alphabet. These are ñ and the letter combinations ch and ll, which are considered single letters. The letter w, although not part of the Spanish alphabet, is included since it is found in a few names of foreign origin. The following list shows the letters in alphabetical order:

a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z

This word list follows the standard English alphabetical order.

In Spanish indexes of surnames, it is important to note that prefixes (such as De la Torre) may be ignored in alphabetization. Be sure to search under both parts of a name, for example, De la Torre and Torre, de la.

Accent Marks

Vowels in Spanish can carry an accent mark: á, é, í, ó, and ú. Accent marks do not affect alphabetical order.

Spelling

Although Spanish spelling was standardized in the mid-1700s, scribes usually spelled words the way they sounded. Generally, variations between old and modern spellings should not cause too much trouble for the researcher. In Spanish, the following variations are common:

ch  used for  c
e  used for  i
j  used for  g
j  used for  x
j  used for  i
y  used for  i
the addition or removal of an h
the doubling of letters

Examples:

chrisma
excrebir
lejítimo
Méjico
domjngo
yndio
Henrique
religiosso
now written as
now written as
now written as
now written as
now written as
now written as
now written as
now written as
crisma
escribir
legítimo
México
domingo
indio
Enrique
religioso


Additional Resources

This word list includes only the words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For further help, use a Spanish-English dictionary. Several Spanish-English dictionaries are available at the Family History Library. These are in the European collection. The call numbers begin with 463.21.

The following dictionary may be helpful in your research:

Additional dictionaries are listed in the Subject section of the Family History Library Catalog under SPANISH LANGUAGE - DICTIONARIES. Most bookstores also carry inexpensive Spanish-English dictionaries.

Key Words

To find and use specific types of Spanish records, you will need to know some key words in Spanish. This section gives key genealogical terms in English and the Spanish words with the same or similar meanings.

For example, in the first column you will find the English word marriage. In the second column you will find Spanish words with meanings such as marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock, unite, legitimate, joined, and other words used in Spanish records to indicate marriage. Variant endings of Spanish words are given in parentheses.

English
archive
baptism
birth
burial
Catholic church
census
child
christening
church records
civil registry
confirmation
day
English
death
father
husband
index
marriage
military
month
morning
mother
name, given
name, surname
parents
parish
wife
year
Spanish
archivo
bautismo, bauticé, bautizado (a), bautismo, crisma
nacimiento, nació, nacido (a)
entierro, sepultura, entierrado (a), sepultado (a)
Iglesia Católica
censo, padrón
niño (a), hijo (a), párvulo (a), expósito
See baptism
registros parroquiales
Registro Civil
confirmación, crisma
día
Spanish
muerte, defunción, fallecimiento, óbito, muerto (a), difunto (a), fallecido (a)
padre
esposo, marido, cónyuge
índice
matrimonio, casamiento, casé, casado (a)
militar, ejército
mes
mañana
madre
nombre de pila, nombre de bautismo
nombre, apellido
padres
parroquia
esposa, marida, mujer, cónyuge
año