Much of the Filipino language traces its roots from Spanish (thank you, 300+ years of Spanish colonization!). While some Filipino “borrowed” words kept the original meaning of the Spanish, quite a few of them have taken on completely different meanings.
In linguistics, words that look and sound similar but mean completely different things are called “false friends”. Here are just some of the fakest of them.
Disclaimer: The author is in no way a fluent Spanish speaker, and has already forgotten 93% of the little Spanish she managed to learn in school.
Seguro vs Siguro
In Spanish, seguro means “sure” or “certain”, whereas in Filipino, it means the opposite: “maybe” or “probably”.
And to say “sure” in Filipino, we say “sigurado”. Yup, language is complicated!
Corazonada vs Kursonada
Corazonada means “hunch” in Spanish, while kursonada means “object of desire”. Since both words find their root in the Spanish word for “heart”, we kinda understand how the two are related.
We can’t say the same for other false friends, such as the following:
Coño vs Conyo
Story time: The first time my dad heard my siblings and I say “conyo” to refer to rich kids who spoke in baluktot Taglish, he did a double-take and, very sternly, asked us to repeat ourselves. Apparently, he thought we were cursing in Spanish.
See, in Spanish, coño is a vulgar word that refers to the female genitalia (think the equivalent of the expletive c*nt). We might never know how the world evolved to stand for rich Pinoy kids, but it’s part of the vernacular now, much to the dismay of our Spanish-speaking elders.
Sospechoso vs Sospetsoso
In Spanish, sospechoso is the “suspect”. But in Filipino, the meaning of sospetsoso is flipped so that it means “suspicious person”.
Sigue vs Sige
These two words are actually quite similar, but they’re not quite the same.
Sigue is Spanish for “continue” or “follow”, and is generally used to say “all right” or “go ahead”. Meanwhile, sige is just “OK”.
Delicado vs Delikado
Delicado in Spanish means delicate, while our delikado means DANGER. They seem like polar opposites, but it sorta makes sense, because in both delicate and dangerous situations, we are asked to tread lightly/carefully.
Sabe vs Sabi
Sabe means “knows” in Spanish, while sabi means “talk”, or if we’re feeling fancy, to “impart knowledge”. Cue brain explosions.
Puto vs Puto
And here’s everyone’s favorite. Technically, this shouldn’t be on the list, because the root of our puto (referring to the sweet rice cake we all know and love) isn’t the Spanish word for male prostitute. The Filipino “puto” gets its name from the Malay word puttu, which means “portioned”. Makes sense, considering the size of the puto.
The more you know!
What other Spanish-Filipino false friends did we miss? Drop them in the comments below!