Spanish Words of Foreign Origin: Galicismos

Image by Charles Deluvio available on Unsplash

Continuing with the extranjerismos or words of foreign origin in Spanish, in this post I will present you los galicismos, which are words that come from the French language… and that not only comprise names for dishes or kitchen utensils. Here you will find some examples.


Afiche: From French “affiche”, a piece of paper or other material showing a message, especially in advertising, like a poster glued onto a wall.

Amateur: This noun means the same in both English and Spanish: a person who engages in any leisure activity—like sports—for nonprofessional purposes. It is a synonym of aficionado.

Baguette: French word for the long loaf of bread that is an icon of French culture.

Balotaje: It derives from the French “ballottage” (the second ballot). It is interchangeably used with “segunda vuelta electoral”.

Boutique: Written as the French original, it means “store selling select products or fashion items”.

Bulevar: It comes from the French “boulevard”, meaning a public road or thoroughfare generally used for strolling.

Carnet: The French word refers to any kind of small notebook used for writing down numbers or notes. In Spanish, it gained an additional spelling (carné) and a more popular meaning: “identity card”.

Casete: Derives from the French word “cassette” (cassette tape).

Chalet: Coming from the French word for “country house” or “cabin”, in Spanish it means “small building housing one family.” As in the case of “carnet”, it may be spelled chalé.

Chef: Unlike in French, in which “chef” means “boss” and can be used in different fields, in Spanish it is used only when talking about a “(kitchen) chef” o a “professional cook”.

Chofer/Chófer: Derives from French “chauffeur” (driver).

Cliché: As in English, this noun means “platitude” or “commonplace”, that is, an idea or phrase having been overused and lacking its original meaning. In French, it also means a photograph negative.

Complot: It has the same meaning as the original word from French: “any kind of conspiracy targeting anyone or anything”.

Debut: Both English and Spanish use this word in the same way, as it refers to “the first performance of an artist or the first presentation of a cultural product”, like a movie.

Déjà vu: Once again, English and Spanish use this French loanword—which literally means “already seen”—for the same phenomenon: the sudden feeling of remembering an event that, in fact, is happening for the first time.

Élite: As in French and English, this word (a noun as well as an adjective) refers to a “select group of people” or “group having a superior status”. In Spanish, it may be spelled “elite”.

Gourmet: Referring to “someone or something of refined taste and/or superior quality”, this is a common word in English and in Spanish used when talking about food and drink.

Menú: With a tilde on the letter u, “menú” is used the same as in English: it is the list of items offered by any eating establishment.

Tour: From the French word for “turn, round, ride, or walk”, it is primarily used when talking about a trip or journey made by someone in order to perform artistically or to visit specific locations. In Spanish, it is a synonym for the native noun “gira”.


There is an interesting exception with the adjective bizarro/a, which is also a French loanword. In French, it means “strange, weird, unusual”, whereas in Spanish, it means “valiente” (brave) or “determinado” (determined), in reference to a person’s character. However, little by little it is being used as a synonym of “strange” in colloquial speech.

Don’t miss my next posts, where I will be introducing even more extranjerismos in Spanish.