Spanish is a Romance language, which means it evolved from Latin—but there were actually many languages that influenced today's Spanish. In fact, quite a few everyday Spanish words came from the Goths!

Here's how Spanish went Goth.

The Goths came for Spain

When Rome fell, there were a number of Germanic groups—including the Goths—living in Iberia (the peninsula that is today home to Spain and Portugal). They came from somewhere in Northern Europe, and in addition to Latin, they spoke their own Germanic languages (related to English and German). It was this bilingualism that helped introduce a number of Gothic-origin words into the local Latin dialect.

The language of the Visigoths—one of these Gothic groups—was especially influential. Iberian Latin adopted some Visigoth words, which were later inherited by Spanish. Even many common names that feel quintessentially Spanish are of Gothic origin, including Guzmán, Rodríguez, and Gómez. That -ez ending meant "son of," so Fernández is "son of Fernando"!

The Goths kept watch over the peninsula

Many of the words that Latin borrowed from Gothic are related to the idea of watching over things. The Germanic ancestor word that was passed into Gothic (and English!) was something like wardon, meaning “to guard.” This evolved into English words like warden, ward, and warranty.

When the Germanic words were adopted into Romance languages, the w- at the beginning commonly became gu-, which was a sound close to the original "w." As a result, Spanish now has many gu- words with meanings related to watching over things: guardar (to keep), guardia (security guard, police officer), guardián (guard, guardian), and other words with that same Germanic origin!

Interestingly, in some cases, English borrowed the Romance (often French) version of these words—even though we already had the original Germanic w- word, too! Today, English has related pairs, one with the Germanic w- and one with the adopted Romance gu-, like guarantee/warranty, guard/ward, and guardian/warden

Given the importance of guarding or watching over finances, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Spanish also got the word banco (bank) from a word like bankiz that used in the Gothic languages in Iberia. It originally meant “table” or “shelf,” and its meaning extended to a specific table used by moneylenders and eventually to the accumulated money itself. The modern Spanish word banco still preserves many of these older meanings: Banco can mean “bench,” “bank,” and even “shoal” (as in an accumulation of fish).

Gothic words inspired new ideas

Sometimes, instead of borrowing a word, one culture will borrow an idea from another culture and translate it into their own language. For the Goths, there was a special word for a friend with whom one might share a meal: gahlaibo. It literally meant “with bread,” in the sense of breaking bread with a friend. (The -hlaib- part of this word is a distant relative of English loaf, Russian хлеб (khleb, "bread"), and Ukrainian хліб (khlib, "bread").)

Latin speakers adopted this idea for a particular kind of close friend and for using "with bread" as a way to describe the friend. The Gothic gahlaibo was translated as Latin companis, which is the literal Latin equivalent of "with bread": com is like con (from) and panis refers to bread, as in the Spanish word pan (and the English words Panera and pantry). Today, Spanish has all sorts of bread-inspired words related to friends and colleagues, like compañía (company), compañero (partner, fellow, companion), and acompañar (to accompany). Not to mention the English words company and companion, too!

You're *guaranteed* to use Gothic words in Spanish!

Although most of Spanish comes from Latin, Spanish is a little Goth, too. And just like old friends, Latin and Gothic words are in good company!