Spanish Trivia

Entry 1

How do you say "waiter" in Spanish? There are a couple of possibilities. One way is mesero (or mesera if it's a waitress.) This is logical, since mesa means table, and a waiter serves you at your table.

But another word for waiter is camarero. But wait a minute, doesn't cama mean bed? Does that mean you get service in bed? Close, actually. The term camarero is actually derived from cámara which means bedchamber. So, back in the good 'ol days, Spanish nobles would have chambermaids who would make your bed and dress you, provided you were of the pampered nobility class. The term transferred to restaurant waiters, and now sounds extra formal outside of Spain. In Latin America you would typically hear mesero.

Entry 2

Beware of direct translations, especially when using colloquialisms.

For example, when coming to a fork in the road, don’t translate it directly, as in el tenedor en el camino. That would literally be an eating utensil in the street. Instead, use the Spanish term bifurcación.

Entry 3

What a difference an article makes—a definite article, that is. The two singular forms of the Spanish definite articles, “el” and “la”, typically indicate gender.

But they can also indicate entirely different nouns.

For example, la papa means “the potato,” but el papa means “the Pope!”