7+ Quechua Words That Are Widely Used In English

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Did you know that there is a significant amount of Quechua words that are widely used in Spanish and English?  I find it SO interesting how Quechua, the language of the Incas has influenced modern languages.

Most of these words are related to animals, agriculture and they also include the name of places given by the indigenous communities. Llama, condor, puma and alpaca are a few Quechua words that we often use. Isn’t that cool?

7+ Quechua Words That Are Widely Used In English


Domesticated long-necked South American ruminants related to the camels but smaller and without a hump. These friendly animals are used especially in the Andes as a pack animal and a source of wool. (Source)



This is a wild ruminant of the Andes from Peru to Argentina that is related to the llama and alpaca (Source)



This is a very large American vulture (Vultur gryphus) of the high Andes having the head and neck bare and the plumage dull black with a downy white neck ruff and white patches on the wings (Source)



The fur or pelt of a cougar (Source)



A domesticated mammal especially of Peru that is probably descended from the vicuña (Source)



An annual herb (Chenopodium quinoa) of the goosefoot family that is native to the Andean highlands. (Source)


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A Beloved Quechua Word For Ecuadorians

In the Ecuadorian Spanish, you will find a considerable amount of Quechua words such as: cushqui (money), locro (a soup made of potatoes and cheese), guambra (a child), taita (dad), mucha (kiss), guagua (baby) and others. However, there is one particular Quechua word that I think all Ecuadorians know and use it no matter the area where they live, that is “ñaña.”

The Quechua word “ñaña” evokes strong feelings for the person that chooses to use it. Some of us think that the word expresses better the deep meaning of a sister. If I need to translate ñaña, I think “beloved sister” is what it means.


And for those that have brothers, do not fret. We Ecuadorians got you covered! There is also the masculine version for ñaña.  We just changed the last vowel to an O and tadaa: ñaño.  So, if an Ecuadorian ever calls you: ñaña (if you are female) or ñaño (if you are a male), feel free to do a flip because you have been considered a true friend.

What Is Your Favorite Quechua Word?

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  1. SO happy there is an explanation for Ñaña. We have always used it but out generation if finally growing up and asking why. Thank you!.. I will be sending this site to many of my cousins 🙂

  2. I was thinking of getting a sister tattoo in Quechua for the longest because my grandpa who passed away recently spoke this before his stroke years ago. May I ask how this is pronounced when speaking it? the first n is throwing me off.

    1. Hi Angie! Thanks for your question! I found a helpful YouTube video that teaches how to say ” ñ.” Pay attention how they pronounce the ña from niña (girl) and the ña from España (Spain) The ña sound is the same that you make to say: ñaña. Hope that helps!
      Here it is the video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PKh9vaJmxh8

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