Bitcóin, criptomoneda and 3,834 other new words included in Spanish language

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish language

Every December, the Royal Spanish Academy of Language (RAE) adds new words to the official word list. This year the Diccionario de la Lengua Española (DLE) has been expanded with almost 400,000 words added to the Spanish language. 

The RAE first made this annual update five years ago. This characterises a certain modernisation of the Spanish language, which until recently was subject to relatively little change. Social dynamism and further internationalisation have led to the fact that the Spanish language use also indicates that the world is changing. 

El País lists as the most notable new words in the new DLE edition the Spanish version of the English word bitcoin, bitcóin with an emphasis on the o, cachopo (a dried-out, hollow tree trunk), criptomoneda (crypto coin), gentrificación (gentrification; upgrading of a neighborhood or district), geolocalizar (geolocation), quinoa and transgénero (transgender). These are all words that everyone probably already knows, but until now were not officially included in the Spanish language. 

Digitization and technicalisation 

Director Santiago Muñoz Machado underlines the significant number of new words added to the DLE this year. With 3,836, this is a lot more than the 2,500 additions in 2020 and 1,110 in 2019. “This increase is mainly due to the digitization and technologicalisation of society,” says Muñoz Machado. The words bitcoin, bot (program that imitates a human online), ciberacoso (cyber bullying), criptomoneda and geolocalizar (tracing something or someone with technical aids) also originate from this. Not to mention the word ‘webinario’ (course or presentation online). This has become familiar to everyone since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

A good example of visual language use is the word “ojiplático”, which from now on appears on the official Spanish word list. Derived from the words ‘ojos’ (eyes) and plato (plate, saucer), the literal meaning is ‘eyes as dishes’. Someone who says ‘me quedé ojiplático’ means that he was dumbfounded. 

Gender identity 

The Spanish glossary has also been modernised in the field of gender identity and sexual orientation. Think of words like poliamor (polyamorous), transgénero (transgender), cisgénero (cisgender; identifying with the gender determined at birth), and pansexualidad, meaning people who are attracted to other people, regardless of their gender. 


The second year of the pandemic has, just like last year, enriched the language of the Spaniards. Words or word combinations such as ‘burbuja social’ (social bubble) and ‘nueva normalidad’ (the new normal) have become indispensable in the language. Also, many pre-existing words that few people knew about before the pandemic are now commonly used terms. Think of words such as triaje (triage; classification of patients according to the seriousness of their situation), vacunología (vaccinology), incidencia (incidence; the frequency with which a certain disease occurs) and urgenciólogo (urgency doctor). 

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