A stray discuss /r/Spanish obtained me thinking about muñeca, the word that, bizardepend, suggests both ‘doll’ and ‘wrist’. The ‘doll’ interpretation is main. It’s the one listed initially in dictionaries, and if you carry out a Google image search on muñeca, you view even more dolls than wrists. It’s the first interpretation that I learned, because ‘wrist’ is one of the much less important body parts. When I inevitably learned the second interpretation, I was surprised that one word could have 2 such completely unconnected interpretations.

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I’ve simply looked up the history of muñeca in my can’t-live-without-it etymological dictionary by Joan Corominas. It transforms out that the word’s original interpretation was neither ‘doll’ nor ‘wrist’, however somepoint totally different: ‘milestone’, in the physical sense of a road marker.


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Muñeca ‘milestone’ turns into both ‘wrist’ and ‘doll’.


How did this bizarre transdevelopment take place? According to Corominas, the essential was the interpretation of a milestone marker as somepoint that sticks up out of the ground: a bump, or utilizing fancier English, a protuberance. Words was then extended to ‘wrist’ bereason the wrist bone protrudes from the arm. The road to ‘doll’ began with the extension of muñeca to a bumpy bundle of rags, and also from there to a rag doll, and also then other dolls.

Muñeca‘s original interpretation of ‘milestone’ has been shed from everyday discourse, however is still included in the Real Academia’s dictionary — but just after ‘doll’, ‘wrist’, and also various other definitions regarded ‘doll’, such as ‘cadaver’ and also ‘bimbo’.

Incidentally, the earlier history of muñeca is obscure. It is not Latin, however appears to come from a pre-Roguy language, probably Celtic.

See more: At The Drop Of A Hat Origin, History Of At The Drop Of A Hat


This enattempt was posted in Vocabulary and also tagged etymology, muñeca, Spanish on 19 May, 2016 by jhochberg.

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11 thoughts on “The stvariety background of muñeca”

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Diane 3 May, 2020 at 1:00 pm

So delighted to learn this! I had actually only known the “doll” meaning and also was startcaused find the very different definition “wrist” in a Spanish course I’m taking. Being curious, I just “had” to know why. When I remained in elementary college (lengthy ago!!) I was (embarrassing to admit) part of a cliquish girls’ team that the leader had called “Las Muñecas” tho none of us knew much Spanish. Now I laugh to think of running roughly in my “gang” sweatshirt that could easily have been read as “The Wrists”. Ha, we thought we were so cool!


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Melissa 19 May, 2021 at 7:28 pm

I’m curious as to how the leap was made from a standard Guatemalan doll to Celts. Can you intricate on how you got to this? I’m mostly Irish & Norwegian so anything Celt or Norse grabs my attention conveniently. Thank you in advance!


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