What’s in a Name? Part 2: Guadalupe

Things are going to get complicated here so hang with me.

Many words and names in Spanish derive from the Arabic influence of the conquering Moors. I wrote about this years ago here.  As a mini refresher, Spanish words that start with “az” (azucar – sugar) or “al” (alamo – poplar) have their origin in Arabic.

“Guad” is apparently no different. According to John Riedell*, “An etymological dictionary of geographical names listed guad and guadi as Spanish in origin for “river.”   This in turn originates from the Arabic wad and wady meaning river or valley.  A variant spelling of wady is wadi, which the World Book defines as “a gully or ravine through which a stream flows in the rainy season,” and says is Arabic for ravine.””

Furthermore, Mr. Riedell’s preference for meaning of “lupe” comes from the Latin root as explained here: “The greater part of -lupe is found in lupus.  And that greater part, lup, is the word stem of lupus which gives the word its “wolfness” meaning.   If you add an “i” to the stem lup, you get lupi, which renders it a possessive form of the word,  meaning “of the wolf.”   Eventually wolf would become “el lobo” in Spanish but we’re talking here about the mother tongue, Latin.” “River of the Wolf” is his preference for the meaning of the name and this is the general concensus.

Add another layer to this the name in Nahautl, ““coatlaxopeuh which is pronounced “quatlasupe” and sounds remarkably like the Spanish word Guadalupe. Coa meaning serpent, tla being the noun ending which can be interpreted as “the”, while xopeuh means to crush or stamp out.”” Our Lady of Guadalupe apparently called herself this name  – She Who Crushes the Serpent – to Juan Bernadino, Juan Diego’s uncle in her fifth apparition.

The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is long and complicated but you can read it here.

It makes sense to me that Our Lady of Guadalupe would speak to people in their native tongue and with images reminiscent of their all-too-recent history of Aztec human sacrifice to snake gods. (I get shivers just typing that sentence). It also makes sense to me that She would enjoy a nice double entendre.

If you have 20 minutes, watch this YouTube video for more on the miraculous nature of OLG and her tilma.


Herewith concludes Day 10.



Filed under Life

5 responses to “What’s in a Name? Part 2: Guadalupe

  1. Flaky Friend

    That was so interesting! Thanks!

  2. raftbuddy

    Love to learn this stuff! Awesome!

  3. Super arcane but fascinating, no?

  4. Pingback: Get Your Guadalupe On | Memoirs of an Expat Princess

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