Derived from the Spanish literary character Don Quixote, this word captures his character’s essence. His comical misinterpretations of reality being at times funny, chivalrous, and ironic. He chooses to see things in the best light.

If something is ‘quixotic,’ it shares this unique quality with the literary figure.

Christianity Everyday military Religion


The English borrowed and  modified this word from the Spanish ‘renegado,‘ who formed it from a Latin term meaning “to deny.”

When a Christian deserted and joined the Muslim army, Spanish churchmen labeled a man who denounced his faith a “renegado.” English took this and modified it to ‘renegade’ and was used to designate “the occasional turncoat who denied his religion for profit.”

Maritime Names Political Shakespeare


The word “filibuster” can be traced back to a label given to pirates who marauded trade routes in the 17th and 18th centuries.   It originated from the Dutch word vrijbuiter, which literally translates to  “freebooter,”  [vrij (“‘free’”) +‎ buit (“‘booty’”) +‎ er].

The term spread across Europe with the Spanish and French translating it into filibustero and filibustier,  respectively.

Americans adapted the spelling and pronunciation to “filibuster” and expanded the definition to include mercenaries engaged in illicit military actions against foreign governments, referring in particular to Southern adventurers in Latin America.

In the mid-1800s, “filibuster” became popular in the U. S. Congress as a euphemism for delaying or blocking the passing of legislation by taking advantage of the procedural rules to hold the floor for inordinate amounts of time.    Senator Huey Long (D-LA) demonstrated a particular talent for filibustering, reciting everything from Shakespeare to recipes for Southern dishes for up to 15 hours at a time.

Everyday Life


The first definition of ‘two-bit’ makes its etymology obvious: it is derived from the noun ‘two bits.’ However, ‘two bits’ is an interesting phrase because it actually means ‘the value of a quarter of a dollar.’

There is no such thing as a single bit, at least not anymore. The now obsolete Spanish dollar was composed of eight reals, or eight bits, so a quarter of the dollar equaled two bits.

The phrase ‘two bits’ carried over into U.S. usage, though there’s no bit coin in U.S. currency.

‘Two bits’ first appeared in print in English in 1730 (and later developed the figurative sense of ‘something of small worth or importance’), followed in 1802 by its adjectival relative. These days, though, the adjective has far surpassed the noun in popularity.