Ojalá and Insh’Allah


One of my best friends is Muslim, as are a few other friends and acquaintances, so I’ve become used to seeing the word “insh’Allah” added to the ends of sentences online over the years to mean “hopefully” (or literally, “if Allah/God [is] willing.”)

At some point it occurred to me that “insh’Allah” sounded very similar to one of my favorite Spanish words, “ojalá” – which also means “hopefully.” Could there be a connection? I wondered.

If you haven’t guessed by now, “ojalá” does indeed derive from the Arabic “insh’Allah,” thanks to the Moors who ruled Spain.

(Since knowing this, when I text or email my friend something I’m hopeful about, I often type “hopefully/ojalá/inshAllah.”)

Another Spanish word that allegedly derives from Arabic: ¡Olé!

According to the book, “Everything You Need to Know About Latino History: 2008 Edition” by Himilce Novas, “Olé is a Spanish word adapted from ‘Allah,’ the Arabic name for God. So when Spaniards cry ‘¡Olé!’ at a bullfight, they are saying ‘Praise Allah!’ — even if they really mean ‘Viva,’ which is Spanish for ‘Long live!’ or in some circles, ‘Man Alive!'”

While looking through lists of Spanish words of Arabic origin I spotted several of my favorite words:


I bet you didn’t realize how much Arabic you speak! (Check out more HERE and HERE.)

And since we’re on the topic, I may as well close with one of my favorite Spanish villancicos, “Peces en el Río,” which has a decidedly Arabic feel to it. (This is a rather lively version from Colombian group, Las Mujeres de mi Tierra.)


  1. :-)  you left out my favorite.  NARANJA :-)   But this was a GREAT ARTILE and I am so glad I subscribe.  Thank you.

      John Juan Adams


  2. I took a class in college in which we had to do a project on borrowed words in Spanish, and it looks as though you have hit the major ones. I often find though that ojala is less used and that other words are substituted in its place. It has a strong connotation though

  3. Have you noticed how some novelas have Arabic theme to them? There was one a few years ago based in the middle east and now Corazon Indomable on right now on univision has a character that is a prince from dubai. :0

    • I haven’t watched any based in the Middle East myself but now you’ve got me curious about Corazón Indomable!

  4. Here, in El Salvador – Ask Carlos – we use ojalá and “primero Dios” as the same… so that makes more clear the conection between those and insh’Allah

  5. Let’s not forget that the moores ruled Spain for a few centuries, the beautifull people of latin ancestry owes it all to the great mixture of Arabic European and African salsa.

  6. We all use arabic numbers, Aztecs and Persians had communication way before Colo’n arrived, long history, they didn’t come to steal like the Catholics…

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