Ñaña and other Quechua words

Quechua is the language of several indigenous ethnic groups in Ecuador and other neighbor countries.  There is a significant amount of words from Quechua in the Spanish language that are widely used in all Latin American and reflect wonderfully our mestizaje. These words have survived more than 500 years since the colonization and most of them are related to animals (llama, vicuñacóndor, puma  etc), agriculture (papa, choclo, chirimolla, etc) and name given to places (Chimborazo, Tungurahua, etc)

There are other Quechua words used in the Ecuadorian Spanish. They are more often heard in the highland/mountain areas of the country like Quito. Some of these words are: cushqui (money), locro (a soup made of potatoes and cheese), guambra (a child), taita (dad), mucha (kiss), guagua (baby) and many more. However, there is one particular Quechua word that I think all Ecuadorians know and use it no matter the area where they live.


Ñaña which means sister in Quechua is hermana in Spanish. I think some of us in Ecuador feel that the Quechua word ñaña expresses better the deep affection and bonding that true sisterhood brings than its equivalent word in Spanish, hermana. 


And for those that have brothers, do not fret. We Ecuadorians got you covered! There is also the masculine version for ñaña.  We just changed the last vowel to an O and tadaa: ñaño.  So, if an Ecuadorian ever calls you: ñaña (if you are female) or ñaño (if you are a male), feel free to do a flip because you have been considered a true friend. Chances are that they will invite you to eat un arroz con menestra or locro. Yum!


3 thoughts on “Ñaña and other Quechua words

  1. Jaime says:

    SO happy there is an explanation for Ñaña. We have always used it but out generation if finally growing up and asking why. Thank you!.. I will be sending this site to many of my cousins 🙂


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