Sample list of translated proper nouns in Spanish

Jorge Washington.

This is a sample list of proper nouns in Spanish. Very often, I speak using proper nouns that I take for granted, but some of my students just can’t figure out what they mean, even during a
conversation and in context. Some proper nouns are easy to identify, like Jorge Washington but I’m listing them since some students may find it surprising that these names were
also translated at some point. This list intends to show samples of proper nouns from here and there that are quite different between the two languages, those that have unexpected spelling differences, or those that have the same spelling but are pronounced differently.


Platón. Plato.
Alejandro Magno. Alexander the Great.
Cristóbal Colón. Christopher Columbus.
Tomás Alva Edison. Thomas Alva Edison.
Nicolás Copérnico. Nicolaus Copernicus.
Luis Pasteur. Louis Pasteur.
María Curie. Marie Curie. So why never Alberto Einstein? Odd. It’s kind of arbitrary.
Toro Sentado. Sitting Bull. Native American chief whose name was Tatanka Iyotanka.
Some of them, like Geronimo (Jerónimo), had Spanish names, as that region was part of Mexico when they were born, and some of them lived in Mexico at certain periods of their
lives, again, like Geronimo, who lived in Sonora and Chihuahua.
Jorge Washington. George Washington.
Ana Frank. Anne Frank.
I think translating historical names is an old-fashioned practice.
George Washington’s name would be often translated to Spanish, but you would
never hear Jorge Bush, for example. However, this practice is still very much alive in the monarchy and pope’s names.
Reina Isabel II (segunda). Queen Elizabeth II.
Príncipe Carlos de Gales. Prince Charles of Wales.
Princesa Diana. Princess Diana.
(different pronunciation of Diana.)
Príncipe Guillermo. Prince William.
Príncipe Enrique. Prince Harry (Henry?).
Papa Juan Pablo II (segundo). Pope John Paul II (the second)
Papa Benedicto  XVI (dieciséis). Pope Benedict XVI
Papa Francisco. Pope Francis.
And perhaps, as far as I could research, the last historical figure (who was not a king or a pope) whose name was translated to Spanish was the infamous Adolfo Hitler. Adolph Hitler, Adolf Hitler. It’s strange to end a tradition with such a name.


Historical (and prehistorical) events and periods.

La Primera Guerra Mundial. First World
La Segunda Guerra Mundial. Second World
El Diluvio Universal. The Flood. (also
below in Religion.)
La Edad de Hierro. Iron Age.
La Edad de Piedra. Stone age.

Geographical Names.

(I think there is a Merriam-Webster bilingual dictionary for geographical names.)

Alemania. Germany
América. The Americas. America in
Spanish is not the United States; it’s both, South America and North
Asia. Asia. (In cases like this,
remember that the pronunciation might be different.)
Brasil Brazil.
Ecuador. Ecuador but also the Earth’s equator.
Estados Unidos. United States.
Francia. France.
Grecia. Greece.
La Habana. Havana.
Inglaterra. England.
Irak. Iraq.
Corea. Korea.
Misuri. Missouri. (It looks ugly, but people who work for Spanish institutions like the EFE news agency often do this).
Nueva York. New York.
Nueva Gales del Sur. New South Wales.
Eastern Hemisphere. Hemisferio Oriental.
España. Spain.
Reino Unido. United Kingdom.
El Canal de la Mancha. (Lit: The Channel of the Stain.) The English Channel.
Gran Bretaña. Great Britain.
Suiza. Switzerland.
Sudamérica. South America.
Western Hemisphere. Hemisferio Occidental.

Arts,  Literature, History.

Miguel Angel. Michelangelo.
Romeo y Julieta. Romeo and Juliet. The pronunciation of Romeo is different in both languages.
La Cenicienta. Cinderella.
Blancanieves. Snow White.
Caperucita Roja. Little Red Riding Hood.
Alejandro Dumas. Alexandre Dumas.
Los Tres Mosqueteros. The Three Musketeers.
Nerón. Nero.
Platón. Plato.
Julio Verne. Jules Verne. (But never Guillermo Shakespeare.)
La Gran Muralla China. The Great Wall of China.
La Casa Blanca. The White House.


Movies, Cartoons, Comics, TV.

Lo que el Viento se Llevó. Gone with the Wind. (What the wind took away)
La Guerra de las Galaxias. Star Wars. (The War of Galaxies)
Plaza Sésamo. Sesame Street. (Sesame Square)
Barrio Sésamo in Spain.
El Hombre Araña. Spiderman.
El Llanero Solitario. The Lone Ranger.
Los Picapiedra. The Flintstones.
Pedro Picapiedra. Fred Flintstone.
Ratón Miguelito. Mickey Mouse. (nowadays known mostly by its English name though.)

Dates and holidays
La Pascua. Easter.
El Miércoles de Ceniza. Ash Wednesday.
La Noche Vieja. New Year’s Eve.
El Día de Año Nuevo. New Year’s Day.
La Nochebuena. Christmas Eve.
La Navidad. Christmas.
El Día del Perdón. Yom Kippur.
El Día de San Patricio. St. Patrick’s
La Noche de Brujas. Halloween.


San José. St. Joseph.
San Juan. St. John.
San Pedro. St. Peter.
San Judas. St. Jude.
Santiago. St. James
Santo Tomás. St. Thomas. (together with Santo Domingo the only two “santo” and not “san.”)
María. Mary.
Pascua. Easter. Passover.
El Diluvio Universal. The Flood.
El Arca de Noé. Noah’s Ark
La Biblia. The Bible.



Company names are not usually translated, but international
organizations are.
Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU). In Spanish, we pronounce ONU as a word. United Nations Organization.(UNO)
La Cruz Roja, Red Cross



La Tierra. Earth.
La Luna. Moon.
El Sol. Sun.
Marte. Mars.
Plutón. Pluto.
La Vía Láctea. The Milky Way.
La Osa Mayor. Ursa Major. (the big she bear.)
Piscis. Pisces.


New York.

La Ciudad de Nueva York. New York City.
La Estatua de la Libertad. The Statue of Liberty.
Las Torres Gemelas. The Twin Towers.
El Parque Central. Central Park.
La Quinta Avenida. Fifth Avenue. (But never Avenida del Parque. Park Avenue.)
La Calle Cuarenta y Dos. Forty Second Street. (But places like Times Square are not translated, but the translation could be La Plaza del (New York) Times.) Newspaper names are not usually translated.
El Puente de Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge.
El Bajo Manhattan. Lower Manhattan.
El Alto Manhattan. Upper Manhattan.
El Desfile del Día de San Patricio. St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
El Condado de Manhattan. Manhattan Borough.
El Bronx. The Bronx.

A complete list would be endless, but I hope this tiny one contains enough proper nouns to
give students an idea of what to expect when reading an article, a
novel, a map, or Spain’s Hola magazine talking about the British

Originally published on 20070312 ( Update: 20070710, 20081024. Last update 20210323 top


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In Spanish, the verb sometimes comes first.