capicúa [adjective; noun, m.] – palindrome, palindromic (i.e., a number or word that reads the same forwards and backwards)
The other day, my youngest son was proudly putting the finishing touches to his first ever oil painting. My partner, Alejandro, told him to sign it and write the date on the back. We looked at the kitchen calendar and Alejandro said, “¡Oh, mira! Ayer fue 15-10-2015. ¡Casi capicúa!”
“¡¿Quéee?!” I thought my ears were deceiving me. All my life, I’ve used the lame old word “palíndromo” in Spanish (granted it doesn’t come up that often in conversation) and you mean to tell me this little gem has been hiding from me all this time?! I LOVE it!
Alejandro told me a bit about the etymology of the word – it comes from the Catalán “cap i cúa” meaning “head and tail”. Later I looked it up and the DRAE says that capicúa is only used for numbers (and dates), whereas palíndromo is the umbrella term, encompassing numbers, words and sentences. Other dictionaries, however, say that the two words are synonymous. They don’t always know everything, these dictionaries, do they?!
What gorgeous-sounding words have you learnt recently?