Me encantan los palíndromos y los números capicúa. ¿Pero acaso no son lo mismo?

Me encantan los palíndromos y los números capicúa. (¿Pero acaso no son lo mismo?)

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?


2 thoughts on “capicúa

  1. Frances Mingoia - World Languages

    I love “capicua”. I first learned this word when I was a child visiting Argentina. The bus tickets at the time looked like our raffle tickets here in the States. Each ticket had a 5 digit number on it and whenever anyone got a ticket that read the same forward and backward, they would call out “Capicua!” and that meant good luck!!!

    1. My Little Spanish Notebook Post author

      Hi Frances, I’m so sorry for the delayed response – I didn’t see your comment before, due to the over-zealous comment filter. Thanks so much for dropping by. And what a lovely anecdote!! I LOVE catching the bus in Latin American countries -so colourful and fun! Argentina and Uruguay are both on my bucket list. I’m taking my family there as soon as the little ones are old enough to appreciate/remember it. 🙂


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