The Royal Spanish Academy changes synonym

The Royal Spanish Academy to remove the word “tonto” (stupid) as a synonym for Galician

In 2013 when the 23rd edition of the Royal Spanish Academy dictionary is due to be published the word tonto which translates as stupid will be removed as a synonym for Galician the word used to refer to people from the region of Galicia. According to the secretary of the Academy, José Manuel Blecua, the article will have been amended on the Royal Spanish academy’s website ( within two months. The decision to remove the word is based on the lack of any written documents with the word tonto used in this way although it is used commonly in Costa Rica in colloquial language.

In the current edition of the Royal Spanish Academy dictionary published in 2001 the term gallego (Galician) is explained as somebody from Galicia as well as north easterly wind, person born in Spain that lives in America, stupid, stutterer, the language of Galicia and small river lizard amongst other things.

The word El gallego was used in the past to refer to emigrants firstly to the region of, Castilla during harvesting time and appeared in the first edition of the dictionary in 1734.

In four years time the Royal Spanish Academy will get rid of the word tonto in reference to gallego but will recover an expression which appeared in 1914 as the sixth meaning of the word although this was later withdrawn. This expression is mesa gallega or mesa de gallegos, which sometimes means ‘that in which wheat bread is missing’ and on other occasions when it is preceded by the verb hacer (do or make) means take home all your opponent’s money in a game.

Two years ago a Spanish student, Mar López, organized an association to protest against the use of the words stupid and stutterer in reference to the people of Galicia. Her association which is called Garapino asked for help from all the academies of America and also campaigned for the Galician language to be defined in as much detail as the Catalan or Basque languages.

Garapino also requested that the Galician language be moved up to second or third place instead of sixth place which it currently holds.

Translated from this El País article.