index 2011
Letter #25 -  2011

Sub:    Meaning of the word Ajedrez
06/03/11  8:15:14 PM EDT
From:  Alejandro_372


I just like to know if by any chance you guys know the origin or meaning of the Spanish words of Ajedrez (Chess), Alfil (Bishop), and Enroque (Castling).

Thank you.

Dear visitor,

We found the following:

"Ajedrez" (Chess)

In medieval Persian language and in Arabic, the word Ajedrez (Chess) was spoken the same way: Shatranj. But in Arabic language, a definite article "The" was added at the beginning of the word. Thus, The (ash) Chess (shatranj) formed the word ash-shatranj.

The Spanish language first adapted it in the Old Castilian as 'Acedrex'. The x was pronounced as the English sh and evolved towards the modern j as shown by the spelling of names like México, Texas, Guadix, Axarquía, Oaxaca, and Mexía, which are pronounced today like Méjico, Tejas, Guadij, Ajarquía, Oajaca, and Mejía, although it maintains the old spelling as a tradition.

This old Castilian 'Acedrex' went through a metathesis in its modern Spanish adaptation that was altered into the 'Axedreç' form, being written today as Ajedrez.

"Alfil" (Bishop)

The word "Alfil" of Arab origin, is composed of al (the) and fil (elephant) for this Chess piece represented the force of the pachyderms.

"Enroque" (Castling)

The word derives from the 'roque', former name of the Rook, that in the Arabic language corresponded to rokh (or rujj) and designated the mounted elephant.


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