In Spanish, a “burro” is a donkey, right? And “-ito” is added to words to make them diminutive. So doesn’t “burrito” mean “little donkey”?

I’ve asked native Spanish speakers at work, and they just sort of laugh. Like, “Of course if you order a burrito in Mexico, you won’t get a little donkey.” But they don’t say anything of the etymology.

If “burrito” does mean “little donkey”, how did the burrito get its name? Donkey meat? That doesn’t “feel” right.

Well, I’m a third-generation Californian, descended from Californios and Sonoran Mexicans, and I never gave it much thought. Some people do eat burro meat, though–it’s really tough and is usually dried, rehydrated later, stewed and fried-it turns out like dry-fried beef or fried pot roast.
Most of my Googling was uninformative, but there’s this, from an etymology website:

“I am a native Mexican and speak fluent Spanish, and I am lacking an explanation on how burrito has come to represent a rolled-up taco.
Well, for those who do not know, burrito means “little burro” or “little donkey” (Equus asinus) and on first blush it is not clear exactly what a tortilla rolled up around a savory filling has in common with a donkey. However, on second look, the burrito is carrying something, a filling, just as a donkey carries loads on its back, as pack animals are often called upon to do. Someone saw this resemblance and came up with a perplexing name for a tasty food! This, at least, is what most etymologists believe. I haven’t seen anyone present any proof, but this explanation does sound plausible.”

Makes more sense than “sandwich.”

How funny!! I’ve always wondered this, but never thought about asking it here…


Incidentally, a gordita translates as a “fat little girl”, but you can safely order one in a restaurant without worrying about cannibalism.

Which came first, the Flying Burritoor the Flying Burrito Brothers?

I can’t find the origin of the band name anywhere.

Just don’t ask what’s in your chimichanga.

I just thought that a burro carries lots of stuff, so a little burro also carries lots of (yummy) stuff. Falso_God’s link shows I’m not alone out there.

I thought ‘gordita’ was another thinly veiled bastardization of the Mex/Hispanic culture by the godless heathen at Taco Bell.

Is ‘gordita’ a real word in Spanish?

How about ‘chalupa’?

No, really, I’m serious.

“Gordita” just means “a little fat one” (feminine; masculine = gordito). It could mean a little fat girl, but not neccesarily. (Gordo/gorda = fat)

An altenative meaning for “chalupa” is “boat, launch, canoe,” which may indicate the derivation of the food item.

“I’d like a canoe and a little fat one, please.”
Thanks, Colibri!.

I know citeless etymology is next to worthless, but I’ve heard tell that an American restaurant owner decided to call meat and beans wrapped in a tortilla a “burrito” on his menu just because he thought it sounded good.

Hehe, I always tease my wife about ordering pazole after having read about its Aztec heritage.

I seem to recall that “burrito” is a term of U.S., rather than Mexican origin. From this site:

but is it true about what I’ve heard about the term “chi-chis”?

Don’t try to squeeze a literal translation out of every food name; what do you think Mexicans think of the term “hotdog”?


Saw some food item for sale in Spain called Perritos Calientes. They were sausages of some sort in a bun of some sort, but they weren’t hot dogs.

Are you perhaps thinking of “cha-chas”?

Ah, but I’ve read how “hot dogs” got their name. IIRC, dachshunds were vary popular early in the last century and a cartoonist drew a picture of one in a bun like a frankfurter. Someone (the cartoonist?) thought “Hot dachshunds!” was too hard to say, so it became “Hot dogs!” At least, that’s how I’ve read it happened. The idea that a burro carries things, so a torilla that carries things inside of it being called a “little burro” seems to make sense; but is that really how burritos got their name? Colibri has a cite that says the term was invented by a couple of Americans in the 1930s. If true, why did they call burritos that? (Then again, why not? There was a Mexican restaurant that served a large flour tortilla with a layer of beans, a layer of ham and a layer of cheese, then another flour tortilla on top. It had a big dollop of sour cream and another of guacamole, with some diced tomatoes and shredded cheese for colour. They called it “La Cucaracha”.)

Something very similar is served in and around Guadalajara and is refered to as a “gringa”. Many people think of quesadillas as being a flour tortilla and cheese (queso) thing when many times they are made with corn tortilla masa and some type of filling and then deep-fried.