What Does the Word Encanto Mean And Where Does It Come From?

Has Disney’s latest movie release, Encanto, left you humming—or wondering? 

Are you wondering what the Spanish word encanto means?

Encanto has several meanings, all of which relate to the movie, including a surprising history.

First, the noun encanto means “charm.” A small town with beautiful historical buildings might be full of charm and could be described as an encanto. This means the unique town and people in Disney’s Encanto are an encanto. The island of Puerto Rico is known by its popular nickname, Isla del Encanto (or the “Island of Enchantment”). And while Encanto the movie is based in Colombia, many Spanish speakers in the audience will be familiar with this reference to a common nickname for Puerto Rico. This meaning of encanto can also be used to compliment someone—you’re such a sweetheart or “eres un encanto.”

Encanto also means “spell,” which is definitely a fitting definition for the magical Madrigal family in the Disney movie as well. (No spoilers here!) Each family member is given a magical gift, and the Madrigal house is also in itself magical. Encanto also includes elements of magic realism, a literary genre frequently used in Latin America and known by its “realistic narrative and naturalistic technique combined with surreal elements of dream or fantasy.”

Encantar is a verb related to encanto. It means “to bewitch or cast a spell on.” You might also use it to say you’ve been enchanted by something: “me encanta la película,” or I love the movie. And yes, when you’re introduced to someone in Spanish, you can reply: “encantada” or “encantado.” This means you’re delighted to meet them.

But where does the word encanto come from? There’s one more Easter egg for clever movie (and word) fans hidden here: the word comes from the Latin incantō (“I sing”), or incantāre, meaning “to sing” (often as part of a magical spell). This Latin verb also does mean “to spell,” but it’s this alternate definition that takes us back to the Disney movie, where all the characters are definitely charming singers as well. That’s simply enchanting!

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