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Origin of olé
Words nearby olé
What does olé mean?
Olé is an exclamation of approval, encouragement, or victory. The unrelated word ole, without the accent mark over the e, is simply a version of the word old meant to imitate how it is sometimes pronounced.
Olé, pronounced [ oh-LAY ], comes from Spanish and is often associated with its use during Spanish or Latin American events or activities, such as when it’s shouted by spectators during bullfights or certain dances. More recently, it has become a popular chant by fans at soccer (football) games, especially to mark a team’s victory.
Ole (pronounced like old without the d) is colloquial, meaning it’s typically used in informal conversation. It’s especially used to intensify the meaning of another adjective that it’s paired with, as in Look at that big ole truck. It’s sometimes spelled ol’.
Example: When I visited Spain, I finally got to see people chanting, “Olé!” in a big ole arena, just like in the movies!
Where does olé come from?
As an interjection, olé has been used in English since at least the early 1900s. It comes from Spanish, but its ultimate origin is debated. It may be based on another Spanish word, but some linguists think it traces back to the Arabic term wa-llāh. This term is based on the name Allah, the word for God in Arabic and used in Islam, which is said to have been exclaimed as a form of praise after certain performances.
Regardless of its origin, olé is typically used in a way that’s similar to bravo, meaning “splendid” or “well done.” It is a stereotypical feature of the Spanish bullfight, used to cheer on the matador. Though it is most often associated with Spanish and Latin American usage, it has become common elsewhere, especially as a communal chant in soccer stadiums.
Ole meaning old reflects how the word is pronounced in certain regions, especially the American South. It is characteristic of informal, conversational speech. Ole can be used in just about any way old is used, but it most often appears in common phrases and idioms. It is often used to mean “in the past,” as in the good ole days, or “familiar” or “mundane,” as in same ole story. It is also used as a way to intensify the meaning of another adjective, as in My big ole feet can’t fit in those tiny shoes!
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How is olé used in real life?
Olé is perhaps best known from being shouted at bullfights or chanted at soccer matches. Ole meaning old is used in informal conversation, especially by people from the American South or to reflect such speech.
🎶 We’ve seen it all, we’ve won the lot, We’re Man United and we are never gonna stop!
Ole ole, ole ola. Ole, ole, ole, ole, Ole, ole! 🎶
United fans were absolutely unreal yesterday! 🙌😍
— OldTraffordFaithful (@OTFaithful) March 9, 2020
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) March 4, 2020
i walked into work today with a big ole smile on my face and i can’t contain my excitement
— meens (@menahsarah) March 2, 2020
Try using olé!
True or false?
Olé (the interjection) and ole (meaning old) have the same origin.