Dejar – So Many Meanings!


I decided to make dejar my Spanish word of the day after watching a new video by The Spanish Dude called Dejar Vs. Dejar Vs. Dejar.  I found it very entertaining because, like The Spanish Dude, I enjoy analyzing different words and forms of language.  As much as I enjoy the analysis, it also can be extremely frustrating and crazy-making.  Sometimes, certain language forms just do not seem logical to me, and it is not healthy or productive for me to worry about why a certain is used in a certain way – or why a certain word is used a gagillion different ways.  And dejar can be used a gagillion different ways in English!  I looked up dejar in my favorite online dictionary which is called Glosbe.  There are over 100 English words that dejar can be used for! OMG!!!

First of all, let me list 8 common uses of dejar:

  • to allow
  • to let
  • to leave behind
  • to abandon
  • to stop
  • to give up
  • to leave alone
  • to loan

This is just the beginning.  Here are a few of the hundred or more different meanings of dejar at Glosbe:

  • to bequeath
  • to dump (end a relationship)
  • to advance
  • to desert
  • to discharge
  • to shelve
  • to slip
  • to knock off
  • to lay down
  • to throw in the towel

The meaning of a single word can be so confusing!

In his video, The Spanish Dude tests his hypothesis that the idea behind the use of dejar is one of separation, release or relief, space and freedom.  To me, his experiences testing the hypothesis are quite funny.  And he makes a good point.  You can look at dejar as having a central core meaning of release or relief.

Also in the video, The Spanish Dude talks about the frustration and confusion that a language learner can experience trying to understand how a new language works.  He advises his viewers to remember that words don’t mean words. Words stand for ideas.  He says that all words have a central core idea.  Even when a word has opposite meanings (dejar can mean both to lend and to borrow), there still is a connection to the central core idea.  I really appreciate his advice!

At one point, The Spanish Dude makes an observation about learning Spanish with a school book, (vocabulary or  grammar) that made me laugh out loud.  The book follows us, we don’t follow the book.  That grammar book, that school book, that’s merely a set of observations.  They observe what we do and somebody reports it in their little book.  A book of rules.  Well, of rules with so many exceptions that we have to look up the definition of rule.  Who hasn’t experienced the difficulty of internalizing the exceptions to a grammar rule?  I also love how he describes the world of language learning as the convoluted world of rules that are not rules.

If you would like to watch Dejar Vs. Dejar Vs. Dejar, it is embedded below.  If you decide to watch it, I hope it is helpful to you.  It certainly has made things a lot clearer for me!

¡Buen día!