How Did the Alligator Get its Name and Where did the Word Alligator Come From?

English writers of the sixteenth century correctly called this American creature a lagarto, for that was the Spanish name for this huge saurian, “lizard.”

alligator word

But because Spaniards, like Arabs, are accustomed to put the definite article al before a noun, al lagarto, the lizard, careless English writers assumed that this was a single word, allagarto.

This became further corrupted in the seventeenth century to allegator, and the present spelling “alligator” became established in the early eighteenth century.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment