Spanish Word of the Day Archive
Friday July 5, 2013

tapa, noun:
lid; top; tapa

The general meaning of tapa is a covering for something:

una caja de plástico con una tapa metálica
a plastic box with a metal lid

No puedo sacarle la tapa a esta botella.
I can’t get the top off this bottle.

So how does this word come to refer to tapas, the vast range of snacks available in Spanish bars to go with your drink?
There are various theories. What they all have in common is that the glasses of drink being served were covered with something to protect the drink. In time, a snack was placed on this covering, so tapa came to mean not only the lid itself, but also the food that was on it.

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