Mexican X-plainer: Fulano de Tal

David Bowles
2 min readJun 5, 2023

You may have noticed that in Spanish, when you don’t know someone’s name, you can call them “Fulano” or “Fulana.” I mean, not to their face, but to refer to them. Like saying “Joe Blow” or “Jane Doe” or “John Q. Public,” it’s just a stop-gap word taking the place of a proper noun. “So-and-so,” essentially.

Like many Spanish words, “Fulano” comes from Arabic, in which language فُلَان “fulān” (feminine فُلَانَة or “fulāna”) is employed in the same way, for a person whose name one doesn’t know.

--

--

David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. President of the Texas Institute of Letters.