Why is Tequila Masculine?


There is some question as to whether or not “tequila” is in fact a masculine noun, but native speakers who know tequila will inevitably use it with masculine articles (el or un). Further evidence is the fact that the adjective endings are masculine in noun phrases like “tequila añejo” or “tequila reposado.” Now the explanation for this apparent exception to gender patterns has generated some really silly answers. Consider for example: “Por la violencia que causa la bebida y debido al hecho de que es fuerte, los hombres de México querían llamarle “el Tequila” y dijeron que fue algo “verdadero macho, macho.” Certainly this cannot be. The Spanish language doesn’t assign gender to nouns based on the meaning or uses of that item–Spanish grammatical gender is not based on semantics (would these men also object to “vestido” being masculine?). A better explanation is the following: Tequila is a type of liquor from the town of Tequila (state of Jalisco), so by asking for a tequila, you are actually asking for “un licor de Tequila.” For the sake of economy, the noun gets dropped and you end up with “un tequila.”

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