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The origin of the word “undás

Each time All Saints’ Day draws near, we usually hear the word “undás” to pertain to it. Many people are puzzled as to the meaning of the term. Some who are well-versed in etymology say that it was derived from the Spanish word “honrar” meaning “to honor”, and it is associated to All Saints’ Day because we honor our dearly departed dead during this event.

But how did honrar become undás?

All-Saints.jpg

I Precursori Di Cristo Con Tutti I Santi Ed I Martiri Del Paradiso (The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs), tempera on poplar wood by Fra Angelico.

When you conjugate the word honrar to the second person in present tense, it becomes “honras” (you honor). Filipinos back then tend to mispronounce many Spanish words, and through time, such words have evolved: “pared” became “pader“, “jabón” became “sabón“, “cebollas” became “sibuyas“, etc. In linguistics, this phenomenon is called sound change.

In some parts of Southern Luzón such as Batangas, Tayabas (now Quezon), and Mindoro Island, undás is pronounced as “undrás” (with an “r”). As you can now see, honras and undrás sound the same (by the way, the letter “h” has no sound in Spanish).

Now let’s go back to the Spanish word honrar. It is said that the use of the term undrás to pertain to the triduum of All Hallows’ Eve (October 31), All Saints’ Day (November 1), and All Souls Day (November 2) came first before it further got corrupted to undás through time. But we could even go back further and trace its roots to the Spanish term “honras fúnebres” which means “funeral honors”. This should close any doubt that undás or undrás originated from honras.

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7 thoughts on “The origin of the word “undás

  1. Very well explained and appreciated. This is just but one of the many informative things that should be taught in our schools especially on the specific subject of Philippine History.

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  2. Interesting. The “sound change” could have happened easier for us. I have seen the same symbol being used for “da” and “ra” in the Tagalog baybayin. A friend from Morong, Rizal substitutes “d” with “r,” e.g. bunrok/bundok and sanrok/sandok. Maybe, it also works in reverse. 😊

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  3. Another possibility. When the province of Cavite spoke “chabacano” or Spanish brought to local idioms UNDAS was thought to mean Unos Dias de los Almas y Santos or Undras = Unos Días recuerdos de los almas y santos. Filipinos even then enjoyed using abriviations

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  4. Now it’s clear. I’m from Cavite and all throughout our growing up years up to when we became adults, we have been using “ undras” . Then suddenly lately, especially in the news, we’ve been hearing “undas”. I said, how come? So both undas and undras are accepted and that we in the Southern Luzon area have used “ undras”. Thanks for clarifying.

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