Somebody just requested the word despacito, so why not? It seems to have entered the American vernacular at this point. In Spanish, the word means "slowly", and the song is named that because the singer wants to savor his relationship slowly. The -ito, though, is sort of a diminutive, and the real word for "slowly" is despacio. Now we can eliminate the prefix de-, which meant "of" or "from" and comes from the same Latin root that gives us the de- in defrost, defuse, debilitate, et cetera. The root is espacio, which meant "space", in this case referring to a period of time. So, "of a period of time", something is going slowly. Espacio is from Latin spatium, which is the etymon of the English word space and very similar in application. That in turn traces to a Proto-Indo-European reconstruction, speh, which meant "to pull" (as in you're creating a space by pulling something apart). Observing Google Trends for the keyword despacito is, like finding the etymology, quite entertaining: there's a giant spike in June 2017 and has recently stabilized, decreasing more slowly... or should I say more despacito?
Adam Aleksic is a sophomore studying linguistics and government at Harvard University. He also has disturbing interests in politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, and law.