Question: What might be a plausible language origin of the word, "lelo" as used in traditional jibaro musical form of Puerto Rico.

The word lelo is intensively used in the introduction of jibaro folkloric music of Puerto Rico. A classic example can be found in a traditional musical song form known as a decima: Florencio "Ramito" Morales Ramos: Sies Con Decimas.

Curiously while tracing the origin of the word "fogon" a common outdoor cooking set up in Puerto Rico, I came across idiophones of the Basque language. Under the alphabetical listing L there is "lelo" - same old story; which compared to the musical form seems right.

  • While I wouldn't expect to be able to answer this anyway, I am surprised that you have not given the meaning of the word lelo in the songs.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 22:46
  • @ColinFine excellent point. I do not know the meaning. I will edit the question and ask for a possible meaning and origin.
    – Anthony
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


It is plausibly not a word per se, but a sound evocative of singing. You encounter it in English ("lalalala"), and in Finnic languages the root "sing" is often something like laulu- (Saami joik is mostly compose of lu-lu-lu). "Ululate" is a Latin-based English word (Latin ululo) which is a kind of singing, and in a number of Bantu languages there is a verb luluta meaning "to ululate". So it could have an iconic, sound-symbolic origin.

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