The compadre (literally, "co-father" or "co-parent") relationship between the parents and godparents of a child is an important bond which originates when a child is baptized in Hispanic families. The abstract noun compadrazgo ("co-parenthood") is sometimes used to refer to the institutional relationship between compadres.[1][2][3]

From the moment of a baptism ceremony, the godparents (godfather and godmother, padrino and madrina in Spanish) share the parenting role of the baptised child with the natural parents. By Catholic doctrine, upon the child's baptism the padrinos accept the responsibility to ensure that the child is raised according to the dictates of the Catholic faith and to ensure the child pursues a life of improvement and success (through education, marriage, personal development, and so forth).

At the moment of baptism, the godparents and natural parents become each others' compadres. (The plural form Compadres includes both male and female co-parents.) The female equivalent of compadre is comadre. Thus, the child's father will call the child's godmother "comadre," while she will call him "compadre," and so on.

Traditionally among Latin Americans, this relationship formalizes a pre-existing friendship which results in a strong lifelong bond between compadres. In its truest form, the compadre relationship becomes as strong a bond as the relationship between natural siblings or between a father or mother and his child. In many Latin American societies, life-long friends or siblings who have always spoken to each other informally (using the informal Spanish second-person, ) will mark their new compadre relationship by using respectful or formal speech (the formal Spanish second-person, Usted).

There are a number of other ritual occasions that are considered to result in a compadre relationship in various Latin American societies. These may include ritual sponsorship of other Catholic sacraments (first communion, confirmation, and marriage); sponsorship of a quinceañera celebration; and, in Peru, sponsorship of a ritual first haircut ceremony that normally takes place when a child turns three years old.

Compadrazgo has its roots in medieval European Catholicism. The Doge of Venice Pietro II Orseolo worked all his life for creating solid contacts with the contemporary monarchs, achieving good relationships with the Byzantine Empire. On the other hand, he approximated to Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor and eventually named him literally with the title of Compadre, which meant "the father of the Venecian Doge's children". Otto specially liked this, and became the children's godfather.[4]

The classic Spanish novel Don Quixote (1605–1615) contains several references to compadres; however, the compadre relationship has much less formal meaning in modern Spain where it is a reference both to a godfather/ padrino or just to a best friend that didn't participate in any ritual. The expression is in use particularly in southern Spain. In medieval England, parents and godparents called each other "godsibs" (that is, "God siblings"). The only trace of this old Catholic English practice in modern English is the word gossip, presumably a reference to the propensity of close companions such as compadres to chat and gossip with one another. In Spanish, the verb comadrear (from comadre) similarly means "to gossip."

The term compadre has been extended in some regions to describe a relationship between two good friends. In Argentina and Paraguay, the word is used in popular speech (especially in the diminutive, compadrito) to mean "braggart, loud-mouth, bully." However, for many Latin Americans and Latinos, the word retains its original meaning and symbolism, and for them there is no greater honor than to be asked to be a padrino or compadre.


  1. ^ "Counting on Kin: Social Networks, Social Support, and Child Health Status." Shawn Malia Kana'iaupuni, Katharine M Donato, Theresa Thompson-Colón, Melissa Stainback. Social Forces. Chapel Hill: Mar 2005.Vol.83, Iss. 3; pg. 1137, 28 pgs
  2. ^ "Las Comadres as a social support system." Rebecca A Lopez. Affilia. Thousand Oaks: Spring 1999.Vol.14, Iss. 1; pg. 24, 18 pgs.
  3. ^ "The Forgotten Liberator: Buenaventura Martínez and Yucatán's Republican Restoration." Terry Rugeley. Mexican Studies. Berkeley: Summer 2003.Vol.19, Iss. 2; pg. 331
  4. ^ Katus László: Németország történeti gyökerei. In: Rubicon, 1999 1-2, pp. 4-8


  • Alum, R., 1977, "El Parentesco Ritual en un Batey Dominicano [Ritual Kinship in a Dominican Batey]," Revista Eme-Eme. Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic: Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra; V (26): 11-36.
  • Berruecos, L., 1976, El Compadrazgo en América Latina; Análisis Antropológico de 106 Casos. México: Instituto Indigenista Interamericano.
  • Foster, G., 1953, “Cofradia and compadrazgo in Spain and Spanish America,” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology; 9:1-28.
  • Gudeman, S.; & S. B. Schwartz, 1984, Cleansing Original Sin; Godparenthood and Baptism of Slaves in 18th-Century Bahia; IN: R. T. Smith, ed.; Kinship Ideology and Practice in Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press; pp. 35–58.
  • Nutini, Hugo, and Betty Bell, 1980, Ritual Kinship: The Structure of the Compadrazgo System in Rural Tlaxcala. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Nutini, Hugo, 1984, Ritual Kinship: Ideological and Structural Integration of the Compadrazgo System in Rural Tlaxcala. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Ossio, J., 1984, Cultural Continuity, Structure, and Context; Some Peculiarities of the Andean Compadrazgo; IN: R. T. Smith, ed.; Kinship Ideology and Practice in Latin America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press; pp. 118–46.

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  • Compadre — Compadre, es un término que proviene del latín compăter,[1] esto es co padre, palabra compuesta del prefijo co que indica reunión, cooperación o agregación,[2] y padre, por lo que etimológicamente siginificaría quien coopera con el padre . Dentro …   Wikipedia Español

  • compadre — companion, 1834, Amer.Eng., from Sp. compadre godfather, hence benefactor, friend, from M.L. compater, from com with (see COM (Cf. com )) + pater father. (Cf. COMPERE (Cf. compere), also GOSSIP (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • compadre — sustantivo masculino 1. El padrino de una persona con respecto a los padres y a la madrina de ésta. 2. El padre de una persona con relación al padrino o la madrina de ésta. 3. Uso/registro: coloquial, restringido en España. Origen: América.… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • compadre — (Del lat. compăter, tris). 1. m. Padrino de bautizo de una criatura, respecto del padre o la madre o la madrina de esta. 2. Padre de una criatura, respecto del padrino o madrina de esta. 3. Con respecto a los padres del confirmado, el padrino en… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • compadre — s. m. 1. Diz se tanto do padrinho em relação aos pais do afilhado como do pai deste em relação aos seus padrinhos. 2. Pai do genro ou da nora, em relação aos pais deste. = CONSOGRO 3.  [Figurado] Amigo íntimo. 4. Indivíduo que ajuda um… …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • compadre — ► NOUN (pl. compadres) informal, chiefly N. Amer. ▪ a friend or companion. ORIGIN Spanish, godfather …   English terms dictionary

  • compadre — ☆ compadre [kəm pä′drā΄ ] n. [Sp, friend, lit., godfather < ML(Ec) compater: see COMPÈRE] Southwest a close friend; buddy …   English World dictionary

  • compadre — (Del lat. compater, patris.) ► sustantivo masculino 1 SOCIOLOGÍA Padrino de un niño con relación a la madrina o a los padres de éste. 2 SOCIOLOGÍA Padre de un niño en relación a los padrinos. 3 coloquial Amigo, conocido o compañero. 4 América… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • compadre — {{#}}{{LM C09500}}{{〓}} {{SynC09729}} {{[}}compadre{{]}} ‹com·pa·dre› {{《}}▍ s.m.{{》}} {{<}}1{{>}} {{♂}}Respecto de los padres o de la madrina de un bautizado,{{♀}} padrino de este: • Mi padrino es compadre de mis padres.{{○}} {{<}}2{{>}}… …   Diccionario de uso del español actual con sinónimos y antónimos

  • compadre — s m 1 Padrino de un niño con respecto a los padres de éste y el padre del niño con respecto a los padrinos: Íbamos a ser compadres 2 pl Padrinos de un niño con respecto a los padres de éste y los padres del niño respecto a los padrinos 3 Nombre… …   Español en México

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