Historical events also leave their mark on the vocabulary and expressions of a language. In the case of Spain, its past both as a conqueror and as a conquered territory facilitated the integration of a large number of locutions.

Thus, phrases such as “may the earth be light to you” or “arms are carried by the devil” have been consolidated within the Spanish lexicon despite having their origin several decades or centuries ago.

In the case of armed conflicts, it can be said that they also marked a before and after in language. The entry of a new vision of life, the coexistence between the communities and the different social strata created a unique breeding ground in the practice of the language.

With the expression “burn the ships” you have to travel hundreds of years in time, although its meaning remains unchanged today.

In most cases “burning the ships” is understood as fighting for a goal to the end, whatever happens. No going back to avoid the presumable failure contemplated by the sender of the message.

The RAE attributes the following meaning to the expression “burning the ships”: “Make an irreversible decision”.

For many historians, the origin of the expression “burn the ships” comes to life in the time of Hernán Cortés during his expedition in Mexico.

The year was 1521 and before the conquest of the Mexican country there was a riot. It was a complex mission and several crews threatened to return to Spain.

Hence, Hernán Cortés, after holding back the rebellion and certifying his treason in a court martial, chose to sink most of his ships. Thus there was no going back on the mission and the invasion objective was still alive for the Spanish army.

Another version of the origin of this expression is located much earlier in time, specifically in the time of Alexander the Great in the third century BC.

The Macedonian king’s own army headed out to attack the Phoenicia coast. However, and after a first haul, they were surprised by the number of rival defense forces before reaching the mainland.

Alejandro Magno then chose to burn his attack ships to motivate his troops. He wanted the bravery of his warriors to prevail over that of a larger army when they saw that they could not return home with their ships.

The historian Manuel Campuzano, author of the book Alexander the Great. Excellence from leadership, describes in his work the order received by the attacking troops in that war campaign. “Watch the ships burn… That is the only reason we must win, because if we don’t win we won’t be able to return to our homes and none of us will be able to meet our families again, nor will we be able to leave this land that today “We despise. We must be victorious in this battle since there is only one way back and it is by sea. We will do it in the only possible way, on our enemies’ ships,” the author highlights in the publication.

According to the criteria of The Trust Project