The Latin term compăter came to our language as compadre. The compadre of an individual is the godfather of his son. On the other hand, the father of his godson is also called compadre.
For example: “Tomorrow I’m going to go fishing with my brother-in-law and my compadre”, “My wife’s compadre suffered a violent robbery at his home and is now hospitalized”, “I am your compadre, I will always be at your disposal to whatever you or your child need ”.
The etymology of godfather is linked to the one who cooperates with the father. In the Catholic religion, a person calls the godfather at the baptism or confirmation of his child a godfather. The relationship supposes that the compadre assumes the commitment to assist the father of his godson in caring for him. In the case of a child’s godmother, the child’s parents will refer to her as the godfather.
By extension to this meaning, in some countries a friend is called compadre, regardless of the existence, or not, of a kinship bond. Two men who have known each other for thirty years and who have maintained a friendly relationship since then can call each other “compadre”.
Regarding its use in religious sacraments, such as baptism and confirmation, it is important to note that many times the parents of the child who will receive them choose people they hardly know to play the roles of godfather and godmother. In other words, godfather and comadres often fail to protect and advise godchildren or assist parents, regardless of the promise they have made.
According to the gypsy tradition of Spain, for example, when a child is born there is a great celebration which is attended by all members of the local community. This can be done in the father’s or godfather’s house, and a banquet with assorted sweets and liquors is offered. The objective of this ritual is to strengthen the ties between the family and the newcomer, as well as those that unite him to his godfather, a figure of great importance whom they begin to call “godfather.”
Even the idea of godfather is used to call any individual, even a stranger: “Hey, compadre, do you have a coin?” , “Could you tell me the time, compadre?” . This same or similar meaning may appear in other Spanish-speaking countries or regions, and sometimes the pronunciation is affected by the local accent, so that the word does not always sound the same; It is said that in Andalusia, for example, it is sometimes pronounced ‘ ompare ‘.
In Uruguay and Argentina, on the other hand, the bellicose man or fighter is known as compadre or compadrito: “He entered my house with the air of a compadre and I kicked him out”, “I suggest you not play the compadrito with Don Manuel ”.
Despite sharing the same language and being within walking distance of each other, the meaning that Spanish-speaking countries give to this term can be quite different, and the same happens with its diminutive. In Peru, for example, not only is a close friend called compadre, but it can also be called compadrito to express a special affection, while in Argentina and Uruguay the diminutive has a negative connotation.
In the context of a family, the father of a married woman may call her son-in-law compadre, and vice versa. Other forms that this word receives are “compadrote”, “compae”, “cumpai”, “compa”, “compai”, “compayito”, “compete” and “compi”.