What does Tonto mean in Spanish? 'The Lone Ranger' questions answered

the-lone-ranger-johnny-depp-tonto-armie-hammer-disney.jpgIn Disney's "The Lone Ranger," Johnny Depp's Tonto and Armie Hammer's John Reid aka the Lone Ranger aka Kemosabe have quite the love-hate relationship, often sparring with clever insults and digs.

During a tete-a-tete between the two at the end of the film, Hammer's character retorts to Depp's, "Do you know what Tonto means in Spanish?" Well, just in case you don't know the answer, "tonto" is a term reserved in Spanish-speaking cultures for the village idiot. It is literally translated to "fool."

It's unlikely the creator of the original Lone Ranger story, written for radio in 1933, intended to brand the Native American sidekick in this manner. Legend has it Tonto was named after a Potawatomi Indian who would get drunk around campfires and received the nickname, which in his language translated to "wild one."

Stemming from the same lore, the Lone Ranger's Tonto-given nickname, Kemosabe, was intended to mean "trusty scout," though in some Native American languages, it seems to actually be a loose reference to a feces-based slang term for a coward. In Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski's version of the legendary tale, the title character asks Tonto what Kemosabe means, and Depp's character replies, "wrong brother." (If you haven't seen the film yet, you'll get it once you do.)

"The Lone Ranger" is in theaters now.
Photo/Video credit: Walt Disney Studios
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