Rocín in Spanish means work-horse or low-quality horse ("nag"), but also illiterate or rough man. There are similar words in French (roussin; rosse), Portuguese (rossim) and Italian (ronzino). The etymology is uncertain. The name is, however, a pun. On the first order, the Spanish ante means "before" or "previously". On the second order, it also translates as 'in front of'. On the third order, the suffix -ante in Spanish is adverbial; rocinante refers to functioning as or being a rocín reflexively. As such, Cervantes establishes a pattern of ambiguous interpretations present in many instances of verbiage in the novel.
As the narration of the novel reads at the beginning of the book, Don Quixote thinks of a name to give to his steed in order to set out on his adventures, and chooses 'Rocinante' to establish the horse as no longer a nag.
Travel Etc: Grand Tours - in the Windmills of His Mind ; the Series That Follows the World's Great Writers on Their Adventures in Literature. This Week, Miguel De Cervantes Launches Don Quixote on His Deluded Quest for Fame and Glory in la Mancha
Sep 23, 2001; Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) is Spain's greatest literary figure. Little is known of his early life, but his later...