The focus here is on learned borrowings in Ibero-Romance (i.e. words borrowed directly or indirectly from Latin or Greek), many of which have percolated down into everyday usage. In the present day, language planners often turn to learned sources to avoid perceived ‘contamination’ from English (e.g. patrocinio, a sixteenth-century learned borrowing, has been adopted as an antidote to espónsoring ‘sponsorship’) or ‘taboo’ concepts (e.g. invidente for ciego ‘blind’). This research considers (1) how learned borrowings become socially and linguistically embedded; (2) how words evolve according to particular linguistic, social and cultural factors; and (3) how present-day language planners exploit learned sources to create neologisms and to resurrect learned words from obsolescence.