Origins: Although frijoles is the Spanish word for beans, in the United States frijoles is sometimes used to refer to a particular type of bean-based dish, one which is commonly eaten as a dip with corn tortilla chips,
The standard English-language name for this culinary concoction is "refried beans," a term that has given many people (myself included) pause to ponder the question: "Why would beans need to be fried more than once?" The answer is that the beans in "refried beans" aren't really fried multiple times; the English name came about through a mistranslation from Spanish.
The dish we English speakers know as refried beans is called frijoles refritos in Spanish: frijole being the Spanish word for "bean," and "frito" being a Spanish adjective meaning "fried." The translation error came about through the mistaken assumption that the prefix re- means in the same thing in Spanish as it does in English. Although placing re- before an English verb is a common way of indicating an action undertaken more than once (e.g., reschedule, reassign, redistribute), in Spanish that prefix is used as a form of emphasis. Therefore frijoles refritos are not beans that have been fried multiple times but rather beans that have well-fried, as Diana Kennedy explained in The Cuisines of Mexico:
Barnette, Martha. Ladyfingers and Nun's Tummies. New York: Vintage Books, 1998. ISBN 0-375-70298-9 (p. 72) Kennedy, Diana. The Cuisines of Mexico. New York: William Morrow Cookbooks, 1989. ISBN 0-060-91561-7 (p. 272)