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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » True Spanish Etymology Stories »

Deporte and Sport

Sport and the Spanish for the same, deporte, are closer than they seem.

The English sport comes from the French for the same… desporte — notice it is the same as the Spanish, except with an extra “s” (that’s a pattern that we’ll explain in the French version of this page one day!).

You can see the connection to the English clearly if we remember the “s” and we remember the de- prefix was lost over time. Thus, the s-p-r-t maps to the Spanish (d)-(s)-p-r-t.

The French desporte (and thus the English sport) and its Spanish equivalent deporte both come from the same Latin root: des- meaning “away” and portare, meaning, “to carry”.

Thus deporte, and sport, is also related to puerto (“port”) and portero (“super”, in the sense of, “superintendent”) in Spanish and port in English.

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Vendimia and Vintage

The Spanish vendimia (“a harvest of wine”) comes from the Latin vinum (“wine” — from which we get words like vino — “wine” — in Spanish) combined with demere, which meant, “to take out”. So the wine harvest is literally, the taking out of the wine.

The interesting part is that, from these same two roots, we get the English… vintage. You may think of vintage cars or vintage clothing — but it really just does refer to, taking out wine.

We can see the v-n-d of vendimia maps to the v-n-t of vintage.

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Estremecer and Tremor

The Spanish estremecer (“to shake”) comes from the Latin prefix ex– (which more commonly means “out of”, but can also add emphasis, as in “thoroughly”), with the Latin verb tremere which means the same: “to shake”.

From the same Latin root, we get the English… tremors. That is when the earth shakes, after all?

We can see the tr-m root clearly in both the Spanish and English words. But it’s easy to miss because of the misleading es prefix!

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Iglesia and Ecclesiastical

Both Iglesia (Spanish for “church”) and Ecclesiastical (also similar English words: think of the book of the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes) come from the same root: the Latin Ecclesĭa for “church”, which comes from the Greek ekkalein (“to call out”). After all, a preacher does call out to God. That is his vocation, what he professes!

This pattern is not obvious because both the Spanish i-g-l-s maps to the English e-c-l-s. The I/E vowel shift isn’t particularly common while the g/c vowel shift is more common, but sometimes harder to recognize.

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Azul and Azure

The Spanish for “blue,” azul, is originally an Arabic word referring to a particular type of valuable blue stone, the lapis lazuli. In Spanish, the word degraded over time, and the l- was lost (as though it was the the french l’ for “the”) and we were just left with azul for just “blue.”

The English for azure — which is really just a shade of blue! — comes from the same root, although azure still retains a luxury connotation that was lost with the simple blue implication of azul in Spanish.

Many languages, including Spanish, have an -l- and -r- shift, where, over time, the -l- and -r- sounds are swapped. We see this here, as the a-z-l root of azul maps to the a-z-r root of azure.

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