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Negar and Renegade

Negar (Spanish for “to deny”) comes from the Latin negare (“to say no”), with the re added for empahsis. This then links it to English words like, negate and… renegade. Who is a renegade if not the person who fights what society is trying to impose on him? (Or her!).

We can see the n-g root clearly in both.

Incendio and Incendiary

Incendio (Spanish for “fire”) comes from the Latin for the same, incendium. From this same root, we get the English… incendiary. The English variation literally means the same — setting on fire — but now that definition is mostly forgotten, and we use it in a more abstract sense: causing massive problems. A fire is just a massive problem, after all.

Tarjeta and Target

Tarjeta, Spanish for “card,” comes from the same root as target. This is only obvious in retrospect, since the interchange between the ‘j’ and the ‘g’ makes it hard to recognize. But once you learn it, it is easy to remember that the t-r-j maps to the t-r-g.

Both words come from the old German (via old French) targa, meaning “shield.” Yes: a target is just a shield–your shield is a target, since it is the shield that is hit, not you! And a card (tarjeta) is also a shield–just a very small one!

Jeringa – Syringe

Jeringa, Spanish for Syringe, sounds like it has nothing in common with its English counter-part. But they are literally the same word.

The Latin sh- sound often evolved into the j- sound in Spanish — originally retaining the sh- sound but eventually, under Arabic’s influence, transforming to the throat-clearing sound we know and love.

This explains how both jeringa and syringe derive from the same root: the Latin siringa, itself from the Greek syringa. The sy- sound is a variation of the sh- sound and therefore the sy-r-n-g of syringe maps to the j-r-n-g of jeringa.

Parto and Post-Partum Depression

Parto (Spanish for “birth”) comes from the Latin partus, “brought forth”. That makes sense: a baby is just brought forth into the world.

From the same Latin root, we get the English partum for “birth”. But that word is really only used in one contemporary word today: post-partum depression, the depression a woman gets after childbirth. Yes, post-partum is merely “after-birth”.

The p-r-t root is clearly visible in both words.

Acontecimiento and Contagion

The Spanish acontecimiento (“something that happened; event”) comes from the Latin contigere (“to touch”).

How did that transformation happen? An event is something that you touch, at least metaphorically, or that touches you. Something that happens that doesn’t touch you is just in your mind: not a real event!

From the same Latin root, we also get a few nifty English words including:

  • Contact — That is literally touching, right?
  • Contagious — How do you get something that is contagious? Through touching!
  • Contiguous — Two things that are contiguous are touching each other!
  • Contingent — One thing that is contingent upon another is a metaphorical form of touching it as well.

We can see the c-n-t root in both the Spanish and English words.

Garganta – Gargoyle, Gargle

The Spanish for “throat” garganta sounds completely unrelated to any similar word in English.

But it is actually a close cousin of both gargoyle and gargle.

All come from the Latin gula, meaning “throat”. You do gargle with your throat… and a gargoyle — although we associate it with the demon statues in churches — is, literally, a water spout. Yes, water used to spout out of the mouths of the gargoyles!

Red and Retina

Red (Spanish for “network; net”) comes from the Latin rete, meaning “net.”

From the same root, we get the English… retina. How? What does your eye have to do with a net?

Well, if you look deeply into someone’s eye, their retina turns out to be a very tight network of blood vessels. And thus, your retina really is a… red (Spanish sense)!

You can see that the r-d of red maps to the r-t of retina.

Predecir – Predict, Diction

An easy way to remember the Spanish decir (to say) is through the word predict.

Predict is, literally, pre – decir — to say beforehand. Pre means “before” and the dict- maps almost exactly to the Spanish decir.

How come the decir has an extra -t in it to be predict? Because the Latin predecire took the grammatical form of predicatus and this form grew into English (via the French influence). A prediction in Spanish, after all, is predicho!

Thus, it is a cousin of many English words such as diction and dictionary.

Feliz and Felicity, Fecund

Feliz (Spanish for “happiness”) comes from the Latin felix, meaning both “happy” and “fertile”.

It is indeed curious how, linguistically, happiness and having children and plentiful crops are deeply intertwined.

From the same root, we get the English felicity, which we can see in the f-l-z to f-l-c mapping very clearly.

Most distantly, we also have the English fecund and fetus.

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