Want more Spanish etymologies? Let us know!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
logo

Sangre and Sangria

Sangre (Spanish for “blood”) comes from the Latin sanguis for the same.

From that root, we also get…. sangria. Yes, the classic alcoholic wine plus fruit drink looks a bit like blood!

We also get a bunch of less common words, such as, consanguine (cousin marriages!) and even just sanguine, which originally meant “bloodthirsty”. It’s only a small step from the intensity of bloodthirsty to the cheery optimism of sanguine!

Ceniza and Incinerate

Ceniza (Spanish for “ashes”) comes from the Latin cinis, meaning the same.

From the Latin root cinis, we get the English… cinder as well as incinerate. That makes sense: these are either the cause or the result of the process that causes ashes!

The most interesting part is…. this also explains why the Cinderella fairy tale, in Spanish, is called… Cenicienta!

We can see the c-n root clearly in all these variations.

Guardar – Ward

The Spanish Guardar, meaning “to watch over or care for”, and the similar Guardia (the ER! Emergency Room) are both cousins of the English ward and warden. Huh?

Both come from the same Proto-Indo-European root, *wardo, also meaning “to take care of”.

But, as Latin turned into Spanish, the initial W- sound turned into a G- sound but remained the same in English.

Therefore, the Latin-ish G-R-D maps to the Germanic W-R-D. Ahhhh!

Cargarse and Caricature

Cargarse (Spanish for, “to take charge”; a very common word, often used in the sense of, assigning or accepting responsibility) comes from the Latin carrus, meaning, cart.

How did this evolution happen? Easy: you load a cart; so the cart takes on the burden; just as you, by accepting responsibility, are taking on a burden, too. In other words, any action you might need to be responsible for achieving is just like the annoying junk in your trunk, holding down the car!

From the same Latin root, we get the English, caricature. You can see the c-r root in both. The word for “cart” turned into caricature because, well, a caricature is an overloading (!). A caricature, then, is literally just piling on more and more needless extra, exaggerated observations into the picture you paint, until your trunk is similarly burdened down!

Funny how, in English, over-loading a car is an exaggeration, a caricature. But in Spanish, it is just the normal way of taking responsibility.

Mezcla and Promiscuous

Mezcla (Spanish for “mix”) comes from the Latin miscere, meaning, “to mix.” You can envision the sound change when you remember that the -sc- sound sounds and even looks like the letter -zc-!

From the same Latin root miscere we get the English, promiscuous — just miscere with the emphasis prefix pro-, so it literally means “to mix indiscriminately.” What does a promiscuous girl (or, ummm, guy) do if not mix with anyone without discriminating between them that much?

The m-z-c of mezcla clearly maps to the m-s-c of promiscuous.

Jaula and Jail

Jaula, Spanish for “cage”, doesn’t feel or sound like a cage. Not related etymologically at all.

But it is related to the English word for a particular type of cage: jail.

Although not obvious, since the “j” is pronounced with the throat-clearing Arabic sound, both come from the French jaole (formerly geole).

You can see this in the j-l root in both.

Feliz and Felicity

Feliz (Spanish for “Happy”), comes from the Latin for the same, felix. From the Latin felix, we also get everyone’s favorite TV character: Felicity. Someone named Felicity must be a happy person by their very nature! As is someone named Felix!

We can see that the f-l-z of feliz maps to the f-l-c of felicity pretty clearly!

Vencer and Vanquish

Vencer — “to defeat” in Spanish — comes from the Latin vincere, of course from the classic triple-V line of Caesar’s. But from this root, we get a bunch of interesting words, including:

  • Vincent — yes, the name is literally, The Conquerer!
  • Victory — the victor does win over the enemy!
  • Convince — With the con- prefix… the victor of an argument just convinces the other!
  • Vanquish — The victor vanquishes the opponent!
  • Invincible — the victor is someone who is not (in!) vincible!
  • Evict — when you’re evicted from your apartment, that is a form of defeat

We can see the v-n-c root in most of these, or slight variations, like v-n-q.

Viejo and Inveterate

The Spanish viejo (“old”) comes from the Latin vetus meaning the same, “old.”

From the same Latin root we get the English inveterate (an SAT word meaning, a “long-ingrained habit.”) Lets break down the English: the Latin prefix in- means, well, “in” and the “veterate” means “old”, from the same root vetus. So an inveterate habit is really just a habit you’ve had for a long time!

We can see that the v-j root of viejo maps to the v-t of inveterate. The Latin -t- turning into the -j- sound isn’t that common (more common is that it turns into a -sh- sound, as in syrup and jarabe) but isn’t too uncommon: we can hear the similarities between -t- and -sh- if we say the sounds together quickly!

Seguir – Persecute, Sequel

Seguir, Spanish meaning “to follow”, sounds like it has nothing to do with anything.

But it does, in a subtle way. It comes from the Latin sequi, which means “to follow.” From the same root we get:

  • Persecute – from the Latin persequi; the per means “through”, and the sequi is the same “follow”.
  • Sequel – directly from the Latin sequi for “follow”, via French.
logo

© 2019 - All Rights Reserved | Contact | Privacy, Terms & Conditions | Sitemap | Etymology Dictionaries To Help Us Learn Spanish | Resources