Enviar and Envoy
Enviar (Spanish for “To send”) comes from the Latin for the same, inviare. From that same root, we get the English… envoy. An envoy just sends a message, after all!
The e-n-v root is self-evident in both words. And the Latin inviare comes from the root via for “road”, from which we get endless English words, including… via!
Vestirse and Vest, Invest, Travesty, Transvestite
Vestirse (Spanish for, “to get dressed”) comes from the Latin for the same, Vestire. Some fun English words that come from the same root include:
Vest– It makes sense since it is an article of clothing!
Invest– This originally meant, “to clothe” and was used in a metaphorical sense meaning, “to surround”. Your investors do surround you every moment–literally!
Travesty– This one is less obvious. Travesty originally meant, “dressed in a way to purposefully look ridiculous”. Ah! It does tie in to clothing!
Transvestite– Dressed in the clothing of… oh you know how this one ends 🙂
Casarse – Husband, Shack Up
“To marry”, in Spanish, is casarse.
The funny part: casarse comes from the common Spanish word for “house”, casa. That makes sense: getting married is fundamentally about two people building a house together, metaphorically and literally.
In English, although marry is unrelated, two English words convey the same concept. Husband, in English, comes from the Old English “hus – bondi”, which mean, “House Dweller”: so the Husband is the one who lives in the house!
Even better: American slang hands down to us a lower version of the same concept, the slang phrase, “to shack up”, meaning, well, to either live together in sin — premaritally — or more recently, to have sex in a one-night stand. A shack, after all, is just a poor house.
Mullir and Mollify
The Spanish mullir (“to soften”) comes from the Latin mollis, meaning, “soft.” From that same Latin root we get the English… to mollify. To mollify in English is usually used in the sense of, “to appease” — and it’s noteworthy that appeasing IS softening. You need to be strong to not appease the bad guy, after all.
The m-ll root is clearly visible in both words.
Soler and Insolent
- on Sep 27, 2023
- in True Spanish Etymology Stories
Insolent derives from the Latin prefix in– (meaning, “the opposite of,” of course) and the Latin root solere, meaning, “to be used to (doing something).” So, an insolent man is literally someone who is used to not doing the things he is expected to do. That sounds pretty insolent to me!
From the same Latin root, we get the Spanish soler meaning “to be used to (doing something)” just like the original Latin root, before the negation. So next time you hear in Spanish, Suelo… (“I’m used to…”) you should think, “Don’t be insolent!”. No one will get the pun other than you, me, and our fellow ForNerds fans.
Note that this has no relation to the Spanish suelo meaning, “ground”, which comes from the Latin solum.
Hombre and Ad Hominem, Hominid
Hombre, Spanish for “man”, comes from the Latin for the same, hominid. From the same root, we get the English hominid and the classic ad hominem attack.
Here’s the interesting part: the m-n sound in Latin consistently changed into the -mbr- sound in Spanish. Thus, we have parallels like nombre and nominal. And hombre maps exactly to this pattern with both ad hominem and hominid.
what is the etymological way to learn spanish?
Nerds love to pattern-match, to find commonalities among everything. Our approach to learning languages revolves (the same -volve- that is in “volver”, to “return”) around connecting the Spanish words to the related English words via their common etymologies – to find the linguistic patterns, because these patterns become easy triggers to remember what words mean. Want to know more? Email us and ask: