Cumplir, the common Spanish meaning, “to finish [doing something]” is — in a moment of, “ah! It’s obvious now that you’ve told me!’ — a close cousin of the English, accomplish.
Both come from the Latin meaning “to complete,” accomplere, which comes from the older Latin root complere, meaning, “to fill up” — from which we also get the English complete.
Thus, the c‑m-pl of cumplir maps to the c‑m-pl of accomplish. Not to mention, the c‑m-pl of complete as well.
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.
Destacar (Spanish for “to stand out”) comes from the French destachier (“to detach”) which, in turn, comes from the Latin de- (of, from) plus the old French stakon, meaning a “stake” (literally, as in a pole!).
Thus, “standing out” (destacar) is literally just detaching yourself from the rest around you — who are, presumably, much lower quality than you are!
We can see the root clearly in the d-(s)-t‑c (for destacar) to d‑t-ch (detach) mapping.
Don’t forget that the de- prefix in French and sometimes Spanish is just another form of the de- prefix. Thus, explaining the extra ‑s-. And — clearly! — attach comes as well from the same root, just without the de/des negation!
But the best modern English word from the same root is… staccato. Yup: playing the piano in staccato fashion is just, when you play each note really separated from the others!
The Spanish for a “thousand,” mil, comes from the Latin milia, meaning the same.
Here’s the interesting part: the ancient Romans would put a stake in the ground every thousand paces outside the city, to mark how far away you go. And that’s why, from the Latin word for a thousand, we get the English… mile.
Bonus: million comes from the same root–and literally means, “a thousand thousand!”
Yerno (Spanish for “son-in-law”) at first sounds like nothing in English.
But let’s look closer! The g- and y- sounds are often mixed up between languages and even regions that speak the same language; in fact, the Old English g- transformed itself into a y- over time (compare the German gestern with the English yesterday, for example). And the n‑r sound not uncommonly swaps to become an r‑n sound, the two are easily mixed up, especially in slurred speech.
Thus, the bizarre-sounding y‑r-n root of yerno maps to the g‑n-r root of generic (Maybe sons-in-laws are more generic in Spanish cultures than English ones?) as well as genus (which lost the final r-) — yes, genus as in Latin and now scientific classification of your spot in the universe! The son-in-law, I guess, is destined to be the son-in-law as his lot-in-life.
The Spanish éxito (“success”) comes from the Latin exitus (“an exit”) — from which we get the English… (surprise, surprise) exit.
But how are “exits” — like the sign you see to leave a building in an emergency! — and “successes” related?
Well, remember that investors and company founders often call a successful sale of a company, an “exit.” It’s leaving… but on a high note.
What is noteworthy is that, over the centuries, in Spanish, the notion of “leaving” has taken on such a positive connotation, that the word for exiting became the word for success!
Suggested by: Paul Murphy
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!
Disheveled — as in, having messy hair! — comes from the same Latin root as the Spanish cabello, meaning “hair” or “a head of hair.” Both of these come from the Latin capillus, meaning hair.
We can see the pattern more clearly if we remember the dis- prefix at the beginning of disheveled: thus the (d)-sh-v‑l of disheveled maps to the c‑p-ll of capello.
Also from the same Latin root capillus, we get the English capillary. A capillary, after all, looks just like a thin strand of hair.
Otoño doesn’t sound much like its English translation, fall (the season). But if we think of the less common synonym, Autumn, then the pattern becomes a bit clearer.
Both come from the Latin for the same, Autumnus. But Latin words with an m‑n sound usually became an ñ sound in Spanish. Think of damn and daño, for example. So the a‑t-m‑n of autumn maps to the o‑t-ñ of otoño!
Relevant is a surprising cousin of the Spanish for Levantar (“to raise”). Both come from the Latin Levantare, also meaning “to raise”.
But what is the connection between raising and being relevant? Relevant was originally a legal term, in Scotland, meaning “to take over a property”: thus, raising up became taking control of which then became just making relevant.