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Lazar and Lasso

Lazar (Spanish for “to tie, such as with a ribbon”) comes from the Latin laqueum, meaning “a tie, such as a noose”. From that same root, we get the English… lasso. A lasso, after all, is really a cable that can be used to tie someone or something up…!

The l-z of lazar clearly maps to the l-ss of lasso.

Beber – Beverage

File this one under the “So obvious I didn’t realize it” category: the Spanish beber (“to drink”) is a cousin of the English, beverage.

Both come from the same fountain: the Latin bibere, meaning the same. Thus the b-b-r in the Spanish beber maps to the m-v-r in the English beverage.

The only change is a b-to-v transition, which is one of the more common and often interchangeable transitions.

Alumbrar and Illuminate

The Spanish Alumbrar means “to light up” in English — and, indeed, it is literally the same as to illuminate.

The Latin m-n sound almost always became a m-b-r as Latin turned into Spanish. Compare hominem with hombre, for example.

We see the same pattern here. Both alumbrar and illuminate come from the Latin luminare, meaning the same, “to light up” — from which we also get the English luminary.

Thus, the l-m-n in the original corresponds to the ll-m-n in the English illuminate and the l-m-b-r in the Spanish alumbrar.

Moda and Modern

Moda (Spanish for “fashion”… to be fashionable is, de moda) comes from the Latin modo meaning, “just now”: what is fashionable or cool is, definitionally, temporal, for just this one fleeting moment;tomorrow, it will no longer be cool, for tomorrow isn’t now!

From the same root is the English Modernity, definitionally, is thus just what is happening right this very moment.

Veda and Veto

Veda (Spanish for “closed season” such as, the time of year when you can’t hunt for your favorite beast) comes from the Latin vetare, which meant, “to forbid”.

In fact, from the same Latin root, we get the English… veto. Veto is actually the first person conjugation in Latin: “I forbid!”

We can clearly see the that the v-d of veda maps to the v-t of veto.

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!

Dar and Mandate, Tradition

The common Spanish word dar (“to give”) comes from the Latin for the same, dare.

From the Latin root, we get the English… mandate (“to give with your hand” – thus related to mano as well): what is a mandate if not a written order to give to someone? The best mandates are when you deliver them yourself anyway, not through intermediaries. The dare connection explains where the -d- after the hand comes from!

Another English word from the same root: tradition. That word comes from the Latin tradere, literally, “to hand over” — the tra– is the same trans- root (“over”), while the dere is the same “give.” In today’s way of walking, we’d say that tradition is what is handed down to us: it is what is given to us. Literally. ANd you can see the -d- in the word from dare as well clearly!

Rabia, Rage, and Rabies

The Spanish for “anger,” rabia, is curiously related to the disease of insane dogs: rabies.

Both come from the Latin rabere, meaning “to be crazy.” So, rabies is literally when a dog is acting crazy — and, at least in Spanish, when you get angry, it is a form of insanity!

Also from the Latin rabere come related English words such as: rage, enrage, and rabid.

Desayuno and Dinner

We’ve already discussed desayuno (“breakfast”): breakfast is the break-fast, just like des- (“anti”) ayuno (“fast”)!

However, there’s an interesting addition to the story: dinner.

The English dinner originally comes from the French for breakfast, which is almost the same as the Spanish. Both are from Latin and meant the same: desjunare. Thus, we can see over time that the Latin for break-fast (dis– + ieiunus) became “breakfast” in both French and Spanish and then, via the French transformed into the English dinner while remaining with the same meaning in Spanish.

Therefore, we can see the d-(s)-n of desayuno map to the d-n of dinner.

But all of this suggests a question: how did breakfast (the first meal of the day) turn into dinner (the last meal of the day)?

Easy: breakfast kept on getting later and later — until it was dinner!

At first it was eating in the morning: breaking the fast of the night. Then, over time, the big fast-breaking meal would happen around 2pm. Then eventually it turned into our 6pm dinnertime.

We see this vestige of the old usage in England, where dinner is sometimes used to refer to “lunch”–and the night-time meal that Americans call dinner is still sometimes called… supper.

Meterse and Omit, Submit, Admit, Permit

The Spanish meterse (“to get involved with”) comes from the Latin mittere (“to let go.”) They sound like they might be opposites, but they’re broadly aligned: it’s all about going somewhere, figuratively. Getting involved with something is just getting to your destination!

From this Latin root, we get a whole slew of English words, such as:

  • Omit
  • Submit
  • Admit
  • Permit

Basically, all the -mit words–even the awesome, but usually forgotten, manumit!

What all of these words have in common is, going in a particular direction: the permission to go there; the acceptance to go there; the submission to see if you can go there; and even the opposite, just not going there at all!

Note that also from the same root we get the noun version of these words, in which (surprisingly) the -mit morphed into -mission. Thus: manumission, dismiss, mess and mission.


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