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Turbio and Disturb

Turbio, Spanish for “cloudy”, comes from the same Latin root as the English disturb: turbidus, meaning, “turmoil; full of confusion; muddy.”

It is easy to see how this one root evolved in time into both the English disturb and the Spanish turbio. Think of a cloudy day, just about to rain: the skies are in turmoil! The Gods are about to fight with one another!

We can see the t‑r-b root clearly in both. And the English turbid also comes from the same root, although that word is used only on the SATs.

Obra — Maneuver

Opera obra spanish englishThe common Spanish word obra, for “a work” (in the sense of, “a work of art”) or “something done with effort” sounds pretty random at first. But if you think about it…

Obra comes the Latin opus, meaning “work” (in the same sense). From opus, we get various English words including:

  • Opus (obviously) — used in music to mean the same.
  • Opera — it was originally just a work of music!
  • Maneuver — also related to the Spanish mano, for hand: it is a work you create with your hands, literally!
  • Operation — yes, an operation is something you’ve created.

Sentir — Resent, Sentence, Send

The Spanish sentir (“to feel”) doesn’t bear an obvious relation to the same English word. But looks can be deceiving:

Sentir comes from the Latin for the same, sentire, which in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *sent, meaning, “to go” — feels are thus, definitionally, fleeting, things that come and go.

From the Latin sentire, we get a bunch of similar words in English, including:

  • Sentence — which originally meant, “a thought, judgment, opinion.” A sentence is a judgment indeed!
  • Sense — which is a feeling!
  • Resent — these are just your feelings, magnified with a re!
  • Scent — to smell something is to have a feeling for it, too!

And a few others, including assent, consent, dissent and, most obviously, sentiment.

From the original Proto-Indo-European root *sent, meaning “to go” — via German, that turned into some simpler English words that we can now consider distant cousins of Sentir: send. Feelings do come and go!

Colgar and Collocate

Colgar (Spanish for, “to hang”) comes from the Latin collocare — from which, unsurprisingly, we get the English, collocate. We can see the c‑l-g mapping in colgar to the c‑l-c root in the English and the original Latin. Hanging is really just a form of locating it!

Collocare itself comes from the prefix com- (“with”; like the Spanish con-) plus the root locare, “to place.” Thus, the word is a cousin of lugar (Spanish for “place”) and its English cousin… locate. Yes, we see the l‑g map to the l‑c, too. Another example of the c/g swap that we also see in colgar and collocate.

Ganar and Gain

Ganar (Spanish for “to win”) comes from the old Germanic root waidanjan, meaning “to hunt”. From the same root, via French, we get the English… gain.

The g‑n pattern is clearly visible in both.

Interestingly, this is almost an example of the w- to g- pattern, like guerra and war. It has the original w- root in the original word but the modern words, in both Spanish and English, use the g- sound (since the English word came indirectly from Latin via French).

Delante and Anterior

The Spanish delante (“in front of”) comes from the Latin de- (“of, out of”) and ante (“before”), via intante (in plus ante). So “in front of” is literally “before” in the sense of “standing before.”

Thus, with the de- prefix, it is a cousin of the ante that brings us a host of English words with ante that mean “before”: anterior, antediluvian, antique. We can see the a‑n-t root in all these variations.

Trasladar and Translate

Trasladar (Spanish for, “to move”) comes from the Latin translatus (“carried over”). From that root, we get the English… translate.

After all, what is translating if not carrying over from one language to another?

We can see that t‑r-s-l‑d of trasladar maps to the t‑r-(n)-s-d‑t of translate with only a d/t sound shift, one of the most common mix-ups.

Asiento, Superseer and Sedate, Assiduous

Superseer (Spanish for, “to discontinue; cease”) comes from the Latin supersedere which in term is a combination of the prefix super- (“above”) and sedere (“to sit”). When you stop doing something — you’re now, literally, sitting on top of it. At least in Spanish.

From the Latin sedere root, we get various English words related to sitting, including:

  • Sedate — when you’re on a sedative, you’re just sitting around!
  • Assiduous — this originally meant “constantly sitting down”, but came to mean, “very busy” (since you sit down when you work) and thus the busy people are the assiduous ones!
  • Obsess — with the ob- prefix (“against”), it’s literally, “someone sitting opposite you” — which is what you do when you’re obsessing over someone, watching their every move closely.
  • Supersede — literally, “to sit on top of” — very similar to, “going over their heads!
  • Sedentary — the lifestyle of sitting down. Sounds familiar!
  • Siege — you sit in your castle when it’s under siege!
  • Reside — what do you do in your residence if not, sit around?

From the same Latin root sedere we also get the Spanish… asiento, the common word for, seat. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it?

The s‑n-t/d root is visible in most of these words. Note that in superseer, the middle ‑n- disappeared: hence the ‑e- on both sides!

Remo and Row

Remo (Spanish for the very common word “oar”) is a cousin of, well, the English row.

Remo comes from the Latin for the same, remus, while the English came from the German ruejen; both of those come from Proto-Indo-European *ere, meaning “to row”.

We can see the r- maps to the r- in each and it does make sense. After all, you do use an oar to row.

Llenar and Expletive

Llenar comes from the Latin plere (“to fill”), as we’ve previously discussed. But here’s another English word that comes from the same Latin root: expletive, yes, that euphemism for vulgar words!

Expletive literally means to “fill” with the expansive ex- prefix which, taken together, mean, “to fill out your words.” An expletive is literally filling conversation with words when you don’t know what else to say!

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