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Enojar and Annoy

Enojar, Spanish for “to get angry”, has a fun cousin in the English, annoy.

Both of these (along with the French for “worldly boredom”, ennui) come from the Latin inodiare, meaning, “to hate”. The Latin in- adds emphasis to the odium, Latin for “hate”.

We can see the parallels in all with the open vowel, followed by the -n-, followed by a -y- sound, although in Spanish the -y- sounds (and its corresponding -x- and -sh- variations) often turned into the -j- sounds, as it did here. Thus, the a-n-y maps to the e-n-j.

Hatred, then, dissipates and weakens over time. In English, hatred weakens into mere annoyance. In Spanish, hatred weakens into just anger, enojo. And, best of all, hatred in French weakens into a world-weary boredom of ennui.

Cumplir and Accomplish, Complete

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.

Jugo and Suck

One of our favorite patterns of sound change between English and Spanish is the sh/j shift: under the influence of arabic, many words that had a “s” or “sh” or “sy” or “ch” sound in Latin, started to be pronounced with the throat-clearing sound and written with a “j”. See sherry/jerez and chess/ajedrez or syrup/jarabe, for example.

Another example of this pattern is the Spanish word for “juice”, jugo. It comes from the Latin succus meaning, “juice” (particularly sap, or juice from plants).

From this Latin root succus we also get the English… suck.

Yes, if it sucks — it is juicy! Literally!

We can see the mapping in the s-c to j-g mapping. The “c” and “g” sounds are similar and often interchanged.

Interestingly, in Spain they do not say jugo to mean “juice”; instead, they say… suco. Suco, funnily enough, also comes from the same root of succus. It is just the variation that never underwent the arabic “j” transformation.

From the same root we also get the English succulent, although we do not get the superficially similar English juice, which comes from the Latin ius, meaning, “sauce.”

Aguantar and Bear

The very common Spanish word aguantar, meaning “to put up with”, comes from old Provençal for glove, guanto.

We can see the evolution: something you put up with is, something you (metaphorically) carry around with you, a burden. And what is a glove if not something you wear, something you carry around, something that helps you carry anything else?

There’s an interesting parallel to the English, bear — in this “put up with” sense, not the animal sense. Bear, from the Old English beran, originally meant something you “bring” or “carry”. So, bear follows a parallel etymology as aguantar, both originally meaning what you carry and becoming what you force yourself to put up with.

Funnily enough, the Old English beran also became bore and born in English: women do bear children, after all. I guess children are really just something you need to put up with.

Alcanzar and Calcium

Alcanzar (“to reach”, in the sense of “to achieve” such as, reaching a goal) comes from the Latin prefix in– with the Latin calx meaning, limestone. Limestone? Huh?

The word for Limestone became the word for achieving because, quite simply, you need to step on it to get a bit higher, to be a bit closer to the stars. Think of the word reach itself — there is a literal sense of holding your hand a bit higher, a bit further, so you can get to something. A bit like stepping on a stone. But there is the metaphorical sense of both words, reaching a goal.

From the root calx, we also get the English… calcium. Calcium is just another really hard substance that looks just like limestone.

You know another hard substance that looks like limestone? Chalk. And yes, chalk comes from calx, too!

Also from calx we get, calculate and calculus. We can never forget that little pebbles (of limestone) were initially used to count. That’s what the word itself reminds us.

Hallar and Flatulence

The Spanish hallar (“to find”) comes from the Latin afflare (“to blow.”) From that same Latin root we get various f-l words involving blowing, including:

  • Flatulence — A fart, after all, is just blowing some air!
  • Souffle — With the French prefix sous– (“under”), a souffle is cooked by blowing hot air under the foot!
  • Conflate — To blow different things together!
  • Inflate — To blow-up the numbers!

All of these share the f-l root. But how did this turn into the Spanish hallar? Well, first remember that the initial F- sound tended to disappear when Latin turned into Spanish; see, fig and higo or fable and hablar. Secondly, note that finding something is just blowing on it, uncovering what was below the dust you blew away!

Elegir and Elect, Elegant

Elegir (Spanish for “to choose”) comes from the Latin for the same, eligere.

From the Latin root eligere, we get the English… elect. We can see the e-l-g map to the e-l-ct clearly; the “g” and hard “ct” sounds do sound similar. To choose, to elect–’tis the same!

More surprisingly, from the same root, we also get the English… elegant. We can see the e-l-g mapping preserved here. Is not something elegant just something that the elites have chosen?

Herir and Interfere

Herir (Spanish for, “to round”; most commonly heard in the form, “herido”, a wound) is a surprising cousin of… interfere. How so?

Interfere comes to us from the French entre– (“between”) and ferir (“to hit”). Interfering with something is really just hitting it right in the middle of it, breaking it up! Ferir comes from the Latin, for the same, Ferire.

Curiously, Ferire evolved into Spanish Herir — the Initial “F” turning into a “H”. It turns out, this is a common pattern as Latin evolved into Spanish — but in no other language! Just look at Filial and Hijo, or File and Hilo, or Fig and Higo.

Thus, the h-r of herir maps to the (int)-f-r of interfere.

Flamante and Flaming

Flamante, Spanish for “great-looking” or “splendid” — perhaps, a more modern version of which would be, “awesome!” — comes from the Latin flamma, meaning, “flame.”

From that same root, we get the English, flame. Completely unsurprisingly.

If you’re wondering how we get from “fire” to “sexy”, then all we need to do is remember one word…. flaming.

Theh fl-m root is clearly visible in both.

Huésped and Hospitable

Huésped, the common Spanish word for “guest,” has an English cousin: hospitable. This might not be obvious at first since the -o- morphs to the -ue- and thus changes the sound completely but both come from the Latin hospes which means the same. We can see the mapping of h-s-p clearly in both.

In the same family is hospital. Yes, patients in a hospital are just guests, as though it’s a hotel!

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