The Spanish tener (to hold) comes from the Latin tenere for the same.
From the same root tenere, we get the English tenet — think about it, you hold your beliefs.
And it gets even better: from tenere, we also get the English suffix ‑tain, as in maintain, sustain, contain, detain, obtain, and entertain. And the -tain words map almost identically to the Spanish suffix of the same, the same -tener!
For example, mano, the Spanish for hand, is the same mano in maintain (or mantener, in Spanish) — which thus literally means, “to hold in your hand”!
The Spanish bajo, for “low”, sounds unlike the similar words in English.… except for base.
Think about base as the core foundation or support — the lowest thing holding everything else up — or even in the old Shakespearean sense of “vile”, “the basest weed” — the connection makes much more sense.
Both come from the Latin basis (meaning, “foundation”) — from which we also get the same English, basis.
And think of the bass cleff in music, for the lower notes, as well.
The surprising connection is explained easily when we understand that a lot of sh- and si- and related sounds in Latin turned into j- in Spanish. Thus, the b‑s maps to b‑j almost exactly.
Gestación (“to develop”) comes from the Latin gestare (“to bear, carry, gestate”) from which we also get — not that surprisingly — the English word gestate. While the original word and the English version focused on developing a baby, in Spanish it has come to be used more broadly: like a business idea develops. The g‑st root is clearly visible in both words.
Parecer, Spanish for “to appear”, comes from the Latin parere, meaning the same. As does the Spanish verb form, aparecer.
Obviously to some but not to others, from the same root comes the English appear as as well as… apparition. What is an apparition if not something that appears to you but doesn’t really exist?
We can see the relationship because the p‑r of parecer maps to the p‑r in both appear and apparition.
Gama (Spanish for “range”) comes from the Greek gamma, the third letter of the alphabet: alpha beta gamma. But it came to mean “range” in an interesting way: music. The traditional musical note gamma — which today is just ‘g’ — was used, in classic musical notation, and still today — to refer to the note that is both just below the primary starting letter ‘a’ (hence, on a piano, the ‘g’ key is immediately to the left of the ‘a’ key), as well as the highest note that ends the octave on the other side. Thus, the gamma refers to the whole range of notes!
From the same root, and with the same musical history, we also get the English SAT-synonym for “range”… gamut.
The g‑m root is clearly visible in both.
The Spanish celoso and the English for the same, jealousy, come from the same Greek root: zelos.
But how did this happen? They should so different!
The answer is that the Latin (and Greek) words with a ‑ch- sound and variations (like ‑sh‑, the soft ‑j-, ‑z-, etc) usually turned into the hard, guttural, throat-cleaing ‑j- sound in Spanish. Think about sherry and jerez, for example, or quash and quejar, or soap and jabón.
Thus, the c‑l-s of celoso maps to the j‑l-s of jealous.
Curiously, the ancient Greek form — zelos — meant jealousy, but in the more positive sense of enthusiasm and friendly rivalry. In a word: zeal — which also comes from the same root!
The Spanish bolsa has two common definitions — both with noteworthy and related etymologies.
Bolsa commonly means “purse.” And indeed, both come from the same root: the Greek byrsa, meaning “hide, leather.”
We can see the connection if we remember that the ‑b- and ‑p- sounds are often interchangeable, as are the ‑r- and ‑l- sounds. Thus the b‑l-s of bolsa maps to the p‑r-s of purse.
Similarly, bolsa has a second definition in Spanish: the “stock market.” It makes sense if we think about the bolsa and the purse as, the places where money is kept. And in English, a less-common synonym for stock market is bourse — and we see this same word in French all the time, the Bourse de Paris. With bourse, only the ‑p- and ‑b- are interchanged, not the ‑r- and ‑l-, thus mapping the b‑l-s to b‑r-s.
The everyday Spanish word facil, meaning “easy” is the exact opposite — literally — of the English, difficult.
Both come from the latin facere, meaning, “to do” (hence the Spanish hacer and the English fact, as well).
So, facil — easy — is literally, doing! Doing is easy, we hope.
Difficult is really just de-facil : that is, not facil. Now that is easy, indeed!
The connection becomes clear when we remember the f‑c-l root in both words!
Coquetear, the Spanish verb meaning “to flirt,” comes from the French coq which means “cock” — in both senses — from which we also get the English word cock, albeit with a slightly different spelling.
It’s not that hard to figure out how a word that means “penis” came to mean “flirt” — but it is easy to smile every time you remember why.
From the same root, we also get the almost-forgotten English word for “flirting,” coquetry.
The c‑q to c‑ck mapping is clear between both words.
Jeringa, Spanish for Syringe, sounds like it has nothing in common with its English counter-part. But they are literally the same word.
The Latin sh- sound often evolved into the j- sound in Spanish — originally retaining the sh- sound but eventually, under Arabic’s influence, transforming to the throat-clearing sound we know and love.
This explains how both jeringa and syringe derive from the same root: the Latin siringa, itself from the Greek syringa. The sy- sound is a variation of the sh- sound and therefore the sy-r-n‑g of syringe maps to the j‑r-n‑g of jeringa.