Trapo is the common Spanish word for “cloth” or, more commonly, “rag”.
It sounds nothing like the similar words in English, except… it turns out to be a close cousin of drape & drapery.
All come from the same old Irish word, drapih, meaning, “garment.”
We can see the parallel in the t‑r-p and d‑r-p mapping. Both are the same roots except for the t/d shift, which is a very common and not-noteworthy transition.
A drape, after all, is a form of a cloth.
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!
Derretir (Spanish for “to melt”) comes from the Latin terere, “to rub, wear down.” That which is melted is worn down, after all.
Some interesting words we get from the same root in English include:
We can see the r‑t root in all these variations.
The word Siesta — the famous long breaks! — comes from the Latin sexta hora (“sixth hour”), because it was the 6th hour after the 6am wake-up time when everyone would stop, take a break, and pray. We can see the s‑s/x root in both — both coming from the same Proto-Indo-European word for “six.”
Interestingly, however, another English word comes from the same fountain: noon, which was originally nona hora, the 9th hour after the 6am wake-up time — time for another prayer! But — you must be wondering — noon is only 6 hours after 6am, not 9am hours! Excellent point, and the explanation is: the ninth hour prayers were originally at 3pm (9 hours after 6am), but over time, people started taking their breaks earlier and earlier and earlier.… surprise, surprise.
Seguir (which we’ve discussed before here!) is also related to another interest word: sequester.
To sequester comes from the Latin sequestrare, which means, “to put in safekeeping”. This, in turn, is from the earlier Latin sequester “trustee, mediator”. The Latin Sequester is from the Latin segui, meaning, “to follow”, from which we also get the Spanish for the same, seguir.
In other words, Sequester went from meaning “to follow” to “being a trusted party” to “the trusted party holding something apart from everything else” to “holding something apart from everything else”. This is interesting because of the surprising implication of trust in the earlier connotations–but not the earliest connotations. Today, when you sequester someone or something, there is often a distinct lack of trust involved!
You can see the connection with seguir because the s‑g of seguir maps to the s‑qu of sequester easily!
How is vinegar made? Well, it is basically sour wine. And guess what? Vinegar literally means “sour wine”! Vine- is Latin for “wine” and the ‑egar comes from the Latin aigre meaning “sour.”
This makes vinegar directly related to the Spanish word for sour: agrio!
(It also makes it related to the Spanish for wine, vino, but that one is too obvious).
You wouldn’t think that suerte (Spanish for “luck”) would be related to the English sort. They sound similar — both with an s‑r mapping to each other — but the definitions are completely different. How could they be related?
Both come from the Latin sortem meaning, “fate, lot” (“lot” in the sense of “your lot in life”).
The evolution of sortem into the Spanish suerte is straightforward: “luck” is just a less metaphysical version of “fate” — fate without attributing it to The Gods.
But the same evolved into the English sort because, your fate, your lot in life sorted you into a class, a rank. In the hierarchical view of the world (which the Romans had) everything and everyone existed in degrees. So your fate was also your portion: what you were given. Thus, the ranking of everything by degrees is… a sorting.
This, too, explains the other definition of the word lot: not only your fate, but the portion that has been allocated to you.
The Spanish disfrazar (“to dress up”, as in a costume) comes from the Latin fricare meaning “to rub; to rub off.”
From this same Latin root, we get the English friction — and what is friction if not, rubbing against something to wear it down?
We also get the English traffic (the tra- comes from a shortened version of the trans- “across” prefix). And what is traffic if not, friction across the road?
The fr‑z of disfrazar maps to the fr-ct of friction and just the ff of traffic.
But the question is: how did the word for “rubbing” turn into the word for “dressing up in a costume”? That part is interesting: the Latin fricare (“to rub off”) turned into the Late Latin frictiare, meaning, “walking and leaving footprints (just like animals do).” Leaving tracks as you walk gave away who you are and where you’re going, letting you be followed. But with the de- prefix (meaning “not”) which negates that, disfrazar (literally, de- “not” and frictiare “leaving a trail behind you as you walk”) together meant: not being able to be tracked or followed. Hence, a costume.
It might be obvious to you that survive comes from the same root as vivir (Spanish, meaning “to live”), although that was not obvious to me at first despite both sharing the v‑v-r root.
What is interesting, however, is the origin of survive–from the Latin super- (“to go over”) with the root vivire (“to live,” just as in vivir). Thus, to survive literally means “to live beyond” or “live past” other people — it is a purely comparative word! It’s not living; it’s living longer than someone else. This explains why its original sense and the first usages of the word were in the context of inheritances: he who survives the others gets the inheritance.
Fervor is really just an intense passion heating up. Thus we shouldn’t be surprised that it comes from the Latin root fervere (“to boil”), from which we get the Spanish for the same (“to boil”), hervir.
The seemingly unrelated words are connected through the common transformation of Latin words beginning with an f- into an h- in Spanish, such as fig and higo, and fable and hablar.
Thus, the f‑r-v of fervor maps to the h‑r-v of hervir.