Want more Spanish etymologies? Let us know!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
logo

Trapo — Drape

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 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!

Der­re­tir and Trite

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:

  • Trite. What is some­thing trite if not, some­thing that is worn down by overusage, fig­u­ra­tive­ly?
  • Con­trite is when you use so few words, that your sen­tences are worn away!
  • At­tri­tion is when your em­ploy­ees are worn away, bit by bit
  • Detri­ment is ba­si­cal­ly the worn out re­mains!
  • Tribu­la­tions are re­al­ly when you are worn down by your trou­bles!

We can see the r‑t root in all these vari­a­tions.

Sies­ta and Six

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 and Se­quester

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!

Agrio — Vine­gar

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).

Suerte and Sort

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.

Dis­frazar and Fric­tion, Traf­fic

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.

Sur­vive and Vivir

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.

Hervir and Fer­vor

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.

logo

© 2021 - All Rights Reserved | Contact | Privacy, Terms & Conditions | Sitemap| Resources | Etymology Dictionaries To Help Us Learn Spanish

Hat Tip 🎩 to The Marketing Scientist