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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.


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