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 […]

Bailar and Ballroom

Bailar, Spanish meaning “to dance”, is another one of these Spanish words that sounds random and is difficult until you realize its subtle common origin with a bunch of English words. Bailar comes from the late Latin ballare, meaning the same, “to dance”, originally from the Greek ballizein, meaning, “to dance or jump around”. From this […]

Trazar and Trace

The Spanish trazar (“to draw up”) comes from the Latin tractus (“drawing.”) From that same root we get a few English words, including, trace. The t‑r‑z to t‑r‑c mapping is very clear here. What’s more interesting are the other words that come from the Latin tractus. These include: Trait — A trait, after all, is just an outline of your […]

Empatar and Pact

Empatar (Spanish for “to tie” — in the sense of, both teams scoring equally) comes from the Latin pactum for, well, “pact, deal”. The connection between teams being tied and a pact is interesting: both imply an equality. A pact is a deal that both teams benefit from equally, because if they didn’t, they just wouldn’t enter into the pact! […]

Suelo, Subsuelo and Sole, Soil

Suelo is Spanish for “floor” although it is not too common (piso is the more common word). But, very common is subsuelo — the sub-floor, that is: the basement. This is, unexpectedly, related to a few English words. Suelo comes from the Latin solum, meaning “ground.” From solum, we get two English words: First, soil — yes, the soil is […]

Lazar and Lasso

Lazar (Spanish for “to tie, such as with a ribbon”) comes from the Latin laqueum, meaning “a tie, such as a noose”. From that same root, we get the English… lasso. A lasso, after all, is really a cable that can be used to tie someone or something up…! The l‑z of lazar clearly maps to the l‑ss of […]

Autopista and Pizza

Autopista (Spanish for “highway”) comes from the words auto- (you can guess what that one means!) and pista, which is Spanish for “track” (think, train tracks, or the track that runners run on). But where does pista come from? The Latin pistus (“to pound” — think of the motion of pounding something into dust as being a bit like […]

Dejar — Relax

The “sh” sound — often represented in writing as an “x” — transformed in all different ways to the “j” letter (and the accompanying mouth-clearing sound, influenced by Arabic) as late Latin turned into Spanish. See lots of examples: sherry/jerez, for example. Here’s another: the common Spanish word, dejar, meaning, “to leave to the side” or “to put down” […]

Mentira and Amendment

Spanish for “lie” (Mentira) comes from the Latin mandacium for the same, which in turn, comes from the earlier Latin menda for “defect; fault”. But the Latin Menda comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *mend- meaning the same, fault or defect. Thus we see an interesting transition over time: defect turned into lie. The word took […]

Nacer and Renaissance

Nacer comes from the Latin for the same, nascere: “to be born.” From the Latin nascere, with an added prefix of re- meaning “again”, we get the Renaissance — literally, “the rebirth”! Thus, Nacer and Renaissance are close cousins, and we can see that the n‑c of nacer maps to the ®-n‑s of renaissance.