Learning Spanish & Etymology Pattern-Matching for Nerds

The Spanish apoyar, to help, has a surprising root: podiare, the Latin meaning “to step on.” Think of the Spanish pie, from the same root.

This came about through an interesting linguistic turn of events: podiare originally meant “to step on” and then it came to mean, “to raise up” — like, to put on a podium. A podium is, after all, a raised platform that you step on!

Helping someone, in Spanish, is thus a form of lifting them up — literally. Or maybe, stepping on them?

This implies a question: what happened to the ‑d-? The p‑y of apoyar maps to the p‑d of podium, but how did the ‑d- turn into a ‑y-? The answer is that, apoyar entered Spanish, from podiare, via Italian — it first turned into appoggiare, the Italian for the same! So the ‑d- turned into a ‑g- which turned into a ‑y-.