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Mezcla and Promiscuous

Mezcla (Spanish for “mix”) comes from the Latin miscere, meaning, “to mix.” You can envision the sound change when you remember that the -sc- sound sounds and even looks like the letter -zc-!

From the same Latin root miscere we get the English, promiscuous — just miscere with the emphasis prefix pro-, so it literally means “to mix indiscriminately.” What does a promiscuous girl (or, ummm, guy) do if not mix with anyone without discriminating between them that much?

The m-z-c of mezcla clearly maps to the m-s-c of promiscuous.

Elogio and Elegy

It should be obvious, but it wasn’t to me: the Spanish for “compliment; praise” (elogio) comes from the Latin elogium meaning “inscription; short saying.” The Latin elogium comes from the Greek elegeia, meaning, “elegy” — from which we get that same English word!

This should be clear, since the e-l-o-g of elogio maps to the e-l-e-g of elegy quite neatly.

But how did we get from “short saying” to “compliment”? Easy: the short sayings that we used to say about other people, over time — centuries — got nicer and nicer and nicer, until everything turns into a compliment. Who wants to be remembered as the nasty guy insulting everyone, anyway?

Atropellar and Troop

Atropellar (“to knock over, to knock down” in Spanish) comes to Spanish borrowed from the French, troupe, as in, a troop of soldiers or more common these days, a comedy troop.

Although we can see the tr-p root in the English, French, and Spanish words, the question remains: how did a group turn into a knocking-over? The answer is that, large groups of rowdy drunk men almost always result in… knocking lots of people over! This is not a new concept–the word itself attests to the antiquity of drunken revelry!

Apretar and Pectoral

Apretar (Spanish for “to squeeze”) comes from the Latin pectus, meaning, “chest.” Think of having a heart attack: your chest feels squeezed. It’s not a coincidence that doctors in the USA today still call a heart attack, angina pectoris — that is, “angina of the chest” since pectoral in English today still means “relating to the chest”! The p-t maps to the p-ct, with the -ct- just simplifying into its first -c- sound.

Related: see also Pecho/Pectoral. From the same pectus root, we see other interesting words, following the ch/ct pattern.

Sierra and Serrated

Sierra (Spanish for “mountain range” — think of the Sierra mountains out west!) comes from the Latin serra, meaning “saw” (no, not the verb; the tool you use to cut wood apart!).

From the same root we get the English… serrated. Think of the serrated edges of cut paper! It does look a bit like a mountain, doesn’t it?

The s-rr root is clearly visible in both.

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