Rubio and Ruby

The Spanish rubio (meaning “blond,” as in the hair color) comes from the Latin rubeus, meaning “red”.

How did “red” come to mean “blond”? In a world where everyone has very dark black hair… it’s easy to see how everyone could conflate blond hair and red hair. The Romans didn’t know the Irish!

From the same Latin root, we get various English words including Ruby, the stone and guess what color it is? And also Rubric, which were originally religious directions that were written in… guess what color ink?

Vinculo and Wind

The Spanish vínculo (“a link, connection, something that binds something to something else”) comes from the Latin for the same, vinculum.

A distantly related word is the English wind — not in the sense of what blows in your face on a windy day but rather in the sense of winding a clock (remember those ancient clocks?). Wind (again, in this sense) comes from the Proto-Indo-European *wendh- (“to turn, weave, or wind”)  from which we also get the Latin vinculum and finally the Spanish vínculo.

We can we can see that the v-n of vínculo maps to the w-n of wind.

Buscar and Postulate

Buscar (Spanish for “to ask for”) comes from the Latin poscere (“to ask urgently”). In the transition from Latin to Spanish, the word was definitely weakened since buscar doesn’t have any urgent implication.

From this Latin root, we also get the English word… postulate. Postulating is really just formulating a thesis and wanting responses — which is just a sophisticated form of asking a question!

We can see the b-s-c of buscar maps to the p-s-t of postulate.

Destacar and Detach

Destacar (Spanish for “to stand out”) comes from the French destachier (“to detach”) which, in turn, comes from the Latin de- (of, from) plus the old French stakon, meaning a “stake” (literally, as in a pole!).

Thus, “standing out” (destacar) is literally just detaching yourself from the rest around you — who are, presumably, much lower quality than you are!

We can see the root clearly in the d-(s)-t-c (for destacar) to d-t-ch (detach) mapping.

Don’t forget that the de- prefix in French and sometimes Spanish is just another form of the de- prefix. Thus, explaining the extra -s-. And — clearly! — attach comes as well from the same root, just without the de/des negation!

But the best modern English word from the same root is… staccato. Yup: playing the piano in staccato fashion is just, when you play each note really separated from the others!

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! Without equality between the sides, it’s not a pact; it’s a “treaty”!

The p-t of empatar maps to the p-ct of pact, with the -ct- sound being simplified into just -t-, as often happened.


© 2019 - All Rights Reserved | Contact | Privacy, Terms & Conditions | Sitemap | Etymology Dictionaries To Help Us Learn Spanish | Resources