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Amigo and Friend

Today’s etymology is simple and to the point — and, for me at least, was completely unexpected:

Amigo (Spanish for “friend”), comes from the Latin amare, “to love,” a common word we see everywhere, as in amor and amante.

So, a “friend” is literally someone you love.

The best part is that there is an exact parallel to English as well: the English friend comes from the Old Germanic word frijojanan meaning… “to love”. From this Germanic root meaning “to love” we get various distantly related words in English, like Friday (the day of Love — just like how in Spanish, viernes is named after Venus, the goddess of love) as well as freedom. Freedom is something we love… just like our friend.

Guerra and War

The Spanish for “war” guerra doesn’t sound like it would actually be the same word. But it is!

The Latin words beginning with the harsh gu- sound generally have the same root and are parallel with the English w- words. Think, William and Guillermo, for example. The gu- and w- sounds do sound alike, if you say both in a thick way.

Guerra and War are another great example of this pattern. The English war comes from the French guerre, which in turn comes from the old German verwirren — meaning “to confuse people.” War is confusing indeed and confusing people is indeed a form of warfare.

Abogado and Advocate

Spanish for “lawyer,” abogado is a cousin of the English uncommon synonym for the same, advocate (think of it in the noun sense).

Both come from the same Latin root: advocatus, which is a combination of ad- (“towards”) and vocare (“to call”: think of voice, vocal, vocation — literally, your calling!). So a lawyer, or advocate, literally meant, “one called [to help others]”.

Although the sound mappings may not be obvious at first, we can see that the a-b-g-d of abogado maps to the a-v-c-t of advocate.

Coquetear and Cock

Coquetear, the Spanish verb meaning “to flirt,” comes from the French coq which means “cock” — in both senses — from which we also get the English word cock, albeit with a slightly different spelling.

It’s not that hard to figure out how a word that means “penis” came to mean “flirt” — but it is easy to smile every time you remember why.

From the same root, we also get the almost-forgotten English word for “flirting,” coquetry.

The c-q to c-ck mapping is clear between both words.

Tarde and Retard

The common Spanish tarde, “late”, is a close cousin of the English retard.

Retard is literally the re- prefix (which just adds emphasis) and the Latin tardare, which means, “slow, stupid.”

From tardare we also get the Spanish tarde. So, the ones that are the stupidest do things slowest — literally!

Of course, we also get the English tardy from the same root as well.

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