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Lágrima and Lacrimal Sac

The Spanish lágrima (“tear”) comes from the Latin Lacrima, meaning the same.

From the same root we get the English… lacrimal sac. In case you forgot our high school biology class, that’s the bit by your eye that creates… tears.

The l-c-r of lacrimal sac maps to the l-g-r of lágrima.

Feliz and Felicity, Fecund

Feliz (Spanish for “happiness”) comes from the Latin felix, meaning both “happy” and “fertile”.

It is indeed curious how, linguistically, happiness and having children and plentiful crops are deeply intertwined.

From the same root, we get the English felicity, which we can see in the f-l-z to f-l-c mapping very clearly.

Most distantly, we also have the English fecund and fetus.

Tornar and Tornado

Tornar (“to turn”) has given us directly an English word: tornado. A tornado turns, doesn’t it? Since this word came into English directly from Spanish – the word is unchanged from its Spanish participle form. We can see the t-r root clearly in all. And, if we go back a bit further, both words are also related to the English… turn.

Esmero and Mere

Esmero, a Spanish word meaning “done with care” comes from the Latin prefix ex– combined with the Latin merus which meant, “unmixed; pure” (such as, pure wine — not diluted by water). Anything done with care will be pure, right?

From that same Latin root merus, we also get the English… mere. The interesting part is that, over the centuries, mere has gone on to almost take on the opposite of its original meaning: the original, more Latinate sense, was similar to “pure” and its Spanish derivative, done with care. But over time, in English at least, its become degraded and degraded to the point in which today, it means to do “just barely enough.” This is an example of a broader pattern: words tend to degrade over time.

We see the m-r root clearly in both languages.

Tripulacion, Pulir and Polish, Interpolate

Tripulación (Spanish for “crew”, such as on a boat or plane) comes from the Latin prefix inter– (“between”) and the Latin root polire (“to polish” in Latin). A crew probably spends much of their time polishing the ship to perfection, right?

From the same Latin root polire, we get another Spanish word: pulir which means… “to polish”. Surprise, surprise!

From this root, we also get the English polish as well, in addition to the less obvious: interpolate. How did that transformation of meaning happen? Remember that in interpolating, you’re really polishing up the data! You’re taking data from the dusty bins of forgotten files, dusting it off and reusing it: just like polishing up a ship.

The p-l root is clear in all variations as well.

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