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Azul and Azure

The Span­ish for “blue,” azul, is orig­i­nal­ly an Ara­bic word re­fer­ring to a par­tic­u­lar type of valu­able blue stone, the lapis lazuli. In Span­ish, the word de­grad­ed over time, and the l- was lost (as though it was the the french l’ for “the”) and we were just left with azul for just “blue.”

The Eng­lish for azure — which is re­al­ly just a shade of blue! — comes from the same root, al­though azure still re­tains a lux­u­ry con­no­ta­tion that was lost with the sim­ple blue im­pli­ca­tion of azul in Span­ish.

Many lan­guages, in­clud­ing Span­ish, have an ‑l- and ‑r- shift, where, over time, the ‑l- and ‑r- sounds are swapped. We see this here, as the a‑z-l root of azul maps to the a‑z-r root of azure.


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