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Bol­sa and Bourse, Purse

The Span­ish bol­sa has two com­mon de­f­i­n­i­tions — both with note­wor­thy and re­lat­ed et­y­molo­gies.

Bol­sa com­mon­ly means “purse.” And in­deed, both come from the same root: the Greek byr­sa, mean­ing “hide, leather.”

We can see the con­nec­tion if we re­mem­ber that the ‑b- and ‑p- sounds are of­ten in­ter­change­able, as are the ‑r- and ‑l- sounds. Thus the b‑l-s of bol­sa maps to the p‑r-s of purse.

Sim­i­lar­ly, bol­sa has a sec­ond de­f­i­n­i­tion in Span­ish: the “stock mar­ket.” It makes sense if we think about the bol­sa and the purse as, the places where mon­ey is kept. And in Eng­lish, a less-com­mon syn­onym for stock mar­ket is bourse — and we see this same word in French all the time, the Bourse de Paris. With bourse, on­ly the ‑p- and ‑b- are in­ter­changed, not the ‑r- and ‑l-, thus map­ping the b‑l-s to b‑r-s.


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