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Celoso and Jeal­ous, Zeal

The Span­ish celoso and the Eng­lish for the same, jeal­ousy, come from the same Greek root: ze­los.

But how did this hap­pen? They should so dif­fer­ent!

The an­swer is that the Latin (and Greek) words with a ‑ch- sound and vari­a­tions (like ‑sh‑, the soft ‑j-, ‑z-, etc) usu­al­ly turned in­to the hard, gut­tur­al, throat-cleaing ‑j- sound in Span­ish. Think about sher­ry and jerez, for ex­am­ple, or quash and que­jar, or soap and jabón.

Thus, the c‑l-s of celoso maps to the j‑l-s of jeal­ous.

Cu­ri­ous­ly, the an­cient Greek form — ze­los — meant jeal­ousy, but in the more pos­i­tive sense of en­thu­si­asm and friend­ly ri­val­ry. In a word: zeal — which al­so comes from the same root!


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