Want more Spanish etymologies? Let us know!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
logo

Cin­co — Five

The re­la­tion be­tween “five” in Span­ish (cin­co) and Eng­lish is one of the more sur­pris­ing re­la­tion­ships: they are in­deed di­rect sec­ond cousins!

Both come from the same Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root, *penkwe, mean­ing the same, five. (The greek for five al­so comes from the same: think about pen­ta­gon, for ex­am­ple).

The in­ter­est­ing part is this: the p- sound in Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean evolved in­to the Ger­man­ic and then Eng­lish f- sound. Think about fa­ther and padre, for ex­am­ple or foot and pie. Five and cin­co fol­low this pat­tern too, but in a more sub­tle way.

The Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean for the same, *penkwe, evolved in­to the Latin word for “five”: quinque. The qu- was pro­nounced in a hard way like a k- and then, as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish, the k- was soft­ened in­to the soft c- in cin­co. So p- to k- to c-. You can see it through the sim­i­lar sounds.

In­deed, the pat­tern is most ob­vi­ous in the rep­e­ti­tion of the sounds in both works cin-co as the c/k sound twice, at the start of each syl­la­ble. And the fi-ve as the f- sound (and its close­ly re­lat­ed, usu­al­ly iden­ti­cal and of­ten in­ter­change­able sound of v-) at the start of each of its syl­la­bles as well.

logo

© 2020 - All Rights Reserved | Contact | Privacy, Terms & Conditions | Sitemap| Resources | Etymology Dictionaries To Help Us Learn Spanish

Hat Tip 🎩 to The Marketing Scientist