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Dis­frazar and Fric­tion, Traf­fic

The Span­ish dis­frazar (“to dress up”, as in a cos­tume) comes from the Latin fricare mean­ing “to rub; to rub off.”

From this same Latin root, we get the Eng­lish fric­tion — and what is fric­tion if not, rub­bing against some­thing to wear it down?

We al­so get the Eng­lish traf­fic (the tra- comes from a short­ened ver­sion of the trans- “across” pre­fix). And what is traf­fic if not, fric­tion across the road?

The fr‑z of dis­frazar maps to the fr-ct of fric­tion and just the ff of traf­fic.

But the ques­tion is: how did the word for “rub­bing” turn in­to the word for “dress­ing up in a cos­tume”? That part is in­ter­est­ing: the Latin fricare (“to rub off”) turned in­to the Late Latin fric­tiare, mean­ing, “walk­ing and leav­ing foot­prints (just like an­i­mals do).” Leav­ing tracks as you walk gave away who you are and where you’re go­ing, let­ting you be fol­lowed. But with the de- pre­fix (mean­ing “not”) which negates that, dis­frazar (lit­er­al­ly, de- “not” and fric­tiare “leav­ing a trail be­hind you as you walk”) to­geth­er meant: not be­ing able to be tracked or fol­lowed. Hence, a cos­tume.


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