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Flo­jo and Flush, Flu­ent

The Span­ish flo­jo means “slack, loose” — but it is a very com­mon word in Span­ish, of­ten used to mean “re­laxed” in a neg­a­tive way, in sens­es like, “They cut them­selves some slack.”

Flo­jo comes from the Latin fluxus, mean­ing the same as the Span­ish. From fluxus, we get a bunch of Eng­lish words, in­clud­ing: flu­ent, flu­id, fluc­tu­ate and even (via flu­ent) af­flu­ent and in­flu­ence. We al­so get the more fun flush and the most ob­vi­ous flux (as in, “to be in flux.”) All of these can be un­der­stood in the sense that, that which is loose flows — and all of these words flow in one way or an­oth­er: liq­uids are flu­id, you speak flu­ent­ly, flush­ing wa­ter flows, mon­ey flows if you are af­flu­ent, etc.

The ‑x- in the orig­i­nal Latin tend­ed to dis­ap­pear in­to the Eng­lish (hence leav­ing the vow­els be­fore and af­ter, as in flu­ent or flu­id) or be­came a ‑sh- sound. This is an ex­am­ple of the com­mon pat­tern of the ‑sh- sounds map­ping to the throat-clear­ing ‑j- in Span­ish, with the fl-sh of flush map­ping to the fl‑j of flo­jo.


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