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Gratis and Grat­i­fy, Gra­tu­ity

Gratis (Span­ish for “free,” in the sense of “free beer”, not “free speech”) is a close cousin of the Eng­lish grat­i­fy and gra­tu­itous (and its cousin gra­tu­ity).

Up­on re­al­iz­ing this, it sud­den­ly be­comes ob­vi­ous: all share the gr‑t root, plus vague­ly re­lat­ed mean­ings. All come from the Latin gra­tus, mean­ing, “pleas­ing.”

It par­al­lel be­comes more ob­vi­ous when we think of the con­nec­tion of the Eng­lish words to the orig­i­nal mean­ing of “pleas­ing”: that which is grat­i­fy­ing is pleas­ing, and you leave a gra­tu­ity when you are pleased. And gratis, free, is a re­ward to those who want to please oth­ers!


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