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Guer­ra and War

The Span­ish for “war” guer­ra does­n’t sound like it would ac­tu­al­ly be the same word. But it is!

The Latin words be­gin­ning with the harsh gu- sound gen­er­al­ly have the same root and are par­al­lel with the Eng­lish w- words. Think, William and Guiller­mo, for ex­am­ple. The gu- and w- sounds do sound alike, if you say both in a thick way.

Guer­ra and War are an­oth­er great ex­am­ple of this pat­tern. The Eng­lish war comes from the French guerre, which in turn comes from the old Ger­man ver­wirren — mean­ing “to con­fuse peo­ple.” War is con­fus­ing in­deed and con­fus­ing peo­ple is in­deed a form of war­fare.

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