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Horno — Fur­nace

The Span­ish horno, for “oven,” sounds un­re­lat­ed to any Eng­lish coun­ter­part.

But it is in fact a close cousin of fur­nace. Both come from the Latin for­mus, mean­ing “warn”.

How did such dis­sim­i­lar words end up such close cousins?

Be­cause most Latin words that be­gan with an f- fol­lowed by a vow­el end­ed up evolv­ing in Span­ish (alone among the ro­man­tic lan­guages) in­to an h-. Thus the h‑r-n of horno maps al­most ex­act­ly to the f‑r-n of fur­nace. In both cas­es, the orig­i­nal ‑m- evolved in­to an ‑n- in the root. But that is a very com­mon tran­si­tion too, with both sounds be­ing so sim­i­lar.


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