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Ju­gar and Joke

Ju­gar (Span­ish for “to play,” in the sense of a sport, not an in­stru­ment) and the Eng­lish joke both, sur­pris­ing­ly, come from the same root: the Latin io­cus, mean­ing, “joke, sport, pas­time.”

In­ter­est­ing: al­though the j‑g of ju­gar maps to the j‑k of joke, their mean­ings are suf­fi­cient­ly dif­fer­ent so that, to an Eng­lish speak­er, the con­nec­tion is­n’t ob­vi­ous.

Up­on re­flec­tion, how­ev­er, the key that binds them to­geth­er is the oth­er de­f­i­n­i­tion of io­cus, “pas­time”: both telling jokes and play­ing sports re­al­ly are, in­deed, pas­times.


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