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Mi­rar and Ad­mire, Mir­ror, Mir­a­cle

The Span­ish mi­rar, “to look at” has two cu­ri­ous cousins in Eng­lish: ad­mire, mir­ror and mir­a­cle.

All come from the same Latin root, mi­rari, which meant “to won­der at”. We can see how they are all re­lat­ed to this same sen­ti­ment of awe and won­der:

  • Mi­rar is now just to look at some­one but orig­i­nal­ly meant, to look at with won­der. Look­ing at some­one is a form of won­der­ing about about them.
  • Ad­mire is re­al­ly a form of won­der­ment as well. The ad- pre­fix means “at”, so ad­mi­ra­tion is al­ways won­der that is di­rect­ed at some­one.
  • Mir­ror too comes from the same root and look­ing in the mir­ror is thus the most con­ceit­ed act of be­ing in awe of your­self!
  • Mir­a­cle, as well as its Span­ish ver­sion mi­la­gro, al­so comes from the same root: a Mir­a­cle is re­al­ly just some­thing that caus­es in­tense won­der!

The m‑r root is present in all ver­sions, in Eng­lish and Span­ish, so the pat­tern is easy to spot.


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