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Nom­bre and Nom­i­nal

The usu­al Span­ish word for “name”, nom­bre, is very close­ly re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish word nom­i­nal, in an in­ter­est­ing way. Not on­ly does nom­i­nal­ly mean “re­lat­ing to the name”, but there is an in­ter­est­ing et­y­mo­log­i­cal pat­tern be­tween the words.

Latin words with an m‑n sound usu­al­ly turned the m‑n in­to an mbr sound as Latin evolved in­to Span­ish. Thus, we see cu­ri­ous pat­terns like hominem be­com­ing hom­bre, and famine and ham­bre be­ing close­ly linked.

The same pat­tern ap­plies here. The Latin nom­i­nalis turned in­to the Span­ish nom­bre and the Eng­lish nom­i­nal — thus the n‑m-n of nom­i­nal maps ex­act­ly to the n‑mbr of nom­bre!


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