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Delante and Anterior

The Spanish delante (“in front of”) comes from the Latin de- (“of, out of”) and ante (“before”), via intante (in plus ante). So “in front of” is literally “before” in the sense of “standing before.”

Thus, with the de- prefix, it is a cousin of the ante that brings us a host of English words with ante that mean “before”: anterior, antediluvian, antique. We can see the a‑n-t root in all these variations.

Dorado and Aurora

Dorado, Spanish for “covered in gold” — think of McDonalds in Spanish. Los Arcos Dorados (the golden arches–literally!) comes from the Latin de- (“of”) and aurum, “gold”: gilded or gold-covered, literally means… from gold.

From the same Latin root we also get the English aurora, “dawn” or the Roman goddess of the dawn. The morning sun glittering in the distance is… shining, just like gold does.

We can see the a‑r root in both words clearly!

Camisa — Heaven

The Spanish for “shirt”, Camisa, is a distant cousin of the English Heaven. How?

Both come from the same common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European root *kem, meaning, “to cover.” This root evolved, via German, to the English heaven (that which covers us above) and it evolved, via Latin (and even the French chemise), to the Spanish camisa (that which covers our torso!).

But they sound so different. How can that be?

The answer is that the Indo-European sound k- transformed over time into the German and then English h- sound — which remaining the same (albeit with a c- spelling) in Latin and then Spanish. Thus the c- of camisa maps to the h- of heaven.

Other examples of this pattern include cornudo/horn and horse/correr.

Acabar — Bring To A Head

Acabar — the everyday Spanish word meaning “just”, “finish”, and, wait for it “to ejaculate” (don’t ask how I learned the last definition!) — comes from the Latin caput, meaning “head”.

Thus, it has a parallel in the English expression: to bring to a head. Although that phrase doesn’t exactly mean to finish (it means, to force a decision to be made, basically), it is a similar concept: bringing about a totality that finishes or just about finishes something that had been happening.

Thus etymology proves the common sense wisdom that, it’s easy to start something… but it requires real intelligence, a head, to finish what you start.

Ventana and Ventillation

Ventana, Spanish for “window,” comes from the Latin ventus, for “wind.” From the same root, we get the English… dum dum dum… ventilation. Vent and vent: both push back against the wind!

Cazar and Chase

Cazar (Spanish for “to hunt”) and the English chase come from the same root: the Latin captiare, also meaning, “to hunt.” What is a chase if not just a calmed-down hunt?

You can see the c‑z of cazar map to the ch‑s of chase.

And it is perfectly appropriate that the English chase came to us via the French chasier. What are the French good for if not weakening the strong, manly hunt into the more feminine chase?

Asiento, Superseer and Sedate, Assiduous

Superseer (Spanish for, “to discontinue; cease”) comes from the Latin supersedere which in term is a combination of the prefix super- (“above”) and sedere (“to sit”). When you stop doing something — you’re now, literally, sitting on top of it. At least in Spanish.

From the Latin sedere root, we get various English words related to sitting, including:

  • Sedate — when you’re on a sedative, you’re just sitting around!
  • Assiduous — this originally meant “constantly sitting down”, but came to mean, “very busy” (since you sit down when you work) and thus the busy people are the assiduous ones!
  • Obsess — with the ob- prefix (“against”), it’s literally, “someone sitting opposite you” — which is what you do when you’re obsessing over someone, watching their every move closely.
  • Supersede — literally, “to sit on top of” — very similar to, “going over their heads!
  • Sedentary — the lifestyle of sitting down. Sounds familiar!
  • Siege — you sit in your castle when it’s under siege!
  • Reside — what do you do in your residence if not, sit around?

From the same Latin root sedere we also get the Spanish… asiento, the common word for, seat. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it?

The s‑n-t/d root is visible in most of these words. Note that in superseer, the middle ‑n- disappeared: hence the ‑e- on both sides!

Tener — Tenet, ‑tain

Hold tener spanish english

The Spanish tener (to hold) comes from the Latin tenere for the same.

From the same root tenere, we get the English tenet — think about it, you hold your beliefs.

And it gets even better: from tenere, we also get the English suffix ‑tain, as in maintain, sustain, contain, detain, obtain, and entertain. And the -tain words map almost identically to the Spanish suffix of the same, the same -tener!

For example, mano, the Spanish for hand, is the same mano in maintain (or mantener, in Spanish) — which thus literally means, “to hold in your hand”!

Olor and Odor

Olor (Spanish for “smell”) comes from the  similar Latin olere “to give off a smell”. Odor and Redolent (which is just a bad small, after all!) come from the same root.

The curious part is the o‑l to o‑d transition. This is merely a vestige of the influence of the long-dead Sabine dialects of late Latin. Yes, the same Sabines who were rapped. They did transition their l‑s to d‑s.

Rocío and Rosemary

Rocío (Spanish for “dew,” not to mention its cousin, rociar, “to sprink or spray”) comes the Latin ros (“dew.”)

From that same root, we get the English… rosemary, everyone’s favorite mint! Rosemary in fact comes from the Latin rosmarinus (rosmarinus), the “dew of the sea”!

The r‑c of rocío clearly maps to the r‑s of rosemary.

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