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Viejo and Inveterate

The Spanish viejo (“old”) comes from the Latin vetus meaning the same, “old.”

From the same Latin root we get the English inveterate (an SAT word meaning, a “long-ingrained habit.”) Lets break down the English: the Latin prefix in- means, well, “in” and the “veterate” means “old”, from the same root vetus. So an inveterate habit is really just a habit you’ve had for a long time!

We can see that the v-j root of viejo maps to the v-t of inveterate. The Latin -t- turning into the -j- sound isn’t that common (more common is that it turns into a -sh- sound, as in syrup and jarabe) but isn’t too uncommon: we can hear the similarities between -t- and -sh- if we say the sounds together quickly!

Sala and Salon, Saloon

Sala, the common Spanish word meaning “room,” comes from the same root as two very similar English words: salon and saloon. All come from the old German sal meaning “hall” or “house” and thus it’s an interesting example of how words degrade overtime: something big and grand like a hall or a house is now just your little back room.

The s-l root is clearly visible in all variations.

Domingo – Sunday

Sunday domingo english spanish

In the final of our day-of-the-week comparisons, we have Sunday.

In the Latin languages, it is domingo, or a variation of it. These all come from the Latin for God — Deus. Sunday, after all, is the traditional Christian day of prayer and worship for God. It is literally God’s Day.

In the Germanic tradition — well, in the ancient German pantheon of nature Gods, the main God was the Sun himself. Our Sunday is quite literally “sun” – “day”: the day of the sun. The parallel thus continues!

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.

Hincha – Inflation

The Spanish hinchar means “to inflate, puff up” and from it we get the much more common Spanish hincha meaning: “a fan”. A fan, therefore, is literally someone who puffs himself all up over his team!

Interestingly, hinchar is directly related to inflate, in a subtle way: both come from the Latin inflare meaning the same as hinchar.

How did this word evolve into somethings so different? It’s not so different as it sounds if we remember that the Spanish h- is silent: so the in-ch-a maps closely to the in-fl-a. The ch/fl mapping isn’t common at all, but if we sound it out, we can hear that they sound similar.

Next time you get all excited about your favorite team, remember that it is this excitement of making more and more is exactly what causes… inflation.

Agrio – Vinegar

How is vinegar made? Well, it is basically sour wine. And guess what? Vinegar literally means “sour wine”! Vine– is Latin for “wine” and the -egar comes from the Latin aigre meaning “sour.”

This makes vinegar directly related to the Spanish word for sour: agrio!

(It also makes it related to the Spanish for wine, vino, but that one is too obvious).

Ligar and Allegiance

Allegiance is a very Roman idea: strong loyalty to your team, your empire.

So it’s not surprising that the word itself comes from the Latin, ligare — to bind. Your allegiance is what binds you or ties you to your team.

From the Latin ligare, we get the Spanish… ligar, meaning the same, tying or binding!

Thus, the l-g root is clearly visible in both versions.

Bolsa and Bourse, Purse

The Spanish bolsa has two common definitions — both with noteworthy and related etymologies.

Bolsa commonly means “purse.” And indeed, both come from the same root: the Greek byrsa, meaning “hide, leather.”

We can see the connection if we remember that the -b- and -p- sounds are often interchangeable, as are the -r- and -l- sounds. Thus the b-l-s of bolsa maps to the p-r-s of purse.

Similarly, bolsa has a second definition in Spanish: the “stock market.” It makes sense if we think about the bolsa and the purse as, the places where money is kept. And in English, a less-common synonym for stock market is bourse — and we see this same word in French all the time, the Bourse de Paris. With bourse, only the -p- and -b- are interchanged, not the -r- and -l-, thus mapping the b-l-s to b-r-s.

Reírse and Ridiculous

Both the Spanish reírse (“to laugh”) and the English ridiculous come from the same Latin root: ridere (also “to laugh”).

Thus, the r-vowel-d-vowel of ridiculous maps to the r-vowel-disappeared-vowel of reírse. Note that the middle -d- disappeared in the Spanish version, probably as the word was shortened since the Spaniards spent so much time laughing, it became natural to say it shorter and quicker!

Hueso and Oyster

Hueso (Spanish for “bone”) comes from the Latin for the same, os. The connection is particularly easy to see when we remember that the H- is perfectly silent in Spanish.

From the same root we get the English ossify — literally, to turn into bone! — but, considering about 4 people know this word, it is easy to remember hueso if we connect it to another word it is related to, albeit more distantly: oyster.

Oyster comes from the Latin for the same, Ostreum, which itself comes from the Latin word os, “bone.” What is an oyster defined by, if not, its hard, bony shell?

The o-s root is clearly visible in all variations!

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