“Fig” comes from the Latin “Ficus” — obvious enough!
But, curiously, the Spanish word is “Higado”. Huh?
This is just a simple example of the Initial F to H pattern. In lots of Latin words, the first F became an H when Latin evolved into Spanish. Think fact/hecho or hablar/fable.
An easy way to figure out what an H- word in Spanish is: change the initial H to an F and see what English word sounds similar.
Hombre, Spanish for “man”, comes from the Latin for the same, hominid. From the same root, we get the English hominid and the classic ad hominem attack.
Here’s the interesting part: the m‑n sound in Latin consistently changed into the ‑mbr- sound in Spanish. Thus, we have parallels like nombre and nominal. And hombre maps exactly to this pattern with both ad hominem and hominid.
The Spanish Miedo (“fear”) comes from the Latin metus, for “fear.”
From that same root, we get the English… meticulous. Meticulous literally means, “full of fear”: and who is meticulous about every tiny little detail if not the person who is full of fear of messing up?
We can see the m‑t of meticulous maps to the m‑d of miedo.
Temor (Spanish for “fear”) comes from the Latin for the same, timor.
From this root, we also get the English name… Timothy. The ‑thy ending comes from the Greek theo-, meaning, “God” — so Timothy is literally, one who is scared of God.
From the same root, we also get the less common… temerity, which just means “boldness”: and what is being bold if not, not having any fear?
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.
The law and the good, in European languages, are associated with straight lines; the bad with the crooked. Think about the word crooked itself, literally! Or about right/rectangle, or the Greek ortho- for straight, hence, orthodox as well as orthodontics.
This is why it makes sense that Derecho — Spanish for straight and also for law — comes from the same Latin root that gives us direct.
The “ct” in the original direct turned into a “ch” in Spanish, in the usual pattern of “ct” turning into “ch” as Latin grew into Spanish.
The Initial F, followed by a vowel, disappears: So, “hoja”, meaning “leaf” (in all senses: the autumn trees, the piece of paper) is thus, from the same Latin root as “foliage”, the green plant leaves!
The Latin for “eight” is Octo, from which we get the English Octagon.
Since most Latin words with a ‑ct- sound, like Octo, had the ‑ct- turn into a ‑ch- as the language evolved into Spanish, it is no surprise that eight in Spanish is ocho.
This same pattern manifests itself in noche/nocturnal, leche/lactose, and is one of our favorite patterns here at ForNerds!
Respirar comes from the Latin spirare (“to breathe”), with the reinforcing re- prefix.
Curiously, the English conspiracy comes from the same, with the con- prefix meaning “together”: a conspiracy is a group of people whispering together so lightly that you can hear them breathing. Literally!
You can see the sp‑r root in both words easily.
Esconder (Spanish for “to hide”) comes from the Latin ab- (“away”) and condere (“to put together”). Hiding is, after all, just a form of putting yourself away from everyone else!
From the same root we get the less common English abscond, “to secretly run away to avoid capture.” That is just hiding–but taken to the extreme!