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Hi­ga­do — Fig

“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 and Ad Hominem, Ho­minid

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.

Miedo and Metic­u­lous

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 and Tim­o­thy

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?

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.

Dere­cho and Di­rect

Derecho direct spanish english

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 Dere­choSpan­ish 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.

Ho­ja and Fo­liage

Hojas leaves

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!

Ocho and Oc­ta­gon

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 and Con­spire

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 and Ab­scond

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!


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