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Segun and Second

Según (Spanish for “according to…”) comes from the Latin secundum, meaning the same. Secundum itself comes from the Latin… sequor, meaning, “to follow” — just like the Spanish for the same, seguir!

Thus, we can see in all these variations, not only the s‑g-r or s‑c-r root (the g/c are easily and often interchanged!) but also the commonality with the English… second, that also comes from the same origin.

Second, after all, follows the first.

Cargarse and Caricature

Cargarse (Spanish for, “to take charge”; a very common word, often used in the sense of, assigning or accepting responsibility) comes from the Latin carrus, meaning, cart.

How did this evolution happen? Easy: you load a cart; so the cart takes on the burden; just as you, by accepting responsibility, are taking on a burden, too. In other words, any action you might need to be responsible for achieving is just like the annoying junk in your trunk, holding down the car!

From the same Latin root, we get the English, caricature. You can see the c‑r root in both. The word for “cart” turned into caricature because, well, a caricature is an overloading (!). A caricature, then, is literally just piling on more and more needless extra, exaggerated observations into the picture you paint, until your trunk is similarly burdened down!

Funny how, in English, over-loading a car is an exaggeration, a caricature. But in Spanish, it is just the normal way of taking responsibility.

Elogio and Elegy

It should be obvious, but it wasn’t to me: the Spanish for “compliment; praise” (elogio) comes from the Latin elogium meaning “inscription; short saying.” The Latin elogium comes from the Greek elegeia, meaning, “elegy” — from which we get that same English word!

This should be clear, since the e‑l-o‑g of elogio maps to the e‑l-e‑g of elegy quite neatly. 

But how did we get from “short saying” to “compliment”? Easy: the short sayings that we used to say about other people, over time — centuries — got nicer and nicer and nicer, until everything turns into a compliment. Who wants to be remembered as the nasty guy insulting everyone, anyway?

Carne and Reincarnation

Carne (Spanish for “meat”) comes from the Latin carnis (“flesh”) — not surprising at all.

But there’s a mystical connection as well: from this Latin root, we also get the English… reincarnation. Combined with the re- prefix for “again”, reincarnation literally means “in the flesh… again”. Sounds just like what reincarnation is!

Note: see also our previous posts about Carne and carnival as well.

Suggested by: Hong Linh

Cuerno and Cornucopia

We’ve previously discussed cuerno (Spanish for horn) and its related Spanish words–and here’s another: cornucopia, which literally means… the “horn of plenty.” We see the h‑r-n map to the c‑r-n again here!

Predecir — Predict, Diction

An easy way to remember the Spanish decir (to say) is through the word predict.

Predict is, literally, pre — decir — to say beforehand. Pre means “before” and the dict- maps almost exactly to the Spanish decir.

How come the decir has an extra ‑t in it to be predict? Because the Latin predecire took the grammatical form of predicatus and this form grew into English (via the French influence). A prediction in Spanish, after all, is predicho!

Thus, it is a cousin of many English words such as diction and dictionary.

Rencor and Rancid

The Spanish for “anger,” rencor, has a fun English cousin: rancid.

Both words come from the Latin rancere, meaning “to stink.” 

Thus, literally, both rotten food stinks and, anger stinks.

We can see the relationship clearly if we see the r‑n-c mapping between the words.

Traer and Traction, Tractor

The Spanish traer, meaning “to bring,” comes from the Latin trahere, meaning “to drag.”

From the Latin root, we also get a few related English words that aren’t obvious at first glance:

  • Tractor: What is a tractor if not a machine that brings or drags machinery around the plot of farmland?
  • Traction: What is traction if not something moving so quick that it drags everyone else up along with it?

Note that the ‑h- vanished when the Latin turned into Spanish but became a ‑ct- when the Latin became English. Thus the t‑r-[nothing] of traer maps to the t‑r-ct of the English words.

Tripulacion, Pulir and Polish, Interpolate

Tripulación (Spanish for “crew”, such as on a boat or plane) comes from the Latin prefix inter- (“between”) and the Latin root polire (“to polish” in Latin). A crew probably spends much of their time polishing the ship to perfection, right?

From the same Latin root polire, we get another Spanish word: pulir which means… “to polish”. Surprise, surprise!

From this root, we also get the English polish as well, in addition to the less obvious: interpolate. How did that transformation of meaning happen? Remember that in interpolating, you’re really polishing up the data! You’re taking data from the dusty bins of forgotten files, dusting it off and reusing it: just like polishing up a ship.

The p‑l root is clear in all variations as well.

Hilo and File

The Spanish hilo (cord; thread; string) comes from the Latin for the same, filum. The words sound very different, until we remember that, words in Latin that began with a f- tended to change to h- in Spanish: hijo/filium, and hoja/foliage, for example. Now the hilo/filum make sense!

Interestingly, however, from that same Latin root filum, we get various English words that also quietly show they are descendants of the word for cord or thread. Including:

  • File (as a verb; to file your nails or papers) — what is filing if not using a thread to shorten or separate different items?
  • Profile — With the Latin root pro- (put forth!), what is profiling it not drawing out or dragging out information about someone?
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