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Huésped and Hospitable

Huésped, the common Spanish word for “guest,” has an English cousin: hospitable. This might not be obvious at first since the -o- morphs to the -ue- and thus changes the sound completely but both come from the Latin hospes which means the same. We can see the mapping of h-s-p clearly in both.

In the same family is hospital. Yes, patients in a hospital are just guests, as though it’s a hotel!

Mientras and Interim

Mientras (Spanish for “while”), comes from the Latin dum interim, meaning, “in the meantime,” which itself comes from the earlier basic prefix, inter-. Interim has entered formal English speech meaning the same, of course.

The n-t-r root is visible in both mientras and interim — but it is less obvious because of the m– opening sound, from the lost prefix dum (“out of”).

Pollo and Poultry

Pollo (Spanish for “chicken”) is a close cousin of the English poultry.

Both come from the Latin pullus meaning “a young animal”.

The p-l mapping in both is obvious. And this mapping falls into the category of “completely and utterly obvious once you’ve heard it… but you never thought of it or realized it until someone told you”.

Lazar and Lasso

Lazar (Spanish for “to tie, such as with a ribbon”) comes from the Latin laqueum, meaning “a tie, such as a noose”. From that same root, we get the English… lasso. A lasso, after all, is really a cable that can be used to tie someone or something up…!

The l-z of lazar clearly maps to the l-ss of lasso.

Luego and Locate

Luego (Spanish for “later”) comes from the Latin locus (“place.”) From this same Latin root we get various place-related English words, including…

  • Local — This is really just a place!
  • Locale — A locale is just a type of place!
  • Locomotion — Local + motion = moving from one place to another!
  • Locate — To just find the place where something is!

We can see the l-g of luego map to the l-c of locate clearly.

The interesting question is how “place” came to mean “later” in Spanish. It’s interesting. Basically, in ancient Latin (and even moreso in vulgar Latin), locus (“place”) was used in lots and lots of expressions related to time. So, over time, the word for “place” became more and more associated with the word for “time” — until, eventually, it became a type of time… being late. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Latins are always late — stereotypically, at least!

Haber and Habit, Prohibit

Haber (“to have”, in the grammatical sense, and the root form of he, has, ha, hemos, etc) comes from the Latin for habere, meaning “to hold.”

From the same root, we get the English word habit. What is a habit if not something you hold so dear that you do it all the time? We also get prohibit (the same root with the prefix pro meaning “away”). What is a prohibition if not a habit that you’re trying to stop?

The h-b root is so obvious in all, it’s almost not worth mentioning. Almost!

Bisabuelo and Bi-

Bisabuelo (Spanish for “great-grandparent”) has an origin more obvious than it seems: the bis- that begins it (adding to just abuelo, grandfather) is the same bi- that means “two” in a variety of Latin words- bilateral, bifurcate, and many more. So, bisabuelo literally means, “grandfather — twice over!”

Frenar and Refrain

Frenar (Spanish for, “to break”, particularly in the sense of, “to stop” — think of, the breaks on your car!) comes from the Latin frenare, meaning, “to restrain,” which itself is from the old Latin frenum for “birdle” — yes, the mouthpiece you put on a horse to, umm, restrain it.

From that same root, we get the English refrain. It is the same frenare root, with the re– added for emphasis. But we have the -ain spelling because it comes into English via French, with the refraigner, of course. We can see the f-r-n maps to the (re)-f-r-n very clearly as well.

The lesson here is: from restraining someone from doing something (the old sense of the word) to refraining completely from doing it (the new sense of the word) is just a minor step. At least linguistically.

Mismo and Lorem Ipsum

The Spanish mismo for “same; self” comes from the Latin metipsimus meaning “same”. That word, in turn, comes from the combination of the Latin roots: met (just giving emphasis) and ipse (“himself; itself”) and the suffix -issismus (also adding emphasis; think “-ism” in English).

Here’s where it gets interesting: from that same Latin root, we get… lorem ipsum, the Latin phrase (still used in English!) that we use as the filler text when we don’t know what else to write, before the real wording comes in. Where does lorem ipsum itself come from? Well, Google around, there’s a lot written about that; but the exact phrase itself means “pain onto himself” (with the lorem short for dolorem — thus related to the Spanish dolor for “pain”!). So, we can see how the ipse that turned into mismo also retained without change in lorem ipsum.

Not to mention… ipse dixit!

Jarabe – Syrup

Syrup jarabe english spanish

The Spanish for syrup, jarabe, comes from the same root as the English: the Persian/Arabic sharab, which means “a drink, or wine”.

The drastically different (at least superficially) words are explained by the sh- and related (such as, sy- ) sounds changing to the Arabic-sounding j- sound in Spanish — but not English.

Thus, the j-r-b of jarabe maps to the sy-r-p of syrup.



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