Jueves — Thursday
Thursday and Jueves, like the other days of the week, come from the Germanic and Latin names for the same God: the King of the Gods, the God known as “Zeus” to the Greeks, and sometimes as “Jupiter.”
The King of the Gods was often called “Jove” (we still remember this in English: sometimes people euphemistically say, “By Jove!”) — hence, Jueves. And the Germanic equivalent of the same God is Thor — and Thursday is literally, “Thor’s Day”!
Humo and Fumes
If he is fuming, he is smoking — literally. And it is, subtly, the same word in Spanish.
“To fume” comes from the Latin root fumus (“smoke”) from which we also get the common Spanish word for “smoke”, humo. But they don’t sound alike, so how are they related?
The Spanish humo is a great example of the pattern of the Initial F turning into an H in Spanish, alone among the languages of the world. Many Latin words that began with an F, and come to us in English through the Latinate F form, became the equivalent word but with an H- in Spanish. Take hermano and filial, for example. Or fact and hecho.
Other English words from the same root fumus include fumigation (ahhhh!) and the less common fetid. Fetid is a dirty, Shakespearean word, after all.
Buscar and Postulate
Buscar (Spanish for “to ask for”) comes from the Latin poscere (“to ask urgently”). In the transition from Latin to Spanish, the word was definitely weakened since buscar doesn’t have any urgent implication.
From this Latin root, we also get the English word… postulate. Postulating is really just formulating a thesis and wanting responses — which is just a sophisticated form of asking a question!
We can see the b‑s‑c of buscar maps to the p‑s‑t of postulate.
Cuero and Cork
The Spanish for “leather,” cuero, comes from the Latin corium meaning, “leather or hide.” From that root, we get a few English words, including… cork. A cork is made from the the hide of a tree, after all!
From the same root we also get cortex (the tree that runs up your spine!), scrotum (feels like a skin, doesn’t it?)
We can see the c‑r root clearly in all these words!
Pensar, Pesadilla and Pensive, Compensate
The Latin pensare meant “to weigh”, in both senses: “to weigh something, such as gold, to get its value, usually to make a payment” or “to think about something deeply”.
From this word, we get a few Spanish words, including:
- Pensar — to “think”, just a simplification and lightening of the original.
- Pesadilla — with the diminutive ‑dilla ending added, it means “nightmare”. A dream is really just a small thought!
From the same Latin root, we get a few English words including:
- Pensive — with the same original meaning as the Latin.
- Compensate — which originally meant, “to counterbalance”, precisely what you do with a balance of justice!
- Pansy — which is basically an insult for someone who spends too much time thinking!
- Span — which originally meant to bind, and came from the original sense of weighing.
- Poise — originally meant, “to have a certain weight,” which then came to mean “to have a certain look”.
The p‑n‑s root (sometimes without the ‘n’) is visible in all words.
Jerez — Sherry
The Latin sounds for “sh” — and similar variations, like “ch” and “ss” — became a “j” sound in Spanish.
Thus, the English sherry is near identical to the Spanish jerez!
These sh/j sounds were often spelt with a “x” in old Spanish; and sherry itself is named after the town it first came from, Xeres, which is near Cordova.
what is the etymological way to learn spanish?
Nerds love to pattern-match, to find commonalities among everything. Our approach to learning languages revolves (the same ‑volve- that is in “volver”, to “return”) around connecting the Spanish words to the related English words via their common etymologies — to find the linguistic patterns, because these patterns become easy triggers to remember what words mean. Want to know more? Email us and ask: