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Ventana and Ventillation

Ventana, Spanish for “window,” comes from the Latin ventus, for “wind.” From the same root, we get the English… dum dum dum… ventilation. Vent and vent: both push back against the wind!

Plegar and Applicant

The Spanish plegar, meaning “to fold” comes from the Latin root plicare, meaning the same.

From plicare, we also get the English applicant. The connection makes sense if we think about both words in the sense of “attach”: when you apply, you want to attach yourself to an organization; and think of fold in the same metaphorical sense, “to bring into the fold.”

We can see the mapping clearly in the p-l-g of plegar and the p-l-c of applicant. The -c- was lost when it was shortened to just apply over time.

From the same root we also get the English ply, as in plywood – but that is a lot less common!

Cepo and Chip

The Spanish cepo (for “clamp”; both literal and metaphorical, as in, “to clamp down”) comes from the Latin cippus. Cippus itself comes from the ancient Proto-Indo-European root keipo for a “sharp piece of wood.” From that same PIE root, we get (via German) the English… chip. The c-p to ch-p mapping is clear; and next time you have a chip on your shoulder, remember that this is better than having a clamp on your shoulder!

Mostrar and Monster, Demonstrate

Mostrar (Spanish for “to show”) comes from the Latin root, monstrare (“to point out”), which comes from monstrum, an “omen from God; a wonder.”

From that root monstrum, we get two related English words:

  • Demonstrate — A demonstration, after all, is just a showing!
  • Monster — A monster was originally a messenger from God. But just a bad one!

We can see how the m-n-st-r root in the original Latin was preserved in the two English descendants, but turned into m-st-r in the Spanish mostrar, losing the middle -n-.

It’s curious how the sense of awe and wonder, of a God-given message, has been lost as monstrum — the divine omen! — turned into merely demonstrations or just showing, mostrar. Sounds like the modern world, in a nutshell.

Tener – Tenet, -tain

Hold tener spanish english

The Spanish tener (to hold) comes from the Latin tenere for the same.

From the same root tenere, we get the English tenet — think about it, you hold your beliefs.

And it gets even better: from tenere, we also get the English suffix -tain, as in maintain, sustain, contain, detain, obtain, and entertain. And the -tain words map almost identically to the Spanish suffix of the same, the same -tener!

For example, mano, the Spanish for hand, is the same mano in maintain (or mantener, in Spanish) — which thus literally means, “to hold in your hand”!

Acabar – Bring To A Head

Acabar — the everyday Spanish word meaning “just”, “finish”, and, wait for it “to ejaculate” (don’t ask how I learned the last definition!) — comes from the Latin caput, meaning “head”.

Thus, it has a parallel in the English expression: to bring to a head. Although that phrase doesn’t exactly mean to finish (it means, to force a decision to be made, basically), it is a similar concept: bringing about a totality that finishes or just about finishes something that had been happening.

Thus etymology proves the common sense wisdom that, it’s easy to start something… but it requires real intelligence, a head, to finish what you start.

Afinar and Refine

Afinar, meaning “to tune” — as in, you tune your guitar — comes from the Latin finis, meaning, “border”: tuning a guitar is really finding the exact border between this note and the other one.

From the same Latin root finis, we get English words such as fine, refine (remember the re– prefix is just an intensifier), as well as the English finish.

Tuning your guitar, in other words, as really an act of refining the souds.

The f-n root is clearly visible in all.

Dejar – Relax

The “sh” sound — often represented in writing as an “x” — transformed in all different ways to the “j” letter (and the accompanying mouth-clearing sound, influenced by Arabic) as late Latin turned into Spanish. See lots of examples: sherry/jerez, for example.

Here’s another: the common Spanish word, dejar, meaning, “to leave to the side” or “to put down” or to “put away” or to just “let go.”

Dejare comes from the Latin laxare, meaning, “to loosen”. From this same root, we get a few English words — which did not go through the x-to-j transformation Spanish did including:

  • Lax —  which basically means to loosen up, so it is similar conceptually!
  • Laxative — this loosens up the remains of your food inside your body so you can excrete, to be euphemistic.
  • Relax — this is a loosening of your muscles and body and mind as well. According to this same pattern, we also know that relax in Spanish is, relajar.

See more examples of this same pattern including lejos and leash here.

Lleno – Plenty

Llenar — Spanish meaning “to fill” — comes from the Latin plenus, meaning “full”.

This, therefore, connects it to the English for the same, from the same root: Plenty. Not to mention, the less common English word plenary.

These words sound so different yet they’re so similar. Here’s how: Latin words that began with pl- usually turned into ll- when Latin evolved into Spanish. But as these words moved into English via French, they remained unchanged.

This explains not just llenar/plenty but explains a bunch of other words, including llama/flame.

Apostar – Position, Posit

Apostar, Spanish for “to bet”, sounds nothing like bet or any related English word.

But it turns out to be a close cousin of Posit and Position: Betting is indeed just an extreme form of putting forth a position or positing something — literally putting your money where your mouth is.

All come from the same Latin, positionem, which come from the Latin root verb ponere (“to put”)  from which we also get the Spanish for the same, poner.

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