Sanguche and Sandwich
- on Sep 13, 2023
- in W to GU
The Spanish for sandwich is sánguche — just the English word, as it is pronounced in Spanish. That one is easy!
However, what is noteworthy is that the -w- becomes a -g-. At first, that seems odd. But then, we remember the -w- to -g- transformation: that in a lot of Germanic words, when they’re brought into Spanish, the -w- sound becomes a -g- sound. Think war/guerra, for a great example.
Suddenly, the weird letter change makes sense!
- See more of this pattern: W to GU
Sacar and To Sock
Sacar (Spanish for “to take out”) comes from the old German sakan meaning “to fight”, That does, oddly, make sense: in a fight, you do take someone out — we still use that other sense today, in English, in that very phrase!
From the same old German root, we get the English…. to sock. No, not the word for the slip over your toes but in the old-fashioned verb sense my grandpa uses: to punch someone. So, we see that it still retains some of the fighting sense!
Ceniza and Incinerate
Ceniza (Spanish for “ashes”) comes from the Latin cinis, meaning the same.
From the Latin root cinis, we get the English… cinder as well as incinerate. That makes sense: these are either the cause or the result of the process that causes ashes!
The most interesting part is…. this also explains why the Cinderella fairy tale, in Spanish, is called… Cenicienta!
We can see the c-n root clearly in all these variations.
Coima and Calumny
Coima (Spanish for “a bribe” and an unfortunately common word) comes from the Latin calvor, which means, “to cheat, deceive, trick”.
From that root, we get the English… calumny, which means “slander” (in case you forgot your SAT words or didn’t go to Law School!).
It is easy to see how a word meaning “cheating” transformed into both bribery on one hand, and slander on the other.
The c-m of coima maps to the c-(l)-mn of calumny, with the “l” having been transitioned out over time.
Planchar and Plank
Planchar (Spanish for “to iron”) comes from the French for the same, planche, which comes from the Latin plancus, for “straight.” Ironing is making something straight!
From that same root, we get the English… plank. A plank, after all, is just a piece of wood that is… straight.
The mapping of the Spanish p-l-n-ch to the English p-l-n-k is quite clear.
Carne and Reincarnation
- on Sep 10, 2023
- in True Spanish Etymology Stories
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
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: