Viejo and Inveterate
The Spanish viejo (“old”) comes from the Latin vetus meaning the same, “old.”
From the same Latin root we get the English inveterate (an SAT word meaning, a “long-ingrained habit.”) Lets break down the English: the Latin prefix in- means, well, “in” and the “veterate” means “old”, from the same root vetus. So an inveterate habit is really just a habit you’ve had for a long time!
We can see that the v‑j root of viejo maps to the v‑t of inveterate. The Latin ‑t- turning into the ‑j- sound isn’t that common (more common is that it turns into a ‑sh- sound, as in syrup and jarabe) but isn’t too uncommon: we can hear the similarities between ‑t- and ‑sh- if we say the sounds together quickly!
Hermoso and Form
The Spanish for “beautiful”, hermosa, seems unrelated to the English for the same. Or is it?
Hermosa comes from the Latin for “beautiful” formosus.
We can see this pattern because it is an example of the Initial F to H pattern, where many Latin words that began with F- turned into H- in Spanish.
Ahhh, that makes sense: Formosa, in Argentina really means, “Beautiful”, and this also explains the Portuguese for beautiful (also formosa) as well: Portuguese never lost that initial F.
The Latin formosus itself comes from the root forma, meaning, well, “form”. So, beauty, itself, is just your pure form. At least in Spanish.
Acatar and Capture
The Spanish Acatar (meaning “to follow, obey, respect”) comes from the Latin captare, meaning “to capture, take hold of”. From that root, we get a few English words, including:
- Capture — surprise, surprise.
- Capable — if you’re capable, you take hold of the solutions!
- Captive — if you’re captive, someone else has taken hold of you!
- Cater — the caterer is literally the person who takes hold of the food for you.
The c-℗t root is visible in all, although the ‑p- in the ‑pt- has been lost in a few variations.
Cumplir and Accomplish, Complete
Cumplir, the common Spanish meaning, “to finish [doing something]” is — in a moment of, “ah! It’s obvious now that you’ve told me!’ — a close cousin of the English, accomplish.
Both come from the Latin meaning “to complete,” accomplere, which comes from the older Latin root complere, meaning, “to fill up” — from which we also get the English complete.
Thus, the c‑m‑pl of cumplir maps to the c‑m‑pl of accomplish. Not to mention, the c‑m‑pl of complete as well.
Piel and Peel
The English peel comes from the Latin pilus, meaning “hair”, from which we get the Spanish for “hair,” pelo.
More interesting, however, is its Spanish cousin, piel, meaning “skin,” from the related Latin pellis, meaning “hide”.
Your skin, after all, is just a thin covering of your body — just when you peel the skin off of the apple.
The p‑l root is easily visible in all of these.
Domingo — Sunday
In the final of our day-of-the-week comparisons, we have Sunday.
In the Latin languages, it is domingo, or a variation of it. These all come from the Latin for God — Deus. Sunday, after all, is the traditional Christian day of prayer and worship for God. It is literally God’s Day.
In the Germanic tradition — well, in the ancient German pantheon of nature Gods, the main God was the Sun himself. Our Sunday is quite literally “sun” — “day”: the day of the sun. The parallel thus continues!
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: