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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Jerez — Sherry

Sherry jerez spanish englishThe 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.

Aburrir — Abhor

The English abhor is a SAT word meaning “to hate”, as we all know.

But who would’ve thunk that it’s related to the common Spanish word aburrir, meaning “boring”?

Aburrir comes directly from the Latin abhorrere meaning exactly what it seems to.

And Ahhorrere itself brings us other English words, like horror.

So — to be boring is actually horrible, by definition!

Nombre and Nominal

The usual Spanish word for “name”, nombre, is very closely related to the English word nominal, in an interesting way. Not only does nominally mean “relating to the name”, but there is an interesting etymological pattern between the words.

Latin words with an m‑n sound usually turned the m‑n into an mbr sound as Latin evolved into Spanish. Thus, we see curious patterns like hominem becoming hombre, and famine and hambre being closely linked.

The same pattern applies here. The Latin nominalis turned into the Spanish nombre and the English nominal — thus the n‑m-n of nominal maps exactly to the n‑mbr of nombre!

Cosecha and Collect

Cosecha (Spanish for “harvest”) comes from the Latin collectus, meaning, “collected.”

This makes sense: a harvest is, well, just collected.

Although the English collected is almost identical to the Latin, we can see how the Latin changed into the Spanish: the ‑ll- turned into an ‑s-, in a curious change. But — as is more common — the ‑ct- became a ‑ch- (think nocturnal/noche or octagon/ocho). Thus, the c‑ll-ct of collect maps to the c‑s-ch of cosecha.

Destacar and Detach

Destacar (Spanish for “to stand out”) comes from the French destachier (“to detach”) which, in turn, comes from the Latin de- (of, from) plus the old French stakon, meaning a “stake” (literally, as in a pole!).

Thus, “standing out” (destacar) is literally just detaching yourself from the rest around you — who are, presumably, much lower quality than you are!

We can see the root clearly in the d-(s)-t‑c (for destacar) to d‑t-ch (detach) mapping.

Don’t forget that the de- prefix in French and sometimes Spanish is just another form of the de- prefix. Thus, explaining the extra ‑s-. And — clearly! — attach comes as well from the same root, just without the de/des negation!

But the best modern English word from the same root is… staccato. Yup: playing the piano in staccato fashion is just, when you play each note really separated from the others!

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