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Camisa – Heaven

The Spanish for “shirt”, Camisa, is a distant cousin of the English Heaven. How?

Both come from the same common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European root *kem, meaning, “to cover.” This root evolved, via German, to the English heaven (that which covers us above) and it evolved, via Latin (and even the French chemise), to the Spanish camisa (that which covers our torso!).

But they sound so different. How can that be?

The answer is that the Indo-European sound k- transformed over time into the German and then English h- sound — which remaining the same (albeit with a c- spelling) in Latin and then Spanish. Thus the c- of camisa maps to the h- of heaven.

Other examples of this pattern include cornudo/horn and horse/correr.

Batir, Batido and Battery, Batter

Batir (Spanish meaning, “to beat”) and its very common derivative, batido (meaning “milkshake” — you beat the ingredients together after all!) both come from the Latin battuere meaning the same, “to beat.”

From that same Latin root we get the English battery — think of the phrase, assault and battery! (Over time, the meaning shifted from beating, to artillery — that which beats the enemy to the ground, literally! — and then from there, to the electric power that powers the artillery, and from there, our more common modern definition of the word.) And batter, like the mixture you make while cooking — that’s you beating the eggs together, right?

The b-t root is visible in all these words.

Remo and Row

Remo (Spanish for the very common word “oar”) is a cousin of, well, the English row.

Remo comes from the Latin for the same, remus, while the English came from the German ruejen; both of those come from Proto-Indo-European *ere, meaning “to row”.

We can see the r- maps to the r- in each and it does make sense. After all, you do use an oar to row.

Jarabe – Syrup

Syrup jarabe english spanish

The Spanish for syrup, jarabe, comes from the same root as the English: the Persian/Arabic sharab, which means “a drink, or wine”.

The drastically different (at least superficially) words are explained by the sh- and related (such as, sy- ) sounds changing to the Arabic-sounding j- sound in Spanish — but not English.

Thus, the j-r-b of jarabe maps to the sy-r-p of syrup.

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Cadena and Concatenate, Chain

Cadena (Spanish for “chain”) is a cousin of chain itself. Both come from the Latin for the same: catena.

The English chain is disfigured from the original for a few reasons. Since the English came to our language via the French, the initial c- changed into a ch-, as so often French does. French additionally has a tendency to drop letters: the middle -d- in this case. Thus, the c-(d)-n of cadena maps to the ch-n of chain!

From the same root, we have a more obvious connection–but a more obscure word. Concatenate, a nerdy word meaning “to add together” that really only software developers remember these days, comes from the same root. We can thus see the c-d-n of cadena very easily in the c-t-n of concatenate, remembering the very common -d- and -t- swapping. Concatenate begins with the con- prefix (“together” in Latin, like the Spanish “con”) — and what is a concatenation, if not just adding together a bunch of nodes in a chain?

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