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Cer­ca and Cir­cle, Cir­cus

The Span­ish cer­ca (“near”, as in the com­mon phrase, cer­ca de) comes from the Latin cir­cus, mean­ing ring. From that same root, we get the Eng­lish… cir­cus (which does have a cir­cu­lar ring as its defin­ing fea­ture!) as well as cir­cle (in the same shape!). The c‑r-c root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in all!

Hi­lo and File

The Span­ish hi­lo (cord; thread; string) comes from the Latin for the same, filum. The words sound very dif­fer­ent, un­til we re­mem­ber that, words in Latin that be­gan with a f- tend­ed to change to h- in Span­ish: hi­jo/fil­i­um, and ho­ja/fo­liage, for ex­am­ple. Now the hi­lo/filum make sense!

In­ter­est­ing­ly, how­ev­er, from that same Latin root filum, we get var­i­ous Eng­lish words that al­so qui­et­ly show they are de­scen­dants of the word for cord or thread. In­clud­ing:

  • File (as a verb; to file your nails or pa­pers) — what is fil­ing if not us­ing a thread to short­en or sep­a­rate dif­fer­ent items?
  • Pro­file — With the Latin root pro- (put forth!), what is pro­fil­ing it not draw­ing out or drag­ging out in­for­ma­tion about some­one?

Mul­lir and Mol­li­fy

The Span­ish mul­lir (“to soft­en”) comes from the Latin mol­lis, mean­ing, “soft.” From that same Latin root we get the Eng­lish… to mol­li­fy. To mol­li­fy in Eng­lish is usu­al­ly used in the sense of, “to ap­pease” — and it’s note­wor­thy that that ap­peas­ing IS soft­en­ing. You need to be strong to not ap­pease the bad guy, af­ter all.

The m‑ll root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in both words.

Pre­gun­ta and Count

Pre­gun­ta (Span­ish for “ques­tion”) comes from the Latin per- (“through”) and con­tus (“pole”).

From the Latin root con­tus, we al­so get the Eng­lish… count. But how do we get from “pole” to “count­ing”? Well, re­mem­ber the Ro­man style of count­ing that you prob­a­bly learned in el­e­men­tary school, or at least I did back in the day — make a lit­tle pole on the pa­per for each num­ber, and when you hit the fifth one, cross it through; then re­peat — and we then re­mem­ber that count­ing is re­al­ly just lin­ing up sticks to rep­re­sent the to­tal num­bers!

We can see that the g‑n-t of pre­gun­ta maps to the c‑n-t of count.

Al­muer­zo and Morsel

Al­muer­zo (Span­ish for “lunch”) comes from the Latin mor­sus, “a small bite.” Lunch is just a re­al­ly small bite of food!

From the same root mor­sus, we al­so get the Eng­lish for a small bit of food: a morsel. Ah­hh! The (al)-m-r‑z of al­muer­zo maps to the m‑r-s of morsel.


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