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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Sueño and In­som­nia

Sueño (Span­ish for “dream”) and in­som­nia come from the same root: the Latin som­nus, mean­ing, “sleep.”

The evo­lu­tion is easy to spot if we re­mem­ber that the ‑mn- sound in Latin usu­al­ly trans­formed in­to the ñ in Span­ish. See damn and daño, for ex­am­ple. Or au­tumn and otoño as well.

Thus, the s‑mn of in­som­nia maps to the s‑ñ of, sueño.

Cuel­lo and Col­lar, Ac­co­lades

Cuel­lo (Span­ish for “neck”) comes from the Latin col­lum, al­so mean­ing “neck.” From col­lum, we get the Eng­lish… col­lar. We can see the c‑ll map­ping in both.

More in­ter­est­ing, though, is from that same root, we al­so get the Eng­lish ac­co­lades, which is just col­lum with the clas­sic Latin ad- (“to­wards”) pre­fix.

How did we get from “to­wards the neck” to “giv­ing hon­ors and awards”? Well, ac­co­lades was orig­i­nal­ly used in the sense of, rest­ing the sword on your shoulder–like the King does to you when he turns you in­to a knight. Be­ing knight­ed was the ul­ti­mate hon­or you could re­ceive, with the king be­stow­ing it by plac­ing the sword on your shoul­der.

Since me­dieval times, ap­par­ent­ly, hon­ors have be­come in­creas­ing­ly easy to give and re­ceive, since know we get ac­co­lades for every lit­tle “job well done”!

Cuer­no and Cor­nu­copia

We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed cuer­no (Span­ish for horn) and its re­lat­ed Span­ish words–and here’s an­oth­er: cor­nu­copia, which lit­er­al­ly means… the “horn of plen­ty.” We see the h‑r-n map to the c‑r-n again here!

Puñal and Pu­gna­cious

The Eng­lish for ea­ger-to-fight, pu­gna­cious, con­tains the ‑gn- pat­tern in­side it: a give-away to the pat­tern that ‑gn- words in Latin turned the ‑gn- in­to a ‑ñ- in Span­ish yet re­mained the same in­to Eng­lish.

There­fore, pu­gna­cious maps per­fect­ly to puñal, the Span­ish for… “dag­ger.” It makes sense that “dag­ger” and “ea­ger to fight” come from the same root, af­ter all. And that root, in this case, is the Latin pugnare, mean­ing, “to fight.”

Asien­to, Su­per­seer and Se­date, As­sid­u­ous

Su­per­seer (Span­ish for, “to dis­con­tin­ue; cease”) comes from the Latin su­per­sedere which in term is a com­bi­na­tion of the pre­fix su­per- (“above”) and sedere (“to sit”). When you stop do­ing some­thing — you’re now, lit­er­al­ly, sit­ting on top of it. At least in Span­ish.

From the Latin sedere root, we get var­i­ous Eng­lish words re­lat­ed to sit­ting, in­clud­ing:

  • Se­date — when you’re on a seda­tive, you’re just sit­ting around!
  • As­sid­u­ous — this orig­i­nal­ly meant “con­stant­ly sit­ting down”, but came to mean, “very busy” (since you sit down when you work) and thus the busy peo­ple are the as­sid­u­ous ones!
  • Ob­sess — with the ob- pre­fix (“against”), it’s lit­er­al­ly, “some­one sit­ting op­po­site you” — which is what you do when you’re ob­sess­ing over some­one, watch­ing their every move close­ly.
  • Su­per­sede — lit­er­al­ly, “to sit on top of” — very sim­i­lar to, “go­ing over their heads!
  • Seden­tary — the lifestyle of sit­ting down. Sounds fa­mil­iar!
  • Siege — you sit in your cas­tle when it’s un­der siege!
  • Re­side — what do you do in your res­i­dence if not, sit around?

From the same Latin root sedere we al­so get the Span­ish… asien­to, the com­mon word for, seat. Now that makes sense, does­n’t it?

The s‑n-t/d root is vis­i­ble in most of these words. Note that in su­per­seer, the mid­dle ‑n- dis­ap­peared: hence the ‑e- on both sides!


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