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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish »

Ladrón — Burglar

The Spanish ladrón, for thief, sounds unrelated to any English word.

But, it does have an interesting connection to the English for the same, Burglar.

Burglar comes from the Latin burgus, which meant “castle” or a “fortified town” — think about the ‑burg ending in many place names, like Pittsburgh or Edinborough.

But, if burglar comes from burgus, then where did the ‑l- in the middle come from?

Well, the ‑l- was inserted slowly over time under the influence of the Latin for thief, latro. The word for “thief” was, unconsciously, made to sound similar to the other word for thief! And from latro we get, directly, the Spanish ladrón.

Thus, although burglar isn’t directly descended from ladrón, they are incestuous cousins.

Padecer and Passion

Padecer (Spanish for “to suffer”) comes from the Latin pati, meaning, “to suffer.” From that same root, we get the English… passion.

Yes, by definition, passion necessarily entails suffering.  Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know about love?

Vestirse and Vest, Invest, Travesty, Transvestite

Vestirse (Spanish for, “to get dressed”) comes from the Latin for the same, Vestire. Some fun English words that come from the same root include:

Vest– It makes sense since it is an article of clothing!

Invest– This originally meant, “to clothe” and was used in a metaphorical sense meaning, “to surround”. Your investors do surround you every moment – literally!

Travesty– This one is less obvious. Travesty originally meant, “dressed in a way to purposefully look ridiculous”. Ah! It does tie-in to clothing!

Transvestite– Dressed in the clothing of… oh you know how this one ends 🙂

Turbio and Disturb

Turbio, Spanish for “cloudy”, comes from the same Latin root as the English disturb: turbidus, meaning, “turmoil; full of confusion; muddy.”

It is easy to see how this one root evolved in time into both the English disturb and the Spanish turbio. Think of a cloudy day, just about to rain: the skies are in turmoil! The Gods are about to fight with one another!

We can see the t‑r-b root clearly in both. And the English turbid also comes from the same root, although that word is used only on the SATs.

Palabra and Parable

The Spanish palabra (“word”) comes from the Latin parabola, meaning, “story; comparison.”

From that Latin word, we get the English… parable.

So, the word that became “word” in Spanish, became, the child’s word in English!

The p‑r-b‑l root is clear in both.

Interestingly, from the same root is the French word for “to talk”: parler. Je ne parle pas Francais!

But it gets more interesting: the French parler (literally, “to tell parables”) has a parallel to the Spanish hablar (which came from fabulare, literally, “to tell fables.”) As the Roman soldiers conquered Spain and France, their exaggerated words for telling stories — telling parables or fables — eventually became the words themselves for just, talking.

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