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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » Patterns » CL to LL »

Llave — Clef

Key llave spanish english

The Latin words that be­gan with “cl” changed, pret­ty con­sis­tent­ly, to “ll” as Latin changed in­to Span­ish.

To­day’s ex­am­ple of this: the Latin word for “key” was clavis. This be­came the mod­ern Span­ish word for “key”, llave.

There are, how­ev­er, a few in­ter­est­ing oth­er de­scen­dants of clavis, and thus dis­tant rel­a­tives of llave. They in­clude:

  • the Span­ish cla­vo, mean­ing, “nail”. It’s a more ed­u­cat­ed word, com­ing to Span­ish via Latin schol­ars lat­er on, so it did­n’t lose the nat­ur­al cl- sound the way the tra­di­tion­al words did.
  • Eng­lish words like clef and en­clave. Yes, in mu­sic you talk about the “key” and the “clef” and they come from the same word orig­i­nal­ly!

Lla­mar — Claim, Clam­or

Llamar claim spanish english

The Span­ish lla­mar (to name; com­mon­ly used to say “My name is”: “Me llamo” is lit­er­al­ly, “I call my­self…”) comes from the Latin cla­mare, mean­ing “to cry out, shout, pro­claim.”

This is an ex­am­ple of the pat­tern where Latin words be­gin­ning in “Cl” are changed to the double‑l (“ll”) in Span­ish. In Eng­lish, these words re­tain the “cl” sound — from the same root we get claim and clam­or.

Oth­er ex­am­ples of this pat­tern in­clude llave and clef.

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