The Spanish eje for “axle” comes from the Latin for the same, axis. The English axle comes from the same common ancestor as the Latin axis, the proto-indo-european root *aks- also meaning the same.
The Spanish eje is easy to understand if we remember that most of the x/sh/ch sounds in Latin and the ancient languages became the throat-clearing ‑j- sound in Spanish. Thus, the e‑j of eje maps to the a‑x of axle pretty clearly.
It’s interesting how such a simple word has remained mostly unchanged for tens of thousands of years. Perhaps, the axle is one of the most fundamental discoveries in human history. It is, after all, what led to the wheel, which led to… civilization.
We recently discussed the relationship between dejar and relax, both from the same Latin root, laxare, from the Latin laxus. Other modern words come from these same roots, let’s see…
In Spanish, another interesting word from the same root is lejos, meaning, “far.” This underwent the same sh to j transition documented in the other post. That which is far away, after all, is what we can be relaxed about, what it’s easy to be loose about.
Some additional English words that come from this same root include:
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.
The Latin sounds for “sh” — and similar variations, like “ch” and “ss” — became a “j” sound in Spanish.
Thus, the English sherry is near identical to the Spanish jerez!
These sh/j sounds were often spelt with a “x” in old Spanish; and sherry itself is named after the town it first came from, Xeres, which is near Cordova.
Enojar, Spanish for “to get angry”, has a fun cousin in the English, annoy.
Both of these (along with the French for “worldly boredom”, ennui) come from the Latin inodiare, meaning, “to hate”. The Latin in- adds emphasis to the odium, Latin for “hate”.
We can see the parallels in all with the open vowel, followed by the ‑n-, followed by a ‑y- sound, although in Spanish the ‑y- sounds (and its corresponding ‑x- and ‑sh- variations) often turned into the ‑j- sounds, as it did here. Thus, the a‑n-y maps to the e‑n-j.
Hatred, then, dissipates and weakens over time. In English, hatred weakens into mere annoyance. In Spanish, hatred weakens into just anger, enojo. And, best of all, hatred in French weakens into a world-weary boredom of ennui.