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The Nerdy Way To Learn: Spanish » True Spanish Etymology Stories »

Abrir and Aperture

The common Spanish abrir, for “open”, comes from the Latin for the same, aperio.

From the same root — in an “ahhhh!” moment — is the English, aperture, the opening of the camera. The sort of word you learn if you ever try to figure out how to use an analog camera!

The a-b of abrir maps to the a-p of aperture, with the “b” and “p” being often and easiliy exchanged.

Alrededor and Round

The Spanish for “around”, alrededor”, comes from the same root as the English “round”: both come from the Latin rota, meaning, “wheel.”

The Spanish is a bit less obvious because of its al- prefix — which was originally a separate word, originally, “al rededor.” Thus, the r-(n)-d of round maps to the (al)-r-d of alrededor.

Abogado and Advocate

Spanish for “lawyer,” abogado is a cousin of the English uncommon synonym for the same, advocate (think of it in the noun sense).

Both come from the same Latin root: advocatus, which is a combination of ad- (“towards”) and vocare (“to call”: think of voice, vocal, vocation — literally, your calling!). So a lawyer, or advocate, literally meant, “one called [to help others]”.

Although the sound mappings may not be obvious at first, we can see that the a-b-g-d of abogado maps to the a-v-c-t of advocate.

Pie and Pioneer

Pioneer is literally, one who does something… on foot. Thus it’s related — via the French paonier, from which we get the word — to the Spanish for “foot”, pie. Thus the p-i-vowel opening both words!

Planchar and Plank

Planchar (Spanish for “to iron”) comes from the French for the same, planche, which comes from the Latin plancus, for “straight.” Ironing is making something straight!

From that same root, we get the English… plank. A plank, after all, is just a piece of wood that is… straight.

The mapping of the Spanish p-l-n-ch to the English p-l-n-k is quite clear.

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