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

Amigo and Friend

Today’s etymology is simple and to the point — and, for me at least, was completely unexpected:

Amigo (Spanish for “friend”), comes from the Latin amare, “to love,” a common word we see everywhere, as in amor and amante.

So, a “friend” is literally someone you love.

The best part is that there is an exact parallel to English as well: the English friend comes from the Old Germanic word frijojanan meaning… “to love”. From this Germanic root meaning “to love” we get various distantly related words in English, like Friday (the day of Love — just like how in Spanish, viernes is named after Venus, the goddess of love) as well as freedom. Freedom is something we love… just like our friend.

Almuerzo and Morsel

Almuerzo (Spanish for “lunch”) comes from the Latin morsus, “a small bite.” Lunch is just a really small bite of food!

From the same root morsus, we also get the English for a small bit of food: a morsel. Ahhh! The (al)-m-r-z of almuerzo maps to the m-r-s of morsel.

Afiche and Affix

The Spanish for “poster”, afiche, comes from the Latin figere, meaning, “to fasten”. From that same root, we get the English affix — and we can see that clearly, as the a-f-ch of afiche maps clearly to the a-f-x of affix.

More distantly, from the original Latin root figere, we get the English… fix. You can see the Latin root f-g map to the English f-x as well!

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.

Coquetear and Cock

Coquetear, the Spanish verb meaning “to flirt,” comes from the French coq which means “cock” — in both senses — from which we also get the English word cock, albeit with a slightly different spelling.

It’s not that hard to figure out how a word that means “penis” came to mean “flirt” — but it is easy to smile every time you remember why.

From the same root, we also get the almost-forgotten English word for “flirting,” coquetry.

The c-q to c-ck mapping is clear between both words.

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