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

Lig­ar and Al­le­giance

Al­le­giance is a very Ro­man idea: strong loy­al­ty to your team, your em­pire.

So it’s not sur­pris­ing that the word it­self comes from the Latin, lig­are — to bind. Your al­le­giance is what binds you or ties you to your team.

From the Latin lig­are, we get the Span­ish… lig­ar, mean­ing the same, ty­ing or bind­ing!

Thus, the l‑g root is clear­ly vis­i­ble in both ver­sions.

Salir, Saltar — As­sault, Salient

Salir, the com­mon Span­ish word mean­ing, “to leave” sounds like it has noth­ing to do with any­thing. Or does it?

Salir comes from the Latin salire mean­ing the same, “to jump”. Sur­prise, sur­prise.

From this same Latin root was get a bunch of fun Eng­lish words, in­clud­ing:

  • As­sault — an as­sault is lit­er­al­ly some­one jump­ing out at you!
  • As­sail — the same as an as­sault!
  • Salient — that which stands out at you is, lit­er­al­ly, that which jumps out at you!

We al­so get an­oth­er Span­ish word from the same root: saltar (“to jump”). You can see the s‑l map­ping across all de­scen­dants of the word!

Lazar and Las­so

Lazar (Span­ish for “to tie, such as with a rib­bon”) comes from the Latin laque­um, mean­ing “a tie, such as a noose”. From that same root, we get the Eng­lish… las­so. A las­so, af­ter all, is re­al­ly a ca­ble that can be used to tie some­one or some­thing up…!

The l‑z of lazar clear­ly maps to the l‑ss of las­so.

Co­brar and Re­cu­per­ate

The Span­ish co­brar (“to charge”; in the sense of, to charge a fee or col­lect a pay­ment) comes from the old­er Span­ish re­co­brar (mean­ing, “to re­cu­per­ate”) — which it­self comes from the Latin re­cu­per­are for the same “to re­cu­per­ate.”

We can see the c‑b-r map­ping to the c‑p-r clear­ly, since the ‑c- and ‑p- are of­ten in­ter­changed.

Les­son: charg­ing for some­thing is re­al­ly just re­cu­per­at­ing mon­ey that is owed to you any­way!

Gremio and Con­gre­gate

Gremio (Span­ish for “union,”, in the sense of work­ers, unite!; for­mer­ly “guild”–which is re­al­ly just an old-school union!) comes from the Latin Gremi­um, mean­ing “round.” How did this trans­for­ma­tion hap­pen? Well, a round pen was where you held on­to things; it turned in­to the word for where peo­ple got to­geth­er, which turned in­to guild (a com­mon rea­son peo­ple got to­geth­er!) and then, even­tu­al­ly, to mean union.

How­ev­er, it gets much more in­ter­est­ing. The Latin gremi­um comes from the pro­to-in­do-eu­ro­pean root *ger- mean­ing.… to get to­geth­er! From this root, we al­so get (via Greek) words like con­gre­gate (to bring peo­ple to­geth­er) and seg­re­gate (to bring peo­ple apart!).

Thus, gremio took an in­ter­est­ing turn over the last few thou­sand years: from the mean­ing con­gre­gate to round to con­gre­gate again!

We can see the g‑r root clear­ly in gremio as well as con­gre­gate and seg­re­gate.

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