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

Morder — Re­morse

The Span­ish morder, “to bite”, sounds com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent than any­thing in Eng­lish (ex­cept for ob­scure SAT words like mor­dant — which lit­er­al­ly means, bit­ing!).

But who would’ve thunk that it’s re­lat­ed to re­morse.

Re­morse comes from the Latin re­mordere, which means, “to bite back” — from the ear­li­er re- (the pre­fix mean­ing “back” in this case) and mordere, from which we get, morder.

The re­morse­ful do bite back in­deed!

Fon­do, Hon­do and Pro­found

From the Latin fun­dus (“bot­tom”), we get the Span­ish fon­do (“back­ground”) and hon­do (“deep”) — as well as the Eng­lish pro­found. Af­ter all, when some­one says some­thing pro­found, well, that’s deep.

The map­ping of the Span­ish f‑n-d (or h‑n-d) to the Eng­lish (pro)-f-n‑d is straight­for­ward. How­ev­er, it’s cu­ri­ous that, in hon­do, the ini­tial F trans­formed from Latin in­to Span­ish to an ini­tial H. This is a com­mon pat­tern, unique to Span­ish, that we see in many Latin words as they trans­formed in­to Span­ish, such as hi­jo and fil­ial, refuse and re­husar, and hi­ga­do and fig.

To­do and To­tal

To­do (Span­ish for “all; every­thing”) comes from the Latin for the same, to­tus. From that same Latin root, we al­so get the Eng­lish… to­tal. Any­thing that’s to­tal is re­al­ly all-en­com­pass­ing, right? Han­nah Arendt would cer­tain­ly say that about a to­tal­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ment!

We can see the t‑d to t‑t map­ping very clear­ly!

Mis­mo and Lorem Ip­sum

The Span­ish mis­mo for “same; self” comes from the Latin metip­simus mean­ing “same”. That word, in turn, comes from the com­bi­na­tion of the Latin roots: met (just giv­ing em­pha­sis) and ipse (“him­self; it­self”) and the suf­fix -is­sis­mus (al­so adding em­pha­sis; think “-ism” in Eng­lish).

Here’s where it gets in­ter­est­ing: from that same Latin root, we get… lorem ip­sum, the Latin phrase (still used in Eng­lish!) that we use as the filler text when we don’t know what else to write, be­fore the re­al word­ing comes in. Where does lorem ip­sum it­self come from? Well, Google around, there’s a lot writ­ten about that; but the ex­act phrase it­self means “pain on­to him­self” (with the lorem short for do­lorem — thus re­lat­ed to the Span­ish do­lor for “pain”!). So, we can see how the ipse that turned in­to mis­mo al­so re­tained with­out change in lorem ip­sum.

Not to men­tion… ipse dix­it!

Caldera and Caul­dron

Caldera (Span­ish for “pot”) comes from the Latin calderi­um mean­ing “warm bath”. From that same root, we get the Eng­lish… caul­dron. The witch­es’ boil­ing pot is both a pot and a warm bath of sorts, af­ter all.

We can see the c‑ld‑r root clear­ly in all the words.


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