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

Apos­tar — Po­si­tion, Posit

Apos­tar, Span­ish for “to bet”, sounds noth­ing like bet or any re­lat­ed Eng­lish word.

But it turns out to be a close cousin of Posit and Po­si­tion: Bet­ting is in­deed just an ex­treme form of putting forth a po­si­tion or posit­ing some­thing — lit­er­al­ly putting your mon­ey where your mouth is.

All come from the same Latin, po­si­tionem, which come from the Latin root verb ponere (“to put”)  from which we al­so get the Span­ish for the same, pon­er.

Reírse and Ridicu­lous

Both the Span­ish reírse (“to laugh”) and the Eng­lish ridicu­lous come from the same Latin root: rid­ere (al­so “to laugh”).

Thus, the r‑vow­el-d-vow­el of ridicu­lous maps to the r‑vow­el-dis­ap­peared-vow­el of reírse. Note that the mid­dle ‑d- dis­ap­peared in the Span­ish ver­sion, prob­a­bly as the word was short­ened since the Spaniards spent so much time laugh­ing, it be­came nat­ur­al to say it short­er and quick­er!

Trapo — Drape

Trapo is the com­mon Span­ish word for “cloth” or, more com­mon­ly, “rag”.

It sounds noth­ing like the sim­i­lar words in Eng­lish, ex­cept… it turns out to be a close cousin of drape & drap­ery.

All come from the same old Irish word, drapih, mean­ing, “gar­ment.”

We can see the par­al­lel in the t‑r-p and d‑r-p map­ping. Both are the same roots ex­cept for the t/d shift, which is a very com­mon and not-note­wor­thy tran­si­tion.

A drape, af­ter all, is a form of a cloth.

Llenar and Ex­ple­tive

Llenar comes from the Latin plere (“to fill”), as we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed. But here’s an­oth­er Eng­lish word that comes from the same Latin root: ex­ple­tive, yes, that eu­phemism for vul­gar words!

Ex­ple­tive lit­er­al­ly means to “fill” with the ex­pan­sive ex- pre­fix which, tak­en to­geth­er, mean, “to fill out your words.” An ex­ple­tive is lit­er­al­ly fill­ing con­ver­sa­tion with words when you don’t know what else to say!

Der­re­tir and Trite

Der­re­tir (Span­ish for “to melt”) comes from the Latin terere, “to rub, wear down.” That which is melt­ed is worn down, af­ter all.

Some in­ter­est­ing words we get from the same root in Eng­lish in­clude:

  • Trite. What is some­thing trite if not, some­thing that is worn down by overusage, fig­u­ra­tive­ly?
  • Con­trite is when you use so few words, that your sen­tences are worn away!
  • At­tri­tion is when your em­ploy­ees are worn away, bit by bit
  • Detri­ment is ba­si­cal­ly the worn out re­mains!
  • Tribu­la­tions are re­al­ly when you are worn down by your trou­bles!

We can see the r‑t root in all these vari­a­tions.


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