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

Gan­so and Goose

The Span­ish word for “goose” gan­so, comes from the Pro­to-In­do-Eu­ro­pean root for the same, ghans. From this same root, we get… the Eng­lish goose it­self! In fact, gan­so en­tered Span­ish via Ger­man (and the Eng­lish word comes from Ger­man too) — it makes sense that they’re re­lat­ed.

Thus, we can see that the g-(n)-s of gan­so maps to the g‑s of goose.

Mosca and Mos­qui­to

Every­one’s fa­vorite bug, the Mos­qui­to, comes from–at least etymologically–the Span­ish mosca (mean­ing “fly”) and the Span­ish suf­fix -ito (the diminu­tive). We on­ly wish that mos­qui­tos were mere­ly harm­less lit­tle flies!

We can see the m‑s-c root in both words.

Ras­gar and Sec­tion

The Span­ish for “to scratch”, ras­gar, comes from the Latin se­care, “to cut.”

From the same root, we al­so get the Eng­lish Sec­tion.

A sec­tion, in­deed, is just a cut in­to dif­fer­ent parts. And a scratch is re­al­ly al­most a cut as well!

We can see the par­al­lel in map­ping the s‑ct of sec­tion to the s‑g of ras­gar. Al­though the ‑ct- sound did­n’t com­mon­ly turn in­to a ‑g-, we can hear the gut­tur­al con­nec­tion if we sound it out.

Bur­ro and Bur­ri­to

Bur­ro is the Span­ish for “don­key” and it is — shock­ing, shock­ing! — re­lat­ed to the Eng­lish… bur­ri­to, that Mex­i­can food we all know and love. The Span­ish it­self comes from bur­rus for the crimson/maroon col­or, which comes from the Greek py­ros for “fire.”

But how did a don­key be­come a bur­ri­to?

The an­swer is lost to the an­nals of his­to­ry but the two most com­mon the­o­ries are: they look like those packs that you roll up and hang on ei­ther side of a don­key; or they look like don­key’s ears. In ei­ther case, the im­agery should make the word easy to re­mem­ber!

Piel and Peel

The Eng­lish peel comes from the Latin pilus, mean­ing “hair”, from which we get the Span­ish for “hair,” pe­lo.

More in­ter­est­ing, how­ev­er, is its Span­ish cousin, piel, mean­ing “skin,” from the re­lat­ed Latin pel­lis, mean­ing “hide”.

Your skin, af­ter all, is just a thin cov­er­ing of your body — just when you peel the skin off of the ap­ple.

The p‑l root is eas­i­ly vis­i­ble in all of these.


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