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

Remo and Row

Remo (Spanish for the very common word “oar”) is a cousin of, well, the English row.

Remo comes from the Latin for the same, remus, while the English came from the German ruejen; both of those come from Proto-Indo-European *ere, meaning “to row”.

We can see the r- maps to the r- in each and it does make sense. After all, you do use an oar to row.

Aguja, Agujero and Acuity, Acrid

Aguja (Spanish for “needle”) and the similar Agujero (“hole”) both come from the Latin acus, also “needle.”

From the same Latin root, via Latin, we get the English acuity. Being sharp with your wit and observations is just another form of being sharp!

Another descendent (just slightly more distant!) is acrid — because that which is bitter is really sharp on the tongue.

The a-c root in English maps to the a-g root in Spanish. The c- and g- transformation is a very common one too; both sounds are very similar!

Falta and Fault

Falta (“lack of”) is an interesting word in Spanish because, it is one of those words, along with cornudo that is a grammatical construction that, literally, is less common in the English but rather, in English, the same point is made very commonly in a different way. Falta is very common in Spanish: La casa falta calefacción is literally “the house lacks heating” but the way an English speaker would make that point — since few today says “lacks” in every day speech! — would be, The house doesn’t have heating.

Falta comes from the Latin Fallita, which mean, “a fault.” Indeed, Fault itself comes from the same root — and we can see that with the f-l-t mapping in both. Fallita itself comes from the older Fallere (“to disappoint”) from which we get many English and Spanish words such as fail and fallar.

Torta and Tart

Torta (Spanish for “cake”) comes from the Latin torta, meaning “a loaf of bread that’s round”. Bread, after all, was a treat, until sugar conquered our diet!

From that same Latin root, we also get the English… tart. A pop tart is a type of cake, after all!

The t-r-t root is clearly visible in both.

Veda and Veto

Veda (Spanish for “closed season” such as, the time of year when you can’t hunt for your favorite beast) comes from the Latin vetare, which meant, “to forbid”.

In fact, from the same Latin root, we get the English… veto. Veto is actually the first person conjugation in Latin: “I forbid!”

We can clearly see the that the v-d of veda maps to the v-t of veto.

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