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

Gratis and Gratify, Gratuity

Gratis (Spanish for “free,” in the sense of “free beer”, not “free speech”) is a close cousin of the English gratify and gratuitous (and its cousin gratuity).

Upon realizing this, it suddenly becomes obvious: all share the gr-t root, plus vaguely related meanings. All come from the Latin gratus, meaning, “pleasing.”

It parallel becomes more obvious when we think of the connection of the English words to the original meaning of “pleasing”: that which is gratifying is pleasing, and you leave a gratuity when you are pleased. And gratis, free, is a reward to those who want to please others!

Anillo and Anus

Let’s try not to laugh with this one.

The Spanish ending -illo is a common diminuitive, meaning a smaller version of something. A vecino is a neighbor; a vecinillo is the cute word that Flanders calls his neighbors in the Spanish translation of the Simpsons.

So: anus means anus. And anillo — the very common Spanish word meaning “ring” — is thus really just “little anus.”

Yes, in Spanish, a ring is just a small anus.

Martes – Tuesday

Martes  tuesday  spanish  english

Last time, we saw that Lunes and Monday are from the same God, the moon. Now we will see the same for Martes and Tuesday.

Martes, the Spanish for Tuesday, is named after the Roman God of War, whom we all learned about in middle school mythology classes: Mars.

Tuesday is named after Tiw, who was the Germanic God of War — their equivalent of Mars!

Tuesday is thus, literally, “Tiw’s Day”.

More interestingly, the name “Tiw” comes from the Indo-European Root “Dye-us” (think of the T-iw and D-ye parallel with the final “-us” being lost) — from which we also get the Spanish word dios (for God) and the Sanskrit deva (we all know that that means!).

Esperar and Despair, Speed

The Spanish esperar — the common word meaning “hope, wait, expect” — comes from the Latin sperare for the same.

So it’s unsurprising that its opposite in Spanish, desperar, parallels exactly the English, despair. Ahhhh!

Less obvious is that the Latin sperare comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *spe, meaning “to thrive”, from which we also get the English, speed.

Speeding and hoping are indeed both forms of thriving!

Flecha and Fletcher

Today’s pattern is so easy that you won’t recognize it until we tell you!

The classic English last name Fletcher was given to those who made arrows. This is unsurprising if we remember the Spanish word for arrow is… flecha. The f-l-ch root is obvious in both of them!

Now is when we all go in unison: ahhhhh!

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