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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.

Leer and Religion

It seems like a paradox: leer (Spanish for, “to read”) is a cousin of religion! But they are actually closely related–despite the too-common belief that religion is thoughtless!

Religion comes from the Latin, re- (“again”) combined with legere (“to read.”) Thus, religion is literally, reading the same thing again and again: a form of reading ritual.

From the Latin legere, the -g- disappears over time and we get the Spanish… leer, “to read.”

Thus the r-l-g of religion maps to the l- of leer.

It’s funny that, today, religion and reading are too often seem as opposites. For most of history, the educated classes were the priests and scholars; this is why the old American universities, for example, were predominantly founded by religious groups!

Nacer and Renaissance

Nacer comes from the Latin for the same, nascere: “to be born.”

From the Latin nascere, with an added prefix of re– meaning “again”, we get the Renaissance — literally, “the rebirth”!

Thus, Nacer and Renaissance are close cousins, and we can see that the n-c of nacer maps to the (r)-n-s of renaissance.

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.

Dar and Mandate, Tradition

The common Spanish word dar (“to give”) comes from the Latin for the same, dare.

From the Latin root, we get the English… mandate (“to give with your hand” – thus related to mano as well): what is a mandate if not a written order to give to someone? The best mandates are when you deliver them yourself anyway, not through intermediaries. The dare connection explains where the -d- after the hand comes from!

Another English word from the same root: tradition. That word comes from the Latin tradere, literally, “to hand over” — the tra– is the same trans- root (“over”), while the dere is the same “give.” In today’s way of walking, we’d say that tradition is what is handed down to us: it is what is given to us. Literally. ANd you can see the -d- in the word from dare as well clearly!

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