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

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!

Feliz and Felicity, Fecund

Feliz (Spanish for “happiness”) comes from the Latin felix, meaning both “happy” and “fertile”.

It is indeed curious how, linguistically, happiness and having children and plentiful crops are deeply intertwined.

From the same root, we get the English felicity, which we can see in the f-l-z to f-l-c mapping very clearly.

Most distantly, we also have the English fecund and fetus.

Trasladar and Translate

Trasladar (Spanish for, “to move”) comes from the Latin translatus (“carried over”). From that root, we get the English… translate.

After all, what is translating if not carrying over from one language to another?

We can see that t-r-s-l-d of trasladar maps to the t-r-(n)-s-d-t of translate with only a d/t sound shift, one of the most common mix-ups.

Planchar and Plank

Planchar (Spanish for “to iron”) comes from the French for the same, planche, which comes from the Latin plancus, for “straight.” Ironing is making something straight!

From that same root, we get the English… plank. A plank, after all, is just a piece of wood that is… straight.

The mapping of the Spanish p-l-n-ch to the English p-l-n-k is quite clear.

Cobarde, Cola – Coward

A coward is one who turns his tail and runs: literally!

The English coward comes from the old French coart. Coart, in turn, comes from coe, meaning “tail” (from the Latin, coda for the same), plus the -art suffix just refers to a person doing that (think, braggart). A coward show you his tail and turns the other way!

Interestingly, from the Latin coda, we also get the Spanish for tail, cola. And from the French coart, we get the Spanish word for coward, cobarde.

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