Entender (Spanish for, “to understand”; and much more common than the other word for the same, comprender) comes from the Latin tendere, “to stretch out.”
From this root, we get the English extend — which is just a form of stretching.
We can also see how stretching became understanding if we remember that, to really understand something, you need to stretch your brain and creativity to the limits.
The t-n-d root is clear in both words as well. From the same root, we get other similar words that are metaphors for stretching out: intend, to tender, and even tentative
Hierro is just Spanish for “iron.”
Here’s where it gets interesting: the Latin words beginning with f- generally turned into the silent h- in Spanish but not in the other Romantic languages, and thus hierro (from the Latin ferrum) is related to:
The e-n-v root is self-evident in both words. And the Latin inviare comes from the root via for “road”, from which we get endless English words, including… via!
From the same Latin root, we get the English partum for “birth” — but that word is really only used in one contemporary word today: post-partum depression, the depression a woman gets after childbirth. Yes, post-partum is merely, “after-birth.”
The p-r-t root is clearly visible in both words.
The Spanish tener (to hold) comes from the Latin tenere for the same.
From the same root tenere, we get the English tenet — think about it, you hold your beliefs.
And it gets even better: from tenere, we also get the English suffix -tain, as in maintain, sustain, contain, detain, obtain, and entertain. And the -tain words map almost identically to the Spanish suffix of the same, the same -tener!
For example, mano, the Spanish for hand, is the same mano in maintain (or mantener, in Spanish) — which thus literally means, “to hold in your hand”!
It is unknown where the English phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” comes from. But there’s one likely etymology that it is a corruption of the Latin catadupa for “waterfall.” From that same Latin root catadupa, we get the Spanish for waterfall…. catarata.
The c-t root that begins both catarata and “cats and dogs” does make this etymology plausible. But is it real? I just don’t know.
It does, however, make it easy to remember: a waterfall has the intensity of rain showers even stronger than with “cats and dogs”!
Chicle (Spanish for “gum”) gives us the English chiclets, the gum brand. Through a funny story: when Mexican general Santa Anna lost Texas, he fled — dressed up in drag, actually (true story!) — to Staten Island. There, he stayed with an inventor Thomas Adams, with whom he stayed. And telling the inventor about the Mexican love of chewing chicle… the rest is history.
The Spanish mirar, “to look at,” has two curious cousins in English: admire, mirror and miracle.
All come from the same Latin root, mirari, which meant, “to wonder at.” We can see how they are all related to this same sentiment of awe and wonder:
The Spanish hilo (cord; thread; string) comes from the Latin for the same, filum. The words sound very different, until we remember that, words in Latin that began with a f- tended to change to h- in Spanish: hijo/filium, and hoja/foliage, for example. Now the hilo/filum make sense!
Interestingly, however, from that same Latin root filum, we get various English words that also quietly show they are descendants of the word for cord or thread. Including:
The Spanish word desayuno, meaning breakfast, comes from the prefix des– meaning not– and ayuno, meaning fast (in the sense of a religious fast, during which you don’t eat). Thus, literally desayuno (breakfast) is “the break – fast” !