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Rencor and Rancid

The Spanish for “anger,” rencor, has a fun English cousin: rancid.

Both words come from the Latin rancere, meaning “to stink.”

Thus, literally, both rotten food stinks and, anger stinks.

We can see the relationship clearly if we see the r-n-c mapping between the words.

Despedirse and Repeat

The Spanish despedirse (“to say goodbye; leave”) comes from the Latin petere (“to seek.”) With the des– prefix, despedirse literally means: to seek away from. You say goodbye when you’re looking for something else, away from where you are now.

From the Latin root, we get a few English words including:

  • Petulant. The petulant kid never stops seeking more and more.
  • Perpetual. What is doing something perpetually if not, looking for something and never getting what you want?
  • Repeat. That’s when you keep on looking for something over and over, and never find it.
  • Compete. It’s when you’re looking for something — and so is someone else.

Estrella Fugaz and Fugitive

A “shooting star” in Spanish is an estrella fugaz. Since estrella means “star”, then fugaz is the parallel to “shooting.”

Fugaz comes from the Latin fugere which means, “to run away; flee” — from which we get the English fugitive.

The mapping is obvious with the f-g retained in both versions.

Thus, in Spanish, a shooting star is literally, a fleeing star. But fleeing from what?

Amarillo, Amargo

Although there is no obvious English cognate, amargo is the Spanish word for bitter. Bittersweet, for example, is amargodulce: literally, bitter-sweet.

Interestingly, though, the very common Spanish word for “yellow,” amarillo, comes from this same root for bitter. It literally means “a bit of bitterness,” from the Latin amarus for “bitter” with the –illo diminuitive ending.

Yellow — the color of melancholy, of puke, of snot — is really the color of just a hint of bitterness.

Trazar and Trace

The Spanish trazar (“to draw up”) comes from the Latin tractus (“drawing.”) From that same root we get a few English words, including, trace. The t-r-z to t-r-c mapping is very clear here.

What’s more interesting are the other words that come from the Latin tractus. These include:

  • Trait — A trait, after all, is just an outline of your personality
  • Train — Think of the word “draw,” but in the other sense: the horse draws the carriage.
  • Trattoria — The Italian restaurant draws you in with its awesome food!
  • Tract — When you’ve drawn out your borders over land
  • Treat — When you’ve drawn what you want out of the patient

Marchitar and Morning

Marchitar (Spanish for “to fade; to wither”) comes from the Latin marcere (“to decay, wither”) which itself comes from the ancient Proto-Indo-European root merk which also means the same, “to decay, wither.”

From the Proto-Indo-European root merk, we get the English… morning (via Old German — just remember the German morgen!).

Morning, after all, is just the end of the decay of the moon!

The m-r root is clearly visible in both!

Sospechoso – Suspect

Suspect and the Spanish equivalent, sospechoso, are easy to identify and obviously the same word, both from the same Latin root, suspectus.

That’s not the interesting part. Rather, as Latin evolved into Spanish, the Latin sound -ct- turned into the Spanish -ch- sound. Think lactose/leche or octagon/ocho.

And suspect falls exactly into this pattern: the English s-s-p-ct maps exactly to the Spanish s-s-p-ch.

Hoja and Foliage

Hojas leaves

The Initial F, followed by a vowel, disappears: So “hoja“, meaning “leaf” (in all senses: the autumn trees, the piece of paper) is thus from the same Latin root as “foliage“, the green plant leaves!

Carne and Carnival

The Spanish carne (“meat”) is surprisingly related to… carnival.

The original carnival — the wild annual February parties in the Roman Catholic countries — were, after all, a meat market in many senses of the word!

Also related, more literally, is the English carnage.

You can see the c-r mapping in both the English and Spanish words clearly.

Hueso and Oyster

Hueso (Spanish for “bone”) comes from the Latin for the same, os. The connection is particularly easy to see when we remember that the H- is perfectly silent in Spanish.

From the same root we get the English ossify — literally, to turn into bone! — but, considering about 4 people know this word, it is easy to remember hueso if we connect it to another word it is related to, albeit more distantly: oyster.

Oyster comes from the Latin for the same, Ostreum, which itself comes from the Latin word os, “bone.” What is an oyster defined by, if not, its hard, bony shell?

The o-s root is clearly visible in all variations!

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