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Hincha – Inflation

The Spanish hinchar means “to inflate, puff up” and from it we get the much more common Spanish hincha meaning: “a fan”. A fan, therefore, is literally someone who puffs himself all up over his team!

Interestingly, hinchar is directly related to inflate, in a subtle way: both come from the Latin inflare meaning the same as hinchar.

How did this word evolve into somethings so different? It’s not so different as it sounds if we remember that the Spanish h- is silent: so the in-ch-a maps closely to the in-fl-a. The ch/fl mapping isn’t common at all, but if we sound it out, we can hear that they sound similar.

Next time you get all excited about your favorite team, remember that it is this excitement of making more and more is exactly what causes… inflation.

Zapato and Sabotage

No one quite knows the origin of zapato, Spanish for “shoe.” But the same word — or words from the same root — are still used in Portuguese, French, Italian, and even Arabic and, most shocking of all, Basque (shocking since Basque is unrelated to any other known language).

Most interesting, though, is that from the old French for shoe, savate, which is from the same root as zapato as we can see with the z-p to s-v mapping, do we get the English, sabotage.

Indeed, they say sabotage comes from the word for “shoe” since French workers used to throw their (wooden) shoes into machinery in order to sabotage their factory.

Cola and Coward

ColaSpanish for “tail” and, more informally, “ass” — comes from the Latin for the same: coda.

Coda itself has come into English in two ways. First, coda is a music term meaning… the end! The tail is the end of the animal!

More interestingly, from coda we also get the English, coward. The Latin coda became coe– in French, dropping the -d-; and an -ard is just a person, put negatively (bastard!). Thus, a coward is literally: someone who turns his tail, and runs!

Apretar and Pectoral

Apretar (Spanish for “to squeeze”) comes from the Latin pectus, meaning, “chest.” Think of having a heart attack: your chest feels squeezed. It’s not a coincidence that doctors in the USA today still call a heart attack, angina pectoris — that is, “angina of the chest” since pectoral in English today still means “relating to the chest”! The p-t maps to the p-ct, with the -ct- just simplifying into its first -c- sound.

Related: see also Pecho/Pectoral. From the same pectus root, we see other interesting words, following the ch/ct pattern.

Huésped and Hospitable

Huésped, the common Spanish word for “guest,” has an English cousin: hospitable. This might not be obvious at first since the -o- morphs to the -ue- and thus changes the sound completely but both come from the Latin hospes which means the same. We can see the mapping of h-s-p clearly in both.

In the same family is hospital. Yes, patients in a hospital are just guests, as though it’s a hotel!

Apoyar and Podium

The Spanish apoyar, to help, has a surprising root: podiare, the Latin meaning “to step on.” Think of the Spanish pie, from the same root.

This came about through an interesting linguistic turn of events: podiare originally meant “to step on” and then it came to mean, “to raise up” — like, to put on a podium. A podium is, after all, a raised platform that you step on!

Helping someone, in Spanish, is thus a form of lifting them up — literally. Or maybe, stepping on them?

This implies a question: what happened to the -d-? The p-y of apoyar maps to the p-d of podium, but how did the -d- turn into a -y-? The answer is that, apoyar entered Spanish, from podiare, via Italian — it first turned into appoggiare, the Italian for the same! So the -d- turned into a -g- which turned into a -y-.

Entender and Extend

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

Exito and Exit

The Spanish éxito (“success”) comes from the Latin exitus (“an exit”) — from which we get the English… (surprise, surprise) exit.

But how are “exits” — like the sign you see to leave a building in an emergency! — and “successes” related?

Well, remember that investors and company founders often call a successful sale of a company, an “exit.” It’s leaving… but on a high note.

What is noteworthy is that, over the centuries, in Spanish, the notion of “leaving” has taken on such a positive connotation, that the word for exiting became the word for success!

Suggested by: Paul Murphy

Sala and Salon, Saloon

Sala, the common Spanish word meaning “room,” comes from the same root as two very similar English words: salon and saloon. All come from the old German sal meaning “hall” or “house” and thus it’s an interesting example of how words degrade overtime: something big and grand like a hall or a house is now just your little back room.

The s-l root is clearly visible in all variations.

Viejo and Inveterate

The Spanish viejo (“old”) comes from the Latin vetus meaning the same, “old.”

From the same Latin root we get the English inveterate (an SAT word meaning, a “long-ingrained habit.”) Lets break down the English: the Latin prefix in- means, well, “in” and the “veterate” means “old”, from the same root vetus. So an inveterate habit is really just a habit you’ve had for a long time!

We can see that the v-j root of viejo maps to the v-t of inveterate. The Latin -t- turning into the -j- sound isn’t that common (more common is that it turns into a -sh- sound, as in syrup and jarabe) but isn’t too uncommon: we can hear the similarities between -t- and -sh- if we say the sounds together quickly!

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