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Ducha – Duct, Douche

Ducha, Spanish for “shower”, sounds unrelated to the English for the same. But it does have a less obvious cousin in English: duct. Both do conduct water, towards a particular direction!

And yes, from the same root we also get, via French, douche, as in, douchebag.

Duct and Ducha both come the same Latin root, ductus — “leading.” More on that one another day.

The transformation happened due to the always-fun pattern of the -ct- words in Latin turning into -ch- words in Spanish. Thus the d-ct in Latin and English maps almost exactly to the d-ch in Spanish.

Aprender and Apprentice

The common Spanish word aprender (“to learn”) comes from the similar Latin, apprehendere for the same.

From the same Latin root, we get a variety of related English words, most notably, apprentice — an apprentice just learns from the master, right?

A few other English words come from the same root, although less directly, including, apprehend: what is learning if not arresting all the information and knowledge and wisdom you hear and keep it in your mind? And apprise, which is just notifying someone — and that is really just sharing your learnings! We also get the English apprehensive: perhaps being apprehensive is just being scared of some knowledge?

The a-p-r-n-d root is clearly visible in all of these variations.

Demasiado and Master

The Spanish demasiado (“enough!”) comes from the Latin adverb magis, meaning “more!”.

From that same root magis, we also get the English… master.

It goes to show you: a master is really someone who, as Depeche Mode said, just can’t get enough — so they keep going and going and going, until they’ve become a master.

The m-s root maps clearly to both words.

Cuatro and Quarantine

The English word quarantine is related to the Spanish word cuatro (“four”). How so? A quarantine was historically… forty days. Think about Jesus’ forty days in the desert, or the Jews’ 40 years wandering. Ahhhhh!

Salir, Saltar – Assault, Salient

Salir, the common Spanish word meaning, “to leave” sounds like it has nothing to do with anything. Or does it?

Salir comes from the Latin salire meaning the same, “to jump.” Surprise, surprise.

From this same Latin root was get a bunch of fun English words, including:

  • Assault — an assault is literally someone jumping out at you!
  • Assail — the same as an assault!
  • Salient — that which stands out at you is, literally, that which jumps out at you!

We also get another Spanish word from the same root: saltar (“to jump.”) You can see the s-l mapping across all descendants of the word!

Bajo – Base

The Spanish bajo, for “low”, sounds unlike the similar words in English…. except for base.

Think about base as the core foundation or support — the lowest thing holding everything else up — or even in the old Shakespearean sense of “vile”, “the basest weed” — and the connection makes much more sense.

Both come from the Latin basis (meaning, “foundation”) — from which we also get the same English, basis.

And think of the bass cleff in music, for the lower notes, as well.

The surprising connection is explained easily when we understand that a lot of sh- and si- and related sounds in Latin turned into j- in Spanish. Thus the b-s maps to b-j almost exactly.

Aval and Avalanche

The Spanish aval (“guarantee, as in a bank guarantee”) comes from the French aval, meaning, “downward.” The French word comes from the Latin vallem, meaning valley — a valley does slope downward, after all. From that same root, we get the English… avalanche — which is an overwhelming amount of the valley tumbling downwards!

But all this leaves the question: how did the word for “downward” turn into the word for a “loan guarantee”? That part is unknown. But we could speculate that the creditor calling upon a guarantor to pay in the case of a default is a low point for the borrower. Or perhaps, you need a guarantor only when you’re at a low point yourself. Or…? Since we don’t know the history, we can create infinite variations that sound like they might make sense, as a fun exercise.

You can see the a-v-l root in all the variations clearly.

Romper and Corrupt

The Spanish for “to break”, romper, has a curious English cousin: corruption.

Corrupt comes from the Latin root com- (which just intensifies the following phrase) plus the Latin rumpere, meaning, “to break” – just like the almost-identical Spanish romper (unsurprisingly, since the Spanish is descended from the Latin).

The connection is obvious if we see the unchanged r-m-p root in both words.

That which is corrupt, after all, is — definitionally — just broken.

Miercoles – Wednesday

Wednesday miercoles spanish english

Miercoles (Spanish for Wednesday) has a fun parallel between both languages.

Miercoles is named after Mercury — the Roman god of speed. Wednesday is named after Woden — the Germanic god of speed!

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.

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