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Temor and Timothy

Temor (Spanish for “fear”) comes from the Latin for the same, timor.

From this root, we also get the English name… Timothy. The -thy ending comes from the Greek theo-, meaning, “God” — so Timothy is literally, one who is scared of God.

From the same root, we also get the less common… temerity, which just means “boldness”: and what is being bold if not, not having any fear?

Jefe – Chief

Chief jefe spanish english

Chief, and the Spanish for the same, Jefe, both come from the same root: the French chef, which means the same.

But this is odd as they sound so different! How are they related?

It’s not obvious, but it’s easy once you understand the pattern: The Latin sound “sh” and very similar sounds (such as the “ch” and “sy”) almost always became a “j” in Spanish. Like syrup and jarabe. Not obvious!

Viernes – Friday

Friday viernes spanish english

Continuing in our days-of-the-week series, there is finally Friday — the night we love to go out on. Indeed, this is basically the meaning of this weekday name, in both Spanish and English!

The Spanish viernes for the last day before the Weekend comes from Latin for the day of the Goddess “Venus”, the Goddess of Love, of course (who went by the name of Aphrodite in Greece).

And the English Friday comes from the old Germanic for the Day of Fryga — Fryga was the Germanic Goddess of Love, their equivalent of Venus!

We can see the parallel with the V-R in viernes and the F-R in Friday. The Germanic F-s also often maps to Latin V-s.

Vinculo and Province

The Spanish vínculo (which we’ve previously discussed) comes from the Latin vincere — “to conquer.” (We previously reviewed the Proto-Indo-European root, which gave us the Latin word; the Latin is the intermediary word between the PIE and the English!).

From that same root, we also get…. province (along with the prefix pro-, “before.”)

But how did “conquer” evolve into these words? Province is easy: a province is literally, land you’ve conquered!

And that helps explain vínculo: somewhere you conquer, you make a deep connection with that place. Even turning it into a province.

We can clearly see the v-n-c root in both words.

Camisa – Heaven

The Spanish for “shirt”, Camisa, is a distant cousin of the English Heaven. How?

Both come from the same common ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European root *kem, meaning, “to cover.” This root evolved, via German, to the English heaven (that which covers us above) and it evolved, via Latin (and even the French chemise), to the Spanish camisa (that which covers our torso!).

But they sound so different. How can that be?

The answer is that the Indo-European sound k- transformed over time into the German and then English h- sound — which remaining the same (albeit with a c- spelling) in Latin and then Spanish. Thus the c- of camisa maps to the h- of heaven.

Other examples of this pattern include cornudo/horn and horse/correr.

Luna – Lunatic

Okay, put the Spanish for “moon”, Luna, being related to Lunatic, in the category of, “It’s so obvious you never realized it until someone once pointed it out to you!”.

Nighttime has historically, since ancient times, been associated with danger and the crazy riskiness that comes alongside it. This is manifested in many forms, including the Luna/Lunatic parallel.

Think, also, about parallel English cliches like, “shooting for the moon”: someone who is trying something that is so risky and unlikely to succeed that you must be insane to even try it!

Sombra and Sombrero

Every English speaker knows the Spanish word for the big Mexican hats, sombrero. This word makes it easy to remember the word from whence it came: sombra, the Spanish word meaning… shade. The s-mb-r root is clear in both words!

For those of us, including me, who love less common words, another cousin word is the English penumbra, for something that’s partially covered by a shadow. The umbra is from the Latin for “shadow”, from which we also got sombra in Spanish, with the sub– prefix.

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.

Carne and Reincarnation

Carne (Spanish for “meat”) comes from the Latin carnis (“flesh”) — not surprising at all.

But there’s a mystical connection as well: from this Latin root, we also get the English… reincarnation. Combined with the re– prefix for “again”, reincarnation literally means “in the flesh… again”. Sounds just like what reincarnation is!

Note: see also our previous posts about Carne and carnival as well.

Suggested by: Hong Linh

Parto and Post-Partum Depression

Parto (Spanish for “birth”) comes from the Latin partus, “brought forth”. That makes sense: a baby is just brought forth into the world.

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.

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