Featured Words – September 2018

September 29, 2018 AUTUMN

The word in Spanish is otoño. Autumn is one of the four seasons of the year, from September to December in the Northern hemisphere and from March until June in the Southern hemisphere. Both the English and Spanish words come from the Latin autumnus probably from auctus annum – year’s peak; auctus is the past participle of augeo – to increase, so auctus indicates a booming time, el auge, in Spanish.  This comes from the natural time in the farming calendar to harvest grains, fruits and vegetables to store for the cold season ahead.  In the US and Canada, it is common to also call it fall, or “the fall”. Fun Fact:  In English, the names of the days of the week, and the months of the year are capitalized, but the seasons of the year are not, since they are considered common names, not proper names.  In Spanish, all three are common names, so they are not capitalized.  In both languages, the words are capitalized is they are part of a specific holiday or festival name, for example, Viernes santo (Holy Friday) or Winter Wonderland (Fastasilandia de Invierno).


Las hojas se caen en el otoño
Leaves fall in the fall.
Leaves fall in autumn.


Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day” – Elizabeth Bowen
“El otoño llega temprano por la mañana, pero la primavera al final de un día de invierno.” – Elizabeth Bowen

September 22, 2018 POT

Pot is a generic word for a vessel, which may apply to different types of containers, and will be translated to different words in Spanish: Olla is the Spanish word for cooking pot, and it may be any kind, not only the traditional Mexican made of clay (e.g., olla de acero inoxidable – stainless-steel pot); chamber pot – urinal (and potty – polana); maceta is a flower pot; and so on. There are also compound words, for example: pothole, a hole on the road, would be a bache; potluck, a gathering to which every guest brings food, would be a “comida de coperacha” (“chip-in meal”). The idiom “melting pot”, would be poetically translated as crisol (crucible).

Another very interesting idiom is “The pot calling the kettle black”, to describe people who criticize others of a defect or characteristic they themselves possess. Its origin in English dates from the 1620s, after the first English translation of Don Quixote, from Spanish!  In a passage, Don Quixote is tired of Sancho’s criticism, and tells him: “Dijo la sartén a la caldera, quítate allá ojinegra” roughly: ”The pan said to the kettle, get out black-eyed”; later other forms of the expression appeared, such as: “The pot calls the pan burnt-arse” in “Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina” (John Clarke, 1639) and in its current form “The pot calling the kettle black” for the first time in “Some Fruits of Solitude” (William Penn, 1693). The reverse-translation into Spanish would be “la olla llamando negra a la caldera”, which is not really used.  More common expressions with equivalent moral value would be: “El burro hablando de orejas” – “the donkey speaking of ears” or the biblical (in reference to John 8:7) “tirar la primera piedra” – “to cast the first stone.”


I have to grow seedling in flower pots before planting outdoors.
Tengo que cultivar plantas jóvenes en macetas antes de plantarlas afuera.


“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” – Jimmy Carter, politician and American president (1977-81)

“Nos volvemos no un crisol sino un bello mosaic. Gente diferente, diferentes anhelos, diferentes esperanzas, diferentes sueños.” – Jimmy Carter, politico y president estadounidense (1977-81)

September 9, 2018 PATRIA

Spanish word for homeland; from the Latin patris – fatherland, or pater – father.


It is interesting to note that English words such as “patriotic”, have the same root as the Spanish translation patriótico, and the word patria, but this word itself is “homeland”, in English.

Es interesante el observar que palabras en inglés tales como “patriotic”, comparten la misma raíz con la traducción al español, patriótico , y la palabra patria, pero esta palabra se traduce comohomeland”, en inglés.


“Canada is the homeland of equality, justice and tolerance.” – Kim Campbell.
“Canadà es patria de la igualdad, la justicia y la tolerancia.” – Kim Campbell.

September 1, 2018 HUNDRED

A count of 10 times 10, from Old English, hund – 100 (numeral) and red – account, number.  It is interesting to note that while most numbers in English have a one-word name, e.g. 10 – ten, or 7 – seven, the numeral 100 is called “one hundred”.  The Spanish word for 100 (numeral) is cien, and for hundred, it is centena, or ciento.


In some old texts in English, a “long hundred” was a count of 120, also known as a “short gross” (a gross is twelve dozen, or a count of 144).

En algunos textos antiguos en inglés, un “ciento largo” era una cuenta de 120, también conocida como “gruesa corta” (una gruesa equivale a doce docenas, o sea 144).


“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” – Mother Teresa
“Si no puedes darles de comer a cien personas, dale nada más a una” – La madre Teresa