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Jun 16, 2014
This week's theme
Words borrowed from Spanish

This week's words
camarilla
fandango
pungle
picaroon
arroyo

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

On my morning walk, I came across an old table and some chairs on the sidewalk. A sign was taped to the furniture:

FREE
LIBRE

My Spanish vocabulary isn't as extensive as I'd like it to be, but something about the sign didn't sound right. LIBRE reminded me of liberty and I felt this wasn't the meaning the homeowner had intended. GRATIS might have been what was meant.

But I believe we must give the other person the benefit of the doubt, so my interpretation is that the furniture is not only FREE (as in free beer), but also FREE (as in freedom). That's until someone else claims it and becomes its new owner.

But you don't have to know Spanish to understand (some) Spanish. If you speak English, you already have many words from Spanish in your vocabulary. English has incorporated thousands of words from Spanish. From mosquito to peon to plaza -- they're part of everyday English language.

This week we'll see five other words borrowed from Spanish that may not be as common.

camarilla

PRONUNCIATION:
(kam-uh-RIL-uh, Spanish: kah-mah-REE-yah)

MEANING:
noun: A group of confidential scheming advisers.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Spanish, diminutive of cámara (chamber), from Latin camera (room), from Greek kamara (an object with an arched cover). Earliest documented use: 1839.

USAGE:
"In China ... successions to a bureaucratic collective leadership are managed by a tiny camarilla in a self-declared one-party state."
Simon Sebag Montefiore; In Russia, Power Has No Heirs; The New York Times; Jan 11, 2009.

See more usage examples of camarilla in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I learned long ago that being Lewis Carroll was infinitely more exciting than being Alice. -Joyce Carol Oates, writer (b. 1938)

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