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'Gracias' and 'Grace'

Words We Share

By

candles

La gratitud es más que una emoción. (Gratitude is more than an emotion.)

Photo by Echiner1; licensed via Creative Commons.

Spanish word:

gracia

English word:

grace

Etymology:

The words are derived from the Latin word gratus, which had meanings such as "pleasing," "beloved," "agreeable" and "favorable." The English word became part of English by way of Old French.

References:

American Heritage Dictionary, Diccionario de la Real Academia Española

Related words:

Among the English words from the same root are "agree," "congratulate," "disgrace," "gratify," "gratis," "gratitude," "gratuitous" and "ingratiate."

Spanish words from the same root include agradecer (to give thanks), agrado (pleasure or kindness), desgracia (misfortune), gracias (the plural form, meaning "thanks"), gratis (free), gratificación (reward), gratitud (gratitude), gratuito (free, gratuitous) and ingrato (ungrateful).

Comment:

These two words have a wide range of meanings that overlap. In both languages, they can have these meanings:

  • A personal quality that makes a person seem pleasant or appealing to others.
  • The ability to act or move in an elegant way.
  • An act of mercy or clemency.
  • In Christian theology, unmerited divine kindness.

The most common use of the word in Spanish is in its plural form, gracias, the usual way of saying thanks. In English, this meaning of "grace" is present primarily when used to refer to a prayer of thanks said before a meal.

One of the most common meanings of gracia doesn't have a corresponding use in English. It can refer to humor or a joke, as in the sentences "No me hace gracia" (I don't find that funny) and "¡Qué gracia! (How funny!).

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