Another 5-letter offering:
Irish teach (meaning “house”)
Another 5-letter offering:
Isn’t that related, though? Fire → Hot thing → Hot piece of metal with a logo shape → Mark identifying something as one’s one.
Both from Latin praetendere, to hold forth, from pre- and tendere (to stretch)
“Brand” in English means a burning bit of wood (a bit obscure, I’ll admit)
I have overthrown cities among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah.
That meaning survives (sort of) in the term firebrand. Except the main use is metaphorical, rather than literal.
The English “lava” (molten rock) and the Spanish “lava” (wash) both come from the Latin lavare “to wash”, and before that, leuə-, the Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to wash.”
Don’t know if it counts since it’s a compound word that doesn’t really exist in English, thought I’d share it anyway because it made me chuckle:
Badrock – Swedish for dressing gown, robe
Also “molten rock” in Spanish is … “Lava”.
There are several between US and British English, but my favourite, and relatively long, is pavement and sidewalk. Pavement in the US - or at least some parts, I’m told - means what in the UK we call tarmac, the black stuff that goes on roads. In the UK it means the part people, not cars, are supposed to use. So they’re both parts of a road, but very different parts.
So the etymology of the words is unconnected, and the meanings are not just different, but opposite, and can cause genuine confusion - I once saw a post on here talking about cars driving down pavemented roads and it really looked like a road full of lawbreakers.
“Pavement” in the US includes all sorts of solid mineral ground cover. It could be used of macadamized asphalt (which Americans usually just call “asphalt”), or of poured concrete, or of set flagstones or bricks, or whatever.
And it can refer to the area that people walk on or the area that cars use (“Stay on the pavement” means “stay on the sidewalk” - but “Get off the pavement” means “do try not to get run over”)
Maybe runs afoul of the proper name issue, but the Austrian town of Fugging used to be spelled differently, but apparently tourists started stealing the road signs.
Fugging, formerly called Fucking (German: [ˈfʊkɪŋ] (About this soundlisten); officially renamed in 2021), is an Austrian village in the municipality of Tarsdorf, …thus Fucking means “(place of) Focko’s people”.
hmm… well how can words from before dictionaries keep the same spelling ?
An exchequer isn’t for playing chess, not unless the UK has Chancellor for Playing Chess.
but an eschequier is a chess board in french.
But we know the connection, the grid on the table used by the treasurer looked like a chess board,
as in you had places and months , or places and functions, and you allocated budget by placing a token down on the square… so its understandable that a word for a chessboard got transferred to the Treasurer/ Secretrary of the Treasury / Minister
Well it seems that in a quiz , when the question is "what country is XYZ from ? "
I can say “well that word looks Nipponese” … or south american, or Maori , or italian, or turk …
Seems its unlikely that the accepted english language spelling of loan words would ever duplicate the spelling of an unrelated. existing english language word. The larger words are too few compared to the number of possible larger words…
That’s irrelevant to this question, since this thread is about words in different languages. But it turns out there’s a couple examples of borrowed words matching the spelling of unrelated words. Well, one has accent marks to distinguish, but lots of people don’t bother writing those. The two are sake “benefit” or “rice wine” and pate ( pâté ) “head” or “paste”. There’s also resume ( résumé ), but those are related.
The reason I asked about longer ones is because they are rare.
Not longest words, but I’m guessing that there aren’t etymological connections between poke (fish) and poke (plant) or between tuna (fish) and tuna (cactus).
Looking up “tuna,” I was surprised to see that the cactus meaning in English was older by several hundred years (1555 vs 1881). Both come via Spanish, but the cactus is surmised to be from an indigenous languge of Hispaniola (so, I guess, Taino), while the other one seems to be Greek > Latin > Romance languages. The English word “tunny” for the same thing is attested from 1530 (spelled “tonny”), though.
“Mole” is another one with different meanings from different etymologies. I think the skin blemish and the chemistry unit are connected, but certainly neither is connected to the Mexican sauce, and I’m pretty sure the burrowing mammal is likewise unconnected.
I thought of a good 6-letter one today.
Quince (Spanish for 15) = quince (fruit)
Yet another meaning with an unrelated etymology: mole means pier, breakwater or causeway
Also in Latin mole means mill (as in the imperative mood, telling someone to mill).
In Icelandic: banana = plural of bani, i.e. - deaths, or killers.
In German: stricken = to knit.
According to Wiktionary: From Old High German stric , most likely from Proto-Indo-European streyg- (“line”).
In English, focal means “relating to the focus of a lens.”
In Irish, it means “word.”