You’re no friend of mine

“False friends” (a word in another language that closely resembles a word in somebody’s first language, but means something different) are practical proof for the fact that seemingly different languages have at one point been strongly connected: the form remains identical, or at least recognizable, but the meaning has subtly shifted in one or both languages from its original definition.

So, with that in mind, can you translate these Spanish words into English without using a dictionary? Hover your mouse pointer over the box to the right to reveal the correct answer, and the answer a native English speaker might have been expecting.

Adepto :: follower, supporter (NOT adept)

América :: the Americas (NOT America specifically)

Embarazada :: pregnant (NOT embarrassed)

Librería :: bookstore (NOT library)

Parientes :: relatives (NOT parents)

Sensible :: sensitive (NOT sensible)

Soportar :: tolerate, deal with (NOT support)

Do you know other false friends? Many linguists have at least one amusing anecdote involving these tricky words. For example, the famous song “Sympathy for the Devil” is known in Spanish as “Simpatía por el demonio” which actually means Affection for the Devil”. The correct translation should have been Compasión por el demonio”.

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