English-Spanish “False friends” – Part III

EnglishMeansdoesn’t mean
tunaatún“tuna” (cactus)
apologydisculpa“apología” (defense)
armbrazo“arma” (gun, weapon)
balloonglobo“balón” (ball, in sports)
billetalojamiento militar, acuartelamiento“billete” (banknote, bill)
bravevaliente“bravo” (fierce, enraged)
cartoondibujos animados, caricatura, tira cómica“cartón” (cardboard)
casualtyvíctima mortal, herido, baja“casualidad” (coincidence, chance)
commoditymateria prima, mercancía“comodidad” (comfort)
confidentseguro de sí mismo“confidente” (confidant, confidante)
dinnercena“dinero” (money)
finalityconclusividad, carácter terminante o terminativo“finalidad” (aim, purpose)
fumevapor, gas“fumar” (smoke)
groceryabarrotes, comestibles, abasto“grosería” (rudeness, coarseness)
horncuerno“horno” (oven, furnace)
inhabitedhabitado“inhabitado” (uninhabited)
mayoralcalde“mayor” (bigger, larger, greater / older)
occurrenceaparición / acontecimiento“ocurrencia” (witty remark / absurd idea)
preservativepreservante, conservante“preservativo” (condom)
quitdejar, abandonar“quitar” (snatch, remove, take off, get out, put away)
signaturefirma, rúbrica“asignatura” (subject, course)
spadepala“espada” (sword)
targetblanco (de flecha), objetivo, meta“tarjeta” (card)
terrificfenomenal, formidableterrorífico (terrifying)
translatetraducir“trasladar” (move, transfer)
trampvagabundo“trampa” (trap, snare)
zealousentusiasta, ferviente“celoso” (jealous)
adeptexperto“adepto” (follower, supporter)
affluentpudiente, acaudalado, adinerado, opulento“afluente” (tributary of a river)
ancientantiguo“anciano” (elderly)
demandexigir, requerir“demandar” (sue)
defileprofanar“desfilar” (parade)
grabagarrar“grabar” (record, save, film / carve)
gripagarrar, sujetar“gripe” (flu)
morosehosco, intratable, malhumorado“moroso” (delinquent, defaulter, deadbeat, in arrears)
resortrecurso /lugar de descanso, resort“resorte” (coil spring)
restdescansar, reposar“restar” (subtract, deduct)
salvagerescate, salvamento, recuperación“salvaje” (savage)
toboggantrineo“tobogán” (chute, slide)

NOTE: It is necessary to take into account that some of these words are true cognates in one of their specific meanings, whereas in other meanings they are false cognates. Such is the case of prevent / prevenir. The sentence ‘The rain prevented us from playing” cannot be translated into Spanish as “La lluvia nos previno jugar” (sic), since that verb makes absolutely no sense in that specific case; the valid option here would be ‘La lluvia nos impidió jugar’.

On the other hand, a sentence such as ‘Le prevengo de que va a llover’, which in Spanish is grammatically correct, in English could only be expressed as ‘I warn you that it’s going to rain’.

As for ‘Preventing pollution / fires / an epidemy’ etc., it is indeed translated as ‘Prevenir la contaminación / los incendios / una epidemia’, etc.

The latter contrasts with cases such as ‘inhabited – inhabitado’, which are false friends in all situations and meanings.

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