The previous post traced Spanish fuera ‘outside’ to the Latin adverb foras, which meant ‘out through the doors, out of doors, outside.’ It became Old Spanish fueras, the predecessor to modern fuera. From the root of Latin foras Late Latin created the adjective foranus to convey the notion ‘on the outside.’ That evolved to Old French forain, the source of English foreign, so that a foreigner is etymologically ‘an outsider,’ someone who comes from afuera. The slightly different Late Latin foraneus led to Old Spanish foraño and modern huraño ‘shy, unsociable,’ with a change in the first vowel under the unflattering influence of the unrelated hurón ‘weasel.’
Spanish forastero, borrowed from a Catalan cognate, refers to people ‘who come from outside our land,’ while the Spanish adjective forestal and the French-derived English noun forest evoke outdoor areas where, in contrast to the interior of a home, trees and other plants grow wild. Spanish also borrowed Old French forest, but because forests play host to flowers as well as trees, Spanish changed the word to floresta under the influence of the etymologically unrelated flor.
© 2011 Steven Schwartzman