Lares y llares

Spanish and English share the historical term lares (often capitalized in English), a Latin word of probable Etruscan origin that referred to ‘household gods’ and also to ‘statues representing household gods.’ From the fact that the Roman gods in question were those of the household, Spanish lar has also become a synonym of hogar ‘hearth.’ The Diccionario de la Real Academia Española glosses the plural lares as ‘Casa propia u hogar.’ Even more loosely, the online Span¡shD!ct translates ¿qué haces tú por estos lares? as ‘what are you doing in these parts?’

In Leonese as opposed to Castilian, Latin lar developed to llar, which then entered Spanish as a doublet alongside lar. The DRAE defines llar as ‘Fogón de la cocina,’ which is to say ‘a hearth or fireplace found in a kitchen.’

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 07:52:13

    Good grief. It’s probably been fifty years, but the first thing that popped to mind when I saw lares was penates. I had to go look it up to be sure I was right.

    I can’t help but wonder what else is buried in my brain, just waiting for the shovel to hit it!


  2. Steve Schwartzman
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:17:52

    Let’s call this a feathery (and therefore painless) shovel strike. When I did some research for this post I repeatedly came across the pairing of lares and penates; I was familiar with the former but not (unless memory fails) the latter.


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©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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