Sesgar is a word that most foreign-language students of Spanish won’t ever learn in class or even encounter in a Spanish-speaking country. The verb means ‘to cut on the bias, to cut on a slant; to put in a slanted position; to twist to the side; to bevel.’ The derived noun sesgo means a ‘slant, bias, bevel, twist, warp.’

Probably no English relatives come to mind, but the etymology of sesgar reveals that there are many. Sesgar is a shortened form of the older sessegar that developed from Vulgar Latin *sessicare; that had been based on sessus, the past participle of sedere, which meant the same as its English cognate sit. From sessus we also have sesión/session, which was originally (and often still is) ‘a sitting down.’

If Old Spanish sessegar seems familiar, it’s because the word is also the source of sesgar‘s doublet sosegar, which beginning with its etymological sense of ‘settle down’—and note how English settle is related to sit—has added the meanings ‘to calm, appease, lull, pacify, allay.’

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Jan 27, 2013 @ 15:11:45

    This could be an explanation for a curious expression I’ve heard from Spanish speakers around the boatyard and docks. They’ll say, “The wind is sitting” instead of “the wind is laying” or “calming down”. Very interesting.


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©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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