Ente is a Spanish noun that means ‘a being, body, organization, entity,’ with that last English translation being clearly a cognate. The Spanish form comes from ent-, the stem of the present participle of the Latin verb esse ‘to be.’ The English form is based on the suffixed Medieval Latin form entitas, with stem entitat-, that meant literally ‘beingness.’ Spanish likewise has entidad in addition to the simpler ente.

From est, the third person present singular of Latin esse, came Spanish es. The English equivalent, is, is indeed a native cognate, with both forms tracing back to the Indo-European root *es- that meant ‘be.’ The American Heritage Dictionary finds it probable that that root also appears in English yes, which in Old English was the interjection gse ‘so be it!That would have been a compound of ga ‘so’ and the subjunctive se ‘may it be.’

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shoreacres
    Aug 16, 2013 @ 16:40:48

    The form I hear most commonly is “may it be so”. It’s such a familiar expression, but I can’t pinpoint where it became familiar to me. I suspect the church, but it seems a little formal for my Methodist upbringing.

    In any case, I did a search for the expression, and found it in a lot of places. The Pope, Chuck Norris, Yoko Ono, the poet Rumi and Charles Dickens all have used it.

    And I’m quite fond of est, since it was part of my introduction to 8th grade Latin: “Omnia Gallia tres partes divisum est.” That’s how it was in my textbook, although I’ve read that Ceasar phrased it a bit differently in the original (“Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres”).


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Aug 16, 2013 @ 16:59:31

      “May it be so” sounds formal to me, too, but the examples you found show it’s still in use, and by people who are anything but formal.

      I’m surprised to hear that your textbook messed up Caesar’s famous beginning line, which you’ve given the original version of in parentheses. My beginning Latin textbook stupidly made up the word picus-nicus for ‘picnic.’ Talk about pandering to students….


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©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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