The previous post dealt with some words based on the root of the Latin noun fidēs, including Spanish fe and its French-derived English cognate faith. Now let’s look at some other relatives, and let’s begin by mentioning confiar/confide and the associated nouns confianza/confidence. With a different prefix, Spanish afianzar means ‘to fortify, strengthen, brace, steady, stabilize,’ for which the English cognate is the little-used and different-meaning affiance ‘to betroth.’ Much more common in English are the French-derived fiancé ‘betrothed man’ and fiancée ‘betrothed woman’ (though it’s common to find people incorrectly writing fiancée, or more likely fiancee without the accent, even for a man).
From Latin fidēlis Spanish has fiel, with the doublet Fidel serving as a name. For that adjective English attaches a native suffix to Anglo-Norman-derived faith to make faithful. The Latin noun fidēlitās has given us fidelidad/fidelity, and, via Old French, English has the doublet fealty ‘loyalty promised to a king or queen.’
All these words trace back to the Indo-European root *bheidh- ‘to trust, confide, persuade.’ The American Heritage Dictionary says that that root most likely gave rise to the native English verb bide, which would originally have had the sense ‘to await trustingly.’ The verb is largely archaic now, with its main sense being the one in the phrase bide one’s time. From bide came the compound abide, which has carried forward some of the original meanings of bide: ‘to dwell, remain in a place, endure.’ Abide has added a new sense, ‘to put up with, tolerate,’ which is most common when the verb is used negatively.
© 2014 Steven Schwartzman