competencia > competir/competer


Senior Member
Inglés canadiense
Hola, banda.

In Spanish, there are two words that are spelled exactly the same and derive from the same etynom, however mean different things (not to say that there is no semantic association): competencia (purview/competence) and competencia (competition).

Now, they come from different verbs (the former, competer, "correspond"; the latter, competir, "compete"), but both these verbs derive were (probably) borrowed from the same Latin verb: competĕre meaning "agree, correspond" (according to the DRAE).

Context clarifies everything, of course. (I have read/heard a couple of sentences where it wasn't immediately clear which competencia was being referred to, but it could have been a case of being supercogitabundus. :p)

I was just wondering if anybody had any information about these words, their relationship, a bit of history, whatever. It has just always been a curiosity of mine.

Gracias de antemano.
Last edited:
  • Rocko!

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    A book from the year 1615 seems to indicate that it is not a right thing for kings to compete with ordinary people. If this is true, then it could be one of the reasons why the word is not used in Spain to form the names of sports competitions.
    The RAE said in 1729 that the word competición was in disuse, which in my opinion could be censorship since the word appears in books before and after that date.
    I am saying crazy things, I know.
    Although it is not the most common thing to say, in my city it would sound normal for two children to say: Vamos a hacer una competencia: a ver quién llega primero a... (sobre correr). Interestingly, the phrase "le's compite to see who..." only appears in translations from Chinese/Japanese to English.
    reyes01 e67g5f12e65.PNG

    Juan de Santa María. (1615). Tratado de república y policía cristiana para reyes y príncipes. Madrid.
    Last edited: