In English, mechanical "cranes" are thus named for their likeness to the bird, "crane".

In Spanish, the mechanical crane is called a grúa and the bird a grulla; is this similarity a coincidence, or are the words also related?

  • 1
    Also related with pedigree (esp: pedigrí from the french pie du grue) and maybe with Gruyere - the cheese, although this second one is not very clear. Maybe the Swiss village of Gruyeres was a place with lots of cranes. – enxaneta Nov 19 at 14:24
up vote 11 down vote accepted

They are indeed related:

... grúa, utilizada en castellano desde el siglo XV para designar una máquina destinada a levantar pesos, por su semejanza con la figura de una grulla, de largo pescuezo y prolongado pico. Mucho más clara que en español resalta esta semejanza entre la grulla y las grúas para nuestros vecinos europeos, que en sus idiomas disponen de una única palabra para designar ambos conceptos:

  • Kran en alemán,
  • crane en inglés,
  • grua en catalán,
  • grue en francés,
  • gru en italiano;

todos ellos, por cierto, de origen tan netamente onomatopéyico como nuestra grulla.

Further, they are even cognate to the English words via a PIE root:

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Interestingly, in Latin another mechanical device (a type of siege engine) was also named for its word for crane, "grus", due to the physical likeness.

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    RAE's dictionary confirms this, both grulla and grúa come from Latin grus, gruis 'crane'. – Charlie Nov 19 at 13:57
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    Dutch seemingly distinguishes (mechanical) "crane" from "crane bird" (kraan/ kraanvogel), but that addition of "-bird" is relatively recent; same with the German bird "kranich" where many birds get the "-ich" suffix; the bird name precedes the tool and hence its name. The root in germanic seems onomatopaeic for the noise they make, similar to the Greek root for stork. – user3445853 Nov 19 at 16:46

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