The core idea of this root was:
strewing, spraying, scattering in small pieces, sowing
Think of blowing on a dandelion in its white stage, or slapping the hand onto a REALLY dusty old sofa.
The original sense is pretty visible in words like to spray, sprout, spurt, sprawl and spritz.
Here’s an incomplete list of the English family members:
- to spray
- spritz (import from German “spritzen”)
- to spread (focused on “distribution”, after a burst, cousin of German “spreizen” which is to straddle)
- to sprout (variation of “spread”, in the sense of growing)
- spore (“a small seed spreading”)
- sperm (“what is sown”, used to refer also to seeds in ancient Greek)
- sparse (“spread out” with a focus on lack)
- disperse (“distribute, spread out” with a focus on low density)
- intersperse (“sprinkle/strew in between”)