masc. proper name, Late Latin Zacharias, from Greek Zakharias, from Hebrew Zekharyahu, literally “the Lord has remembered,” from zakhar “he remembered.”
“long ago,” c. 1500, Scottish dialect variant of long since; popularized in Burns’ song, 1788. Century Dictionary has langsyner “person who lived long ago.”
terrorize = terror–eye–tear–Ra–aye–
late 14c., orisoun, from Old French orizon (14c., Modern French horizon), earlier orizonte (13c.), from Latin horizontem (nominative horizon), from Greek horizon (kyklos) “bounding (circle),” from horizein “bound, limit, divide, separate,” from horos “boundary, landmark, marking stones.” The h- was restored in English 17c. in imitation of Latin. Old English used eaggemearc (“eye-mark”) for “limit of view, horizon.” The apparent horizon is distinguished from the celestial or astronomical horizon.
1891 in reference to a series of numbers in which each is equal to the sum of the preceding two, from name of Leonardo Fibonacci (fl. c. 1200) Tuscan mathematician.
late 14c., “logical inference, conclusion,” from Old French consequence “result” (13c., Modern French conséquence), from Latin consequentia, abstract noun from present-participle stem of consequi “to follow after,” from assimilated form of com “with, together” (see con-) + sequi “to follow” (from PIE root *sekw- (1) “to follow”).
Meaning “that which follows from or grows out of any act or course” is from c. 1400. Sense of “importance, significance” (1590s) is from notion of being “full of consequences.”
ram’s horn blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, 1833, from Hebrew shophar “ram’s horn,” related to Arabic sawafiru “ram’s horns,” Akkadian shapparu “wild goat.”
c. 1200, “either, else, otherwise, as an alternative or substitute,” from Old English conjunction oþþe “either, or,” which is related to Old Frisian ieftha, Middle Dutch ofte, Old Norse eða, Old High German odar, German oder, Gothic aiþþau “or.”
This word was extended in early Middle English (and Old High German) with an -r ending, perhaps by analogy with “choice between alternative” words that ended thus (such as either, whether); then it was reduced to oþþr, at first in unstressed positions (commonly thus in Northern and Midlands English by 1300), and finally to or, though other survived in this sense until 16c.
Compare either, which is originally the same word. The contraction took place in the second term of an alternative, such as either … or, descended from a common construction in Old English, where both words originally were oþþe (see nor). Or else “otherwise” is by c. 1300.
elementary school teaching tool, 1948, American English.
early 15c., “one who holds a degree” (originally with man; as a stand-alone noun from mid-15c.), from Medieval Latin graduatus, past participle of graduari “to take a degree,” from Latin gradus “a step; a step climbed (on a ladder or stair);” figuratively “a step toward something, a degree of something rising by stages” (from PIE root *ghredh- “to walk, go”). As an adjective, from late 15c.
early 15c., “having steps or ridges,” from Medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus “a step; a step climbed; a step toward something, a degree of something rising by stages” (from PIE root *ghredh- “to walk, go”). Meaning “arranged by degrees” is from 1540s; that of “taking place by degrees” is from 1690s.
Old English etan (class V strong verb; past tense æt, past participle eten) “to consume food, devour, consume,” from Proto-Germanic *etan (source also of Old Frisian ita, Old Saxon etan, Middle Dutch eten, Dutch eten, Old High German ezzan, German essen, Old Norse eta, Gothic itan), from PIE root *ed- “to eat.”
Transferred sense of “corrode, wear away, consume, waste” is from 1550s. Meaning “to preoccupy, engross” (as in what’s eating you?) first recorded 1893. Slang sexual sense of “do cunnilingus on” is first recorded 1927. The slang phrase eat one’s words “retract, take back what one has uttered” is from 1570s; to eat one’s heart out is from 1590s; for eat one’s hat, see hat. Eat-in (adj.) in reference to kitchens is from 1955. To eat out “dine away from home” is from 1930.
1510s, “degree of measurement,” from French grade “grade, degree” (16c.), from Latin gradus “a step, a pace, gait; a step climbed (on a ladder or stair);” figuratively “a step toward something, a degree of something rising by stages,” from gradi (past participle gressus) “to walk, step, go,” from PIE root *ghredh- “to walk, go.” It replaced Middle English gree “a step, degree in a series,” from Old French grei “step,” from Latin gradus.
Meaning “inclination of a road or railroad” is from 1811. Meaning “class of things having the same quality or value” is from 1807; meaning “division of a school curriculum equivalent to one year” is from 1835; that of “letter-mark indicating assessment of a student’s work” is from 1886 (earlier used of numerical grades). Grade A “top quality, fit for human consumption” (originally of milk) is from a U.S. system instituted in 1912. To figuratively make the grade “be successful” is from 1912; early examples do not make clear whether the literal grade in mind was one of elevation, quality, or scholarship.
fem. proper name, from fem. of Late Latin Anastasius, from Greek Anastasios, from anastasis “resurrection, a raising up of the dead;” literally “a setting up, a standing or rising up,” from ana “up; again” (see ana-) + histanai “to cause to stand, to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand, make or be firm.”
red herring (n.)
“smoked herring” early 15c. (they turn red when cured), as opposed to white herring “fresh herring.” Supposedly used by fugitives to put bloodhounds off their scent (1680s), hence metaphoric sense (1864) of “something used to divert attention from the basic issue;” earlier simply “a false lead”:
Though I have not the honour of being one of those sagacious country gentlemen, who have so long vociferated for the American war, who have so long run on the red-herring scent of American taxation before they found out there was no game on foot; (etc.) [Parliamentary speech dated March 20, 1782, reprinted in “Beauties of the British Senate,” London, 1786]
“small cage for poultry,” mid-14c., coupe, from Old English cype, cypa “large wicker basket, cask,” akin to Middle Dutch kupe, Swedish kupa, and all probably from Latin cupa “tub, cask,” from PIE *keup- “hollow mound” (see cup (n.)).
mid-14c., “wickerwork,” from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish viger, Middle Swedish viker “willow, willow branch”), from Proto-Germanic *wik- (source also of Old Norse vikja “to move, turn,” Swedish vika “to bend,” Old English wican “to give way, yield”), from PIE root *weik- (2) “to bend, to wind.” The notion is of pliant twigs. As an adjective, “made of wicker,” from c. 1500.
“bundle of fiber in a lamp or candle,” 17c. spelling alteration of wueke, from Old English weoce “wick of a lamp or candle,” from West Germanic *weukon (source also of Middle Dutch wieke, Dutch wiek, Old High German wiohha, German Wieche), of unknown origin, with no known cognates beyond Germanic. To dip one’s wick “engage in sexual intercourse” (in reference to males) is recorded from 1958, perhaps from Hampton Wick, rhyming slang for “prick,” which would connect it rather to wick (n.2).
“food put on a hook or trap to attract prey,” c. 1300, from Old Norse beita “food, bait,” especially for fish, from beita “cause to bite,” from Proto-Germanic *baitjan, causative of *bitan, from PIE root *bheid- “to split,” with derivatives in Germanic referring to biting. The noun is cognate with Old Norse beit “pasture, pasturage,” Old English bat “food.” Figurative sense “means of enticement” is from c. 1400.
c. 1200, extended form of earlier wick “bad, wicked, false” (12c.), which apparently is an adjectival use of Old English wicca “wizard” (see witch). Formed as if a past participle, but there is no corresponding verb. For evolution, compare wretched from wretch. Slang ironic sense of “wonderful” first attested 1920, in F. Scott Fitzgerald. As an adverb from early 15c. Related: Wickedly.
Entries related to wicked
1721, “loss of feeling,” medical Latin, from Greek anaisthesia “want of feeling or perception, lack of sensation (to pleasure or pain),” abstract noun from an- “without” (see an- (1)) + aisthesis “feeling,” from PIE root *au- “to perceive.” For the abstract noun ending, see -ia. As “a procedure for the prevention of pain in surgical operations,” from 1846. Aesthesia “capacity for feeling” is attested in English from 1853, perhaps a back-formation.
An Old English masc. noun meaning “male witch, wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, astrologer, magician;” see witch. Use of the word in modern contexts traces to English folklorist Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), who is said to have joined circa 1939 an occult group in New Forest, Hampshire, England, for which he claimed an unbroken tradition to medieval times. Gardner seems to have first used it in print in 1954, in his book “Witchcraft Today” (“Witches were the Wica or wise people, with herbal
knowledge and a working occult teaching usually used for good ….”). In published and unpublished material, he apparently only ever used the word as a mass noun referring to adherents of the practice and not as the name of the practice itself. Some of his followers continue to use it in this sense. According to Gardner’s book “The Meaning of Witchcraft” (1959), the word, as used in the initiation ceremony, played a key role in his experience:
I realised that I had stumbled upon something interesting; but I was half-initiated before the word, ‘Wica’ which they used hit me like a thunderbolt, and I knew where I was, and that the Old Religion still existed. And so I found myself in the Circle, and there took the usual oath of secrecy, which bound me not to reveal certain things.
In the late 1960s the term came into use as the title of a modern pagan movement associated with witchcraft. The first printed reference in this usage seems to be 1969, in “The Truth About Witchcraft” by freelance author Hans Holzer:
If the practice of the Old Religion, which is also called Wicca (Craft of the Wise), and thence, witchcraft, is a reputable and useful cult, then it is worthy of public interest.
And, quoting witch Alex Sanders:
“No, a witch wedding still needs a civil ceremony to make it legal. Wicca itself as a religion is not registered yet. But it is about time somebody registered it, I think. I’ve done all I can to call attention to our religion.”
Sanders was a highly visible representative of neo-pagan Witchcraft in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time he appears to have popularized use of the term in this sense. Later books c. 1989 teaching modernized witchcraft using the same term account for its rise and popularity, especially in U.S.
“excavation in earth for reception of a dead body,” Old English græf “grave; ditch, trench; cave,” from Proto-Germanic *grafa-/graba- (source also of Old Saxon graf, Old Frisian gref, Old High German grab “grave, tomb;” Old Norse gröf “cave,” Gothic graba “ditch”), cognate with Old Church Slavonic grobu “grave, tomb,” and perhaps from a PIE root *ghrebh- (2) “to dig, to scratch, to scrape,” related to Old English grafan “to dig” (see grave (v.)). Or perhaps a substratum word in Germanic and Balto-Slavic.
The normal mod. representation of OE. græf would be graff; the ME. disyllable grave, from which the standard mod. form descends, was prob. due to the especially frequent occurrence of the word in the dat. (locative) case. [OED]
From Middle Ages to 17c., they were temporary, crudely marked repositories from which the bones were removed to ossuaries after some years and the grave used for a fresh burial. “Perpetual graves” became common from c. 1650. Grave-side (n.) is from 1744. Grave-robber attested from 1757. To make (someone) turn in his grave “behave in some way that would have offended the dead person” is first recorded 1888.
c. 1300, covenaunt, “mutual compact to do or not do something, a contract,” from Old French covenant, convenant “agreement, pact, promise” (12c.), originally present participle of covenir “agree, meet,” from Latin convenire “come together, unite; be suitable, agree,” from com- “together” (see com-) + venire “to come,” from a suffixed form of PIE root *gwa- “to go, come.”
In law, “a promise made by deed” (late 14c.). Applied in Scripture to God’s arrangements with man as a translation of Latin testamentum, Greek diatheke, both rendering Hebrew berith (though testament also is used for the same word in different places). Meaning “solemn agreement between members of a church” is from 1630s; specifically those of the Scottish Presbyterians in 1638 and 1643 (see covenanter).
c. 1300, “to alleviate, allay;” mid-14c., “suppress, do away with;” late 14c., “to reduce; to cease,” a shortening of abate (q.v.). Now only in phrase bated breath (subdued or shortened breathing, from fear, passion, awe, etc.), which was used by Shakespeare in “The Merchant of Venice” (1596).
“a gathering of witches,” 1660s, earlier “a meeting, gathering, assembly” (c. 1500); a variant form of covent, cuvent, from Old French covent, convent, from Latin conventus (see convent).
Covent (13c.) also meant “group of men or women in a monastery or convent.” The variant form, and the association of this spelling of the word with witches, arose in Scotland but was not popularized until Sir Walter Scott used it in this sense in “Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft” (1830).
Efter that tym ther vold meit bot somtymes a Coven, somtymes mor, somtymes les; bot a Grand Meitting vold be about the end of ilk Quarter. Ther is threttein persones in ilk Coeven; and ilk on of vs has an Sprit to wait wpon ws, quhan ve pleas to call wpon him. I remember not all the Spritis names; bot thair is on called “Swein,” quhilk waitis wpon the said Margret Wilson in Aulderne; he is still clothed in grass-grein …. [“Criminal Trials in Scotland,” III, appendix, p.606, confession of Issobell Gowdie in Lochloy in 1662]
c. 1500, “weight, dignity, seriousness, solemnity of deportment or character, importance,” from Old French gravité “seriousness, thoughtfulness” (13c.) and directly from Latin gravitatem (nominative gravitas) “weight, heaviness, pressure,” from gravis “heavy” (from PIE root *gwere- (1) “heavy”). The scientific sense of “downward acceleration of terrestrial bodies due to gravitation of the Earth” first recorded 1620s.
The words gravity and gravitation have been more or less confounded; but the most careful writers use gravitation for the attracting force, and gravity for the terrestrial phenomenon of weight or downward acceleration which has for its two components the gravitation and the centrifugal force. [Century Dictionary, 1902]
c. 1200, covent, cuvent, “association or community of persons devoted to religious life,” from Anglo-French covent, from Old French convent, covent “monastery, religious community,” from Latin conventus “assembly,” used in Medieval Latin for “religious house,” originally past participle of convenire “to come together, meet together, assemble; unite, join, combine; agree with, accord; be suitable or proper (to),” from assimilated form of com “with, together” (see con-) + venire “to come” (from PIE root *gwa- “to go, come”).
Meaning “a house or set of buildings occupied by a community devoted to religious life” is from mid-15c. Not exclusively feminine until 18c. The form with restored Latin -n- emerged early 15c. The Middle English form lingers in London’s Covent Garden district (notorious late 18c. for brothels), so called because it had been the garden of a defunct monastery.
COVENT GARDEN ABBESS. A bawd.
COVENT GARDEN AGUE. The venereal diſeaſe.
[“Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” 1796]
1560s, “want of seriousness, frivolity,” from French levite, from Latin levitatem (nominative levitas) “lightness,” literal and figurative; “light-mindedness, frivolity,” from levis “light” in weight, from PIE root *legwh- “not heavy, having little weight.” In old science (16c.-17c.), the name of a force or property of physical bodies, the opposite of gravity, causing them to tend to rise.
masc. proper name, from Old North French form of Old High German Hrodberht “bright-fame, bright with glory,” from hrod- “fame, glory,” from Proto-Germanic *hrothi-, + *berht “bright” (from PIE root *bhereg- “to shine; bright, white”). The name of William the Conqueror’s rebellious oldest son. “It was introduced by Normans during the reign of Edward the Confessor and became very popular” [“Dictionary of English Surnames”]. In Middle English, from mid-13c., also “a designation for a robber, vagabond, or lowly person” [“Middle English Compendium”]; hence Robertes men “robbers, marauders;” Robert-renne-aboute “a wastrel, a good-for-nothing.”
also jack-o-lantern, jack-a-lantern, jackolantern, 1660s, “night-watchman;” 1670s as a local name for a will-o-the-wisp (Latin ignis fatuus), mainly attested in East Anglia but also in southwestern England. Literally “Jack of (with) the lantern;” see Jack + lantern. The extension to carved pumpkin lanterns is attested by 1834 in American English.
masc. proper name, from French Denis, ultimately from Latin Dionysius, name of an important 6c. Church father, from Greek Dionysos, god of wine and revelry.
also jack-pot, “big prize,” 1944, from slot machine sense (1932), from now-obsolete poker sense (1881) in reference to antes that begin when no player has a pair of jacks or better; from jack (n.) in the card-playing sense + pot (n.1). Earlier, in criminal slang, it meant “trouble,” especially “an arrest” (1902).
The regular Draw-Poker game is usually varied by occasional Jack-Pots, which are played once in so many deals, or when all have refused to play, or when the player deals who holds the buck, a marker placed in the pool with every jack-pot. In a jack-pot each player puts up an equal stake and receives a hand. The pot must then be opened by a player holding a hand of the value of a pair of knaves (jacks) or better. If no player holds so valuable a hand the deal passes and each player adds a small sum to the pot or pool. When the pot is opened the opener does so by putting up any sum he chooses, within the limit, and his companions must pay in the same amount or “drop.” They also possess the right to raise the opener. The new cards called for are then dealt and the opener starts the betting, the play proceeding as in the regular game. [“Encyclopaedia Britannica,” 11th ed., 1911, “Poker.” The article notes “Jack-Pots were introduced about 1870.”]
To hit the jackpot “be very successful” is from 1938.
“street urchin,” 1837, from French gamin (late 18c.), perhaps from Berrichon dialect gamer “to steal.” Introduced in English in translations of Hugo.
Un groupe d’enfants, de ces petits sauvages vanu-pieds qui ont de tout temps battu le pavé de Paris sous le nom éternel de gamins, et qui, lorsque nous étions enfants aussi, nous ont jeté des pierres à tous, le soir, au sortir de classe, parce que nos pantalons n’étaient pas déchirés; etc. [Hugo, “Notre-Dame de Paris”]
fem. form of masc. proper name Dennis. Little used in U.S. before 1920s; was at its most popular (top 50) for girls born between 1951 and 1973.
name of an Algonquian people (confederated with the Sac after 1760), translating French renards, which itself may be a translation of an Iroquoian term meaning “red fox people.” Their name for themselves is /meškwahki:-haki/ “red earths.” French renard “fox” is from Reginhard, the name of the fox in old Northern European fables (as in Low German Reinke de Vos, but Chaucer in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale calls him Daun Russell); it is Germanic and means literally “strong in council, wily.”
1550s, “net-like arrangement of threads, wires, etc., anything formed in the manner of or presenting the appearance of a net or netting,” from net (n.) + work (n.). Extended sense of “any complex, interlocking system” is from 1839 (originally in reference to transport by rivers, canals, and railways). Meaning “broadcasting system of multiple transmitters” is from 1914; sense of “interconnected group of people” is by 1934 in psychology jargon.
of unknown origin; attested in London criminal slang as adjective (1775, “counterfeit”), verb (1812, “to rob”), and noun (1851, “a swindle;” of persons 1888, “a swindler”), but probably older. A likely source is feague “to spruce up by artificial means,” from German fegen “polish, sweep,” also “to clear out, plunder” in colloquial use. “Much of our early thieves’ slang is Ger. or Du., and dates from the Thirty Years’ War” [Weekley]. Or it may be from Latin facere “to do.” Century Dictionary notes that “thieves’ slang is shifting and has no history.”
The nautical word meaning “one of the windings of a cable or hawser in a coil” probably is unrelated, from Swedish veck “a fold.” As a verb, “to feign, simulate” from 1941. To fake it is from 1915, jazz slang; to fake (someone) out is from 1940s, originally in sports. Related: Faked; fakes; faking.
The jazz musician’s fake book is attested from 1951. Fake news “journalism that is deliberately misleading” is attested from 1894; popularized in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
“one whose profession is to clean and extract teeth, repair them when diseased, and replace them when necessary with artificial ones,” 1759, from French dentiste, from dent “tooth,” from Latin dens (from PIE root *dent- “tooth”) + -ist.
Dentist figures it now in our newspapers, and may do well enough for a French puffer, but we fancy Rutter is content with being called a tooth-drawer. [“Edinburgh Chronicle,” Sept. 15, 1759]
(Tooth-drawer is attested from late 14c.). Related: Dentistic; dentistical.
“person or animal that hops,” mid-13c., agent noun from hop (v.). From c. 1200 as a surname, and perhaps existing in Old English (which had hoppestre “female dancer”).
late 14c., “one’s lot or destiny; predetermined course of life;” also “one’s guiding spirit,” from Old French fate and directly from Latin fata (source also of Spanish hado, Portuguese fado, Italian fato), neuter plural of fatum “prophetic declaration of what must be, oracle, prediction,” thus the Latin word’s usual sense, “that which is ordained, destiny, fate,” literally “thing spoken (by the gods),” from neuter past participle of fari “to speak,” from PIE root *bha- (2) “to speak, tell, say.”
From early 15c. as “power that rules destinies, agency which predetermines events; supernatural predetermination;” also “destiny personified.” Meaning “that which must be” is from 1660s; sense of “final event” is from 1768. The Latin sense evolution is from “sentence of the Gods” (Greek theosphaton) to “lot, portion” (Greek moira, personified as a goddess in Homer). The sense “one of the three goddesses (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) who determined the course of a human life” is in English by 1580s. Often in a bad sense in Latin: “bad luck, ill fortune; mishap, ruin; a pest or plague.” The native word in English was wyrd (see weird).
Old English græs, gærs “herb, plant, grass,” from Proto-Germanic *grasan (source also of Old Frisian gers “grass, turf, kind of grass,” Old Norse, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German, German, Gothic gras, Swedish gräs“grass”), which, according to Watkins, is from PIE *ghros- “young shoot, sprout,” from root *ghre- “to grow, become green,” thus related to grow and green, but not to Latin grāmen “grass, plant, herb.” But Boutkan considers grāmen the only reliable cognate and proposes a substrate origin.
As a color name (especially grass-green, Old English græsgrene) by c. 1300. Sense of “marijuana” is recorded by 1932, American English. The grass skirt worn by people native to tropical regions is mentioned by 1874; the warning to keep off the grass by 1843 (in New York City’s Central Park). Grass-fed of cattle, etc., (opposed to stall-fed) is from 1774.
c. 1300, “the human face, a face; facial appearance or expression; likeness, image,” from Old French face “face, countenance, look, appearance” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *facia (source also of Italian faccia), from Latin facies “appearance, form, figure,” and secondarily “visage, countenance,” which probably is literally “form imposed on something” and related to facere “to make” (from PIE root *dhe- “to set, put”).
Replaced Old English andwlita “face, countenance” (from root of wlitan “to see, look”) and ansyn, ansien, the usual word (from the root of seon “see”). Words for “face” in Indo-European commonly are based on the notion of “appearance, look,” and are mostly derivatives from verbs for “to see, look” (as with the Old English words, Greek prosopon, literally “toward-look,” Lithuanian veidas, from root *weid- “to see,” etc.). But in some cases, as here, the word for “face” means “form, shape.” In French, the use of face for “front of the head” was given up 17c. and replaced by visage (older vis), from Latin visus “sight.”
From late 14c. as “outward appearance (as contrasted to some other reality);” also from late 14c. as “forward part or front of anything;” also “surface (of the earth or sea), extent (of a city).” Typographical sense of “part of the type which forms the letter” is from 1680s.
Whan she cometh hoom, she raumpeth in my face And crieth ‘false coward.’ [Chaucer, “Monk’s Tale”]
Face to face is from mid-14c. Face time is attested from 1990. To lose face “lose prestige” (1835), is from Chinese tu lien; hence also save face (1915). To show (one’s) face “make or put in an appearance” is from mid-14c. (shewen the face). To make a face “change the appearance of the face in disgust, mockery, etc.” is from 1560s. Two faces under one hood as a figure of duplicity is attested from mid-15c.
Two fases in a hode is neuer to tryst. [“Awake lordes,” 1460]
1705, “phase of the moon, particular recurrent appearance presented by the moon (or Mercury or Venus) at a particular time,” back-formed as a singular from Modern Latin phases, plural of phasis, from Greek phasis “appearance” (of a star), “phase” (of the moon), from stem of phainein “to show, to make appear” (from PIE root *bha- (1) “to shine”).
Latin singular phasis was used in English from 1660 for each of the aspects of the moon. General (non-lunar) sense of “aspect, appearance, stage of development at a particular time” is attested by 1841. Meaning “temporary difficult period” (especially in reference to adolescents) is attested from 1913.
Old English boc “book, writing, written document,” generally referred (despite phonetic difficulties) to Proto-Germanic *bōk(ō)-, from *bokiz “beech” (source also of German Buch “book” Buche “beech;” see beech), the notion being of beechwood tablets on which runes were inscribed; but it may be from the tree itself (people still carve initials in them).
Latin and Sanskrit also have words for “writing” that are based on tree names (“birch” and “ash,” respectively). And compare French livre “book,” from Latin librum, originally “the inner bark of trees” (see library). The Old English word originally meant any written document. The sense gradually narrowed by early Middle English to “a written work covering many pages fastened together and bound,” also “a literary composition” in any form, of however many volumes. Later also “bound pages,” whether written on or not. In 19c. it also could mean “a magazine;” in 20c. a telephone directory.
From c. 1200 as “a main subdivision of a larger work.” Meaning “libretto of an opera” is from 1768. A betting book “record of bets made” is from 1812. Meaning “sum of criminal charges” is from 1926, hence slang phrase throw the book at (1932). Book of Life “the roll of those chosen for eternal life” is from mid-14c. Book of the month is from 1926. To do something by the book “according to the rules” is from 1590s.
The use of books or written charters was introduced in Anglo-Saxon times by the ecclesiastics, as affording more permanent and satisfactory evidence of a grant or conveyance of land than the symbolical or actual delivery of possession before witnesses, which was the method then in vogue. [Century Dictionary]
Pueblo people of the U.S. southwest, from Pueblo hopi, literally “well-mannered, civilized.”
by 1765 in English, a name given to the region north of the Ohio River mid-18c. by French explorers or settlers; see Indian + Latin-derived place-name suffix -ana. Organized as a U.S. territory 1800, admitted as a state 1816. Related: Indianian (1784).
Old English hopian “have the theological virtue of Hope; hope for (salvation, mercy), trust in (God’s word),” also “to have trust, have confidence; assume confidently or trust” (that something is or will be so), a word of unknown origin. Not the usual Germanic term for this, but in use in North Sea Germanic languages (cognates: Old Frisian hopia, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Dutch hopen; Middle High German hoffen “to hope,” which is borrowed from Low German). Some suggest a connection with hop (v.) on the notion of “leaping in expectation” [Klein].
From early 13c. as “to wish for” (something), “desire.” Related: Hoped; hoping. To hope against hope (1610s) “hold to hope in the absence of any justifiction for hope” echoes Romans iv.18:
Who against hope, beleeued in hope, that hee might become the father of many nations: according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seede bee. [King James Version, 1611]
The Wycliffite Bible (c. 1384) has this as “Abraham agens hope bileuede that he schulde be maad fadir of manye folkis.”
“to sell in the open, peddle,” late 15c., back-formation from hawker “itinerant vendor” (c. 1400), agent noun from Middle Low German höken “to peddle, carry on the back, squat,” from Proto-Germanic *huk-. Related: Hawked; hawking. Despite the etymological connection with stooping under a burden on one’s back, a hawker is technically distinguished from a peddler by use of a horse and cart or a van.
Navaho Indian dwelling, 1871, American English, from Athapaskan (Navaho) hoghan “dwelling, house.”
Old English hulc “light, fast ship” (glossing Latin liburna, but in Middle English a heavy, unwieldy one), probably from Old Dutch hulke and Medieval Latin hulcus, perhaps ultimately from Greek holkas “merchant ship,” literally “ship that is towed,” from helkein “to pull, draw, drag” (from PIE root *selk- “to pull, draw”).
“[A] word of early diffusion among the maritime peoples of Western Europe” [OED]. Meaning “body of an old, worn-out ship” is first recorded 1670s. The Hulks (“Great Expectations”) were old ships used as prisons. Sense of “big, clumsy person” is first recorded c. 1400 (early 14c. as a surname: Stephen le Hulke).
HULK. In the sixteenth century the large merchantman of the northern nations. As she grew obsolete, her name was applied in derision to all crank vessels, until it came to be degraded to its present use, i.e., any old vessel unfit for further employment. [Geoffrey Callender, “Sea Passages,” 1943]
fifth day of the week, Old English þurresdæg, a contraction (perhaps influenced by Old Norse þorsdagr) of þunresdæg, literally “Thor’s day,” from Þunre, genitive of Þunor “Thor” (see thunder (n.)); from Proto-Germanic *thonaras daga (source also of Old Frisian thunresdei, Middle Dutch donresdach, Dutch donderdag, Old High German Donares tag, German Donnerstag, Danish and Swedish Torsdag “Thursday”), a loan-translation of Latin Jovis dies “day of Jupiter.”
Roman Jupiter was identified with the Germanic Thor. The Latin word is the source of Italian giovedi, Old French juesdi, French jeudi, Spanish jueves, and is itself a loan-translation of Greek dios hēmera “the day of Zeus.”
family name (late 12c.), later masc. personal name, from Gaelic Dubh ghlais “the dark water,” name of a place in Lanarkshire. As a given name, in the top 40 for boys born in U.S. from 1942 to 1971. The name of the city that is the capital of the Isle of Man is the same Celtic compound.
The large, coniferous Douglas fir tree was named for David Douglas (1798-1834), Scottish botanist who first recorded it in Pacific Northwest, 1825. Douglas scheme, Douglas plan, Douglassite, etc. refer to “social credit” economic model put forth by British engineer Maj. Clifford Hugh Douglas (1879-1952).
mid-13c., from Old English þunor “thunder, thunderclap; the god Thor,” from Proto-Germanic *thunraz (source also of Old Norse þorr, Old Frisian thuner, Middle Dutch donre, Dutch donder, Old High German donar, German Donner “thunder”), from PIE *(s)tene- “to resound, thunder” (source also of Sanskrit tanayitnuh “thundering,” Persian tundar “thunder,” Latin tonare “to thunder”). Swedish tordön is literally “Thor’s din.” The unetymological -d- also is found in Dutch and Icelandic versions of the word (compare sound (n.1)). Thunder-stick, imagined word used by primitive peoples for “gun,” attested from 1904.
surname, literally “John’s (child);” see John. Phrase keep up with the Joneses (1917, American English) is from Keeping Up with the Joneses, the title of a popular newspaper comic strip by Arthur R. “Pop” Momand (1886-1987) which debuted in 1913 and chronicled the doings of the McGinnis family in its bid to match the living style of the Joneses. The slang sense “intense desire, addiction” (1968) probably arose from earlier use of Jones as a synonym for “heroin,” presumably from the proper name, but the connection, if any, is obscure. Related: Jonesing.
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masc. proper name, from Late Latin Jonas, from Greek Ionas, from Hebrew yonah “dove, pigeon” (compare Jonah).
late 15c., from Old French ballade “dancing song” (13c.), from Old Provençal ballada “(poem for a) dance,” from balar “to dance,” from Late Latin ballare “to dance” (see ball (n.2)). Originally a song intended to accompany a dance; later “a short narrative poem suitable for singing” (17c.).
masc. proper name, biblical prophet and subject of the Book of Jonah, from Hebrew Yonah, literally “dove, pigeon.” In nautical use (and extended) “person on shipboard regarded as the cause of bad luck” (Jonah 1.v-xvi).
Old English þynne “narrow, lean, scanty, not dense; fluid, tenuous; weak, poor,” from Proto-Germanic *thunni “thin” (source also of West Frisian ten, Middle Low German dunne, Middle Dutch dunne, Dutch dun, Old High German dunni, German dünn, Old Norse þunnr, Swedish tunn, Danish tynd), from PIE *tnu- “stretched, stretched out” (hence “thin”), from root *ten- “to stretch” (source also of Latin tenuis “thin, slender”).
These our actors … were all Spirits, and Are melted into Ayre, into thin Ayre. [Shakespeare, “The Tempest,” IV.i.150, 1610]
“Loose or sparse,” hence “easily seen through,” with figurative extensions. Related: Thinly; thinness. Thin-skinned is attested from 1590s; the figurative sense of “touchy” is from 1670s.
third day of the week, Old English tiwesdæg, from Tiwes, genitive of Tiw “Tiu,” from Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz “god of the sky,” the original supreme deity of ancient Germanic mythology, differentiated specifically as Tiu, ancient Germanic god of war, from PIE *deiwos “god,” from root *dyeu- “to shine,” in derivatives “sky, heaven, god.” Cognate with Old Frisian tiesdei, Old Norse tysdagr, Swedish tisdag, Old High German ziestag.
The day name (second element dæg, see day) is a translation of Latin dies Martis (source of Italian martedi, French Mardi) “Day of Mars,” from the Roman god of war, who was identified with Germanic Tiw (though etymologically Tiw is related to Zeus), itself a loan-translation of Greek Areos hēmera. In cognate German Dienstag and Dutch Dinsdag, the first element would appear to be Germanic ding, þing “public assembly,” but it is now thought to be from Thinxus, one of the names of the war-god in Latin inscriptions.
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c. 1400, perhaps mid-14c., “person of non-Christian or non-Jewish faith,” from Late Latin paganus “pagan,” in classical Latin “villager, rustic; civilian, non-combatant” noun use of adjective meaning “of the country, of a village,” from pagus “country people; province, rural district,” originally “district limited by markers,” thus related to pangere “to fix, fasten,” from PIE root *pag- “to fasten.” As an adjective from early 15c.
The religious sense often was said in 19c. [e.g. Trench] to derive from conservative rural adherence to the old gods after the Christianization of Roman towns and cities; but the Latin word in this sense predates that period in Church history, and it is more likely derived from the use of paganus in Roman military jargon for “civilian, incompetent soldier,” which Christians (Tertullian, c. 202; Augustine) picked up with the military imagery of the early Church (such as milites “soldier of Christ,” etc.).
The English word was used later in a narrower sense of “one not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.” As “person of heathenish character or habits,” by 1841. Applied to modern pantheists and nature-worshippers from 1908.
Pagan and heathen are primarily the same in meaning; but pagan is sometimes distinctively applied to those nations that, although worshiping false gods, are more cultivated, as the Greeks and Romans, and heathen to uncivilized idolaters, as the tribes of Africa. A Mohammedan is not counted a pagan much less a heathen. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
The English surname Paine, Payne, etc., appears by old records to be from Latin paganus, but whether in the sense “villager,” “rustic,” or “heathen” is disputed. It also was a common Christian name in 13c., “and was, no doubt, given without any thought of its meaning” [“Dictionary of English Surnames”].
mid-14c., female deity in a polytheistic religion, from god + fem. suffix -esse (see -ess). The Old English word was gyden, corresponding to Dutch godin, German Göttin, Danish gudine, Swedish gudinna. Of mortal women by 1570s. Related: Goddesshood.
Egyptian goddess, literally (in Egyptian) “truth.”
masc. proper name, introduced in England by the Normans, from Old French Mathieu, from Late Latin Matthaeus, from Greek Matthaios, contraction of Mattathias, from Hebrew Mattathyah “gift of Jehovah,” from mattath “gift.” Variant Matthias is from the Greek version.
Old English hæðen “not Christian or Jewish,” also as a noun, “heathen man, one of a race or nation which does not acknowledge the God of the Bible” (especially of the Danes), merged with Old Norse heiðinn (adj.) “heathen, pagan,” from Proto-Germanic *haithana- (source also of Old Saxon hedhin, Old Frisian hethen, Dutch heiden, Old High German heidan, German Heiden), which is of uncertain origin.
Perhaps literally “dweller on the heath, one inhabiting uncultivated land;” see heath + -en (2). Historically assumed to be ultimately from Gothic haiþno “gentile, heathen woman,” used by Ulfilas in the first translation of the Bible into a Germanic language (as in Mark vii.26, for “Greek”); like other basic words for exclusively Christian ideas (such as church) it likely would have come first into Gothic and then spread to other Germanic languages. If so it could be a noun use of an unrelated Gothic adjective (compare Gothic haiþi “dwelling on the heath,” but a religious sense is not recorded for this).
Whether native or Gothic, it might have been chosen on model of Latin paganus, with its root sense of “rural” (see pagan), but that word appears relatively late in the religious sense. Or the Germanic word might have been chosen for its resemblance to Greek ethne (see gentile), or it may be a literal borrowing of that Greek word, perhaps via Armenian hethanos [Sophus Bugge]. Boutkan (2005) presents another theory:
It is most probable that the Gmc. word *haiþana- referred to a person living on the heath, i.e. on common land, i.e. a person of one’s own community. It would then be a neutral word used by heathen people in order to refer to each other rather than a Christian, negative word denoting non-Christians.
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c. 1200, paien, “to appease, pacify, satisfy, be to the liking of,” from Old French paier “to pay, pay up” (12c., Modern French payer), from Latin pacare “to please, pacify, satisfy” (in Medieval Latin especially “satisfy a creditor”), literally “make peaceful,” from pax (genitive pacis) “peace” (see peace).
The meaning “to give what is due for goods or services” arose in Medieval Latin and was attested in English by early 13c.; the sense of “please, pacify” died out in English by 1500. Figurative sense of “suffer, endure” (a punishment, etc.) is first recorded late 14c. Meaning “to give or render” with little or no sense of obligation (pay attention, pay respects, pay a compliment) is by 1580s. Meaning “be remunerative, be profitable, yield a suitable return or reward” is by 1812. Related: Paid; paying. To pay up was originally (mid-15c.) “make up the different between two sums of money;” the sense of “pay fully or promptly” is by 1911. Pay television is attested by 1957.
“one who plays the pipes,” Old English pipere, agent noun from pipe (v.). By late 14c. also “a bag-piper.” As a kind of fish, from c. 1600. Figurative expression pay the piper is recorded from 1680s.
late 13c., peine, “the agony suffered by Christ;” c. 1300, “punishment,” especially for a crime, “legal punishment of any sort” (including fines and monetary penalties); also “condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure,” including mental or emotional suffering, grief, distress; from Old French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, Hell’s torments” (11c.), from Latin poena “punishment, penalty, retribution, indemnification” (in Late Latin also “torment, hardship, suffering”), from Greek poinē “retribution, penalty, quit-money for spilled blood,” from PIE *kwei- “to pay, atone, compensate” (see penal).
The early “punishment” sense in English survives in phrase on pain of death. Also c. 1300 the word was used for the torments of eternal damnation after death. The sense of “exertion, effort” is from late 14c.; pains “great care taken (for some purpose), exertion or trouble taken in doing something” is recorded from 1520s.
Phrase give (someone) a pain “be annoying and irritating” is by 1895; as a noun, localized as pain in the neck (1924) and pain in the ass (1934), though this last might have gone long unrecorded and be the original sense and the others euphemisms. First record of pain-killer “drug or herb that reduces pain” is by 1845.
c. 1300 (mid-12c. as a surname), “dough for the making of bread or pastry,” from Old French paste “dough, pastry” (13c., Modern French pâte), from Late Latin pasta “dough, pastry cake, paste” (see pasta). Meaning “glue mixture, dough used as a plaster seal” is attested from c. 1400; broader sense of “a composition just moist enough to be soft without liquefying” is by c. 1600. In reference to a kind of heavy glass made of ground quartz, etc., often used to imitate gems, by 1660s.
“rural person of inferior rank or condition,” usually engaged in agricultural labor, early 15c., paisaunt, from Anglo-French paisant (early 14c.), Old French paisant, paisent “local inhabitant” (12c., Modern French paysan), earlier paisenc, from pais “country, region” (Modern French pays, from Latin pagus; see pagan) + Frankish suffix -enc “-ing.”
Pais is from Late Latin pagensis “(inhabitant) of the district,” from Latin pagus “country or rural district” (see pagan). As a style of garment in fashion (such as peasant blouse) from 1953. In German history, the Peasants’ War was the rebellion of 1524-25.
mid-14c., “written account or record,” from Old French copie (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin copia “reproduction, transcript,” from Latin copia “an abundance, ample supply, profusion, plenty,” from assimilated form of com “with” (see com-) + ops (genitive opis) “power, wealth, resources,” from PIE root *op- “to work, produce in abundance.”
Sense extended 15c. to any specimen of writing, especially MS given to a printer to be reproduced in type (Caxton, late 15c.). Meaning “a duplication, imitation, or reproduction” written or otherwise is from late 14c. Meaning “one of a set of reproductions containing the same matter” is from 1530s.
Copy-boy, one who takes copy from the writer to the printer, is from 1888. The newspaper copy-desk, where copy is edited for printing, is from 1887; copy-editor is attested from 1889.
The “copy desk” is the managing editor’s literary inspection field, his last check by which the work of all editorial departments is gauged, the final balance where the brain product of the entire working force of the paper is weighed and judged. [“The Journalist,” May 21, 1892]
1630s, “lay waste, ravage, make desolate,” perhaps a back-formation from devastation. Apparently not common until 19c.; earlier verb form devast is attested from 1530s, from Middle French devaster, from Latin devastare. Figurative use is by 1856. Related: devastated; devastating.
“to seize, to catch, capture or arrest as a prisoner,” 1704, northern British dialect, of uncertain origin; perhaps ultimately from Middle French caper “seize, to take,” from Latin capere “to take” (from PIE root *kap- “to grasp”); or from Dutch kapen “to take,” from Old Frisian capia “to buy,” which is related to Old English ceapian (see cheap). Related: Copped; copping.
1630s, “turn aside or wander from the (right) way,” from Late Latin deviatus, past participle of deviare “to turn aside, turn out of the way,” from Latin phrase de via, from de “off” (see de-) + via “way” (see via). Meaning “take a different course, diverge, differ” is from 1690s. Related: Deviated; deviating. The noun meaning “sexual pervert” is attested from 1912.
malleable metallic element, noted for its peculiar red color, tenacity, malleability, and electric conductivity, late Old English coper, from Proto-Germanic *kupar (source also of Middle Dutch koper, Old Norse koparr, Old High German kupfar), from Late Latin cuprum, contraction of Latin Cyprium (aes) “Cyprian (metal),” after Greek Kyprios “Cyprus” (see Cyprus).
Ancient Greek had khalkos “ore, copper, bronze;” an old IE word for “ore, copper, bronze” is retained in Sanskrit ayah, Latin aes. Latin aes originally was “copper,” but this was extended to its alloy with tin (see bronze), and as this was far more extensively used than pure copper, the word’s primary sense shifted to the alloy and a new word evolved for “copper,” from the Latin form of the name of the island of Cyprus, where copper was mined (the alchemists associated copper with Venus).
Aes passed into Germanic (which originally did not distinguish copper from its alloys) and became English ore. In Latin, aes was the common word for “cash, coin, debt, wages” in many figurative expressions. Chemical symbol Cu is from cuprum.
As “a copper coin,” from 1580s; as “a vessel made of copper,” 1660s. The adjective, “of or resembling copper,” is from 1570s; the verb, “to cover with copper” is from 1520s.
1660s, “move or lie in different directions from a common point” (the opposite of converge), from Modern Latin divergere “go in different directions,” from assimilated form of dis- “apart” (see dis-) + vergere “to bend, turn, tend toward” (from PIE root *wer- (2) “to turn, bend”).
Originally a term in optics. The general or figurative senses of “become or be separated from another; differ from a typical form” emerged by mid-19c. Related: Diverged; diverging.
“quadruped of the genus Canis,” Old English docga, a late, rare word, used in at least one Middle English source in reference specifically to a powerful breed of canine; other early Middle English uses tend to be depreciatory or abusive. Its origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology.
The word forced out Old English hund (the general Germanic and Indo-European word, from root from PIE root *kwon-) by 16c. and subsequently was picked up in many continental languages (French dogue (16c.), Danish dogge, German Dogge (16c.)). The common Spanish word for “dog,” perro, also is a mystery word of unknown origin, perhaps from Iberian. A group of Slavic “dog” words (Old Church Slavonic pisu, Polish pies, Serbo-Croatian pas) likewise is of unknown origin.
In reference to persons, by c. 1200 in abuse or contempt as “a mean, worthless fellow, currish, sneaking scoundrel.” Playfully abusive sense of “rakish man,” especially if young, “a sport, a gallant” is from 1610s. Slang meaning “ugly woman” is from 1930s; that of “sexually aggressive man” is from 1950s.
Many expressions — a dog’s life (c. 1600), go to the dogs (1610s), dog-cheap (1520s), etc. — reflect the earlier hard use of the animals as hunting accessories, not pets. In ancient times, “the dog” was the worst throw in dice (attested in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, where the word for “the lucky player” was literally “the dog-killer”), which plausibly explains the Greek word for “danger,” kindynos, which appears to be “play the dog” (but Beekes is against this).
Notwithstanding, as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds. [Princess Elizabeth, 1550]
Meaning “something poor or mediocre, a failure” is by 1936 in U.S. slang. From late 14c. as the name for a heavy metal clamp of some kind. Dog’s age “a long time” is by 1836. Adjectival phrase dog-eat-dog “ruthlessly competitive” is by 1850s. Phrase put on the dog “get dressed up” (1934) may be from comparison of dog collars to the stiff stand-up shirt collars that in the 1890s were the height of male fashion (and were known as dog-collars from at least 1883).
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from Hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war;
[Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”]
Old English eanian “to bring forth” (young), especially in reference to sheep or goats, from Proto-Germanic *aunon (cognate with Dutch oonen), from PIE *agwh-no- “lamb” (source also of Greek amnos “lamb,” Latin agnus, Old Church Slavonic agne, Old Irish uan, Welsh oen). Yeanling “young lamb, kid” is recorded from 1630s.
1660s (first attested in Dryden), of uncertain origin, perhaps from pundigron, which is perhaps a humorous alteration of Italian puntiglio “equivocation, trivial objection,” diminutive of Latin punctum “point.” This is pure speculation. The verb also is attested from 1660s. Related: Punned; punning.
Pun was prob. one of the clipped words, such as cit, mob, nob, snob, which came into fashionable slang at or after the Restoration. [OED]
Middle English never, from Old English næfre “not ever, at no time,” a compound of ne “not, no” (from PIE root *ne- “not”) + æfre “ever” (see ever). Early used as an emphatic form of not (as still in never mind). Old English, unlike its modern descendant, had the useful custom of attaching ne to words to create their negatives, as in nabban for na habban “not to have.”
Italian giammai, French jamais, Spanish jamas are from Latin iam “already” + magis “more;” thus literally “at any time, ever,” originally with a negative, but this has been so thoroughly absorbed in sense as to be formally omitted.
Phrase never say die “don’t despair” is from 1818. Never Never Land is first attested in Australia as a name for the uninhabited northern part of Queensland (1884), perhaps so called because anyone who had gone there once never wished to return. Meaning “imaginary, illusory or utopian place” is attested by 1900 in American English. J.M. Barrie’s use of the full form for the island home of the Lost Boys is by 1905.
“something given or deposited as security,” as for money borrowed, late 15c. (mid-12c. as Anglo-Latin pandum), from Old French pan, pant “pledge, security,” also “booty, plunder,” perhaps from Frankish or some other Germanic source (compare Old High German pfant, German Pfand, Middle Dutch pant, Old Frisian pand “pledge”), from West Germanic *panda, which is of unknown origin.
The Old French word is formally identical to pan “cloth, piece of cloth,” from Latin pannum (nominative pannus) “cloth, piece of cloth, garment” and this formerly was suggested as the source of both the Old French and West Germanic words (on the notion of cloth used as a medium of exchange), but Century Dictionary notes that “the connection seems to be forced.”
c. 1300, from Old French puniss-, extended present participle stem of punir “to punish,” from Latin punire “punish, correct, chastise; take vengeance for; inflict a penalty on, cause pain for some offense,” earlier poenire, from poena “penalty, punishment” (see penal). Colloquial meaning “to inflict heavy damage or loss” is first recorded 1801, originally in boxing. Related: Punished; punishing.
c. 1300 (mid-13c. in compounds), “artificially banked body of water,” variant of pound “enclosed place” (see pound (n.2)). Applied locally to natural pools and small lakes from late 15c. Jocular reference to “the Atlantic Ocean” dates from 1640s. Pond scum (Spirogyra) is from 1864 (also called frog-spittle and brook-silk. As figurative for “someone extremely repulsive,” from 1984.
late 14c., compounen, “to put together, to mix, to combine; to join, couple together,” from Old French compondre, componre “arrange, direct,” and directly from Latin componere “to put together,” from com “with, together” (see com-) + ponere “to place” (see position (n.)). The unetymological -d appeared 1500s in English by the same process that yielded expound, propound, etc. Intransitive sense is from 1727. Related: Compounded; compounding.
early 15c., “in, of, or pertaining to the mind; characteristic of the intellect,” from Late Latin mentalis “of the mind,” from Latin mens (genitive mentis) “mind,” from PIE root *men- (1) “to think.”
In Middle English, also “of the soul, spiritual.” From 1520s as “done or performed in the mind.” Meaning “crazy, deranged” is by 1927, probably from combinations such as mental patient (1859); mental hospital (1891). Mental health is attested by 1803; mental illness by 1819; mental retardation by 1904.
word-forming element usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum “together, together with, in combination,” from PIE *kom- “beside, near, by, with” (compare Old English ge-, German ge-). The prefix in Latin sometimes was used as an intensive.
Before vowels and aspirates, it is reduced to co-; before -g-, it is assimilated to cog- or con-; before -l-, assimilated to col-; before -r-, assimilated to cor-; before -c-, -d-, -j-, -n-, -q-, -s-, -t-, and -v-, it is assimilated to con-, which was so frequent that it often was used as the normal form.
mid-15c., back-formation from lamentation or else from Old French lamenter “to moan, bewail” (14c.) and directly from Latin lamentari “to wail, moan, weep, lament,” from lamentum “a wailing, moaning, weeping.” Related: Lamented; lamenting.
measure of weight, Old English pund “pound” (in weight or money), also “pint,” from Proto-Germanic *punda- “pound” as a measure of weight (source of Gothic pund, Old High German phunt, German Pfund, Middle Dutch pont, Old Frisian and Old Norse pund), early borrowing from Latin pondo “pound,” originally in libra pondo “a pound by weight,” from pondo (adv.) “by weight,” ablative of pondus “weight,” from stem of pendere “to hang, cause to hang; weigh” (from PIE root *(s)pen- “to draw, stretch, spin”). Perhaps the notion is the weight of a thing measured by how much it stretches a cord. Meaning “unit of money” was in Old English, originally “pound of silver.”
At first “12 ounces;” meaning “16 ounces” was established before late 14c. Pound cake (1747) so called because it has a pound, more or less, of each ingredient. Pound of flesh is from “Merchant of Venice” IV.i. The abbreviations lb., £ are from libra “pound,” and reflect the medieval custom of keeping accounts in Latin (see Libra).
c. 1300, “earth, air, fire, or water; one of the four things regarded by the ancients as the constituents of all things,” from Old French element (10c.), from Latin elementum “rudiment, first principle, matter in its most basic form” (translating Greek stoikheion), origin and original sense unknown. Meaning “simplest component of a complex substance” is late 14c. Modern sense in chemistry is from 1813, but is not essentially different from the ancient one. Meaning “proper or natural environment of anything” is from 1590s, from the old notion that each class of living beings had its natural abode in one of the four elements. Elements “atmospheric force” is 1550s.
ancient king of Phrygia, 1560s; the name is of Phrygian origin. He was given by the gods the gift of turning all he touched to gold, but as this included his food he had to beg them to take it back again. Hence Midas touch (1883). But the oldest references to him in English are to the unrelated story of the ass’s ears given him by Apollo for being dull to the charms of his lyre.
from Latin Palestina (name of a Roman province), from Greek Palaistinē (Herodotus), from Hebrew Pelesheth “Philistia, land of the Philistines” (see Philistine). In Josephus, the country of the Philistines; extended under Roman rule to all Judea and later to Samaria and Galilee.
Revived as an official political territorial name 1920 with the British mandate. Under Turkish rule, Palestine was part of three administrative regions: the Vilayet of Beirut, the Independent Sanjak of Jerusalem, and the Vilayet of Damascus. In 1917 the country was conquered by British forces who held it under occupation until the mandate was established April 25, 1920, by the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers at San Remo. During the occupation Palestine formed “Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (South),” with headquarters at Jerusalem.
fem. proper name, from Latin, fem. of barbarus “strange, foreign, barbarous,” from Greek barbaros (see barbarian (n.)). For women, unlike men, the concept of “alien” presumably could be felt as “exotic” and thus make an appealing name. Popularized as a Christian name by the legend of Saint Barbara, early 4c. martyr, whose cult flourished from 7c. The common Middle English form was Barbary. A top 10 name in popularity for girls born in the U.S. between 1927 and 1958.
1959, trademark name (reg. U.S.). Supposedly named after the daughter of its creator, U.S. businesswoman Ruth Handler (1916-2002); see Barbara.
“hawk-headed sovereign sun god of Egyptian mythology,” from Egyptian R’ “sun, day.”
1650s, “act of abrading,” from Medieval Latin abrasionem (nominative abrasio) “a scraping,” noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin abradere “to scrape away, shave off,” from ab “off” (see ab-) + radere “to scrape,” possibly from an extended form of PIE root *red- “to scrape, scratch, gnaw.” From 1740 as “result of abrasion.”
1570s, from barber + shop (n.). Earlier in same sense was barbery (c. 1500). Barber-shop in reference to close harmony male vocal quartets, it is attested from 1910; the custom of barber’s keeping a musical instrument in their shops so waiting customers could entertain themselves is an old one, but the musical product formerly had a low reputation and barber’s music (c. 1660) was “wretched, poorly performed music.”
Old English hræfn (Mercian), hrefn; hræfn (Northumbrian, West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *khrabanaz (source also of Old Norse hrafn, Danish ravn, Dutch raaf, Old High German hraban, German Rabe “raven,” Old English hroc “rook”), from PIE root *ker- (2), imitative of harsh sounds (source also of Latin crepare “to creak, clatter,” cornix “crow,” corvus “raven;” Greek korax “raven,” korōnē “crow;” Old Church Slavonic kruku “raven;” Lithuanian krauklys “crow”).
Raven mythology shows considerable homogeneity throughout the whole area [northern regions of the northern hemisphere] in spite of differences in detail. The Raven peeps forth from the mists of time and the thickets of mythology, as a bird of slaughter, a storm bird, a sun and fire bird, a messenger, an oracular figure and a craftsman or culture hero. [Edward A. Armstrong, “The Folklore of Birds,” 1958]
Old English also used hræmn, hremm. The raven standard was the flag of the Danish Vikings. The Quran connects the raven with Cain’s murder of Abel; but in Christianity the bird plays a positive role in the stories of St. Benedict, St. Paul the Hermit, St. Vincent, etc. It was anciently believed to live to great old age, but the ancients also believed it wanting in parental care. The vikings, like Noah, were said to have used the raven to discover land. “When uncertain of their course they let one loose, and steered the vessel in his track, deeming that the land lay in the direction of his flight; if he returned to the ship, it was supposed to be at a distance” [Charles Swainson, “The Folk Lore and Provincial Names of British Birds,” London, 1886].
1650s, from Latin vibrationem (nominative vibratio) “a shaking, a brandishing,” noun of action from past participle stem of vibrare “set in tremulous motion” (from PIE root *weip- “to turn, vacillate, tremble ecstatically”). Meaning “intuitive signal about a person or thing” was popular late 1960s, but has been recorded as far back as 1899. Related: Vibrational.
masc. proper name introduced in England by Bretons at the Conquest; from Old French Hervé, Old Breton Aeruiu, Hærviu, literally “battle-worthy.”
c. 1300, “plant which bears the grapes from which wine is made,” from Old French vigne “vine, vinyard” (12c.), from Latin vinea “vine, vineyard,” from vinum “wine,” from PIE *win-o- “wine,” an Italic noun related to words for “wine” in Greek, Armenian, Hittite, and non-Indo-European Georgian and West Semitic (Hebrew yayin, Ethiopian wayn); probably ultimately from a lost Mediterranean language word *w(o)in- “wine.” From late 14c. in reference to any plant with a long slender stem that trails or winds around. The European grape vine was imported to California via Mexico by priests in 1564.
late 14c., “lacking wisdom or knowledge; unaware,” from Old French ignorant (14c.), from Latin ignorantem (nominative ignorans) “not knowing, ignorant,” present participle of ignorare “not to know, to be unacquainted; mistake, misunderstand; take no notice of, pay no attention to,” from assimilated form of in- “not, opposite of” (see in- (1)) + Old Latin gnarus “aware, acquainted with” (source also of Classical Latin noscere “to know,” notus “known”), from Proto-Latin suffixed form *gno-ro-, suffixed form of PIE root *gno- “to know.” Also see uncouth.
Form influenced by related Latin ignotus “unknown, strange, unrecognized, unfamiliar.” Colloquial sense of “ill-mannered, uncouth, knowing nothing of good manners” attested by 1886. As a noun, “ignorant person,” from mid-15c. Related: Ignorantly.
“many-stemmed woody plant,” from Old English bysc (found in place names), from West Germanic *busk “bush, thicket” (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German busc, Dutch bosch, bos, German Busch). Influenced by or combined with Old French (busche “firewood”) and Medieval Latin busca (source also of Italian bosco, Spanish bosque, French bois), both of which probably are from Germanic (compare Boise).
In the British American colonies, applied from 1650s to the uncleared districts. In South Africa, “country,” as opposed to town (1780); probably from Dutch bosch in the same sense. As “branch of a tree hung out as a tavern-sign,” 1530s; hence the proverb “good wine needs no bush.” Meaning “pubic hair” (especially of a woman) is from 1745. To beat the bushes (mid-15c.) is a way to rouse birds so that they fly into the net which others are holding, which originally was the same thing as beating around the bush (see beat (v.)).
1610s, “not to know, to be ignorant of,” from French ignorer “be unaware of” (14c.), or directly from Latin ignorare “not to know, be unacquainted; take no notice of, disregard” (see ignorant). The original sense in English is obsolete. Sense of “pass over without notice, pay no attention to” in English first recorded 1801 (Barnhart says “probably a dictionary word”), and OED indicates it was uncommon before c. 1850. Related: Ignored; ignoring.
mid-14c., “foreign, of another nation or culture,” from Medieval Latin barbarinus (see barbarian (n.)). Meaning “of or pertaining to savages, rude, uncivilized” is from 1590s.
alkaloid obtained from the leaves of the coca plant, 1874, from Modern Latin cocaine (1856), coined by Albert Niemann of Gottingen University from coca (from Quechua cuca) + chemical suffix -ine (2). A medical coinage, the drug was used 1870s as a local anaesthetic for eye surgery, etc. “It is interesting to note that although cocaine is pronounced as a disyllabic word it is trisyllabic in its formation” [Flood]. Cocainism “addiction to cocaine” is recorded by 1885.
masc. proper name, Biblical third son of Adam, literally “set, appointed,” from Hebrew Sheth, from shith “to put, set.” The Gnostic sect of Sethites (2c.) believed Christ was a reappearance of Seth, whom they venerated as the first spiritual man.
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“to chase, set upon” (as in command sick him!), 1845, dialectal variant of seek. Used as an imperative to incite a dog to attack a person or animal; hence “cause to pursue.” Related: Sicked; sicking.
“fuel residue, solid product of the carbonization of coal,”an important substance in metallurgy, 1660s, a northern England dialect word, perhaps a variant of Middle English colke “core (of an apple), heart of an onion” (c. 1400), also “charcoal” (early 15c.), a word of uncertain origin. It seems to have cognates in Old Frisian and Middle Dutch kolk “pothole,” Old English -colc, in compounds, “pit, hollow,” Swedish dialectal kälk “pith.” Perhaps the notion is the “core” of the coal, or “what is left in the pit after a fire.”
c. 1300, “living in the world, not belonging to a religious order,” also “belonging to the state,” from Old French seculer (Modern French séculier), from Late Latin saecularis “worldly, secular, pertaining to a generation or age,” from Latin saecularis “of an age, occurring once in an age,” from saeculum “age, span of time, lifetime, generation, breed.”
This is from Proto-Italic *sai-tlo-, which, according to Watkins, is PIE instrumental element *-tlo- + *sai- “to bind, tie” (see sinew), extended metaphorically to successive human generations as links in the chain of life. De Vaan lists as a cognate Welsh hoedl “lifespan, age.” An older theory connected it to words for “seed,” from PIE root *se- “to sow” (see sow (v.), and compare Gothic mana-seþs “mankind, world,” literally “seed of men”).
Used in ecclesiastical writing like Greek aiōn “of this world” (see cosmos). It is source of French siècle. Ancient Roman ludi saeculares was a three-day, day-and-night celebration coming once in an “age” (120 years). In English, in reference to humanism and the exclusion of belief in God from matters of ethics and morality, from 1850s.
1530s, “to satisfy, satiate,” from Latin saturatus, past participle of saturare “to fill full, sate, drench,” from satur “sated, full,” from PIE root *sa- “to satisfy.” Meaning “soak thoroughly” is by 1756. Marketing sense recorded by 1958. Related: Saturated; saturating.
“the mark in the middle of the belly where the umbilical cord was attached in the fetus,” Middle English navele, from Old English nafela, nabula, from Proto-Germanic *nabalan (source also of Old Norse nafli, Danish and Swedish navle, Old Frisian navla, Middle Dutch and Dutch navel, Old High German nabalo, German Nabel), from PIE *(o)nobh- “navel” (source also of Sanskrit nabhila “navel, nave, relationship;” Avestan nafa “navel,” naba-nazdishta “next of kin;” Persian naf; Latin umbilicus “navel;” Old Prussian nabis “navel;” Greek omphalos; Old Irish imbliu). For Romanic words, see umbilicus.
The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. [Joyce, “Ulysses”]
“Navel” words from other roots include Lithuanian bamba, Sanskrit bimba- (also “disk, sphere”), Greek bembix, literally “whirlpool.” Old Church Slavonic papuku, Lithuanian pumpuras are originally “bud.” Considered a feminine sexual center since ancient times, and still in parts of the Middle East, India, and Japan. In medieval Europe, it was averred that “[t]he seat of wantonness in women is the navel” [Cambridge bestiary, C.U.L. ii.4.26]. Words for it in most languages have a secondary sense of “center.”
Meaning “center or hub of a country” is attested in English from late 14c. To contemplate (one’s) navel “meditate” is from 1933; hence navel-gazer (by 1947); see also omphaloskepsis. Navel orange is attested from 1831.
Another great key I will give you is to be found by the contemplation of the Manipur Lotus, which is in the navel, or thereabouts. By contemplating this center you will be able to enter and go into another person’s body, and to take possession of that person’s mind, and to cause him to think and to do what you want him to do; you will obtain the power of transmuting metals, of healing the sick and afflicted, and of seership. [“Swami Brahmavidya,” “Transcendent-Science or The Science of Self Knowledge,” Chicago, 1922]
“of or pertaining to a ship or ships,” specifically “pertaining to a navy,” early 15c., from Old French naval (14c.) and directly from Latin navalis “pertaining to a ship or ships,” from navis “ship,” from PIE root *nau- “boat.” An Old English word for “naval” was scipherelic.
late 14c., in reference to the fruit of the orange tree (late 13c. as a surname), from Old French orange, orenge (12c., Modern French orange), from Medieval Latin pomum de orenge, from Italian arancia, originally narancia (Venetian naranza), an alteration of Arabic naranj, from Persian narang, from Sanskrit naranga-s “orange tree,” a word of uncertain origin.
Not used as a color word in English until 1510s (orange color), “a reddish-yellow color like that of a ripe orange.” Colors similar to modern orange in Middle English might be called citrine or saffron. Loss of initial n- probably is due to confusion with the definite article (as in une narange, una narancia), but also perhaps was by influence of French or “gold.” The name of the town of Orange in France (see Orangemen) perhaps was deformed by the name of the fruit. Orange juice is attested from 1723.
The tree’s original range probably was northern India. The Persian orange, grown widely in southern Europe after its introduction in Italy 11c., was bitter; sweet oranges were brought to Europe 15c. from India by Portuguese traders and quickly displaced the bitter variety, but only Modern Greek still seems to distinguish the bitter (nerantzi) from the sweet (portokali “Portuguese”) orange.
Portuguese, Spanish, Arab, and Dutch sailors planted citrus trees along trade routes to prevent scurvy. On his second voyage in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought the seeds of oranges, lemons and citrons to Haiti and the Caribbean. Introduced in Florida (along with lemons) in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. It was introduced to Hawaii in 1792.
Old English nacod “nude, unclothed, bare; empty,” also “not fully clothed” (a sense still used in 18c.), from Proto-Germanic *nakwadaz (source also of Old Frisian nakad, Middle Dutch naket, Dutch naakt, Old High German nackot, German nackt, Old Norse nökkviðr, Old Swedish nakuþer, Gothic naqaþs “naked”), from PIE root *nogw- “naked” (source also of Sanskrit nagna, Hittite nekumant-, Old Persian *nagna-, Greek gymnos, Latin nudus, Lithuanian nuogas, Old Church Slavonic nagu-, Russian nagoi, Old Irish nocht, Welsh noeth “bare, naked”).
Of things, “without the usual or customary covering” (of a sword, etc.), from Old English. Applied to qualities, actions, etc., “mere, pure, open to view, unconcealed,” from c. 1200; phrase the naked truth is from early 15c. Phrase naked as a jaybird (1943) was earlier naked as a robin (1879, in a Shropshire context); Middle English had naked as a worm (mid-14c.), naked as a needle (late 14c.). Naked eye “the eye unassisted by any instrument” is from 1660s, an unnecessary term before telescopes and microscopes.
1870 in spiritualism, “subtle emanation around living beings;” earlier “characteristic impression” made by a personality (1859), earlier still “an aroma or subtle emanation” (1732). Also used in some mystical sense in Swedenborgian writings (by 1847). All from Latin aura “breeze, wind, the upper air,” from Greek aura “breath, cool breeze, air in motion,” from PIE *aur-, from root *wer- (1) “to raise, lift, hold suspended.” The word was used in the classical literal sense in Middle English, “gentle breeze” (late 14c.). The modern uses all are figurative. In Latin and Greek, the metaphoric uses were in reference to changeful events, popular favor.
1650s, “natural, simple, unsophisticated, artless,” from French naïve, fem. of naïf, from Old French naif “naive, natural, genuine; just born; foolish, innocent; unspoiled, unworked” (13c.), from Latin nativus “not artificial,” also “native, rustic,” literally “born, innate, natural” (see native (adj.)). In philosophy, “unreflecting, uncritical” (1895), used of non-philosophers. Related: Naively.
“violent or tempestuous windstorm,” late 15c. (Caxton), obsolete from 18c., from French orage “a storm,” from Vulgar Latin *auraticum, from Latin aura “breeze, wind” (see aura (n.)). Related: Oragious.
Old English sceacan “move (something) quickly to and fro, brandish; move the body or a part of it rapidly back and forth;” also “go, glide, hasten, flee, depart” (related to sceacdom “flight”); of persons or parts of the body, “to tremble” especially from fever, cold, fear” (class VI strong verb; past tense scoc, past participle scacen), from Proto-Germanic *skakanan (source also of Old Norse, Swedish skaka, Danish skage “to shift, turn, veer”). No certain cognates outside Germanic, but some suggest a possible connection to Sanskrit khaj “to agitate, churn, stir about,” Old Church Slavonic skoku “a leap, bound,” Welsh ysgogi “move.”
Of the earth in earthquakes, c. 1300. Meaning “seize and shake (someone or something else)” is from early 14c. In reference to mixing ingredients, etc., by shaking a container from late 14c. Meaning “to rid oneself of by abrupt twists” is from c. 1200, also in Middle English in reference to evading responsibility, etc. Meaning “weaken, impair” is from late 14c., on notion of “make unstable.”
To shake hands dates from 1530s. Shake a (loose) leg “hurry up” first recorded 1904; shake a heel (sometimes foot) was an old way to say “to dance” (1660s); to shake (one’s) elbow (1620s) meant “to gamble at dice.” Phrase more _____ than you can shake a stick at is attested from 1818, American English. To shake (one’s) head as a sign of disapproval is recorded from c. 1300.
“weapon with a penetrating head and a long wooden shaft, meant to be thrust or thrown,” Old English spere “spear, javelin, lance,” from Proto-Germanic *sperō (source also of Old Norse spjör, Old Saxon, Old Frisian sper, Dutch speer, Old High German sper, German Speer “spear”), from PIE root *sper- (1) “spear, pole” (source also of Old Norse sparri “spar, rafter,” and perhaps also Latin sparus “hunting spear”).
surname recorded from 1248; it means “a spearman.” This was a common type of English surname (Shakelance (1275), Shakeshaft (1332)). Shake (v.) in the sense of “to brandish or flourish (a weapon)” is attested from late Old English
Heo scæken on heore honden speren swiðe stronge.
[Laymon, “Brut,” c. 1205]
Compare also shake-buckler “a swaggerer, a bully;” shake-rag “ragged fellow, tatterdemalion.” “Never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in origin. It is exactly what it looks — Shakespear” [Bardsley, “Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames,” 1901]. Nevertheless, speculation flourishes. The name was variously written in contemporary records, also Shakespear, Shakespere, the last form being the one adopted by the New Shakespere Society of London and the first edition of the OED. Related: Shakespearian (1753); Shakesperean (1796); Shakesperian (1755).
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Old English scamu, sceomu “feeling of guilt or disgrace; confusion caused by shame; disgrace, dishonor, insult, loss of esteem or reputation; shameful circumstance, what brings disgrace; modesty; private parts,” from Proto-Germanic *skamo (source also of Old Saxon skama, Old Norse skömm, Swedish skam, Old Frisian scome, Dutch schaamte, Old High German scama, German Scham). The best guess is that this is from PIE *skem-, from *kem- “to cover” (covering oneself being a common expression of shame).
Until modern times English had a productive duplicate form in shand. An Old Norse word for it was kinnroði, literally “cheek-redness,” hence, “blush of shame.” Greek distinguished shame in the bad sense of “disgrace, dishonor” (aiskhyne) from shame in the good sense of “modesty, bashfulness” (aidos). To put (someone or something) to shame is mid-13c. Shame culture attested by 1947.
mid-12c., from Old French guile “deceit, wile, fraud, ruse, trickery,” probably from Frankish *wigila “trick, ruse” or a related Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *wih-l- (source also of Old Frisian wigila “sorcery, witchcraft,” Old English wig “idol,” Gothic weihs “holy,” German weihen “consecrate”), from PIE root *weik- (2) “consecrated, holy.”
Middle English schade, Kentish ssed, from late Old English scead “partial darkness; shelter, protection,” also partly from sceadu “shade, shadow, darkness; shady place, arbor, protection from glare or heat,” both from Proto-Germanic *skadwaz (source also of Old Saxon skado, Middle Dutch scade, Dutch schaduw, Old High German scato, German Schatten, Gothic skadus), from PIE *skot-wo-, from root *skoto- “dark, shade.”
shade, shadow, nn. It seems that the difference in form is fairly to be called an accidental one, the first representing the nominative & the second the oblique cases of the same word. The meanings are as closely parallel or intertwined as might be expected from this original identity, the wonder being that, with a differentiation so vague, each form should have maintained its existence by the side of the other. [Fowler]
Figurative use in reference to comparative obscurity is from 1640s. Meaning “a ghost” is from 1610s; dramatic (or mock-dramatic) expression “shades of _____” to invoke or acknowledge a memory is from 1818, from the “ghost” sense. Meaning “lamp cover” is from 1780. Sense of “window blind” first recorded 1845. Meaning “cover to protect the eyes” is from 1801. Meaning “grade of color” first recorded 1680s; that of “degree or gradiation of darkness in a color” is from 1680s (compare nuance, from French nue “cloud”). Meaning “small amount or degree” is from 1782.
Old English sceadwe, sceaduwe “the effect of interception of sunlight, dark image cast by someone or something when interposed between an object and a source of light,” oblique cases (“to the,” “from the,” “of the,” “in the”) of sceadu (see shade (n.)). Shadow is to shade (n.) as meadow is to mead (n.2). Similar formation in Old Saxon skado, Middle Dutch schaeduwe, Dutch schaduw, Old High German scato, German schatten, Gothic skadus “shadow, shade.”
From mid-13c. as “darkened area created by shadows, shade.” From early 13c. in sense “anything unreal;” mid-14c. as “a ghost;” late 14c. as “a foreshadowing, prefiguration.” Meaning “imitation, copy” is from 1690s. Sense of “the faintest trace” is from 1580s; that of “a spy who follows” is from 1859.
As a designation of members of an opposition party chosen as counterparts of the government in power, it is recorded from 1906. Shadow of Death (c. 1200) translates Vulgate umbra mortis (Psalms xxiii.4, etc.), which itself translates Greek skia thanatou, perhaps a mistranslation of a Hebrew word for “intense darkness.” In “Beowulf,” Grendel is a sceadugenga, a shadow-goer, and another word for “darkness” is sceaduhelm. To be afraid of one’s (own) shadow “be very timorous” is from 1580s.
cant term for “dupe, sucker, credulous person,” 1590s, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from verb meaning “to dupe, cheat” (see gull (v.)). Or it is perhaps from (or influenced by) the bird name (see gull (n.1)); in either case with a sense of “someone who will swallow anything thrown at him.” Another possibility is Middle English gull, goll “newly hatched bird” (late 14c.), which is perhaps from Old Norse golr “yellow,” from the hue of its down.
1921, “of or pertaining to the psychoanalytic school of Dr. Carl Gustav Jung” (1875-1961); for suffix, see -ian.
“bile, liver secretion,” Old English galla (Anglian), gealla (West Saxon) “gall, bile,” from Proto-Germanic *gallon “bile” (source also of Old Norse gall “gall, bile; sour drink,” Old Saxon galle, Old High German galla, German Galle), from PIE root *ghel- (2) “to shine,” with derivatives denoting “green, yellow,” and thus “bile, gall.” Informal sense of “impudence, boldness” first recorded American English 1882; but meaning “embittered spirit, rancor” is from c. 1200, from the old medicine theory of humors.
Old English geong “youthful, young; recent, new, fresh,” from Proto-Germanic *junga- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian jung, Old Norse ungr, Middle Dutch jonc, Dutch jong, Old High German and German jung, Gothic juggs), from PIE *yuwn-ko-, suffixed form of root *yeu- “vital force, youthful vigor” (source also of Sanskrit yuvan- “young; young man;” Avestan yuuanem, yunam “youth,” yoista- “youngest;” Latin juvenis “young,” iunior “younger, more young;” Lithuanian jaunas, Old Church Slavonic junu, Russian junyj “young,” Old Irish oac, Welsh ieuanc “young”).
From c. 1830-1850, Young France, Young Italy, etc., were loosely applied to “republican agitators” in various monarchies; also, especially in Young England, Young America, used generally for “typical young person of the nation.” For Young Turk, see Turk.
masc. proper name, Scottish form of John (q.v.).
“uniting bitterness and sweetness,” 1610s, from bitter (adj.) + sweet (adj.). Perhaps older, as the same word is used as a noun in Middle English (late 14c.) for drinks or experiences that are both bitter and sweet and especially in reference to a type of apple; later of woody nightshade (1560s). Greek had a similarly formed compound, glykypikros, literally “sweet-bitter.”
c. 1300, yenen, yonen, from Old English ginian, gionian “open the mouth wide, yawn, gape,” from Proto-Germanic *gin- (source also of Old English giwian, giowian, giwan “to request,” Old Norse gina “to yawn,” Dutch geeuwen, Old High German ginen“to be wide open,” German gähnen “to yawn”), from PIE root *ghieh- “to yawn, gape, be wide open.” Modern spelling is from 16c. Related: Yawned; yawning.
c. 1300, a name given to various types of musical instruments, from Old French simphonie, sifonie, simfone “musical harmony; stringed instrument” (12c., Modern French symphonie) and directly from Latin symphonia “a unison of sounds, harmony,” from Greek symphonia “harmony, concord of sounds,” from symphonos “harmonious, agreeing in sound,” from assimilated form of syn- “together” (see syn-) + phone “voice, sound,” from PIE root *bha- (2) “to speak, tell, say.”
Meaning “harmony of sounds” in English is attested from late 14c.; sense of “music in parts” is from 1590s. “It was only after the advent of Haydn that this word began to mean a sonata for full orchestra. Before that time it meant a prelude, postlude, or interlude, or any short instrumental work.” [“Elson’s Music Dictionary”] Meaning “elaborate orchestral composition” first attested 1789. Elliptical for “symphony orchestra” from 1926. Diminutive symphonette is recorded from 1947.
“a whole number” (as opposed to a fraction), 1570s, from Latin integer (adj.) “intact, whole, complete,” figuratively, “untainted, upright,” literally “untouched,” from in- “not” (see in- (1)) + root of tangere “to touch,” from PIE root *tag- “to touch, handle,” from PIE root *tag- “to touch, handle.” The word was used earlier in English as an adjective in the Latin sense, “whole, entire” (c. 1500).
1560s, “relation of parts, proportion,” from Middle French symmétrie (16c.) and directly from Latin symmetria, from Greek symmetria “agreement in dimensions, due proportion, arrangement,” from symmetros “having a common measure, even, proportionate,” from assimilated form of syn- “together” (see syn-) + metron “measure” (from PIE root *me- (2) “to measure”). Meaning “harmonic arrangement of parts” first recorded 1590s.
c. 1400, “innocence, blamelessness; chastity, purity,” from Old French integrité or directly from Latin integritatem (nominative integritas) “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” figuratively “purity, correctness, blamelessness,” from integer “whole” (see integer). Sense of “wholeness, perfect condition” is mid-15c.
Old English gylt “crime, sin, moral defect, failure of duty,” of unknown origin, though some suspect a connection to Old English gieldan “to pay for, debt,” but OED editors find this “inadmissible phonologically.” The -u- is an unetymological insertion. In law, “That state of a moral agent which results from his commission of a crime or an offense wilfully or by consent” [Century Dictionary], from early 14c. Then use for “sense of guilt,” considered erroneous by purists, is first recorded 1680s. Guilt by association recorded by 1919.
1796, transitive, “separate into component parts, destroy the cohesion of,” originally in geology, from dis- “do the opposite of” + integrate (v.). Intransitive sense, “to break apart, separate into its component parts,” is by 1851. Related: Disintegrated; disintegrating.
mid-15c., transitive, “to choke, strangle” (someone), possibly imitative and perhaps influenced by Old Norse gag-hals “with head thrown back.” The sense of “stop a person’s mouth by thrusting something into it” is first attested c. 1500. Intransitive sense of “to retch” is from 1707. Transitive meaning “cause to heave with nausea” is from 1945. Related: Gagged; gagging.
mid-15c., “join in company, combine intimately” (transitive), from Latin associatus past participle of associare “join with,” from assimilated form of ad “to” (see ad-) + sociare “unite with,” from socius “companion, ally,” from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) “to follow.” Related: Associated; associating. Intransitive sense of “have intercourse, be associated” is from 1640s. Earlier form of the verb was associen (late 14c.), from Old French associier “associate (with).”
“a joke,” 1863, especially a practical joke, probably related to theatrical sense of “matter interpolated in a written piece by the actor” (1847); or from the sense “made-up story” (1805); or from slang verbal sense of “to deceive, take in with talk” (1777), all of which perhaps are from gag (v.) on the notion of “to stuff, fill.” Gagster “comedian” is by 1932.
1796 (v.) “ridicule; deceive with a fabrication,” 1808 (n.), probably an alteration of hocus “conjurer, juggler” (1630s), also “a cheat, impostor” (1680s); or else directly from hocus-pocus. Related: Hoaxed; hoaxing.
1530s, “companionship, friendly association with others,” from Old French societe “company” (12c., Modern French société), from Latin societatem (nominative societas) “fellowship, association, alliance, union, community,” from socius “companion, ally,” from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) “to follow.”
Meaning “group, club” is from 1540s, originally of associations of persons for some specific purpose. Meaning “people bound by neighborhood and intercourse aware of living together in an ordered community” is from 1630s. Sense of “the more cultivated part of any community” first recorded 1823, hence “fashionable people and their doings.” The Society Islands were named 1769 by Cook on his third Pacific voyage in honor of the Royal Society, which financed his travels across the world to observe the transit of Venus.
magical formula used in conjuring, 1630s, earlier Hocas Pocas, common name of a magician or juggler (1620s); a sham-Latin invocation used by jugglers, perhaps based on a perversion of the sacramental blessing from the Mass, Hoc est corpus meum “This is my body.” The first to make this speculation on its origin apparently was English prelate John Tillotson (1630-1694).
I will speak of one man … that went about in King James his time … who called himself, the Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus tabantus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currantly without discovery. [Thomas Ady, “A Candle in the Dark,” 1655]
Compare hiccus doccius or hiccus doctius, “formula used by jugglers in performing their feats” (1670s), also a common name for a juggler, which OED says is “conjectured to be a corruption of” Latin hicce es doctus “here is the learned man,” “if not merely a nonsense formula simulating Latin.” Also compare holus-bolus (adv.) “all at a gulp, all at once,” which Century Dictionary calls “A varied redupl. of whole, in sham-Latin form.” As a noun meaning “juggler’s tricks,” hocus-pocus is recorded from 1640s.
Entries related to hocus-pocus
“something thrust into the mouth or throat to prevent speaking,” 1550s, from gag (v.); figurative use, “violent or authoritative repression of speech,” is from 1620s. Gag-law in reference to curbs on freedom of the press is from 1798, American English. The gag-rule that blocked anti-slavery petitions in the U.S. House of Representatives was in force from 1836 to 1844.
“action of disassociating or state of being disassociated,” 1842, noun of action from disassociate (v.).
“crazy, silly,” 1920, probably from French gaga “senile, foolish,” probably imitative of meaningless babbling.
“friendly gathering,” 1870, from social (adj.). In late 17c. it meant “a companion, associate.”
Greek letter corresponding to the Roman P, from Phoenician, literally “little mouth.” As the name of the mathematical constant for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter, from 1841 in English, used in Latin 1748 by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), as an abbreviation of Greek periphereia “periphery.” For the printer’s term for mixed type (often spelled pi), see pie (3).
late 13c., of persons, “submissive, respectful, lowly in manner, modest, not self-asserting, obedient,” from Old French humble, umble, earlier umele, from Latin humilis “lowly, humble,” literally “on the ground,” from humus “earth,” from PIE root *dhghem- “earth.” From late 14c., of things, “lowly in kind, state, condition, or amount,” also “of low birth or rank.” Related: Humbly.
Don’t be so humble; you’re not that great. [Golda Meir]
c. 1300 (probably older; piehus “bakery” is attested from late 12c.), “baked dish of pastry filled with a preparation of meats, spices, etc., covered with a thick layer of pastry and baked,” from Medieval Latin pie “meat or fish enclosed in pastry” (c. 1300), which is perhaps related to Medieval Latin pia “pie, pastry,” also possibly connected with pica “magpie” (see pie (n.2)) on notion of the bird’s habit of collecting miscellaneous objects.
According to the OED, the word is not known outside English with the exception of Gaelic pighe, which is from English. In the Middle Ages, a pie had many ingredients, a pastry but one. Fruit pies began to appear c. 1600.
The word in the figurative sense of “something easy” is from 1889. Slice of the pie in the figurative sense of “something to be shared out” is by 1967. Pie-eyed “drunk” is from 1904. Phrase pie in the sky is attested by 1911, from Joe Hill’s Wobbly parody of hymns. Pieman “baker or seller of pies” is by c. 1300 as a surname. Pie chart is from 1922.
c. 1200, pece, “fixed amount, measure, portion;” c. 1300, “fragment of an object, bit of a whole, slice of meat; separate fragment, section, or part,” from Old French piece “piece, bit portion; item; coin” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *pettia, probably from Gaulish *pettsi (compare Welsh peth “thing,” Breton pez “piece, a little”), perhaps from an Old Celtic base *kwezd-i-, from PIE root *kwezd- “a part, piece” (source also of Russian chast’ “part”). Related: Pieces.
Meaning “separate article forming part of a class or group” is from c. 1400; that of “specimen, instance, example” is from 1560s. Sense of “portable firearm” is from 1580s, earlier “artillery weapon” (1540s). The meaning “chessman” is from 1560s. Meaning “a period of time” is from early 14c.; that of “a portion of a distance” is from 1610s; that of “literary composition” dates from 1530s.
Piece of (one’s) mind “one’s opinion expressed bluntly” is from 1570s. Piece of work “remarkable person” echoes Hamlet. Piece as “a coin” is attested in English from c. 1400, hence piece of eight, old name for the Spanish dollar (c. 1600) of the value of 8 reals and bearing a numeral 8. Adverbial phrase in one piece “whole, undivided, without loss or injury” is by 1580s; of a piece “as of the same piece or whole” is from 1610s.
c. 1400 peche, peoche, “fleshy fruit of the peach tree” (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French pesche “peach, peach tree” (Old North French peske, Modern French pêche), and directly from Medieval Latin pesca, from Late Latin pessica, variant of persica “peach, peach tree,” from Latin malum Persicum, literally “Persian apple,” translating Greek Persikon malon, from Persis “Persia” (see Persian).
Old English had it as persue, persoe, directly from Latin. In ancient Greek Persikos could mean “Persian” or “the peach.” The tree is native to China, but reached Europe via Persia. By 1663 William Penn observed peaches in cultivation on American plantations. Meaning “attractive woman” is attested from 1754; that of “good person” is by 1904. Peaches and cream in reference to a type of complexion is from 1901. Peach blossom as the delicate pink hue of the peach blossom is from 1702. Georgia has been the Peach State since 1939, though it was noted as a leading peach-grower by 1908..
“of or pertaining to ancient or modern Persia,” c. 1300, Percien, from Latin *Persianus (the adjective via Old French persien), from Persia “Persia” (see Persia). As a noun, “native or inhabitant of ancient or modern Persia.” First record of Persian cat is from 1785; they were first brought to Europe from Persia in 17c.
“common running garden plant,” cultivated from earliest times in many Old World countries, also the long, fleshy fruit of the plant, late 14c., cucomer, from Old French cocombre (13c., Modern French concombre), from Latin cucumerem (nominative cucumis), perhaps from a pre-Italic Mediterranean language. The Latin word also is the source of Italian cocomero, Spanish cohombro, Portuguese cogombro. Replaced Old English eorþæppla (plural), literally “earth-apples.”
Cowcumber was the common form of the word in 17c.-18c., in good literary use and representing the modern evolution of the Middle English form. Cucumber is an attempted reversion to Latin. In 1790s the pronunciation “cowcumber” was standard except in western England dialects and “coocumber” was considered pedantic, but 30 years later, with the spread of literacy and education “cowcumber” was limited to the ignorant and old-fashioned.
It was planted as a garden vegetable by 1609 by Jamestown colonists. Phrase cool as a cucumber (c. 1732) embodies ancient folk knowledge confirmed by science in 1970: inside of a field cucumber on a warm day is 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature.
Old English smæl “thin, slender, narrow; fine,” from Proto-Germanic *smal- “small animal; small” (source also of Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Middle Dutch, Dutch, Old High German smal, Old Frisian smel, German schmal “narrow, slender,” Gothic smalista “smallest,” Old Norse smali “small cattle, sheep”), perhaps from a PIE root *(s)melo- “smaller animal” (source also of Greek melon, Old Irish mil “a small animal;” Old Church Slavonic malu “bad”). Original sense of “narrow” now almost obsolete, except in reference to waistline and intestines.
My sister … is as white as a lilly, and as small as a wand. [Shakespeare, “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” 1591]
Sense of “not large, of little size” developed in Old English. Of children, “young,” from mid-13c. Meaning “inferior in degree or amount” is from late 13c. Meaning “trivial, unimportant” is from mid-14c. Sense of “having little property or trade” is from 1746. That of “characterized by littleness of mind or spirit, base, low, mean” is from 1824. As an adverb by late 14c.
Small fry, first recorded 1690s of little fish, 1885 of insignificant people. Small potatoes “no great matter” first attested 1924; small change “something of little value” is from 1902; small talk “chit-chat, trifling conversation” (1751) first recorded in Chesterfield’s “Letters.” Small world as a comment upon an unexpected meeting of acquaintances is recorded from 1895. Small-arms, indicating those capable of being carried in the hand (contrasted to ordnance) is recorded from 1710.
“dried berries of the pepper plant,” Middle English peper, from Old English pipor, from an early West Germanic borrowing of Latin piper “pepper,” from Greek piperi, probably (via Persian) from Middle Indic pippari, from Sanskrit pippali “long pepper.” The Latin word is the source of German Pfeffer, Italian pepe, French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc.
Application to fruits of the Capsicum family (unrelated, originally native of tropical America) is from 16c. To have pepper in the nose in Middle English was “to be supercilious or unapproachable.”
Old English sceort, scort “short, not long, not tall; brief,” probably from Proto-Germanic *skurta- (source also of Old Norse skorta “to be short of,” skort “shortness;” Old High German scurz “short”), from PIE root *sker- (1) “to cut,” on the notion of “something cut off” (compare Sanskrit krdhuh “shortened, maimed, small;” Latin curtus “short,” cordus “late-born,” originally “stunted in growth;” Old Church Slavonic kratuku, Russian korotkij “short;” Lithuanian skursti “to be stunted,” skardus “steep;” Old Irish cert “small,” Middle Irish corr “stunted, dwarfish,” all from the same root).
Meaning “having an insufficient quantity” is from 1690s. Meaning “rude” is attested from late 14c. Meaning “easily provoked” is from 1590s; perhaps the notion is of being “not long in tolerating.”
Short fuse in figurative sense of “quick temper” first attested 1968. To fall short is from archery. Short run “relatively brief period of time” is from 1879. Short story first recorded 1877. Short cut is from 1580s, from cut (n.) in the sense “passage, course, or way straight across” (1570s). To make short work of “dispose of quickly” is first attested 1570s. Phrase short and sweet is from 1530s. To be short by the knees (1733) was to be kneeling; to be short by the head (1540s) was to be beheaded.
imitative of the sound of a bell, 1550s. As a verb from 1650s.
“attached so as to hang down, suspended in air,” past-participle adjective from hang (v.). Meaning “furnished with hangings” is from 1640s; meaning “having (impressive) male genitals” is from 1640s, originally often of animals; of a jury, “unable to agree,” 1838, American English. Hung-over (also hungover) in the drinking sense is from 1950 (see hangover). Hung-up is from 1878 as “delayed;” by 1961 as “obsessed.”
Don Juan (n.)
“philanderer, womanizer,” from the legendary dissolute Spanish nobleman whose rakish exploits formed the stuff of popular tales in Spain from early 17c., dramatized by Gabriel Tellez in “Convivado de Piedra.” Adapted into French and Italian before 1700; Used attributively in English for “ladies’ man, womanizer” from the time of Byron’s popular poem about him (1819). Compare Casanova, Lothario, philander, all originally character names.
1813, “large piece cut off,” of uncertain origin; according to OED “not frequent in literature before 1850.” Possibly from West Flemish hunke (used of bread and meat), which is perhaps related to Dutch homp “lump, hump” (see hump (n.)). Meaning “attractive, sexually appealing man” is first attested 1945 in jive talk (in Australian slang, it is recorded from 1941).
“penis,” 1891, slang, of unknown origin. Perhaps suggested by dingus and other names for unnameable things; perhaps suggesting of a sound of striking (clapper of a bell?); perhaps there’s an element of donkey in it.
“tiny human being produced artificially,” 1650s, from Latin homunculus (plural homunculi), literally “little person,” with -culus, diminutive suffix, + homo (genitive hominis), which technically meant “male human,” but it also was used with a sense “the human race, mankind;” while in Vulgar Latin it could be used as “one, anyone, they, people” and in logical and scholastic writing as “a human being, person.”
This is conjectured to be from PIE *(dh)ghomon- (source also of Old Irish duine, Welsh dyn, Breton den “man;” Old Prussian smunents, smunets “man;” Old Lithuanian žmuo “person,” Lithuanian žmogus “man,” žmones “people,” Gothic guma, Old High German gomo, Old Norse gume, Old English guma “man”). The literal sense is “earthling,” from PIE root *dhghem- “earth” (compare human (adj.)). Other Latin diminutives from homo included homullus, homuncio.
c. 1200, “a wallet, leather bag,” from Old French bouge, boulge “wallet, pouch, leather bag,” or directly from Latin bulga “leather sack,” from PIE *bhelgh- “to swell,” extended form of root *bhel- (2) “to blow, swell.” Sense of “a swelling, a rounded protuberance” is first recorded 1620s. Bilge (q.v.) might be a nautical variant. Meaning “bulging part of a military front” is from 1916.
“automaton resembling a human being in form and movement,” 1837, in early use often in reference to automated chess players, from Modern Latin androides (itself attested as a Latin word in English from 1727), from Greek andro- “man” (from PIE root *ner- (2) “man”) + -eides “form, shape” (see -oid). Greek androdes meant “like a man, manly;” compare also Greek andrias “image of a man, statue.” Listed as “rare” in OED 1st edition (1879), popularized from c. 1950 by science fiction writers.
1530s, “the act of packing,” from pack (n.) + -age; or from cognate Dutch pakkage “baggage.” The main modern sense of “a bundle, a parcel, a quantity pressed or packed together” is attested from 1722. Package deal “transaction agreed to as a whole” is from 1952.
before a vowel, anthrop-, word-forming element meaning “pertaining to man or human beings,” from Greek anthrōpos “man; human being” (including women), as opposed to the gods, from andra (genitive andros), Attic form of Greek anēr “man” (as opposed to a woman, a god, or a boy), from PIE root *ner- (2) “man,” also “vigorous, vital, strong.”
Anthropos sometimes is explained as a compound of anēr and ops (genitive opos) “eye, face;” so literally “he who has the face of a man.” The change of -d- to -th- is difficult to explain; perhaps it is from some lost dialectal variant, or the mistaken belief that there was an aspiration sign over the vowel in the second element (as though *-dhropo-), which mistake might have come about by influence of common verbs such as horao “to see.” But Beekes writes, “As no IE explanation has been found, the word is probably of substrate origin.”
“small firearm with a curved handle, intended to be held in one hand when aimed and fired,” 1570s, from Middle French pistole “short firearm” (1566), a word of uncertain origin, sometimes said to be from German Pistole, from Czech pis’tala “firearm,” literally “tube, pipe,” from pisteti “to whistle,” a word of imitative origin, related to Russian pischal “shepherd’s pipe.”
But the earlier English form pistolet (1550) is said to be from Middle French pistolet “a small firearm,” also “a small dagger,” which is said to be connected with Italian pistolese, in reference to Pistoia, the town in Tuscany noted for gunsmithing.
Pistol-whip (v.) “strike (someone) with the butt of a pistol is recorded by 1942. Pistol-grip “handle shaped like the butt of a pistol” is by 1874.
c. 1300, “killing of a cattle or sheep for food, killing of a person,” from a Scandinavian *slahtr, akin to Old Norse slatr “a butchering, butcher meat,” slatra “to slaughter,” slattr “a mowing” from Proto-Germanic *slukhtis, related to Old Norse sla “to strike” (see slay (v.)) + formative suffix (as in laugh/laughter). Meaning “killing of a large number of persons in battle” is attested from mid-14c. Old English had slieht “stroke, slaughter, murder, death; animals for slaughter;” as in sliehtswyn “pig for killing.”
c. 1200, “given or granted in unusual circumstances, exceptional;” also “specific” as opposed to general or common; from Old French special, especial “special, particular, unusual” (12c., Modern French spécial) and directly from Latin specialis “individual, particular” (source also of Spanish especial, Italian speziale), from species “appearance, kind, sort” (see species).
Meaning “marked off from others by some distinguishing quality; dear, favored” is recorded from c. 1300. Also from c. 1300 is the sense of “selected for an important task; specially chosen.” From mid-14c. as “extraordinary, distinguished, having a distinctive character,” on the notion of “used for special occasions;” hence “excellent; precious.”
From late 14c. as “individual, particular; characteristic.” The meaning “limited as to function, operation, or purpose” is from 14c., but developed especially in the 19c. Special effects first attested 1951. Special interest in U.S. political sense is from 1910. Special pleading is recorded by 1680s, a term that had a sound legal meaning once but now is used generally and imprecisely. Special education in reference to those whose learning is impeded by some mental or physical handicap is from 1972.
Special pleading. (a) The allegation of special or new matter, as distinguished from a direct denial of matter previously alleged on the other side. … (c) In popular use, the specious but unsound or unfair argumentation of one whose aim is victory rather than truth. [Century Dictionary]
late 14c., from Old English hleahtor “laughter; jubilation; derision,” from Proto-Germanic *hlahtraz (source also of Old Norse hlatr, Danish latter, Old High German lahtar, German Gelächter); see laugh (v.).
early 15c., “act of setting free from bondage,” also “action of handing over to another,” from Anglo-French delivrée, noun use of fem. past participle of Old French delivrer (see deliver). Sense of “childbirth, giving forth of offspring” is by 1570s; that of “manner of utterance or enunciation” is from 1660s. Of a blow, throw of a ball, etc., “act of sending or putting forth,” from 1702. The hospital’s childbirth delivery room is attested by 1849 (in early use often in a German context, translating Kreisszimmer).
late 14c., “narrative with a happy ending; any composition intended for amusement,” from Old French comedie (14c.), “a poem” (not in the theatrical sense) and directly from Latin comoedia, from Greek kōmōidia “a comedy, amusing spectacle,” probably [Beekes] from kōmōidos “actor or singer in the revels,” from kōmos “revel, carousal, merry-making, festival” + aoidos “singer, poet,” from aeidein “to sing,” which is related to ōidē (see ode).
The passage on the nature of comedy in the Poetic of Aristotle is unfortunately lost, but if we can trust stray hints on the subject, his definition of comedy (which applied mainly to Menander) ran parallel to that of tragedy, and described the art as a purification of certain affections of our nature, not by terror and pity, but by laughter and ridicule. [Rev. J.P. Mahaffy, “A History of Classical Greek Literature,” London, 1895]
The origin of Greek komos is uncertain; perhaps it is from a PIE *komso- “praise,” and cognate with Sanskrit samsa “praise, judgment.” Beekes suggests Pre-Greek. The old derivation from kome “village” is not now regarded.
The classical sense of the word was “amusing play or performance with a happy ending,” which is similar to the modern one, but in the Middle Ages the word meant poems and stories generally (albeit ones with happy endings), such as Dante’s “Commedia.” The revival of learning 16c. recovered the ancient comedies and shifted the sense of the word to “branch of drama addressing primarily the humorous and ridiculous” (opposed to tragedy). In 18c. this was somewhat restricted to “humorous, but not grossly comical, drama” (opposed to farce).
Comedy aims at entertaining by the fidelity with which it presents life as we know it, farce at raising laughter by the outrageous absurdity of the situation or characters exhibited, & burlesque at tickling the fancy of the audience by caricaturing plays or actors with whose style it is familiar. [Fowler]
Meaning “comic play or drama” is from 1550s (the first modern comedy in English was said to be Nicholas Udall’s “Roister Doister”). Extended sense “humorous or comic incident or events in life” is from 1560s. Generalized sense of “quality of being amusing” dates from 1877.
“government by the people, system of government in which the sovereign power is vested in the people as a whole exercising power directly or by elected officials; a state so governed,” 1570s, from Middle French démocratie (14c.), from Medieval Latin democratia (13c.), from Greek dēmokratia “popular government,” from dēmos “common people,” originally “district” (see demotic), + kratos “rule, strength” (see -cracy).
Sometimes 16c.-17c. in Latinized form democratie. In 19c. England it could refer to “the class of people which has no hereditary or other rank, the common people.” In 19c. U.S. politics it could mean “principles or members of the Democratic Party.”
Democracy implies that the man must take the responsibility for choosing his rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of his own ‘rights’ against the possible and probable encroachments of the government which he has sanctioned to act for him in public matters. [Ezra Pound, “ABC of Economics,” 1933]
“pertaining or relating to the art or profession of healing or those who practice it,” 1640s, from French médical, from Late Latin medicalis “of a physician,” from Latin medicus “physician, surgeon, medical man” (n.); “healing, medicinal” (adj.), from medeor “to cure, heal,” originally “know the best course for,” from an early specialization of PIE root *med- “take appropriate measures” (source also of Avestan vi-mad- “physician”). “The meaning of medeor is based on a semantic shift from ‘measure’ to ‘distribute a cure, heal'” [de Vaan]. The earlier adjective in English in this sense was medicinal. Related: Medically.
early 15c., mokkerie, “act of derision or scorn; ridicule, disparagement; a delusion, sham, pretense,” from Old French mocquerie “sneering, mockery, sarcasm” (13c., Modern French moquerie), from moquer (see mock (v.)). From mid-15c. as “joking, making mischievous pleasantries.” Mockage also was common 16c.-17c.
1550s (earlier in Latin form piramis, late 14c.), from French pyramide (Old French piramide “obelisk, stela,” 12c.), from Latin pyramides, plural of pyramis “one of the pyramids of Egypt,” from Greek pyramis (plural pyramides) “a pyramid,” apparently an alteration of Egyptian pimar “pyramid.”
Greek pyramis also meant “kind of cake of roasted wheat-grains preserved in honey,” and in this sense is said to derive from pyros “wheat” on the model of sesamis. According to some old sources the Egyptian pyramids were so called from their resemblance to the form of the cake, but Beekes points out that “the form of the cake is actually unknown.”
Financial sense is from 1911. Related: Pyramidal.