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    V — vanilla (n.)


    In Middle English, -u- and -v- were used interchangeably, though with a preference for v- as the initial letter (vnder, vain, etc.) and -u- elsewhere (full, euer, etc.). The distinction into consonant and vowel identities was established in English by 1630, under influence of continental printers, but into 19c. some dictionaries and other catalogues continued to list -u- and -v- words as a single series.ETD V.2

    No native Anglo-Saxon words begin in v- except those (vane, vat, vixen) altered by the southwestern England habit of replacing initial f- with v- (and initial s- with z-). Confusion of -v- and -w- also was a characteristic of 16c. Cockney accents.ETD V.3

    As a Roman numeral, "five." In German rocket weapons systems of World War II, it stood for Vergeltungswaffe "reprisal weapon." V-eight as a type of motor engine is recorded from 1929 (V-engine is attested from 1909), so called for the arrangement. The V for "victory" hand sign was conceived January 1941 by Belgian politician and resistance leader Victor de Laveleye, to signify French victoire and Flemish vrijheid ("freedom"). It was broadcast into Europe by Radio België/Radio Belgique and popularized by the BBC by June 1941, from which time it became a universal allied gesture.ETD V.4

    vas (n.)

    in anatomy, "a tube, duct, or conduit for conveying blood, lymph, semen, etc.," plural vasa, Latin, literally "vessel." Vas deferens (plural vasa defferentia) is from 1570s.ETD vas (n.).2


    1709 as a colloquial shortening of vacation (n.); 1942 as a colloquial shortening of vacuum (v.); 1974 as a colloquial shortening of vacuum cleaner.ETD vac.2

    vacancy (n.)

    1570s, "a vacating;" c. 1600, "state of being vacant," from Late Latin vacantia, from Latin vacans "empty, unoccupied," present participle of vacare "be empty," from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out." From 1690s as "a vacant office or post;" meaning "available room at a hotel" is recorded from 1953. Related: Vacance (1530s); vacancies.ETD vacancy (n.).2

    vacant (adj.)

    c. 1300, "not filled, held, or occupied," from Old French vacant "idle, unoccupied" (of an office, etc.), from Latin vacantem (nominative vacans), "empty, unoccupied," present participle of vacare "be empty" (from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out"). Meaning "characterized by absence of mental occupation" is from 1570s. Related: Vacantly.ETD vacant (adj.).2

    vacation (n.)

    late 14c., "freedom from obligations, leisure, release" (from some activity or occupation), from Old French vacacion "vacancy, vacant position" (14c.) and directly from Latin vacationem (nominative vacatio) "leisure, freedom, exemption, a being free from duty, immunity earned by service," noun of state from past-participle stem of vacare "be empty, free, or at leisure," from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out."ETD vacation (n.).2

    Meanings "state of being unoccupied," "process of vacating" in English are early 15c. Meaning "formal suspension of activity, time in which there is an intermission of usual employment" (in reference to schools, courts, etc.) is recorded from mid-15c. As the U.S. equivalent of what in Britain is called a holiday, it is attested from 1878.ETD vacation (n.).3

    vacation (v.)

    1866, from vacation (n.). Related: Vacationed; vacationing.ETD vacation (v.).2

    vacate (v.)

    1640s, "to make void, to annul," from Latin vacatus, past participle of vacare "be empty, be void," from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out." Meaning "to leave, give up, quit" (a place) is attested from 1791. Related: Vacated; vacating.ETD vacate (v.).2

    vaccination (n.)

    1800, used by British physician Edward Jenner (1749-1823) for the technique he publicized of preventing smallpox by injecting people with the similar but much milder cowpox virus (variolae vaccinae), from vaccine (adj.) "pertaining to cows, from cows" (1798), from Latin vaccinus "from cows," from vacca "cow," a word of uncertain origin. A mild case of cowpox rendered one immune thereafter to smallpox. "The use of the term for diseases other than smallpox is due to Pasteur" [OED].ETD vaccination (n.).2

    The earlier 18c. method of smallpox protection in England was by a kind of inoculation called variolation (from variola, the medical Latin word for "smallpox"). There are two forms of smallpox: a minor one that killed 2% or less of the people who got it, and a virulent form that had about a 30% mortality rate and typically left survivors with severe scarring and often blinded them. Those who got the minor form were noted to be immune thereafter to the worse. Doctors would deliberately infect healthy young patients with a local dose of the minor smallpox, usually resulting in a mild case of it at worst, to render them immune to the more deadly form. Jenner's method was safer, as it involved no smallpox exposure.ETD vaccination (n.).3

    vaccinate (v.)

    1803, "to inoculate with a vaccine," originally with cowpox for the purpose of procuring immunity from smallpox, back-formation from vaccination. Related: Vaccinated; vaccinating.ETD vaccinate (v.).2

    vaccine (n.)

    "matter used in vaccination," 1846, from French vaccin, noun use of adjective, from Latin vaccina, fem. of vaccinus "pertaining to a cow" (see vaccination). Related: Vaccinal; vaccinic.ETD vaccine (n.).2

    vacillate (v.)

    1590s, "to sway unsteadily," from Latin vacillatus, past participle of vacillare "sway to and fro; hesitate" (see vacillation). Meaning "to waver between two opinions or courses" is recorded from 1620s. Related: Vacillated; vacillates; vacillating.ETD vacillate (v.).2

    vacillation (n.)

    c. 1400, "hesitation, uncertainty," from Latin vacillationem (nominative vacillatio) "a reeling, wavering," noun of action from past-participle stem of vacillare "sway to and fro, waver, hesitate, be untrustworthy," of uncertain origin. Originally in reference to opinion or conduct; literal sense is recorded from 1630s.ETD vacillation (n.).2

    vacuity (n.)

    late 14c., "hollow space," from Latin vacuitas "empty space, emptiness, absence, vacancy, freedom," from vacuus "empty," from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out." Originally in anatomy. Meaning "vacancy of mind or thought" is attested from 1590s.ETD vacuity (n.).2

    vacuole (n.)

    "small cavity or vesicle," 1853, from French vacuole, from Medieval Latin vacuola, formed as a diminutive of Latin vacuus "empty," from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out."ETD vacuole (n.).2

    vacuous (adj.)

    1640s, "empty" (implied in vacuousness), from Latin vacuus "empty, void, free" (from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out"). Figurative sense of "empty of ideas, without intelligent expression" is from 1848. Related: Vacuously.ETD vacuous (adj.).2

    vacuum (n.)

    1540s, "emptiness of space," from Latin vacuum "an empty space, vacant place, a void," noun use of neuter of vacuus "empty, unoccupied, devoid of," figuratively "free, unoccupied," from Proto-Italic *wakowos, related to the source of Latin vacare "to be empty" (from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out"), with adjectival suffix -uus. Properly a loan-translation of Greek kenon, literally "that which is empty."ETD vacuum (n.).2

    Meaning "a space emptied of air" is attested from 1650s. Vacuum tube "glass thermionic device" is attested from 1859. Vacuum cleaner is from 1903; shortened form vacuum (n.) first recorded 1910.ETD vacuum (n.).3

    vacuum (v.)

    "to clean with a vacuum cleaner," by 1913, from vacuum (n.). Related: Vacuumed; vacuuming.ETD vacuum (v.).2


    Latin, imperative singular of vadere "to go" (see vamoose).ETD vade.2

    vade-mecum (n.)

    "a pocket manual, handbook," 1620s, Latin, literally "go with me;" from imperative of vadere "to go" (see vamoose) + me "me" + cum "with."ETD vade-mecum (n.).2

    vae victis

    Latin, literally "woe to the vanquished," from Livy, "History" V.xlviii.9.ETD vae victis.2

    vagabond (n.)

    c. 1400, earlier wagabund (in a criminal indictment from 1311); see vagabond (adj.). Despite the earliest use, in Middle English often merely "one who is without a settled home, a vagrant" but not necessarily in a bad sense. Notion of "idle, disreputable person" predominated from 17c.ETD vagabond (n.).2

    vagabond (adj.)

    early 15c. (earlier vacabond, c. 1400), from Old French vagabond, vacabond "wandering, unsteady" (14c.), from Late Latin vagabundus "wandering, strolling about," from Latin vagari "wander" (from vagus "wandering, undecided;" see vague) + gerundive suffix -bundus.ETD vagabond (adj.).2

    vagal (adj.)

    "pertaining to the vagus," 1846, from vagus + -al (1).ETD vagal (adj.).2

    vagary (n.)

    1570s, "a wandering, a roaming journey," from Italian vagare or directly from Latin vagari "to wander, stroll about, roam, be unsettled, spread abroad," from vagus "roving, wandering" (see vague). The infinitive appears to have been adopted in English as a noun and conformed to nouns in -ary, "but this can hardly be explained except as an orig. university use" [Century Dictionary]. Current meaning of "eccentric notion or conduct" (1620s) is from notion of mental wandering. Related: Vagaries.ETD vagary (n.).2

    vaginitis (n.)

    "inflammation of the vagina," 1833, medical Latin; see vagina + -itis "inflammation."ETD vaginitis (n.).2

    vaginal (adj.)

    1726, "pertaining to a sheath," from vagina + -al (1). From 1800 as "pertaining to the vagina of a female." Related: Vaginally.ETD vaginal (adj.).2

    vagina (n.)

    "sexual passage of the female from the vulva to the uterus," 1680s, medical Latin, from specialized use of Latin vagina "sheath, scabbard, covering; sheath of an ear of grain, hull, husk" (plural vaginae), a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps cognate with Lithuanian vožiu, vožti "to cover with a hollow thing," but de Vaan points out that "Obviously, this is a gratuitous proposal." A modern medical word; the Latin word was not used in an anatomical sense in classical times. Anthropological vagina dentata is attested from 1902.ETD vagina (n.).2

    vaginismus (n.)

    "spasmodic narrowing of the orifice of the vagina," 1861, medical Latin, from vagina + -ismus (see -ism).ETD vaginismus (n.).2

    vagitus (n.)

    crying of a newborn child, 1650s, from Latin vagitus "a crying, squalling," from vagire (see sough (v.)).ETD vagitus (n.).2

    vagrancy (n.)

    "life of idle begging," 1706, from vagrant + abstract noun suffix -cy. Earlier in a figurative sense, "mental wandering" (1640s). By late 18c. used in law as a catch-all for miscellaneous petty offenses against public order.ETD vagrancy (n.).2

    vagrant (adj.)

    early 15c., from Anglo-French vagarant, waucrant, and sharing with it the history to be found under vagrant (n.). Dogberry's corruption vagrom ("Much Ado about Nothing") persisted through 19c. in learned jocularity.ETD vagrant (adj.).2

    vagrant (n.)

    mid-15c., "person who lacks regular employment, one without fixed abode, a tramp," probably from Anglo-French vageraunt, also wacrant, walcrant, which is said in many sources to be a noun use of the past participle of Old French walcrer "to wander," from Frankish (Germanic) *walken, from the same source as Old Norse valka "wander" and English walk (v.).ETD vagrant (n.).2

    Under this theory the word was influenced by Old French vagant, vagaunt "wandering," from Latin vagantem (nominative vagans), past participle of vagari "to wander, stroll about" (see vagary). But on another theory the Anglo-French word ultimately is from Old French vagant, with an unetymological -r-. Middle English also had vagaunt "wandering, without fixed abode" (late 14c.), from Old French vagant.ETD vagrant (n.).3

    vagus (n.)

    plural vagi, 1840, "pneumogastric nerve," the long, widely distributed nerve from the brain to the upper body, from Latin vagus "wandering, straying" (see vague).ETD vagus (n.).2

    vague (adj.)

    "uncertain as to specifics," 1540s, from French vague "empty, vacant; wild, uncultivated; wandering" (13c.), from Latin vagus "strolling, wandering, rambling," figuratively "vacillating, uncertain," perhaps from PIE *Huog-o- and cognate with Old Norse vakka "to stray, hover," Old High German wankon "to totter, stagger," Old High German winkan "to waver, stagger, wink," Old English wincian "to nod" [de Vaan]. Related: Vagueness.ETD vague (adj.).2

    vaguely (adv.)

    1748, from vague + -ly (2).ETD vaguely (adv.).2

    vail (n.)

    "advantage, profit," early 15c., from vail (v.) "to be of use or service" (c. 1300), from Old French vail, from valoir "to be of value or worth" (see value (n.)).ETD vail (n.).2

    vain (adj.)

    c. 1300, "devoid of real value, idle, unprofitable," from Old French vain, vein "worthless, void, invalid, feeble; conceited" (12c.), from Latin vanus "empty, void," figuratively "idle, fruitless," from PIE *wano-, suffixed form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out."ETD vain (adj.).2

    Meaning "conceited, elated with a high opinion of oneself" first recorded 1690s in English; earlier "silly, idle, foolish" (late 14c.). Phrase in vain "to no effect" (c. 1300, after Latin in vanum) preserves the original sense. Related: Vainly; vainness. Compare also vainglory.ETD vain (adj.).3

    vainglory (n.)

    c. 1200, "worthless glory, undue pomp or show," waynglori, from Old French vaine glorie, from Medieval Latin vana gloria (see vain + glory (n.)).ETD vainglory (n.).2

    vainglorious (adj.)

    early 15c., from vainglory + -ous, or from Old French vain glorios "boastful, swaggering." Related: Vaingloriously; vaingloriousness. Grose ("Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 3rd ed., 1796) has vain-glorious man "One who boasts without reason, or, as the canters say, pisses more than he drinks."ETD vainglorious (adj.).2

    vair (n.)

    "squirrel fur," or some other kind of fur in use in the Middle Ages, c. 1300, from Old French vair "two-toned squirrel fur; fur garments" (12c.), from Latin varium, masculine accusative singular of varius "parti-colored" (see vary). Gray or black above and white below.ETD vair (n.).2

    valance (n.)

    piece of hanging, decorative drapery, mid-15c., of uncertain origin, probably from Anglo-French *valaunce, valence, from valer "go down, let down," variant of Old French avaler "descend, go down;" or possibly from the plural of Old French avalant, from present participle of avaler "go down." The notion is of something "hanging down." Not now considered to be from the name of Valence in southwestern France, which is from the Roman personal name Valentius. Related: Valenced.ETD valance (n.).2

    vale (n.)

    river-land between two ranges of hills, early 14c., from Old French val "valley, vale" (12c.), from Latin vallem (nominative vallis, valles) "valley" (see valley). Now "little used except in poetry" [Century Dictionary]. Vale of years "old age" is from "Othello." Vale of tears "this world as a place of trouble" is attested from c. 1400. An older phrase in the same sense was dale of dol (mid-15c.).ETD vale (n.).2

    valediction (n.)

    "a farewell, a bidding farewell," 1610s, from past participle stem of Latin valedicere "bid farewell, take leave," from vale "farewell!," second person singular imperative of valere "be well, be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong") + dicere "to say" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly").ETD valediction (n.).2

    valedictory (adj.)

    1650s, "pertaining or relating to leave-taking," from Latin valedictum (past participle of valedicere; see valediction) + -ory. As a noun meaning "valedictory address" from 1779.ETD valedictory (adj.).2

    valedictorian (n.)

    "student who pronounces the oration at commencement exercises of his or her class," 1832, American English, from valedictory + -ian. As an adjective from 1834.ETD valedictorian (n.).2

    valence (n.)

    early 15c., "extract, preparation," from Latin valentia "strength, capacity," from valentem (nominative valens) "strong, stout, vigorous, powerful," present participle of valere "be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong"). Chemistry sense of "relative combining capacity of an element with other atoms when forming compounds or molecules" is recorded from 1884, from German Valenz (1868), from the Latin word. Related: Valency.ETD valence (n.).2


    place in Spain, Roman Valentia Edetanorum "fort of the Edetani," a local people name; the first element from Latin valentia "strength" (see valence (n.)).ETD Valencia.2

    Valentine (n.)

    mid-15c., "sweetheart chosen on St. Valentine's Day," from Late Latin Valentinus, the name of two early Italian saints (from Latin valentia "strength, capacity;" see valence). Choosing a sweetheart on this day originated 14c. as a custom in English and French court circles. Meaning "letter or card sent to a sweetheart" first recorded 1824. The romantic association of the day is said to be from it being around the time when birds choose their mates.ETD Valentine (n.).2

    Probably the date was the informal first day of spring in whatever French region invented the custom (many surviving medieval calendars reckon the start of spring on the 7th or 22nd of February). No evidence connects it with the Roman Lupercalia (an 18c. theory) or to any romantic or avian quality in either of the saints. The custom of sending special cards or letters on this date flourished in England c. 1840-1870, declined around the turn of the 20th century, and revived 1920s.ETD Valentine (n.).3

    Valentino (n.)

    "gigolo, good-looking romantic man," 1927, from Italian-born U.S. movie actor Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), who was adored by female fans. His full name was Rodolfo Guglielmi di Valentino, from the Latin masc. proper name Valentinus (see Valentine).ETD Valentino (n.).2


    fem. proper name, French, from Latin Valeria, fem. of Valerius, name of a Roman gens, from valere "to be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong").ETD Valerie.2

    valerian (n.)

    plant of Eurasia, cultivated for its medicinal root, late 14c., from Old French valeriane "wild valerian" (13c.), apparently from feminine singular of Latin adjective Valerianus, from the personal name Valerius (see Valerie); but Weekley writes, "some of the German and Scand. forms of the name point rather to connection with the saga-hero Wieland."ETD valerian (n.).2

    valet (n.)

    "personal man-servant," mid-14c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French valet, variant of vaslet "man's servant, workman's assistant," originally "squire, young man, youth of noble birth" (12c.), from Gallo-Roman *vassellittus "young nobleman, squire, page," diminutive of Medieval Latin vassallus, from vassus "servant" (see vassal). Modern sense is usually short for valet de chambre; the general sense of "male household servant of the meaner sort" going with the variant form varlet. First recorded use of valet parking is from 1959.ETD valet (n.).2

    valetudinarian (n.)

    "one who is constantly concerned with his own ailments," 1703, from valetudinary (1580s), from Latin valetudinarius, from valetudo "state of health" (either good or bad), from valere "be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong") + -tudo, abstract noun suffix (see -tude). Valetudinary (adj.) "sickly" is recorded from 1580s.ETD valetudinarian (n.).2

    valgus (adj., n.)

    deformity in which a bone or joint is twisted outward from the center of the body; form of club-foot, 1800, from Latin valgus "bandy-legged, bow-legged, having the legs bent outward." Said to be probably related to Sanskrit valgati "to move up and down," Old English wealcan "to roll, move to and fro" (see walk (v.)), perhaps on the notion of "go irregularly or to and fro" [Tucker]. "Yet the main characteristic of 'bow-legged' is the crookedness of the legs, not 'going up and down' or 'to and fro'" [de Vaan] and there are phonetic difficulties. A classical word used in a different sense in modern medicine; also see varus.ETD valgus (adj., n.).2

    Valhalla (n.)

    heavenly hall in which Odin receives the souls of heroes slain in battle, 1696 (in Archdeacon Nicolson's "English Historical Library"), from Old Norse Valhöll "hall of the battle-slain;" first element from valr "those slain in battle," from Proto-Germanic *walaz (source also of Old English wæl "slaughter, bodies of the slain," Old High German wal "battlefield, slaughter"), from PIE root *wele- (2) "to strike, wound" (source also of Avestan vareta- "seized, prisoner," Latin veles "ghosts of the dead," Old Irish fuil "blood," Welsh gwel "wound"). Second element is from höll "hall," from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." Reintroduced by 18c. antiquaries. Figurative sense is from 1845.ETD Valhalla (n.).2

    valiance (n.)

    "valiant character" (obsolete or archaic), mid-15c., earlier vailance (late 14c.), from Anglo-French vaillaunce, valiauns (c. 1300) or Old French vaillance "value, price; merit, worth; virtue, fine qualities; courage, valor" (12c.), from Old French valiant "stalwart, brave," present-participle adjective from valoir "be worthy," originally "be strong," from Latin valere "be strong, be well, be worth, have power, be able, be in health" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong").ETD valiance (n.).2

    valiant (adj.)

    early 14c. (late 12c. in surnames), "brave, courageous, intrepid in danger," from Anglo-French vaylant, and Old French vaillant "stalwart, brave," present-participle adjective from valoir "be worthy," originally "be strong," from Latin valere "be strong, be well, be worth, have power, be able, be in health," from PIE root *wal- "to be strong." As a noun, "valiant person," from c. 1600. Related: Valiantly.ETD valiant (adj.).2

    validate (v.)

    1640s, from Medieval Latin validatus, past participle of validare "to make valid," from validus (see valid). Related: Validated; validating.ETD validate (v.).2

    validity (n.)

    1540s, from French validité or directly from Late Latin validitatem (nominative validitas) "strength," from Latin validus (see valid).ETD validity (n.).2

    validation (n.)

    "act of giving validity," 1650s, noun of action from validate.ETD validation (n.).2

    valid (adj.)

    1570s, "having force in law, legally binding," from French valide (16c.), from Latin validus "strong, effective, powerful, active," from valere "be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong"). The meaning "sufficiently supported by facts or authority, well-grounded" is attested by 1640s.ETD valid (adj.).2

    valise (n.)

    1610s, "suitcase, soldier's kit bag," from French valise (16c.), from Italian valigia, a word of uncertain origin. Attested in Medieval Latin forms valisia (early 15c.), valixia (late 13c.). "The name is generally given to a leather case of moderate size, opening wide on a hinge or like a portfolio ...." [Century Dictionary]ETD valise (n.).2

    Valium (n.)

    1961, proprietary name (Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Nutley, N.J.) of diazepam (reg. U.S.), of unknown origin.ETD Valium (n.).2

    Valkyr (n.)

    see Valkyrie.ETD Valkyr (n.).2

    Valkyrie (n.)

    1768, one of 12 war-maidens who escorted the brave dead to Valhalla, from Old Norse valkyrja, literally "chooser of the slain," from valr "those slain in battle" (see Valhalla) + kyrja "chooser," from ablaut root of kjosa "to choose," from Proto-Germanic *keusan, from PIE root *geus- "to taste; to choose." Old English form was Wælcyrie, but they seem not to have figured as largely in Anglo-Saxon tales as in Scandinavian. German Walküre (Wagner) is from Norse. Related: Valkyrian.ETD Valkyrie (n.).2

    valley (n.)

    c. 1300, from Anglo-French valey, Old French valee "a valley" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *vallata, from Latin vallis "valley," of unknown origin. Valley Girl (in reference to San Fernando Valley of California) was popularized 1982 in song by Frank Zappa and his daughter. Valley of Death (Psalm xxiii.4) was rendered in Middle English as Helldale (mid-13c.).ETD valley (n.).2

    valor (n.)

    c. 1300, "value, worth," from Old French valor, valour "valor, moral worth, merit, courage, virtue" (12c.), from Late Latin valorem (nominative valor) "value, worth" (in Medieval Latin "strength, valor"), from stem of Latin valere "be strong, be worth" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong"). The meaning "courage" is first recorded 1580s, from Italian valore, from the same Late Latin word. (The Middle English word also had a sense of "worth or worthiness in respect of manly qualities").ETD valor (n.).2

    valorization (n.)

    1906, from valor "value" (late 15c.), variant of valour (see valor).ETD valorization (n.).2

    valorize (v.)

    1908, from valor (see valorization) + -ize.ETD valorize (v.).2

    valorous (adj.)

    late 15c., from French valeureux, from valeur (see valor). Related: Valorously; valorousness.ETD valorous (adj.).2

    valour (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of valor (q.v.); for spelling, see -or.ETD valour (n.).2

    value (n.)

    c. 1300, "price equal to the intrinsic worth of a thing;" late 14c., "degree to which something is useful or estimable," from Old French value "worth, price, moral worth; standing, reputation" (13c.), noun use of fem. past participle of valoir "be worth," from Latin valere "be strong, be well; be of value, be worth" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong"). The meaning "social principle" is attested from 1918, supposedly borrowed from the language of painting. Value judgment (1889) is a loan-translation of German Werturteil.ETD value (n.).2

    values (n.)

    "principles, standards," 1918, from plural of value (n.).ETD values (n.).2

    value (v.)

    mid-15c., "estimate the value of," also "think highly of," probably from value (n.). Related: Valued, valuing.ETD value (v.).2

    valuable (adj.)

    "of great value or price," 1580s, from value (v.) + -able. As a noun, "a valuable thing," from 1775 (in modern use often in plural). Related: Valuably.ETD valuable (adj.).2

    valuables (n.)

    see valuable.ETD valuables (n.).2

    valuation (n.)

    1520s, from French valuation, noun of action from valuer, from Old French valoir (see value (n.)).ETD valuation (n.).2

    valueless (adj.)

    1590s, from value (n.) + -less. Related: Valuelessness.ETD valueless (adj.).2

    valve (n.)

    late 14c., "one of the halves of a folding door," from Latin valva (plural valvae) "section of a folding or revolving door," literally "that which turns," related to volvere "to roll," from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." Sense extended 1610s to "membranous fold regulating flow of bodily fluids;" 1650s to "mechanical device that works like an anatomical valve;" and 1660s in zoology to "halves of a hinged shell." Related: Valved.ETD valve (n.).2

    vambrace (n.)

    armor or guard for the forearm, early 14c., from Anglo-French vant-bras, from Old French avant-bras, from avant "before, in front of" (see avant) + bras "an arm" (see brace (n.)).ETD vambrace (n.).2

    vamoose (v.)

    "to decamp, be off," 1834, from Spanish vamos "let us go," from Latin vadamus, first person plural indicative or subjunctive of vadere "to go, to walk, go hastily," from PIE root *wadh- (2) "to go" (source also of Old English wadan "to go," Latin vadum "ford;" see wade (v.)).ETD vamoose (v.).2

    vamp (v.)

    "extemporize on a piano," 1789, from vamp (n.1) "upper part of a shoe or boot," via verbal sense of "provide a stocking (later a shoe) with a new vamp" (1590s), then "patch up, repair" (compare revamp). Related: Vamped; vamping.ETD vamp (v.).2

    vamp (n.1)

    "upper of a shoe or boot," 1650s, earlier "part of a stocking that covers the foot and ankle" (c. 1200), from Anglo-French *vaumpé, from Old French avantpié "vamp of a shoe," from avant "in front" (see avant) + pié "foot," from Latin pes "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot").ETD vamp (n.1).2

    vamp (n.2)

    "seductive woman who exploits men," 1915, popular shortening of vampire, which exists in this sense by 1909 in the novel A Fool There Was by Porter Emerson Browne, based on a Kipling poem written in conjunction with a painting called "The Vampire" by Kipling's cousin Philip Burne-Jones. The poem and painting were first exhibited together in 1897.ETD vamp (n.2).2

    The 1915 film A Fool There Was, based on the novel, is credited with bringing the term vamp into the mainstream after Theda Bara's debut role as The Vampire propelled her to stardom. The word was in print in reference to dangerous women within a month of the movie's premier.ETD vamp (n.2).3

    Previously the word was used as a pejorative for men, perhaps shortened from vamper, originally indicating dishonest men who stole or cheated through trickery (in this sense, by 1864). The male word may have influenced the clipping of the female vampire.ETD vamp (n.2).4

    N.B. The print OED citation of Chesterton using the word vamp in this sense in 1911 cannot be confirmed; the sentence quoted might be from 1926.ETD vamp (n.2).5

    vampire (n.)

    spectral being in a human body who maintains semblance of life by leaving the grave at night to suck the warm blood of the living as they sleep, 1732, vampyre, from French vampire (18c.) or German Vampir (1732, like the English word first in an account of Hungarian vampires), from Hungarian vampir, from Old Church Slavonic ǫpiri, ǫpyri (source also of Serbian vampir, Bulgarian vapir, Ukrainian uper), said by Slavic linguist Franc Miklošič to be ultimately from Kazan Tatar ubyr "witch," but Max Vasmer, an expert in this linguistic area, finds that phonetically doubtful.ETD vampire (n.).2

    An Eastern European creature popularized in English by late 19c. gothic novels, however there are scattered English accounts of night-walking, blood-gorged, plague-spreading undead corpses from as far back as 1196. Figurative sense of "person who preys on others" is from 1741. Applied 1774 by French biologist Buffon to a species of South American blood-sucking bat. Related: Vampiric.ETD vampire (n.).3

    The spread of the story about this time is perhaps traceable to a pamphlet published in 1732, the title page of which reads: Dissertationem De Hominibus Post Mortem Sanguisugis, Vulgo Sic Dictis Vampyren, Auctoritate Inclyti Philosophorum Ordinis, Publico Eruditorum Examini Die XXX. Aug. An. MDCCXXXII. Submittent M. Io. Christophorus Pohlius, Lignicens. Silesius Et Io. Gottlob Hertelius, Philos. Et Med. Stud. ETD vampire (n.).4

    vampirism (n.)

    1737, from vampire + -ism.ETD vampirism (n.).2

    van (n.2)

    "covered truck or wagon," 1829, shortening of caravan. Century Dictionary suggests this was perhaps regarded as *carry-van.ETD van (n.2).2

    van (n.1)

    "front part of an army or other advancing group," c. 1600, shortening of vanguard.ETD van (n.1).2

    vanadium (n.)

    rare metallic element, 1833, named 1830 by Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefström (1787-1845), from Old Norse Vanadis, one of the names of the Norse beauty goddess Freyja (perhaps from PIE root *wen- (1) "to desire, strive for," which would connect it to Venus); the metal perhaps so called for of its colorful compounds (an earlier name for it was erythronium, for the redness of its salts when heated). With metallic element ending -ium. Related: Vanadous; vanadious.ETD vanadium (n.).2

    Van Allen

    name of radiation belts around the Earth (and certain other planets), 1959, from U.S. physicist James A. Van Allen (1914-2006), who reported them in 1958.ETD Van Allen.2


    Canadian city, settled 1865, named for the island, which was named for English navigator George Vancouver (1757-1798) who sailed with Capt. Cook and surveyed the Pacific coast in this area in 1792.ETD Vancouver.2

    vandal (n.)

    1660s, "willful destroyer of what is beautiful or venerable," from Vandals, name of the Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in 455 under Genseric, from Latin Vandalus (plural Vandali), from the tribe's name for itself (Old English Wendlas), perhaps from Proto-Germanic *wandljaz "wanderer." The literal historical sense in English is recorded from 1550s.ETD vandal (n.).2

    vandalism (n.)

    1794, from French vandalisme, first used by Henri Grégoire, Bishop of Blois, in a report decrying the pillage and destruction of art in the course of the French Revolution; see vandal + -ism.ETD vandalism (n.).2

    vandalize (v.)

    by 1797, from vandal + -ize. Related: Vandalized; vandalizing. A past participle vandald is recorded from 1640s..ETD vandalize (v.).2

    van de Graaff

    in reference to an electrostatic charge generator, 1934, named for U.S. physicist R.J. van de Graaff (1901-1967).ETD van de Graaff.2

    vandyke (n.)

    "short, pointed beard," 1894, from the style shown on portraits by Flemish painter Anton Van Dyck (1599-1641); earlier "a type of collar with a deep cut edge" (1755) also from a style depicted in his paintings.ETD vandyke (n.).2

    vane (n.)

    "plate metal wind indicator," early 15c., southern England alteration (see V) of fane "flag, banner."ETD vane (n.).2


    fem. proper name, also the name of a butterfly genus. As a name, not much used in U.S. before 1950. It appears to have been coined by Swift c. 1711 as a pseudonym for Esther Vanhomrigh, who was romantically attached to him, and composed of elements of her name. He used it in private correspondence and published it in the poem "Cadenus and Vanessa" (1713).ETD Vanessa.2

    As the name of a genus of butterflies that includes the Red Admiral and the Painted Lady, it dates to 1808, chosen by Danish entomologist Johan Christian Fabricius (1745-1808) for unknown reasons. He has no obvious connection to Swift, and the theory that it was intended for *Phanessa, from Greek phanes "a mystical divinity in the Orphic system" does no honor to his classical learning.ETD Vanessa.3

    vanguard (n.)

    mid-15c., vaunt garde, from an Anglo-French variant of Old French avant-garde, from avant "in front" (see avant) + garde "guard" (see guard (n.)). Communist revolutionary sense is recorded from 1928.ETD vanguard (n.).2

    vanilla (n.)

    1660s, "pod of the vanilla plant," from Spanish vainilla "vanilla plant," literally "little pod," diminutive of vaina "sheath," from Latin vagina "sheath of an ear of grain, hull of a plant" (see vagina). So called from the shape of the pods. European discovery 1521 by Hernando Cortes' soldiers on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico. Meaning "flavoring extracted from the vanilla bean" is attested by 1728.ETD vanilla (n.).2

    Adjectival meaning "conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences" is by 1970s, probably from the notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream; vanilla as figurative of a plain and conventional choice (without reference to sex) seems to date to the late 19c. as a noun, by 1940s (often plain vanilla) as an adjective.ETD vanilla (n.).3

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