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    D — Dane (n.)


    fourth letter of the Roman alphabet, from Greek delta, from Phoenician and Hebrew daleth, pausal form of deleth "door," so called from its shape.ETD D.2

    The form of the modern letter is the Greek delta (Δ) with one angle rounded. As the sign for "500" in Roman numerals, it is said to be half of CIƆ, which was an early form of M, the sign for "1,000." 3-D for "three-dimensional" is attested from 1952.ETD D.3

    Unetymological -d- is the result of a tendency in English and neighboring languages, perhaps for euphony, to add -d- to -n-, and especially to insert or swap a -d- sound when -l- or -r- follow too closely an -n-.ETD D.4

    Compare sound (n.1), gender (n.), thunder (n.), spindle, kindred, strand (n.2) "fiber of rope," dialectal rundel, rundle for runnel. Swound was a form of swoun (swoon) attested from mid-15c, and used by Malory, Spenser, Lyly, Middleton, Beaumont & Fletcher. Among the words from French are powder (n.), meddle, tender (adj.), remainder, also riband, jaundice. It is less evident in spider (an agent noun from the Germanic *spin- root), and perhaps explains lender in place of loaner.ETD D.5


    *dā-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to divide."ETD *da-.2

    It forms all or part of: betide; daimon; Damocles; deal (v.); deal (n.1) "part, portion;" demagogue; demiurge; democracy; demography; demon; demotic; dole; endemic; epidemic; eudaemonic; geodesic; geodesy; ordeal; pandemic; pandemonium; tidal; tide (n.) "rise and fall of the sea;" tidings; tidy; time; zeitgeist.ETD *da-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dati "cuts, divides;" Greek dēmos "people, land," perhaps literally "division of society," daiesthai "to divide;" Old Irish dam "troop, company;" Old English tid "point or portion of time," German Zeit "time."ETD *da-.4

    da (n.)

    "father," by 1851, a nursery or provincial abbreviation of dad.ETD da (n.).2


    American English initialism (acronym) for district attorney from 1934; for duck's ass haircut (or, as OED would have it, duck's arse), from 1951. The haircut so called for the shape at the back of the head.ETD D.A..2

    dab (v.)

    early 14c., dabben "to strike," of unknown origin, perhaps imitative. Compare Old Norse dabba "to tap, slap." Modern sense of "strike gently with the hand, strike with a slight, quick pressure" developed by mid-16c., influenced by French dauber (see daub). Related: Dabbed; dabbing; dabber.ETD dab (v.).2

    As a noun from c. 1300, "heavy blow with a weapon," later "gentle blow with the hand or some soft substance" (1755). Meaning "small lump or mass of something soft" is from 1749. Dab hand is British slang, 1828, from dab "expert, knowing or skillful person" (1690s), said by OED to be "school slang," of unknown origin, perhaps from dab in the "strike lightly" sense. Compare dabster, which meant both "an expert" (1708) or "a bungler" (1871, perhaps by confusion with daub).ETD dab (v.).3

    dabble (v.)

    1550s, "to dip a little and often," hence "to wet by splashing," probably a frequentative of dab. Figurative sense of "do superficially" attested by 1620s. Related: Dabbled; dabbling. An Ellen Dablewife is in the Lancashire Inquests from 1336.ETD dabble (v.).2

    dace (n.)

    type of small European freshwater fish, mid-15c., also dars, dase, dare, from Old French darz "a dace," nominative or plural of dart "dart" (see dart (n.)). So called for its swiftness. Another theory traces it to a Medieval Latin darsus "a dart," which is said to be of Gaulish origin. Also used of similar or related fish. For loss of -r- before -s-, compare bass (n.1) from barse and see cuss (v.).ETD dace (n.).2

    dacha (n.)

    Russian country house or small villa near a town, for summer use, 1896, from Russian dacha, originally "gift" (of land), from Slavic *datja, from PIE root *do- "to give."ETD dacha (n.).2


    town in Bavaria, Germany, from Old High German daha "clay" + ouwa "island," describing its situation on high ground by the Amper River. Infamous as the site of a Nazi concentration camp nearby, opened in 1933 as a detention site for political prisoners and surrendered to the U.S. Army April 29, 1945.ETD Dachau.2

    Not a death camp, but as it was one of the places where inmates from other camps were sent as the Reich collapsed at the end of the war, and as it was one of the few large camps overrun by British or American forces, in the West it came to symbolize Nazi atrocities. "Arbeit Macht Frei" was spelled out in metal on the gate (as it was on other camps, such as Gross-Rosen, Sachsenhausen, Theresienstadt).ETD Dachau.3

    dachshund (n.)

    breed of short-legged, long-bodied dogs, 1844, from German Dachshund (15c.), from Dachs "badger" (Old High German dahs, 11c., cognate with Middle Dutch das "badger"), from Proto-Germanic *thahsuz "badger," perhaps literally "builder, the animal that builds," in reference to its burrowing (from PIE root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate"), but according to Watkins "more likely" borrowed from the same PIE source as the Celtic totemic name *Tazgo- (source of Gaulish Tazgo-, Gaelic Tadhg), originally "badger."ETD dachshund (n.).2

    Second element is German Hund "dog" (see hound (n.)). Probably so called because the dogs were used in badger hunts, their long, thin bodies bred to burrow into setts and draw the animal out. French taisson, Spanish texon, tejon, Italian tasso are Germanic loan words.ETD dachshund (n.).3

    Dacian (adj.)

    1660s, "of or pertaining to the Daci, an ancient barbarian people, or their land, which was conquered by Trajan in 104 C.E. and made a Roman province, Dacia, corresponding roughly to modern Romania. From Latin Daci, from Greek Dakoi. As a noun from 1776.ETD Dacian (adj.).2

    Dacron (n.)

    polyethylene terephthalate used as a textile fabric, 1951, proprietary name coined by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.; an invented word of no etymology, on the model of nylon, etc.ETD Dacron (n.).2

    dactyl (n.)

    metrical foot, late 14c., from Latin dactylus, from Greek daktylos, a unit of measure (a finger-breadth), also "a fruit of the date tree, a date," literally "finger" (also "toe"), a word of unknown origin. The metrical use (a long syllable followed by two short ones) is by analogy with the three joints of a finger. In English versification it refers to an accented syllable followed by two unaccented. The "date" sense also sometimes was used in early Modern English.ETD dactyl (n.).2

    dactylic (adj.)

    "constituting or equivalent to a dactyl; composed of dactyls," 1580s, from Latin dactylicus, from Greek daktylikos "pertaining to a dactyl," from daktylos (see dactyl).ETD dactylic (adj.).2

    dactylogram (n.)

    "a fingerprint," 1913, from Latinized form of Greek daktylos "finger" (a word of unknown origin) + -gram.ETD dactylogram (n.).2

    dactylography (n.)

    by 1844 as "the science of study of finger-rings," with -graphy + Latinized form of Greek daktylios "a finger ring," from daktylos "finger," which is of unknown origin. From 1884 as "finger-spelling," which earlier had been dactylology (1650s). Related: Dactylographer; dactylographic.ETD dactylography (n.).2

    dad (n.)

    "a father, papa," recorded from c. 1500, but probably much older, from child's speech, nearly universal and probably prehistoric (compare Welsh tad, Irish daid, Lithuanian tėtė, Sanskrit tatah, Czech tata, Latin tata "father," Greek tata, used by youths to their elders). Compare papa.ETD dad (n.).2


    1920, from French dada "hobbyhorse," child's nonsense word, selected 1916 by Romanian poet Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), leader of the movement, for its resemblance to meaningless babble.ETD Dada.2

    Related: Dadaist; Dadaism.ETD Dada.3

    dada (n.)

    child's word for "father," 1680s; see dad.ETD dada (n.).2

    daddy (n.)

    c. 1500, colloquial diminutive of dad, with -y (3). Slang daddy-o is attested by 1949, from bop talk.ETD daddy (n.).2

    Daddy-long-legs is from 1814 in Britain as "crane-fly," a slender, long-legged summer fly. In the U.S., it was used by 1865 as the word for a spider-like arachnid with a small round body and very long, slender legs.ETD daddy (n.).3

    dado (n.)

    1660s, "part of a pedestal between the base and the cornice," from Italian dado "die, cube," from Latin datum (see die (n.)). Meaning "wood paneling on the lower part of a wall in a room" is by 1787.ETD dado (n.).2


    also D.A.E., initialism (acronym) for "A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles," published in four volumes between 1936 and 1944, edited by Sir William A. Craigie and James R. Hulbert.ETD DAE.2

    daedal (adj.)

    also dedal, 1580s, "skillful, cunning," from Latin daedalus, from Greek daidalos "skillful, cunningly wrought." Also (1610s) an Englished form of the name Daedalus from Greek mythology.ETD daedal (adj.).2


    father of Icarus in Greek mythology, builder of the Cretan labyrinth, from Latin Daedelus, from Greek Daidalos, literally "the cunning worker," from or related to daidallein "to work artfully, embellish," a word of disputed etymology. Beekes writes, "we should consider Pre-Greek origin." Related: Daedalian.ETD Daedalus.2

    daemon (n.)

    alternative spelling (in specialized senses) of demon (q.v.); also compare daimon. Related: Daemonic.ETD daemon (n.).2

    daffy (adj.)

    "simple, wanting in intelligence," also "crazy, mad," 1884, perhaps from daft (adj.), or from obsolete daffe "a halfwit" (early 14c.; mid-13c. as a surname), which survived in 19c. in dialects, itself of uncertain origin (OED finds a proposed origin in Scandinavian words for "deaf, stupid," such as Old Norse daufr, "phonetically inadmissible"). Compare late 15c. daffish "dull-witted, spiritless." With -y (2). Related: Daffily; daffiness. The Warner Bros. cartoon character Daffy Duck debuted in 1937.ETD daffy (adj.).2

    daffodil (n.)

    1540s, "asphodel," a variant of Middle English affodill "asphodel" (c. 1400), from Medieval Latin affodillus, from Latin asphodelus, from Greek asphodelos, which is of unknown origin. The initial d- is perhaps from merging of the article in Dutch de affodil, the Netherlands being a source for bulbs. First reference to the yellow, early spring flower we know by this name (Narcissus pseudo-Narcissus) is from 1590s. The name has many, often fanciful, variant forms. Lent-lily for "daffodil" is from 1827.ETD daffodil (n.).2

    daft (adj.)

    c. 1200, "mild, well-mannered," Old English gedæfte "gentle, becoming," from Proto-Germanic *gadaftjaz (source also of Old English daeftan "to put in order, arrange," gedafen "suitable;" Gothic gadaban "to be fit"), from *dab-, which has no certain IE etymology and is perhaps a substratum word.ETD daft (adj.).2

    Sense deteriorated to "dull, awkward, uncouth, boorish" (c. 1300), perhaps via the notion of "humble." Further evolution to "foolish, simple, stupid" (mid-15c.) and "crazy" (1530s) probably was influenced by analogy with daffe "halfwit, fool, idiot" (see daffy); the whole group probably has a common origin. For sense evolution, compare nice, silly. Related: Daftly; daftness.ETD daft (adj.).3

    dag (n.)

    several words, probably unrelated, including: 1. "pendant point of cloth on a garment," late 14c., of uncertain origin; 2. "thin rain, drizzle, wet fog," Scottish, late 17c., from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse dögg, plural daggir "dew," from Proto-Germanic *daowo- (source of Old English deaw; see dew); 3. "kind of heavy pistol," 1560s, of uncertain origin; 4. "clot of dirty wool about the rear end of a sheep," 1731; 5. "tough but amusing person," Australian and New Zealand slang, 1916.ETD dag (n.).2

    dagga (n.)

    "marijuana, Cannabis sativa smoked as a narcotic," 1660s, from Afrikaans, from Khoisan (Hottentot) dachab. Originally the name of an indigenous plant used as a narcotic, extended to marijuana by 1796.ETD dagga (n.).2

    dagger (n.)

    "edged or pointed weapon for thrusting, shorter than a sword," late 14c. (mid-14c. in Anglo-Latin), apparently related to Old French dague "dagger," from Old Provençal or Italian daga, which are of uncertain origin; perhaps from Celtic, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *daca "Dacian knife," from the Roman province (see Dacian). The ending is possibly the faintly pejorative -ard suffix.ETD dagger (n.).2

    Attested earlier (1279) as a surname (Dagard, presumably "one who carried a dagger"). Also compare dogwood. Middle Dutch dagge, Danish daggert, German Degen also are from French. By 16c.-17c. swordsmen held it in the left hand to parry thrusts from the opponent's rapier. As "a reference mark in the form of a dagger," by 1706.ETD dagger (n.).3

    Dago (n.)

    1823, from Spanish Diego "James" (see James). Said to have been originally American English slang for "one born of Spanish parents," especially in New Orleans; it was also used of Spanish or Portuguese sailors on English or American ships. By 1900 it had broadened to include non-sailors and shifted to mean chiefly "Italian." James the Greater is the patron saint of Spain, and Diego as generic for "a Spaniard" is attested in English from 1610s. Dago red "cheap Italian wine" is attested by 1899.ETD Dago (n.).2

    Dagon (n.)

    god of the Philistines, represented as having the upper body of a man and the lower part of a fish, late 14c. (Judges xvi.23), from Hebrew Dagon, from dag "fish."ETD Dagon (n.).2

    daguerreotype (n.)

    "picture taken with an early photographic process involving silver plates, iodine, and vapor of mercury," 1839, from French daguerreotype, coined from the name of the inventor, Louis J.M. Daguerre (1789-1851) + -type (see type (n.)). As a verb from 1839. Related: Daguerreotypist.ETD daguerreotype (n.).2

    Dahlgren (n.)

    type of cast-iron smooth-bore naval artillery cannon, by 1854, named for its inventor, U.S. naval ordnance officer John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870), who was of Swedish ancestry.ETD Dahlgren (n.).2

    dahlia (n.)

    genus of plants native to Mexico and Central America, 1804, named 1791 by Spanish botanist Antonio José Cavanilles for Anders Dahl (1751-1789), Swedish botanist and pupil of Linnaeus, who discovered it for science in Mexico in 1788.ETD dahlia (n.).2

    The likelihood that a true blue variety of the flower never could be cultivated was first proposed by French-Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle, and noted in English by 1835; hence blue dahlia, figurative expression for "something impossible or unattainable" (1843).ETD dahlia (n.).3


    18c.-19c. West African kingdom, a native name of unknown etymology. Made a French protectorate in 1894, it gained full independence in 1960, and in 1975 changed its name to Benin. Related: Dahoman, Dahomean.ETD Dahomey.2

    dais (n.)

    c. 1300, "platform or raised floor at one end of a room or hall," from Anglo-French deis, Old French dais, dois "platform, high table," from Latin discus "disk-shaped object," also, in Medieval Latin, "table," from Greek diskos "quoit, disk, dish" (see disk (n.)). It died out in English c. 1600, was preserved in Scotland, and was revived 19c. by antiquarians.ETD dais (n.).2

    day (n.)

    Old English dæg "period during which the sun is above the horizon," also "lifetime, definite time of existence," from Proto-Germanic *dages- "day" (source also of Old Saxon, Middle Dutch, Dutch dag, Old Frisian di, dei, Old High German tag, German Tag, Old Norse dagr, Gothic dags), according to Watkins, from PIE root *agh- "a day." He adds that the Germanic initial d- is "of obscure origin." But Boutkan says it is from PIE root *dhegh- "to burn" (see fever). Not considered to be related to Latin dies (which is from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine").ETD day (n.).2

    Meaning originally, in English, "the daylight hours;" it expanded to mean "the 24-hour period" in late Anglo-Saxon times. The day formerly began at sunset, hence Old English Wodnesniht was what we would call "Tuesday night." Names of the weekdays were not regularly capitalized in English until 17c.ETD day (n.).3

    From late 12c. as "a time period as distinguished from other time periods." Day-by-day "daily" is from late 14c.; all day "all the time" is from late 14c. Day off "day away from work" is attested from 1883; day-tripper first recorded 1897. The days in nowadays, etc. is a relic of the Old English and Middle English use of the adverbial genitive.ETD day (n.).4

    All in a day's work "something unusual taken as routine" is by 1820. The nostalgic those were the days is attested by 1907. That'll be the day, expressing mild doubt following some boast or claim, is by 1941. To call it a day "stop working" is by 1919; earlier call it a half-day (1838). One of these days "at some day in the near future" is from late 15c. One of those days "a day of misfortune" is by 1936.ETD day (n.).5

    daily (adj.)

    "happening or being every day," mid-15c.; see day + -ly (1). Compare Old English dglic, a form found in compounds: twadglic "happening once in two days," reodglic "happening once in three days." The more usual Old English adjective was dghwamlic (also dgehwelc), which became Middle English daiwhamlich. Cognate with German tglich.ETD daily (adj.).2

    As an adverb, "every day, day by day," early 15c. (the Old English adverb was dghwamlice. As a noun, "a daily newspaper," by 1832.ETD daily (adj.).3

    daimon (n.)

    a transliteration of Greek daimōn "lesser god, guiding spirit, tutelary deity," 1852; see demon. Employed to avoid the post-classical associations of demon. Related: Daimonic.ETD daimon (n.).2


    also daimio, former title of the chief feudal nobles of Japan, vassals of the mikado, 1839, from Japanese, literally "big name," from Chinese dai "great" + mio, myo "name."ETD daimyo.2

    dainty (adj.)

    c. 1300, deinte, "delightful, pleasing" (late 12c. as a surname), from dainty (n.); see below. Meaning evolved in Middle English to "choice, excellent" (late 14c.) to "delicately pretty, exhibiting exquisite taste or skill" (c. 1400). Sense of "fastidious, affectedly fine, weak, effeminate" is from 1570s. Related: Daintiness.ETD dainty (adj.).2

    The noun is Middle English deinte "regard, affection" (mid-13c.), from c. 1300 as "excellence, elegance;" also "a luxury, a precious thing, fine food or drink;" from Anglo-French deinte, Old French deintie (12c.) "price, value," also "delicacy, pleasure," from Latin dignitatem (nominative dignitas) "greatness, rank, worthiness, worth, beauty," from dignus "worthy, proper, fitting," from PIE *dek-no-, from root *dek- "to take, accept."ETD dainty (adj.).3

    daintily (adv.)

    c. 1300, deinteli, "sumptuously, with delicate attention to the palate;" late 14c., "elegantly, in a dainty manner," from dainty (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD daintily (adv.).2

    daiquiri (n.)

    alcoholic drink made with rum, lime juice, and sugar, 1920 (F. Scott Fitzgerald), from Daiquiri, name of a district or village in eastern Cuba. Said to have been invented by a U.S. mining engineer in Cuba in 1896.ETD daiquiri (n.).2

    dairy (n.)

    c. 1300, daerie, "building for making butter and cheese; dairy farm," formed with Anglo-French -erie (from Latin -arius; see -ery) affixed to Middle English daie (in daie maid "dairymaid"), which is from Old English dæge "kneader of bread, housekeeper, female servant" (see dey (n.1)). The pure native word was dey-house (mid-14c.). Meaning "branch of farming concerned with the production of milk, butter, and cheese" is from 1670s. Later also "shop where milk, butter, etc. are sold."ETD dairy (n.).2

    daisy (n.)

    common wildflower of Europe, growing in pastures and on mountainsides and cultivated in gardens, c. 1300, daiseie, from Old English dægesege, from dæges eage "day's eye;" see day (n.) + eye (n.). So called because the petals open at dawn and close at dusk. In Medieval Latin it was solis oculus "sun's eye." The use of dais eye for "the sun" is attested from early 15c.ETD daisy (n.).2

    Applied to similar plants in America, Australia, New Zealand. As a female proper name said to have been originally a pet form of Margaret (q.v.). Slang sense of "anything pretty, charming, or excellent" is by 1757.ETD daisy (n.).3

    Daisy-cutter first attested 1791, originally "a trotting horse," especially one that trots with low steps; later of cricket (1889) and baseball hits that skim along the ground. Daisy-chain is used in various figurative senses from 1856; the "group sex" sense is attested by 1941. Daisy-wheel for a removable printing unit in the form of a flat wheel is attested by 1974.ETD daisy (n.).4

    To push up daisies "be dead and buried" is from World War I:ETD daisy (n.).5

    But association of the dead and the daisies is in "Ingoldsby" (1842):ETD daisy (n.).6


    1809, name of a group of native peoples from the American plains speaking a Siouan language, from Dakota dakhota "friendly" (the name often is translated as "allies"). Recorded by Lewis and Clark (1804) as Dar co tar; in western dialects of the Teton subgroup, Lakota, Lakhota; in Assiniboine dialect, Nakota, Nakhota. The north-central U.S. Dakota Territory was organized in 1861 and divided into North and South and admitted as two states in 1889. Related: Dakotan.ETD Dakota.2

    dal (n.)

    sort of vetch cultivated in the East Indies, 1690s, from Hindi dal "split pulse," from Sanskrit dala, from dal "to split."ETD dal (n.).2

    Dalai Lama

    one of the two lamas (along with the Panchen Lama, who was formerly known in English as the Tashi or Tesho Lama) of Tibetan Buddhism, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, literally "the ocean lama," from Mongolian dalai "ocean" (here probably signifying "big," in contrast to the Panchen Lama) + lama.ETD Dalai Lama.2

    dale (n.)

    level or gently sloping ground between low hills with a stream flowing through it, Old English dæl "vale, valley, gorge," from Proto-Germanic *dalaz "valley" (source also of Old Saxon, Dutch, Gothic dal, Old Norse dalr, Old High German tal, German Tal "valley"), perhaps from PIE *dhel- "a hollow" (source also of Old Church Slavonic dolu "pit," Russian dolu "valley"), or perhaps a substratum word. It was preserved by Norse influence in the north of England. Related: Dalesman.ETD dale (n.).2

    dalek (n.)

    robot in the "Dr. Who" television program on BBC, 1963, an invented word of no etymology.ETD dalek (n.).2

    dalle (n.)

    the source of The Dalles, city name in Oregon, U.S., from dalle, the name given by French employees of the Hudson's Bay Company and its successors to certain situations of rivers, the best-known being the one on the Columbia River that gives the city its name. The French word might be a reference to trough-like channels, from Low German or Dutch daal "outlet, drain," or it might be from a different but identical word meaning "slab or large tile of stone."ETD dalle (n.).2


    city in Texas, U.S., settled 1841, named 1846 for George M. Dallas (1792-1864), U.S. vice president under Polk (1845-49). The family name (13c.) is from the barony of Dallas (Moray) or means "dweller at the house in the dale."ETD Dallas.2

    dally (v.)

    c. 1300, dalien, "to speak seriously, commune;" late 14c., "to talk intimately, converse politely," possibly from Anglo-French dalier "to amuse oneself," Old French dalier, dailer, which is of uncertain origin. Sense of "waste time" in any manner emerged by late 14c.; that of "to play, sport, frolic; flirt, engage in amorous exchanges" is from mid-15c. Meaning "to linger, loiter, delay (intransitive)" is from 1530s. Related: Dallied; dallying.ETD dally (v.).2

    dalliance (n.)

    also daliance, mid-14c., daliaunce "edifying or spiritual conversation," from dally + -ance. Probably formed in Anglo-French but not attested there. From late 14c. as "polite conversation, chat, small talk; amorous talk, flirtation, coquetry;" meaning "idle or frivolous activity" is from 1540s.ETD dalliance (n.).2

    Dalmatic (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to Dalmatia," c. 1600; see Dalmatia. As a noun from early 15c. in reference to a kind of robe or vestment. Related: Dalmatical (1590s).ETD Dalmatic (adj.).2


    region along the eastern Adriatic coast in what is now Croatia, of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a derivative of PIE *dhal- "to bloom," in a sense of "young animal," in reference to the mountain pastures.ETD Dalmatia.2


    1670s, "of or pertaining to Dalmatia" (q.v.); as a noun, 1580s, "inhabitant of Dalmatia."ETD Dalmatian.2

    The breed of spotted dogs so called from 1893, short for Dalmatian dog (1810), presumably named for Dalmatia, but dog breeders argue over whether there is a Croatian ancestry for the breed, which seems to be represented in Egyptian bas-reliefs and Hellenic friezes. They were popular in early 1800s as carriage dogs, trotting alongside carriages and guarding the vehicles in owner's absence (the alternative name coach-dog is attested from 1792). Even fire departments nowadays tend to spell it *Dalmation.ETD Dalmatian.3


    1920 in reference to a plan or system of school education designed by Helen Parkhurst, from Dalton, Massachusetts, U.S., where it was first adopted. For Daltonism (a reference to English chemist John Dalton), see color-blindness. Daltonian, in reference to Dalton's work, is attested by 1813.ETD Dalton.2

    dam (n.2)

    "animal mother, female parent of a quadruped," mid-15c., damme, variant of dame "lady, mother" (q.v.), which is attested from early 14c. in this secondary sense. The two forms were somewhat interchangeable in Middle English, but the meanings diverged into separate spellings by 16c., and any use of dam for women since then has been slighting.ETD dam (n.2).2

    dam (v.)

    "obstruct or restrain a flow by means of a dam," c. 1400, from dam (n.1). Related: Dammed; damming.ETD dam (v.).2

    dam (n.1)

    "barrier across a stream of water to obstruct its flow and raise its level," c. 1400 (early 13c. in surnames), probably from Old Norse dammr or Middle Dutch dam, both from Proto-Germanic *dammaz (source also of Old Frisian damm, German Damm), which is of unknown origin. Also perhaps in part from or reinforced by Old English verb fordemman "to stop up, block."ETD dam (n.1).2

    damage (n.)

    c. 1300, "harm, injury; hurt or loss to person, character, or estate," from Old French damage, domage "loss caused by injury" (12c., Modern French dommage), from dam "damage," from Latin damnum "loss, hurt, damage" (see damn). In law (as damages) "the value in money of what was lost or withheld, that which is given to repair a cost," from c. 1400. Colloquial sense of "cost, expense" is by 1755. Damage control "action taken to limit the effect of an accident or error" is attested by 1933 in U.S. Navy jargon.ETD damage (n.).2

    damaging (adj.)

    "causing hurt or loss to person, character, or estate," 1849, present-participle adjective from damage (v.). Related: Damagingly (1849). Earlier in the same sense were damageous (late 14c.), damageful (mid-15c.), both now obsolete.ETD damaging (adj.).2

    damage (v.)

    "cause damage to, hurt, injure, harm," early 14c., from Old French damagier, from damage "loss caused by injury" (see damage (n.)). Related: Damaged; damaging.ETD damage (v.).2


    late 14c. as a noun, "inhabitant of Syria," from Latin Damascenum; 1540s as an adjective, "of or pertaining to Damascus; of or resembling damask fabric," from Latin Damascenus "of Damascus," from Damascus (see Damascus).ETD Damascene.2


    ancient city in Syria, famous in medieval times for silk and steel, mid-13c., probably via Old French, from Latin Damascus, from Greek Damaskos, from Semitic (compare Hebrew Dammeseq, Arabic Dimashq), from a pre-Semitic name of unknown origin.ETD Damascus.2

    damask (n.)

    mid-13c., "Damascus;" late 14c., Damaske, "costly textile fabric woven in elaborate patterns," literally "cloth from Damascus," the Syrian city noted for fabric; see Damascus. From c. 1600 as "a pink color," a reference to the Damask rose, which is native to that region. As an adjective, "woven with figures," 1640s. Related: Damasked.ETD damask (n.).2

    dame (n.)

    c. 1200, "a mother," also "a woman of rank or high social position; superior of a convent," and an address for a woman of rank or position, used respectfully to other ladies, from Old French dame "lady, mistress, wife," from Late Latin domna, from Latin domina "lady, mistress of the house," from Latin domus "house" (from PIE root *dem- "house, household").ETD dame (n.).2

    From early 14c. as "a woman" in general, particularly a mature or married woman or the mistress of a household. Used in Middle English with personifications (Study, Avarice, Fortune, Richesse, Nature, Misericordie). In later use the legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet.ETD dame (n.).3

    Slang sense of "woman" in the broadest sense, without regard to rank or anything else, is attested by 1902 in American English.ETD dame (n.).4

    damme (interj.)

    1610s, coalesced form of damn me, used as an oath.ETD damme (interj.).2

    dammit (interj.)

    representation of the oath damn it! as it usually is sounded, 1908.ETD dammit (interj.).2

    damned (adj.)

    late 14c., dampned, "believed to be sentenced to punishment in a future state;" mid-15c., "condemned, judicially sentenced," past-participle adjective from damn (v.). Meaning "hateful, detestable" is from 1560s, hence its use as an objurgation expressing more or less dislike. In literary use printed 18c.-19c. as d____d. As a noun, "those condemned to eternal suffering in Hell," late 14c. Superlative damndest (originally damnedst) "worst one can do" is attested from 1830.ETD damned (adj.).2

    damn (v.)

    Middle English dampnen, also damnen, dammen, late 13c. as a legal term, "to condemn, declare guilty, convict;" c. 1300 in the theological sense of "doom to punishment in a future state," from Old French damner "damn, condemn; convict, blame; injure," derivative of Latin damnare "to adjudge guilty; to doom; to condemn, blame, reject," from noun damnum "damage, hurt, harm; loss, injury; a fine, penalty," from Proto-Italic *dapno-, possibly from an ancient religious term from PIE *dap- "to apportion in exchange" [Watkins] or *dhp-no- "expense, investment" [de Vaan]. The -p- in the English word disappeared 16c.ETD damn (v.).2

    The legal meaning "pronounce judgment upon" evolved in the Latin word. The optative expletive use likely is as old as the theological sense. Damn and its derivatives generally were avoided in print from 18c. to 1930s (the famous line in the film version of "Gone with the Wind" was a breakthrough and required much effort by the studio). Meaning "judge or pronounce (a work) to be bad by public expression" is from 1650s; to damn with faint praise is from Pope.ETD damn (v.).3

    The noun is recorded from 1610s, "utterance of the word 'damn.'" To be not worth a damn is from 1817. To not give (or care) a damn is by 1760. The adjective is 1775, short for damned; Damn Yankee, the characteristic Southern U.S. term for "Northerner," is attested by 1812 (as damned). Related: Damning.ETD damn (v.).4

    damnable (adj.)

    mid-14c., dampnable, "worthy of condemnation," from Old French damnable and directly from Medieval Latin damnabilis "worthy of condemnation," from Latin damnare "to doom, condemn" (see damn). Meaning "odious, detestable, abominable, deserving of condemnation" is from c. 1400. Related: Damnably (late 14c., dampnably).ETD damnable (adj.).2

    damnation (n.)

    c. 1300, dampnacioun, "condemnation to Hell by God," also "fact of being condemned by judicial sentence," from Old French damnation, from Latin damnationem (nominative damnatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of damnare "to doom, condemn" (see damn). As an imprecation, attested from c. 1600.ETD damnation (n.).2


    flattering courtier of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse; his name in Greek means literally "fame of the people," from dēmos, damos "people" (see demotic) + -kles "fame," a common ending in Greek proper names, related to kleos "rumor, report, news; good report, fame, glory," from PIE *klew-yo-, suffixed form of root *kleu- "to hear." To teach Damocles the peril that accompanies a tyrant's pleasures, Dionysius seated him at a banquet with a sword suspended above his head by a single hair. Hence the figurative use of sword of Damocles, by 1747. Related: Damoclean.ETD Damocles.2

    damp (v.)

    late 14c., "to suffocate" (with or as with damp, foul air in a mine), from damp (n.). Figurative meaning "to check or retard the force or action of (the spirits, etc.)" is attested by 1540s. Meaning "to moisten" is recorded from 1670s. Century Dictionary (1897) states that "Dampen is now more common in the literal sense, and is sometimes used in the derived senses." Related: Damped; damping.ETD damp (v.).2

    damp (n.)

    early 14c., "noxious vapor in a coal mine, fire-damp, stifling poisonous gas," perhaps in Old English but there is no record of it. If not, probably from Middle Low German damp; ultimately in either case from Proto-Germanic *dampaz (source also of Old High German damph, German Dampf "vapor;" Old Norse dampi "dust"). Sense of "moist air, moisture, humidity" is not easily distinguished from the older sense but is certainly attested by 1706.ETD damp (n.).2

    damp (adj.)

    1580s, "dazed," from damp (n.). Meaning "slightly wet" is from 1706. Related: Damply; dampness.ETD damp (adj.).2

    dampen (v.)

    1630s, "to dull or deaden, make weak" (force, enthusiasm, ardor, etc.), from damp (adj.) + -en (1). Meaning "to moisten, make humid" is recorded from 1827. Related: Dampened; dampening.ETD dampen (v.).2

    dampener (n.)

    "one who or that which dampens," 1857, agent noun from dampen.ETD dampener (n.).2

    damper (n.)

    "one who or that which dampens," 1748, in the figurative sense, in reference to spirits, enthusiasm, etc., agent noun from damp (v.). In mechanical senses, "device for checking action:" 1783 in reference to a felt-covered piece of wood, etc., which deadens the string after the note is played; 1788 of a chimney, stove, etc., "metal plate in the flue used to control combustion by regulating the draft." Either or both reinforced the figurative senses. The piano damper-pedal (1848) raises the dampers of all the strings so the notes are prolonged and sympathetic vibrations produced.ETD damper (n.).2

    damsel (n.)

    early 13c., damisele, "young, unmarried woman," especially a maiden of gentle birth, also "maid in waiting, handmaiden assisting a lady," from Anglo-French damaisele and Old French dameisele "woman of noble birth" (Modern French demoiselle "young lady"), modified (by association with dame) from earlier donsele, from Gallo-Roman *domnicella, diminutive of Latin domina "lady" (see dame). Archaic until revived by romantic poets, along with 16c.-17c. variant form damozel (which was used by Spenser). Damsel-fly for "dragon-fly" is by 1815, from a sense in French demoiselle.ETD damsel (n.).2

    Dan (2)

    name of one of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel or its territory, named for its founder; literally "he who judges," related to Hebrew din "to judge." In the Old Testament, it occupied the northernmost part of Israel, hence its use proverbially for "utmost extremity," as in from Dan to Beersheba (the southernmost region), 1738. Related: Danite.ETD Dan (2).2

    Dan (1)

    familiar form of masc. proper name Daniel.ETD Dan (1).2


    title of address to members of religious orders, c. 1300, from Old French dan (Modern French dom), from Latin dominus "lord" (source also of Portuguese don, Spanish don, Italian donno), from domus "house" (from PIE root *dem- "house, household").ETD dan.2


    fem. proper name; in U.S. little used before c. 1925, then in top 100 for girls born from 1963 to 1984.ETD Dana.2

    Danaid (n.)

    in Greek mythology, one of the 50 daughters of Danaus, king of Argos, from Greek Danaides (plural). On command of their father, all (except Hypermnestra) killed their husbands on their wedding night and consequently were condemned in Hades to draw water perpetually in bottomless buckets. Hence often in reference to endless, futile labor. Related: Danaidean.ETD Danaid (n.).2

    dance (n.)

    c. 1300, dance, daunce, "succession of steps and movements, commonly guided by musical accompaniment," also "a dancing party," from dance (v.). From late 14c. as "a tune to be danced to."ETD dance (n.).2

    With many figurative senses: in Middle English the olde daunce was "the whole business," and the daunce is don was exactly equivalent to modern slang phrase the jig is up. To lead (someone) a dance "lead in a wearying, perplexing, or disappointing course" is from 1520s. Dance-band is from 1908; dance-floor from 1863; dance-hall from 1823.ETD dance (n.).3

    dance (v.)

    c. 1300, dauncen, "move the body or feet rhythmically to music," from Old French dancier (12c., Modern French danser), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Low Frankish *dintjan and akin to Old Frisian dintje "tremble, quiver." Through French influence in arts and society, it has become the primary word for this activity from Spain to Russia (Italian danzare, Spanish danzar, Romanian dansa, Swedish dansa, German tanzen, modern Russian tancevat').ETD dance (v.).2

    In English it replaced Old English sealtian, itself a borrowing from Latin saltare "to dance," frequentative of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.); "dance" words frequently are derived from words meaning "jump, leap"). Native words used for the activity in Old English included tumbian (see tumble (v.)), hoppian (see hop (v.1)). Related: Danced; dancing.ETD dance (v.).3

    Meaning "to leap or spring with regular or irregular steps as an expression of some emotion" is from late 14c. Of inanimate things, "move nimbly or quickly with irregular motion," 1560s. Transitive sense of "give a dancing motion to" is from c. 1500. To dance attendance "strive to please and gain favor by obsequiousness" is from late 15c.ETD dance (v.).4

    dancer (n.)

    "one who dances or takes part in a dance," mid-15c., agent noun from dance (v.). As a surname from early 12c. (Godwinus Dancere).ETD dancer (n.).2

    dancercize (n.)

    "dancing as exercise," 1967, from dance (n.) + ending from exercise (n.).ETD dancercize (n.).2

    dandelion (n.)

    well-known plant of the daisy family found in Europe, Asia, and North America, with a tapering, milky root, producing one large, yellow flower, late 14c., a contraction of dent-de-lioun, from Old French dent de lion, literally "lion's tooth" (from its toothed leaves), a translation of Medieval Latin dens leonis. From Latin dens (genitive dentis) "tooth," from PIE root *dent- "tooth" + leonis, genitive of leo "lion" (see lion).ETD dandelion (n.).2

    Other folk names, like tell-time refer to the custom of telling the time by blowing the white seed (the number of puffs required to blow them all off supposedly being the number of the hour), or to the plant's regular opening and closing with daylight. Other names refer to its diuretic qualities (Middle English piss-a-bed, French pissenlit).ETD dandelion (n.).3

    dander (n.2)

    "temper, anger, passion," 1831, American English, of unknown origin; perhaps a figurative use somehow of dander (n.1), or of West Indian dander, dunder "fermentation of sugar" (in English from 1796), from Spanish redundar "to overflow," from Latin redundare (see redundant).ETD dander (n.2).2

    dander (n.1)

    "scurf, dandruff," 1786; earlier dandro (1590s), of uncertain origin (see dandruff).ETD dander (n.1).2

    dandy (n.)

    "man who draws attention by unusual finery of dress and fastidiousness manners, a fop," c. 1780, of uncertain origin; attested earliest in a Scottish border ballad:ETD dandy (n.).2

    etc. In that region, Dandy is diminutive of Andrew (as it was in Middle English generally). OED notes that the word was in vogue in London c. 1813-1819. His female counterpart was a dandizette (1821) with French-type ending.ETD dandy (n.).3

    Meaning "anything superlative or fine" is from 1786. As an adjective, "characteristic of a dandy, affectedly neat and trim," by 1813; earlier in the sense of "fine, splendid, first-rate" (1785) and in this sense it was very popular c. 1880-1900.ETD dandy (n.).4

    The popular guess, since at least 1827, is that it is from French Dandin, a mock surname for a foolish person used in 16c. by Rabelais (Perrin Dandin), also by Racine, La Fontaine, and Molière, from dandiner "to walk awkwardly, waddle" (cognate to English dandle.) Farmer rejects this and derives it from dandyprat, an Elizabethan word for "a dwarf; a page; a young or insignificant person," originally (early 16c.) the name of a small silver coin. Both words are of unknown origin, and OED finds the connection of both to dandy to be "without any apparent ground." English dandy was itself borrowed into French c. 1830.ETD dandy (n.).5

    Dictionaries of the Scots Language posits the term might be a back-formation from dandilly, a dialectal word defined as "One who is spoiled or rendered foolish by being too much made of." It is probably derived from dandle, though the term is also an alternate name for a dandelion.ETD dandy (n.).6

    Jack-a-Dandy, or Jack O'Dandy figures in writings from the early 17c. He is listed among other famous Jacks in "Iack a Lent" (1620) and is sometimes defined as an impertinent little man, but other uses are unclear as to sense and in at least one instance from 1620s he is a bogeyman character. By late 17c. it had become a general term of contempt, often with a sense of smallness or weakness, perhaps under influence of dandyprat. In 18c. it could also mean a lover or a beau.ETD dandy (n.).7

    The verse in the famous Yankee Doodle song about a "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is not in the oldest versions and appears to be a nonsense word; earlier lyrics use instead deedle, dooble doo, etc. (For history see: Yankee Doodle.)ETD dandy (n.).8

    dandify (v.)

    "give the style or character of a dandy to," 1823, from dandy (n.) + -fy. Related: Dandified.ETD dandify (v.).2

    dandle (v.)

    "to shake or move up and down in the arms or on the knee," 1520s, of unknown origin. Perhaps somehow felt to be imitative. Compare Italian dondolare "to dandle, swing," and French dandiner, from Old French dandin "small bell," imitative of its sound. Related: Dandled; dandling.ETD dandle (v.).2

    dandruff (n.)

    "scurf which forms on the scalp or skin of the head and comes off in small scales or dust," 1540s; the first element is obscure (despite much speculation, OED concludes "nothing satisfactory has been suggested"). The second element probably is Northumbrian or East Anglian dialectal huff, hurf "scab," from Old Norse hrufa, from Proto-Germanic *hreufaz, source of Old English hreofla "leper." Middle English words for it were bran (late 14c.), furfur (c. 1400, from Latin), scales (mid-15c.).ETD dandruff (n.).2

    Dane (n.)

    "native or inhabitant of Denmark," early 14c. (in plural, Danes), from Danish Daner, (Medieval Latin Dani), which is perhaps ultimately from a source related to Old High German tanar "sand bank," in reference to their homeland, or from Proto-Germanic *den- "low ground," for the same reason.ETD Dane (n.).2

    It replaced Old English Dene (plural), which was used of Northmen generally. Shakespeare has Dansker "a Dane" (c. 1600). Dane was applied by 1774 to a breed of large dogs.ETD Dane (n.).3

    Danegeld (attested from 1086; it was first imposed in 991) supposedly originally was a tax to pay for protection from the Northmen (either to outfit defensive armies or to buy peace), continued under later kings for other purposes. Danelaw (c. 1050) was "the body of Danish law in force over that large part of England under Viking rule after Alfred's treaty in 878;" the application to the land itself is modern (1837, Danelagh).ETD Dane (n.).4

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