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    acronym (n.) — adequately (adv.)

    acronym (n.)

    word formed from the first letters of a series of words, 1943, American English coinage from acro- + -onym "name" (abstracted from homonym; ultimately from PIE root *no-men- "name"). With the exception of cabalistic esoterica and acrostic poetry, this way of forming words was exceedingly uncommon before 20c. For distinction of use (regretfully ignored on this site), see initialism.ETD acronym (n.).2

    acrophobe (n.)

    "one suffering from a morbid fear of heights," 1895, from acrophobia; also see -phobe. Related: Acrophobic.ETD acrophobe (n.).2

    acrophobia (n.)

    "morbid fear of heights," 1887, medical Latin, from Greek akros "at the end, topmost" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + -phobia "fear." Coined by Italian physician Dr. Andrea Verga in a paper describing the condition, from which Verga himself suffered.ETD acrophobia (n.).2

    acropolis (n.)

    "elevated part of a Greek city," often the site of original settlement and usually a citadel, 1660s, from Latinized form of Greek akropolis "citadel" (especially, with capital A-, that of Athens), from akros "highest, upper" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + polis "city" (see polis). The plural would be acropoles.ETD acropolis (n.).2

    across (adv./prep.)

    c. 1200, o cros, "in the shape of a cross;" c. 1300, a-croiz, "in a crossed position;" early 14c., acros, "from one side to another;" a contraction of Anglo-French an cros, literally "on cross;" see a- (1) + cross (n.)).ETD across (adv./prep.).2

    Meaning "on the other side (as a result of crossing)" is from 1750. In crossword puzzle clues from 1924. Spelling acrost, representing a dialectal or vulgar pronunciation, is attested by 1759. Phrase across the board "embracing all categories" (1945) is said to be originally from horse-racing, in reference to a bet of the same amount of money on a horse to win, place, or show. To get (something) across "make (something) understood or appreciated" is by 1913, probably from earlier theater expression get (something) across the footlights, perform it so as to be received by the audience (1894).ETD across (adv./prep.).3

    acrostic (n.)

    short poem in which the initial letters of the lines, taken in order, spell a word or phrase, 1580s, from Medieval Latin acrostichis, from Greek akrostikhis, from akros "at the end, outermost" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + stikhos "line of verse," literally "row, line" (from PIE root *steigh- "to stride, step, rise;" see stair). The second element is properly -stich, but it has been assimilated to words in -ic. As an adjective from 1680s.ETD acrostic (n.).2

    acrylic (adj.)

    1843, "of or containing acryl," the name of a radical derived from acrolein (1843), the name of a liquid in onions and garlic that makes eyes tear, from Latin acer "sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + olere "to smell" (see odor) + -in (see -ine (2)). With adjectival suffix -ic. Modern senses often short for acrylic fiber, acrylic resin, etc.ETD acrylic (adj.).2

    act (v.)

    mid-15c., acten, "to act upon or adjudicate" a legal case, from Latin actus, past participle of agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," also "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").ETD act (v.).2

    The verb is original in Latin, but most of the modern verbal senses in English probably are from the noun. The general sense of "to do, perform, transact" is from c. 1600. Of things, "do something, exert energy or force," by 1751. In theater use from 1590s as "perform as an actor" (intransitive), 1610s as "represent by performance on the stage" (transitive). The general meaning "perform specific duties or functions," often on a temporary basis, is by 1804.ETD act (v.).3

    To act on "exert influence on" is from 1810. To act up "be unruly" is by 1900 (in reference to a horse). Earlier it meant "acting in accordance with" a duty, expectation, or belief (1640s). To act out "behave anti-socially" (1974) is from psychiatric sense of "expressing one's unconscious impulses or desires" (acting out is from 1945). Related: Acted; acting.ETD act (v.).4


    1530s, short for Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.ETD Acts.2

    acting (adj.)

    1590s, "putting forth activity, active," present-participle adjective from act (v.). Meaning "performing temporary duties" is from 1797.ETD acting (adj.).2

    act (n.)

    late 14c., "a thing done," from Latin actus "a doing; a driving, impulse, a setting in motion; a part in a play," and actum "a thing done" (originally a legal term), both from agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," figuratively "incite to action; keep in movement, stir up" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").ETD act (n.).2

    The verb agere had a broad range of meaning in Latin, including "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law; chase; carry off, steal." The theatrical ("part of a play," 1510s) and legislative (early 15c.) senses of the noun also were in Latin.ETD act (n.).3

    The meaning "one of a series of performances in a variety show" is from 1890. The meaning "display of exaggerated behavior" is from 1928, extended from the theatrical sense. In the act "in the process" is from 1590s, perhaps originally from a late 16c. sense of the act as "sexual intercourse." Act of God "uncontrollable natural force" is recorded by 1726.ETD act (n.).4

    To get into the act "participate" is from 1947; to get (one's) act together "organize one's (disorderly) life" is by 1976, perhaps euphemistic.ETD act (n.).5

    acting (n.)

    c. 1600, "performance of deeds;" 1660s, "performance of plays;" verbal noun from present participle of act (v.). Acting out "abnormal behavior caused by unconscious influences" is from 1945 in psychiatry.ETD acting (n.).2


    in Greek mythology, the name of the hunter who discovered Artemis bathing and was changed by her to a stag and torn to death by his hounds. The name is of unknown origin. Sometimes used figuratively in 17c. for "a cuckold" (because of his "horns").ETD Actaeon.2

    actinium (n.)

    radioactive element discovered in 1899; see actino- "pertaining to rays" + chemical suffix -ium. It emits beta rays. The name was given earlier to a supposed new element (1881).ETD actinium (n.).2


    before vowels actin-, word-forming element meaning "pertaining to rays," from Latinized form of Greek aktis (genitive aktinos) "ray of light, beam of light; spoke of a wheel;" a word of unknown etymology. It is perhaps cognate with Sanskrit aktuh "light, ray," Gothic uhtwo "dawn, daybreak," Lithuanian anksti "early" [Beekes].ETD actino-.2

    actionable (adj.)

    "furnishing sufficient grounds for a (legal) action," 1590s; from action + -able. Related: Actionably.ETD actionable (adj.).2

    action (n.)

    mid-14c., accioun, "cause or grounds for a lawsuit," from Anglo-French accioun, Old French accion, action (12c.) "action; lawsuit, case," from Latin actionem (nominative actio) "a putting in motion; a performing, a doing; public acts, official conduct; lawsuit, legal action" (source also of Spanish accion, Italian azione), noun of action from past-participle stem of agere "to do" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").ETD action (n.).2

    Spelling with the restored Latin -t- begins in 15c. The meaning "active exertion, activity" is from late 14c. The sense of "something done, an act, deed" is late 14c. The meaning "military fighting" is from 1590s. The meaning "way in which (a firearm, etc.) acts" is from 1845. As a film director's command, it is attested from 1923.ETD action (n.).3

    The meaning "noteworthy or important activity" in a modern sense by 1933, as in the figurative phrase a piece of the action (by 1965), perhaps from a sense of action in card-playing jargon attested by 1914.ETD action (n.).4

    But there are uses of action as far back as c. 1600 that seem to mean "noteworthy activity." The meaning "excitement" is recorded from 1968. In action "in a condition of effective operation" is from 1650s. Phrase actions speak louder than words is attested from 1731. Action-packed is attested from 1953, originally of movies.ETD action (n.).5

    activation (n.)

    "action or process of making or being operative," 1906, noun of action from activate (v.).ETD activation (n.).2

    activate (v.)

    1620s, "make active, intensify;" see active + -ate (2). Meaning "put into action" is from 1902, originally in chemistry. Related: Activated; activating.ETD activate (v.).2

    activities (n.)

    "educational exercises, schoolwork," 1923, American English, from activity.ETD activities (n.).2

    activity (n.)

    c. 1400, "active or secular life," from Old French activité, from Medieval Latin activitatem (nominative activitas), a word in Scholastic philosophy, from Latin activus "active" (see active). The meaning "state of being active, briskness, liveliness" is recorded from 1520s; that of "capacity for acting on matter" is from 1540s. As "an educational exercise," by 1923.ETD activity (n.).2

    activeness (n.)

    "quality of being active, activity," c. 1600, from active + -ness.ETD activeness (n.).2

    activism (n.)

    1920 in the political sense of "advocating energetic action;" see active + -ism. Earlier (1907) it was used in reference to a philosophical theory. Compare activist.ETD activism (n.).2

    active (adj.)

    mid-14c., actif, active, "given to worldly activity" (opposed to contemplative or monastic), from Old French actif (12c.) and directly from Latin activus, from actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").ETD active (adj.).2

    As "capable of acting" (opposed to passive), from late 14c. Meaning "energetic, lively" is from 1590s; that of "working, effective, in operation" (opposed to inactive) is from 1640s. The grammatical active voice is recorded from 1765; grammatical use of active, signifying performance and not endurance of an action, dates from mid-15c. (opposed to passive or reflexive).ETD active (adj.).3

    actively (adv.)

    c. 1400, actifli, activeli, "secularly," from active + -ly (2). Meaning "vigorously" is early 15c.ETD actively (adv.).2

    activist (n.)

    "one who advocates a doctrine of direct action" in any sense, 1915; from active + -ist. Originally in reference to a political movement in Sweden advocating abandonment of neutrality in World War I and active support for the Central Powers. The word was used earlier in philosophy (1907).ETD activist (n.).2

    actor (n.)

    late 14c., "an overseer, guardian, steward," from Latin actor "an agent or doer; a driver (of sheep, etc.)," in law, "accuser, plaintiff," also "theatrical player, orator," from past-participle stem of agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," also "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). In English from mid-15c. as "a doer, maker," also "a plaintiff at law." The sense of "one who performs in plays" is by 1580s, originally applied to both men and women. Related: Actorish; actorly; actory.ETD actor (n.).2

    actress (n.)

    1580s, "female who does something;" see actor + -ess; stage sense is from 1700. Sometimes French actrice was used. Cockeram (English Dictionarie, 1623) has for actor "A stage-player, or one doing a thing," but for actresse, "A woman doer." Related: Actressy.ETD actress (n.).2

    actualize (v.)

    "to make actual," 1810, first attested in Coleridge, from actual + -ize. Related: Actualized; actualizing.ETD actualize (v.).2

    actually (adv.)

    early 15c., "in fact, in reality" (as opposed to "in possibility"), from actual + -ly (2). The meaning "actively, vigorously" is from mid-15c.; that of "at this time, at present" is from 1660s. As an intensive added to a statement and suggesting "as a matter of fact, really, in truth" it is attested from 1762, often used as an expression of mild wonder or surprise.ETD actually (adv.).2

    actuality (n.)

    late 14c., "power, efficacy," from Medieval Latin actualitatem (nominative actualitas), from Late Latin actualis "pertaining to action," from Latin actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). A Latin loan-translation of Greek energeia "activity, action, operation" (see energy). Meaning "state of being real" is from 1670s (actualities "existing conditions" is from 1660s).ETD actuality (n.).2

    actual (adj.)

    early 14c., "pertaining to acts or an action;" late 14c. in the broader sense of "real, existing" (as opposed to potential, ideal, etc.); from Old French actuel "now existing, up to date" (13c.), from Late Latin actualis "active, pertaining to action," adjectival form of Latin actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").ETD actual (adj.).2

    actualization (n.)

    "a making real," 1824, noun of action from actualize. Related: Actualisation.ETD actualization (n.).2

    actualisation (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of actualization; for suffix, see -ize.ETD actualisation (n.).2

    actualise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of actualize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Actualised; actualising.ETD actualise (v.).2

    actuary (n.)

    1550s, "registrar, clerk," from Medieval Latin actuarius "copyist, account-keeper, short-hand writer," from Latin actus in the specialized sense "public business" (literally "a doing;" from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Meaning "person skilled in the calculation of chances and costs," especially as employed by an insurer, is from 1849.ETD actuary (n.).2

    actuarial (adj.)

    "of the business of an actuary," 1853, from actuary + -al (1). Related: Actuarially.ETD actuarial (adj.).2

    actuation (n.)

    "a putting in motion, communication of force," 1620s, noun of action from actuate (v.).ETD actuation (n.).2

    actuate (v.)

    1590s, "perform" (a sense now obsolete), from Medieval Latin actuatus, past participle of actuare "perform, put into action," from Latin actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). The sense of "put into action, inspire with activity" is from 1640s. Related: Actuated; actuating.ETD actuate (v.).2

    acuity (n.)

    "sharpness, acuteness," early 15c., acuite, from Old French acuite (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin acuitatem (nominative acuitas) "sharpness," noun of state from Latin acuere "to sharpen," literal and figurative (of intellect, emotion, etc.), related to acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").ETD acuity (n.).2

    aculeate (adj.)

    c. 1600, figurative, "pointed, stinging," of writing, from Latin aculeatus "having a sting; thorny, prickly," also figurative, from aculeus "a sting, prickle," diminutive of acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). From 1660s in a literal sense, in zoology, "furnished with a sting;" by 1870 in botany.ETD aculeate (adj.).2

    acumen (n.)

    "quickness of perception, keen insight," 1530s, from Latin acumen "a point, sting," hence, figuratively, "mental sharpness, shrewdness," from acuere "to sharpen," literal and figurative (of intellect, emotion, etc.), related to acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). Related: Acuminous.ETD acumen (n.).2

    acuminate (adj.)

    1640s, "having a long, tapering end" (of certain feathers, leaves, etc.), from Latin acuminatus, past participle of acuminare "to sharpen," from acumen "a point" (see acumen). Related: Acuminated; acumination.ETD acuminate (adj.).2

    acupressure (n.)

    1859, name of a method (developed by J.Y. Simpson) of stopping surgical bleeding by pinning or wiring the artery shut, from Latin acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + pressure (n.). From 1958 in reference to the oriental body therapy also known as shiatsu (said to mean literally "finger-pressure" in Japanese).ETD acupressure (n.).2

    acupuncture (n.)

    1680s, "pricking with a needle" as a surgical operation to ease pain, from Latin acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + puncture. The verb is recorded by 1972.ETD acupuncture (n.).2

    acupuncturist (n.)

    "one who practices acupuncture," 1843, from acupuncture + -ist.ETD acupuncturist (n.).2

    acute (adj.)

    late 14c., originally of fevers and diseases, "coming quickly to a crisis" (opposed to chronic), from Latin acutus "sharp, pointed," figuratively "shrill, penetrating; intelligent, cunning," past participle of acuere "to sharpen" (literal and figurative), from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce."ETD acute (adj.).2

    It was also used of humors (early 15c.). The meaning "ending in a sharp point" is from 1560s; the sense of "sharp or penetrating in intellect" is from 1580s. Of feelings, pains, etc., "intense," 1727. As a noun, early 15c. of fevers; c. 1600 as "an acute accent." Related: Acutely; acuteness.ETD acute (adj.).3


    word-forming element of Greek origin appended to nouns and denoting collective numerals (triad, Olympiad) and fem. patronymics (Dryad, Naiad, also, in plural, Pleiades, Hyades), thence also plant family names; from Greek -as (genitive -ados), fem. suffix equivalent to -is.ETD -ad.2

    From its use in Iliad (literally "of Ilion," that is, "Troy;" from Ilias poiesis or oidos "poem of Ilion," the accompanying noun being feminine, hence the termination) it has formed titles of poems in imitation of it (Columbiad, Dunciad).ETD -ad.3


    word-forming element denoting an action or product of an action, via French, Spanish, or Italian, ultimately from Latin -ata, fem. past-participle ending used in forming nouns. The usual form in French is -ée. The parallel form, -ade, came into French about the 13c. via southern Romanic languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and Provençal -ada, Italian -ata), hence grenade, crusade, ballad, arcade, comrade, balustrade, lemonade, etc.ETD -ade.2

    Latin -atus, past-participle suffix of verbs of the 1st conjugation, also became -ade in French (Spanish -ado, Italian -ato) and came to be used as a suffix denoting persons or groups participating in an action (such as brigade, desperado).ETD -ade.3


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to, near, at."ETD *ad-.2

    It forms all or part of: abate; ado; ad-; ad hoc; ad lib; adage; adagio; add; adjective; adore; adorn; adult; adverb; advertise; agree; aid; alloy; ally; amontillado; amount; assure; at; atone; exaggerate; paramount; rapport; twit.ETD *ad-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit adhi "near;" Latin ad "to, toward;" Old English æt.ETD *ad-.4

    added (adj.)

    "additional," c. 1600, past-participle adjective from add (v.).ETD added (adj.).2


    1570s, an abbreviation of Latin anno Domini "year of the Lord." This system of counting years was put forth by Dionysius Exiguus in 527 or 533 C.E., but used at first only for Church business. Introduced in Italy in 7c., France (partially) in 8c. In England, first found in a charter of 680 C.E. Ordained for all ecclesiastical documents in England by the Council of Chelsea, July 27, 816.ETD A.D..2

    The resistance to it might have come in part because Dionysius chose 754 A.U.C. as the birth year of Jesus, while many early Christians would have thought it was 750 A.U.C. (See John J. Bond, "Handy-Book of Rules and Tables for Verifying Dates With the Christian Era," 4th ed., London: George Bell & Sons, 1889.) There is a use of simple a for anno domini in an English document from c. 1400; A.C., for Anno Christi, also was common 17c.ETD A.D..3


    word-forming element expressing direction toward or in addition to, from Latin ad "to, toward" in space or time; "with regard to, in relation to," as a prefix, sometimes merely emphatic, from PIE root *ad- "to, near, at."ETD ad-.2

    Simplified to a- before sc-, sp- and st-; modified to ac- before many consonants and then re-spelled af-, ag-, al-, etc., in conformity with the following consonant (as in affection, aggression). Also compare ap- (1).ETD ad-.3

    In Old French, reduced to a- in all cases (an evolution already underway in Merovingian Latin), but French refashioned its written forms on the Latin model in 14c., and English did likewise 15c. in words it had picked up from Old French. In many cases pronunciation followed the shift.ETD ad-.4

    Over-correction at the end of the Middle Ages in French and then English "restored" the -d- or a doubled consonant to some words that never had it (accursed, afford). The process went further in England than in France (where the vernacular sometimes resisted the pedantic), resulting in English adjourn, advance, address, advertisement (Modern French ajourner, avancer, adresser, avertissement). In modern word-formation sometimes ad- and ab- are regarded as opposites, but this was not in classical Latin.ETD ad-.5

    ad (n.)

    abbreviation of advertisement, attested by 1841. Long resisted by those in the trade, and according to Mencken (1945) denounced by William C. D'Arcy (president of Associated Advertising Clubs of the World) as "the language of bootblacks, ... beneath the dignity of men of the advertising profession."ETD ad (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from Hebrew Adha, literally "ornament."ETD Ada.2

    adage (n.)

    "brief, familiar proverb," 1540s, French adage (16c.), from Latin adagium "adage, proverb," apparently a collateral form of adagio, according to Watkins, from ad "to" (see ad-) + *agi-, root of aio "I say," which is perhaps cognate with Armenian ar-ac "proverb," asem "to say." But de Vaan says of the Latin word group that "word-internal a and their sporadic, relatively late attestation suggest that they were derived from adigo 'to drive, force'," related to agein "set in motion, drive, urge" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Related: Adagial.ETD adage (n.).2

    adagio (adv.)

    c. 1746, in music, "slowly, leisurely and gracefully," Italian, a contraction of ad agio, from ad "to, at" (see ad-) + agio "leisure," from Vulgar Latin *adiacens, present participle of adiacere "to lie at, to lie near" (compare adjacent). In noun sense of "a slow movement," first attested 1784.ETD adagio (adv.).2

    adays (adv.)

    late 14c., "by day; on or in the day or time," with adverbial genitive -s from earlier aday (mid-13c.), prepositional phrase used as an adverb, from a- (1) "on, on each" + day (n.). The genitive ending now is regarded as an accusative plural.ETD adays (adv.).2

    adamant (n.)

    "a very hard stone," mid-14c., adamant, adamaunt, from Old French adamant "diamond; magnet" or directly from Latin adamantem (nominative adamas) "adamant, hardest iron, steel," also used figuratively, of character, from Greek adamas (genitive adamantos), the name of a hypothetical hardest material.ETD adamant (n.).2

    It is a noun use of an adjective meaning "unbreakable, inflexible," which was metaphoric of anything unalterable (such as Hades) and is of uncertain origin. It is perhaps literally "invincible, indomitable," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + daman "to conquer, to tame," from PIE root *deme- "to constrain, force, break (horses)," for which see tame (adj.). "But semantically, the etymology is rather strange," according to Beekes, who suggests it might be a foreign word altered in Greek by folk etymology, and compares Akkadian (Semitic) adamu.ETD adamant (n.).3

    Applied in antiquity to a metal resembling gold (Plato), white sapphire (Pliny), magnet (Ovid, perhaps through confusion with Latin adamare "to love passionately"), steel, emery stone, and especially diamond, which is a variant of this word. "The name has thus always been of indefinite and fluctuating sense" [Century Dictionary]. The word had been in Old English as aðamans, but the modern word is a re-borrowing.ETD adamant (n.).4


    masc. proper name, the biblical name of the first man, progenitor of the human race, from Hebrew adam "man," literally "(the one formed from the) ground" (Hebrew adamah "ground"); compare Latin homo "man," humanus "human," humus "earth, ground, soil." Compare homunculus.ETD Adam.2

    The name also was used to signify the evil inherent in human nature (as a consequence of Adam's fall), and other qualities (e.g. nakedness, gardening) associated with the biblical Adam. Adam's ale for "water" is colloquial from 1640s. To not know (someone) from Adam "not know him at all" is recorded by 1784 (with later elaborations up to from Adam's off ox, 1880). The pet form of the name in Middle English was Addy, hence Addison; other old pet forms (Adkin, Adcock) also survive in surnames.ETD Adam.3

    adamant (adj.)

    late 14c., "hard, unbreakable," from adamant (n.). The figurative sense of "unshakeable" (in belief, etc.) is by 1670s. Related: Adamantly; adamance.ETD adamant (adj.).2

    adamantine (adj.)

    c. 1200, "made of adamant; having the qualities of adamant" (hard, unyielding, unbreakable, inflexible), from Latin adamantinus "hard as steel, inflexible," from Greek adamantinos "hard as adamant," from adamas (genitive adamantos) "unbreakable, inflexible," as a noun, "hardest material" (see adamant (n.)).ETD adamantine (adj.).2

    Adamite (n.)

    by 1630s as "human being, descendant of Adam" the Biblical first man, from Adam + -ite (1). The term was used from 1620s in reference to Christian perfectionist sects or groups that practice nudism (or, as a 1657 poem has it, "Cast off their petticoats and breeches"), recalling the state of Adam before the Fall. They existed in 2c. North Africa, 14c.-15c. central Europe, and 1840s America. Related: Adamic; Adamitic; Adamitism.ETD Adamite (n.).2

    Adam's apple (n.)

    "bulge in the throat caused by the cartilage of the larynx," 1731, corresponding to Latin pomum Adami, perhaps an inexact translation of Hebrew tappuah haadam, literally "man's swelling," from ha-adam "the man" + tappuah "anything swollen."ETD Adam's apple (n.).2

    The reference is to the legend that a piece of the forbidden fruit (commonly believed to have been an apple) that Eve gave Adam stuck in his throat. It is more prominent in men than women. The term is mentioned early 15c. as the name of an actual oriental and Mediterranean fruit, a variety of lime with an indentation fancied to resemble the marks of Adam's teeth.ETD Adam's apple (n.).3

    adapt (v.)

    early 15c. (implied in adapted) "to fit (something, for some purpose)," from Old French adapter (14c.), from Latin adaptare "adjust, fit to," from ad "to" (see ad-) + aptare "to join," from aptus "fitted" (see apt). Intransitive meaning "to undergo modification so as to fit new circumstances" is from 1956. Related: Adapting.ETD adapt (v.).2

    adaptive (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or characterized by adaptation," 1795, from adapt + -ive. The classically proper formation is adaptative (1831).ETD adaptive (adj.).2

    adaptable (adj.)

    1680s, "capable of being made to fit by alteration," from adapt + -able.ETD adaptable (adj.).2

    adaptation (n.)

    c. 1600, "action of adapting (something to something else)," from French adaptation, from Late Latin adaptationem (nominative adaptatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of adaptare "to adjust," from ad "to" (see ad-) + aptare "to join," from aptus "fitted" (see apt).ETD adaptation (n.).2

    The meaning "condition of being adapted, state of being fitted to circumstances or relations" is from 1670s. The sense of "modification of a thing to suit new conditions" is from 1790. The biological sense of "variations in a living thing to suit changed conditions" is by 1859, in Darwin's writings.ETD adaptation (n.).3

    adaptability (n.)

    "quality that renders adaptable," 1660s, from adapt + -ability. In modern use especially in evolutionary biology, "variability in respect to, or under the influence of, external conditions."ETD adaptability (n.).2

    add (v.)

    late 14c., "to join or unite (something to something else)," from Latin addere "add to, join, attach, place upon," literal and figurative, from ad "to" (see ad-) + -dere, combining form meaning "to put, place," from dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give").ETD add (v.).2

    The intransitive meaning "to do sums, do addition" also is from late 14c. Related: Added; adding. To add up is from 1754; in the figurative meaning "make sense," by 1942. Adding machine "machine to cast up large sums" is from 1822.ETD add (v.).3

    addendum (n.)

    1794, "an appendix to a work; a thing to be added," from Latin addendum, neuter of addendus "that which is to be added," gerundive of addere "add to, join, attach" (see add (v.)). The classical plural form is addenda.ETD addendum (n.).2

    adder (n.)

    Middle English naddre, from Old English (West Saxon) næddre (Mercian nedre, Northumbrian nedra), "a snake; the Serpent in the Garden of Eden," from Proto-Germanic *naethro "a snake" (source also of Old Norse naðra, Middle Dutch nadre, Old High German natra, German Natter, Gothic nadrs), from PIE root *nētr- "snake" (source also of Latin natrix "water snake" (the sense is probably by folk-association with nare "to swim"); Old Irish nathir, Welsh neidr "snake, serpent").ETD adder (n.).2

    The modern form represents a faulty separation 14c.-16c. of a nadder into an adder, for which see also apron, auger, nickname, orange, humble pie, aitchbone, umpire. Nedder is still a northern English dialect form.ETD adder (n.).3

    Since Middle English the word has been restricted to use as the common name of the viper, the only venonous British reptile (though not generally fatal to humans), then by extension it was applied to venomous or similar snakes elsewhere (puff-adder, etc.). Folklore connection with deafness is via Psalm lviii.1-5. The adder is said to stop up its ears to avoid hearing the snake charmer called in to drive it away.ETD adder (n.).4

    addicted (adj.)

    1530s, "delivered over" by judicial sentence (as a debtor to his creditors, a sense from Roman law); past-participle adjective from addict (v.). The sense of "dependent" (1560s) is reflexive, "self-addicted," from the notion of "give over or award (oneself) to someone or some practice;" specialization to narcotics dependency is from c. 1910. An earlier English adjective was simply addict "delivered, devoted" (1520s).ETD addicted (adj.).2

    addict (n.)

    "one given over to some practice," 1909, first in reference to morphine, from addict (v.).ETD addict (n.).2

    addict (v.)

    1530s (implied in addicted) "to devote or give up (oneself) to a habit or occupation," from Latin addictus, past participle of addicere "to deliver, award, yield; make over, sell," properly "give one's assent to," but figuratively "to devote, consecrate; sacrifice, sell out, betray, abandon." This is from ad "to" (see ad-) + dicere, which was usually "to say, declare" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly"), but also could be "adjudge, allot."ETD addict (v.).2

    "It is a yielding to impulse, and generally a bad one" [Century Dictionary]. Old English glossed Latin addictus literally with forscrifen. Related: Addicted; addicting.ETD addict (v.).3

    addiction (n.)

    c. 1600, "tendency, inclination, penchant" (a less severe sense now obsolete); 1640s as "state of being (self)-addicted" to a habit, pursuit, etc., from Latin addictionem (nominative addictio) "an awarding, a delivering up," noun of action from past-participle stem of addicere "to deliver, award; devote, consecrate, sacrifice" (see addict (v.)).ETD addiction (n.).2

    The sense of "compulsion and need to take a drug as a result of prior use of it" is by 1906, in reference to opium (there is an isolated instance from 1779 with reference to tobacco).ETD addiction (n.).3

    addictive (adj.)

    1815, a word in chemistry and medicine; 1939 in the narcotics sense, from addict (v.) + -ive. Related: Addictively; addictiveness.ETD addictive (adj.).2

    additive (adj.)

    1690s, "tending to be added," from Late Latin additivus "added, annexed," past-participle adjective from Latin addere "add to, join, attach" (see addition). Alternative addititious "additive, additional" (1748) is from Latin additicius "additional."ETD additive (adj.).2

    addition (n.)

    late 14c., "action of adding numbers;" c. 1400, "that which is added," from Old French adition "increase, augmentation" (13c.), from Latin additionem (nominative additio) "an adding to, addition," noun of action from past-participle stem of addere "add to, join, attach" (see add). Phrase in addition to "also" is from 1680s.ETD addition (n.).2

    additional (adj.)

    1640s, "added, supplementary," from addition + -al (1). Related: Additionally.ETD additional (adj.).2

    additive (n.)

    "something that is added" to a chemical solution or food product, 1945, from additive (adj.).ETD additive (n.).2

    additament (n.)

    c. 1400, "anything added, an increase or increment," from Latin additamentum "an increase," from past-participle stem of addere "to add" (see add).ETD additament (n.).2

    addle (v.)

    "become putrid," hence "be spoiled, be made worthless or ineffective," 1640s (implied in addled), from archaic addle (n.) "urine, liquid filth," from Old English adela "mud, mire, liquid manure" (cognate with East Frisian adel "dung," Old Swedish adel "urine," Middle Low German adel "mud," Dutch aal "puddle").ETD addle (v.).2

    Popularly used in the noun phrase addle egg (mid-13c.) "egg that does not hatch, rotten egg," a loan-translation of Latin ovum urinum, literally "urine egg," which is itself an erroneous loan-translation of Greek ourion ōon "putrid egg," literally "wind egg," from ourios "of the wind" (confused by Roman writers with ourios "of urine," from ouron "urine").ETD addle (v.).3

    From this phrase, since c. 1600 the noun in English was mistaken as an adjective meaning "putrid," and thence given a figurative extension to "empty, vain, idle," also "confused, muddled, unsound" (1706), then back-formed into a verb in that sense. Related: Addling.ETD addle (v.).4

    Popular in forming derogatory compounds 17c. and after, such as addle-headed "stupid, muddled" (1660s); addle-pated (1630s); addle-pate "stupid bungler" (c. 1600); addle-plot "spoil-sport, person who spoils any amusement" (1690s).ETD addle (v.).5

    add-on (n.)

    "additional component," 1941, from verbal phrase add on; see add (v.) + on (adv.).ETD add-on (n.).2

    address (v.)

    early 14c., "to guide, aim, or direct," from Old French adrecier "go straight toward; straighten, set right; point, direct" (13c.), from Vulgar Latin *addirectiare "make straight" (source also of Spanish aderezar, Italian addirizzare), from ad "to" (see ad-) + *directiare "make straight," from Latin directus "straight, direct" past participle of dirigere "set straight," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + regere "to direct, to guide, keep straight" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line"). Compare dress (v.)).ETD address (v.).2

    The oldest sense in English is preserved in the terminology of golf (to address a ball). The meaning "direct for transmission, write as a destination on a message" is from mid-15c. The meaning "direct spoken words (to someone)" is from late 15c. From late 14c. as "to set in order, repair, correct." The attempt (falsely) re-Latinize the spelling to add- began in France 15c. but failed there (the Modern French verb is adresser); it stuck in English. Related: Addressed; addressing.ETD address (v.).3

    address (n.)

    1530s, "dutiful or courteous approach," from address (v.) and from French adresse (13c., from the verb in French). The meaning "power of directing one's actions and conduct" is from 1590s; that of "act or manner of speaking to" is from 1670s. The sense of "formal speech to an audience" (Gettysburg Address, etc.) is from 1751. Sense of "superscription of a letter" (guiding it to its destination) is from 1712 and led to the meaning "place of residence" (by c. 1816). The transferred use in computer programming is from 1948. Middle English had a noun addressing "control, correction" (late 14c.).ETD address (n.).2

    addressee (n.)

    "one to whom anything is addressed," 1810; see address (v.) + -ee.ETD addressee (n.).2

    adduce (v.)

    "to bring forward, present, or offer, cite as authority or evidence," early 15c., adducen, from Latin adducere "lead to, bring to, bring along," from ad "to" (see ad-) + ducere "to lead" (from PIE root *deuk- "to lead"). Related: Adduced; adducing.ETD adduce (v.).2

    adduction (n.)

    "the act of drawing toward a common center or median line," 1650s, from French adduction (16c.), from Medieval Latin adductionem (nominative adductio), noun of action from past-participle stem of adducere "lead to, bring to" (see adduce). Related: Adduct; adductor; adductive.ETD adduction (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from French Adélaide, from a Germanic source similar to Old High German Adalhaid, from adal "noble family" (see atheling) + German heit "state, rank," which is related to Old English -had "person, degree, state, nature" (see -hood). The first element of it affixed to French fem. ending -ine gave Adeline.ETD Adelaide.2


    fem. proper name, from French, of Germanic origin, literally "noblewoman," from adal "noble family" (see atheling) + French fem. suffix -ine (see -ine (1)).ETD Adeline.2


    district of London, so called because it was laid out c. 1768 and built by four brothers of a family named Adam; from Greek adelphos "brother," literally "from the same womb, co-uterine," from copulative prefix a- "together with" (see a- (3)) + delphys "womb," which is perhaps related to dolphin (q.v.). The district was the site of the popular Adelphi theater c. 1882-1900, which for a time gave its name to a style of performance.ETD Adelphi.2


    place in southern Arabia, ultimately from Akkadian edinnu "plain," which some think also is the root of Biblical Eden. The two place-names sometimes were treated as synonymous in English (Byron, Poe, etc.).ETD Aden.2

    adenine (n.)

    crystalline base, 1885, coined by German physiologist/chemist Albrecht Kossel from Greek adēn "gland" (see adeno-) + chemical suffix -ine (2). So called because it was derived from the pancreas of an ox.ETD adenine (n.).2


    scientific word-forming element meaning "gland," from Greek adēn "gland," which is perhaps from a suffixed form of PIE root *engw- "groin; internal organ" (source also of Latin inguen "groin"), but Beekes rejects all cognates and calls it isolated.ETD adeno-.2

    adenoid (adj.)

    1839, "gland-like," from medical Latin adenoideus, from Greek adenoeides, from adēn (genitive adēnos) "gland" (see adeno-) + eidos "form" (see -oid). Adenoids (n.) "adenoid growths" is attested by 1856.ETD adenoid (adj.).2

    adenoidal (adj.)

    1852, "gland-like, resembling a gland," from adenoid + -al (1). From 1919 as "having the appearance of one with adenoids."ETD adenoidal (adj.).2

    adept (n.)

    "an expert, one who has attained knowledge," especially "one who is skilled in the secrets of an occult science," 1660s, from Latin adeptus (adj.) "having attained" (see adept (adj.)). The Latin adjective was used as a noun in this sense in Medieval Latin among alchemists. It implies natural and acquired ability, whereas expert implies more of experience and practice.ETD adept (n.).2

    adept (adj.)

    1690s, "completely skilled, well-versed," from Latin adeptus "having reached or attained," past participle of adipisci "to come up with, arrive at," figuratively "to attain to, acquire," from ad "to" (see ad-) + apisci "to grasp, attain" (related to aptus "fitted," from PIE root *ap- (1) "to take, reach," for which see apt). Related: Adeptly; adeptness.ETD adept (adj.).2

    adequate (adj.)

    1610s, "equal to what is needed or desired, sufficient," from Latin adaequatus "equalized," past participle of adaequare "to make equal to, to level with," from ad "to" (see ad-) + aequare "make level," from aequus "equal, even" (see equal (adj.)).ETD adequate (adj.).2

    The sense is of being "equal to what is required." It shares duty with enough, depending on the subject. Somewhat disparaging use, "mediocre, just good enough," is by 1900. Related: Adequateness.ETD adequate (adj.).3

    adequately (adv.)

    1620s; see adequate + -ly (2); originally a term in logic in reference to correspondence of ideas and objects and probably based on Latin use. Meaning "suitably" is recorded from 1680s.ETD adequately (adv.).2

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