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    calyx (n.) — canny (adj.)

    calyx (n.)

    "outer part of the perianth of a flower," 1680s, from Latin calyx, from Greek kalyx "seed pod, husk, outer covering" (of a fruit, flower bud, etc.), from stem of kalyptein "to cover, conceal," from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." The Latin plural is calyces. Some sources connect the word rather with Greek kylix "drinking cup" (see chalice).ETD calyx (n.).2

    calzone (n.)

    type of Italian stuffed turnover, a specialty of Naples, Italian, literally "trouser leg," so called for the resemblance.ETD calzone (n.).2

    cam (n.1)

    1777, "a projecting part of a rotating machinery used to impart motion to another part," from Dutch cam "cog of a wheel," originally "comb," from Proto-Germanic *kambaz "comb," from PIE root *gembh- "tooth, nail." It is thus a cognate of English comb (n.). This might have combined with English camber "having a slight arch;" or the whole thing could be from camber.ETD cam (n.1).2

    It converts regular rotary motion into irregular, fast-and-slow rotary or reciprocal motion. "The original method was by cogs or teeth fixed or cut at certain points in the circumference or disc of a wheel ..." [OED]. Cam-shaft attested from 1850.ETD cam (n.1).3

    cam (n.2)

    abbreviation of camera, by 1990.ETD cam (n.2).2

    camaraderie (n.)

    "companionship, good-fellowship," 1840, from French camaraderie, from camarade "comrade" (see comrade).ETD camaraderie (n.).2

    camber (n.)

    "convexity on an upper surface," 1610s, nautical term, from Old French cambre, chambre "bent," from Latin camurum (nominative camur) "crooked, arched;" related to camera. As a verb, "become slightly arched," from 1620s. Related: Cambered; cambering.ETD camber (n.).2

    cambium (n.)

    1670s in botany, "layer of tissue between the wood and the bark," from Late Latin cambium "exchange," from Latin cambiare "change" (see change (v.)).ETD cambium (n.).2


    Southeast Asian nation, the name is said to be from Kambu, legendary ancestor of the people. Related: Cambodian.ETD Cambodia.2

    Cambrian (adj.)

    1650s, "from or of Wales or the Welsh," from Cambria, variant of Cumbria, Latinized derivation of Cymry, the name of the Welsh for themselves, from Old Celtic Combroges "compatriots." The geological sense (in reference to Paleozoic rocks first studied in Wales and Cumberland) is from 1836.ETD Cambrian (adj.).2

    cambric (n.)

    type of thin, fine linen, late 14c., from Dutch Kamerijk or Flemish Kameryk, Germanic forms of French Cambrai, name of the city in northern France where the cloth was said to have been first manufactured. The modern form of the English word has elements from both versions of the name. The place-name is from Latin Camaracum, according to Room from the personal name Camarus, "itself apparently from Latin cammarus 'a crawfish, prawn' .... It is not known who this was."ETD cambric (n.).2


    city in eastern England, Old English Grontabricc (c. 745) "Bridge on the River Granta" (a Celtic river name, of obscure origin). The change to Cante- and later Cam- was due to Norman influence. The river name Cam is a back-formation in this case, but Cam also was a legitimate Celtic river name, meaning "crooked." The university dates to 1209. Cambridge in Massachusetts, U.S., originally was New Towne but was renamed 1638 after the founding there of Harvard College, John Harvard being a graduate of Cambridge in England.ETD Cambridge.2

    camcorder (n.)

    "portable video camera recorder," 1982, from camera and recorder.ETD camcorder (n.).2

    Camden (n.)

    city in New Jersey, U.S., 1783, named for Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (1714-1794), Whig politician who was popular in America due to his opposition to British taxation policies and for whom many American towns and counties were named.ETD Camden (n.).2


    past tense of come.ETD came.2

    camel (n.)

    "large ruminant quadruped used in Asia and Africa as a beast of burden," Old English camel, perhaps via Old North French camel (Old French chamel, Modern French chameau), from Latin camelus, from Greek kamelos, from Hebrew or Phoenician gamal, perhaps related to Arabic jamala "to bear."ETD camel (n.).2

    Another Old English word for the beast was olfend, apparently based on confusion of camels and elephants in a place and time when both were unknown but for travelers' vague descriptions. The confusion was general in the older Germanic languages (Gothic ulbandus, Old High German olbenta, Old Saxon olbhunt, Old Norse ulfaldi). Also compare camelopard. Of the two distinct species, the Arabian has one hump (the lighter, thoroughbred variety is the dromedary); the Bactrian has two. The camel-walk dance style is recorded from 1919.ETD camel (n.).3

    cameleon (n.)

    obsolete form of chameleon.ETD cameleon (n.).2

    camellia (n.)

    genus of shrubs and small trees native to eastern Asia and Indonesia, 1753, named by Linnæus from Latinized form of surname of Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706), Moravian-born Jesuit who described the flora of the island of Luzon, + abstract noun ending -ia.ETD camellia (n.).2

    camelopard (n.)

    an old name for "giraffe," late 14c., from Late Latin camelopardus, shortened from Latin camelopardalis, from Greek kamelopardalis "a giraffe," a compound of kamelos "camel" (see camel), for the long neck, and pardos "leopard, panther" (see pard (n.1)), for the spots.ETD camelopard (n.).2

    Camelot (n.)

    legendary castle of King Arthur, a name first found in medieval French romances; the name corresponds to Latin Camuladonum, the Roman forerunner of Colchester, which was an impressive ruin in the Middle Ages. But Malory identifies it with Winchester and Elizabethans tended to see it as Cadbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort near Glastonbury.ETD Camelot (n.).2

    Camembert (n.)

    type of rich, sweet, yellowish cream-cheese, 1867, from the name of a village near Argentan, Normandy, where it originally was made (the modern form of the cheese dates to 1792). The place name is Medieval Latin Campus Maimberti "field of Maimbert" (a West Germanic personal name).ETD Camembert (n.).2

    cameo (n.)

    early 15c., kaadmaheu, camew, chamehieux and many other spellings (from early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "engraving in relief upon a precious stone with two layers of colors" (such as onyx, agate, or shell) and done so as to utilize the effect of the colors, from Old French camaieu and directly from Medieval Latin cammaeus, which is of unknown origin, perhaps ultimately from Arabic qamaa'il "flower buds," or Persian chumahan "agate."ETD cameo (n.).2

    In 19c. it also was used of other raised, carved work on a miniature scale. The transferred sense of "small character or part that stands out from other minor parts" in a play, etc., is from 1928, from an earlier meaning "short literary sketch or portrait" (1851), a transferred sense from cameo silhouettes. A cameotype (1864) was a small, vignette daguerreotype mounted in a jeweled setting.ETD cameo (n.).3

    cameral (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to a chamber," 1762, from Medieval Latin camera "a chamber, public office, treasury," in classical Latin "a vaulted room" (see camera, and compare chamber) + -al (1).ETD cameral (adj.).2

    camera (n.)

    1708, "vaulted building; arched roof or ceiling," from Latin camera "a vault, vaulted room" (source also of Italian camera, Spanish camara, French chambre), from Greek kamara "vaulted chamber, anything with an arched cover," which is of uncertain origin. A doublet of chamber. Old Church Slavonic komora, Lithuanian kamara, Old Irish camra all are borrowings from Latin.ETD camera (n.).2

    The word also was used from early 18c. as a short form of Modern Latin camera obscura "dark chamber" (a black box with a lens that could project images of external objects), contrasted with camera lucida (c. 1750, Latin for "light chamber"), which uses prisms to produce an image of a distant object on paper beneath the instrument which can be traced.ETD camera (n.).3

    This sense was expanded to become the word for "picture-taking device used by photographers" (the thing a modification of the camera obscura) when modern photography began c. 1840. The word was extended to television filming devices from 1928. Camera-shy is attested from 1890. Camera-man is from 1908.ETD camera (n.).4

    camera obscura (n.)

    1725, "a darkened room;" c. 1730, "a device for project pictures;" see camera.ETD camera obscura (n.).2

    camerlengo (n.)

    also camerlingo, "papal chamberlain," having charge of the secular interests of the papacy, 1620s, from Italian camerlingo "chamberlain" (see chamberlain).ETD camerlengo (n.).2


    Highland clan name, from Gaelic camshron "wry or hooked nose" (the Highland clan; the Lowland name is for a locality in Fife). The Cameronians (1680s) were followers of Richard Cameron in Scotland who refused to accept the indulgence of Charles II during the prosecution of the Presbyterians.ETD Cameron.2

    Cameroon (adj.)

    nation in West Africa, its name is taken from the Englished form of the former name of the River Wouri, which was called by the Portuguese Rio dos Camarões "river of prawns" (16c.) for the abundance of these they found in its broad estuary. camarões is from Latin cammarus "a crawfish, prawn."ETD Cameroon (adj.).2


    fem. proper name, from Latin, fem. of Camillus, cognomen of several members of the gens Furia, from camillus "noble youth attending at sacrifices," a word perhaps from Etruscan.ETD Camilla.2

    camino (n.)

    1854, "street; road." Chiefly found in accounts of travel in Spanish-speaking countries or used in areas of the United States formerly under Spanish domain, such as California and its El Camino Real. From Spanish camino, from Late Latin caminus, said to be from a Celtic word camminus.ETD camino (n.).2

    As a type of car, El Camino is first attested as a Cadillac prototype in 1954. The better known Chevrolet El Camino made its appearance in 1959.ETD camino (n.).3

    camisole (n.)

    1816, "short, light garment with sleeves," formerly worn by women as morning-dress, from French camisole (16c.), from Provençal camisola "mantle," diminutive of camisa "shirt," from Late Latin camisia "shirt, nightgown" (see chemise). In modern use a sleeveless undergarment for women (1900). In late 19c. it generally meant "strait-jacket, a restraint for lunatics."ETD camisole (n.).2

    camomile (n.)

    see chamomile.ETD camomile (n.).2


    1917, noun, verb, and adjective, from French camoufler, in Parisian slang, "to disguise," from Italian camuffare "to disguise," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps a contraction of capo muffare "to muffle the head." The word was probably altered in French by influence of French camouflet "puff of smoke, smoke puffed into a sleeper's face" (itself of unknown origin) on the notion of "blow smoke in someone's face." The British navy in World War I called it dazzle-painting.ETD camouflage.2

    camp (n.)

    1520s, "place where an army lodges temporarily," from French camp, in this sense from Italian campo, from Latin campus "open field, level space," especially "open space for military exercise" (see campus).ETD camp (n.).2

    The direct descendant of Latin campus in French is champ "a field." The Latin word had been taken up in early West Germanic as *kampo-z and appeared originally in Old English as camp "contest, battle, fight, war." This word was obsolete by mid-15c.ETD camp (n.).3

    Transferred to non-military senses by 1550s. The meaning "body of adherents of a doctrine or cause" is from 1871. Camp-follower "one who follows an army without being officially connected to it," such as sutlers, washer-women, etc., is attested from 1810. Camp-meeting "religious meeting for prayer, etc., held in an outdoor camp" is from 1809, American English, originally and especially in reference to Methodists. Camp-fever (1758) is any epidemic fever incident to life in a camp, especially typhus or typhoid. A camp-stool (1794) has a flexible seat and cross-legs and is made to be folded up and packed away when not in use.ETD camp (n.).4

    camp (v.)

    "to encamp, establish or make a camp," 1540s, from camp (n.). Related: Camped; camping. Later "to live temporarily in tents or rude places of shelter" (1610s), in modern times often for health or pleasure. Camping out is attested from 1834, American English.ETD camp (v.).2

    camp (adj.)

    "tasteless," 1909, homosexual slang, of uncertain origin, perhaps from mid-17c. French camper "to portray, pose" (as in se camper "put oneself in a bold, provocative pose"); popularized 1964 by Susan Sontag's essay "Notes on Camp." Campy is attested from 1959.ETD camp (adj.).2

    campagne (n.)

    obsolete form of campaign.ETD campagne (n.).2

    campaign (n.)

    1640s, "operation of an army in the field," during a single season, in a particular region, or in a definite enterprise; from French campagne "campaign," literally "open country," from Old French champagne "countryside, open country" (suited to military maneuvers), from Late Latin campania "level country" (source of Italian campagna, Spanish campaña, Portuguese campanha), from Latin campus "a field" (see campus).ETD campaign (n.).2

    Old armies spent winters in quarters and took to the "open field" to seek battle in summer. The meaning was generalized to "continued or sustained aggressive operations for the accomplishment of some purpose" (1790); in U.S., especially "political activity before an election, marked by organized action in influencing the voters" [DAE], attested from 1809.ETD campaign (n.).3

    campaign (v.)

    "to serve in a campaign," 1701, from campaign (n.). Political sense is from 1801. Related: Campaigned; campaigning; campaigner.ETD campaign (v.).2

    campanile (n.)

    "bell-tower," especially a detached high building erected for containing bells, 1630s, from Italian, from campana "bell," from Late Latin campana, originally "metal vessel made in Campania," region of southern Italy, including the Neapolitan plain, from Latin Campania, literally "level country" (see campaign (n.)).ETD campanile (n.).2


    family name of Scottish origin, from Gaelic caimbeul "wry or crooked mouth," from cam "crooked, deformed, one-eyed, cross-eyed." Also in surname Cameron. The Campbell Soup Company was started in 1869 in Camden, N.J., by fruit merchant Joseph A. Campbell (1817-1900) and Abraham A. Anderson; Campbell bought Anderson out in 1877. Andy Warhol began painting their cans in 1962.ETD Campbell.2

    Campbellite (n.)

    1830, in U.S., "a follower of Alexander Campbell" (1788-1866), Scots-Irish preacher and religious reformer from Virginia. They called themselves Disciples of Christ and also were called New Lights. In Scotland, a follower of the Rev. John McLeod Campbell (1800-1872), influential Scottish theologian deposed in 1831 for teaching the universality of the atonement.ETD Campbellite (n.).2

    Camp David

    U.S. presidential retreat near Thurmont, Maryland, built 1939 as Hi-Catoctin, in reference to the name of the mountains around it; it was called Shangri-La by President Franklin Roosevelt, after the mythical hard-to-get-to land in the novel "Lost Horizon;" it was renamed Camp David by President Eisenhower in 1953 for his grandson, born 1947. The Camp David Accords were signed there Sept. 17, 1978.ETD Camp David.2

    camper (n.)

    1630s, "soldier," agent noun from camp (v.). The meaning "attendee at a camp meeting" is from 1806; the meaning "one who sleeps in temporary quarters outdoors" is from 1856; that of "motor vehicle with sleeping quarters" is from 1960. Extended use of happy camper as "satisfied person" is from c. 1987.ETD camper (n.).2

    campfire (n.)

    also camp-fire, "fire in a camp for warmth or cooking," 1835, from camp (n.) + fire (n.). In the GAR (Civil War Northern veterans' society), "a meeting or reunion of members of a post" (1874).ETD campfire (n.).2

    camp-ground (n.)

    also campground, "place for camping," 1806, from camp (n.) or (v.) + ground (n.).ETD camp-ground (n.).2

    camphor (n.)

    whitish, translucent, volatile substance with a penetrating odor, the product of trees in east Asia and Indonesia, extensively used in medicine, early 14c., caumfre, from Old French camphre, from Medieval Latin camfora, from Arabic kafur, perhaps via Sanskrit karpuram, from Malay (Austronesian) kapur "camphor tree." Related: Camphorated.ETD camphor (n.).2

    campus (n.)

    "college grounds," 1774, from Latin campus "flat land, field," from Proto-Italic *kampo- "field," a word of uncertain origin. De Vaan finds cognates in Greek kampē "a bending, bow, curvature," etc., if the original sense of campus was "depression, curve" (see jamb), and concludes the source in PIE *kamp- "could well be a European substratum word from agricultural terminology." First used in college sense at Princeton.ETD campus (n.).2

    can (v.1)

    Old English 1st and 3rd person singular present indicative of cunnan "to know," less commonly as an auxiliary, "have power to, to be able," (also "have carnal knowledge"), from Proto-Germanic *kunnjanan "be mentally able, have learned" (source also of Old Norse kenna "become acquainted, try," Old Frisian kanna "recognize, admit, know," German kennen "know," Middle Dutch kennen "know," Gothic kannjan "make known"), from PIE root *gno- "to know."ETD can (v.1).2

    It holds now only the third sense of "know," that of "know how to do something" (as opposed to "know as a fact" and "be acquainted with" something or someone). Also used in the sense of may, denoting mere permission. An Old English preterite-present verb, its original past participle, couth, survived only in negation (see uncouth), but compare could. The present participle has spun off with a deflected sense as cunning.ETD can (v.1).3

    can (n.)

    generally, "a small cylindrical sheet-metal vessel used to contain liquids, preserves, etc.," Old English canne "a cup, container," from Proto-Germanic *kanna (source also of Old Saxon, Old Norse, Swedish kanna "a can, tankard, mug," also a unit of measure, Middle Dutch kanne, Dutch kan, Old High German channa, German Kanne). Probably it is an early borrowing from Late Latin canna "container, vessel," from Latin canna "reed," also "reed pipe, small boat;" but the sense evolution is difficult.ETD can (n.).2

    The modern sense of "air-tight vessel of tinned iron" is from 1867. The slang meaning "toilet" is c. 1900, said to be a shortening of piss-can; the meaning "buttocks" is from c. 1910, perhaps extended from this.ETD can (n.).3

    canned (adj.)

    1854, "put up in a can," past-participle adjective from can (v.2). In reference to music, "pre-recorded," from 1903 (with an isolated, hypothetical use from 1894).ETD canned (adj.).2

    can (v.2)

    "put up in cans," 1860, from can (n.1), especially "put up in a sealed container for preservation." The sense of "fire an employee" is from 1905. Related: Canned; canning.ETD can (v.2).2


    ancient name of a land lying between the Jordan and the Mediterranean promised to the children of Israel and conquered by them, so called from Canaan, son of Ham (Genesis x.15-19). Related: Canaanite. In the Apostle name Simon the Canaanite it is a transliteration of an Aramaic name meaning "zealot."ETD Canaan.2


    1560s (implied in Canadian), said to be a Latinized form of a word for "village" in an Iroquoian language of the St. Lawrence valley that had gone extinct by 1600. Most still-spoken Iroquoian languages have a similar word (such as Mohawk kana:ta "town").ETD Canada.2

    In early 18c. Canada meant French Canada, Quebec. The British colonies (including the American colonies) were British America. After 1791 the remainder of British America was Upper Canada (the English part), Lower Canada (the French part), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and, separately, Newfoundland. An act of Parliament in 1840 merged Upper and Lower Canada, and in 1867 the Dominion of Canada was created from the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Canada goose is attested from 1772.ETD Canada.3

    Canadian (adj.)

    "pertaining to Canada," 1560s; see Canada. Also as a noun, "native or inhabitant of Canada" (1759).ETD Canadian (adj.).2

    Canadianism (n.)

    "national spirit of Canadians," 1875, from Canadian + -ism.ETD Canadianism (n.).2

    canaille (n.)

    "the rabble, the lowest order of people collectively," 1670s, from French canaille (16c.), from Italian canaglia, literally "a pack of dogs," from cane "dog," from Latin canis (from PIE root *kwon- "dog").ETD canaille (n.).2

    canal (n.)

    early 15c., in anatomy, "tubular passage in the body through which fluids or solids pass;" mid-15c., "a pipe for liquid;" from French canal, chanel "water channel, tube, pipe, gutter" (12c.), from Latin canalis "water pipe, groove, channel," noun use of adjective from canna "reed" (see cane (n.)). The sense was transferred by 1670s to "artificial waterway for irrigation or navigation."ETD canal (n.).2

    canard (n.)

    "absurd or fabricated story intended as an imposition," 1851, perhaps 1843, from French canard "a hoax," literally "a duck" (from Old French quanart, probably echoic of a duck's quack); said by Littré to be from the phrase vendre un canard à moitié "to half-sell a duck," thus, perhaps from some long-forgotten joke, "to cheat." But also compare quack (n.1).ETD canard (n.).2

    canary (n.)

    type of small songbird, 1650s (short for Canary-bird, 1570s), from French canarie, from Spanish canario "canary bird," literally "of the Canary Islands" (where it is indigenous), from Latin Insula Canaria "Canary Island," largest of the Fortunate Isles, literally "island of dogs" (canis, derived adjective canarius, from PIE root *kwon- "dog").ETD canary (n.).2

    Supposedly so called "from its multitude of dogs of a huge size" (Pliny), but perhaps this is folk-etymology, and the name might instead be that of the Canarii, a Berber people who lived near the coast of Morocco opposite the island and might have settled on it. The name was extended to the whole island group (Canariæ Insulæ) by the time of Arnobius (c. 300). As a type of wine (from the Canary Islands) from 1580s.ETD canary (n.).3

    [Recent DNA analysis (2019) of ancient remains on the island suggest the indigenous people were of typical North African lineages as well as Mediterranean and sub-Saharan African groups and may have arrived by c. 100 C.E.]ETD canary (n.).4

    canasta (n.)

    1945, Uruguayan card game played with two decks and four jokers, popular 1945-c. 1965; from Spanish, literally "basket," from Latin canistrum (see canister). In the game a canasta is seven cards of the same rank, giving the player a large bonus. A Spanish card-playing term for building up a meld was tejiendo las cartas, literally "weaving the cards," hence perhaps the name is based on the image of a woven "basket."ETD canasta (n.).2


    capital of Australia, 1826, from Aboriginal nganbirra "meeting place."ETD Canberra.2

    cancan (n.)

    also can-can, "A kind of dance performed in low resorts by men and women, who indulge in extravagant postures and lascivious gestures" [Century Dictionary, 1895], 1848, from French, a slang or cant term possibly from can, a French children's word for "duck" (see canard), via some notion of "waddling" too obscure or obscene to attempt to disentangle here. Or perhaps from French cancan (16c.) "noise, disturbance," echoic of quacking.ETD cancan (n.).2

    cancellation (n.)

    also cancelation, "act of cancelling," 1530s, from Latin cancellationem (nominative cancellatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of cancellare "to cancel" (see cancel). Of reservations for conveyances, hotels, etc., from 1953. Earlier (early 15c.) in medical writing, in reference to the crossing of retinal images.ETD cancellation (n.).2

    cancel (v.)

    late 14c., "cross out with lines, draw lines across (something written) so as to deface," from Anglo-French and Old French canceler, from Latin cancellare "to make like a lattice," which in Late Latin took on especially a sense "cross out something written" by marking it with crossed lines, from cancelli, plural of *cancellus (n.) "lattice, grating," diminutive of cancer "crossed bars, a lattice," a variant of carcer "prison" (see incarceration).ETD cancel (v.).2

    The figurative use, "to nullify (an obligation, etc.)" is from mid-15c. Related: Canceled (also cancelled); cancelling.ETD cancel (v.).3

    cancerous (adj.)

    1560s, "afflicted with cancer," from cancer + -ous. The figurative sense, "like a cancer, virulent" is from 1660s.ETD cancerous (adj.).2

    cancer (n.)

    Old English cancer "spreading sore, malignant tumor" (also canceradl), from Latin cancer "a crab," later, "malignant tumor," from Greek karkinos, which, like the Modern English word, has three meanings: a crab, a tumor, and the zodiac constellation represented by a crab. This is from PIE *karkro-, a reduplicated form of the root *kar- "hard."ETD cancer (n.).2

    Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen, among others, noted similarity of crabs to some tumors with swollen veins. The Old English word was displaced by French-influenced doublet canker but was reintroduced in the modern medical sense c. 1600. In reference to the zodiac sign, it is attested from late Old English; the meaning "person born under the zodiac sign of Cancer" is from 1894. The sun being in Cancer at the summer solstice, the constellation had association in Latin writers with the south and with summer heat. Cancer stick "cigarette" is a slang phrase attested from 1959.ETD cancer (n.).3

    cancrivorous (adj.)

    "crab-eating," 1885, from combining form of Latin cancer "crab" (see cancer) + -vorous "eating."ETD cancrivorous (adj.).2

    candela (n.)

    unit of luminous intensity, 1950, from Latin candela "a light, torch, candle made of tallow or wax" (see candle).ETD candela (n.).2

    candelabrum (n.)

    "kind of stand used to support lamps or candles," 1811, from Latin candelabrum, which meant "candlestick," from candela "a light, torch, candle made of tallow or wax" (see candle). Old English had candeltreow "candle-tree" in same sense. The word was borrowed earlier (late 14c.) from Old French as chaundelabre with the Latin sense. Candelabra is the Latin plural.ETD candelabrum (n.).2

    candescent (adj.)

    "glowing, incandescent," 1824, from Latin candescentem (nominative candescens), present participle of candescere "to become white, begin to gleam," inchoative of candere "to shine, to glow" (from PIE root *kand- "to shine"). Related: Candescence.ETD candescent (adj.).2

    candy (v.)

    "preserve or encrust with sugar," 1530s, from candy (n.). Related: Candied; candying.ETD candy (v.).2

    candied (adj.)

    "preserved or encrusted with sugar or anything resembling it," c. 1600, past-participle adjective from candy (v.).ETD candied (adj.).2

    candy (n.)

    late 13c., "crystallized sugar," from Old French çucre candi "sugar candy," ultimately from Arabic qandi, from Persian qand "cane sugar," probably from Sanskrit khanda "piece (of sugar)," perhaps from Dravidian (compare Tamil kantu "candy," kattu "to harden, condense").ETD candy (n.).2

    The sense gradually broadened (especially in U.S.) to mean by late 19c. "any confection having sugar as its basis." In Britain these are sweets, and candy tends to be restricted to sweets made only from boiled sugar and striped in bright colors. A candy-pull (1865) was a gathering of young people for making (by pulling into the right consistency) and eating molasses candy.ETD candy (n.).3

    candid (adj.)

    1620s, "white, bright," from Latin candidum "white; pure; sincere, honest, upright," from candere "to shine" (from PIE root *kand- "to shine"). In English, the metaphoric extension to "frank, honest, sincere" is recorded by 1670s (compare French candide "open, frank, ingenuous, sincere"). Of photography, "not posed, informal," 1929. Related: Candidly; candidness.ETD candid (adj.).2

    candidate (n.)

    "person who seeks or is put forward for an office by election or appointment," c. 1600, from Latin candidatus "one aspiring to office," originally "white-robed," past participle of candidare "to make white or bright," from candidus, past participle of candere "to shine" (from PIE root *kand- "to shine").ETD candidate (n.).2

    White was the usual color of the Roman toga, but office-seekers in ancient Rome wore a gleaming white toga (toga candida), probably whitened with fine powdered chalk, presumably to indicate the purity of their intentions in seeking a role in civic affairs.ETD candidate (n.).3

    candidacy (n.)

    "state of being a candidate," 1822; see candidate + abstract noun suffix -cy.ETD candidacy (n.).2

    candle (n.)

    "cylindrical body of tallow, wax, etc., formed on a wick and used as a source of artificial light," Old English candel "lamp, lantern, candle," an early ecclesiastical borrowing from Latin candela "a light, torch, candle made of tallow or wax," from candere "to shine" (from PIE root *kand- "to shine").ETD candle (n.).2

    The Latin word is also the source of French chandelle, Spanish candela, Irish coinneal, Welsh canwyll, Russian kandilo, Arabic qandil, etc. Candles were unknown in ancient Greece (where oil lamps sufficed), but common from early times among Romans and Etruscans. Candles on birthday cakes seem to have been originally a German custom.ETD candle (n.).3

    To hold a candle to originally meant "to help in a subordinate capacity," perhaps from the notion of an assistant or apprentice holding a candle for light while the master works, or from devotional candles borne in Church ceremonies (compare Old English taporberend "acolyte," literally "taper-bearer"). To burn the candle at both ends "consume or waste prodigiously" is recorded from 1730.ETD candle (n.).4

    candle-light (n.)

    also candlelight, Old English candelleoht "the light of a candle;" from candle + light (n.). As "time at which candles are lit" 1660s, "an expression much used in places or regions where no correct standard of time is easily accessible" [Century Dictionary, 1895].ETD candle-light (n.).2

    Candlemas (n.)

    Church festival, late Old English candelmæsse (from candle + mass (n.2)), feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary (Feb. 2), celebrated with many candles, corresponding to Celtic pagan Imbolc.ETD Candlemas (n.).2

    candlestick (n.)

    also candle-stick, "utensil for holding a candle," Middle English candel-stikke, from Old English candelsticca; see candle + stick (n.). From 1915 in reference to a type of upright telephone that was common from 1890s to 1940s.ETD candlestick (n.).2

    candle-waster (n.)

    "one who wastes candles," specifically a contemptuous word for one who follows occupations considered unprofitable or harmful, 1590s, from candle + agent noun from waste (v.).ETD candle-waster (n.).2

    can-do (adj.)

    "confident of performance," by 1952, from expression can do "it is possible" (1903), literally "(I or we) can do (it)," which is perhaps based on earlier no can do (see no).ETD can-do (adj.).2

    candor (n.)

    "openness of mind, impartiality, frankness, freedom from reserve or disguise," c. 1600, from Latin candor "purity, openness," originally "whiteness, brightness, radiance," from candere "to shine, to be white" (from PIE root *kand- "to shine"). It was borrowed earlier in English (c. 1500) in the Latin literal sense of "extreme whiteness."ETD candor (n.).2

    candour (n.)

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


    also candy-ass, "timid, cowardly," also "a contemptible, timid person," 1961, from candy (n.) + ass (n.2). Perhaps originally U.S. military.ETD candyass.2

    candy-striper (n.)

    young female volunteer nurse at a hospital, by 1962, so called from the pink-striped design of her uniform, similar to patterns on peppermint candy. Candy-striped (adj.) is from 1886. See candy (n.) + stripe (n.).ETD candy-striper (n.).2

    cane (n.)

    late 14c., "long slender woody stem," from Old French cane "reed, cane, spear" (13c., Modern French canne), from Latin canna "reed, cane," from Greek kanna, perhaps from Babylonian-Assyrian qanu "tube, reed" (compare Hebrew qaneh, Arabic qanah "reed"), which may come from Sumerian-Akkadian gin "reed." The sense of "length of cane used as a walking stick" is from 1580s.ETD cane (n.).2

    cane (v.)

    "to beat or flog with a walking stick," 1660s, from cane (n.). Related: Caned; caning.ETD cane (v.).2

    canebrake (n.)

    also cane-brake, "a thicket of canes," 1770, American English, from cane (n.) + brake (n.3).ETD canebrake (n.).2

    Canfield (n.)

    type of solitaire, 1912, from U.S. gambler J.A. Canfield (1855-1914).ETD Canfield (n.).2

    canicular (adj.)

    late 14c., in caniculer dayes, the "dog days" around mid-August, from Latin canicularis "pertaining to the dog days or the Dog Star (Sirius)," from canicula "little dog," also "the Dog Star," diminutive of canis "a dog" (from PIE root *kwon- "dog"). Historically, it is attested in literal use ("pertaining to a dog") only in jocular humor.ETD canicular (adj.).2

    Also see Sirius, and compare heliacal. The ancient Egyptian canicular year was computed from the heliacal rising of Sirius; the canicular cycle of 1,461 years is how long it would take a given day to pass through all seasons in an uncorrected calendar.ETD canicular (adj.).3

    canid (n.)

    "a carnivorous mammal of the Canidae family" (dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals), 1879, from Modern Latin Canidae, from Latin canis "dog" (from PIE root *kwon- "dog") + -idae.ETD canid (n.).2

    canine (n.)

    late 14c., "a pointed tooth," from Latin caninus "of the dog," genitive of canis "dog" (source of Italian cane, French chien), from PIE root *kwon- "dog." The meaning "a dog" is first recorded 1869.ETD canine (n.).2

    canine (adj.)

    c. 1600, "pertaining to one of the four sharp-pointed tearing teeth between the incisors and the molars," from canine (n.) or Latin caninus. The meaning "pertaining to a dog or dogs" is from 1620s.ETD canine (adj.).2

    canister (n.)

    late 15c., "basket," from Latin canistrum "wicker basket" for bread, fruit, flowers, etc., from Greek kanystron "basket made from reed," from kanna (see cane (n.)). It came to mean "small metal receptacle" (1711) through influence of unrelated can (n.). As short for canister shot, it is attested from 1801, so called for its casing.ETD canister (n.).2

    canivorous (adj.)

    "dog-eating," 1835, from Latin canis "dog" (from PIE root *kwon- "dog") + -vorous "eating, devouring."ETD canivorous (adj.).2

    canker (n.)

    late Old English cancer "spreading ulcer, cancerous tumor," from Latin cancer "malignant tumor," literally "crab" (see cancer, which is its doublet). The form was influenced in Middle English by Old North French cancre "canker, sore, abscess" (Old French chancre, Modern French chancre).ETD canker (n.).2

    The word was the common one for "cancer" until c. 1700, but since the reintroduction of cancer in a more scientific sense it has tended to be restricted to gangrenous sores of the mouth. Also used since 15c. of caterpillars and insect larvae that eat plant buds and leaves. As a verb, "to corrode, corrupt," from late 14c. Related: Cankered; cankerous.ETD canker (n.).3


    city on the French Riviera, perhaps from a pre-Indo-European word *kan, meaning "height." The film festival dates from 1946.ETD Cannes.2

    cannabis (n.)

    1798, "common hemp," from Cannabis, Modern Latin plant genus named (1728), from Greek kannabis "hemp," a Scythian or Thracian word. That word is also source of Armenian kanap', Albanian kanep, Russian konoplja, Persian kanab, Lithuanian kanapės "hemp," and English canvas and possibly hemp. In reference to use of the plant parts as an intoxicant, from 1848. Related: Cannabic.ETD cannabis (n.).2

    cannery (n.)

    "establishment for preserving meats, fish, fruits, etc. in airtight cans," 1872, from can (v.2) + -ery.ETD cannery (n.).2

    canny (adj.)

    "knowing, wise," 1630s, from a Scottish and northern English formation from can (v.1) in its sense of "know how to," + -y (2). A doublet of cunning that flowered into distinct senses in Scottish English. In the glossary to Scott's "Heart of Mid-Lothian" (1818) uncanny is defined as "dangerous," while canny, as used in the tale, is defined as "skilful, prudent, lucky ; in a superstitious sense, good-conditioned, and safe to deal with ; trustworthy ; quiet." Cannily is "gently" and canny moment is "an opportune or happy time."ETD canny (adj.).2

    "Knowing," hence, from 18c., "careful, skillful, clever," also "frugal, thrifty," and, from early 19c. (perhaps via Scott's novels) "cautious, wary, shrewd." Often used superciliously of Scots by their southern neighbors (and their American cousins).ETD canny (adj.).3

    Related: Cannily; canniness.ETD canny (adj.).4

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