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    ch — chanter (n.)


    digraph used in Old French for the "tsh" sound. In some French dialects, including that of Paris (but not that of Picardy), Latin ca- became French "tsha." This was introduced to English after the Norman Conquest, in words borrowed from Old French such as chaste, charity, chief (adj.). Under French influence, -ch- also was inserted into Anglo-Saxon words that had the same sound (such as bleach, chest, church) which in Old English still was written with a simple -c-, and into those that had formerly been spelled with a -c- and pronounced "k" such as chin and much.ETD ch.2

    As French evolved, the "t" sound dropped out of -ch-, so in later loan-words from French -ch- has only the sound "sh-" (chauffeur, machine (n.), chivalry, etc.).ETD ch.3

    It turns up as well in words from classical languages (chaos, echo, etc.). Most uses of -ch- in Roman Latin were in words from Greek, which in Greek would be pronounced correctly as /k/ + /h/, as in modern blockhead, but most Romans would have said merely /k/, and this was the regular pronunciation in English. Before c. 1500 such words were regularly spelled with a -c- (Crist, cronicle, scoole), but Modern English has preserved or restored the etymological spelling in most of them (chemical, chorus, monarch).ETD ch.4

    Sometimes ch- is written to keep -c- hard before a front vowel, as still in modern Italian. In some languages (Welsh, Spanish, Czech) ch- can be treated as a separate letter and words in it are alphabetized after -c- (or, in Czech and Slovak, after -h-). The sound also is heard in words from more distant languages (as in cheetah, chintz), and the digraph also is used to represent the sound in Scottish loch.ETD ch.5

    cha (n.)

    "tea," 1590s, also chaw, ultimately from the Mandarin ch'a "tea;" used in English alongside tea when the beverage was introduced.ETD cha (n.).2

    Chablis (n.)

    light, white Burgundy wine, 1660s, named for town of Chablis southeast of Paris. Made only of Chardonnay grapes. The French word chablis (16c.) is literally "deadwood," fallen from a tree through age or brought down by wind, short for bois chablis, from Old French *chableiz.ETD Chablis (n.).2

    cha-cha (n.)

    also cha-cha-cha, type of Latin-American three-beat ballroom dance, 1954, echoic of the music.ETD cha-cha (n.).2

    chad (n.1)

    also Mr. Chad, simple graffiti drawing of a face peering over a fence or wall, with the caption, "Wot, no ______?" (the U.S. version usually had "Kilroy was here"), 1945, British, of unknown origin, a reaction to war-time shortages and rationing.ETD chad (n.1).2


    African nation, former French colony (Tchad), independent since 1960, named for Lake Chad, which is from a local word meaning "lake, large expanse of water." An ironic name for a country largely desert. Related: Chadian.ETD Chad.2

    chad (n.2)

    "hanging flap or piece after a hole is punched in paper," a word unknown to most people until the 2000 U.S. presidential election (when the outcome hinged on partially punched paper ballots in some Florida counties), attested by 1930, of unknown origin. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the word is identical to an English dialectal variant of chat, meaning "a dry twig; dry fragments among food."ETD chad (n.2).2

    chador (n.)

    "cloth worn as a shawl by women in Iran," 1884, from Persian chadar "tent, mantle, scarf, veil, sheet, table-cloth."ETD chador (n.).2


    before vowels chaet-, word-forming element meaning "hair," also, in scientific use, "spine, bristle," from Latinized form of Greek khaitē "long, loose, flowing hair" (of persons, also of horses, lions), from an old PIE word for "hair, mane," source also of Avestan gaesa- "curly hair," gaesu- "'curly haired," Modern Persian ges "hair that hangs down, curls;" Middle Irish gaiset "bristly hair."ETD chaeto-.2

    chaetophobia (n.)

    "fear of hair," 1977, from chaeto- "hair; bristle" + -phobia "fear."ETD chaetophobia (n.).2

    chafe (v.)

    c. 1300, chaufen, "be provoked, grow or be excited;" late 14c. in literal sense of "to make warm, to heat" (also intransitive, "to grow warm or hot"), especially (early 15c.) "to warm by rubbing, excite heat by friction," from Old French chaufer "heat, warm up, become warm" (12c., Modern French chauffer), from Vulgar Latin *calefare, from Latin calefacere "to make hot, make warm," from calere "be warm" (from PIE root *kele- (1) "warm") + facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD chafe (v.).2

    From 1520s as "abrade the skin by rubbing." Figurative senses from late 14c. include now-obsolete "kindle (joy), inspire, make passionate" as well as "provoke, vex, anger." Related: Chafed; chafing. Chafing-dish is from late 15c.ETD chafe (v.).3

    chafer (n.)

    kind of beetle, Old English ceafor "beetle, cock-chafer," from Proto-Germanic *kabraz- (source also of Old Saxon kevera, Dutch kever, Old High German chevar, German Käfer), literally "gnawer," from PIE *gep(h)- "jaw, mouth" (see jowl (n.1)). "Apparently, originally applied to species destructive to plants" [OED].ETD chafer (n.).2

    chaff (n.)

    "husks of wheat, oats, or other grains," Old English ceaf "chaff," probably from Proto-Germanic *kaf- "to gnaw, chew" (source also of Middle Dutch and Dutch kaf, German Kaff), from PIE root *gep(h)- "jaw, mouth" (see jowl (n.1)). Used figuratively for "worthless material" from late 14c.ETD chaff (n.).2

    chaffer (n.)

    "a bargain," early 13c., cheffare "buying and selling," also (14c.) cheapfare, probably from Old English ceap "bargain, traffic, gain, sale" (see cheap) + faru "faring, going" (see fare (n.)). In later use, "haggling." The verb is recorded from mid-14c. as "to trade, buy and sell," from 1725 as "to haggle." Related: Chaffered; chaffering.ETD chaffer (n.).2

    chaffinch (n.)

    Fringilla cælebs, common European bird "with pretty plumage and pleasant short song" [OED], Old English ceaffinc, literally "chaff-finch," said to be so called because it eats waste grain among the chaff on farms in winter. See chaff + finch.ETD chaffinch (n.).2

    chagrin (n.)

    1650s, "melancholy," from French chagrin "melancholy, anxiety, vexation" (14c.), from Old North French chagreiner or Angevin dialect chagraigner "sadden," which is of unknown origin, perhaps [Gamillscheg] from Old French graignier "grieve over, be angry," from graigne "sadness, resentment, grief, vexation," from graim "sorrowful," which is perhaps from a Germanic source (compare Old High German gram "angry, fierce").ETD chagrin (n.).2

    But OED and other sources trace it to an identical Old French word, borrowed into English phonetically as shagreen, meaning "rough skin or hide" (the connecting notion being "roughness, harshness"), which is itself of uncertain origin. The modern sense of "feeling of irritation from disappointment, mortification or mental pain from the failure of aims or plans" is from 1716.ETD chagrin (n.).3

    The town of Chagrin Falls in northeastern Ohio, U.S., was founded 1837 and named for the nearby falls of the Chagrin River. The source of the river name is uncertain; it might be a corruption of Seguin, the name of a Frenchman who is said to have established a trading post nearby in the 1740s.ETD chagrin (n.).4

    chagrin (v.)

    "vex, mortify," 1660s (implied in chagrined), from chagrin (n.). Related: Chagrining.ETD chagrin (v.).2

    chai (n.)

    "tea," 1908, from the Russian or Arabic word for "tea" (see tea, and compare cha). The 1908 citation is in an Arabic context. Now used especially of spiced teas.ETD chai (n.).2

    chain (v.)

    late 14c., "to bar with a chain; to put (someone) in chains," also "to link things together," from chain (n.). Related: Chained; chaining.ETD chain (v.).2

    chain (n.)

    c. 1300, "connected series of links of metal or other material," from Old French chaeine "chain" (12c., Modern French chane), from Latin catena "chain" (source also of Spanish cadena, Italian catena), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from a PIE root *kat- "to twist, twine" (source also of Latin cassis "hunting net, snare").ETD chain (n.).2

    As a type of ornament worn about the neck, from late 14c. As a linear measure ("a chain's length") from 1660s. From 1590s as "any series of things linked together." The meaning "series of stores controlled by one owner or firm" is American English, 1846. The figurative use "that which binds or confines" is from c. 1600.ETD chain (n.).3

    Chain-reaction is from 1916 in physics; the specific nuclear physics sense is from 1938. Chain-mail armor is from 1795, from mail (n.2). Before that, mail alone sufficed. Chain letter is recorded from 1892; at first usually to raise money; decried from the start as a nuisance.ETD chain (n.).4

    Chain of command is from 1915. Chain-lightning, visible as jagged or broken lines, is from 1834. Chain-smoker, one who smokes one after another, lighting the next from the stump of the last, is attested from 1885, originally of Bismarck (who smoked cigars), thus probably a loan-translation of German Kettenraucher. Chain-smoking (n.) is from 1895.ETD chain (n.).5

    chain-gang (n.)

    "a number of slaves or convicts chained together outdoors doing labor or during transit," 1816, from chain (n.) + gang (n.).ETD chain-gang (n.).2

    chain-saw (n.)

    also chain saw, chainsaw; 1818 as a surgical apparatus (for amputations) consisting of a chain, the links of which have serated edges; 1835 in the saw mill sense, "power-driven saw consisting of a chain with cutting points attached to the links;" from chain (n.) + saw (n.).ETD chain-saw (n.).2

    chair (n.)

    "a seat with a back, intended for one person," early 13c., chaere, from Old French chaiere "chair, seat, throne" (12c.; Modern French chaire "pulpit, throne;" the humbler sense having gone since 16c. with the variant form chaise), from Latin cathedra "seat" (see cathedral).ETD chair (n.).2

    The figurative sense of "seat of office or authority" (c. 1300) originally was in reference to bishops and professors. The meaning "office of a professor" (1816) is extended from the seat from which a professor lectures (mid-15c.). The meaning "seat of a person presiding at meeting" is from 1640s. As short for electric chair from 1900. Chair-rail "strip or board of wood fastened to a wall at such a height as to prevent the plaster from being scraped by the backs of chairs" is from 1822.ETD chair (n.).3

    chair (v.)

    mid-15c., "install in a chair or seat" (implied in chairing), from chair (n.); the sense of "preside over" (a meeting, etc.) is attested by 1921. Related: Chaired.ETD chair (v.).2

    chairman (n.)

    1650s, "occupier of a chair of authority," from chair (n.) + man (n.). The meaning "member of a corporate body chosen to preside at meetings" is from c. 1730. Chairwoman in this sense is attested from 1699; chairperson from 1971.ETD chairman (n.).2

    chairperson (n.)

    gender-neutral alternative to chairman, chairwoman, by 1971, American English, from chair (n.) + person.ETD chairperson (n.).2

    chairwoman (n.)

    "woman who leads a formal meeting," 1699, from chair (n.) + woman.ETD chairwoman (n.).2

    chaise (n.)

    1701, "pleasure carriage," from French chaise "chair" (15c.), dialectal variant of chaire (see chair (n.)) due to 15c.-16c. Parisian swapping of -r- and -s-, a habit satirized by French writers. French chair and chaise then took respectively the senses of "high seat, throne, pulpit" and "chair, seat," but this was after chair had been borrowed into English in the older sense.ETD chaise (n.).2

    Originally a one-horse, two-wheeled carriage for two persons, later extended to other types of pleasure or travelling carriages. Chaise lounge (1800) is corruption of French chaise longue "long chair," with French word order, the second word confused in English with lounge.ETD chaise (n.).3

    chakra (n.)

    1888 in yoga sense of "a spiritual center of power in the human body," from Sanskrit cakra "circle, wheel," from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round."ETD chakra (n.).2

    chalazion (n.)

    small tumor in the eyelid, 1708, from Latinized form of Greek khalazion, diminutive of khalaza "hail, hailstone; small lump or knot; pimple," from PIE root *gheled- "hail" (source also of Persian žala "hail," Polish złod "glaze," Russian oželedica "glazed frost, fringe of ice on snow"). Related: Chalaza; chalazal.ETD chalazion (n.).2


    city in Bithynia, opposite Constantinople, site of an important Church council (451), from Phoenician, literally "new town."ETD Chalcedon.2

    chalcedony (n.)

    semi-precious stone, a cloudy white variety of quartz, c. 1300, from Latin calcedonius, a Vulgate rendering of Greek khalkēdōn in Revelation xxi.19; found nowhere else. "The word is of very complicated history" [OED 2nd. ed. print, 1989]. Connection with Chalcedon in Asia Minor "is very doubtful" [OED].ETD chalcedony (n.).2


    1580s as a noun; 1732 as an adjective, in reference to Chaldea, the rich plain of southern Babylon, or the people who lived there, with + -an + Latin Chaldaeus, from Greek Khaldaios, from Aramaic (Semitic) Kaldaie, from Akkadian (mat)Kaldu "the Chaldeans."ETD Chaldean.2

    chalet (n.)

    1782, "hut or cabin in the Swiss mountains for cattle and herdsmen to shelter for the night," from Swiss-French chalet "herdsman's hut, Alpine cottage," probably a diminutive of Old French chasel "farmhouse, house, abode, hut," perhaps from Vulgar Latin *casalis "belonging to a house," from Latin casa "house;" or from Old Provençal cala "small shelter for ships," from a pre-Latin language [Barnhart].ETD chalet (n.).2

    chalice (n.)

    "drinking-cup or bowl," early 14c., from Anglo-French chalice, from Old French chalice, collateral form of calice (Modern French calice), from Latin calicem (nominative calix) "cup," similar to, and perhaps cognate with, Greek kylix "cup, drinking cup, cup of a flower," but they might both be loan-words from the same non-IE language. Old English had it as cælic, an ecclesiastical borrowing of the Latin word, and earlier Middle English caliz is from Old North French.ETD chalice (n.).2

    chalk (n.)

    Old English cealc "chalk, soft white limestone; lime, plaster; pebble," a West Germanic borrowing from Latin calx (2) "limestone, lime (crushed limestone), small stone," borrowed from Greek khalix "small pebble," which many trace to a PIE root for "split, break up," but Beekes writes that "There is no convincing etymology."ETD chalk (n.).2

    Cognate words in most Germanic languages still have the "limestone" sense, but in English transferred chalk to the opaque, white, soft limestone found abundantly in the south of the island. The modern spelling is from early 14c. The Latin word for "chalk" was creta, which also is of unknown origin. With many figurative or extended senses due to the use of chalk marks to keep tracks of credit for drinks in taverns and taprooms, or to keep the score in games.ETD chalk (n.).3

    chalk (v.)

    1570s, "to mix with chalk;" 1590s as "to mark with chalk," from chalk (n.). Related: Chalked; chalking. Old English had cealcian "to whiten." Certain chalk marks on shipped objects meant "admitted" or "shipped free," hence some figurative senses. Chalk boards also were commonly used in keeping credit, score, etc., hence figurative use of chalk it up (1903).ETD chalk (v.).2

    chalkboard (n.)

    also chalk-board, "board meant to be written on with chalk," 1816, from chalk (n.) + board (n.1).ETD chalkboard (n.).2

    chalky (adj.)

    "consisting of or resembling chalk," c. 1400, from chalk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Chalkiness.ETD chalky (adj.).2

    chalk-mark (n.)

    "distinctive mark made with chalk," 1767, from chalk (n.) + mark (n.). As a verb from 1866.ETD chalk-mark (n.).2

    challah (n.)

    type of bread, usually braided, typically eaten on Jewish ceremonial occasions, 1887, from Yiddish khale, from Hebrew chala, which is possibly from hll "hollow, pierce," and perhaps is a reference to the original appearance of it.ETD challah (n.).2

    challenge (v.)

    c. 1200, "to rebuke," from Old French chalongier "complain, protest; haggle, quibble," from Vulgar Latin *calumniare "to accuse falsely," from Latin calumniari "to accuse falsely, misrepresent, slander," from calumnia "trickery" (see calumny).ETD challenge (v.).2

    From late 13c. as "to object to, take exception to;" c. 1300 as "to accuse," especially "to accuse falsely," also "to call to account;" late 14c. as "to call to fight." Also used in Middle English with a sense of "claim, take to oneself." Related: Challenged; challenging.ETD challenge (v.).3

    challenged (adj.)

    1570s, "having been called to a contest," past-participle adjective from challenge (v.). As a euphemism for "disabled," 1985.ETD challenged (adj.).2

    challenge (n.)

    early 14c., chalenge, "something one can be accused of, a fault, blemish;" mid-14c., "false accusation, malicious charge; accusation of wrong-doing," also "act of laying claim" (to something), from Anglo-French chalenge, Old French chalonge "calumny, slander; demand, opposition," in legal use, "accusation, claim, dispute," from Anglo-French chalengier, Old French chalongier "to accuse, to dispute" (see challenge (v.)). The accusatory connotations faded 17c. The meanings "an objection" in law, etc.; "a calling to fight" are from mid-15c. The sense of "difficult task" is by 1954.ETD challenge (n.).2

    challenger (n.)

    late 13c., "a claimant;" mid-14c., "one who makes false charges;" mid-15c., "one who disputes something, objector," from Anglo-French chalengeour (Old French chalongeor "slanderer, petitioner, plaintiff"), agent noun from challenge (v.). The specific sense of "one who calls out another in a contest" is from 1510s.ETD challenger (n.).2

    challis (n.)

    type of fine fabric for ladies' dresses, 1840, a word of unknown origin, perhaps from the surname. The stuff is said to have been first manufactured at Norwich c. 1832.ETD challis (n.).2

    cham (n.)

    old alternative form of khan (q.v.), 1550s, from French cham, Medieval Latin cham, alternative forms of chan, can. (For the "companion" word, see chum (n.1).) "Formerly commonly applied to the rulers of the Tatars and Mongols; and to the emperor of China" [OED]. Used figuratively of any great leader in any activity or art.ETD cham (n.).2

    chambered (adj.)

    "divided into chambers," late 14c., past-participle adjective from chamber (v.). In reference to nautilus shells, 1819.ETD chambered (adj.).2

    chamber (n.)

    c. 1200, "a room in a house," usually a private one, from Old French chambre "room, chamber, apartment" (11c.), from Late Latin camera "a chamber, room" (see camera).ETD chamber (n.).2

    The Old French word and the Middle English one also were used alone and in combinations to form words for "latrine, privy" from the notion of "bedroom utensil for containing urine." In anatomy, "enclosed space in a body," from late 14c. Of machinery, "artificial cavity," from 1769.ETD chamber (n.).3

    The gunnery sense of "part of the bore in which the charge is placed" is from 1620s. The meaning "legislative body" is from c. 1400, an extended sense from the chambers or rooms where an assembly meets. Chamber music (1765) traditionally was that meant to be performed in smaller spaces.ETD chamber (n.).4

    chamber (v.)

    late 14c., "to restrain, shut up as in a chamber," also "to furnish with a chamber" (implied in chambered), from chamber (n.). Related: Chambering.ETD chamber (v.).2

    chamberlain (n.)

    mid-13c., chaumberlein, etymologically "person who manages a chamber or chambers," but by the time the word reached English it had been applied specifically to important royal officers of various duties, such as "one who attends a king or person of high rank in his or her private chamber," and especially "keeper of the treasure-chamber." It is from Old French chamberlenc "chamberlain, steward, treasurer" (Modern French chambellan), from a Germanic source (perhaps Frankish *kamerling; compare Old High German chamarling, German Kämmerling), from Latin camera "chamber, room" (see camera) + Germanic diminutive suffix -ling. The "chief financial officer of the king's household" sense is attested in English from mid-15c.ETD chamberlain (n.).2

    chamber-lye (n.)

    "urine used as a detergent," 1570s, from chamber (n.) in the "privy" sense + lye.ETD chamber-lye (n.).2

    chambermaid (n.)

    1580s, "female servant who dresses a lady and waits on her in her room," also "woman who makes beds and cleans rooms," from chamber (n.) + maid.ETD chambermaid (n.).2

    chamber-pot (n.)

    also chamberpot, "vessel for urine used in bedrooms," 1560s, from chamber (n.) in the "privy" sense + pot (n.1).ETD chamber-pot (n.).2

    chambray (n.)

    kind of gingham fabric used for women's gowns, 1801, alteration of Cambrai, city in France (formerly Flanders) where the cloth originally was made. Compare cambric.ETD chambray (n.).2

    chameleon (n.)

    lizard-like reptile notable for its ability to change color, mid-14c., camelion, from Old French caméléon, from Latin chamaeleon, from Greek khamaileon "the chameleon," from khamai "on the ground" (also "dwarf"), akin to khthōn "earth" (from PIE root *dhghem- "earth") + leon "lion" (see lion).ETD chameleon (n.).2

    Perhaps the large head-crest on some species was thought to resemble a lion's mane. Greek khamalos meant "on the ground, creeping," also "low, trifling, diminutive." The classical -h- was restored in English early 18c. The figurative sense of "variable person" is attested by 1580s. Cockeram's "English Dictionarie" (1623) has camelionize "To change into many colours."ETD chameleon (n.).3

    It formerly was supposed to live on air (as in "Hamlet" III.ii.98). The constellation was one of the 11 added to Ptolemy's list in the 1610s by Flemish cartographer Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) after Europeans began to explore the Southern Hemisphere.ETD chameleon (n.).4

    chamfered (adj.)

    1560s, "channeled, fluted," from the verb form of chamfer (q.v.). The meaning "cut or ground to a slope, beveled off" is attested from c. 1790.ETD chamfered (adj.).2

    chamfer (n.)

    c. 1600, "small groove cut in wood or stone," from French chanfraindre (15c., Modern French chanfreiner), past participle of chanfraint, a word of uncertain origin. The second element seems to be from Latin frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"); perhaps the whole word is cantum frangere "to break the edge."ETD chamfer (n.).2

    The meaning "sloping surface in place of a square edge or corner" is attested from c. 1840, but the connection to the other sense is uncertain. As a verb from 1560s, "cut a furrow in;" from 1680s as "cut or grind into a symmetrical sloping edge." Related: Chamfering.ETD chamfer (n.).3

    chamois (n.)

    1550s, "Alpine antelope;" 1570s, "soft leather," originally "skin of the chamois," from French chamois "Alpine antelope" (14c.), from Late Latin camox (genitive camocis), perhaps from a pre-Latin Alpine language that also produced Italian camoscio, Spanish camuza, Old High German gamiza, German Gemse (though some of these might be from Latin camox). As a verb, "to polish with chamois," from 1934. Compare shammy.ETD chamois (n.).2

    chamomile (n.)

    common name of a strong-scented European plant long cultivated for its medicinal properties, c. 1300, camomille, from Old French camemile, from Late Latin camomilla, from Latin chamomilla, from Greek khamaimelon, etymologically "earth apple," from khamai "on the ground" (also "dwarf;" akin to khthōn "earth," from PIE root *dhghem- "earth") + mēlon "apple" (see malic). So called for its scent. Old English had it as camemalon.ETD chamomile (n.).2

    Fowler (1927) writes that "Ca- is the literary & popular form; cha-, which represents the Latin & Greek spelling but has no chance of general acceptance, would be better abandoned in pharmacy also." But for once pessimism seems undue; British English kept the older spelling, American English favored the classically correct one, and on the internet the American spelling seems to have prevailed.ETD chamomile (n.).3


    indigenous people of Guam and the Marianas Islands, 1905, from Spanish Chamorro, literally "shorn, shaven, bald." Supposedly because the men shaved their heads, but the name also has been connected to native Chamoru, said to mean "noble," so perhaps Chamorro is a Spanish folk-etymology.ETD Chamorro.2

    champ (v.)

    1520s, "to chew noisily, crunch;" 1570s (of horses) "to bite repeatedly and impatiently," probably echoic; OED suggests a connection with jam (v.). Earlier also cham, chamb, etc. (late 14c.). To champ on (or at) the bit, as an eager horse will, is attested in the figurative sense by 1640s. Related: Champed; champing. As a noun, "act of biting repeatedly, action of champing," from c. 1600.ETD champ (v.).2

    champ (n.2)

    "a field," c. 1300, from Old French champ, from Latin campus "flat land, field" (see campus).ETD champ (n.2).2

    champ (n.1)

    1868, American English abbreviation of champion (n.).ETD champ (n.1).2

    champagne (n.)

    effervescent wine, 1660s, from French, short for vin de Champagne "wine made in Champagne," the former province in northeast France, the name of which is etymologically "open country" (see campaign (n.)). Originally any wine from this region (especially from the vineyards south of Reims), the sense then narrowed to the "sparkling" wines made there (the effervescence is artificially produced), and by late 18c. expanded to effervescent wines made anywhere.ETD champagne (n.).2

    champaign (n.)

    "open country, plain," c. 1400, from Old French champagne "country, countryside," from Latin campania "plain, level country," especially that near Rome (see campaign (n.)).ETD champaign (n.).2

    champertous (adj.)

    "of the nature of champerty," 1640s; see champerty + -ous.ETD champertous (adj.).2

    champerty (n.)

    late 14c., champertie, champartie, the illegal act whereby a person not otherwise interested makes a bargain to maintain a litigant in return for a share of the property in dispute if the case succeeds. It is a transferred use, from Old French champart "portion of produce received by a feudal lord from land held in lease from him" (13c.), from Medieval Latin campipartem, from campi pars "part of the field" (see campus + part (n.)).ETD champerty (n.).2

    champignon (n.)

    1570s, "a mushroom," from French champignon (14c.), with change of suffix from Old French champegnuel, from Vulgar Latin *campaniolus "that which grows in the field," from Late Latin campaneus "pertaining to the fields," from campania "level country" (see campaign (n.)).ETD champignon (n.).2

    The French word for mushrooms generally; in English the sense gradually narrowed 18c. to the edible species, and especially that growing in fairy rings.ETD champignon (n.).3

    champion (n.)

    early 13c., "doughty fighting man, valorous combatant," also (c. 1300) "one who fights on behalf of another or others, one who undertakes to defend a cause," from Old French champion "combatant, champion in single combat" (12c.), from Late Latin campionem (nominative campio) "gladiator, fighter, combatant in the field," from Latin campus "field (of combat);" see campus.ETD champion (n.).2

    The word had been borrowed earlier by Old English as cempa. The sporting sense in reference to "first-place performer, one who has demonstrated superiority to all others in some matter decided by public contest or competition" is recorded from 1730.ETD champion (n.).3

    champion (v.)

    "to fight for, defend, protect, maintain or support by contest," 1820 (Scott) in a literal sense, from champion (n.). The figurative use for, "maintain the cause of, advocate for" is by 1830. Earlier it meant "to challenge" (c. 1600). Related: Championed; championing.ETD champion (v.).2

    championship (n.)

    1812, "position of a champion," from champion (n.) + -ship. The meaning "competition to determine a champion" is recorded from 1893.ETD championship (n.).2

    chance (n.)

    c. 1300, "something that takes place, what happens, an occurrence" (good or bad, but more often bad), especially one that is unexpected, unforeseen, or beyond human control, also "one's luck, lot, or fortune," good or bad; in a positive sense "opportunity, favorable contingency;" also "contingent or unexpected event, something that may or may not come about or be realized." It is from Old French cheance "accident, chance, fortune, luck, situation, the falling of dice" (12c., Modern French chance), from Vulgar Latin *cadentia "that which falls out," a term used in dice, from neuter plural of Latin cadens, present participle of cadere "to fall" (from PIE root *kad- "to fall").ETD chance (n.).2

    In English frequently in plural, chances. The word's notions of "opportunity" and "randomness" are as old as the record of it in English and now all but crowd out its original notion of "mere occurrence." The meaning "fortuity, absence of any cause why an event should happen or turn out as it does, variability viewed as a real agent" is from c. 1400.ETD chance (n.).3

    Main chance "probability that offers greatest advantage," hence "thing of most importance" is from 1570s. The mathematical sense of "probability, likelihood of a certain outcome" is from 1778, hence the odds-making sense of "balanced probability of gain or loss."ETD chance (n.).4

    To stand a chance (or not) is from 1796. To take (one's) chances "accept what happens" (early 14c.) is from the old, neutral sense; to take a chance/take chances is originally (by 1814) "participate in a raffle or lottery or game;" the extended sense of "take a risk" is by 1826.ETD chance (n.).5

    chance (adj.)

    "resulting or due to chance; casual, unexpected," 1670s, from chance (n.).ETD chance (adj.).2

    chance (v.)

    late 14c., "to come about, to happen," from chance (n.). The meaning "to risk, take the chances of" is attested from 1859. Related: Chanced; chancing.ETD chance (v.).2

    chancel (n.)

    c. 1300, "enclosed space in a church around the altar," from Old French chancel, from Late Latin cancellus "lattice," from Latin cancelli (plural) "grating, bars" (see cancel); the sense was extended in Late Latin from the lattice-work that separated the choir from the nave in a church to the space itself.ETD chancel (n.).2

    chancellery (n.)

    see chancery.ETD chancellery (n.).2

    chancellor (n.)

    early 12c., chaunceler, "chief administrative officer of a ruler," from Old French chancelier (12c.), from Late Latin cancellarius "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court," so called because he worked behind a lattice (Latin cancellus) at a basilica or law court (see chancel).ETD chancellor (n.).2

    In the Roman Empire, a sort of court usher who stood at the latticed railing enclosing the judgment seat to keep the crowd out and admit those entitled to enter. The post gradually gained importance in the Western kingdoms as an intermediary between the petitioners and the judges, as a notary or scribe. In England eventually the chancellor prepared all important crown documents and became keeper of the great seal and highest judicial officer of the crown. A variant form, canceler, existed in Old English, from Old North French, but was replaced by this central French form.ETD chancellor (n.).3

    chancery (n.)

    c. 1300, "chancellorship;" late 14c., "court of the Lord Chancellor of England," contracted from chancellery (c. 1300), from Old French chancelerie (12c.), from Medieval Latin cancellaria (see chancellor). For description of what it came to mean, the first chapter of "Bleak House."ETD chancery (n.).2

    chancy (adj.)

    1510s, "lucky, foreboding good fortune," from chance (n.) + -y (2). The retracted meaning "uncertain, subject to risk" is recorded from 1860.ETD chancy (adj.).2

    chancre (n.)

    also chanker, "venereal ulcer, syphilitic sore," c. 1600, from French chancre (15c.), literally "cancer," from Latin cancer (see cancer).ETD chancre (n.).2

    chancroid (adj.)

    "resembling a chancre," 1868, from chancre + -oid. Earlier as a noun, a kind of genital ulcer (1861).ETD chancroid (adj.).2

    chandelier (n.)

    "branched cluster of lights suspended from a ceiling," 1736, from Middle English chaundeler "candlestick" (late 14c.), from Old French chandelier (n.1), 12c., earlier chandelabre "candlestick, candelabrum" (10c.), from Latin candelabrum, from candela "candle" (see candle).ETD chandelier (n.).2

    Originally a candlestick, then a cluster of them; finally a distinction was made (with a re-spelling mid-18c. in French fashion — in 17c. English the French spelling referred to a military device), between a candelabrum, which stands, and a chandelier, which hangs.ETD chandelier (n.).3

    chandler (n.)

    "maker or seller of candles," late 14c., attested as a surname from late 13c. (also, from early 14c. "candle-holder;" see chandelier), from Old French chandelier (n.2) "candle-maker, candle-seller; person in charge of lighting a household, monastery, etc.," from Medieval Latin candelarius "a candle-maker," from candela "candle" (see candle). Native candleman is attested from mid-13c. By 1580s the word also came to mean "dealer in provisions, merchant."ETD chandler (n.).2

    chandlery (n.)

    c. 1600, "store-room for candles," from French chandelerie, from chandelier "candle-maker" (see chandler). From 1849 as "chandler's warehouse."ETD chandlery (n.).2


    Paris fashion house, founded by Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel (1883-1971), French fashion designer and perfumier, who opened her first shop in 1909. The perfume Chanel No. 5 debuted in 1921.ETD Chanel.2

    change (n.)

    c. 1200, "act or fact of changing," from Anglo-French chaunge, Old French change "exchange, recompense, reciprocation," from changier "to alter; exchange; to switch" (see change (v.)). Related: changes.ETD change (n.).2

    The meaning "a different situation, variety, novelty" is from 1680s (as in for a change, 1690s). The meaning "something substituted for something else" is from 1590s. The sense of "place where merchants meet to do business" is from c. 1400. The meaning "the passing from life to death" is biblical (161os).ETD change (n.).3

    The financial sense of "balance of money returned after deducting the price of a purchase from the sum paid" is recorded by 1620s; hence to make change (by 1865).ETD change (n.).4

    The bell-ringing sense is from 1610s, "any sequence other than the diatonic;" hence the figurative phrase ring changes "repeat in every possible order" (1610s). The figurative phrase change of heart is from 1828. In reference to women, change of life "final cessation of menstruation" is recorded from 1834.ETD change (n.).5

    changing (n.)

    early 13c., "alteration;" mid-14c., "action of substituting one thing for another;" verbal noun from change (v.). Changing-room is by 1852, originally for miners, gunpowder-factory workers, etc.ETD changing (n.).2

    changeful (adj.)

    "inconstant, fickle," c. 1600, from change (n.) + -ful. Related: Changefulness.ETD changeful (adj.).2

    change (v.)

    c. 1200, "to alter, make different, change" (transitive); early 13c. as "to substitute one for another;" mid-13c. as "to make (something) other than what it was, cause to turn or pass from one state to another;" from late 13c. as "to become different, be altered" (intransitive), from Old French changier "to change, alter; exchange, switch," from Late Latin cambiare "to barter, exchange," extended form of Latin cambire "to exchange, barter."ETD change (v.).2

    This is held to be of Celtic origin, from PIE root *kemb- "to bend, crook" (with a sense evolution perhaps from "to turn" to "to change," to "to barter"); cognate with Old Irish camm "crooked, curved;" Middle Irish cimb "tribute," cimbid "prisoner;" see cant (n.2).ETD change (v.).3

    From c. 1300 as "undergo alteration, become different." In part an abbreviation of exchange. From late 14c. especially as "to give an equivalent for in smaller parts of the same kind" (money). The meaning "to take off clothes and put on other ones" is from late 15c. Related: Changed; changing. To change (one's) mind is from 1590s.ETD change (v.).4

    changeable (adj.)

    mid-13c., "unstable, inconstant, unreliable," from Old French changeable "inconstant," from changier "to alter; exchange; to switch" (see change (v.)) + -able (see -able). The meaning "subject to variation" is from late 14c. Related: Changeably; changeability.ETD changeable (adj.).2

    changeling (n.)

    1550s, "one given to change," from change (n.) + diminutive suffix -ling. The meaning "person or thing left in place of one secretly taken" is from 1560s; the specific reference to an infant or young child (usually stupid, strange, or ugly) superstitiously believed to have been left by the faeries in place of a beautiful or charming one they have stolen away is from 1580s. An earlier word for it was oaf or auf.ETD changeling (n.).2

    changeless (adj.)

    "not admitting alteration or variation," 1570s, from change (n.) + -less.ETD changeless (adj.).2

    change-over (n.)

    "alteration from one system to another," 1907, from the verbal phrase; see change (v.) + over (adv.).ETD change-over (n.).2

    changer (n.)

    early 14c., "one who alters the form of anything," agent noun from change (v.), or else from Old French changeour "money-changer, barterer," from changier. The meaning "money-changer" in English is from mid-14c. The meaning "mechanism for automatically changing records on a record-player" is from 1930.ETD changer (n.).2

    channel (n.)

    early 14c., "bed of a stream of water," from Old French chanel "bed of a waterway; tube, pipe, gutter," from Latin canalis "groove, channel, waterpipe" (see canal). The English word was given a broader, figurative sense by 1530s: "that by which something passes or is transmitted" (in reference to information, commerce, etc.); the meaning "circuit for telegraph communication" (1848) probably led to that of "band of frequency for radio or TV signals" (1928). Also "part of a sea making a passageway between land masses, a large strait" (1550s).ETD channel (n.).2

    channel (v.)

    1590s, "wear or cut channels in," from channel (n.). The meaning "convey in a channel" is from 1640s. Related: Channeled; channeling.ETD channel (v.).2

    chanson (n.)

    "a song, a short, simple poem intended to be sung," c. 1600, from French chanson, from Old French chançon "song, epic poem" (12c.), from Latin cantionem (nominative cantio) "song," from past participle stem of canere "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing").ETD chanson (n.).2

    chant (v.)

    late 14c., "sing," from Old French chanter "to sing, celebrate" (12c.), from Latin cantare "to sing," originally a frequentative of canere "sing" (which it replaced), from PIE root *kan- "to sing."ETD chant (v.).2

    The frequentative quality of the word was no longer felt in Latin, and by the time French emerged the word had entirely displaced canere. The meaning "sing as in the church service, in a style between song and recitation" is by 1580s. Related: Chanted; chanting.ETD chant (v.).3

    chant (n.)

    1670s, "a song," especially one slow and monotonous, from chant (v.), or else from French chant (12c.), from Latin cantus "song, a singing; bird-song," from past participle stem of canere. Meaning "a Gregorian melody," usually of medieval origin, is from 1789. Meaning "monotonous recitation of words" is from 1815.ETD chant (n.).2

    chanter (n.)

    "singer, composer," late 14c., from Old French chanteor (Modern French chanteur), from Latin cantorem "singer," from cantare "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing").ETD chanter (n.).2

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