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    curly (adj.) — cybercafe (n.)

    curly (adj.)

    "having curls, tending to curl," 1770s, from curl (n.) + -y (2); earliest use is of hair. Related: Curliness.ETD curly (adj.).2

    curlicue (n.)

    "something fantastically curved or twisted," 1843, American English, from combining form of curly. The cue is perhaps from French queue "tail" or an image from the letter Q in its looping script form. Earlier in this sense was the rhyming reduplication curlie-wurlie (1772).ETD curlicue (n.).2

    curmudgeon (n.)

    "churlish, miserly fellow, mean man," 1570s, of unknown origin. Drant (1568) translating Gregory of Nazianus, calls someone "a bolde curmogine chuffe." Liberman says the word "must have been borrowed from Gaelic" (and references muigean "disagreeable person"), with variant spelling of an intensive prefix represented by ker-. Related: Curmudgeonly.ETD curmudgeon (n.).2

    The suggestion that it is from French coeur mechant "evil heart" is no longer taken seriously; nor is the notion that it is a corruption of corn merchant (with the notion of "one who withholds food"), which is attested by 1836. Liberman also dismisses the notion that the first syllable is cur "dog."ETD curmudgeon (n.).3

    currant (n.)

    c. 1500, "very small kind of seedless blackish raisin or dried grape, used in cookery and confections," a shortening of raysyn of Curans (late 14c.) "raisins of Corinth," with the -s- mistaken for a plural inflection. From Anglo-French reisin de Corauntz. The raisins were exported from southern Greece.ETD currant (n.).2

    In 1570s the word was applied to the small round red or black berry of an unrelated Northern European plant (genus Ribes), then lately introduced in England, on its resemblance to the raisins. It later was applied to plants having similar fruit in America and Australia.ETD currant (n.).3

    currency (n.)

    1650s, "condition of flowing," a sense now rare or obsolete, from Latin currens, present participle of currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run"). The notion of "state or fact of flowing from person to person" led to the senses "continuity in public knowledge" (1722) and "that which is current as a medium of exchange, money" (1729).ETD currency (n.).2

    currently (adv.)

    "at the present time," 1570s, from current (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD currently (adv.).2

    current (n.)

    late 14c., curraunt, "that which runs or flows," from Old French corant (Modern French courant), from Old French corant (see current (adj.)). Meaning "a flowing," especially "portion of a large body of water or air moving in a certain direction," is from 1550s. Applied from 1747 to the flowing of electrical force through a conducting body (electricity formerly was regarded as a sort of fluid).ETD current (n.).2

    current (adj.)

    c. 1300, curraunt, "running, flowing, moving along" (a sense now archaic), from Old French corant "running, lively, eager, swift," present participle of corre "to run," from Latin currere "to run, move quickly" (of persons or things), from PIE root *kers- "to run." Related: Currentness.ETD current (adj.).2

    Sense of "presently in effect" is from mid-15c. Meaning "prevalent, generally reported or known" is from 1560s; that of "established by common consent" is from 1590s; that of "now passing, present now, in progress" is from c. 1600. Of money, "passing from one person to another," late 15c. Current events is attested from 1795; current affairs by 1776.ETD current (adj.).3

    curry (n.)

    a kind of Indian dish or the sauce used upon it, 1590s (as carriel), probably adopted into English via Portuguese caril and its plural caris, and ultimately derived from mingling of various south Indian (Dravidian) words including Middle Kannada, Middle Tamil and Malayalam kari, often indicating something "black in color" or "burnt," and thus applied broadly to spices and meats. In modern Indian cookery, "curry" refers to spice blends with turmeric as their key ingredient; spice blends without turmeric are called masala.ETD curry (n.).2

    Of European dishes spiced after the Indian style, 1747 in British English. As the spice blend used in making the sauce, 1780. Extended to exotic, spicy sauces from outside of India (Thai curry, Indonesian curry, etc.) by 1680s. The verb meaning "flavor with curry" is by 1839.ETD curry (n.).3

    The Murraya koenigii or Bergera koenigii is called curry tree, in English by 1822, probably through one of the south Indian languages. The kari name of the plant comes from the perceived blackness of the leaves (compare the Sanskrit name of the tree, krshnaneembapatram "black neem leaf.")ETD curry (n.).4

    The Middle English term curry, cury, curye, etc. meaning "cookery; culinary art; concoction" (late 14c.) is unrelated to the Dravidian word or its eventual adoption into English. This word is from Old French queverie, "cookery; culinary art," ultimately from Latin coquus "cook."ETD curry (n.).5

    curry (v.)

    late 13c., "to rub down a horse," from Anglo-French curreier "to curry-comb a horse," from Old French correier "put in order, prepare, curry," from con-, intensive prefix (see com-), + reier "arrange," from a Germanic source (see ready). Related: Curried; currying.ETD curry (v.).2

    To curry favor "flatter, seek favor by officious show of courtesy or kindness" is an early 16c. folk-etymology alteration of curry favel (c. 1400) from Old French correier fauvel "to be false, hypocritical," literally "to curry the chestnut horse," chestnut horses in medieval French allegories being symbols of cunning and deceit. Compare German den falben (hengst) streichen "to flatter, cajole," literally "to stroke the dun-colored horse."ETD curry (v.).3

    Old French fauvel (later fauveau) "fallow, dun," though the exact color intended in the early uses is vague, is a diminutive of fauve "fawn-colored horse, dark-colored thing, dull," for which see Fauvist. The secondary sense here is entangled with similar-sounding Old French favele "lying, deception," from Latin fabella, diminutive of fabula (see fable (n.)). In Middle English, favel was a common name for a horse, while the identical favel or fauvel (from Old French favele) meant "flattery, insincerity; duplicity, guile, intrigue," and was the name of a character in "Piers Plowman."ETD curry (v.).4

    curricular (adj.)

    1798, "pertaining to driving or carriages;" from Latin curriculum "fast chariot" (from currere "to run, move quickly;" from PIE root *kers- "to run") + -ar. From 1881 in reference to systems of education.ETD curricular (adj.).2

    curriculum (n.)

    "a course, especially a fixed course of study at a college, university, or school," 1824, from a Modern Latin transferred use of classical Latin curriculum "a running, course, career" (also "a fast chariot, racing car"), from currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run"). Used in English as a Latin word since 1630s at Scottish universities.ETD curriculum (n.).2

    curriculum vitae (n.)

    "brief account of one's life and work," 1902, Latin, literally "course of one's life" (see curriculum + vital). Abbreviated c.v.ETD curriculum vitae (n.).2

    currier (n.)

    mid-14c., curayour, "one who dresses and colors leather after it is tanned," from Old French corier, curreiour, from Latin coriarius "tanner, currier," originally an adjective, "of or belonging to leather," from corium "hide, leather, skin" (see corium). From late 13c. as a surname. Compare curry (v.).ETD currier (n.).2

    currish (adj.)

    "like a cur, snarling, snappish," c. 1500, from cur + -ish. Related: Currishly; currishness.ETD currish (adj.).2

    curse (v.)

    Middle English cursen, from Old English cursian, "to wish evil to; to excommunicate," from the source of curse (n.). Intransitive meaning "swear profanely, use blasphemous or profane language" is from early 13c. (compare swear (v.)). The sense of "blight with malignant evils" is from 1590s. Related: Cursed; cursing.ETD curse (v.).2

    curse (n.)

    late Old English curs "a prayer that evil or harm befall one; consignment of a person to an evil fate," of uncertain origin. No similar word exists in Germanic, Romance, or Celtic. Middle English Compendium says probably from Latin cursus "course" (see course (n.)) in the Christian sense "set of daily liturgical prayers" extended to "set of imprecations" as in the sentence of the great curse, "the formula read in churches four times a year, setting forth the various offenses which entailed automatic excommunication of the offender; also, the excommunication so imposed." Connection with cross is unlikely. Another suggested source is Old French curuz "anger."ETD curse (n.).2

    Meaning "the evil which has been invoked upon one, that which causes severe trouble" is from early 14c. Curses as a histrionic exclamation ("curses upon him/her/it") is by 1680s. The curse in 19c. was the sentence imposed upon Adam and Eve in Genesis iii.16-19. The slang sense "menstruation" is from 1930. Curse of Scotland, the 9 of diamonds in cards, is attested from 1791, but the signification is obscure.ETD curse (n.).3

    cursed (adj.)

    also curst, c. 1200, "under a curse, damned," past-participle adjective from curse (v.). From late 14c. as an expletive. Related: Cursedly; cursedness.ETD cursed (adj.).2

    cursive (adj.)

    in reference to writing in which the letters are joined and formed rapidly without lifting the pen or pencil, 1784, from French cursif (18c.), from Medieval Latin cursivus "running," from Latin cursus "a running," from past participle of currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run").ETD cursive (adj.).2

    The notion is of "written with a running hand" (without raising the pen), originally as opposed to the older uncial hand. Greek cursive writing is attested from 160 B.C.E. An older name for it was joining-hand (1580s) because the successive letters of each word are joined. As a noun, "cursive letters or writing," by 1850. Related: Cursively.ETD cursive (adj.).3

    cursor (n.)

    c. 1300 (as a surname) "a running messenger," from Latin cursor "runner," also "errand-boy," from curs-, past-participle stem of currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run"). From 1590s as "part of aslide rule or other instrument that slides backward and forward upon another part." The computer screen sense is a 1967 extension of this.ETD cursor (n.).2

    cursory (adj.)

    "hasty, slight, superficial, careless," c. 1600, from French cursoire "rapid," from Late Latin cursorius "hasty, of a race or running," from Latin curs-, past-participle stem of currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run"). The literal sense of "running, not stationary" (c. 1600) is obsolete.ETD cursory (adj.).2

    cursorial (adj.)

    1824, "fitted for running," from Late Latin cursorius "pertaining to running" (see cursory) + -al (1). Entomology in a similar sense uses cursorious (by 1829).ETD cursorial (adj.).2

    curt (adj.)

    mid-14c., court, "short, concise, compressed," from Latin curtus "(cut) short, shortened, incomplete," from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut." Sense of "rude, tartly abrupt" is attested by 1831.ETD curt (adj.).2

    The Latin word was adopted early into most Germanic languages (compare Icelandic korta, German kurz, etc.) and drove out the native words based on Proto-Germanic *skurt-, but English retains short (adj.), which also has a secondary sense of "rudely abrupt." Related: Curtal.ETD curt (adj.).3

    curtail (v.)

    late 15c., "restrict or limit," a word based on Old French courtault "made short," from court "short" (Old French cort, from Latin curtus, from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut") + -ault, a pejorative suffix of Germanic origin. From 1550s as "cut short, cut off the end of." General sense of "deprive by excision or removal" is from 1580s.ETD curtail (v.).2

    The spelling in English perhaps is influenced by Middle English taillen "to cut," from Old French tailler (see tailor (n.)), and tail (n.) in reference to horses with docked tails. Compare curtal, which is the form retained in poetics to describe a "shortened" stanza or poem. Related: Curtailed; curtailing; curtailment.ETD curtail (v.).3

    curtain (v.)

    c. 1300, "to enclose with or as if with a curtain," from Old French cortiner, from cortine (see curtain (n.)). Related: Curtained.ETD curtain (v.).2

    curtain (n.)

    c. 1300, curtine, "hanging screen of textile fabric used to close an opening or shut out light, enclose a bed, or decorate an altar," from Old French cortine "curtain, tapestry, drape, blanket," from Late Latin cortina "curtain," but in classical Latin "round vessel, cauldron," from Latin cortem (older cohortem) "enclosure, courtyard" (see cohort).ETD curtain (n.).2

    The meaning shift apparently begins with cortina being used as a loan-translation of Greek aulaia ("curtain") in the Vulgate (to render Hebrew yeriah in Exodus xxvi:1, etc.). The Greek word was connected to aule "court," perhaps because the "door" that led out to the courtyard of a Greek house was a hung cloth.ETD curtain (n.).3

    Figuratively from early 15c. as "something that conceals or screens." From 1590s as "large sheet used to conceal the stage in a theater." Many of the figurative senses are from stage plays: Behind the curtain "concealed" is from 1670s; curtains "the end" is by 1912. The theatrical curtain call "appearance of individual performers on stage at the end of a performance to be recognized by the audience" is from 1884. To draw the curtain is from c. 1500 in opposite senses: "to conceal," and "to reveal." Curtain-rod is from c. 1500. An Old English word for "curtain" was fleonet "fly-net."ETD curtain (n.).4

    curtal (adj.)

    "abridged, brief, cut short," 1570s, a variant of curtail. In poetics, of a "shortened" stanza or poem.ETD curtal (adj.).2

    curtilage (n.)

    c. 1300, "vegetable garden," from Anglo-French curtilage, Old French courtillage, from Old French cortil "little court, walled garden, yard," from Medieval Latin cortile "court, yard," from Latin cortis (see court (n.)). In later use principally a legal word for "the enclosed land occupied by the dwelling and its yard and out-buildings."ETD curtilage (n.).2


    alternative spelling of curtsy.ETD curtsey.2

    curtsy (n.)

    1540s, "expression of respect," a variant of courtesy (q.v.). Specific meaning "a bending the knee and lowering the body as a gesture of respect" is from 1570s. Originally not exclusively feminine.ETD curtsy (n.).2

    curtsy (v.)

    "make a curtsy," 1550s, from curtsy (n.). Related: Curtsied; curtsying.ETD curtsy (v.).2

    curve (n.)

    1690s, "curved line, a continuous bending without angles," from curve (v.). With reference to the female figure (usually plural, curves), from 1862; in reference to statistical graphs, by 1854; as a type of baseball pitch that does not move in a straight line, from 1879. An old name for it was slow. "Slows are balls simply tossed to the bat with a line of delivery so curved as to make them almost drop on the home base." [Chadwick's Base Ball Manual, 1874]ETD curve (n.).2

    curve (v.)

    early 15c. (implied in curved), intransitive, "have or assume a curved form," from Latin curvus "crooked, curved, bent," and curvare "to bend," both from PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend." Transitive sense of "cause to take the shape of a curve, bend" is from 1660s.ETD curve (v.).2

    curvaceous (adj.)

    1936, U.S. colloquial, from curve (n.) + facetious use of -aceous, the Modern Latin botanical suffix meaning "of a certain kind." First recorded reference is in "Screen Book" magazine, writing of Mae West.ETD curvaceous (adj.).2

    curvature (n.)

    "continuous bending, the essential characteristic of a curve," 1660s, from Latin curvatura "a bending," from curvatus, past participle of curvare "to bend," from PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend." In non-Euclidian geometry, from 1873.ETD curvature (n.).2

    curvy (adj.)

    "full of or characterized by curves," 1845, from curve (n.) + -y (2). Related: Curviness.ETD curvy (adj.).2

    curvilinear (adj.)

    "having or consisting of curved lines," 1710, from curvi-, combining form of Latin curvus "curved, crooked, bent" (see curve (v.)) + linearis, from linea "line" (see line (n.)). Earlier was curvilineal (1650s).ETD curvilinear (adj.).2

    curvity (n.)

    "state of being curved," 1540s, from Late Latin curvitatem (nominative curvitas), noun of state from past-participle stem of curvare "to bend, curve" (see curve (v.)).ETD curvity (n.).2

    cushy (adj.)

    "easy," 1915, Anglo-Indian slang, from Hindi khush "pleasant, healthy, happy" + -y (2). Wright's "English Dialect Dictionary" (1898) has cush "a soft, useless person," identified as Scottish and Northumberland and explained as "A common term of reproach, used of one who allows others to beat him, either in self-defence or at work," hence cushie "soft, flabby."ETD cushy (adj.).2

    cushion (n.)

    "bag-like case of cloth, etc., stuffed with soft material and used as a support or for comfort for some part of the body," c. 1300, quishin, from Anglo-French quissyn, Old French coissin "seat cushion" (12c., Modern French coussin), cognate with Medieval Latin cossinus, probably a variant of Vulgar Latin *coxinum, from Latin coxa "hip, thigh," or from Latin culcita "mattress." Someone has counted more than 400 spellings of the plural of this word in Middle English wills and inventories, including quessihon, quoshin, whishin, cuishun, kuchin, koshen. Also from the French word are Italian cuscino, Spanish cojin. Figurative sense of "something to absorb a jolt, shock, etc." is by 1860.ETD cushion (n.).2

    cushion (v.)

    1730s, "to seat on or as on a cushion," from cushion (n.). From 1820 as "furnish with a cushion or cushions." In the figurative sense, "mitigate or absorb the impact of something," by 1863. Related: Cushioned; cushioning.ETD cushion (v.).2

    cusp (n.)

    1580s, in astrology, "first entrance of a house in the calculation of a nativity," from Latin cuspis "point, spear, pointed end, head," which is of unknown origin. Astronomical sense is from 1670s, "point or horn of a crescent." Anatomical sense of "a prominence on the crown of a tooth" is from 1839.ETD cusp (n.).2

    cuspid (n.)

    "a point," 1743, from Latin cuspis (genitive cuspidis) "point, pointed end," a word of unknown origin. In English from 1640s as cuspis. As "a cuspid tooth" by 1828. Related: Cuspidate (adj.), which is attested from 1690s; cuspidal.ETD cuspid (n.).2

    cuspidor (n.)

    "spittoon," 1779, a colonial word, from Portuguese cuspidor "spittoon," from cuspir "to spit," from Latin conspuere "spit on," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + spuere "to spit" (see spew (v.)).ETD cuspidor (n.).2

    cuss (n.)

    1775, American English dialectal, "troublesome person or animal" (usually with a defining adjective), a vulgar pronunciation of curse (n.), or else a shortening of the slang sense of customer. The word in the literal sense of "a curse" is from 1848.ETD cuss (n.).2

    cuss (v.)

    1815, "to say bad words, use profane language," a vulgar pronunciation of curse (v.). The transitive sense of "to curse, swear at" is by 1838. Related: Cussed; cussing. To cuss (someone) out is attested by 1881.ETD cuss (v.).2

    The loss of -r- before -s- is not uncommon: Compare arse/ass (n.2), burst/bust, horse/hoss, barse/bass, garsh/gash, parcel/passel.ETD cuss (v.).3

    custard (n.)

    mid-14c., crustade, "meat or fruit pie, any dish baked in a crust" from Anglo-French croustade (Modern French coutarde), from Old Provençal croustado "fruit tart," literally "something covered with crust," from crosta "crust," from Latin crusta "rind, crust, shell, bark" (from PIE root *kreus- "to begin to freeze, form a crust").ETD custard (n.).2

    In Middle English also crustard, custade, etc. Meaning shifted c. 1600 to "compound of eggs and milk, sweetened and baked or boiled." The spelling change (by mid-15c.) is perhaps by influence of mustard. OED notes that custard-pie (by 1825) was "commonly used as a missile in broad comedy."ETD custard (n.).3

    custodial (adj.)

    1772, "relating to or of the nature of custody or guardianship," from custody (Latin custodia) + -al (1). It is in French by 1752.ETD custodial (adj.).2

    custody (n.)

    mid-15c., "a keeping, a guarding, safe-keeping, protection, defense," from Latin custodia "guarding, watching, keeping," also "prison," from custos (genitive custodis) "guardian, keeper, protector," from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal." Meaning "restraint of liberty, confinement" is from 1580s.ETD custody (n.).2

    custodian (n.)

    1781, "one who has the care or custody of anything" (a library, a lunatic, etc.), from custody (Latin custodia) + -an. In this sense Middle English had custode (late 14c.), custodier (late 15c.). As "janitor," by 1944, American English, short for custodian-janitor (by 1899). Related: Custodianship.ETD custodian (n.).2

    custom (n.)

    c. 1200, custume, "habitual practice," either of an individual or a nation or community, from Old French costume "custom, habit, practice; clothes, dress" (12c., Modern French coutume), from Vulgar Latin *consuetumen, from Latin consuetudinem (nominative consuetudo) "habit, usage, way, practice, tradition, familiarity," from consuetus, past participle of consuescere "accustom," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + suescere "become used to, accustom oneself," related to sui, genitive of suus "oneself," from PIE *swe- "oneself" (see idiom).ETD custom (n.).2

    A doublet of costume. An Old English word for it was þeaw. Meaning "the practice of buying goods at some particular place" is from 1590s. Sense of a "regular" toll or tax on goods is early 14c. The native word here is toll (n.).ETD custom (n.).3

    Custom-house "government office at a point of import and export for the collection of customs" is from late 15c. Customs "area at a seaport, airport, etc., where baggage is examined" is by 1921.ETD custom (n.).4

    customization (n.)

    "action of making (something) to a customer's specifications," 1975, noun of action from customize (v.).ETD customization (n.).2

    customize (v.)

    "to make (something) to a customer's specifications," 1934, American English, from custom (adj.) + -ize. Related: Customizable; customized; customizing.ETD customize (v.).2

    customer (n.)

    late 14c., custumer, "customs official, toll-gatherer;" c. 1400, "one who purchases goods or supplies, one who customarily buys from the same tradesman or guild," from Anglo-French custumer, Old French coustumier, from Medieval Latin custumarius "a toll-gatherer, tax-collector," literally "pertaining to a custom or customs," a contraction of Latin consuetudinarius, from consuetudo "habit, usage, practice, tradition" (see custom (n.)).ETD customer (n.).2

    The more generalized meaning "a person with whom one has dealings" emerged 1540s; that of "a person to deal with" (usually with a defining adjective: tough, etc.) is by 1580s. In Shakespeare, the word also can mean "prostitute."ETD customer (n.).3

    custom (adj.)

    "made to measure or order, done or made for individual customers," by 1830, from custom (n.).ETD custom (adj.).2

    customary (adj.)

    1520s, "liable to customs or dues;" c. 1600, "according to established usage, habitual," from Medieval Latin custumarius, from Latin consuetudinarius, from consuetitudinem (see custom (n.)). In Middle English it was a noun, "written collection of customs" of a manor or community. Earlier words for "according to established usage" were custumal (c. 1400, from Old French), custumable (c. 1300). Related: Customarily.ETD customary (adj.).2

    customise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of customize (q.v.); for spelling, see -ize. Related: Customised; customising; customisation.ETD customise (v.).2

    cut (v.)

    c. 1300, "to make, with an edged tool or instrument, an incision in; make incisions for the purpose of dividing into two or more parts; remove by means of a cutting instrument;" of an implement, "have a cutting edge," according to Middle English Compendium from a presumed Old English *cyttan, "since ME has the normal regional variants of the vowel." Others suggest a possible Scandinavian etymology from North Germanic *kut- (source also of Swedish dialectal kuta "to cut," kuta "knife," Old Norse kuti "knife"), or that it is from Old French couteau "knife."ETD cut (v.).2

    It has largely displaced Old English ceorfan (see carve (v.)), snian, and scieran (see shear). The past participle is also cut, though cutted sometimes has been used since Middle English.ETD cut (v.).3

    From early 14c. as "to make or fashion by cutting or carving." From c. 1400 as "to intersect or cross." From early 15c. as "abridge or shorten by omitting a part."ETD cut (v.).4

    Meaning "to wound the sensibilities of" is from 1580s (to cut the heart in the same sense is attested from early 14c.). Sense of "sever connection or relations with" is from 1630s.ETD cut (v.).5

    Meaning "to be absent without excuse" is British university slang from 1794. Colloquial or slang sense of "move off with directness and rapidity" is from 1580s. Meaning "divide (a deck of cards) at random into parts before the deal" to prevent cheating is from 1530s.ETD cut (v.).6

    Meaning "to dilute, adulterate" (liquor, etc.) is by 1930. Colloquial sense of "to divide or share" is by 1928, perhaps an image from meat-carving at table. As a director's call to halt recording or performing, by 1931 (in an article about Pete, the bulldog with the black-ringed eye in the Hal Roach studios shorts, who was said to know the word). The sense of "perform, execute" (c. 1600) is in cut capers "frisk about;" cut a dash "make a display."ETD cut (v.).7

    To cut down is from late 14c. as "to fell;" by 1821 as "to slay" (as with a sword); 1857 as "to curtail." To cut (someone or something) down to size is from 1821 as "reduce to suitable dimensions;" the figurative sense, "reduce to the proper level of importance," is by 1927.ETD cut (v.).8

    To cut in "enter suddenly and unceremoniously" is from 1610s; sense of "suddenly join in conversation, interrupt" is by 1830. To cut up "cut in pieces" is from 1570s. To cut back is from 1871 as "prune by cutting off shoots," 1913 in cinematography, "return to a previous scene by repeating a part of it," 1943 as "reduce, decrease" (of expenditures, etc.). To cut (something) short "abridge, curtail, interrupt" is from 1540s.ETD cut (v.).9

    In nautical use to cut a feather (1620s) is to move so fast as to make water foam under the bow. To cut and run (1704) also is originally nautical, "cut cable and set sail immediately," as in an emergency, hence, generally, "to make off suddenly."ETD cut (v.).10

    To cut the teeth "have the teeth grow through the gums" as an infant is from 1670s. To cut both ways in the figurative sense of "have a good and bad effect" is from c. 1600. To cut loose "set (something) free" is by 1828; intransitive sense "begin to act freely" is by 1909.ETD cut (v.).11

    Cut it out "remove (something) by or as if by cutting" yielded a figurative use in the command cut it out! "Stop! That's enough!" by 1933. The evolution seems to have begun earlier. A piece attributed to the Chicago Live Stock World that made the rounds in trade publications 1901-02 begins:ETD cut (v.).12

    Playing on both senses, it ends with "Should you, after reading this preachy stuff, fear you might forget some of the good advice—cut it out."ETD cut (v.).13

    cut (n.)

    mid-15c., "a certain length" of something; 1520s, "gash, incision, opening made by an edged instrument," from cut (v.).ETD cut (n.).2

    Meaning "piece cut off" (especially of meat) is from 1590s. Figurative sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s. Meaning "an excision or omission of a part" is from c. 1600. Sense of "a reduction" is by 1881. Meaning "manner in which a thing is cut" is from 1570s, hence "fashion, style, make" (1580s).ETD cut (n.).3

    Dialectal or local sense of "a creek or inlet" is from 1620s. Meaning "channel or trench made by cutting or digging" is from 1730. Meaning "block or stamp on which a picture is engraved" is from 1640s. Sense of "act of cutting a deck of cards" is from 1590s. Cinematic sense of "a quick transition from one shot to the next" is by 1933. Meaning "share" (of profit, loot, etc.) is by 1918.ETD cut (n.).4

    Meaning "phonograph recording" is by 1949; the verb in the sense "make a recording" is by 1937, from the literal sense in reference to the mechanical process of making sound recordings.ETD cut (n.).5

    A cut above "a degree better than" is from 1818. Cold-cuts "cooked meats sliced and served cold" (1945) translates German kalter Aufschnitt.ETD cut (n.).6

    cutting (n.)

    mid-14c., "piece cut off;" late 14c., "act or fact of making incisions, action of cutting," verbal noun from cut (v.). Meaning "shoot or small bough bearing leaf-buds" is from 1660s. Meaning "slip cut from a newspaper or other print publication" is by 1856. Related: Cuttings. Cutting-board is by 1819.ETD cutting (n.).2

    cutting (adj.)

    c. 1400, "penetrating or dividing by an edge," present-participle adjective from cut (v.). As "wounding or deeply affecting the feelings," 1580s. Related: Cuttingly.ETD cutting (adj.).2

    Cutting-edge is by 1825 in the literal sense "cutting surface of a blade or tool" (often at first with reference to plows); figurative sense "highest or most advanced state of development" is from 1964.ETD cutting (adj.).3

    cut (adj.)

    "formed or fashioned as if by cutting or carving," 1510s, past-participle adjective from cut (v.). Meaning "hewn, chiseled" (of stone, etc.) is from 1670s. Meaning "gashed with a sharp instrument" is from 1660s.ETD cut (adj.).2

    Cut and dried is by 1770 in the figurative sense "routine, boring," a reference to herbs in shops as opposed to growing in the wild.ETD cut (adj.).3

    cutaneous (adj.)

    "pertaining to the skin," 1570s, from Medieval Latin cutaneus, from Latin cutis "the skin" (see cuticle).ETD cutaneous (adj.).2

    cut-and-paste (adj.)

    "made or composed by piecing together existing parts," by 1938 with reference to trick photographs; see cut (v.) + paste (v.). By 1959 with reference to doing things with haste, carelessness, or lack of inspiration.ETD cut-and-paste (adj.).2

    cut-away (adj.)

    of coats, "cut back from the waist," 1841, from the verbal phrase; see cut (v.) + away. As a noun, "coat cut back from the waist," by 1849. In reference to models, drawings, etc., of which a part is cut away to reveal the interior, by 1946. The verbal phrase is from c. 1300 as "cut (something) off or away."ETD cut-away (adj.).2

    cutback (n.)

    also cut-back, "reduction" in expenditures, etc., by 1943, from the verbal phrase; see cut (v.) + back (adv.).ETD cutback (n.).2

    cute (adj.)

    1731, "clever, sharp, smart," shortening of acute; informal sense of "pretty" is by 1834, American English colloquial and student slang. Related: Cutely; cuteness.ETD cute (adj.).2

    cutey (n.)

    alternative spelling of cutie.ETD cutey (n.).2

    cutesy (adj.)

    "artificially or annoyingly cute," by 1968, from cute (adj.); for the insertion of -s-, compare limpsy.ETD cutesy (adj.).2

    cutie (n.)

    "cute person," originally especially "attractive young woman," 1917, from diminutive of cute.ETD cutie (n.).2

    cuticle (n.)

    1610s, "outer layer of the skin, epidermis," from Latin cuticula, diminutive of cutis "skin," from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (source also of hide (n.1)). Specialized sense of "skin at the base of the nail" is from 1907. Related: Cuticular.ETD cuticle (n.).2

    cutlass (n.)

    "short sword or large knife with a flat, wide, slightly curved blade," used for cutting more than thrusting, 1590s, from French coutelas (16c.), which is probably from Italian coltellaccio "large knife," with augmentative suffix -accio + coltello "knife," from Latin cultellus "small knife," diminutive of culter "knife, plowshare," from PIE *kel-tro-, suffixed form of root *skel- (1) "to cut." Not related to cut.ETD cutlass (n.).2

    cutler (n.)

    "craftsman whose occupation is the making of knives and other cutting instruments," c. 1400 (c. 1200 as a surname), from Anglo-French cuteler, Old French coutelier (12c., Modern French coutelier) "knife-maker," from Latin cultellarius, from cultellus "small knife," diminutive of culter "knife, plowshare," from PIE *kel-tro-, suffixed form of root *skel- (1) "to cut."ETD cutler (n.).2

    cutlery (n.)

    mid-14c., cutellerie, "the cutler's craft, art or trade of knife-making," from Old French coutelerie "cutlery, knife-making" (13c., Modern French coutellerie) "cutting utensils," also "knife-making," from coutel "knife," from Latin cultellus (see cutlass). Meaning "knives and cutting utensils collectively" is from 1836.ETD cutlery (n.).2

    cutlet (n.)

    1706, "small piece of meat," especially veal or mutton, cut horizontally from the upper part of the leg, from French côtelette, from Old French costelette "little rib" (14c.), a double diminutive of coste "rib, side," from Latin costa (see coast (n.)); influenced by unrelated English cut (n.).ETD cutlet (n.).2

    cut-off (n.)

    also cutoff, 1640s, "act of cutting off," also "portion cut off," from verbal phrase cut off (see cut (v.) + off (adv.)). Sense of "new and shorter channel formed on a river" (especially the Mississippi) is from 1773; of road that cut off or shorten a route, from 1806; of clothing (adj.), from 1840. Cutoffs "jeans or other long pants trimmed down to be shorts" is by 1967.ETD cut-off (n.).2

    The verbal phrase is attested from late 14c. as "detach by cutting;" from 1570s as "exclude from access" and "bring to an abrupt end;" and from 1590s as "intercept, stop the flow or passage of."ETD cut-off (n.).3

    cut-out (n.)

    also cutout, 1851, in reference to a kind of switch on a circuit to cut out an instrument, from the verbal phrase, from cut (v.) + out (adv.). The verbal phrase is attested from c. 1400 as "cut so as to take out;" from 1550s as "fashion or shape by cutting;" from 1736 as "remove, excise, omit." From 1640s as "be naturally formed or fashioned" (for some specified purpose).ETD cut-out (n.).2

    cutpurse (n.)

    also cut-purse, "one who steals by the method of cutting purses, a common practice when men wore their purses at their girdles" [Johnson], mid-14c., cutte-purs, from the verbal phrase, from cut (v.) + purse (n.). The word continued after the method switched to picking pockets.ETD cutpurse (n.).2

    cuttable (adj.)

    "capable of being cut or removed," mid-15c., from cut (v.) + -able.ETD cuttable (adj.).2

    cutter (n.)

    late 12c. as a surname, "one who cuts" in any sense, "one who shapes or forms by cutting," agent noun from cut (v.). From 1630s as "instrument or tool for cutting."ETD cutter (n.).2

    As a type of small, single-masted vessel, from 1762, earlier "double-banked boat belonging to a ship of war" (1745); perhaps so called from the notion of moving quickly, or of "cutting" through the water.ETD cutter (n.).3

    cut-throat (n.)

    also cutthroat, "murderer, ruffian, assassin," 1530s, from cut (v.) + throat (n.). As an adjective, "cruel, murderous," from 1560s. Of card games from 1823. For construction, compare daredevil.ETD cut-throat (n.).2


    1790, "cut short" (adj.), from cut (v.). Also used as a noun of a variety of things: a short spoon, a short tobacco pipe, a pop-gun, also a dismissive term for a naughty or wanton woman or girl. Also used of a wren or a hare.ETD cutty.2

    cuttlefish (n.)

    type of cephalopod, 1590s, earlier simply cuttle, from Old English cudele "the cuttlefish;" first element perhaps related to Middle Low German küdel "container, pocket;" Old Norse koddi "cushion, testicle;" and Old English codd (see cod). In 17c. sometimes scuttlefish.ETD cuttlefish (n.).2

    cutworm (n.)

    larvae of certain moths, 1768, from cut (v.) + worm (n.). At night they emerge from the ground and cut off at the surface tender plants.ETD cutworm (n.).2


    17c. as an abbreviation of cousin; 1889 as an attempt to represent the lazy pronunciation of because.ETD cuz.2


    city in Peru, former capital of the Inca Empire, from Quechua (Inca), literally "navel," in a figurative meaning "center" (of the world, as the navel is the center of the body). Other places known as "navel of the world" include Delphi, Jerusalem, Rome, Easter Island, and Mount Kailash in Tibet.ETD Cuzco.2

    cv (n.)

    also c.v., abbreviation of curriculum vitae.ETD cv (n.).2


    Old English and early Middle English spelling of qu- (see Q).ETD cw-.2

    cwm (n.)

    "bowl-shaped hollow at the head of a valley," 1853, from Welsh cwm "coomb" (see coomb). Mostly they are formed by glaciers.ETD cwm (n.).2


    abbreviation of hundredweight (q.v.), with -c- from Latin centum "hundred."ETD cwt..2


    abstract noun suffix of quality or rank, from Latin -cia, -tia, from Greek -kia, -tia, from abstract ending -ia (see -ia) + stem ending -c- or -t-. The native correspondents are -ship, -hood.ETD -cy.2

    cyan (n.)

    "greenish-blue color," 1889, short for cyan blue (1879), from Greek kyanos "dark blue, dark blue enamel, lapis lazuli," probably a non-Indo-European word, but perhaps akin to, or from, Hittite *kuwanna(n)- "copper blue."ETD cyan (n.).2


    word-forming element used in science for the carbon-nitrogen compound radical, from a Latinized form of Greek kyanos "dark blue" (see cyan).ETD cyan-.2

    The immediate source of its use in science is French cyanogène, the name given to the compound radical by Gay-Lussac. He called it that because it first had been obtained by heating the dye pigment powder known as Prussian blue (see Prussian).ETD cyan-.3

    cyanide (n.)

    a salt of hydrocyanic acid, 1826, from cyan-, used in science as a word-forming element for the carbon-nitrogen compound radical, + chemical ending -ide, on analogy of chloride. The best-known is potassium cyanide, bitter-tasting and extremely poisonous but formerly used in photography, electro-metallurgy, etc.ETD cyanide (n.).2

    cyanine (n.)

    "blue coloring matter of certain flowers," 1855; see cyan- + -ine (2).ETD cyanine (n.).2

    cyanosis (n.)

    "blue disease," the "blue jaundice" of the ancients, 1820, Medical Latin, from Greek kyanosis, from kyanos "dark blue color" (see cyan) + -osis. Also cyanopathy. It is caused by imperfect circulation and oxygenation of the blood.ETD cyanosis (n.).2

    cyanotic (adj.)

    "pertaining to or resembling cyanosis," 1833, from combining form of root of cyanosis + -ic.ETD cyanotic (adj.).2

    cyanotype (n.)

    "photograph picture obtained by the use of cyanide," 1842, from cyan- + ending from daguerreotype (see type (n.)).ETD cyanotype (n.).2


    Anatolian goddess, Latinized form of Greek Kybelē, an earth-goddess identified by the Greek with their Rhea, daughter of Uranus and Ge, wife of Cronus and mother of Zeus. The name is of unknown origin. Beekes writes, "In Old Phrygian, she is called Matar Kubileya or Kubeleya. The exact meaning of the adjective is unknown; does it refer to a mountain? The goddess originated in Karkhemish, around 1200, where she was called Kubaba. ... Her Lydian name was Kuvava. From Locri Epizephyrii we have her name as Qubalas."ETD Cybele.2


    word-forming element, ultimately from cybernetics (q.v.). It enjoyed explosive use with the rise of the internet early 1990s. One researcher (Nagel) counted 104 words formed from it by 1994. Cyberpunk (by 1986) and cyberspace (1982) were among the earliest. The OED 2nd edition (1989) has only cybernetics and its related forms, and cybernation "theory, practice, or condition of control by machines" (1962).ETD cyber-.2

    As a stand-alone noun, cyber, it is attested by 1998 as short for cybersex (which is attested by 1995).ETD cyber-.3

    cybercafe (n.)

    "cafe that offers Internet access on its computers," or (later) via Wi-Fi on customers' computers," 1994, from cyber- + cafe.ETD cybercafe (n.).2

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