Larger font
Smaller font
Etymology dictionary - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    doughboy (n.) — drank (v.)

    doughboy (n.)

    "U.S. soldier," 1864, American English, said to have been in oral use from 1854, or from the Mexican-American War (1847), it is perhaps from resemblance of big buttons on old uniforms to a sort of cookie or biscuit of that name, a boiled dumpling of raised dough (attested from 1680s), but there are other conjectures.ETD doughboy (n.).2

    doughface (n.)

    contemptuous nickname in U.S. politics for Northern Democrats who worked in the interest of the South before the Civil War, by 1833. It was taken to mean "man who allows himself to be molded," but that probably was not the original image. The source is an 1820 speech by John Randolph of Roanoke, in the wake of the Missouri Compromise.ETD doughface (n.).2

    Randolph had used the term dough-face in the sense "mask of dough" in Congressional debates as far back as February 1809 ("... it is something like dressing ourselves up in a dough-face and winding-sheet to frighten others ....").ETD doughface (n.).3

    However, the expression has been explained as referring to "the pale doughy faces of his frightened opponents" [Craigie], to a "person who is pliable and, as it were, made of dough" [Century Dictionary], or even "to liken them in timidity to female deer," which is frightened at her own shadow [The Port Folio, 1820]. Dough-faced in the sense "cowardly" is attested in a text from 1773, so there might be a convergence of senses.ETD doughface (n.).4

    doughy (adj.)

    "like dough," especially "flabby and pallid" or "yielding to pressure," c. 1600, from dough + -y (2). Related: Doughiness.ETD doughy (adj.).2

    doughnut (n.)

    "small, spongy cake made of dough and fried in lard," 1809, American English, from dough + nut (n.), probably on the notion of being a small round lump (the holes came later; they are first mentioned c. 1861). First recorded by Washington Irving, who described them as "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks."ETD doughnut (n.).2

    Earlier name for it was dough-boy (1680s). Bartlett (1848) meanwhile lists doughnuts and crullers among the types of olycokes, a word he derives from Dutch olikoek, literally "oil-cake," to indicate a cake fried in lard.ETD doughnut (n.).3

    Meaning "a driving in tight circles" is U.S. slang, 1981. Compare also donut.ETD doughnut (n.).4

    doughty (adj.)

    "strong, brave, spirited, valiant," Middle English doughti, from Old English dohtig "competent, good, valiant," from dyhtig "strong," related to dugan "to be fit, be able, be strong," and influenced by its past participle, dohte.ETD doughty (adj.).2

    All from Proto-Germanic *duhtiz- (source also of Middle High German tuhtec, German tüchtig "efficient, capable," Middle Dutch duchtich "large, sturdy, powerful," Danish dygtig "virtuous, proficient," Gothic daug "is fit"), from PIE *dheugh- "to be fit, be of use, proper; meet, hit the mark" (source also of Sanskrit duh "gives milk;" Greek teukhein "to manufacture, accomplish; make ready;" Irish dual "becoming, fit;" Russian duij "strong, robust;" German Tugend "virtue").ETD doughty (adj.).3

    Rare after 17c.; in deliberately archaic or mock-heroic use since c. 1800. If it had survived in living language, its modern form would be dighty.ETD doughty (adj.).4


    family name (late 12c.), later masc. personal name, from Gaelic Dubh ghlais "the dark water," name of a place in Lanarkshire. As a given name, in the top 40 for boys born in U.S. from 1942 to 1971. The name of the city that is the capital of the Isle of Man is the same Celtic compound.ETD Douglas.2

    The large, coniferous Douglas fir tree was named for David Douglas (1798-1834), Scottish botanist who first recorded it in Pacific Northwest, 1825. Douglas scheme, Douglas plan, Douglassite, etc. refer to "social credit" economic model put forth by British engineer Maj. Clifford Hugh Douglas (1879-1952).ETD Douglas.3

    doula (n.)

    "woman trained to assist another woman during childbirth and provide support to the family after the baby is born," by 1972, a coinage in anthropology, from Modern Greek doule, from ancient Greek doule "servant-woman," fem. of doulos "slave, servant," which probably is a word of Pre-Greek origin.ETD doula (n.).2

    dour (adj.)

    mid-14c., "severe" (of grief); late 14c., of men, "bold, stern, fierce," a word from Scottish and northern England dialect, probably directly from Latin durus "hard," from PIE *dru-ro-, suffixed variant form of root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast." Sense of "gloomy, sullen" is late 15c. Related: Dourness.ETD dour (adj.).2

    douse (v.)

    1550s, "to strike, punch," which is perhaps from Middle Dutch dossen "beat forcefully" or a similar Low German word. Meaning "to strike or lower (a sail) in haste" is recorded from 1620s; that of "to extinguish (a light)" is slang from 1785; perhaps influenced by dout (1520s), an obsolete contraction of do out (compare doff, don).ETD douse (v.).2

    OED and Century Dictionary regard the meaning "to thrust or plunge into water, to throw water over" (c. 1600) as a separate word, of unknown origin (perhaps Scandinavian), though admitting there may be a connection of some sort. Wedgwood thinks this word imitative of the sound of the action. Related: Doused; dousing.ETD douse (v.).3

    dove (n.)

    bird of the family Columbidae, early Middle English douve, 12c., probably from Old English dufe- (found only in compounds), from Proto-Germanic *dubon (source also of Old Saxon duba, Old Norse dufa, Swedish duva, Middle Dutch duve, Dutch duif, Old High German tuba, German Taube, Gothic -dubo), perhaps related to words for "dive," but the application is not clear unless it be somehow in reference to its flight.ETD dove (n.).2

    Originally applied to all pigeons, now mostly restricted to the turtle dove. A symbol of gentleness, innocence, and tender affection from early Christian times, also of the Holy Spirit (as in Genesis viii.8-12), and of peace and deliverance from anxiety. A term of endearment since late 14c. Political meaning "person who advocates peace" attested by 1917, from the Christian dove of peace. Middle English also had dovesse "female dove" (early 15c.).ETD dove (n.).3

    dove (v.)

    sometime past tense of dive (v.).ETD dove (v.).2

    dovecote (n.)

    also dove-cote, "small structure set high off the ground for the roosting and breeding of pigeons," c. 1400 (c. 1200 in surnames), from dove (n.) + cote.ETD dovecote (n.).2


    port in Kent, Old English Dofras (c. 700), from Latin Dubris (4c.), from British Celtic *Dubras "the waters." Named for the stream that flows nearby.ETD Dover.2

    dovetail (n.)

    also dove-tail, 1580s, in carpentry, "tenon cut in the form of a reverse wedge," the strongest of all fastenings, from dove (n.) + tail (n.). So called from resemblance of shape in the tenon or mortise of the joints to that of the bird's tail display. As a verb, "to unite by dovetail tenons," 1650s; figuratively "unite closely, as if by dovetails." Related: Dovetailed.ETD dovetail (n.).2

    dovish (adj.)

    1530s, "like a dove, innocent," from dove + -ish. The political sense, "tending toward or favoring peace" (opposed to hawkish) is by 1966.ETD dovish (adj.).2

    dowager (n.)

    1520s, "title given to a widow of rank to distinguish her from the wife of her husband's heir bearing the same name," from French douagere "widow with a dower" literally "pertaining to a dower," from douage "dower," from douer "endow," from Latin dotare, from dos (genitive dotis) "marriage portion, dowry" (from PIE *do-ti, from root *do- "to give").ETD dowager (n.).2

    "App. first used of Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII; then of Catherine of Arragon, styled 'Princess Dowager'" [OED]. In law, "a widow possessed of a jointure."ETD dowager (n.).3


    1580s (n.), "an aukward, ill-dressed, inelegant woman" [Johnson]; as an adjective, 1670s, "slovenly, shabby in dress" (of women). Perhaps a diminutive of Middle English doude "unattractive woman" (mid-14c.), which is of uncertain origin. Compare Scottish dow "to fade, wither, become dull or flat." In modern use it tends more toward "unfashionable, without style."ETD dowdy.2

    Modern use of dowdy (adj.) is likely a back-formation from the noun. Related: Dowdily; dowdiness.ETD dowdy.3

    dowel (n.)

    early 14c., doule, dule "wooden rim or section of a wheel," perhaps akin to Middle Low German dovel "plug, tap" (of a cask). Modern meaning "wooden or metallic pin or tenon used for holding two pieces of wood together" is by 1794. As a verb, "to fasten together by pins inserted in the edges," 1713.ETD dowel (n.).2

    dower (n.)

    mid-15c. (from late 13c. in Anglo-French), "property which a woman brings to her husband at marriage," from Old French doaire "dower, dowry, gift" (see dowry). In modern legal use, "portion of a late husband's real property allowed to a widow for her life." Meaning "one's portion of natural gifts" is from late 14c.ETD dower (n.).2

    Dow Jones

    short for Dow Jones Industrial Average, first published 1884 by Charles Henry Dow (1851-1902) and Edward D. Jones (1856-1920), later publishers of "The Wall Street Journal."ETD Dow Jones.2

    down (adv.)

    "in a descending direction, from a higher to a lower place, degree, or condition," late Old English shortened form of Old English ofdune "downwards," originally of dune "off from (the) hill," from dune "from the hill," dative of dun "hill" (see down (n.2)). The "hill" word is general in Germanic, but this sense development is peculiar to English. As a preposition, "in a descending direction upon or along," from late 14c.ETD down (adv.).2

    To be down on "express disapproval of" is by 1851. Down home is from 1828 as "in one's home region," as an adjective phrase meaning "unpretentious" by 1931, American English. Down the hatch as a toast is from 1931. Down to the wire is 1901, from horse-racing.ETD down (adv.).3

    Down Under "Australia and New Zealand" attested from 1886; Down East "Maine" is from 1825; Down South "in the Southern states of the U.S." is attested by 1834. Down the road "in the future" is by 1964, U.S. colloquial. Down-to-earth "everyday, ordinary, realistic" is by 1932.ETD down (adv.).4

    down (n.1)

    "first feathers of a baby bird; soft covering of fowls under the feathers, the under-plumage of birds," used for stuffing pillows and feather-beds, mid-14c., from Old Norse dunn, which is of uncertain origin. Extended in Modern English to the soft hair of the human face and fine soft pubescence upon plants and some fruit.ETD down (n.1).2

    down (v.)

    1560s, "cause to go down," from down (adv.). Meaning "swallow hastily" is by 1860; football sense of "bring down (an opposing player) by tackling" is attested by 1887. Figurative sense of "defeat, get the better of" is by 1898. Related: Downed; downing.ETD down (v.).2

    down (n.3)

    1710, "a downward movement," from down (adv.). Football sense of "an attempt to advance the ball" is by 1882.ETD down (n.3).2

    down (n.2)

    "a hill of moderate elevation and more or less rounded outline," Old English dun "height, hill, moor," from Proto-Germanic *dunaz- (source also of Middle Dutch dunen "sandy hill," Dutch duin), "probably a pre-insular loan-word from Celtic" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names], in other words, borrowed at a very early period, before the Anglo-Saxon migration, perhaps from PIE root *dheue- "to close, finish, come full circle."ETD down (n.2).2

    The more general meaning "elevated rolling grassland; high, rolling region not covered by forest" is from c. 1400. Specifically of certain natural pastureland districts of south and southeast England (the Downs) by mid-15c.ETD down (n.2).3

    The non-English Germanic words tend to mean "dune, sand bank" (see dune), while the Celtic cognates tend to mean "hill, citadel" (compare Old Irish dun "hill, hill fort;" Welsh din "fortress, hill fort;" and second element in place names London, Verdun, etc.). German Düne, French dune, Italian, Spanish duna are said to be loan-words from Dutch.ETD down (n.2).4

    down (adj.)

    1560s, "directed downward," from down (adv.). Sense of "depressed mentally" is attested from c. 1600. Slang sense of "aware, wide awake" is attested from 1812. Computer crash sense is from 1965. Down-and-out "completely without resources" is from 1889, American English, from situation of a beaten prizefighter.ETD down (adj.).2

    downbeat (n.)

    also down-beat, 1876, "the first note of a measure of music" (as indicated by the downward stroke of a conductor's baton or hand). It is attested by 1952 as an adjective in the figurative sense of "pessimistic," but that is probably via associations of the word down (adv.), because the beat itself is no more pessimistic than the upbeat is optimistic.ETD downbeat (n.).2

    downcast (adj.)

    c. 1600, "ruined, destroyed," from past participle of obsolete verb downcast "to overthrow, demolish" (c. 1300), from down (adv.) + cast (v.). Figurative sense of "dejected" is by 1630s, probably from the notion of having the eyes directed downward.ETD downcast (adj.).2

    downer (n.)

    1966, "barbiturate;" 1970 as "depressing person;" agent noun from down (v.).ETD downer (n.).2

    downfall (n.)

    early 14c., "ruin, fall from high condition, complete overthrow," from down (adv.) + fall (v.). From c. 1500 as "a falling downward." Verbal phrase fall down in the sense of "go to ruin" is attested from late 12c.ETD downfall (n.).2

    downgrade (v.)

    also down-grade, "to lower in rank, status, etc.," 1930, from down (adv.) + grade (v.). Related: Downgraded; downgrading. As a noun, "a downward slope," from 1858.ETD downgrade (v.).2

    down-hearted (adj.)

    also downhearted, "dejected, depressed, discouraged," 1774 (downheartedly is attested from 1650s), a figurative image from down (adv.) + -hearted.ETD down-hearted (adj.).2

    downhill (adv.)

    "in a descending direction," late 14c., from down (adv.) + hill (n.). From 1590s as a noun, "downward slope of a hill;" meaning "downhill skiing race" is from 1960. As an adjective, "sloping downward, descending," from 1727.ETD downhill (adv.).2

    downy (adj.)

    "covered with down; resembling down," 1570s, from down (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Downiness.ETD downy (adj.).2

    Downing Street

    short street in London, named for British diplomat Sir George Downing (c. 1624-1684). It contains the residence of the prime minister (at Number 10), hence its metonymic use for "the British government," attested from 1781.ETD Downing Street.2

    download (v.)

    "action or process of transferring from the storage of a larger system to that of a smaller one," 1977, from down (adv.) + load (v.). Related: Downloaded; downloading.ETD download (v.).2

    down-market (adj.)

    "on the cheaper end of what is available," 1970, from down (adj.) + market (n.).ETD down-market (adj.).2

    downplay (v.)

    "de-emphasize, minimize," 1968, from verbal phrase play (something) down, which is perhaps from music or theater; down (adv.) + play (v.). Related: Downplayed; downplaying.ETD downplay (v.).2

    downpour (n.)

    "heavy or continuous shower," 1811, from the verbal phrase, from down (adv.) + pour (v.).ETD downpour (n.).2

    downrange (adv.)

    "along the course of a missile, spacecraft, etc.," 1952, from down (adv.) + range (n.).ETD downrange (adv.).2

    downright (adv.)

    c. 1200, "straight down, right down, perpendicularly," from down (adv.) + -right. The meaning "thoroughly, completely, utterly," often merely emphatic, is attested from c. 1300. As an adjective, "complete, absolute," from 1560s. Old English had dunrihte "downwards." The inverted form right-down is attested 17c.ETD downright (adv.).2

    downscale (v.)

    "reduce in size or scale," 1945, American English, from down (adv.) + scale (v.). In business, especially, "to reduce the size of an operation." Related: Downscaled; downscaling. From 1966 as an adjective.ETD downscale (v.).2

    downside (n.)

    also down side, 1680s, "underside;" see down (adv.) + side (n.). Meaning "drawback, negative aspect" is attested by 1995.ETD downside (n.).2

    downsize (v.)

    "reduce the size of," 1986 in reference to companies shedding jobs; earlier (1975) in reference to U.S. automakers building smaller cars and trucks (supposedly a coinage at General Motors), from down (adv.) + size (v.). Related: Downsized; downsizing.ETD downsize (v.).2

    downspout (n.)

    "pipe conveying rainwater from a roof to the ground or a drain," by 1829, from down (adv.) + spout (n.).ETD downspout (n.).2

    Down's Syndrome

    genetic disorder causing developmental and intellectual delays, 1961, from J.L.H. Down (1828-1896), English physician; chosen as a less racist name for the condition than earlier mongolism.ETD Down's Syndrome.2

    downstairs (adv.)

    "down the stairs, below, to or on a lower floor," 1590s, from the prepositional phrase; see down (adv.) + stair. As an adjective, "pertaining to, relating to, or situated on the lower floor of a house," by 1819. As a noun, "the downstairs part of a building," by 1843.ETD downstairs (adv.).2

    downstream (adv.)

    "with or in the direction of the current of a stream," 1706, from the prepositional phrase; see down (adv.) + stream (n.). As an adjective by 1842. Middle English had the prepositional phrase down the water (c. 1400).ETD downstream (adv.).2

    downtime (n.)

    also down-time, 1952, "time when a machine or vehicle is out of service or otherwise unavailable;" from down (adj.) + time (n.). Of persons, "opportunity for rest and relaxation," by 1982.ETD downtime (n.).2


    1835 as an adverb, "into the town," from the prepositional phrase; see down (adv.) + town. The notion is originally literal, of suburbs built on heights around a city. From 1836 as an adjective; by 1851 as a noun.ETD downtown.2

    downtrodden (adj.)

    1560s, "stepped on, trampled upon," from down (adv.) + past participle of tread (v.). Figurative sense of "oppressed, tyrannized" is from 1590s. To tread down in the sense of "overcome, destroy" is from late 12c.ETD downtrodden (adj.).2

    downturn (n.)

    "a decline," 1926 in an economic sense, from the prepositional phrase; see down (adv.) + turn (n.).ETD downturn (n.).2

    downward (adv.)

    "from a higher to a lower place, state, or condition," late 12c., from down (adv.) + -ward. As a preposition, "down," by late 14c. As an adjective, "moving or tending from a higher to a lwer place, state, or condition," from 1550s. As an adverb Old English had aduneweard. Downwards (c. 1200), with adverbial genitive, had a parallel in Old English ofduneweardes.ETD downward (adv.).2

    dowry (n.)

    c. 1400, "money, goods, or estate which a woman brings to her husband in marriage," from Anglo-French dowarie, Old French doaire (late 13c.) "dower, dowry, gift," from Medieval Latin dotarium, from Latin dotare "to endow, portion," from dos (genitive dotis) "marriage portion," from PIE *do-ti, from root *do- "to give." Compare dower.ETD dowry (n.).2

    dowse (v.)

    "to search for deposits of ore, water, etc., by a dowsing rod," 1690s, a south England dialect word of uncertain origin, said to have been introduced to Devon by German miners in Elizabethan times. Related: Dowsed; dowsing.ETD dowse (v.).2

    doxy (n.)

    "rogue's girlfriend, beggar's mistress," 1520s, slang, of unknown origin (see dell (n.2)). Liberman says it is probably from Low German dokke "doll," "with the deterioration of meaning from 'sweetheart' and 'wench' to 'whore.'"ETD doxy (n.).2

    doxology (n.)

    "hymn or psalm of praise to God," 1640s, from Medieval Latin doxologia, from Ecclesiastical Greek doxologia "praise, glory," from doxologos "praising, glorifying," from doxa "glory, praise" (from dokein "to seem good," from PIE root *dek- "to take, accept") + logos "a speaking" (see -logy). Related: Doxologize; doxological.ETD doxology (n.).2

    doyen (n.)

    "a dean, the senior member of a body," originally "a commander of ten," early 15c., from Old French doyen "commander of ten," from Old French deien (see dean).ETD doyen (n.).2

    doyenne (n.)

    "leading or senior woman in a group or society," 1905, from fem. of French doyen (see doyen). As a type of pear, from 1731.ETD doyenne (n.).2

    doze (v.)

    "to sleep lightly or fitfully; fall into a light sleep unintentionally," 1640s, probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse dusa "to doze," Danish døse "to make dull," Swedish dialectal dusa "to sleep") and related to Old English dysig "foolish" (see dizzy). Perhaps originally a dialect word in English and earlier than the attested date. Related: Dozed; dozing. As a noun, "a light sleep or slumber," from 1731. To doze off is by 1829.ETD doze (v.).2

    dozen (n.)

    c. 1300, doseine, "collection of twelve things or units," from Old French dozaine "a dozen, a number of twelve" in various usages, from doze (12c.) "twelve," from Latin duodecim "twelve," from duo "two" (from PIE root *dwo- "two") + decem "ten" (from PIE root *dekm- "ten"). The Old French fem. suffix -aine is characteristically added to cardinals to form collectives in a precise sense ("exactly 12," not "about 12").ETD dozen (n.).2

    The Latin word's descendants are widespread: Spanish docena, Dutch dozijn, German dutzend, Danish dusin, Russian duizhina, etc. The dozens "invective contest" (1928) originated in slave culture, the custom is probably African, the word probably from bulldoze (q.v.) in its original sense of "a whipping, a thrashing."ETD dozen (n.).3

    dozy (adj.)

    "drowsy, inclined to sleep," 1690s, from doze + -y (2). Related: Dozily; doziness.ETD dozy (adj.).2

    drab (adj.)

    1715, "yellowish-gray; of the color of natural, undyed cloth," from the trade name for the color itself (1680s), which is from an earlier noun drab, drap meaning "thick, woolen cloth of a yellowish-gray color" (1540s), from French drap "cloth, piece of cloth" (see drape (v.)). The figurative sense of "dull, not bright or colorful" is by 1880.ETD drab (adj.).2

    Apparently this word is not related to earlier noun drab "a dirty, untidy woman" (1510s), "a prostitute" (1520s), which might be from Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag "dirty woman," or perhaps it is connected with Dutch and Low German drabbe "dirt;" compare drabble. The notion seems to be of dabbling in the wet and mud.ETD drab (adj.).3

    The meaning "small, petty debt" (the sense in dribs and drabs) is by 1828, of uncertain connection to the other senses.ETD drab (adj.).4

    drabble (v.)

    "to make dirty, as by dragging; to soil (something), trail in the mud or on the ground," c. 1400, drabbelen, perhaps from Low German drabbeln; compare drab. Related: Drabbled; drabbling.ETD drabble (v.).2

    drachma (n.)

    late 14c., dragme, "ancient Athenian coin," the principal silver coin of ancient Greece; mid-15c. as the name of a coin used in Syria, from Old French dragme, from Medieval Latin dragma, from Latinized form of Greek drakhme, an Attic coin and weight, probably originally "a handful" (of six obols, the least valuable coins in ancient Athens), akin to drassesthai "to grasp," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps Pre-Greek. Arabic dirham, Armenian dram are from Greek.ETD drachma (n.).2

    Middle English also used the word in the "weight" sense, as a unit of apothecary's weight of one-eighth of an ounce, which became dram.ETD drachma (n.).3

    Draco (n.)

    northern circumpolar constellation representing a dragon, from Latin draco "huge serpent, dragon," from Greek drakon (see dragon). The star pattern has been identified as such since ancient times.ETD Draco (n.).2

    draconian (adj.)

    1759, "of or pertaining to Draco," the ancient Greek statesman; 1777, in reference to laws, "rigorous, extremely severe or harsh" (earlier Draconic, which is implied from 1640s). Draco is the Latinized form of Greek Drakon, name of the archon of Athens who laid down a code of laws for Athens c. 621 B.C.E. that mandated death as punishment for minor crimes. His name seems to mean literally "sharp-sighted" (see dragon).ETD draconian (adj.).2

    Dracula (n.)

    name of the vampire king in Bram Stoker's novel (1897). It was a surname of Prince Vlad II of Wallachia (d. 1476), and means in Romanian "son of Dracul," literally "the dragon" (see dragon), from the name and emblem taken by Vlad's father, also named Vlad, c. 1431 when he joined the Order of the Dragon, founded 1418 by Sigismund the Glorious of Hungary to defend the Christian religion from the Turks and crush heretics and schismatics.ETD Dracula (n.).2

    draft (n.)

    c. 1500, a spelling variant of draught (q.v.) to reflect change in pronunciation. By the end of the 19c. it was the established form in the military, commercial, and many technical sentences, and it is now almost universal in American English as conforming to the pronunciation.ETD draft (n.).2

    The meaning "rough copy of a writing" (something "drawn") is attested from 14c.; that of "preliminary sketch from which a final copy is made" is from 1520s; that of "flow of a current of air" is from c. 1770. Of beer from the 1830s, in reference to the method of "drawing" it from the cask. Sense in bank draft is from 1745. The meaning "a drawing off a group for special duty" is from 1703, in U.S. especially of military service; the verb in this sense first recorded 1714. Related: Drafted; drafting.ETD draft (n.).3

    draftee (n.)

    "person conscripted for military purpose," 1864, American English, from draft + -ee.ETD draftee (n.).2

    drafty (adj.)

    "exposed to drafts of air," 1580s, from draft "current of air" + -y (2). Related: Draftiness.ETD drafty (adj.).2

    draftsman (n.)

    "one who draws or prepares plans, sketches, or designs," 1660s, variant of draughtsman; from genitive of draft + man (n.). Related: Draftsmanship.ETD draftsman (n.).2

    drag (v.)

    late 14c., draggen, "to draw a grapnel along the bottom of a river, lake, etc., in search of something;" late 15c., "to draw away by force, pull haul," from Old Norse draga, or a dialectal variant of Old English dragan "to draw," both from Proto-Germanic *draganan "to draw, pull," perhaps from a PIE *dhregh- "to draw, drag on the ground" (source also of Sanskrit dhrajati "pulls, slides in," Russian drogi "wagon," doroga "way;" connection to Latin trahere "to draw" is possible but problematic).ETD drag (v.).2

    Meaning "draw (feet, tails, etc.) along slowly" is from 1580s; intransitive sense of "move heavily or slowly, hang with its weight while moving or being moved" is by 1660s. Meaning "to take a puff" (of a cigarette, etc.) is from 1914. Related: Dragged; dragging. Drag-out "violent fight" is from c. 1859. To drag (one's) feet (1946 in the figurative sense "delay deliberately") supposedly is from logging, from a lazy way to use a two-man saw.ETD drag (v.).3

    drag (n.)

    c. 1300, dragge, "dragnet," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse dragga "a load," Swedish dragg "grapnel") or from Old English dræge "dragnet," related to dragan "to draw" (see drag (v.)).ETD drag (n.).2

    From 1708 as "anything attached to a moving body that retards its progress." As the name of a device for retarding or stopping the rotation of wheels, 1795. Sense of "annoying, boring person or thing" is 1813, perhaps from the mechanical senses or the notion of something that must be dragged as an impediment.ETD drag (n.).3

    Sense of "women's clothing worn by a man" is by 1870, perhaps originally theater slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor (another guess is Yiddish trogn "to wear," from German tragen); drag queen "male transvestite or cross-dresser" is from 1941.ETD drag (n.).4

    Drag racing (1947), is said to be from thieves' slang drag "automobile" (1935), perhaps ultimately from slang sense of "wagon, buggy" (1755), because a horse would drag it. By 1851 this was transferred to "street," as in the phrase main drag (which some propose as the source of the racing sense).ETD drag (n.).5

    draggle (v.)

    "to wet or befoul a garment by allowing it to drag along damp ground or mud," 1510s, frequentative of drag (v.); also see -el (3). This led to draggle-tail "sloppy woman, woman whose skirts are wet and draggled" (1590s). Related: Draggled; draggling.ETD draggle (v.).2

    dragnet (n.)

    also drag-net, "a net to draw along the bottom of a body of water for taking fish," 1540s, from see drag (v.) + net (n.). Figurative use is from 1640s; police sense attested by 1894. Probably not directly from Old English drægnet, which became early Middle English draynet and then vanished.ETD dragnet (n.).2

    dragoman (n.)

    "an interpreter, a guide for travelers," c. 1300, drugeman, from Old French drugemen and directly from Medieval Latin dragumanus, from late Greek dragoumanos, from Arabic targuman "interpreter," from targama "interpret." Treated in English as a compound from man (n.), with plural -men.ETD dragoman (n.).2

    dragon (n.)

    mid-13c., dragoun, a fabulous animal common to the conceptions of many races and peoples, from Old French dragon and directly from Latin draconem (nominative draco) "huge serpent, dragon," from Greek drakon (genitive drakontos) "serpent, giant seafish," apparently from drak-, strong aorist stem of derkesthai "to see clearly," from PIE *derk- "to see" (source also of Sanskrit darsata- "visible;" Old Irish adcondarc "I have seen;" Gothic gatarhjan "characterize;" Old English torht, Old High German zoraht "light, clear;" Albanian dritë "light").ETD dragon (n.).2

    Perhaps the literal sense is "the one with the (deadly) glance, the one with (paralyzing) sight." The young are dragonets (c. 1300). Fem. form dragoness is attested from 1630s. Obsolete drake (n.2) "dragon" is an older borrowing of the same word, and a later form in another sense is dragoon. Used in the Bible generally for creatures of great size and fierceness, it translates Hebrew tannin "a great sea-monster," also tan, a desert mammal now believed to be the jackal.ETD dragon (n.).3

    dragonfly (n.)

    common name of a neuropterous predatory insect of the group Libellulina, with a long, slender body, large eyes, and two pairs of large, membranous wings, 1620s, from dragon + fly (n.). An older name for it was adderbolt (late 15c.), for its shape, also devil's darning-needle.ETD dragonfly (n.).2

    dragoon (n.)

    1620s, "cavalry soldier carrying firearms," and thus capable of service either on horseback or on foot, from French dragon, probably so called for the guns they carried, from dragon "carbine, musket," because the guns "breathed fire" like dragons (see dragon). Also see -oon. For the sense evolution, compare musket.ETD dragoon (n.).2

    dragoon (v.)

    "to compel by repeated threats or harassment," 1680s, literally "to force by the agency of dragoons" (which were used by the French kings to persecute Protestants), from dragoon (n.). Related: Dragooned; dragooning.ETD dragoon (v.).2

    dragster (n.)

    "hot rod or constructed car designed for maximum engine efficiency with no regard for style," 1954, from drag (n.) in the racing sense + -ster, perhaps abstracted from roadster.ETD dragster (n.).2

    dray (n.)

    late-14c., draie, "strong wheeled or wheel-less cart," from Old English dræge or some other noun derivative from dragan "to draw" and originally meaning a cart without wheels that has to be "dragged" (compare Old Norse draga "timber dragged behind a horse;" Middle Low German drage, Middle High German trage "a litter"); see drag (v.). Modern sense of "low, strong cart with stout wheels and without sides, used for carrying heavy loads" is from 1580s.ETD dray (n.).2

    drain (v.)

    Middle English dreinen, from Old English dreahnian "to draw off gradually, as a liquid; remove by degrees; strain out," from Proto-Germanic *dreug-, source of drought, dry, giving the English word originally a sense of "to make dry." Figurative meaning of "exhaust" is attested from 1650s. Intransitive sense of "to flow off gradually" is from 1580s. Related: Drained; draining.ETD drain (v.).2

    drain (n.)

    early 14c., dreine, "passage, pipe, or open channel for the removal of water or other liquid," from drain (v.). From 1721 as "act of draining, gradual or continuous outflow," usually figurative, of money, resources, etc. Colloquial expression down the drain "lost, vanished, gone to waste" is by 1930.ETD drain (n.).2

    drainage (n.)

    1650s, "act or process of draining," from drain (v.) + -age. Sense of "the water carried off by a system of rivers" is by 1860. Meaning "system by means of which something is drained" is by 1878.ETD drainage (n.).2

    drake (n.1)

    "male of the duck," c. 1300, unrecorded in Old English, but it might have existed, from West Germanic *drako (source also of Low German drake, second element of Old High German anutrehho, German Enterich, dialectal German Drache).ETD drake (n.1).2

    drake (n.2)

    "dragon," c. 1200, from Old English draca "dragon, sea monster, huge serpent," from Proto-Germanic *drako (source also of Middle Dutch and Old Frisian drake, Dutch draak, Old High German trahho, German drache), an early borrowing from Latin draco (see dragon).ETD drake (n.2).2

    dram (n.)

    mid-15c., "small weight of apothecary's measure," a phonetic spelling, from Anglo-Latin dragma, Old French drame, from Late Latin dragma, from Latin drachma "drachma," from Greek drakhma "measure of weight," also, "silver coin," literally "handful" (of six obols, the least valuable coins in ancient Athens), akin to drassesthai "to grasp" (see drachma). The fluid dram is one-eighth of a fluid ounce, hence "a small drink of liquor" (1713). Hence dram shop (1725), where liquor was sold by the shot.ETD dram (n.).2

    drama (n.)

    1510s, "a composition presenting in dialogue a course of human action, the description of a story converted into the action of a play," from Late Latin drama "play, drama," from Greek drama (genitive dramatos) "action, deed; play, spectacle," from drāo "to do, make, act, perform" (especially some great deed, whether good or bad), which is of uncertain etymology.ETD drama (n.).2

    Meaning "theatrical literature generally, drama as art" is from 1660s. Extended sense of "sequence of events or actions leading up to a climax" is by 1714. Drama queen "person who habitually responds to situations in a melodramatic way" is attested by 1992.ETD drama (n.).3


    proprietary name of dimenhydrinate, an anti-nausea drug, 1949. Said to have been developed originally as an anti-allergy drug at Johns Hopkins.ETD Dramamine.2

    dramatize (v.)

    1780s, "to adopt for the stage," see drama (Greek stem dramat-) + -ize. Meaning "to express or manifest dramatically" is from 1823. Related: Dramatized; dramatizing.ETD dramatize (v.).2

    dramatization (n.)

    "a dramatic representation; conversion into drama," 1796, from dramatize + noun ending -ation.ETD dramatization (n.).2

    dramatic (adj.)

    1580s, "of or pertaining to acted drama," from Late Latin dramaticus, from Greek dramatikos "pertaining to plays," from drama (genitive dramatos; see drama). Meaning "full of action and striking display, characterized by force and animation in action or expression, fit for a drama" is from 1725. Dramatic irony, "irony inherent in a drama and understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play," is recorded from 1907. Related: Dramatical; dramatically.ETD dramatic (adj.).2

    dramatis personae

    "the characters in a play," Latin for "persons of a drama." From the genitive of Late Latin drama and the plural of persona.ETD dramatis personae.2

    dramatist (n.)

    "an author of plays, a playwright," 1670s, see drama (Greek stem dramat-) + -ist.ETD dramatist (n.).2

    dramaturge (n.)

    "dramatist, writer of plays," 1849, from French dramaturge (1775), usually in a slighting sense, from Greek dramatourgos "a dramatist," from drama (genitive dramatos; see drama) + ergos "worker," from PIE root *werg- "to do." Related: Dramaturgic (1831).ETD dramaturge (n.).2

    dramaturgy (n.)

    "science of the composition and production of plays," 1795, from French dramaturgie, from Greek dramatourgia, from drama (genitive dramatos; see drama) + -ourgia "a working," from ergon "work, activity" (from PIE root *werg- "to do").ETD dramaturgy (n.).2

    Drambuie (n.)

    1893, proprietary name of a whiskey liqueur manufactured in Scotland, said by the manufacturer to be from Gaelic dram buidheach, literally "satisfying drink."ETD Drambuie (n.).2

    drang nach Osten (n.)

    German imperialistic policy of eastward expansion, 1906, literally "pressure to the east." From drang "pressure."ETD drang nach Osten (n.).2

    drank (v.)

    Old English dranc, singular past tense of drink. It also became past participle 17c.-19c., probably to avoid the pejorative associations of drunk.ETD drank (v.).2

    Larger font
    Smaller font