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    e- — eccentricity (n.)


    the later Romans evidently found words beginning in sc-, sp-, st- difficult or unpleasant to pronounce; in Late Latin forms begin to emerge in i- (such as ispatium, ispiritu), and from 5c. this shifted to e-. The development was carried into the Romanic languages, especially Old French, and the French words were modified further after 15c. by natural loss of -s- (the suppression being marked by an acute accent on the e-), while in other cases the word was formally corrected back to the Latin spelling (for example spécial). Hence French état for Old French estat for Latin status, etc. It also affected Romanic borrowings from Germanic (such as espy, eschew).ETD e-.2

    A different e- is a reduced form of Latin ex- before consonants (see ex-), and the e- in enough is an unfelt survival of an Old English alternative form of ge-.ETD e-.3

    ea (n.)

    the usual Old English word for "river, running water" (still in use in Lancashire, according to OED), from Proto-Germanic *ahwo- (source also of Old Frisian a, Old Saxon aha, Old High German aha, German ahe-, Old Dutch aha, Old Norse "water"), from PIE root *ekweh- "water" (see aqua-). "The standard word in place-names for river denoting a watercourse of greater size than a broc or a burna" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names].ETD ea (n.).2


    common digraph introduced early 16c., originally having the sound of long "a" and meant to distinguish words spelled -e- or -ee- with that sound from those with the sound of long "e"; for example break, great. Since c. 1700, the sound in some of them has drifted to long "e" (read, hear) or sometimes short "e" (bread, wealth).ETD -ea-.2


    Old English ælc (n., pron., adj.) "any, all, every, each (one)," short for a-gelic "ever alike," from a "ever" (see aye (adv.)) + gelic "alike" (see like (adj.)). From a common West Germanic expression *aina-galīk (source also of Dutch elk, Old Frisian ellik, Old High German iogilih, German jeglich "each, every"). Originally used as we now use every (which is a compound of each) or all; modern use is by influence of Latin quisque. Modern spelling appeared late 1500s. Also see ilk, such, which.ETD each.2

    each other

    reciprocal pronoun, originally in late Old English a phrase, with each as the subject and other inflected (as it were "each to other," "each from other," etc.).ETD each other.2

    eager (adj.)

    late 13c., "strenuous, ardent, fierce, angry," from Old French aigre "sour, acid; harsh, bitter, rough; eager greedy; lively, active, forceful," from Vulgar Latin *acrus (source also of Italian agro, Spanish agrio), from Latin acer "keen, sharp, pointed, piercing; acute, ardent, zealous" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").ETD eager (adj.).2

    Meaning "full of keen desire" (early 14c.) seems to be peculiar to English. The English word kept a secondary meaning of "pungent, sharp-edged" till 19c. (as in Shakespeare's "The bitter clamour of two eager tongues," in "Richard II"). Related: Eagerly; eagerness. Eager beaver "glutton for work" [OED] is from 1943, U.S. armed forces slang.ETD eager (adj.).3

    eagle (n.)

    "very large diurnal raptorial bird of the genus Aquila," mid-14c., from Old French egle, from Old Provençal aigla, from Latin aquila "black eagle," fem. of aquilus "eagle," often explained as "the dark colored" (bird); see aquiline. The native term was erne.ETD eagle (n.).2

    Golf score sense is by 1908 (according to old golf sources, because it "soars higher" than a birdie). As the name of a U.S. $10 coin minted from 1792 to 1933, established in the 1786 resolution for a new monetary system (but at first only the desperately needed small copper coins were minted). The figurative eagle-eyed "sharp-sighted" (like an eagle) is attested from c. 1600.ETD eagle (n.).3

    eaglet (n.)

    "a young eagle," 1570s, from French aiglette, diminutive of aigle (see eagle).ETD eaglet (n.).2


    type of modern office chair, 1946, named for U.S. architect and designer Charles Eames (1907-1978). The surname is from Old English eam "uncle," cognate with German Ohm.ETD Eames.2


    variant of -an after names ending in -ea, -es, -eus.ETD -ean.2

    ear (n.1)

    "organ of hearing," Old English eare "ear," from Proto-Germanic *auzon (source also of Old Norse eyra, Danish øre, Old Frisian are, Old Saxon ore, Middle Dutch ore, Dutch oor, Old High German ora, German Ohr, Gothic auso), from PIE *ous- "ear" (source also of Greek ous, Latin auris, Lithuanian ausis, Old Church Slavonic ucho, Old Irish au "ear," Avestan usi "the two ears").ETD ear (n.1).2

    In music, "capability to learn and reproduce by hearing," 1520s, hence play by ear (1670s). The belief that itching or burning ears means someone is talking about you is mentioned in Pliny's "Natural History" (77 C.E.). Until at least the 1880s, even some medical men still believed piercing the ear lobes improved one's eyesight. The meaning "handle of a pitcher" is mid-15c. (but compare Old English earde "having a handle," and the image also was in ancient Greek).ETD ear (n.1).3

    To be wet behind the ears "naive" is from 1902, American English. The warning phrase walls have ears is attested from 1610s. French orielle, Spanish oreja are from Latin auricula (Medieval Latin oricula), diminutive of auris.ETD ear (n.1).4

    ear (n.2)

    "grain part of corn," from Old English ear (West Saxon), æher (Northumbrian) "spike, ear of grain," from Proto-Germanic *akhuz (source also of Dutch aar, Old High German ehir, German Ähre, Old Norse ax, Gothic ahs "ear of corn"), from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce" (source of Latin acus "chaff, husk of corn," Greek akoste "barley").ETD ear (n.2).2

    earful (n.)

    "a piece of one's mind," 1915, from ear (n.1) + -ful. Ear-bash (v.) is Australian slang (1944) for "talk inordinately" (to someone).ETD earful (n.).2

    ear-ring (n.)

    also earring, Old English earhring, "a ring or other ornament, with or without precious stones, worn at the ear," from ear (n.1) + hring (see ring (n.)). Another Old English word was earspinl. Now including any sort of ornament in the ear; the pendant sort originally were ear-drops (1720). Worn by Romanized Britons and Anglo-Saxons alike; their use declined throughout Europe in the Middle Ages but was reintroduced in England 16c., but after 17c. they were worn there almost exclusively by women.ETD ear-ring (n.).2

    earache (n.)

    also ear-ache, "pain in the ear," 1789, from ear (n.1) + ache (n.).ETD earache (n.).2

    ear-drum (n.)

    also eardrum, "tympanic membrane," 1640s, from ear (n.1) + drum (n.).ETD ear-drum (n.).2

    earl (n.)

    Old English eorl "brave man, warrior, leader, chief" (contrasted with ceorl "churl"), from Proto-Germanic *erlaz, which is of uncertain origin. In Anglo-Saxon poetry, "a warrior, a brave man;" in later Old English, "nobleman," especially a Danish under-king (equivalent of cognate Old Norse jarl), then one of the viceroys under the Danish dynasty in England. After 1066 adopted as the equivalent of Latin comes (see count (n.1)).ETD earl (n.).2

    Earl Grey tea (1880s) was originally a Chinese tea blended with bergamot oil, supposedly from a recipe given to Charles, second Earl Grey (the Whig prime minister), in the 1830s, but perhaps it was named later, commercially, in his honor.ETD earl (n.).3

    earldom (n.)

    "the territory, jurisdiction, or dignity of an earl," Old English eorldom; see earl + -dom.ETD earldom (n.).2

    early (adv.)

    Old English ærlice "early, near the initial point of some reckoning in time," from ær "soon, ere" (see ere) + -lice, adverbial suffix (see -ly (2)). Compare Old Norse arliga "early." The adjective is Old English ærlic. The early bird of the proverb is from 1670s. Related: Earlier; earliest.ETD early (adv.).2

    earlobe (n.)

    also ear-lobe, "the lobe of the ear," by 1786, from ear (n.1) + lobe. Earlier was ear lap (Old English had earlæppa "external ear").ETD earlobe (n.).2

    earmark (n.)

    mid-15c., from ear (n.1) + mark (n.1). Originally a cut or mark in the ear of sheep and cattle, serving as a sign of ownership (also a punishment of certain criminals); it is recorded from 1570s in the figurative sense of "stamp of ownership."ETD earmark (n.).2

    earmark (v.)

    1590s, "to identify by an earmark," from earmark (n.). Meaning "to set aside money for a special purpose" is attested by 1868. Related: Earmarked; earmarking.ETD earmark (v.).2

    ear-muff (n.)

    also earmuff, "one of a pair of adjustable soft coverings for the ear, secured in place by a wire or spring, worn as a protection against the cold," 1859, from ear (n.1) + muff (n.).ETD ear-muff (n.).2

    earnings (n.)

    amount of money one makes (from labor or investment), 1732, from plural of verbal noun earning, from earn (v.). Old English had earnung in sense "fact of deserving; what one deserves; merit, reward, consideration, pay," but the modern word seems to be a new formation.ETD earnings (n.).2

    earning (n.)

    see earnings.ETD earning (n.).2

    earn (v.)

    Old English earnian "deserve, earn, merit, labor for, win, get a reward for labor," from Proto-Germanic *aznon "do harvest work, serve" (source also of Old Frisian esna "reward, pay"), denominative verb from *azno "labor" especially "field labor" (source of Old Norse önn "work in the field," Old High German arnon "to reap"), from PIE root *es-en- "harvest, fall" (source also of Old High German aren "harvest, crop," German Ernte "harvest," Old English ern "harvest," Gothic asans "harvest, summer," Old Church Slavonic jeseni, Russian osen, Old Prussian assanis "autumn"). Also from the same root are Gothic asneis, Old High German esni "hired laborer, day laborer," Old English esne "serf, laborer, man." Related: Earned; earning.ETD earn (v.).2

    earner (n.)

    "one who earns," in any sense, 1610s, agent noun from earn.ETD earner (n.).2

    earnest (adj.)

    "serious or grave in speech or action," early 14c., ernest, from Old English eornoste (adj.) "zealous, serious," or from Old English noun eornost "seriousness, serious intent" (surviving only in the phrase in earnest), from Proto-Germanic *er-n-os-ti- (source also of Old Saxon ernust, Old Frisian ernst, Old High German arnust "seriousness, firmness, struggle," German Ernst "seriousness;" Gothic arniba "safely, securely;" Old Norse ern "able, vigorous," jarna "fight, combat"), perhaps from PIE root *er- (1) "to move, set in motion." The proper name Ernest (literally "resolute") is from the same root. Related: Earnestness.ETD earnest (adj.).2

    earnest (n.)

    "portion of something given or done in advance as a pledge," early 15c., with unetymological -t- (perhaps from influence of the other earnest), from Middle English ernes (c. 1200), "a pledge or promise;" often "a foretaste of what is to follow;" also (early 13c.) "sum of money as a pledge to secure a purchase or bind a bargain (earnest-money); from Old French erres and directly from Latin arra, probably from Phoenician or another Semitic language (compare Hebrew 'eravon "a pledge"). Sometimes in Middle English as erness, suggesting it was perceived as er "early" + -ness.ETD earnest (n.).2

    earnestly (adv.)

    "in an earnest manner, warmly, zealously," Old English eornostlice; see earnest (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD earnestly (adv.).2

    ear-plug (n.)

    also earplug, "piece of wax, rubber, cotton, etc., inserted in the ear as protection against noise or water," 1841, from ear (n.1) + plug (n.).ETD ear-plug (n.).2

    earshot (n.)

    also ear-shot, "reach of hearing, the distance at which something may be heard," c. 1600, from ear (n.1) + shot (n.) in the sense of "range" (as in bowshot).ETD earshot (n.).2

    earth (n.)

    Old English eorþe "ground, soil, dirt, dry land; country, district," also used (along with middangeard) for "the (material) world, the abode of man" (as opposed to the heavens or the underworld), from Proto-Germanic *ertho (source also of Old Frisian erthe "earth," Old Saxon ertha, Old Norse jörð, Middle Dutch eerde, Dutch aarde, Old High German erda, German Erde, Gothic airþa), perhaps from an extended form of PIE root *er- (2) "earth, ground."ETD earth (n.).2

    The earth considered as a planet was so called from c. 1400. Use in old chemistry is from 1728. Earth-mover "large digging machine" is from 1940.ETD earth (n.).3

    earth (v.)

    "to commit (a corpse) to earth," late 14c., from earth (n.). Related: Earthed; earthing.ETD earth (v.).2

    earth-bound (adj.)

    c. 1600, "firmly fixed in or on the earth," from earth (n.) + bound (adj.). Figurative sense "bound by earthly ties or interests" is from 1869.ETD earth-bound (adj.).2

    Earth Day

    as an annual ecological awareness event on April 22, from 1970; the idea for it and the name date from 1969.ETD Earth Day.2

    earthen (adj.)

    early 13c., "made of earth;" see earth (n.) + -en (2). Not attested in Old English (where eorðen meant "of or in the earth"). Cognate of Old High German irdin, Dutch aarden, Gothic airþeins. Meaning "made of clay" is attested from late 14c.ETD earthen (adj.).2

    earthenware (n.)

    vessels or other objects of baked or dried clay, 1670s, from earthen + ware (n.). Old English eorðwaran meant "earth-dwellers."ETD earthenware (n.).2

    earthy (adj.)

    late 14c., "containing or resembling the substance earth," from earth (n.) + -y (2). Of tastes, smells, etc., from 1550s. Figurative sense of "coarse, unrefined" is from 1590s. Related: Earthiness.ETD earthy (adj.).2

    earthling (n.)

    Old English yrþling "plowman" (see earth (n.) + -ling); the sense of "inhabitant of the earth" is from 1590s and might be a re-formation, as the word seems to be missing in Middle English. Compare earthman. Earlier in this sense was earthite (1825).ETD earthling (n.).2

    earthly (adj.)

    Old English eorþlic "worldly, pertaining to this world" (as opposed to spiritual or heavenly); see earth (n.) + -ly (1). The sense "belonging to or originating in the earth" is from mid-15c.ETD earthly (adj.).2

    earthlight (n.)

    also earth-light, "sunlight reflected from Earth's surface and clouds," especially as illuminating the otherwise dark part of the moon, 1810, from earth (n.) + light (n.). Earthshine in same sense is from 1814.ETD earthlight (n.).2

    earthman (n.)

    also earth-man, 1860, "a spirit of nature; a demon who lives below the ground," from earth (n.) + man (n.). Science fiction sense of "inhabitant of the planet Earth" first attested 1949 in writing of Robert Heinlein.ETD earthman (n.).2

    earth-mother (n.)

    1870, folkloric spirit of the earth, conceived as sensual, maternal; often a translation of German erdmutter. Earth-goddess is from 1837.ETD earth-mother (n.).2

    earthquake (n.)

    "movement or vibration of a part of the earth's crust," late 13c., eorthequakynge, from earth + quake (n.).ETD earthquake (n.).2

    In this sense Old English had eorðdyn, eorðhrernes, eorðbeofung, eorðstyrung. Middle English also had terre-mote "earthquake" (late 14c.), from Old French terremote, from Latin terrae motus, from terra "earth" (see terra) + motus "a moving, motion," past participle of movere "to move" (see move (v.)).ETD earthquake (n.).3

    earthwork (n.)

    "mounds of earth thrown up for some purpose, especially as a military fortification," 1630s, from earth + work (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðbyrig "mound, embankment;" Old English eorðweorc meant "work on the land."ETD earthwork (n.).2

    earthworm (n.)

    c. 1400, erþe-worme, popular name of the worms of the family Lumbricidae, from earth + worm (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðmata, also regnwyrm, literally "rain-worm." Old English also had angel-twæcce "earthworm used as bait" (with second element from root of twitch), sometimes used in medieval times as a medicament:ETD earthworm (n.).2

    earwax (n.)

    also ear-wax, early 14c., from ear (n.1) + wax (n.).ETD earwax (n.).2


    English surname, pronounced "Erricker," from Old English eoforwacer "boar-watchman" (1061).ETD Earwicker.2

    earwig (n.)

    type of insect (Forficula auricularia), Old English earwicga "earwig," from eare (see ear (n.1)) + wicga "beetle, worm, insect," probably from the same Germanic source as wiggle, on the notion of "quick movement," and ultimately from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move." So called from the ancient and widespread (but false) belief that the garden pest went into people's ears. Compare French perce-oreille, German ohr-wurm. A Northern England name for it reported from 1650s is twitch-ballock.ETD earwig (n.).2

    ear-worm (n.)

    also earworm, 1880, "boll-worm, corn parasite" (corn-ear-worm attested from 1855), from ear (n.2) + worm (n.). Also an old alternative name for "earwig" (from ear (n.1)); from 1881 as "secret counselor." By 1989 as "annoyingly unforgettable pop song or part of a song."ETD ear-worm (n.).2

    ease (n.)

    c. 1200, "physical comfort, undisturbed state of the body; tranquility, peace of mind," from Old French aise "comfort, pleasure, well-being; opportunity," which is of uncertain origin. According to Watkins is ultimately from Latin adiacens "lying at," present participle of adiacere "lie at, border upon, lie near," from ad "to" (see ad-) + iacere "to lie, rest," literally "to throw" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Recent dictionaries in English and French seem to support this derivation, though older sources found objections to it. Compare adagio.ETD ease (n.).2

    At ease "at rest, at peace, in comfort" is from late 14c.; as a military order (1802) the word denotes "freedom from stiffness or formality."ETD ease (n.).3

    ease (v.)

    c. 1300, "to help, assist," from Old French aiser, from aise (see ease (n.)). Meaning "to give ease, mitigate, alleviate, relieve from pain or care" is from mid-14c. Meaning "render less difficult" is from 1630s; the sense of "to relax one's efforts" is from 1863 (with up by 1907, earlier with a more specific sense in sailing). Farmer reports ease in a slang sense of "to content a woman" sexually, with an 1861 date. Related: Eased; easing.ETD ease (v.).2

    easeful (adj.)

    "attended by or affording ease; promoting rest or comfort; quiet, peaceful, restful," late 14c., from ease (n.) + -ful.ETD easeful (adj.).2

    easel (n.)

    1590s, from Dutch ezel "easel," originally "ass," from Middle Dutch esel, from Latin asinus "ass" (see ass (n.1)); the comparison being of loading a burden on a donkey and propping up a painting or canvas on a wooden stand (compare sawhorse, French chevalet, Italian cavalletto).ETD easel (n.).2

    easement (n.)

    late 14c., "compensation, redress," from Old French aisement "comfort, convenience; use, enjoyment," from aisier "to ease," from aise (see ease (n.)). The meaning "legal right or privilege of using something not one's own" is from early 15c.ETD easement (n.).2

    easy (adj.)

    c. 1200, "at ease, having ease, free from bodily discomfort and anxiety," from Old French aisie "comfortable, at ease, rich, well-off" (Modern French aisé), past participle of aisier "to put at ease," from aise (see ease (n.)). Sense of "not difficult, requiring no great labor or effort" is from late 13c.; of conditions, "offering comfort, pleasant," early 14c. Of persons, "lenient, kind, calm, gentle," late 14c. Meaning "readily yielding, not difficult of persuasion" is from 1610s. The concept of "not difficult" was expressed in Old English and early Middle English by eaþe (adv.), ieþe (adj.), apparently common West Germanic (compare German öde "empty, desolate," but of disputed origin.ETD easy (adj.).2

    Easy Street is from 1890. Easy money attested by 1889; to take it easy "relax" is from 1804 (be easy in same sense recorded from 1746); easy does it recorded by 1835. Easy rider (1912) was African-American vernacular for "sexually satisfying lover." The easy listening radio format is from 1961, defined by William Safire (in 1986) as, "the music of the 60's played in the 80's with the style of the 40's." Related: Easier; easiest.ETD easy (adj.).3

    easily (adv.)

    c. 1300, aisieliche, "in comfortable circumstances; with little effort," from easy + -ly (2). From late 14c. as "gently."ETD easily (adv.).2


    Old English east, eastan (adj., adv.) "east, easterly, eastward;" easte (n.), from Proto-Germanic *aust- "east," literally "toward the sunrise" (source also of Old Frisian ast "east," aster "eastward," Dutch oost Old Saxon ost, Old High German ostan, German Ost, Old Norse austr "from the east"), from PIE root *aus- (1) "to shine," especially of the dawn. The east is the direction in which dawn breaks. For theory of shift in the geographical sense in Latin, see austral.ETD east.2

    As one of the four cardinal points of the compass, from c. 1200. Meaning "the eastern part of the world" (from Europe) is from c. 1300. Cold War use of East for "communist states" first recorded 1951. French est, Spanish este are borrowings from Middle English, originally nautical. The east wind in Biblical Palestine was scorching and destructive (as in Ezekiel xvii.10); in New England it is bleak, wet, unhealthful. East End of London so called by 1846; East Side of Manhattan so called from 1871; East Indies (India and Southeast Asia) so called 1590s to distinguish them from the West Indies.ETD east.3

    Easter (n.)

    Old English Easterdæg, "Easter day," from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *austron-, "dawn," also possibly the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated in Eastermonað (the Anglo-Saxon month corresponding with April), from *aust- "east, toward the sunrise" (compare east), from PIE root *aus- (1) "to shine," especially of the dawn.ETD Easter (n.).2

    Bede writes that Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pascha to name this holiday (see paschal).ETD Easter (n.).3

    Easter egg is attested by 1825, earlier pace egg (1610s). Easter bunny is attested by 1904 in children's lessons; Easter rabbit is by 1888; the paganish customs of Easter seem to have grown popular c. 1900; before that they were limited to German immigrants.ETD Easter (n.).4

    Easter Island

    so called because it was discovered by Dutch navigator Jakob Roggeveen on April 2, 1722, which was Easter Monday. It earlier had been visited by English pirate Edward Davis (1695), but he neglected to name it. The native Polynesian name is Mata-kite-ran "Eyes that Watch the Stars."ETD Easter Island.2

    easterling (n.)

    "resident of an eastern land," in England, especially Hanse merchants and others from the North Sea Coast of Germany and the southern and eastern coast of the Baltic, early 15c., from easter, obsolete variant of eastern + -ling.ETD easterling (n.).2


    1540s (adj.), 1630s (adv.), from easter (late 14c.), variant of eastern + -ly (1) and (2). As a noun meaning "easterly wind," by 1901. Old English easterlic meant "pertaining to Easter."ETD easterly.2

    easterner (n.)

    1839, American English, from eastern + -er (1). Earlier word was easterling.ETD easterner (n.).2

    eastern (adj.)

    Old English easterne "of the east, from the east; oriental; of the Eastern Orthodox Church; of the eastern part of the globe," from east + -erne, suffix denoting direction. Cognate with Old Saxon ostroni, Old High German ostroni, Old Norse austroenn. Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia so called from 1620s.ETD eastern (adj.).2

    easternmost (adj.)

    1640s, from eastern + -most. Eastermost attested from 1610s; comparative eastermore from late 15c.ETD easternmost (adj.).2


    style of furniture, 1878, often a mere debased Gothic, but at its best inspired by English designer Charles Locke Eastlake (1836-1906) and his book "Hints on Household Taste."ETD Eastlake.2

    eastward (adv.)

    also eastwards, Old English eastwearde; see east + -ward. As an adjective mid-15c., from the adverb.ETD eastward (adv.).2

    easy chair (n.)

    also easy-chair, one designed especially for comfort, 1707, from easy + chair (n.).ETD easy chair (n.).2

    easy-going (adj.)

    also easygoing, "good-natured," 1640s, from easy + going.ETD easy-going (adj.).2

    eats (n.)

    "food," in use by 1889 in U.S., considered colloquial, but the same construction with the same meaning was present in Old English.ETD eats (n.).2

    eat (v.)

    Middle English eten, from Old English etan (class V strong verb; past tense æt, past participle eten) "consume food; devour, consume," from Proto-Germanic *etan (source also of Old Frisian ita, Old Saxon etan, Middle Dutch eten, Dutch eten, Old High German ezzan, German essen, Old Norse eta, Gothic itan), from PIE root *ed- "to eat."ETD eat (v.).2

    The transferred sense of "corrode, wear away, consume, waste" is from 1550s. The meaning "to preoccupy, engross" (as in what's eating you?) is recorded by 1893. The slang sexual sense of "do cunnilingus on" is recorded by 1927.ETD eat (v.).3

    Slang phrase eat one's words "retract, take back what one has uttered" is from 1570s; to eat one's heart out is from 1590s; for eat one's hat, see hat. Eat-in (adj.) in reference to kitchens is from 1955, from the verbal phrase. To eat out "dine away from home" is from 1930.ETD eat (v.).4

    eatable (adj.)

    late 15c., from eat + -able. Compare edible.ETD eatable (adj.).2


    Old English eten, past participle of eat.ETD eaten.2

    eater (n.)

    Old English etere "one who eats," especially a servant or retainer, agent noun from eat (v.)). From 17c. in compounds with various objects or substances eaten.ETD eater (n.).2

    eatery (n.)

    "restaurant," 1901; see eat + -ery.ETD eatery (n.).2

    eau (n.)

    French for "water," from Old French eue (12c.), from Latin aqua "water, rainwater" (from PIE root *akwa- "water"). Brought into English in combinations such as eau de vie "brandy" (1748), literally "water of life;" eau de toilette (1907). For eau de Cologne see cologne.ETD eau (n.).2

    eave (n.)

    "lower part of a roof," especially that which projects beyond the wall, 1570s, alteration of southwest Midlands dialectal eovese (singular), from Old English efes "edge of a roof," also "edge of a forest," from Proto-Germanic *ubaswo-/*ubiswo "vestibule, porch, eaves" (source also of Old Frisian ose "eaves," Old High German obasa "porch, hall, roof," German Obsen, Old Norse ups, Gothic ubizwa "porch;" German oben "above"), from extended form of PIE root *upo "under," also "up from under," hence also "over." Regarded as plural and a new singular form eave emerged 16c.ETD eave (n.).2

    eaves (n.)

    see eave.ETD eaves (n.).2

    eavesdrop (v.)

    "lurk near a place to hear what is said inside," c. 1600, probably a back-formation from eavesdropper. The original notion is listening from under the eaves of a house. Related: Eavesdropping.ETD eavesdrop (v.).2

    eavesdropper (n.)

    mid-15c., with agent-noun ending + Middle English eavesdrop, from Old English yfesdrype "place around a house where the rainwater drips off the roof," from eave (q.v.) + drip (v.). Technically, "one who stands at walls or windows to overhear what's going on inside."ETD eavesdropper (n.).2

    ebb (n.)

    Old English ebba "falling of the tide, low tide," perhaps from Proto-Germanic *af- (source also of Old Frisian ebba, Old Saxon ebbiunga, Middle Dutch ebbe, Dutch eb, German Ebbe), from PIE root *apo- "off, away." Figurative sense of "decline, decay, gradual diminution" is from late 14c. Ebb-tide is from 1776.ETD ebb (n.).2

    ebb (v.)

    Old English ebbian "flow back, subside," from the root of ebb (n.). Figurative use in late Old English. Related: Ebbed; ebbing.ETD ebb (v.).2


    masc. proper name, from Hebrew ebhen ezar "stone of help," from ebhen "stone" + ezer "help." Sometimes also the name of a Protestant chapel or meeting house, from name of a stone raised by Samuel to commemorate a divinely aided victory over the Philistines at Mizpeh (I Samuel vii.12).ETD Ebenezer.2


    mid-15c., sect (1c.-2c.) that held Jesus was a mere man and Christians continued bound by Mosaic Law, from Latin ebonita, from Hebrew ebyon "the poor." The reason it was so called is uncertain. Related: Ebionism; Ebionitic.ETD Ebionite.2


    prince of the fallen angels in Arabic mythology and religion, from Arabic Iblis. Klein thinks this may be Greek diablos, passed through Syriac where the first syllable was mistaken for the Syriac genitive particle di and dropped. "Before his fall he was called Azazel or Hharis" [Century Dictionary].ETD Eblis.2

    ebola (n.)

    virus, 1976, named for Ebola River valley in Congo, where it first was studied.ETD ebola (n.).2

    Ebonics (n.)

    "African-American vernacular English," 1975, as title of a book edited by U.S. professor Robert L. Williams (1930-2020), who is said to have coined the word as a blend of ebony and phonics.ETD Ebonics (n.).2

    ebon (n.)

    early 15c., "ebony wood, ebony tree," from Old French ebene or directly from Latin ebenus (see ebony). As an adjective, "made of ebony," from 1590s. Figurative sense of "dark, black" is from 1590s; in some cases a poetic shortening of ebony.ETD ebon (n.).2

    ebony (n.)

    dark, hard wood favored for carving, musical instruments, etc., 1590s, perhaps an extended form of Middle English ebon, or from hebenyf (late 14c.), perhaps a Middle English misreading of Latin hebeninus "of ebony," from Greek ebeninos, from ebenos "ebony," probably from Egyptian hbnj or another Semitic source. Figurative use to suggest intense blackness is from 1620s. As an adjective, "of ebony, made of ebony," from 1590s; in reference to skin color of Africans, by 1813. French ébène, Old High German ebenus (German Ebenholz) are from Latin ebenus.ETD ebony (n.).2

    ebonite (n.)

    1860, from ebon + -ite (1).ETD ebonite (n.).2

    ebriety (n.)

    "state or habit of being intoxicated," early 15c., from Latin ebrietatem (nominative ebrietas) "drunkenness, intoxication," from ebrius "drunk, full, sated with drink," which is of uncertain origin; according to de Vaan, from PIE *hiegwh-ro-, from a root *hegwh- "to drink." The opposite of sobriety. Related: Ebrious; ebriosity.ETD ebriety (n.).2

    ebullience (n.)

    1749, from Latin ebullientem (nominative ebulliens) "a boiling, a bursting forth, overflow," present participle of ebullire "to boil over" (see ebullient). Related: Ebulliency (1670s), ebullition (c. 1400).ETD ebullience (n.).2

    ebullient (adj.)

    1590s, "boiling," from Latin ebullientem (nominative ebulliens), present participle of ebullire "to boil over," literally or figuratively, from ex "out, out of" (see ex-) + bullire "to bubble" (see boil (v.)). The figurative sense of "enthusiastic" is attested by 1660s.ETD ebullient (adj.).2


    typical form before consonants of Latin ex- or Greek ex-/ek- (see ex-), as in eclipse, ecstasy).ETD ec-.2

    ecarte (n.)

    card game for two played with 32 cards, 1824, from French écarté, literally "discarded," past participle of écarter "to discard," from e- (see ex-) + carte (see card (n.1)). So called because the players may discard cards in his hand after the deal and get new ones from the deck.ETD ecarte (n.).2

    ecbatic (adj.)

    "drawn from the relationship of cause and effect," especially of arguments, 1836, from ecbasis, from Latin ecbasis, from Greek ekbasis "a going out, issue, event," from ek- "out" (see ex-) + basis "a step, a base," from bainein "to go, walk, step," from PIE root *gwa- "to go, come."ETD ecbatic (adj.).2

    ecce homo

    Latin, literally "behold the man" (John xix.5), from Latin ecce "lo!, behold!" Christ crowned with thorns, especially as the subject of a painting.ETD ecce homo.2

    eccentric (n.)

    early 15c., "eccentric circle or orbit," originally a term in Ptolemaic astronomy, "circle or orbit not having the Earth precisely at its center," from French eccentrique and directly from Medieval Latin eccentricus (noun and adjective), from Greek ekkentros "out of the center" (as opposed to concentric), from ek "out" (see ex-) + kentron "center" (see center (n.)). Meaning "odd or whimsical person" is attested by 1817 (S.W. Ryley, "The Itinerant, or Memoirs of an Actor").ETD eccentric (n.).2

    eccentric (adj.)

    1550s, from French eccentrique and directly from Medieval Latin eccentricus (noun and adjective; see eccentric (n.)). Of persons, figurative sense of "odd, whimsical" first recorded 1620s. "Eccentric is applied to acts which are the effects of tastes, prejudices, judgments, etc., not merely different from those of ordinary people, but largely unaccountable and often irregular ..." [Century Dictionary].ETD eccentric (adj.).2

    eccentricity (n.)

    1540s, of planetary orbits; 1650s, of persons (an instance of eccentricity); 1794, of persons (a quality of eccentricity); from eccentric (adj.) + -ity or from Modern Latin eccentricitatem, from eccentricus. Related: Eccentricities.ETD eccentricity (n.).2

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