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    -eyed — elegy (n.)


    in compounds, "having eyes" (of a specified kind), by c. 1300, from eye (n.).ETD -eyed.2

    eider (n.)

    type of duck, 1743, from German Eider or Dutch eider, both from Old Norse æþar, genitive of æþr "duck," according to Watkins from a North Germanic root *athi-, from Proto-Germanic *ethi-, from PIE "probable root" *eti- "eider duck."ETD eider (n.).2

    eiderdown (n.)

    "soft feathers of the eider-duck" (such as it uses to line its nest), 1774; see eider + down (n.1). Ultimately from Icelandic æðardun, via a Scandinavian source (compare Danish ederdunn) or German Eiderdon.ETD eiderdown (n.).2

    eidetic (adj.)

    "pertaining to the faculty of projecting images," 1924, from German eidetisch, coined by German psychologist Erich Jaensch, from Greek eidetikos "pertaining to images," also "pertaining to knowledge," from eidesis "knowledge," from eidos "form, shape" (see -oid).ETD eidetic (adj.).2

    eidolon (n.)

    1801, "a shade, a specter," from Greek eidolon "appearance, reflection in water or a mirror," later "mental image, apparition, phantom," also "material image, statue, image of a god, idol," from eidos "form, shape" (see -oid). By 1881 in English as "a likeness, an image."ETD eidolon (n.).2

    Eiffel Tower

    erected in the Champ-de-Mars for the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889; at 984.25 feet the world's tallest structure at the time. Designed by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923).ETD Eiffel Tower.2

    eight (num.)

    "1 more than seven, twice four; the number which is one more than seven; a symbol representing this number;" late 14c., eighte, earlier ehte (c. 1200), from Old English eahta, æhta, from Proto-Germanic *akhto (source also of Old Saxon ahto, Old Frisian ahta, Old Norse atta, Swedish åtta, Dutch acht, Old High German Ahto, German acht, Gothic ahtau), from PIE *okto(u) "eight" (source also of Sanskrit astau, Avestan ashta, Greek okto, Latin octo, Old Irish ocht-n, Breton eiz, Old Church Slavonic osmi, Lithuanian aštuoni). From the Latin word come Italian otto, Spanish ocho, Old French oit, Modern French huit. For spelling, see fight (v.).ETD eight (num.).2

    Meaning "eight-man crew of a rowing boat" is from 1847. The Spanish piece of eight (1690s) was so called because it was worth eight reals (see piece (n.)). Figure (of) eight as the shape of a race course, etc., attested from c. 1600. To be behind the eight ball "in trouble" (1932) is a metaphor from shooting pool. Eight hours as the ideal length of a fair working day is recorded by 1845.ETD eight (num.).3

    eighteen (adj., n.)

    "1 more than seventeen, twice nine; the number which is one more than seventeen; a symbol representing this number;" late 14c., eightene, earlier ahtene (c. 1200), from Old English eahtatiene, eahtatyne; see eight + -teen. Cognate with Old Frisian schtatine, Old Saxon ahtotian, Dutch achttien, Old High German ahtozehan, German achtzehn, Old Norse attjan, Swedish adertån.ETD eighteen (adj., n.).2

    eighteenth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the seventeenth; an ordinal numeral; being one of eighteen equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" mid-13c., egtetenþe, modified, by influence of eighteen, from Old English eahtateoða; from eight + teoða "tenth" (see -ty (1)). Cognate with German achtzehnte, Danish attende, Swedish adertonde.ETD eighteenth (adj., n.).2

    eightfold (adj.)

    Old English eahtafeald; see eight + -fold.ETD eightfold (adj.).2

    eighth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the seventh; an ordinal numeral; being one of eight equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" late 14c., eighthe, contracted from Old English eahtoða, from Proto-Germanic *ahtudon (source also of Old High German ahtoda, Old Frisian achta, German achte, Gothic ahtuda); see eight + -th (1).ETD eighth (adj., n.).2

    eighty (adj., n.)

    "1 more than seventy-nine, twice forty; the number which is one more than seventy-nine; a symbol representing this number;" late 13c., eigteti, from eight + -ty (1). Replacing Old English hundeahtatig, with hund- "ten." Related: Eightieth.ETD eighty (adj., n.).2

    eighties (n.)

    1827 as the years of someone's life between ages 80 and 89; from 1833 as the ninth decade of years in a given century; from 1854 with reference to Fahrenheit temperature. See eighty.ETD eighties (n.).2

    eighty-six (v.)

    slang for "eliminate," 1936, originated at lunch counters, a cook's word for "none" when asked for something not available, probably rhyming slang for nix.ETD eighty-six (v.).2


    fem. proper name, from Celtic (compare Irish Eibhlin) but influenced in form by Helen.ETD Eileen.2

    Einstein (n.)

    as a type-name for a person of genius, 1920, in reference to German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), who was world-famous from 1919 through media accounts of his work in theoretical physics. According to "German-American Names" (George F. Jones, 3rd ed., 2006) it means literally "place encompassed by a stone wall."ETD Einstein (n.).2

    einsteinium (n.)

    radioactive element, discovered in the debris of a 1952 U.S. nuclear test in the Pacific, named 1955 for physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955). With metallic element ending -ium.ETD einsteinium (n.).2


    ultimately from Old Irish Eriu (accusative Eirinn, Erinn). The reconstructed ancestry of this derives it from Old Celtic *Iveriu (accusative *Iverionem, ablative *Iverione), perhaps (Watkins) from PIE *pi-wer- "fertile," literally "fat," from root *peie- "to be fat, swell" (see fat (adj.)).ETD Eire.2

    eirenic (adj.)

    "tending toward or productive of peace," 1866, from Greek eirēnikos, from eirēnē "peace, time of peace," a word of unknown etymology. Earlier as irenic (1864), irenical (1650s).ETD eirenic (adj.).2

    eisegesis (n.)

    the reading of one's own ideas into scripture, 1859, from Greek eis "in, into" + ending from exegesis. Related: Eisegetical.ETD eisegesis (n.).2


    surname, from German Eisenhauer, literally "iron-cutter, iron-hewer," "perhaps based on Fr. Taillefer" [George F. Jones, "German-American Names," 3rd ed., 2006]. See iron (n.) + hew (v.).ETD Eisenhower.2

    Eisteddfod (n.)

    "annual assembly of Welsh bards," 1822, from Welsh eisteddfod "congress of bards or literati," literally "a session, a sitting," from eistedd "to sit" (from sedd "seat," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit") + bod "to be" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow"). The Welsh plural is eisteddfodau.ETD Eisteddfod (n.).2


    Old English ægðer, contraction of æghwæðer (pron., adv., conj.) "each of two, both," from a "always" (see aye (adv.)) + ge- collective prefix + hwæðer "which of two, whether" (see whether). Cognate with Old Frisian eider, Dutch ieder, Old High German eogiwedar, German jeder "either, each, every").ETD either.2

    Modern sense of "one or the other of two" is late 13c. Adverbially, for emphasis, "in any case, at all," especially when expressing negation, by 1828. Use of either-or to suggest an unavoidable choice between alternatives (1931) in some cases reflects Danish enten-eller, title of an 1843 book by Kierkegaard.ETD either.3

    ejaculate (v.)

    1570s, "emit semen," from Latin eiaculatus, past participle of eiaculari "to throw out, shoot out," from ex "out" (see ex-) + iaculari "to throw, hurl, cast, dart," from iaculum "javelin, dart," from iacere "to throw" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Sense of "exclaim suddenly" is from 1660s. Related: Ejaculated; ejaculating; ejaculatory.ETD ejaculate (v.).2

    ejaculation (n.)

    "act of flowing or shooting out; a darting or casting forth," c. 1600, of fluids; 1620s, of utterances and exclamations, from French jaculation, noun of action from jaculer, from Latin ejaculari "to throw out, shoot out," from ex "out" (see ex-) + iaculari "to throw, hurl, cast, dart," from iaculum "javelin, dart," from iacere "to throw" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel").ETD ejaculation (n.).2

    ejection (n.)

    1560s, from French ejection and directly from Latin eiectionem (nominative eiectio) "a casting out, banishment, exile," noun of action from past-participle stem of eicere (see eject). The jet pilot's ejection seat (also ejector seat) is from 1945.ETD ejection (n.).2

    eject (v.)

    mid-15c., from Latin eiectus "thrown out," past participle of eicere "throw out, cast out, thrust out; drive into exile, expel, drive away," from ex "out" (see ex-) + -icere, combining form of iacere "to throw" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Related: Ejected; ejecting. Ejecta "matter thrown out by a volcano" is from 1851.ETD eject (v.).2

    eke (adv.)

    "also" (obsolete), from Old English eac, from Proto-Germanic *auke (source also of Old Saxon, Old Dutch ok, Old Norse and Gothic auk, Old Frisian ak, Old High German ouh, German auch "also"); probably related to eke (v.).ETD eke (adv.).2

    eke (v.)

    c. 1200, eken "to increase, lengthen," north England and East Midlands variant of echen from Old English ecan, eacan, eacian "to increase," probably from eaca "an increase," from Proto-Germanic *aukan (source also of Old Norse auka, Danish öge, Old Frisian aka, Old Saxon okian, Old High German ouhhon, Gothic aukan), from PIE *aug- (1) "to increase." Now mainly in phrase to eke out (1590s), wherein it means "to make a supply of something go further or last longer." Related: Eked; eking.ETD eke (v.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "horse." Perhaps related to *ōku- "swift."ETD *ekwo-.2

    It forms all or part of: alfalfa; Eohippus; equestrian; equine; equus; hippo-; hippocampus; Hippocratic; Hippocrene; hippocrepian; hippodrome; hippogriff; Hippolytus; hippopotamus; Philip; philippic; Philippines; Xanthippe.ETD *ekwo-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit açva-, Avestan aspa-, Greek hippos, Latin equus, Old Irish ech, Old Church Slavonic ehu-, Old English eoh, Gothic aihwa- all meaning "horse."ETD *ekwo-.4

    -el (2)

    diminutive suffix (though in Modern English not always perceived as such), from Old French -el (fem. -elle, Modern French -el, -eau), from Latin -ellus, -ella, -ellum, diminutive suffix, from PIE *-olo-lo-, itself a double diminutive, from *-lo- (see -ule).ETD -el (2).2

    -el (3)

    derivational suffix, also -le, used mostly with verbs but originally also with nouns, "often denoting diminutive, repetitive, or intensive actions or events" [The Middle English Compendium], from Old English. Compare brastlian alongside berstan (see burst); nestlian (see nestle) alongside nistan). It is likely also in wrestle, trample, draggle, struggle, twinkle, also noddle "to make frequent nods" (1733), and Chapman (1607) has strapple "bind with a strap." New formations in Middle English might be native formations (jostle from joust) with this or borrowings from Dutch.ETD -el (3).2

    -el (1)

    instrumental word-forming element, expressing "appliance, tool," from Old English -ol, -ul, -el, representing PIE *-lo- (see -ule). In modern English usually -le except after -n-. As in treadle, ladle, thimble, handle, spindle, girdle, whittle; also compare dialectal thrashle "flail, implement for thrashing," from Old English ðerscel, Middle English scrapel "instrument for scraping" (mid-14c.), etc.ETD -el (1).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "elbow, forearm." It forms all or part of: elbow; ell (n.1) unit of measure; uilleann; ulna.ETD *el-.2

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit anih "part of the leg above the knee;" Greek ōlenē "elbow;" Latin ulna, Armenian uln "shoulder;" Lithuanian alkūnė "elbow;" Old English eln "forearm."ETD *el-.3


    Spanish article, from Latin ille "that" (see le).ETD el.2

    el (n.)

    American English abbreviation of elevated railroad, first recorded 1906 in O. Henry. See L.ETD el (n.).2

    elaboration (n.)

    1570s, in a physiological sense relating to tissue development, from Late Latin elaborationem (nominative elaboratio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin elaborare "work out, produce by labor, endeavor, struggle," from ex "out" (see ex-) + laborare "to labor" (see labor (v.)). Meaning "act of working out in great exactness and detail" is from 1610s.ETD elaboration (n.).2

    elaborate (adj.)

    1590s, "wrought by labor," from Latin elaboratus, past participle of elaborare "to exert oneself" (see elaboration). The meaning "very detailed" is from 1620s, via the notion of "produced with great care and attention to detail." Related: elaborateness. Blount's "Glossographia" (1656) has elaboratory "a work-house."ETD elaborate (adj.).2

    elaborately (adv.)

    1630s, "with attention to exactness;" see elaborate (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD elaborately (adv.).2

    elaborate (v.)

    c. 1600, "to build up from simple elements," from Latin elaboratus, past participle of elaborare "to labor, endeavor, struggle, work out" (see elaboration). Meaning "to work out in detail" is attested from 1610s. Related: Elaborated; elaborating.ETD elaborate (v.).2

    elan (n.)

    "vivacity," 1877, from French élan (16c.), "spring, bound, impetus," noun derived from élancer "to shoot, incite" (trans.); "rush forward, dart" (intrans.), from Old French elancer, from e- "out" (see ex-) + lancer "to throw," originally "to throw a lance," from Late Latin lanceare, from Latin lancea (see lance (n.)).ETD elan (n.).2

    eland (n.)

    Cape elk, large South African antelope, 1786, from Dutch eland "elk," probably from a Baltic source akin to Lithuanian elnias "deer," from PIE *el- (2) "red, brown" (see elk), cognate with first element in Greek Elaphebolion, name of the ninth month of the Attic year (corresponding to late March-early April), literally "deer-hunting (month)." Borrowed earlier in English as ellan (1610s, via French), ellend (from the German form of the word).ETD eland (n.).2

    elapse (v.)

    "to slide, slip, or glide away; pass away with or as if with a continuous gliding motion," used of time, 1640s, from French elapser, from Latin elapsus, past participle of elabi "slip or glide away, escape," from ex "out, out of, away" (see ex-) + labi "to slip, glide" (see lapse (n.)). The noun now corresponding to elapse is lapse, but elapse (n.) was in recent use. Related: Elapsed; elapsing.ETD elapse (v.).2

    elasmobranch (n.)

    1859, from Elasmobranchii, class of fishes that includes sharks and rays, from combining form of Greek elasmos "metal plate," from elan "to strike" (see elastic) + brankhia "gill." So called from their plate-like gills.ETD elasmobranch (n.).2

    elasmosaurus (n.)

    giant sea reptile from the Mesozoic, 1868, from Modern Latin (coined by E.D. Cope), from Greek elasmos "metal plate" (from elan "to strike;" see elastic) + -saurus. So called from the caudal laminae and the great plate-bones.ETD elasmosaurus (n.).2

    elastic (adj.)

    1650s, formerly also elastick, coined in French (1650s) as a scientific term to describe gases, "having the property of recovering its former volume after compression," from Modern Latin elasticus, from Greek elastos "ductile, flexible," related to elaunein "to strike, beat out," which is of uncertain origin; according to Watkins from an extended form of the PIE base *ele- "to go."ETD elastic (adj.).2

    Applied to solids from 1670s, "having the power of returning to the form from which it is bent, etc., as soon as the applied force is removed." Figurative use by 1859. The noun meaning "piece of elastic material," originally a cord or string woven with rubber, is from 1847, American English.ETD elastic (adj.).3

    elasticity (n.)

    "the property of being elastic," 1660s, from French élasticité, or else from elastic + -ity.ETD elasticity (n.).2

    elation (n.)

    late 14c., "inordinate self-esteem, arrogance," especially "self-satisfaction over one's accomplishments or qualities, vainglory" (early 15c.), from Old French elacion "elation, conceit, arrogance, vanity," from Latin elationem (nominative elatio) "a carrying out, a lifting up," noun of action from elatus "elevated," form used as past participle of efferre "carry out, bring out, bring forth, take away," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + lātus "carried, borne" (see oblate (n.)), past participle of the irregular verb ferre "carry" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children"). Metaphoric sense of "a lifting of spirits" was in Latin and has always been the principal meaning in English. More positive sense of "buoyancy, joyfulness" is from 1750 in English.ETD elation (n.).2

    elate (v.)

    1570s, literal, "to raise, elevate," probably from Latin elatus "uplifted, exalted," past participle of effere "carry out, bring forth" (see elation), or else a back-formation from elation. Figurative use, "to raise or swell the mind or spirit with satisfaction and pride," is from 1610s. Related: Elated; elating.ETD elate (v.).2

    elated (adj.)

    1610s, past-participle adjective from elate. Related: Elatedly.ETD elated (adj.).2

    elbow (n.)

    "bend of the arm," c. 1200, elbowe, from a contraction of Old English elnboga "elbow," from Proto-Germanic *elino-bugon, literally "bend of the forearm" (source also of Middle Dutch ellenboghe, Dutch elleboog, Old High German elinbogo, German Ellenboge, Old Norse ölnbogi).ETD elbow (n.).2

    First element is from PIE *elina "arm," from root *el- "elbow, forearm." Second element is from Proto-Germanic *bugon-, from PIE root *bheug- "to bend." To be out at elbows (1620s) was literally to have holes in one's coat. Phrase elbow grease "hard rubbing" is attested from 1670s, from jocular sense of "the best substance for polishing furniture." Elbow-room "room to extend one's elbows," hence, "ample room for activity," is attested from 1530s.ETD elbow (n.).3

    elbow (v.)

    "thrust with the elbow," c. 1600, from elbow (n.). Figurative sense is from 1863. Related: Elbowed; elbowing.ETD elbow (v.).2

    eld (n.)

    "former ages, old times," c. 1400, poetic or archaic form of old; in some cases from Old English eald, yldu, yldo "old age; an age; age as a period of life."ETD eld (n.).2

    elder (adj.)

    "more old," Old English (Mercian) eldra, comparative of eald, ald (see old); only English survival of umlaut in comparison. Superseded by older since 16c. Elder statesman (1921) originally was a translation of Japanese genro (plural).ETD elder (adj.).2

    elder (n.2)

    type of berry tree, c. 1400, from earlier ellen, from Old English ellæn, ellærn "elderberry tree," origin unknown, perhaps related to alder, which at any rate might be the source of the unetymological -d-. Common Germanic, cognates: Old Saxon elora, Middle Low German elre, Old High German elira, German Eller, Erle. Related: Elderberry.ETD elder (n.2).2

    elder (n.1)

    "elderly person, senior citizen," c. 1200, from Old English eldra "older person, parent; ancestor; chief, prince" (used in biblical translation for Greek presbyter); see elder (adj.). Meaning "one having authority in the community" (originally through age) s from late 14c. and biblical translations of Latin seniores. Compare German Eltern, Danish forældre, Swedish föräldrar "parents." The Old English for "grandfather" was ealdfæder. Related: Elders. Middle English also had olderes "parents, forebears" (mid-15c.), from the later form of eld.ETD elder (n.1).2

    elderly (adj.)

    "bordering on old age, somewhat old," 1610s, from elder + -ly (1). Now, generally, "old." Old English ealdorlic meant "chief, princely, excellent, authentic." Old English had also the related eldernliche "of old time," literally "forefatherly."ETD elderly (adj.).2

    eldest (adj.)

    Old English (Mercian) eldrost "most advanced in age, that was born first," superlative of eald, ald "old" (see old). Superseded by oldest since 16c. Compare elder (adj.).ETD eldest (adj.).2

    eldorado (n.)

    1590s, from Spanish El Dorado "the golden one," name given 16c. to the country or city believed to lie in the heart of the Amazon jungle, from past participle of dorar "to gild," from Latin deaurare "to gild, to gild over," from de-, here probably intensive, + aurare "to gild," from aurum "gold" (see aureate). The story originated with the early Spanish explorers, and the place was sought for down to the 18th century.ETD eldorado (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from Old English Ealdred, literally "great in counsel," from eald "old; great" (from PIE root *al- (2) "to grow, nourish") + ræd "advice, counsel" (see rede).ETD Eldred.2

    eldritch (adj.)

    "hideous, ghastly, weird," c. 1500, of uncertain origin; apparently somehow from elf (compare Scottish variant elphrish), an explanation OED finds "suitable;" Watkins connects its elements with Old English el- "else, otherwise" (from PIE root *al- "beyond") + rice "realm" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule").ETD eldritch (adj.).2


    also Elinor, from Provençal Ailenor, a variant of Leonore, introduced in England by Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), wife of Henry II. The Old French form of the name was Elienor.ETD Eleanor.2

    elect (v.)

    early 15c., "to choose for an office, position, or duty," from Latin electus, past participle of eligere "to pick out, choose," from ex "out" (see ex-) + -ligere, combining form of legere "to choose," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." Related: Elected; electing.ETD elect (v.).2

    elective (adj.)

    early 15c., "voluntary," from Late Latin electivus, from elect-, past-participle stem of eligere "to pick out, choose" (see election). In U.S., in reference to school subjects studied at the student's choice, first recorded 1847. As a noun, from 1701.ETD elective (adj.).2

    election (n.)

    c. 1300, eleccioun, "act of choosing" someone to occupy a position, elevation to office" (whether by one person or a body of electors); also "the holding of a vote by a body of electors by established procedure; the time and place of such a vote," from Anglo-French eleccioun, Old French elecion "choice, election, selection" (12c.), from Latin electionem (nominative electio) "a choice, selection," noun of action from past-participle stem of eligere "pick out, select," from ex "out" (see ex-) + -ligere, combining form of legere "to choose," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather."ETD election (n.).2

    In Middle English also "act of choosing" generally, "choice, free choice" (c. 1400). The theological sense of "God's choice of someone" for eternal life is from late 14c. Meaning "act of choosing, choice" is from c. 1400.ETD election (n.).3

    electable (adj.)

    1758, "qualified for election;" see elect (v.) + -able. Meaning "capable of getting enough support to win an election" is by 1962. Related: Electability.ETD electable (adj.).2

    elect (adj.)

    early 15c., of action, "voluntary;" of persons, "taken in preference to others," especially "chosen by God for some special purpose," from Latin electus, past participle of eligere "to pick out, choose," from ex "out" (see ex-) + -ligere, combining form of legere "to choose," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." The noun meaning "those chosen by God" is from early 15c.ETD elect (adj.).2

    electioneer (v.)

    "to try to influence an election by public speaking, solicitation of votes, etc.; to work for the success of a candidate or of a party in an election," 1760 (implied in verbal noun electioneering), from election, probably on model of auctioneer, as the verb engineer was not yet in use.ETD electioneer (v.).2

    elector (n.)

    "one who elects or has the right of choice," mid-15c., from Latin elector "chooser, selecter," agent noun from past-participle stem of eligere "to pick out, choose" (see election).ETD elector (n.).2

    electorate (n.)

    1670s, "condition of being an elector," in reference to Germany, from elector + -ate (1). Meaning "whole body of voters" is from 1879.ETD electorate (n.).2

    electoral (adj.)

    1670s, "pertaining to electors," in reference to Germany, from elector + -al (1). In general sense from 1790. Related: Electorally. The U.S. electoral college so called from 1808 (the term was used earlier in reference to Germany).ETD electoral (adj.).2

    electricity (n.)

    1640s (Browne, from Gilbert's Modern Latin), from electric (q.v.) + -ity. Originally in reference to friction.ETD electricity (n.).2

    electric (adj.)

    1640s, first used in English by physician Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), apparently coined as Modern Latin electricus (literally "resembling amber") by English physicist William Gilbert (1540-1603) in treatise "De Magnete" (1600), from Latin electrum "amber," from Greek ēlektron "amber" (Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus), also "pale gold" (a compound of 1 part silver to 4 of gold); which is of unknown origin.ETD electric (adj.).2

    Originally the word described substances which, like amber, attract other substances when rubbed. Meaning "charged with electricity" is from 1670s; the physical force so called because it first was generated by rubbing amber. In many modern instances, the word is short for electrical. Figurative sense is attested by 1793. Electric light is from 1767. Electric toothbrush first recorded 1936; electric blanket in 1930. Electric typewriter is from 1958. Electric guitar is from 1938; electric organ coined as the name of a hypothetical future instrument in 1885.ETD electric (adj.).3

    electrical (adj.)

    1630s, "giving off electricity when rubbed," from electric + -al (1). Meaning "relating to electricity, run by electricity" is from 1746. Related: Electrically.ETD electrical (adj.).2


    also called Laodice, a daughter of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, the accomplice of her brother Orestes in the murder of their mother, from Greek Ēlektra, literally "shining, bright," related to ēlektōr "the beaming sun" and perhaps to ēlektron "amber." Especially in psychological Electra complex (1913, Jung) in reference to a daughter who feels attraction toward her father and hostility to her mother. Also the name of a daughter of Atlas, and as such a name of one of the Pleiades.ETD Electra.2

    electrician (n.)

    1751, "scientist concerned with electricity;" 1869 as "technician concerned with electrical systems and appliances;" see electric + -ian.ETD electrician (n.).2

    electrification (n.)

    1748, "state of being charged with electricity," noun of action from electrify.ETD electrification (n.).2

    electrify (v.)

    1745, "to charge with electricity, cause electricity to pass through;" see electric + -fy. Figurative sense recorded by 1752. Meaning "convert a factory, industry, etc., to electrical power" is by 1902. Related: Electrified; electrifying.ETD electrify (v.).2


    before vowels electr-, word-forming element meaning "electrical, electricity," Latinized form of Greek ēlektro-, combining form of ēlektron "amber" (see electric). As a stand-alone, formerly often short for electrotype, electroplate.ETD electro-.2

    electrocardiogram (n.)

    1904, from electro- + cardiogram.ETD electrocardiogram (n.).2

    electrocute (v.)

    "execute by electricity," 1889, American English, from electro- + back half of execute. The method first was used Aug. 6, 1890, in New York state, on William Kemmler, convicted of the murder of his common-law wife. In reference to accidental death by 1909. Electric chair is also first recorded 1889, the year the one used on Kemmler was introduced in New York as a humane alternative to hanging. Related: Electrocuted; electrocuting.ETD electrocute (v.).2

    electrocution (n.)

    "execution by electricity," 1889, American English; noun of action from electrocute. Meaning "any death by electricity" is from 1897.ETD electrocution (n.).2

    electrode (n.)

    "one of the two ends of an open electrical circuit," 1834, coined by English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday from electro- + Greek hodos "a way, path, track, road" (a word of uncertain origin; see Exodus) on the same pattern as anode, cathode.ETD electrode (n.).2

    electroencephalogram (n.)

    1934, from electro- + encephalo-, combining form of Modern Latin encephalon "brain" (see encephalitis) + -gram.ETD electroencephalogram (n.).2

    electrolysis (n.)

    "decomposition into constituent parts by an electric current," 1834; the name was introduced by Faraday on the suggestion of the Rev. William Whewell, English polymath, from electro- + Greek lysis "a loosening," from lyein "to loosen, set free" (from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart"). Originally of tumors, later (1879) of hair removal. Related: electrolytic.ETD electrolysis (n.).2

    electrolyte (n.)

    "substance decomposed by electrolysis," 1834, from electro- + Greek lytos "loosed," from lyein "to unfasten, loose, loosen, untie" (from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart").ETD electrolyte (n.).2

    electromagnetic (adj.)

    also electro-magnetic, "Pertaining to electromagnetics, or to the relation between electricity and magnetism; of the nature of electromagnetism," 1821; see electro- + magnetic.ETD electromagnetic (adj.).2

    electromagnet (n.)

    also electro-magnet, "magnet which owes its magnetic properties to electric current," 1822; see electro- + magnet.ETD electromagnet (n.).2

    electromagnetism (n.)

    also electro-magnetism, "the collective term for phenomena which rest upon the relation between electric currents and magnetism," 1821; see electro- + magnetism.ETD electromagnetism (n.).2

    electron (n.)

    coined 1891 by Irish physicist George J. Stoney (1826-1911) from electric + -on, as in ion (q.v.). Electron microscope (1932) translates German Elektronenmikroskop.ETD electron (n.).2

    electronics (n.)

    1910, from electronic; also see -ics. The science of how electrons behave in vacuums, gas, semi-conductors, etc.ETD electronics (n.).2

    electronic (adj.)

    1901, "pertaining to electrons;" see electron + -ic; 1930 as "pertaining to electronics." Related: Electronically.ETD electronic (adj.).2

    electronic mail (n.)

    1977; see e-mail.ETD electronic mail (n.).2

    electroplate (n.)

    "articles coated with silver or other metal by the process of electroplating," 1844, from electro- + plate (n.). As a verb by 1870.ETD electroplate (n.).2

    electrotype (n.)

    "copy in metal made by electric action," 1840, from electro- + type (n.).ETD electrotype (n.).2

    electrum (n.)

    "alloy of gold and up to 40% silver," late 14c. (in Old English elehtre), from Latin electrum "alloy of gold and silver," also "amber" (see electric). So called probably for its pale yellow color. "A word used by Greek and Latin authors in various meanings at various times" [Century Dictionary"]. In Greek, usually of amber but also of pure gold. The Romans used it of amber but also of the alloy. The sense of "amber" also occasionally is found in English. "At all times, and especially among the Latin writers, there is more or less uncertainty in regard to the meaning of this word" ["Century Dictionary"].ETD electrum (n.).2

    eleemosynary (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to alms, derived from or provided by charity, charitable," 1610s, from Medieval Latin eleemosynarius "pertaining to alms," from Late Latin eleemosyna "alms," from Greek eleēmosynē "pity" (see alms).ETD eleemosynary (adj.).2

    elegance (n.)

    c. 1500, "tastefulness, correctness, harmoniousness, refinement," of speech or prose, from Latin elegantia "taste, propriety, refinement," from elegantem (see elegant). Earlier form was elegancy (early 15c.). Meaning "refined luxury" is from 1797. Via French come German Eleganz, Swedish elegans, etc.ETD elegance (n.).2

    elegant (adj.)

    late 15c., "tastefully ornate," from Old French élégant (15c.) and directly from Latin elegantem (nominative elegans) "choice, fine, tasteful," collateral form of present participle of eligere "select with care, choose" (see election). Meaning "characterized by refined grace" is from 1520s. Latin elegans originally was a term of reproach, "dainty, fastidious;" the notion of "tastefully refined" emerged in classical Latin. Related: Elegantly.ETD elegant (adj.).2

    elegize (v.)

    1702, "write an elegy," from elegy + -ize. Transitive sense of "celebrate or lament after the style of an elegy" is from 1809. Related: Elegized; elegizing.ETD elegize (v.).2

    elegy (n.)

    in classical poetry, a verse in elegiac meter; of later works, "a mournful or plaintive poem, a poem or song expressive of sorrow and lamentation, a funeral song," 1510s, from French elegie, from Latin elegia, from Greek elegeia ode "an elegaic song," from elegeia, fem. of elegeios "elegaic," from elegos "poem or song of lament," later "poem written in elegiac verse," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Phrygian word. In, and partly due to, Gray's "Elegy in a County Churchyard," it has also a sense of "a serious poem pervaded by a tone of melancholy," whether mourning or grieving or not. Related: Elegiast.ETD elegy (n.).2

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