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    fibrillation (n.) — filipendulous (adj.)

    fibrillation (n.)

    1842, "state of being fibrillar" (that is, "arranged in fibrils"), noun of action from fibrillate (v.). Especially "a quavering in the fibrils of the muscles of the heart" causing irregular beating (1882).ETD fibrillation (n.).2

    fibrillate (v.)

    1798, "form into fibrils or fibers," from fibrilla (see fibril) + -ate (2). Related: Fibrillated; fibrillating.ETD fibrillate (v.).2

    fibrillar (adj.)

    "pertaining to or of the nature of fibrillae," 1847, from fibrilla (see fibril) + -ar.ETD fibrillar (adj.).2

    fibrin (n.)

    blood-clotting substance, 1800, from Latin fibra "a fiber, filament" (see fiber) + chemical suffix -in (2). So called because it is deposited as a network of fibers that cause the blood to clot.ETD fibrin (n.).2

    fibro-cartilage (n.)

    1818, from combining form of fiber + cartilage.ETD fibro-cartilage (n.).2

    fibroid (adj.)

    1848, from fiber + -oid.ETD fibroid (adj.).2

    fibromyalgia (n.)

    1981, said to have been coined by U.S. rheumatologist Mohammed Yunus, from Latin fibra "a fiber, filament" (see fiber) + Greek mys (genitive myos) "muscle" (see muscle (n.)) + -algia "pain." The earlier name for the condition was fibrositis.ETD fibromyalgia (n.).2

    fibrosis (n.)

    "fibrous growth or development in an organ," 1871, a Modern Latin hybrid, from Latin fibra "a fiber, filament" (see fiber) + Greek suffix -osis.ETD fibrosis (n.).2

    fibrous (adj.)

    "consisting of, or having the characteristics of, fibers," 1620s, from Modern Latin fibrosus, from Latin fibra "a fiber, filament" (see fiber).ETD fibrous (adj.).2

    fibula (n.)

    1670s, "clasp, buckle, brooch," from Latin fibula "clasp, brooch; bolt, peg, pin," related to figere "to drive in, insert, fasten" (from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix"). In reference to brooches, the modern English word mostly is used in archaeology. As "smaller bone in the lower leg" from 1706, from a Latin loan-translation of Greek perone "small bone in the lower leg," originally "clasp, brooch; anything pointed for piercing or pinning;" the bone was so called because it resembles a clasp such as that found in a modern safety pin. Related: Fibular.ETD fibula (n.).2


    adjectival word-forming element meaning "making, creating," from French -fique and directly from Latin -ficus "making, doing," combining form of facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD -fic.2


    word-forming element meaning "a making or causing," from Latin -ficationem (nominative -ficatio), forming nouns of action from verbs in -ficare (compare -fy), combining form of facere "to make," from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put."ETD -fication.2

    fiche (n.)

    1949, "slip of paper, form," especially "the form filled in by foreign guests in French hotels" [OED], from French fiche "card, index card, slip, form" (15c.), verbal noun from Old French fichier "to attach, stick into, pin on" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *figicare, from Latin figere "to fix, fasten" (from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix"). Sense of "card, strip of film" is a shortening of microfiche (1950).ETD fiche (n.).2

    fichu (n.)

    "scarf, neckerchief, small, triangular piece forming part of a woman's dress," 1803, from French fichu (18c. in this sense), apparently a noun use of the adjective fichu "carelessly thrown on," from Latin figere "to fasten, fix," from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix." "[M]od. substitution for a coarser word" [Weekley].ETD fichu (n.).2

    fickle (adj.)

    c. 1200, "false, treacherous, deceptive, deceitful, crafty" (obsolete), probably from Old English ficol "deceitful, cunning, tricky," related to befician "deceive," and to facen "deceit, treachery; blemish, fault." Common Germanic (compare Old Saxon fekan "deceit," Old High German feihhan "deceit, fraud, treachery"), from the same source as foe.ETD fickle (adj.).2

    Sense of "changeable, inconstant, unstable" is from c. 1300 (especially of Fortune and women). Related: Fickleness. Fickly (c. 1300) is rare or obsolete. Also with a verb form in Middle English, fikelen "to deceive, flatter," later "to puzzle, perplex," which survived long enough in Northern dialects to get into Scott's novels. Fikel-tonge (late 14c.) was an allegorical or character name for "one who speaks falsehoods."ETD fickle (adj.).3

    fictile (adj.)

    1620s, "molded or formed by art," from Latin fictilis "made of clay, earthen," from fictio "a fashioning or feigning," noun of action from past participle stem of fingere "to shape, form, devise, feign," originally "to knead, form out of clay" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). From 1670s as "capable of being molded." From 1854 as "pertaining to pottery." Related: Fictility.ETD fictile (adj.).2

    fictional (adj.)

    "pertaining to fiction," 1833, from fiction + -al (1). Earlier fictitious also was used in this sense (1773).ETD fictional (adj.).2

    fictionalize (v.)

    1911, from fictional + -ize. Related: Fictionalized; fictionalizing. Earlier was fictionize (1822).ETD fictionalize (v.).2

    fiction (n.)

    early 15c., ficcioun, "that which is invented or imagined in the mind," from Old French ficcion "dissimulation, ruse; invention, fabrication" (13c.) and directly from Latin fictionem (nominative fictio) "a fashioning or feigning," noun of action from past participle stem of fingere "to shape, form, devise, feign," originally "to knead, form out of clay," from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build."ETD fiction (n.).2

    Meaning "prose works (not dramatic) of the imagination" is from 1590s, at first often including plays and poems. Narrower sense of "the part of literature comprising novels and short stories based on imagined scenes or characters" is by early 19c. The legal sense (fiction of law) is from 1580s. A writer of fiction could be a fictionist (1827). The related Latin words included the literal notion "worked by hand," as well as the figurative senses of "invented in the mind; artificial, not natural": Latin fictilis "made of clay, earthen;" fictor "molder, sculptor" (also borrowed 17c. in English), but also of Ulysses as "master of deceit;" fictum "a deception, falsehood; fiction."ETD fiction (n.).3

    fictionalization (n.)

    1946, noun of action from fictionalize.ETD fictionalization (n.).2

    fictitious (adj.)

    1610s, "artificial, counterfeit;" 1620s, "existing only in imagination," from Medieval Latin fictitius, a misspelling of Latin ficticius "artificial, counterfeit," from fictus "feigned, fictitious, false," past participle of fingere "to shape, form, devise, feign" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Related: Fictitiously; fictitiousness.ETD fictitious (adj.).2

    fictive (adj.)

    1610s, "formed by imagination," from French fictif, from stem of Latin fictio (see fiction). Earlier as "convincingly deceptive" (late 15c.). Related: Fictively.ETD fictive (adj.).2

    ficus (n.)

    c. 1400, from Latin ficus "fig, fig tree" (see fig). With capital letter, as the name of a large genus of trees and shrubs, chosen by Linnaeus (1753).ETD ficus (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "split, divided into parts," from Latin -fidus, related to findere "to split" (from PIE root *bheid- "to split").ETD -fid.2

    fiddle (n.)

    "stringed musical instrument, violin," late 14c., fedele, fydyll, fidel, earlier fithele, from Old English fiðele "fiddle," which is related to Old Norse fiðla, Middle Dutch vedele, Dutch vedel, Old High German fidula, German Fiedel "a fiddle;" all of uncertain origin.ETD fiddle (n.).2

    The usual suggestion, based on resemblance in sound and sense, is that it is from Medieval Latin vitula "stringed instrument" (source of Old French viole, Italian viola), which perhaps is related to Latin vitularia "celebrate joyfully," from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy and victory, who probably, like her name, originated among the Sabines [Klein, Barnhart]. Unless the Medieval Latin word is from the Germanic ones.ETD fiddle (n.).3

    Fiddle has been relegated to colloquial usage by its more proper cousin, violin, a process encouraged by phraseology such as fiddlesticks (1620s), contemptuous nonsense word fiddle-de-dee (1784), and fiddle-faddle. Century Dictionary [1895] reports that fiddle "in popular use carries with it a suggestion of contempt and ridicule." Fit as a fiddle is from 1610s.ETD fiddle (n.).4

    fiddle (v.)

    late 14c., "play upon a fiddle," from fiddle (n.); the figurative sense of "to act nervously, make idle movements, move the hands or something held in them in an idle, ineffective way" is from 1520s. Related: Fiddled; fiddling.ETD fiddle (v.).2


    1570s, "trifles" (n.); 1630s "busy oneself with trifles; talk nonsense" (v.), apparently a reduplication of obsolete faddle "to trifle," or of fiddle in its contemptuous sense.ETD fiddle-faddle.2

    fiddle-head (n.)

    also fiddlehead, "one with a head as hollow as a fiddle," 1854 (fiddleheaded), from fiddle (n.) + head (n.). As a name for young fern fronds, from 1877, from resemblance to a violin's scroll. Earliest use is nautical, "carved ornamental work at the bow of a ship in the form of a scroll or volute" (1799).ETD fiddle-head (n.).2

    fiddler (n.)

    late 13c., from Old English fiðelere "fiddler" (fem. fiðelestre), agent noun from fiddle (v.). Similar formation in Dutch vedelaar, German Fiedler, Danish fidler. Fiddler's Green "sailor's paradise" first recorded 1825, nautical slang. Fiddler crab is from 1714; it is also called the calling crab from the way it brandishes its larger claw when disturbed, as if beckoning.ETD fiddler (n.).2

    fiddlestick (n.)

    15c., originally "the bow of a fiddle," from fiddle (n.) and stick (n.). Meaning "nonsense" (usually fiddlesticks) is from 1620s. As an exclamation, c. 1600.ETD fiddlestick (n.).2

    fideism (n.)

    in various theological doctrines making knowledge dependent on faith, 1885, from Latin fides "faith" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade") + -ism. Blount's "Glossographia" (1656) has fidicide "Faith-destroyer; a breaker of word or trust."ETD fideism (n.).2

    fidelity (n.)

    early 15c., "faithfulness, devotion," from Old French fidélité (15c.), from Latin fidelitatem (nominative fidelitas) "faithfulness, adherence, trustiness," from fidelis "faithful, true, trusty, sincere," from fides "faith" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). From 1530s as "faithful adherence to truth or reality;" specifically of sound reproduction from 1878.ETD fidelity (n.).2

    fidget (v.)

    1670s (implied in fidgetting); see fidget (n.). Related: Fidgeted.ETD fidget (v.).2

    fidget (n.)

    1670s, as the fidget "uneasiness," later the fidgets, from a verb fidge "move restlessly" (16c., surviving longest in Scottish), perhaps from Middle English fiken "to fidget, hasten" (see fike (v.)).ETD fidget (n.).2

    fidgety (adj.)

    1730s, from fidget (n.) + -y (2). Related: Fidgetiness.ETD fidgety (adj.).2

    fiducial (adj.)

    1570s, "assumed as a fixed basis for comparison," from Latin fiducialis "reliable," from fiducia "trust" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). From 1620s as "pertaining to trust;" 1832 as "fiduciary."ETD fiducial (adj.).2

    fiduciary (adj.)

    1640s, "holding something in trust," from Latin fiduciarius "entrusted, held in trust," from fiducia "trust, confidence, reliance;" in law, "a deposit, pledge, security," from root of fidere "to trust" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). In Roman law, fiducia was "a right transferred in trust;" paper currency sense (1878) is because its value depends on the trust of the public. As a noun, "one who holds something in trust," from 1630s.ETD fiduciary (adj.).2

    fie (interj.)

    late 13c., possibly from Old French fi, exclamation of disapproval (12c.), and reinforced by Old Norse fy or some other Scandinavian form; it's a general sound of disgust that seems to have developed independently in many languages. Fie-fie was a 19c. British jocular word for "improper," also, as a noun, "woman of tarnished reputation" [OED].ETD fie (interj.).2

    fief (n.)

    also feoff, 1610s, from French fief (12c.) "a 'feud,' possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment," from Medieval Latin feodum "land or other property whose use is granted in return for service," widely said to be from Frankish *fehu-od "payment-estate," or a similar Germanic compound, in which the first element is from Proto-Germanic *fekhu, making it cognate with Old English feoh "money, movable property, cattle" (see fee). Second element perhaps is similar to Old English ead "wealth" (see Edith).ETD fief (n.).2

    fiefdom (n.)

    1814, from fief + -dom.ETD fiefdom (n.).2

    fielding (n.)

    "play in the field," 1823 in cricket (by 1867 in baseball), verbal noun from field (v.).ETD fielding (n.).2

    field (n.)

    Old English feld "plain, pasture, open land, cultivated land" (as opposed to woodland), also "a parcel of land marked off and used for pasture or tillage," probably related to Old English folde "earth, land," from Proto-Germanic *felthan "flat land" (Cognates: Old Saxon and Old Frisian feld "field," Old Saxon folda "earth," Middle Dutch velt, Dutch veld Old High German felt, German Feld "field," but not found originally outside West Germanic; Swedish fält, Danish felt are borrowed from German; Finnish pelto "field" is believed to have been adapted from Proto-Germanic). This is from PIE *pel(e)-tu-, from root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread." The English spelling with -ie- probably is the work of Anglo-French scribes (compare brief, piece).ETD field (n.).2

    As "battle-ground," c. 1300. Meaning "sphere or range of any related things" is from mid-14c. Physics sense is from 1845. Collective use for "all engaged in a sport" (or, in horse-racing, all but the favorite) is 1742; play the field "avoid commitment" (1936) is from notion of gamblers betting on other horses than the favorite. Cricket and baseball sense of "ground on which the game is played" is from 1875. Sense of "tract of ground where something is obtained or extracted" is from 1859. As an adjective in Old English combinations, often with a sense of "rural, rustic" (feldcirice "country-church," feldlic "rural"). Of slaves, "assigned to work in the fields" (1817, in field-hand), opposed to house. A field-trial (1865) originally was of hunting dogs; the term was used earlier in reference to crops (1817).ETD field (n.).3

    field (v.)

    "to go out to fight," 16c., from field (n.) in the specific sense of "battlefield" (Old English). The sports meaning "to stop and return the ball" is first recorded 1823, originally in cricket; figurative sense of this is from 1902. Related: Fielded; fielding.ETD field (v.).2

    field-book (n.)

    naturalist's notebook for observations in the field, 1848, from field (n.) + book (n.).ETD field-book (n.).2

    field-day (n.)

    1747, originally a day of military exercise and review (see field (v.)); figurative sense "any day of unusual bustle, exertion, or display" [Century Dictionary] is from 1827.ETD field-day (n.).2

    fielder (n.)

    early 14c., "one who works in a field," agent noun from field (n.). Sporting sense is from 1832 (in cricket; by 1868 in baseball). Earlier in cricket was simply field (1825) and fieldsman (1767).ETD fielder (n.).2

    field-glass (n.)

    magnifying apparatus, by 1836, so called from being used in the field; see field (n.) + glass (n.).ETD field-glass (n.).2

    field-goal (n.)

    1889 in football, from field (n.) + goal (n.). A score made from the playing field.ETD field-goal (n.).2

    field-marshal (n.)

    high military rank in some European armies, 1610s, from field (n.) + marshal (n.). Compare French maréchal de camp, German Feldmarschall.ETD field-marshal (n.).2

    fieldstone (n.)

    stone found in fields, as used for buildings, 1797, from field (n.) + stone (n.).ETD fieldstone (n.).2

    field-work (n.)

    1767, "gathering statistics or doing research out-of-doors or on-site," from field (n.) + work (n.). From 1819 in reference to a type of military fortification raised by troops in the field.ETD field-work (n.).2

    fiend (n.)

    Old English feond "enemy, foe, adversary," originally present participle of feogan "to hate," from Proto-Germanic *fijand- "hating, hostile" (source also of Old Frisian fiand "enemy," Old Saxon fiond, Middle Dutch viant, Dutch vijand "enemy," Old Norse fjandi, Old High German fiant, Gothic fijands), from suffixed form of PIE root *pe(i)- "to hurt" (source also of Sanskrit pijati "reviles, scorns;" Avestan paman-, name of a skin disease; Greek pema "disaster, sorrow, misery, woe;" Gothic faian "to blame").ETD fiend (n.).2

    As spelling suggests, the word originally was the opposite of friend (n.). Both are from the active participles of the Germanic verbs for "to love" and "to hate." Boutkan says the "fiend" word was a Germanic analogical formation from the "friend" word. According to Bammesberger ["English Etymology"], "The long vowel in FIEND is regular. In FRIEND the vowel has been shortened; perhaps the shortening is due to compounds like FRIENDSHIP, in which the consonant group (-nds-) regularly caused shortening of the preceeding long vowel."ETD fiend (n.).3

    Fiend at first described any hostile enemy (male and female, with abstract noun form feondscipe "fiendship"), but it began to be used in late Old English for "the Devil, Satan" (literally "adversary") as the "enemy of mankind," which shifted its sense to "diabolical person" (early 13c.). The old sense of the word devolved to foe, then to the imported word enemy. For spelling with -ie- see field. Meaning "devotee (of whatever is indicated)," as in dope fiend, is from 1865.ETD fiend (n.).4

    fiendish (adj.)

    1520s, from fiend + -ish. Related: Fiendishly; fiendishness. Old English had feondlic "hostile."ETD fiendish (adj.).2

    fierce (adj.)

    mid-13c., "proud, noble, bold, haughty," from Old French fers, fiers, nominative form of fer, fier "strong, overwhelming, violent, fierce, wild; proud, mighty, great, impressive" (Modern French fier "proud, haughty"), from Latin ferus "wild, untamed, uncultivated; waste, desert;" figuratively "wild, uncultivated, savage, cruel" (from PIE root *ghwer- "wild beast").ETD fierce (adj.).2

    Meaning "ferocious, wild, savage, cruel" of persons is from c. 1300; of beasts from late 14c. Original English sense of "brave, proud" died out 16c., but while this sense was current fierce often was used in English as an epithet (and thus surname), which accounts for the rare instance of a French word entering English in the nominative case. Related: Fiercely; fierceness. In Middle English sometimes also "dangerous, destructive; great, strong; huge (in number)." An early 15c. medical treatise has fers benes for "wild beans."ETD fierce (adj.).3

    fiery (adj.)

    late 13c., "flaming, full of fire," from Middle English fier "fire" (see fire (n.)) + -y (2). The spelling is a relic of one of the attempts to render Old English "y" in fyr in a changing system of vowel sounds. Other Middle English spellings include firi, furi, fuiri, vuiri, feri. From c. 1400 as "blazing red." Of persons, from late 14c. Related: Fieriness. As adjectives Old English had fyrbære "fiery, fire-bearing;" fyren "of fire, fiery, on fire;" fyrenful; fyrhat "hot as fire."ETD fiery (adj.).2

    fieri facias (n.)

    writ concerning a sum awarded in judgment (often requiring seizure and sale of property for debt), Latin, literally "cause it to be done, cause to be made," the first words of the writ, from Latin fieri "to be made, come into being" (see fiat). Second word from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD fieri facias (n.).2

    fiesta (n.)

    1844 as a Spanish word in English, "Spanish-American religious festival," Spanish, literally "feast" (see feast (n.)).ETD fiesta (n.).2


    1915, acronym from Fédération Internationale de Football Association, founded 1904 in Paris.ETD FIFA.2

    fife (n.)

    1550s, from German Pfeife "fife, pipe," from Old High German pfifa; the English word is perhaps via French fifre (15c.) from the same Old High German word. Ultimately imitative (see pipe (n.1)). German musicians provided music for most European courts in those days. As a verb from 1590s. Agent noun fifer is recorded earlier (1530s). Fife and drum is from 1670s.ETD fife (n.).2

    fifteen (adj., n.)

    "1 more than fourteen; the number which is one more than fourteen; a symbol representing this number;" Old English fiftyne, from fif "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + tyne (see -teen). For vowel shift, see met (v.). Cognate with Old Saxon fiftein, Old Frisian fiftine, Old Norse fimtan, Swedish femton, Dutch vijftien, German fünfzehn, Gothic fimftaihun "fifteen." French quinze, Italian quindici "fifteen" are from Latin quindecim (from quinque "five;" see quinque-; + -decim (see -teen). The number of players forming a side in rugby.ETD fifteen (adj., n.).2

    fifteenth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the fourteenth; an ordinal numeral; being one of fifteen equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" late 14c., from fifteen + -th (1). By 15c. displacing forms derived from Old English fifteoða. Compare Old Frisian fiftuda, Dutch vijftiende, German fünfzehnte, Old Norse fimmtandi, Gothic fimftataihunda, with ordinal -d where English has -th. As a noun by late 14c.ETD fifteenth (adj., n.).2

    fifth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the fourth; an ordinal numeral; being one of five equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" c. 1200, fift, from Old English fifta "fifth," from Proto-Germanic *finftan- (source also of Old Frisian fifta, Old Saxon fifto, Old Norse fimmti, Dutch vijfde, Old High German fimfto, German fünfte, Gothic fimfta), from *fimfe "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + *-tha, the word-forming element used to make ordinal numbers (see -th (1)). Normal development would have yielded fift; altered 14c. by influence of fourth.ETD fifth (adj., n.).2

    Noun meaning "fifth part of a gallon of liquor" is first recorded 1938, American English; the noun in the music sense is from 1590s. Fifth Avenue (in New York City) has been used figuratively for "elegance, taste" at least since 1858. Fifth wheel "superfluous person or thing" attested from 1630s. It also was the name of a useful device, "wheel-plate or circle iron of a carriage" placed on the forward axle for support and to facilitate turning (1825). And the phrase sometimes is turned on its head and given a positive sense of "that which a prudent driver ought to take with him in case one of the others should break" (1817). Fifth-monarchy-man, 17c. for "anarchist zealot," is a reference to Daniel ii.44.ETD fifth (adj., n.).3

    fifth column (n.)

    1936, from Gen. Emilio Mola's comment at the siege of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War that he would take the city with his four columns of troops outside it and his "fifth column" (quinta columna) in the city.ETD fifth column (n.).2

    fifties (n.)

    1826 as the years of someone's life between 50 and 59; 1853 as the sixth decade of years in a given century. See fifty.ETD fifties (n.).2

    fifty (adj., n.)

    "1 more than forty-nine, twice twenty-five; the number which is one more than forty-nine; a symbol representing this number;" Old English fiftig "fifty; a set of fifty," from fif "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + -tig "group of ten" (see -ty (1)). Compare Old Frisian fiftich, Old Norse fimm tigir, Dutch vijftig, Old High German fimfzug, German fünfzig, Gothic fimf tigjus. U.S. colloquial fifty-fifty "in an even division" is from 1908.ETD fifty (adj., n.).2

    fiftieth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the forty-ninth; an ordinal numeral; being one of fifty equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" Old English fifteogoða "fiftieth;" see fifty + -th (1). Compare Old Norse fimmtugande, and, with a different suffix, Old Frisian fiftichsta, Dutch vijftigste, Old High German fimfzugsto, German fünfzigste.ETD fiftieth (adj., n.).2

    fig (n.1)

    early 13c., from Old French figue "fig" (12c.), from Old Provençal figa, from Vulgar Latin *fica, corresponding to Latin ficus "fig tree, fig," which, with Greek sykon, Armenian t'uz is "prob. fr. a common Mediterranean source" [Buck], possibly a Semitic one (compare Phoenician pagh "half-ripe fig"). A reborrowing of a word that had been taken directly from Latin as Old English fic "fig, fig-tree."ETD fig (n.1).2

    The insulting sense of the word in Shakespeare, etc. (A fig for ...) is 1570s (in 17c. sometimes in Italian form fico), in part from fig as "small, valueless thing," but also from Greek and Italian use of their versions of the word as slang for "vulva," apparently because of how a ripe fig looks when split open [Rawson, Weekley]. Giving the fig (Old French faire la figue, Spanish dar la higa) was an indecent gesture of ancient provenance, made by putting the thumb between two fingers or into the mouth, with the intended effect of the modern gesture of "flipping the bird" (see bird (n.3)). Also compare sycophant.ETD fig (n.1).3

    Use of fig leaf in figurative sense of "flimsy disguise" (1550s) is from Genesis iii.7. Fig-faun translates Latin faunus ficarius (Jeremiah l.39). Fig Newtons (by 1907) are named for Newton, Massachusetts.ETD fig (n.1).4

    fig (n.2)

    "dress, equipment," 1823, in phrase in full fig; hence "condition, state of preparedness" (1883). Said to be an abbreviation of figure (n.), perhaps from the abbreviation of that word in plate illustrations in books, etc. According to others, from the fig leaves of Adam and Eve. Related: Figgery.ETD fig (n.2).2

    figgy (adj.)

    also figgey, 1540s "sweet" (as figs are), from fig (n.1) + -y (2). From 1846 (in a book of Cornish words) as "full of figs or raisins." The figgy pudding of the Christmas carol is a dish of dried figs stewed in wine that dates back to the Middle Ages but was more often associated with Lent than Christmas.ETD figgy (adj.).2

    fighting (adj.)

    "qualified or trained to fight," mid-14c., present-participle adjective from fight (v.). Fighting chance is from 1877; fighting mad is attested by 1750; fighting words is by 1882. Fighty "pugnacious" is attested from c. 1200.ETD fighting (adj.).2

    fight (n.)

    Old English feohte, gefeoht "a fight, combat, hostile encounter;" see fight (v.). Compare Old Frisian fiucht, Old Saxon fehta, Dutch gevecht, Old High German gifeht, German Gefecht. Meaning "power or inclination to fight" is from 1812.ETD fight (n.).2

    fighting (n.)

    early 13c., "act of engaging in combat," verbal noun from fight (v.). Old English had feohtlac (n.) "fighting, battle." Nautical fighting-top "platform near the top of a mast for small-arms fire" is from 1890.ETD fighting (n.).2

    fight (v.)

    Old English feohtan "to combat, contend with weapons, strive; attack; gain by fighting, win" (intransitive; class III strong verb; past tense feaht, past participle fohten), from Proto-Germanic *fe(u)hta (source also of Old High German fehtan, German fechten, Middle Dutch and Dutch vechten, Old Frisian fiuhta "to fight"), probably from PIE *pek- (2) "to comb, to pluck out" wool or hair (source also of Lithuanian pėšti "to pluck," Greek pekein "to comb, shear," pekos "fleece, wool;" Persian pashm "wool, down," Latin pectere "to comb," Sanskrit paksman- "eyebrows, hair"). Apparently the notion is "pulling roughly," or "to tear out one another's hair." But perhaps it is from the source of Latin pugnus "fist."ETD fight (v.).2

    Spelling substitution of -gh- for a "hard H" sound was a Middle English scribal habit, especially before -t-. In some late Old English examples, the middle consonant was represented by a yogh. Among provincial early Modern English spellings, Wright lists faight, fate, fecht, feeght, feight, feit, feyght, feyt, feort, foight.ETD fight (v.).3

    From c. 1200 as "offer resistance, struggle;" also "to quarrel, wrangle, create a disturbance." From late 14c. as "be in conflict." Transitive use from 1690s. To fight for "contest on behalf of" is from early 14c. To fight back "resist" is recorded from 1890. Well figt þat wel fligt ("he fights well that flies fast") was a Middle English proverb.ETD fight (v.).4

    fighter (n.)

    Old English feohtere; agent noun from fight (v.). Compare Dutch vechter, German Fechter. Old English had also feohtling in this sense. Meaning "fast military airplane used for combat" is from 1917.ETD fighter (n.).2

    figment (n.)

    early 15c., "something invented or imagined, a myth or fable; deceitful practice; false doctrine," from Latin figmentum "something formed or fashioned, creation," related to figura "shape" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Related: Figmental; figmentary.ETD figment (n.).2

    figurative (adj.)

    late 14c., "emblematical," from Old French figuratif "metaphorical," from Late Latin figurativus "figurative" (of speech), from figurat-, past participle stem of Latin figurare "to form, shape," from figura "a shape, form, figure" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Of speech, language, etc., "allegorical, metaphoric, involving figures of speech," from late 14c. Related: Figuratively.ETD figurative (adj.).2

    figure (v.)

    late 14c., "to represent" (in painting or sculpture), "make a likeness," also "to have a certain shape or appearance," from Old French figurer, from Latin figurare "to form, shape" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Meaning "to shape into" is c. 1400; from mid-15c. as "to cover or adorn with figures." Meaning "to picture in the mind" is from c. 1600. Intransitive meaning "make an appearance, make a figure, show oneself" is from c. 1600. Meaning "work out a sum" (by means of arithmetical figures) is from 1833, American English; hence colloquial sense "to calculate upon, expect" (1837). Related: Figured; figuring.ETD figure (v.).2

    figure (n.)

    c. 1200, "numeral;" mid-13c., "visible appearance of a person;" late 14c., "visible and tangible form of anything," from Old French figure "shape, body; form of a word; figure of speech; symbol, allegory" (10c), from Latin figura "a shape, form, figure; quality, kind, style; figure of speech," in Late Latin "a sketch, drawing" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build").ETD figure (n.).2

    Philosophical and scientific senses are from use of Latin figura to translate Greek skhema. Meaning "lines forming a shape" is from mid-14c. From mid-14c. as "human body as represented by art;" late 15c. as "a body, the human form as a whole." From late 14c. as "a cut or diagram inserted in text."ETD figure (n.).3

    The rhetorical use of figure, "peculiar use of words giving meaning different from usual," dates to late 14c.; hence figure of speech (1550s). Figure-skating is from 1835, so called for the circular patterns skaters formerly made on the ice to demonstrate control; they were dropped from international competition in 1990, but the name remains. Figure eight as a shape was originally figure of eight (c. 1600).ETD figure (n.).4

    figurante (n.)

    "one who dances in the 'figures' of the ballet" (in troops and as background for soloists), 1775, from French figurante, noun use of fem. past participle of figurer (from Latin figurare "to form, shape," from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). In some cases perhaps from Italian figurante.ETD figurante (n.).2

    figurehead (n.)

    also figure-head, 1765, from figure (n.) + head (n.). The ornament on the projecting part of the head of a ship, immediately under the bowsprit; sense of "leader without real authority" is first attested 1868.ETD figurehead (n.).2

    figurine (n.)

    "small, ornamental human representation in pottery or other material work," 1854, from French figurine (16c.), from Italian figurina, diminutive of figura, from Latin figura "shape, form, figure" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Figurette is from 1850, from Italian.ETD figurine (n.).2


    of uncertain origin, considered in Room to be probably a variant of Viti, main island of the group.ETD Fiji.2

    fike (v.)

    Middle English fyken "move about restlessly" (early 13c.), from Old Norse fikjask "to desire eagerly," fika (in fika sig upp "climb up nimbly," of a spider), probably from a general North Sea Germanic word related to the source of German ficken "to move about briskly." Later as "give trouble, vex" (1570s), a sense surviving especially in Scottish. Hence also fikery "vexatious trouble" (1823); fiky "causing trouble about trifles" (1768).ETD fike (v.).2

    filament (n.)

    "fine untwisted thread, separate fibril," 1590s, from Modern Latin filamentum, from Late Latin filare "to spin, draw out in a long line," from Latin filum "thread" (from PIE root *gwhi- "thread, tendon"). As the name of the incandescent element in a light-bulb, from 1881.ETD filament (n.).2

    filbert (n.)

    "hazelnut," late 14c., from Anglo-French philber (late 13c.), from Norman dialect noix de filbert, in reference to St. Philbert, 7c. Frankish abbot, so called because the hazel nuts ripen near his feast day, Aug. 22 (Old Style). Weekley compares German Lambertsnuss "filbert," associated with St. Lambert (Sept. 17); also German Johannisbeere "red currant," associated with St. John's Day (June 24). The saint's name is Old High German Filu-berht, literally "very bright."ETD filbert (n.).2

    filch (v.)

    "steal," especially in a small, sly way, 1560s, slang, perhaps from c. 1300 filchen "to snatch, take as booty," which is of unknown origin. Liberman says filch probably is from German filzen "comb through." Related: Filched; filching.ETD filch (v.).2

    filcher (n.)

    1570s, agent noun from filch.ETD filcher (n.).2

    file (n.2)

    metal tool for abrading or smoothing, Old English feol (Mercian fil) "file," from Proto-Germanic *fihalo "cutting tool" (source also of Old Saxon fila, Old High German fila, Middle Dutch vile, Dutch vijl, German Feile), probably from PIE root *peig- "to cut, mark by incision" (source also of Old Church Slavonic pila "file, saw," Lithuanian piela "file"). Century Dictionary (1906) lists 60 named varieties of them. Nail file (for the fingernails) is by 1819.ETD file (n.2).2

    file (n.1)

    1520s, "string or wire on which documents are strung," from French file "a row" (15c.), noun derived from filer "string documents; spin thread" (see file (v.1)). The literal sense explains why from the beginning until recently things were generally on file (or upon file). The meaning "collection of papers systematically arranged for ready reference" is from 1620s; computer sense is from 1954. The sense "row of persons or things one behind another" (1590s) is originally military, from the French verb in the sense of "march in file." Meaning "line of squares on a chessboard running directly from player to player" is from 1610s.ETD file (n.1).2

    file (v.2)

    "to smooth or abrade with a file," early 13c., from Old English filian, from the source of file (n.2). Related: Filed; filing.ETD file (v.2).2

    file (v.1)

    "place (papers) in consecutive order for future reference," mid-15c., from Old French filer "string documents on a thread or wire for preservation or reference" (15c.), earlier "to spin thread," from fil "thread, string" (12c.), from Latin filum "a thread, string; thread of fate; cord, filament," from PIE *gwhis-lom, suffixed form of root *gwhi- "thread, tendon." The notion is of documents hung up on a line in consecutive order for ease of reference.ETD file (v.1).2

    Methods have become more sophisticated, but the word has stuck. Meaning "place among the records of a court or office" is from 1510s; of newspaper reporters sending in stories, 1954. Intransitive sense "march in a line (as soldiers do) one after another" is from 1610s. Related: Filed; filing.ETD file (v.1).3

    filing (n.)

    1712, verbal noun from file (v.1). Filing cabinet is from 1883.ETD filing (n.).2

    filet (n.)

    1841 in cookery, reborrowing from French of the same word that had been taken 14c. and Englished as fillet (q.v.). Filet mignon (literally "dainty fillet") for "small, round, tender cut of meat from the center of the fillet" is attested as a French word in English from 1815.ETD filet (n.).2

    filial (adj.)

    late 14c., from Late Latin filialis "of a son or daughter," from Latin filius "son," filia "daughter," possibly from a suffixed form of PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow" (see be), but Watkins finds it "more likely" assimilated from *felios, originally "a suckling," a suffixed form of PIE root *dhe(i)- "to suck, suckle."ETD filial (adj.).2

    filiation (n.)

    1520s, "process of becoming, or state of being, a son," from French filiation, from Medieval Latin filiationem (nominative filiatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of filiare "to have a child," from Latin filius/filia "son/daughter" (see filial). As "relationship of a son or daughter to a parent" (correlative of paternity) from 1794.ETD filiation (n.).2

    filibuster (v.)

    1853 in the freebooting sense, from filibuster (n.). Legislative sense is from 1861. Related: Filibustered; filibustering.ETD filibuster (v.).2

    filibuster (n.)

    1580s, flibutor "pirate," especially, in history, "West Indian buccaneer of the 17th century" (mainly French, Dutch, and English adventurers), probably ultimately from Dutch vrijbueter (now vrijbuiter) "freebooter," a word which was used of pirates in the West Indies in Spanish (filibustero) and French (flibustier, earlier fribustier) forms. See freebooter.ETD filibuster (n.).2

    According to Century Dictionary, the spread of the word is owing to a Dutch work ("De Americaensche Zee-Roovers," 1678) "written by a bucaneer named John Oexmelin, otherwise Exquemelin or Esquemeling, and translated into French and Spanish, and subsequently into English (1684)." Spanish inserted the -i- in the first syllable; French is responsible for the -s-, inserted but not originally pronounced, "a common fact in 17th century F[rench], after the analogy of words in which an original s was retained in spelling, though it had become silent in pronunciation" [Century Dictionary].ETD filibuster (n.).3

    In American English, from 1851 in reference to lawless military adventurers from the U.S. who tried to overthrow Central American governments. The major expeditions were those of Narciso Lopez of New Orleans against Cuba (1850-51) and by William Walker of California against the Mexican state of Sonora (1853-54) and against Nicaragua (1855-58).ETD filibuster (n.).4

    The noun in the legislative sense is not in Bartlett (1859) and seems not to have been in use in U.S. legislative writing before 1865 (filibustering in this sense is from 1861). Probably the extension in sense is because obstructionist legislators "pirated" debate or overthrew the usual order of authority. Originally of the senator who led it; the maneuver itself so called by 1893. Not technically restricted to U.S. Senate, but that's where the strategy works best. [The 1853 use of filibustering by U.S. Rep. Albert G. Brown of Mississippi reported in the Congressional Globe and cited in the OED does not refer to legislative obstruction, but to national policy toward Cuba.]ETD filibuster (n.).5

    filicide (n.)

    1660s, "action of killing a son or daughter," from Latin filius/filia "son/daughter" (see filial) + -cide "a killing." Meaning "one who kills a son or daughter" is from 1823. Related: Filicidal.ETD filicide (n.).2

    filigree (n.)

    1690s, shortening of filigreen (1660s), from French filigrane "filigree" (17c.), from Italian filigrana, from Latin filum "thread, wire" (from PIE root *gwhi- "thread, tendon") + granum "grain" (from PIE root *gre-no- "grain"). Related: Filigreed.ETD filigree (n.).2


    Latin, "and from the son," from ablative of filius "son" (see filial). "Clause in Nicene Creed which separates Eastern Church from Western" [Weekley].ETD filioque.2

    filipendulous (adj.)

    "hanging by a thread," 1864, as if from Latin filum "thread" (from PIE root *gwhi- "thread, tendon") + pendulus "hanging down" (see pendulous).ETD filipendulous (adj.).2

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