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    heat (n.) — Helen

    heat (n.)

    Old English hætu, hæto "heat, warmth, quality of being hot; fervor, ardor," from Proto-Germanic *haita- "heat" (source also of Old Saxon hittia, Old Norse hiti, Old Frisian hete, German hitze "heat," Gothic heito "fever"), from the same source as Old English hat "hot" and hæða "hot weather" (see hot).ETD heat (n.).2

    Meaning "a single course in a race," especially a horse race, is from 1660s, perhaps from earlier figurative sense of "violent action; a single intense effort" (late 14c.), or the meaning "run given to a horse to prepare for a race" (1570s). The latter word over time was extended to "division of a race or contest when there are too many contestants to run at once," the winners of each heat then competing in a final race.ETD heat (n.).3

    Meaning "sexual excitement in animals" is from 1768, especially of females, corresponding to rut in males. Meaning "trouble with the police" attested by 1920. Heat wave "period of excessive hot weather" first attested 1890; earlier in reference to solar cycles. Heat-stroke is from 1858. Heat-seeking (adj.) of missiles, etc., is by 1955. Red heat, white heat are in reference to the color of heated metals, especially iron.ETD heat (n.).4

    heat (v.)

    Old English hætan "to make hot; to become hot," from Proto-Germanic *haita- (see heat (n.)). Related: Heated (with many variants in Middle English); heating. Bartlett ("Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848) reports that het, as past tense and past participle of heat, is "Often heard in the mouths of illiterate people." Compare Middle Dutch heeten, Dutch heten, German heizen "to heat."ETD heat (v.).2

    heated (adj.)

    in figurative sense "agitated, inflamed," 1590s, past-participle adjective from heat (v.). Related: Heatedly.ETD heated (adj.).2

    heater (n.)

    c. 1500, of persons; 1660s of devices; agent noun from heat (v.). Baseball slang meaning "fastball" is attested by 1985.ETD heater (n.).2

    heath (n.)

    Old English hæð "untilled land, tract of wasteland," especially flat, shrubby, desolate land;" earlier "heather, plants and shrubs found on heaths," influenced by cognate Old Norse heiðr "heath, moor," both from Proto-Germanic *haithiz (source also of Old Saxon hetha, Old High German heida "heather," Dutch heide "heath," Gothic haiþi "field"), from PIE *kaito "forest, uncultivated land" (source also of Old Irish ciad, Welsh coed, Breton coet "wood, forest").ETD heath (n.).2

    heathenism (n.)

    c. 1600, from heathen + -ism. Old English words for it included hæðennes, hæðendom, and a later ones were heathenship (late Old English), heathenhood (late 13c.), heathenry (1560s).ETD heathenism (n.).2


    Old English hæðen "not Christian or Jewish," also as a noun, "heathen man, one of a race or nation which does not acknowledge the God of the Bible" (especially of the Danes), merged with Old Norse heiðinn (adj.) "heathen, pagan," from Proto-Germanic *haithana- (source also of Old Saxon hedhin, Old Frisian hethen, Dutch heiden, Old High German heidan, German Heiden), which is of uncertain origin.ETD heathen.2

    Perhaps literally "dweller on the heath, one inhabiting uncultivated land;" see heath + -en (2). Historically assumed to be ultimately from Gothic haiþno "gentile, heathen woman," used by Ulfilas in the first translation of the Bible into a Germanic language (as in Mark vii.26, for "Greek"); like other basic words for exclusively Christian ideas (such as church) it likely would have come first into Gothic and then spread to other Germanic languages. If so it could be a noun use of an unrelated Gothic adjective (compare Gothic haiþi "dwelling on the heath," but a religious sense is not recorded for this).ETD heathen.3

    Whether native or Gothic, it might have been chosen on model of Latin paganus, with its root sense of "rural" (see pagan), but that word appears relatively late in the religious sense. Or the Germanic word might have been chosen for its resemblance to Greek ethne (see gentile), or it may be a literal borrowing of that Greek word, perhaps via Armenian hethanos [Sophus Bugge]. Boutkan (2005) presents another theory:ETD heathen.4

    heathenish (adj.)

    Old English hæðenisc; see heathen + -ish. Related: Heathenishly; heathenishness. Similar formation in Dutch heidensch, Old High German hiedanisc, German heidenisch.ETD heathenish (adj.).2

    heather (n.)

    early 14c., hathir, from Old English *hæddre, Scottish or northern England dialect name for Calluna vulgaris, probably altered by heath, but real connection to that word is unlikely [Liberman, OED]. Perhaps originally Celtic. As a fem. proper name little used in U.S. before 1935, but a top-15 name for girls born there 1971-1989.ETD heather (n.).2

    heave (n.)

    1570s, from heave (v.). Meaning "a dismissal" is from 1944.ETD heave (n.).2

    heave (v.)

    Old English hebban "to lift, raise; lift up, exalt" (class VI strong verb; past tense hof, past participle hafen), from Proto-Germanic *hafjan (source also of Old Norse hefja, Dutch heffen, German heben, Gothic hafjan "to lift, raise"), from PIE *kap-yo-, from root *kap- "to grasp." The sense evolution would be "to take, take hold of," thence "lift."ETD heave (v.).2

    Related to have (Old English habban "to hold, possess"). Meaning "to throw" is from 1590s. Nautical meaning "haul or pull" in any direction is from 1620s. Intransitive use from early 14c. as "be raised or forced up;" 1610s as "rise and fall with alternate motion." Sense of "retch, make an effort to vomit" is first attested c. 1600. Related: Heaved; heaving. Nautical heave-ho was a chant in lifting (c. 1300, hevelow).ETD heave (v.).3

    heavens (n.)

    "realm of the heavenly bodies," 1670s, from heaven.ETD heavens (n.).2

    heaven (n.)

    Old English heofon "home of God," earlier "the visible sky, firmament," probably from Proto-Germanic *hibin-, a dissimilation of *himin- (source also of Low German heben, Old Norse himinn, Gothic himins, Old Frisian himul, Dutch hemel, German Himmel "heaven, sky"), which is of uncertain and disputed origin.ETD heaven (n.).2

    Perhaps it means literally "a covering," from a PIE root *kem- "to cover" (which also has been proposed as the source of chemise). Watkins derives it elaborately from PIE *ak- "sharp" via *akman- "stone, sharp stone," then "stony vault of heaven."ETD heaven (n.).3

    The English word is attested from late 14c. as "a heavenly place; a state of bliss." The plural use in sense of "sky" probably is from the Ptolemaic theory of space as composed of many spheres, but it also formerly was used in the same sense in the singular in Biblical language, as a translation of Hebrew plural shamayim. Heaven-sent (adj.) is attested from 1640s.ETD heaven (n.).4

    heavenly (adj.)

    Old English heofonlic "celestial; divine;" see heaven + -ly (1). Meaning "beautiful, divinely lovely" is late 14c., often (though not originally) with reference to the celestial "music of the spheres;" weakened sense of "excellent, enjoyable" is first recorded 1874. The heavenly bodies (stars, planets, etc.) attested from late 14c. Related: Heavenliness.ETD heavenly (adj.).2

    heavenward (adv.)

    mid-13c., from heaven + -ward. Related: Heavenwards.ETD heavenward (adv.).2

    heavy (n.)

    mid-13c., "something heavy; heaviness," from heavy (adj.). Theatrical sense of "villain" is 1880, short for heavy villain (1843), heavy leading man (1849) or similar phrases.ETD heavy (n.).2

    heaviness (n.)

    Old English hefigness "state of being heavy, weight; burden, affliction; dullness, torpor;" see heavy (adj.) + -ness. Chaucer has heavity for "sadness."ETD heaviness (n.).2

    heavy (adj.)

    Old English hefig "heavy, having much weight; important, grave; oppressive; slow, dull," from Proto-Germanic *hafiga "containing something; having weight" (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German hebig, Old Norse hofugr, Middle Dutch hevich, Dutch hevig), from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."ETD heavy (adj.).2

    The jazz slang sense of "profound, serious" is from 1937 but would have been comprehensible to an Anglo-Saxon. Heavy industry is recorded from 1932. Heavy metal is attested by 1839 in chemistry; in nautical jargon from at least 1744 in the sense of "large-caliber guns on a ship."ETD heavy (adj.).3

    As a type of rock music, from 1972.ETD heavy (adj.).4

    Most other Germanic languages use as their primary word for this their equivalent of Middle English swere, Old English swær, which is obsolete (see sweer).ETD heavy (adj.).5

    heavily (adv.)

    Old English hefiglice "violently, intensely; sorrowfully; sluggishly," from hefig (see heavy (adj.)) + -ly (2). Meaning "with much weight" is from early 14c.ETD heavily (adv.).2

    heavy-duty (adj.)

    "durable, strong," 1903; see heavy (adj.) + duty.ETD heavy-duty (adj.).2

    heavy-handed (adj.)

    also heavyhanded, 1630s, originally "weary" or "clumsy;" from heavy (adj.) + -handed. Sense of "overbearing" is recorded by 1873.ETD heavy-handed (adj.).2


    also heavy-weight, noun and adjective, 1857 of horses; 1877 of fighters; from heavy (adj.) + weight. Figuratively, in reference to importance, from 1928.ETD heavyweight.2

    hebdomadally (adv.)

    "weekly," 1798, pedantic humor, from hebdomadal + -ly (2).ETD hebdomadally (adv.).2

    hebdomadal (adj.)

    1610s, from Late Latin hebdomadalis, from Latin hebdomas "seven, the seventh day; a week" (see hebdomad). In later use as pedantic humor.ETD hebdomadal (adj.).2

    hebdomad (n.)

    1540s, "the number seven;" c. 1600, "a week;" from Latin hebdomad-, stem of hebdomas "seven, the seventh day; a week," from Greek hebdomas "the number seven; a period of seven (days)," from hepta "seven" (from PIE *septm; see seven) + -mos, suffix used to form ordinal numbers, cognate with Latin -mus.ETD hebdomad (n.).2

    Hebe (2)

    derogatory word for "a Jew," 1921, shortened from Hebrew (n.).ETD Hebe (2).2

    Hebe (1)

    c. 1600, Greek goddess of youth, daughter of Zeus and Hera, wife of Hercules, from Greek hēbē "youth, youthful prime, strength of youth" (legally, "the time before manhood," in Athens 16, in Sparta 18), from PIE *yeg-wa- "power, youth, strength."ETD Hebe (1).2

    hebephrenia (n.)

    "adolescent insanity," 1886, coined in Modern Latin by German psychiatrist Ewald Escker in 1871, from Greek hēbē "youth" (see Hebe (1)) + phrene "mind" (see phreno-) + abstract noun ending -ia. Related: Hebephreniac.ETD hebephrenia (n.).2

    hebetate (v.)

    "make dull," 1570s, from Latin hebetatus, past participle of hebetare, from hebes "dull, blunt" (see hebetude). Related: Hebetated; hebetating; hebetation.ETD hebetate (v.).2

    hebetude (n.)

    1620s, from Latin hebetudo, noun of quality from hebes "blunt, dull," figuratively "sluggish; stupid," a word of unknown origin. Related: Hebetudinous.ETD hebetude (n.).2

    Hebraic (adj.)

    late 14c., from Old French hebraique and directly from Late Latin Hebraicus, from Greek Hebraikos, from Hebraios (see Hebrew). Related: Hebraical.ETD Hebraic (adj.).2

    Hebraism (n.)

    1560s, "phrase or construction characteristic of the Hebrew language;" see Hebraic + -ism. Meaning "a quality or characteristic of the (biblical) Hebrew people" is from 1847.ETD Hebraism (n.).2

    Hebrew (adj.)

    late Old English, from Old French Ebreu, from Latin Hebraeus, from Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic (Semitic) 'ebhrai, corresponding to Hebrew 'ibhri "an Israelite." Traditionally from an ancestral name Eber, but probably literally "one from the other side," perhaps in reference to the River Euphrates, or perhaps simply signifying "immigrant;" from 'ebher "region on the other or opposite side." The initial H- was restored in English from 16c. As a noun from c. 1200, "the Hebrew language;" late 14c. in reference to persons, originally "a biblical Jew, Israelite."ETD Hebrew (adj.).2


    originally Ebudae, Haebudes, of uncertain origin. Apparently a scribal error turned -u- into -ri-. The Norse name, Suðregar, "Southern Islands," is relative to the Orkneys. Related: Hebridean.ETD Hebrides.2


    Greek deity, daughter of Perseus and Asteria (said to be originally Thracian), later identified as an aspect of Artemis, early 15c., from Latinized form of Greek Hekatē, usually said to be the fem. of hekatos "far-shooting" (but Beekes prefers a Pre-Greek origin). In English literature associated since Shakespeare ("I Henry VI," III.ii.64) with witches and sorcery. Related: Hecatean.ETD Hecate.2

    hecatomb (n.)

    1590s, from Latinized form of Greek hekatombe, properly (and literally) "offering of 100 oxen," but generally "a great public sacrifice." It is a compound of hekaton "one hundred," which perhaps is dissimilation of *hem-katon, with hen, neuter of heis "one" + *katon "hundred." The second element is bous "ox" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow"). The first month of the Attic calendar (corresponding to July-August) was Hekatombaion, in which sacrifices were made.ETD hecatomb (n.).2

    heck (interj.)

    euphemistic alteration of hell, by 1865.ETD heck (interj.).2

    heckle (v.)

    early 14c., "to comb (flax or hemp) with a heckle;" from heckle (n.) or from related Middle Dutch hekelen. Figurative meaning "to question severely in a bid to uncover weakness" is from late 18c. "Long applied in Scotland to the public questioning of parliamentary candidates" [OED]. Presumably from a metaphor of rough treatment, but also compare hatchel "to harass" (1800), which may be a variant of hazel, the name of the plant that furnished switches for whippings. Related: Heckled; heckling.ETD heckle (v.).2

    heckle (n.)

    "flax comb," c. 1300, hechel, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *hecel or a cognate Germanic word, from Proto-Germanic *hakila- (source also of Middle High German hechel, Middle Dutch hekel), from PIE root *keg- "hook, tooth."ETD heckle (n.).2

    heckler (n.)

    mid-15c., "one who uses a heckle" (late 13c., as a surname, Will. le Hekelere), agent noun from heckle (v.). Sense of "audience member that taunts a public speaker" is from 1885. Fem. form hekelstere is attested from c. 1500.ETD heckler (n.).2

    hectare (n.)

    1817, from French hectare "a hundred ares," formed from Latinized form of Greek hekaton "a hundred" (see hecatomb) + Latin area "vacant piece of ground" (see area). A superficial measure equal to 100 ares, coined by decree of the French National Convention in 1795.ETD hectare (n.).2

    hectic (adj.)

    late 14c., etik (in fever etik "hectic fever"), from Old French etique "consumptive," from Late Latin hecticus, from Greek hektikos "continuous, habitual," also used of slow, continued diseases or fevers. The Greek adjective is from hexis "a habit (of mind or body)," from ekhein "have, hold, continue" (from PIE root *segh- "to hold"). The Latin -h- was restored in English 16c.ETD hectic (adj.).2

    The use of the word by the Greek physicians apparently was from the notion of a fever rooted in the constitution of the body and symptomatic of one's physical condition, or else from its continuousness (compare ephemera). Hectic fevers are characterized by rapid pulse, flushed cheeks, hot skin, emaciation. In English applied particularly to the wasting fevers, rising and falling with the hours of the day, characteristic of tuberculosis.ETD hectic (adj.).3

    Sense of "feverishly exciting, full of disorganized activity" is from 1904 and was a vogue word at first, according to Fowler, but hectic also was used in Middle English as a noun meaning "feverish desire, consuming passion" (early 15c.). Related: Hecticness.ETD hectic (adj.).4


    masc. personal name, from Latinized form of Hektor, name of the Trojan hero, oldest son of Priam and Hecuba, in the "Iliad," from Greek hektor, literally "holder, stayer;" an agent noun from ekhein "to have, hold, possess" (from PIE root *segh- "to hold"). As a proper name it is rare in England but used in Scotland to render Gaelic Eachdonn. Heck for short.ETD Hector.2

    hector (v.)

    "to bluster, bully, domineer," 1650s, from slang hector (n.) "a blustering, turbulent, pervicacious, noisy fellow" [Johnson], 1650s, from Hector of the "Iliad," in reference to his encouragement of his fellow Trojans to keep up the fight. Earlier in English the name was used generically for "a valiant warrior" (late 14c.). Related: Hectored; hectoring.ETD hector (v.).2


    daughter of Dymas and principal wife of Priam in the "Iliad;" from Greek Hekabē, which is perhaps a variant of Hecate.ETD Hecuba.2

    hedge (n.)

    Old English hecg "hedge," originally any fence, living or artificial, from West Germanic *hagjo (source also of Middle Dutch hegge, Dutch heg, Old High German hegga, German Hecke "hedge"), from a verb *hagjanan, from PIE root *kagh- "to catch, seize; wickerwork, fence" (source also of Latin caulae "a sheepfold, enclosure," Gaulish caio "circumvallation," Welsh cae "fence, hedge"). Related to Old English haga "enclosure, hedge" (see haw (n.)).ETD hedge (n.).2

    Figurative sense of "boundary, barrier" is from mid-14c. As hedges were "often used by vagabonds as places of shelter or resort" [Century Dictionary], the word, compounded, "notes something mean, vile, of the lowest class" [Johnson], from contemptuous attributive sense of "plying one's trade under a hedge" (hedge-priest, hedge-lawyer, hedge-wench, etc.), a usage attested from 1530s. The noun in the betting sense is from 1736 (see hedge (v.)).ETD hedge (n.).3

    hedge (v.)

    late 14c., "make a hedge," also "surround with a barricade or palisade;" from hedge (n.). The intransitive sense of "dodge, evade, avoid committing oneself" is first recorded 1590s, on the notion of hiding as if in a hedge. That of "insure oneself against loss," as in a bet, by playing something on the other side is from 1670s, originally with in; probably from an earlier use of hedge in meaning "secure (a debt) by including it in a larger one which has better security" (1610s). Related: Hedged; hedging. The noun in the wagering sense is from 1736.ETD hedge (v.).2

    hedgehog (n.)

    mid-15c. (replacing Old English igl), from hedge (n.) + hog (n.). First element from its frequenting hedges; the second element a reference to its pig-like snout.ETD hedgehog (n.).2

    hedgerow (n.)

    also hedge-row, Old English hegeræw; see hedge (n.) + row (n.).ETD hedgerow (n.).2

    hedonism (n.)

    1828 in reference to the philosophy; 1844 as "self-indulgence," from Greek hēdone "pleasure" (see hedonist) + -ism.ETD hedonism (n.).2

    hedonic (adj.)

    "of or relating to pleasure," also, "of or having to do with the Cyrenaic school of philosophy," 1650s, from Greek hēdonikos "pleasurable," from hēdone "pleasure" (see hedonist).ETD hedonic (adj.).2

    hedonics (n.)

    "branch of ethics which treats of the doctrines of pleasure," 1865, from hedonic; also see -ics.ETD hedonics (n.).2

    hedonistic (adj.)

    1849, from hedonist + -ic. The earlier adjectival form was hedonic. By 1901 in psychology, "of the nature of pleasure-seeking."ETD hedonistic (adj.).2

    hedonist (n.)

    1806, in reference to the Cyrenaic school of philosophy that deals with the ethics of pleasure; with -ist + Greek hēdone "pleasure, delight, enjoyment; a pleasure, a delight," which is related to hēdys "sweet" and cognate with Latin suavis, from PIE *swad-ona, suffixed form of root *swad- "sweet, pleasant" (see sweet (adj.)). Meaning "one who regards pleasure as the chief goal of life" is from 1854. A hedonist is properly the follower of any ethical system in which some sort of pleasure ranks as the highest good. The Epicurean identifies this pleasure with the practice of virtue.ETD hedonist (n.).2


    fem. proper name, German, from Old High German Haduwig, a compound of two words both of which mean "strife, struggle." Second element also that of Ludwig.ETD Hedwig.2

    heebie-jeebies (n.)

    1923, said to have been coined by U.S. cartoonist Billy De Beck (1890-1942), creator of "Barney Google."ETD heebie-jeebies (n.).2

    heed (v.)

    Old English hedan "observe; to take care, attend, care for, protect, take charge of," from West Germanic *hodjan (source also of Old Saxon hodian, Old Frisian hoda, Middle Dutch and Dutch hoeden, Old High German huotan, German hüten "to guard, watch"), from PIE *kadh- "to shelter, cover" (see hat). Related: Heeded; heeding.ETD heed (v.).2

    heedful (adj.)

    "cautious, wary," 1540s, from heed (n.) + -ful.ETD heedful (adj.).2

    heed (n.)

    "careful attention, notice, regard," early 14c., from heed (v.). Survives only in literary use, in compounds, and as the object of verbs (take heed, etc.).ETD heed (n.).2

    heedless (adj.)

    "without regard," 1570s, from heed (n.) + -less. Related: Heedlessly; heedlessness. Spenser has heedlesshood.ETD heedless (adj.).2


    also heehaw, attested by 1815 (as Hiu Haw), probably imitative of sound of donkey's bray (compare French hinham). As "a loud laugh" from 1843.ETD hee-haw.2

    heel (n.2)

    "contemptible person," 1914 in U.S. underworld slang, originally "incompetent or worthless criminal," perhaps from a sense of "person in the lowest position" and thus from heel (n.1).ETD heel (n.2).2

    heel (v.2)

    "to lean to one side," usually in reference to a ship, re-spelled 16c. from Middle English hield (probably by misinterpretation of -d as a past tense suffix), from Old English hieldan "incline, lean, slope," from Proto-Germanic *helthijan (source also of Middle Dutch helden "to lean," Dutch hellen, Old Norse hallr "inclined," Old High German halda, German halde "slope, declivity"). Related: Heeled; heeling.ETD heel (v.2).2

    heel (v.1)

    of a dog, "to follow or stop at a person's heels," 1810, from heel (n.1). Also see heeled.ETD heel (v.1).2

    heel (n.1)

    "back of the foot," Old English hela, from Proto-Germanic *hanhilaz- (source also of Old Norse hæll, Old Frisian hel, Dutch hiel), from a diminutive of PIE *kenk- (3) "heel, bend of the knee" (source also of Old English hoh "hock").ETD heel (n.1).2

    Meaning "back of a shoe or boot" is c. 1400. Down at heels (1732) refers to heels of boots or shoes worn down and the owner too poor to replace them. For Achilles' heel "only vulnerable spot" see Achilles. To fight with (one's) heels (fighten with heles) in Middle English meant "to run away."ETD heel (n.1).3

    heeled (adj.)

    "provided with money," 1880, American English Western slang, from earlier sense "furnished with a gun, armed" (1866). This is perhaps transferred from the sense "furnish (a gamecock) with a heel-like spur" (1560s), which was still in use in 19c., a special use of heel (v.3).ETD heeled (adj.).2

    heel (v.3)

    "furnish with a heel," of a shoe, boot, etc., c.1600, from heel (n.1). Related: Heeled; heeling.ETD heel (v.3).2

    heeler (n.)

    1660s, "one who puts heels on shoes and boots," agent noun from heel (n.1). Meaning "unscrupulous political lackey" is U.S. slang from 1877. The notion is of one who follows at the heels of a political boss, and it likely was coined with the image of a dog in mind. See heel (v.1).ETD heeler (n.).2

    heel-tap (n.)

    also heeltap, 1680s, "one of the bits of leather that are stacked up to make a shoe heel;" see heel (n.1) + tap (n.2). The meaning "bit of liquor left in a glass or bottle" is recorded by 1767; the exact connection is uncertain unless it be "the last or final part." Related: Heeltaps.ETD heel-tap (n.).2

    heffalump (n.)

    imaginary creature, 1926 (A.A. Milne), from a child's pronunciation of elephant.ETD heffalump (n.).2

    heft (n.)

    mid-15c., "weight, heaviness, quality of weight," from heave (v.) on analogy of thieve/theft, weave/weft, etc. Also influenced by heft, obsolete past participle of heave.ETD heft (n.).2

    heft (v.)

    "to lift, try the weight of," 1660s, from heft (n.). Related: Hefted; hefting.ETD heft (v.).2

    hefty (adj.)

    "having considerable weight," 1866, from heft (n.) + -y (2). Related: Heftiness.ETD hefty (adj.).2

    Hegelian (adj.)

    1832, "pertaining to German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel" (1770-1831). As a noun from 1836.ETD Hegelian (adj.).2

    hegemonism (n.)

    1965, in reference to a policy of political domination, on model of imperialism; see hegemony + -ism.ETD hegemonism (n.).2

    hegemonic (adj.)

    "ruling, predominant, supreme," 1650s, from Latinized form of Greek hēgemonikos "ready to lead, capable of command," from hēgemon "leader, an authority" (see hegemony). Earlier in same sense was hegemonical (1610s).ETD hegemonic (adj.).2

    hegemon (n.)

    1897, originally with reference to the position of Great Britain in the world, from Greek hēgemon "an authority, leader, sovereign" (see hegemony).ETD hegemon (n.).2

    hegemony (n.)

    1560s, "preponderance, dominance, leadership," originally of predominance of one city state or another in Greek history; from Greek hēgemonia "leadership, a leading the way, a going first;" also "the authority or sovereignty of one city-state over a number of others," as Athens in Attica, Thebes in Boeotia; from hēgemon "leader, an authority, commander, sovereign," from hēgeisthai "to lead," perhaps originally "to track down," from PIE *sag-eyo-, from root *sag- "to seek out, track down, trace" (see seek). In reference to modern situations from 1850, at first of Prussia in relation to other German states.ETD hegemony (n.).2

    hegemonist (n.)

    "one who advocates a political policy of hegemony," 1898 (in reference to Prussia in Germany); see hegemony + -ist.ETD hegemonist (n.).2

    hegira (n.)

    flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (July 16, 622 C.E.), the event from which the Islamic calendar reckons, 1580s, from Medieval Latin hegira, from Arabic hijrah "departure," from hajara "to depart."ETD hegira (n.).2

    heh (interj.)

    mid-15c., originally an exclamation of emotions such as sorrow or surprise. As the sound of a light laugh by 1808.ETD heh (interj.).2


    imitative of laughter, Old English.ETD he-he.2

    hey (interj.)

    c. 1200 as a call implying challenge, rebuttal, anger, derision; variously spelled in Middle English hei, hai, ai, he, heh. Later in Middle English expressing sorrow, or concern; also a shout of encouragement to hunting dogs. Possibly a natural expression (compare Roman eho, Greek eia, German hei, Old French hay, French eh). In modern use often weakened, expressing pleasure, surprise.ETD hey (interj.).2

    In Latin, hei was a cry of grief or fear; but heia, eia was an interjection denoting joy.ETD hey (interj.).3

    heifer (n.)

    "young cow that has not had a calf," Middle English heifer, from Old English heahfore (West Saxon); Northumbrian hehfaro, heffera (plural), "heifer," of unknown origin, not found outside English.ETD heifer (n.).2

    The first element seems to be heah "high," which is common in Old English compounds with a sense of "great in size." The second element might be from a fem. form of Old English fearr "bull," from Proto-Germanic *farzi-, from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, bring forth." Or it might be related to Old English faran "to go" (giving the whole a sense of "high-stepper"); but there are serious sense difficulties with both conjectures. Liberman offers this alternative:ETD heifer (n.).3

    In modern use, a female that has not yet calved, as opposed to a cow (n.), which has, and a calf (n.1), which is an animal of either sex not more than a year old. As derisive slang for "a woman, girl" it dates from 1835.ETD heifer (n.).4

    heigh-ho (interj.)

    c. 1400 as part of the refrain of a song; by 1550s as an exclamation to express yawning, sighing, etc.; see hey.ETD heigh-ho (interj.).2

    height (n.)

    Old English hiehþu, Anglian hehþo "highest part or point, summit; the heavens, heaven," from root of heah "high" (see high) + -itha, Germanic abstract noun suffix (as in width, depth; see -th (2)). Compare Old Norse hæð, Middle Dutch hoochte, Old High German hohida, Gothic hauhiþa "height." Meaning "distance from bottom to top" is from late 13c. Meaning "excellence, high degree of a quality" is late 14c. Century Dictionary says "there is no reason for the distinction of vowel between high and height. The modern pronunciation with -t emerged 13c. but wasn't established until 19c.; Milton used highth and heighth is still colloquial in English. Compare Dutch hoogte, Danish hjöde.ETD height (n.).2

    heighten (v.)

    mid-15c., heightenen, transitive, "to exalt, to honor or raise to high position," from height + -en (1). Intransitive sense of "to become higher" is from 1560s. Related: Heightened; heightening.ETD heighten (v.).2

    heighth (n.)

    obsolete or colloquial variant of height (q.v.).ETD heighth (n.).2

    heil (v.)

    "hail," German from Sieg Heil (q.v.). Middle English cognate heil was used as a salutation implying respect or reverence (c. 1200; see hail (interj.)).ETD heil (v.).2

    Heimlich maneuver (n.)

    1975, named for U.S. physician Henry Jay Heimlich (b. 1920).ETD Heimlich maneuver (n.).2

    Heimweh (n.)

    see homesickness.ETD Heimweh (n.).2

    Heinie (n.)

    also Heine, Hiney, 1904 as a typical name of a German man, North American slang, from pet form of common German masc. proper name Heinrich (see Henry). Brought to Europe in World War I by Canadian soldiers (British soldiers called the adversary Fritz).ETD Heinie (n.).2

    heinous (adj.)

    late 14c., "hateful, odious, atrocious," from Old French hainos "inconvenient, awkward; hateful, unpleasant; odious" (12c., Modern French haineux), from haine "hatred, hate," from hair "to hate," from Frankish, from Proto-Germanic *hatjan, from PIE *kad- "sorrow, hatred" (see hate (v.)). Related: Heinously; heinousness.ETD heinous (adj.).2

    heir (n.)

    "one who inherits, or has right of inheritance in, the property of another," c. 1300, from Anglo-French heir, Old French oir "heir, successor; heritage, inheritance," from Latin heredem (nominative heres) "heir, heiress" (see heredity). Heir apparent (late 14c.) has the French order of noun-adjective, though it was not originally so written in English. It is the heir of one still alive whose right is clear. After death the heir apparent becomes the heir-at-law. Related: Heir-apparency.ETD heir (n.).2

    heiress (n.)

    1650s, from heir + -ess. A female heir, but especially a woman who has inherited, or stands to inherit, considerable wealth.ETD heiress (n.).2

    heirless (adj.)

    c. 1400, from heir + -less.ETD heirless (adj.).2

    heirloom (n.)

    early 15c., ayre lome, a hybrid from heir + loom (n.) in its original but now otherwise obsolete sense of "implement, tool," extended to mean "article." Technically, some piece of property that by will or custom passes down with the real estate. General sense of "anything handed down from generation to generation" is from 1610s.ETD heirloom (n.).2


    1932 in reference to German physicist Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), pioneer of quantum mechanics. His "uncertainty principle" (deduced in 1927) is that an electron may have a determinate position, or a determinate velocity, but not both.ETD Heisenberg.2

    heist (v.)

    1943 (implied in heisted; heister "shoplifter, thief" is from 1927), American English slang, probably a dialectal alteration of hoist (v.) "to lift" in its slang sense of "shoplift," and/or its older British slang sense "to lift another on one's shoulders to help him break in." As a noun from 1930.ETD heist (v.).2


    Old English heold, past tense and past participle of hold (v.).ETD held.2


    fem. proper name, from French Hélène, from Latin Helena, from Greek Helenē, fem. proper name, probably fem. of helenos "the bright one." In Greek legend, the sister of Castor and Pollux and wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Her elopement with Paris was the cause of the Trojan War. Among the top 10 popular names for girl babies in the U.S. born between 1890 and 1934.ETD Helen.2

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