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    Helena — Henry


    fem. proper name, Latin form of Helen.ETD Helena.2


    fem. proper name, from Old Norse Helga, literally "holy," from Proto-Germanic *hailaga, from PIE *kailo- (see health). A doublet of Olga.ETD Helga.2


    in helipad, heliport, etc., a modern word-forming element meaning "helicopter," abstracted ignorantly from helicopter (q.v.), which is properly helico- + -pter.ETD heli-.2

    heliacal (adj.)

    "pertaining to the sun" (but used especially of stars, in reference to their becoming visible out of the sun's glare), c. 1600, with -al (1) and Latinized form of Greek hēliakos "of the sun," from hēlios "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"). The heliacal year (used in ancient Egypt) is reckoned from the heliacal rising of Sirius; thus it also is known as the canicular year. Related: Heliacally (1580s).ETD heliacal (adj.).2

    helical (adj.)

    "spiral-shaped," c. 1600, from Latin helicem (nominative helix) "spiral" (see helix) + -al (1).ETD helical (adj.).2


    mountain in Boeotia, sacred to the Muses, on which arose the fountains of Aganippe and Hippocrene, 1520s, from Latinized form of Greek Helikon, literally "the tortuous mountain," from helix (genitive helikos) "spiral," from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." Used allusively in reference to poetic inspiration. Related: Heliconian.ETD Helicon.2

    helicopter (n.)

    1861, from French hélicoptère "device for enabling airplanes to rise perpendicularly," thus "flying machine propelled by screws." From a Latinized combining form of Greek helix (genitive helikos) "spiral" (see helix) + pteron "wing" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").ETD helicopter (n.).2

    The idea was to gain lift from spiral aerofoils, and it didn't work. Used by Jules Verne and the Wright Brothers, the word was transferred to helicopters in the modern sense by 1918 when those began to be developed. Nativized in Flemish as wentelwiek "with rotary vanes."ETD helicopter (n.).3


    island in the North Sea off Germany, from the same source as German heilig "holy" (see holy), in reference to an ancient shrine there.ETD Heligoland.2


    word-forming element meaning "sun," from Greek hēlios "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun").ETD helio-.2

    heliocentric (adj.)

    1680s, from helio- + -centric.ETD heliocentric (adj.).2

    heliograph (n.)

    1848, "instrument for taking photographs of the sun," from helio- "sun" + -graph "something written." Earlier, "a description of the sun" (1706, implied in heliographic). From 1877 as the name of a movable mirror used in signaling. Related: Heliographical.ETD heliograph (n.).2

    Heliography (1845) was the word for the product of a type of engraving process by chemical reaction from exposure to sunlight. It also was an early term for what came to be called photography (1840).ETD heliograph (n.).3

    heliolatry (n.)

    1817, from helio- "sun" + -latry "worship of." Related: Heliolater (1828).ETD heliolatry (n.).2

    heliophobia (n.)

    1865, from helio- "sun" + -phobia "fear." Perhaps directly from German (where it was in use 1850s). Related: Heliophobe (1885); heliophobic (1886).ETD heliophobia (n.).2

    heliotrope (n.)

    "plant which turns its flowers and leaves to the sun," 1620s, from French héliotrope (14c., Old French eliotrope) and directly from Latin heliotropium, from Greek hēliotropion "sundial; heliotropic plant," from hēlios "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun") + tropos "a turn, change" (from PIE root *trep- "to turn"). In English the word in Latin form was applied c. 1000-1600 to heliotropic plants. Related: Heliotropic.ETD heliotrope (n.).2

    heliotropism (n.)

    1854, from heliotrope + -ism.ETD heliotropism (n.).2

    heliport (n.)

    1944, from helicopter + second element abstracted from airport.ETD heliport (n.).2

    helium (n.)

    1868, coined from Greek hēlios "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"), because the element was detected in the solar spectrum during the eclipse of Aug. 18, 1868, by English astronomer Sir Joseph N. Lockyer (1836-1920) and English chemist Sir Edward Frankland (1825-1899). It was not actually obtained until 1895; before then it was assumed to be an alkali metal, hence the ending in -ium.ETD helium (n.).2

    helix (n.)

    "a spiral thing," 1560s, originally of the volutes of Corinthian capitals, from Latin helix "spiral, a volute in architecture," from Greek helix (genitive helikos), a word used of anything in a spiral shape (an armlet, a curl of hair, the tendril of a vine, a serpent's coil), which is related to eilein "to turn, twist, roll," from PIE *wel-ik-, from root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve," from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." The classical plural is helices.ETD helix (n.).2

    hell (n.)

    also Hell, Old English hel, helle, "nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions, place of torment for the wicked after death," from Proto-Germanic *haljō "the underworld" (source also of Old Frisian helle, Old Saxon hellia, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja "hell"). Literally "concealed place" (compare Old Norse hellir "cave, cavern"), from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save."ETD hell (n.).2

    Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija "one who covers up or hides something")was the name of Loki's daughter who ruled over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl "mist") It might have reinforced the English word "as a transfer of a pagan concept to Christian theology and its vocabulary" [Barnhart].ETD hell (n.).3

    In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for "state of misery, any bad experience" at least since late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.ETD hell (n.).4

    To have hell break loose is from c. 1600. Expression hell in a handbasket is attested by 1867, in a context implying use from a few years before, and the notion of going to Heaven in a handbasket is from 1853, implying "easy passage" to the destination. Hell or high water (1874) apparently is a variation of between the devil and the deep blue sea. To wish someone would go to hell is in Shakespeare ("Merchant of Venice"). Snowball's chance in hell "no chance" is from 1931; till hell freezes over "never" is from 1832.ETD hell (n.).5

    To do something for the hell of it "just for fun" is from 1921. To ride hell for leather is from 1889, originally with reference to riding on horseback. Hell on wheels is from 1843 as the name of a steamboat; its general popularity dates from 1869 in reference to the temporary workers' vice-ridden towns along the U.S. transcontinental railroad. Scottish had hell-wain (1580s) "a phantom wagon seen in the sky at night."ETD hell (n.).6

    hellacious (adj.)

    1930s, college slang, from hell + fanciful ending (see bodacious).ETD hellacious (adj.).2

    hellbender (n.)

    large salamander of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, 1812, supposedly so called for its ugliness. The meaning "reckless debauch, drunken frolic" is from 1889.ETD hellbender (n.).2

    hell-bent (adj.)

    also hellbent, "recklessly determined," 1824, U.S., originally slang, from hell + bent (adj.).ETD hell-bent (adj.).2

    hellcat (n.)

    also hell-cat, "volatile woman," c. 1600, from hell + cat (n.). OED suggests "possibly suggested by Hecat," a spelling of Hecate.ETD hellcat (n.).2

    hellebore (n.)

    late 14c., from Old French ellebore, from Latin elleborus, from Greek helleboros, the name given to various plants of both poisonous and medicinal qualities, reputed to cure madness; of uncertain origin. Perhaps literally "plant eaten by fawns," from Greek ellos/hellos "fawn" (from PIE *elno-, extended form of *el- (2) "red, brown," in animal and tree names; see elk) + bora "food of beasts," from bibroskein "to eat" (from PIE root *gwora- "food, devouring"). But Beekes writes, "The traditional etymology seems very doubtful; the word could well be non-IE, i.e. Pre-Greek." Related: Helleboric; helleboraceous.ETD hellebore (n.).2

    Hellenism (n.)

    c. 1600, "idiom or expression peculiar to Greek;" see Hellenic + -ism. In sense "culture and ideals of ancient Greece," 1865 (by Matthew Arnold, contrasted with Hebraism).ETD Hellenism (n.).2

    Hellene (n.)

    "an ancient Greek," 1660s, from Greek Hellēn "a Greek," a word of unknown origin (see Hellenic).ETD Hellene (n.).2

    Hellenic (adj.)

    "pertaining to Greece," 1640s, from Greek Hellēnikos "Hellenic, Greek," from Hellēn "a Greek," a word of unknown origin; traditionally from the name of an eponymous ancestor, Hellēn, son of Deucalion. To Homer the Hellenes were a small tribe in southern Thessaly (his word for one of the Greek-speaking peoples is our Achaean). In modern use in the arts, Hellenic is used of Greek work from the close of the primitive phase to the time of Alexander the Great or the Roman conquest (succeeded by the Hellenistic).ETD Hellenic (adj.).2

    Hellenistic (adj.)

    1706, "of or pertaining to Greece and its culture," from Hellene "an ancient Greek" + -istic. Since 1870s, specifically of Greek culture in the few centuries after Alexander. Related: Hellenistical (1650s). Hellenist "one who uses the Greek language, though not a Greek," is attested from 1610s.ETD Hellenistic (adj.).2

    heller (n.)

    former small coin of Austria and Germany, 1570s, from German Heller, from Middle High German haller, short for haller pfennic "penny coined in Hall" in Swabia (see dollar).ETD heller (n.).2

    hell-fired (adj.)

    a euphemism for damned attested from 1756. See hellfire.ETD hell-fired (adj.).2

    hellfire (n.)

    also hell-fire, "the fire of Hell, eternal torment," from Old English hellefyr, in which helle is the genitive case of hell. It translates Greek gehenna tou pyros, literally "hell of fire." Also used in Middle English for "erysipelas" (mid-15c.).ETD hellfire (n.).2

    hellgate (n.)

    also Hell-gate, "the entrance to Hell," Old English hellegat; see hell + gate (n.).ETD hellgate (n.).2

    hell-hole (n.)

    also hellhole, late 14c., "the pit of Hell," from hell + hole (n.). Meaning "very unpleasant place" is from 1866.ETD hell-hole (n.).2

    hell-hound (n.)

    also hellhound, "wicked person, agent of Hell" (c. 1400), from Old English hellehund "Cerberus;" see hell + hound (n.). Similar formation in Dutch helhond, German Höllenhund.ETD hell-hound (n.).2

    hellion (n.)

    "naughty child or person," 1811, American English, altered (by association with Hell) from Scottish/northern England dialectal hallion "worthless fellow, scamp" (1786), a word of unknown origin. Explained humorously in Irving's "Salmagundi" (1811) as "A deputy scullion employed in regions below to cook up the broth."ETD hellion (n.).2

    hellish (adj.)

    1520s, from hell + -ish. Related: Hellishly; hellishness. Earlier in same sense were helli "helly" (late 12c.); hellen "hellish, infernal" (c. 1200), with -en (2); and Old English hellic and hellcund.ETD hellish (adj.).2

    hello (interj.)

    greeting between persons meeting, 1848, the early references are to the U.S. western frontier (where hello, the house was said to be the usual greeting upon approaching a habitation).ETD hello (interj.).2

    It is an alteration of hallo, itself an alteration of holla, hollo, a shout to attract attention, which seems to go back at least to late 14c. (compare Middle English verb halouen "to shout in the chase," hallouing). OED cites Old High German hala, hola, emphatic imperative of halon, holon "to fetch," "used especially in hailing a ferryman." Fowler, an Englishman, in the 1920s listed variants halloo, hallo, halloa, halloo, hello, hillo, hilloa, holla, holler, hollo, holloa, hollow, hullo, and writes, "The multiplicity of forms is bewildering ...."ETD hello (interj.).3

    Its rise to popularity as a greeting (1880s) coincides with the spread of the telephone, where it won out as the word said in answering, over Alexander Graham Bell's suggestion, ahoy. Central telephone exchange operators were known as hello-girls (1889).ETD hello (interj.).4

    hell-raiser (n.)

    1906 (to raise hell "create a ruckus" is from 1847, American English), from hell + agent noun from raise (v.). Related: Hell-raising. Probably not from the U.S. political cry "Kansas should raise less corn and more hell" (1900).ETD hell-raiser (n.).2

    Hells Angels (n.)

    motorcycle club, the name first attested 1957. They were called Black Rebels in the 1954 film "The Wild One." Earlier Hell's Angels had been used as the title of a film about World War I air combat (1930).ETD Hells Angels (n.).2

    Hell's Kitchen

    disreputable, impoverished New York City neighborhood, the name attested from 1879. The phrase was used from at least 1866 as an intensive form of Hell.ETD Hell's Kitchen.2

    helluva (adj.)

    "very bad, infernal; tremendous," 1910, attempt to represent the casual pronunciation of expression hell of a _____, which is attested from 1776 (see hell).ETD helluva (adj.).2

    helm (n.1)

    "instrument by which a ship is steered," from Old English helma "rudder; position of guidance, control," from Proto-Germanic *helmaz (source also of Old Norse hjalm, Old High German helmo, German Helm "handle"), from PIE *kelp- "to hold, grasp" (see helve).ETD helm (n.1).2

    helm (n.2)

    "a helmet, a defensive cover for the head," from Old English helm "protection, covering; crown, helmet," from Proto-Germanic *helmaz "protective covering" (Cognates: Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Old High German helm, German Helm, Old Norse hjalmr, Gothic hilms), from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." Italian elmo, Spanish yelmo are from Germanic.ETD helm (n.2).2

    helmet (n.)

    mid-15c., perhaps a diminutive of Middle English helm (see helm (n.2)). But some sources suggest Old French heaumet (Modern French heaume), a French diminutive of helme "helmet," from the same Germanic source as helm (n.2); Barnhart writes: "Old English helm never became an active term in the standard vocabulary of English."ETD helmet (n.).2

    helminth (n.)

    "intestinal worm," 1852, from helmintho-, stem of Greek helmins "parasitic worm," from suffixed form of PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve."ETD helminth (n.).2

    helmsman (n.)

    1620s, from genitive of helm (n.1) + man (n.). Related: Helmsmanship.ETD helmsman (n.).2

    helot (n.)

    1570s (with a capital H-) "Spartan serf," from Greek Heilotes, plural of Heilos, popularly associated with Helos, Laconian town reduced to serfdom by Sparta, but perhaps related to Greek halonai, haliskomai "be captured, be taken, be conquered." In extended use of any person in servile bondage by 1823.ETD helot (n.).2

    help (v.)

    Old English helpan "to help, support, succor; benefit, do good to; cure, amend" (transitive, class III strong verb; past tense healp, past participle holpen), from Proto-Germanic *helpanan (source also of Old Norse hjalpa, Old Frisian helpa, Middle Dutch and Dutch helpen, Old High German helfan, German helfen), a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps it is cognate with Lithuanian šelpiu, šelpti "to support, help."ETD help (v.).2

    The intransitive sense of "afford aid or assistance," is attested from early 13c. The word is recorded as a cry of distress from late 14c. The sense of "serve someone with food at table" (1680s) is translated from French servir "to help, stead, avail," and led to helping (n.) "portion of food."ETD help (v.).3

    Help yourself as an invitation, in reference to food, etc., is from 1894. Related: Helped (c. 1300). The Middle English past participle holpen survives in biblical and U.S. dialectal use.ETD help (v.).4

    help (n.)

    Old English help (m.), helpe (f.) "assistance, succor," from Proto-Germanic *helpo (source also of Old Norse hjalp, Swedish hjälp, Old Frisian helpe, Dutch hulp, Old High German helfa, German Hilfe), from the source of help (v.).ETD help (n.).2

    The use of help as euphemism for "servant" is American English, 1640s (originally in New England). Bartlett (1848) describes it as "The common name in New England for servants, and for the operatives in a cotton or woollen factory." Most early 19c. English writers travelling in America seem to have taken a turn at explaining this to the home folks.ETD help (n.).3

    But help also meant "assistant, helper, supporter" in Middle English (c. 1200).ETD help (n.).4

    helping (n.)

    "aid, assistance," late 13c., verbal noun from help (v.). Meaning "act of serving food" is from 1824; that of "a portion of food" is from 1883.ETD helping (n.).2

    helpful (adj.)

    late 14c., from help (n.) + -ful. Related: Helpfully; helpfulness.ETD helpful (adj.).2

    helper (n.)

    mid-14c., agent noun from help (v.). Helpestre "a female helper" is recorded from c. 1400. The Old English agent noun was helpend.ETD helper (n.).2

    helpless (adj.)

    "unable to act for oneself," c. 1200, from help (n.) + -less. Related: Helplessly; helplessness. In Middle English and later sometimes "unable to give help, affording no help" (late 14c.), but this never was common.ETD helpless (adj.).2

    helpmate (n.)

    "companion," 1715, altered from helpmeet.ETD helpmate (n.).2

    helpmeet (n.)

    also help-meet, a ghost word from the 1611 "King James" translation of the Bible, in which it was at first a two-word noun-adjective phrase translating Latin adjutorium simile sibi [Genesis ii.18] as "an help meet for him," and meaning literally "a helper like himself."ETD helpmeet (n.).2

    Robert Alter ("The Five Books of Moses," 2004) suggests sustainer beside him as the closest possible in English to the original:ETD helpmeet (n.).3

    See help (n.) + meet (adj.) "proper, appropriate," also "fit (to do something)." By 1670s it was hyphenated, help-meet, and mistaken for a modified noun. Compare helpmate.ETD helpmeet (n.).4

    helter-skelter (adv.)

    also helter skelter, 1590s, perhaps a rhyming reduplication from skelte "to hasten, scatter hurriedly," or merely "a riming formula vaguely imitative of hurry and confusion" [Century Dictionary] as in harum-scarum, etc. As an adjective from 1785.ETD helter-skelter (adv.).2

    helve (n.)

    Old English helfe, hielfe "handle of an axe" or other tool or weapon, from Proto-Germanic *halbma- (source also of Old Saxon helvi, Middle Dutch helf, Old High German halb "handle of an axe," Old High German helmo "tiller"); related to halter and helm (n.1), from PIE *kelp- "to hold, grasp." In Middle English, to holden the axe bi the helve (c. 1200) meant "to take something by the right end."ETD helve (n.).2

    Helvetian (adj.)

    "Swiss," 1550s, from Helvetia terra, Medieval Latin name of Switzerland, from Latin Helvetius "pertaining to the Helvetii," a Celtic people of ancient Gallia Lugdunensis. Related: Helvetic.ETD Helvetian (adj.).2

    hem (v.)

    late 14c., "to provide (something) with a border or fringe" (surname Hemmer attested from c. 1300), from hem (n.). Meaning "to enclose, circumscribe" is from 1530s. Related: Hemmed; hemming. The phrase hem in "shut in, confine," first recorded 1530s.ETD hem (v.).2

    hem (n.)

    Old English hem "a border" of cloth or a garment, from Proto-Germanic *hamjam (source also of Old Norse hemja "to bridle, curb," Swedish hämma "to stop, restrain," Old Frisian hemma "to hinder," Middle Dutch, German hemmen "to hem in, stop, hinder"), from PIE *kem- "to compress" (source also of Armenian kamel "to press, squeeze," Lithuanian kamuoti "press together, stop," Russian kom "mass, clot, clod").ETD hem (n.).2

    Apparently the same root yielded Old English hamm, common in place names (where it means "enclosure, land hemmed in by water or high ground, land in a river bend"). In Middle English, hem also was a symbol of pride or ostentation.ETD hem (n.).3

    hem (interj.)

    1520s, probably imitative of the sound of clearing the throat; late 15c. as a verb meaning "to make the sound 'hem.'" Hem and haw (v.) first recorded 1786, with haw "hesitation" (1630s; see haw (v.)); hem and hawk attested from 1570s.ETD hem (interj.).2

    he-man (n.)

    "especially masculine fellow," 1832, originally among U.S. pioneers, from he + man (n.).ETD he-man (n.).2

    hematite (n.)

    1540s, haematites, from French hematite (16c.), from Latin haematites, from Greek haimatites lithos "bloodlike stone," from haima (genitive haimatos) "blood" (see -emia). Earlier in English as emachite (late 14c.).ETD hematite (n.).2


    also haemato-, before vowels hemat-, haemat-, word-forming element in scientific compounds meaning "blood," from Greek haimato-, combining form of haima (genitive haimatos) "blood" (see -emia). Compare hemo-.ETD hemato-.2

    hematoma (n.)

    also haematoma, 1826, from hemato- + -oma.ETD hematoma (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "half," from Latin hemi- and directly from Greek hēmi- "half," from PIE root *semi-, which is the source of Sanskrit sami, Latin semi- (see semi-), Old High German sami- "half," and Old English sam-, denoting a partial or imperfect condition (see sandblind).ETD hemi-.2

    hemidemisemiquaver (n.)

    "sixty-fourth note" in music, 1846, from hemi- + demi- + semi- + quaver (n.).ETD hemidemisemiquaver (n.).2

    Hemingwayesque (adj.)

    1934, in reference to American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). With -esque.ETD Hemingwayesque (adj.).2

    hemispheric (adj.)

    1580s, from hemisphere + -ic.ETD hemispheric (adj.).2

    hemisphere (n.)

    late 14c., hemysperie, in reference to the celestial sphere, from Late Latin hemisphaerium, from Greek hēmisphairion, from hēmi- "half" (see hemi-) + sphaira "sphere" (see sphere). Spelling reformed 16c. Of the Earth, from 1550s; of the brain, 1804.ETD hemisphere (n.).2

    hemistich (n.)

    "half a poetic line," 1570s, from French hémistiche (16c.) or directly from Late Latin hemistichium, from Greek hēmistikhion "half-line, half-verse," from hēmi- "half" (see hemi-) + stikhos "row, line of verse," from PIE *stigho-, suffixed form of root *steigh- "to stride, step, rise" (see stair). Related: Hemistichal.ETD hemistich (n.).2

    hemline (n.)

    also hem-line, 1899, from hem (n.) + line (n.).ETD hemline (n.).2

    hemlock (n.)

    poisonous plant native to Europe, transplanted to North America, Old English (Kentish) hemlic, earlier hymlice, hymblice, name of a poisonous plant; of unknown origin. Liberman suggests from root hem- "poison," perhaps with the plant name suffix -ling or -ig. As the name of the poison derived from the plant, c. 1600. The North American fir tree so called by 1670s in New England, from resemblance of the position and tenuity of its leaves to those of the plant.ETD hemlock (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "blood," perhaps via Old French hemo-, Latin haemo-, from Greek haimo-, contraction of haimato-, combining form of haima "blood" (see -emia).ETD hemo-.2

    hemoglobin (n.)

    also hæmoglobin, coloring matter in red blood cells, 1862, shortening of hæmatoglobin (1845), from Greek haimato-, combining form of haima (genitive haimatos) "blood" (see -emia) + globulin, a type of simple protein, from globule, formerly a word for "corpuscle of blood."ETD hemoglobin (n.).2

    hemophilia (n.)

    1848 (also sometimes in Englished form hæmophily), from German hämophile, coined 1828 by German physician Johann Lucas Schönlein (1793-1864), from Greek haima "blood, bloodshed, streams of blood" (see -emia) + philia "to love" (see -philia), here with a sense of "tendency to."ETD hemophilia (n.).2


    1894 (adj.); 1891 (n.), from hemophilia. Perhaps modeled on French hémophilique (1878).ETD hemophiliac.2

    hemophobia (n.)

    1844, from hemo- "blood" + -phobia "fear." Perhaps based on French hémophobie. Originally in reference to fear of medical blood-letting.ETD hemophobia (n.).2

    hemorrhage (v.)

    by 1882, from hemorrhage (n.). Related: Hemorrhaged; hemorrhaging.ETD hemorrhage (v.).2

    hemorrhage (n.)

    c. 1400, emorosogie (modern form by 17c.), from Latin haemorrhagia, from Greek haimorrhagia, from haimorrhages "bleeding violently," from haima "blood" (see -emia) + rhagē "a breaking, gap, cleft," from rhēgnynai "to break, burst," from PIE *uhreg- "break." Related: Hemorrhagic.ETD hemorrhage (n.).2

    hemorrhoids (n.)

    plural of hemorrhoid; late 14c., emeroudis, from Old French emorroides (13c.), from Latin hæmorrhoidae, from Greek haimorrhoides (phlebes) "(veins) liable to discharge blood," plural of haimorrhois, from haima "blood" (see -emia) + rhoos "a stream, a flowing," from rhein "to flow" (from PIE root *sreu- "to flow"). Related: Hemmorhoidal.ETD hemorrhoids (n.).2

    hemorrhoid (n.)

    see hemorrhoids.ETD hemorrhoid (n.).2

    hemp (n.)

    Old English hænep "hemp, cannabis sativa," from Proto-Germanic *hanapiz (source also of Old Saxon hanap, Old Norse hampr, Old High German hanaf, German Hanf), probably a very early Germanic borrowing of the same Scythian word that became Greek kannabis (see cannabis). As the name of the fiber made from the plant, by c. 1300. Slang sense of "marijuana" dates from 1940s; scientific applications for the narcotic derived from hemp date to 1870.ETD hemp (n.).2

    hempen (adj.)

    "made of hemp," late 14c., from hemp + -en (2). In many figurative expressions 15c.-19c. it is in reference to the hangman's noose.ETD hempen (adj.).2

    hem-stitch (n.)

    also hemstitch, 1821, from hem + stitch (n.). Adjective hem-stitched is from 1813. Related: Hem-stitching.ETD hem-stitch (n.).2

    hen (n.)

    "the female of the domestic fowl," Old English henn "hen," from West Germanic *hannjo (source also of Old Frisian henn, Middle Dutch henne, Old High German henna), fem. of *hanan- "male fowl, cock" (source of Old English hana "cock"), literally "bird who sings (for sunrise)," from PIE root *kan- "to sing."ETD hen (n.).2

    The original masculine word survives in German (Hahn "cock"), Swedish, Danish, etc. German also has a generic form, Huhn, for either gender of the bird. Extension to "female of any bird species" is early 14c. in English.ETD hen (n.).3

    Hen as slang for "woman" dates from 1620s; hence hen party "gathering of women," first recorded 1887. To be mad as a wet hen is from 1823, but the figure was used to indicate other states: As wanton as a wet hen is in "Scots Proverbs" (1813). Among Middle English proverbial expressions was nice as a nonne hen "over-refined, fastidiously wanton" (c. 1500); to singen so hen in snowe "sing miserably," literally "sing like a hen in snow" (c. 1200). The figure of the hen with one chick dates to 1590s. Hen's teeth as a figure of scarceness is attested by 1838.ETD hen (n.).4

    henbane (n.)

    poisonous Eurasian plant, mid-13c., said to be from hen (n.) + bane (n.) but this may be folk etymology. Brewer says of it, "There is no such [Old English] word as hen-bana, hen murderer, and the notion of the seeds being fatal to poultry arose from misapprehension of the word." Other Old English names for this plant were henbelle and hendwole (see belladonna.) Hanebane is recorded in Old French as the name for the plant, suggesting possible continental origin for the word. There is a speculative Germanic word *hen used for words denoting death, which has been proposed for the first element (compare hemlock.)ETD henbane (n.).2

    hence (adv.)

    "(away) from here," late 13c., hennes, with adverbial genitive -s + Old English heonan "away, hence," from West Germanic *hin- (source also of Old Saxon hinan, Old High German hinnan, German hinnen), from PIE *ki-, variant of root *ko- "this," the stem of the demonstrative pronoun (see here).ETD hence (adv.).2

    The modern spelling (mid-15c.) is phonetic, to retain the breathy -s- (compare twice, once, since). Original "away from this place;" of time, "from this moment onward," late 14c.; meaning "from this (fact or circumstance)" first recorded 1580s. Wycliffe (1382) uses hennys & þennys for "from here and there, on both sides."ETD hence (adv.).3

    henceforth (adv.)

    late 14c., earlier henne forth (late Old English); see hence + forth.ETD henceforth (adv.).2

    henceforward (adv.)

    late 14c., from hence + forward (adv.). Related: Henceforwards.ETD henceforward (adv.).2

    henchman (n.)

    mid-14c., hengestman, later henshman (mid-15c.) "high-ranking servant (usually of gentle birth), attendant upon a king, nobleman, etc.," originally "groom," probably from man (n.) + Old English hengest "horse, stallion, gelding," from Proto-Germanic *hangistas (source also of Old Frisian hengst, Dutch hengest, German Hengst "stallion"), perhaps literally "best at springing," from PIE *kenku- (source also of Greek kekiein "to gush forth;" Lithuanian šokti "to jump, dance;" Breton kazek "a mare," literally "that which belongs to a stallion").ETD henchman (n.).2

    Perhaps modeled on Old Norse compound hesta-maðr "horse-boy, groom." The word became obsolete in England 17c., but it was retained in Scottish as "personal attendant of a Highland chief," in which sense Scott revived it in literary English from 1810. Sense of "obedient or unscrupulous follower" is first recorded 1839, probably somehow a misunderstanding of the word as used by Scott.ETD henchman (n.).3


    word-forming element meaning "eleven," from Latinized form of Greek hendeka "eleven," from hen, neuter of heis "one," from PIE *hems-, from root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with" + deka "ten" (from PIE root *dekm- "ten").ETD hendeca-.2

    hendiadys (n.)

    1580s, figure of speech in which two nouns joined by and are used in place of a noun and an adjective; from Medieval Latin alteration of Greek hen dia dyoin "one (thing) by means of two." If this term was used by Greek grammarians it is no longer found in their writings, but it is frequent among Latin writers.ETD hendiadys (n.).2

    henge (n.)

    1740, noted as a Yorkshire word for hanging rocks (see Stonehenge).ETD henge (n.).2

    hen-house (n.)

    1510s, "a coop or shelter for fowls," from hen + house (n.). As a place chiefly inhabited or ruled by women, from 1785.ETD hen-house (n.).2


    town on the Thames in Oxfordshire, site of annual regatta since 1839. The name is Old English hean-leage "(settlement) at or by the high wood."ETD Henley.2

    henna (n.)

    c. 1600, "dye or cosmetic from the henna plant," from Arabic hinna, name for the small thorny tree (Egyptian Privet), the leaves of which are used to make the reddish dye for the body or hair; said to be of Persian origin, from Arabic. Related: Hennaed (1860).ETD henna (n.).2


    Irish surname, from O'(h)Aonghusa "descendant of Aonghus" ("one-choice").ETD Hennessey.2

    henotheism (n.)

    "devotion to a single god without asserting that he or she is the only god," 1860, from Greek henos (neuter of heis "one;" from PIE root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with") + -theism. Coined by (Friedrich) Max Müller (1823-1900), professor of comparative philology at Oxford. Supposedly a characteristic of the oldest Hindu religion; or a system between monotheism and polytheism. Related: Henotheist; henotheistic.ETD henotheism (n.).2

    henpecked (adj.)

    said of a husband whose wife rules him by superior force of will, 1670s, an image from hen + peck (v.).ETD henpecked (adj.).2

    The verb henpeck (1680s) apparently is a back-formation.ETD henpecked (adj.).3


    masc. proper name, from French Henri, from Late Latin Henricus, from German Heinrich, from Old High German Heimerich, literally "the ruler of the house," from heim "home" (see home (n.)) + rihhi "ruler" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule"). One of the most popular Norman names after the Conquest. Related: Henrician.ETD Henry.2

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