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    miff (n.) — milquetoast (n.)

    miff (n.)

    1620s, "feeling of petulant displeasure, fit of ill humor," colloquial, perhaps imitative of an exclamation of disgust (compare German muffen "to sulk").ETD miff (n.).2

    miff (v.)

    1797, "take offense at;" 1811, "give a slight offense to, put out of humor;" from miff (n.). Related: miffed; miffing.ETD miff (v.).2

    miffy (adj.)

    "liable to 'take a miff,' " 1700, from miff (n.) + -y (2). Related: Miffiness.ETD miffy (adj.).2


    in names of Russian fighter planes, so called in honor of aircraft designers Mikoyan and (Russian i) Gurevitch.ETD MiG.2

    might (n.)

    "quality of being able, ability to do or act, power," Middle English might, from Old English miht, earlier mæht "bodily strength, power; authority, dominion, control; ability," from Proto-Germanic *makhti- (source also of Old Norse mattr, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Dutch macht, Old High German maht, German Macht, Gothic mahts), a Germanic suffixed form of the PIE root *magh- "to be able, have power."ETD might (n.).2

    might (v.)

    Old English mihte, meahte, originally the past tense of may (Old English magen "to be able"), thus "*may-ed." The noun might-have-been "something that might have happened but did not," also "someone that might have been greater but wasn't," is by 1848.ETD might (v.).2

    mighty (adj.)

    "possessed of or endowed with might; having much ability, strength, or power," Old English mihtig, earlier mæhtig, from Proto-Germanic *mahtiga- (source also of Old Frisian mechtig, Old Saxon mahtig, Dutch machtig, German mächtig), from the source of might (n.). As an adverb, "very, exceedingly, greatly," it is attested from c. 1300, though such use now is considered colloquial.ETD mighty (adj.).2

    mightiness (n.)

    "power, greatness," also "grandeur," Old English mihtinesse; see mighty + -ness.ETD mightiness (n.).2

    mightily (adv.)

    "in a mighty manner; by great power, force, or strength," Old English mihtiglice; see mighty + -ly (2).ETD mightily (adv.).2

    mignon (adj.)

    "delicately formed," 1550s, French, literally "delicate, charming, pretty;" see minion. As a noun, "pretty child," from 1827.ETD mignon (adj.).2

    migraine (n.)

    late 14c., migrane, "severe headache, especially on one side of the head," from Old French migraine, migraigne (13c.), from the vulgar pronunciation of Late Latin hemicrania "pain in one side of the head, headache," from Greek hēmikrania, from hēmi- "half" + kranion "skull" (see cranium).ETD migraine (n.).2

    The corrupt form megrim was common from 15c. on and is the principle entry for the word in Century Dictionary (1895), but it seems to be now obsolete or archaic even in its secondary senses of "depression; low spirits" and "a whim or fancy." Related: Migrainous.ETD migraine (n.).3

    migrant (adj.)

    "changing place, migratory," 1670s of animals, by 1807 of persons, from Latin migrantem (nominative migrans), present participle of migrare "to remove, depart, to move from one place to another" (see migration).ETD migrant (adj.).2

    migrant (n.)

    "person who migrates," 1760, from migrant (adj.).ETD migrant (n.).2

    migration (n.)

    "change of residence or habitat, removal or transit from one locality to another, especially at a distance," 1610s, of persons, 1640s of animals, from Latin migrationem (nominative migratio) "a removal, change of abode, migration," noun of action from past-participle stem of migrare "to move from one place to another," probably originally *migwros, from PIE *(e)meigw- (source of Greek ameibein "to change"), which is an extended form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move" or perhaps a separate root. As "a number of animals migrating together" by 1880.ETD migration (n.).2

    That European birds migrate across the seas or to Asia was understood in the Middle Ages, but subsequently forgotten. Dr. Johnson held that swallows slept all winter in the beds of rivers, while the naturalist Morton (1703) stated that they migrated to the moon. As late as 1837 the "Kendal Mercury" "detailed the circumstance of a person having observed several Swallows emerging from Grasmere Lake, in the spring of that year, in the form of 'bell-shaped bubbles,' from each of which a Swallow burst forth ...." [The Rev. F.O. Morris, "A History of British Birds," London, 1870]ETD migration (n.).3

    migrational (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to migration," by 1843, from migration + -al (1).ETD migrational (adj.).2

    migrate (v.)

    1690s, "to pass from one place to another," from Latin migratus, past participle of migrare "to move from one place to another," probably originally *migwros, from PIE *(e)meigw- (source of Greek ameibein "to change"), which is an extended form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move" or perhaps a separate root. Of animals, "to remove from one habitat to another at a distance," by 1753. Specifically of persons or groups by 1770, "to pass or remove from one place of residence to another at a distance," especially from one country to another. Related: Migrated; migrating.ETD migrate (v.).2

    migratory (adj.)

    1753, "given to or characterized by migration, roving from place to place," from Latin migrat-, past-participle stem of migrare "to move from one place to another" (see migration) + -ory. As "pertaining to or related to migration," by 1757.ETD migratory (adj.).2

    Mikado (n.)

    1727, former title of the emperor of Japan, from mi "honorable" + kado "gate, portal." Similar to Sublime Porte, old title of the Ottoman emperor/government, and Pharaoh, which literally means "great house."ETD Mikado (n.).2

    mil (n.)

    1721, in per mil "per thousand," from Latin mille "thousand" (see million); compare percent. As a unit of length for diameter of wire (equal to .001 of an inch) it is attested from 1891; as a unit of angular measure it is recorded by 1907.ETD mil (n.).2


    by 1814, from French (by 1760); described in OED as "A continental rendering of 'my lady', used as an appellation in speaking to or of an English noblewoman or great lady."ETD milady.2


    city in northern Italy, Roman Mediolanum, from Gaulish medios "middle" + lanu "plain," in reference to its situation in the Po Valley. Related: Milanese.ETD Milan.2

    milch (adj.)

    "giving milk, having milk," late 13c., milche, melch, from Old English -milce "milking" (Anglian -melce, West Saxon -mielce), from Proto-Germanic *melik- "milk," from PIE root *melg- "to rub off; to milk." A variant form of milk. Since 18c. applied only to domestic animals and chiefly to cows. Milch-cow is from early 15c.ETD milch (adj.).2

    mildness (n.)

    "state or quality of being mild" in any sense, Old English mildnes "mildness, mercy," from mild (adj.) + -ness.ETD mildness (n.).2

    mild (adj.)

    Old English milde, of persons, powers, or dispositions, "possessing softness or gentleness, good-tempered, merciful," from Proto-Germanic *milthjaz- (source also of Old Norse mildr (which also contributed to the English word), Old Saxon mildi, Old Frisian milde, Middle Dutch milde, Dutch mild, Old High German milti, German milde "mild," Gothic mildiþa "kindness"), from PIE *meldh-, from root *mel- (1) "soft," which is the source also of Latin mollis "soft."ETD mild (adj.).2

    Of weather, "not rough or stormy," late 14c. Of medicine, etc., "gentle or moderate in force, operation, or effect," c. 1400; of disease from 1744. Of rule, punishment, etc., "moderate in quality or degree, of mitigated force, not hard to endure," by 1570s. It was also used in Old English as an adverb, meaning "mercifully, graciously."ETD mild (adj.).3

    mildew (n.)

    "minute parasitic fungus that appears on plants or decaying organic matter," mid-14c., a transferred sense of a word that meant originally "nectar, honeydew" (the sugar-rich sticky stuff secreted by aphids feeding on plant sap); this is from mid-13c. as mildeu, from Old English meledeaw, from a Proto-Germanic compound of *melith "honey" (from PIE root *melit- "honey") + *dawwaz "dew" (see dew). Similar formation in Old Saxon milidou, Dutch meeldauw, Old High German miltou, German Meltau "mildew." The first element in many continental Germanic languages has been assimilated to forms of meal (n.2) "ground grain."ETD mildew (n.).2

    As a kind of morbid fungus or blight, it presumably is so called from its being sticky and growing on plants. As a verb, "to taint with mildew," from 1550s. Related: Mildewed; mildewy.ETD mildew (n.).3

    mildly (adv.)

    "in a mild manner or degree," Middle English mildeli, from Old English mildelice "graciously, affably, kindly;" see mild + -ly (2). Compare Dutch mildlijk, German mildlich, Danish mildelig. Phrase to put it mildly, implying a harsher reality than stated, is attested by 1849.ETD mildly (adv.).2


    fem. proper name, Old English Mildðryð, from milde "mild" (see mild) + ðryð "power, strength" (see Audrey). A popular name in the Middle Ages through fame of St. Mildred (obit c. 700), abbess, daughter of a Mercian king and a Kentish princess. Familiar forms include Milly, Midge. Among the 10 most popular names for girls born in the U.S. between 1903 and 1926, it hasn't been in the top 1,000 since 1983.ETD Mildred.2

    mile (n.)

    unit of linear measure in Great Britain, the U.S., and a few other countries, formerly used in most European countries before the metric system; Old English mil, from West Germanic *milja (source also of Middle Dutch mile, Dutch mijl, Old High German mila, German Meile), from Latin milia "thousands," plural of mille "a thousand" (neuter plural was mistaken in Germanic as a fem. singular), which is of unknown origin.ETD mile (n.).2

    The Latin word also is the source of French mille, Italian miglio, Spanish milla. The Scandinavian words (Old Norse mila, etc.) are from English. An ancient Roman mile was 1,000 double paces (one step with each foot), for about 4,860 feet, but many local variants developed, in part in an attempt to reconcile the mile with the agricultural system of measurements. Consequently, old European miles were of various lengths. The medieval English mile was 6,610 feet; the old London mile was 5,000 feet. In Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, the Latin word was applied arbitrarily to the ancient Germanic rasta, a measure of from 3.25 to 6 English miles. In England the ordinary mile was set by legal act at 320 perches (5,280 feet) by statute in Elizabeth's reign.ETD mile (n.).3

    In Middle English the word also was a unit of time, "about 20 minutes," roughly what was required to walk a mile. The word has been used generically since 1580s for "a great distance." Mile-a-minute (adj.) "very fast" is attested from 1957 in railroad publications (automobiles had attained 60 mph by 1903).ETD mile (n.).4

    mileage (n.)

    formerly also milage, 1754, "allowance or compensation for travel or conveyance reckoned by the mile," originally in reference to American political representatives, from mile + -age. From 1837 as "fixed rate per mile," originally for use of railroad cars. Meaning "a total number of miles" (of a way made, used, or traversed) is from 1861; the figurative use in this sense, "usefulness, derived benefit" is by 1860. Of a motor vehicle, "miles driven per gallon of gasoline," by 1912.ETD mileage (n.).2

    milepost (n.)

    also mile-post, "post set up to mark the distance by miles along a highway, etc.," 1768, from mile + post (n.1).ETD milepost (n.).2

    Milesian (adj.)

    1540s, "of or pertaining to Miletus, ancient city of Caria on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor." From 1590s in reference to Ireland or the Irish, a different word, from Milesius, a legendary king of Spain, whose two sons were said to have conquered and reorganized Ireland in ancient times.ETD Milesian (adj.).2

    milestone (n.)

    also mile-stone, "stone or pillar set up on a highway or other line of travel to mark the distance in miles," 1746, from mile + stone (n.).ETD milestone (n.).2

    MILF (n.)

    by 1999, acronym of Mother I'd Like to Fuck or some such thing.ETD MILF (n.).2

    milfoil (n.)

    "yarrow," a composite herb, mid-13c., from Old French milfoil, from Latin millefolium, literally "thousand leaf," so called from the abundance of its leaves; from mille "thousand" (see million) + folium "leaf" (from PIE root *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom").ETD milfoil (n.).2


    fem. proper name, earlier Malasintha, from shortened form of Old High German Amalswind, literally "strong in work," from amal "work" + *swind "strong" (related to Old English swið "strong," gesund "healthy").ETD Milicent.2

    milieu (n.)

    "surroundings, medium, environment," 1854, from French milieu, "middle, medium, mean," literally "middle place" (12c.), from mi "middle" (from Latin medius, from PIE root *medhyo- "middle") + lieu "place" (see lieu).ETD milieu (n.).2

    militant (n.)

    c. 1600, "one engaged in war or strife," from militant (adj.); in the political sense of "one seeking change by use or advocacy of direct action" it is attested by 1909.ETD militant (n.).2

    militancy (n.)

    "condition of being militant," 1640s, from militant (adj.) + abstract noun suffix -cy. Earlier was militaunce "combat, warfare" (mid-15c.).ETD militancy (n.).2

    militate (v.)

    1620s, of persons, "to serve as a soldier" (now rare), from Latin militatum, past participle of militare "serve as a soldier," from miles "soldier" (see military (adj.)). The sense developed via "to be in conflict with, be at variance" to "be evidence" for or against, "have weight or force in determining anything" (1640s). Related: Militated; militating; militation.ETD militate (v.).2

    militant (adj.)

    early 15c., "fighting, engaged in warfare," from Old French militant "fighting" and directly from Latin militantem (nominative militans), present participle of militare "serve as a soldier" (see militate). The sense of "having a combative character or tendency," especially "seeking political change by use or advocacy of direct action," is by 1907. Related: Militantly.ETD militant (adj.).2

    Originally especially in Church militant (early 15c., chirche militans), which is the Church on earth, seen as engaged in warfare with the devil, the flesh, and worldly powers of temptation and unrighteousness. The Church triumphant (1550s) is the collective body of saints now glorified in heaven.ETD militant (adj.).3

    militarization (n.)

    "action of turning (something) to military use," 1881 (in italics in a 1871 translation from French), probably rendering French militarisation (by 1853); noun of action from militarize (q.v.).ETD militarization (n.).2

    militarize (v.)

    "turn to military use, give a military aspect to" (transitive), 1829, see military + -ize. Related: Militarized; militarizing.ETD militarize (v.).2

    militarism (n.)

    1841, "military spirit, addiction to war or military practice," from French militarisme, from militaire "military" (see military); also see -ism. By 1864 in reference to nations or peoples, "predominance of the military class, maintenance of national power by means of standing armies."ETD militarism (n.).2

    military (adj.)

    mid-15c., militari, "pertaining to or befitting soldiers; used, done, or brought about by soldiers," from Old French militaire (14c.) and directly from Latin militaris "of soldiers or war, of military service, warlike," from miles (genitive militis) "soldier," a word of unknown origin.ETD military (adj.).2

    Perhaps ultimately from Etruscan, or else meaning "one who marches in a troop," and thus connected to Sanskrit melah "assembly," Greek homilos "assembled crowd, throng." De Vaan writes, "It is tempting to connect mīlia [pl.] 'thousand(s)', hence *mīli-it- 'who goes with/by the thousand' ...." Related: Militarily. Old English had militisc, from Latin.ETD military (adj.).3

    Military police is from 1827. Military age, at which one becomes liable to military service, is by 1737. Military-industrial complex was coined 1961 in the farewell speech of U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower.ETD military (adj.).4

    military (n.)

    "soldiers generally," 1757, from military (adj.); commonly only with the definite article. Earlier, "a military man" (1736).ETD military (n.).2

    militarise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of militarize; for spelling, see -ize. Related: Militarised; Militarising.ETD militarise (v.).2

    militaristic (adj.)

    1883; see militarist + -ic.ETD militaristic (adj.).2

    militarist (n.)

    c. 1600, "a soldier," from military + -ist. As "one devoted to militarism" from 1884.ETD militarist (n.).2

    militia (n.)

    1580s, "system of military discipline," from Latin militia "military service, warfare," from miles "soldier" (see military (adj.)). The sense of "citizen army" (as distinct from professional soldiers) is first recorded 1690s, perhaps from a sense in French cognate milice. Historically, the Anglo-Saxon forces that resisted the Vikings were militias, raised by counties. In U.S. history, by 1777 as "the whole body of men declared by law amenable to military service, without enlistment, whether armed and drilled or not" [Century Dictionary]. In early 19c. they were under control of the states, enrolled and drilled according to military law but not as regular soldiers, and called out periodically for drill and exercise and in emergency for actual service.ETD militia (n.).2

    militiaman (n.)

    "one who belongs to an organized and armed militia, member of a militia force," 1780, from militia + man (n.).ETD militiaman (n.).2

    milk (v.)

    Old English melcan, milcian, meolcian "to press or draw milk from the breasts or udders of; give milk, suckle," from Proto-Germanic *melk- "to milk" (source also of Dutch melken, Old High German melchan, German melken), from PIE root *melg- "to rub off; to milk." Figurative sense of "exploit for profit" is by 1520s. In theater jargon, "to try to get more laughs, applause, etc. from the audience than is warranted" (1939). Related: Milked; milking.ETD milk (v.).2

    milk (n.)

    "opaque white fluid secreted by mammary glands of female mammals, suited to the nourishment of their young," Middle English milk, from Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluk- "milk" (source also of Old Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks), from *melk- "to milk," from PIE root *melg- "to wipe, to rub off," also "to stroke; to milk," in reference to the hand motion involved in milking an animal. Old Church Slavonic noun meleko (Russian moloko, Czech mleko) is considered to be adopted from Germanic.ETD milk (n.).2

    Of milk-like plant juices or saps from c. 1200. Milk chocolate (eating chocolate made with milk solids, paler and sweeter) is recorded by 1723; milk shake was used from 1889 for a variety of concoctions, but the modern version (composed of milk, flavoring, etc., mixed by shaking) is from the 1930s. Milk tooth (1727) uses the word in its figurative sense "period of infancy," attested from 17c. To cry over spilt milk (representing anything which, once misused, cannot be recovered) is first attested 1836 in writing of Canadian humorist Thomas C. Haliburton. Milk and honey is from the Old Testament phrase describing the richness of the Promised Land (Numbers xvi.13, Old English meolc and hunie). Milk of human kindness is from "Macbeth" (1605).ETD milk (n.).3

    milky (adj.)

    late 14c., "milk-like in color or consistency," from milk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Milkily; milkiness.ETD milky (adj.).2

    milkmaid (n.)

    "woman who milks cows or is employed in a dairy," 1550s, from milk (n.) + maid.ETD milkmaid (n.).2

    milkman (n.)

    "man who sells milk," especially one who goes door to door, 1580s, from milk (n.) + man (n.).ETD milkman (n.).2

    milk of magnesia (n.)

    1880, proprietary name for white suspension of magnesium hydroxide in water, taken as an antacid, invented by U.S. chemist Charles Henry Phillips. Herbal or culinary preparations more or less resembling milk had been similarly named (for example milk of almond) since late 14c.ETD milk of magnesia (n.).2

    milk-snake (n.)

    "A handsome and harmless serpent" [Century Dictionary], one of the larger snakes of the U.S., common in many states, by 1812, from milk (n.) + snake (n.). Also called chicken-snake (attested by 1793), house-snake, and thunder-and-lightning snake.ETD milk-snake (n.).2

    milksop (n.)

    term of contempt for an effeminate, spiritless man, "one who is devoid of manliness," late 14c.; attested as a (fictional) surname mid-13c.; also applied in Middle English to the infant Christ. Literal sense "piece of bread soaked in milk" attested late 15c.; see milk (n.) + sop (n.).ETD milksop (n.).2

    milktoast (n.)

    also milk-toast, 1831, "toast softened in milk," from milk (n.) + toast (n.1). Figurative of softness or innocence by 1859.ETD milktoast (n.).2

    milkweed (n.)

    1590s, from milk (n.) + weed (n.); used in reference to various plants whose juice resembles milk.ETD milkweed (n.).2

    Milky Way (n.)

    "the galaxy as seen in the night sky," late 14c., loan-translation of Latin via lactea; see galaxy. Formerly in Middle English also Milken-Way and Milky Cercle. The ancients speculated on what it was; some guessed it was a vast assemblage of stars (Democrates, Pythagoras, even Ovid); the question was settled when Galileo, using his telescope, reported that the whole of it was resolvable into stars. Old native names for it include Jacob's Ladder, the Way to St. James's, and Watling Street (late 14c.).ETD Milky Way (n.).2

    mill (n.1)

    Middle English mille, "building fitted to grind grain," Old English mylen "a mill" (10c.), an early Germanic borrowing from Late Latin molina, molinum "mill" (source of French moulin, Spanish molino), originally fem. and neuter of molinus "pertaining to a mill," from Latin mola "mill, millstone," related to molere "to grind," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." The -n- gradually was lost in English but survives in the surname Milner. Also from Late Latin molina, directly or indirectly, are German Mühle, Old Saxon mulin, Old Norse mylna, Danish mølle, Old Church Slavonic mulinu.ETD mill (n.1).2

    The meaning "mechanical device for grinding grain for food" is from 1550s. The broader sense of "machine for grinding or pulverizing any solid substance" is attested from 1670s. Other types of manufacturing machines driven by wind or water, that transform raw material by a process other than grinding began to be called mills by early 15c. Sense of "large building fitted with machinery for manufacturing" is from c. 1500. In old slang also "a typewriter" (1913); "a boxing match or other pugilistic bout" (1819).ETD mill (n.1).3

    mill (v.1)

    1550s, "subject to mechanical operations carried on in a mill;" 1560s, "to grind in or as in a mill, reduce to fine particles;" from mill (n.1). Meaning "to flute the edge (of a coin, etc.) is from 1724. Related: milled; milling.ETD mill (v.1).2

    milling (n.)

    mid-15c., "act or business of grinding (grain) in a mill," verbal noun from mill (v.1). In reference to shaping metals by 1610s; in coin-making by 1817.ETD milling (n.).2

    mill (n.2)

    "one-tenth of a cent," 1786, an original U.S. currency unit but now used only for tax calculation purposes, shortening of Latin millesimum "one-thousandth part," from mille "a thousand" (see million). Formed on the analogy of cent, which is short for Latin centesimus "one hundredth" (of a dollar). Compare mil.ETD mill (n.2).2

    mill (v.2)

    "to keep moving round and round without purpose in a mass," 1874 (originally of cattle, implied in milling), originally of cattle, from mill (n.1) on resemblance to the action of a mill wheel. Related: Milled.ETD mill (v.2).2

    millage (n.)

    "rate of (real estate) taxation in mills per dollar of assessed value," 1871, U.S., from mill (n.2) + -age.ETD millage (n.).2

    mill-dam (n.)

    "dam to check the flow of a stream and create a fall to furnish power for turning a mill-wheel," 12c., mulnedam; see mill (n.1) + dam (n.).ETD mill-dam (n.).2

    millenary (adj.)

    "consisting of or containing a thousand," 1570s, from Late Latin millenarius "containing a thousand," from millenia "a thousand each," from Latin mille "thousand" (see million). As a noun, 1560s as "a believer in the (Christian) millennium;" by 1897 as "thousandth anniversary."ETD millenary (adj.).2


    "doctrine of or belief in the coming of the (Christian) millennium," 1800, from millenarian + -ism. A general doctrine in the early Church, it was in disfavor from 4c., but revived in Protestant denominations from 17c. From 1640s in the form millenarism.ETD millenarianism.2

    millenarian (n.)

    1670s, "one who believes in the coming of the (Christian) millennium" (by 1550s in Latin plural form millenarii), from Latin millenarius "containing a thousand," from millenia "a thousand each," from mille "thousand" (see million). With -ian. As an adjective, "pertaining to the (Christian) millennium," from 1630s.ETD millenarian (n.).2

    millennialism (n.)

    1906, "millenarianism, belief in the coming or presence of the (Christian) millennium," from millennial + -ism. Related: Millennialist.ETD millennialism (n.).2

    millennial (adj.)

    1660s, "pertaining to the millennium," from stem of millennium + -al (1). Meaning "pertaining to a period of 1,000 years" is from 1807. As a noun from 1896, originally "a thousandth anniversary." From 1991 as a generational name for those born in the mid-1980s and thus coming of age around the year 2000.ETD millennial (adj.).2

    millennia (n.)

    plural of millennium.ETD millennia (n.).2

    millennium (n.)

    1630s, "the 1,000-year period of Christ's anticipated rule on Earth" (Revelation xx.1-5); from Modern Latin millennium, from Latin mille "thousand" (see million) + annus "year" (see annual); formed on analogy of biennium, triennium, etc. For vowel change, see biennial. General (non-theological) sense of "an aggregate of 1,000 years, a period or interval of 1,000 years" is attested by 1711. Meaning "the year 2000 A.D." is attested by 1970.ETD millennium (n.).2

    miller (n.)

    "one who grinds grain in a mill," mid-14c. (as a surname by early 14c.), agent noun from mill (v.1). In Middle English both with and without the -n-. The Old English word was mylnweard, literally "mill-keeper" (preserved in surname Millward, which is attested from late 13c.).ETD miller (n.).2

    millet (n.)

    type of cereal grain known from antiquity and cultivated in warm regions, early 15c. (late 14c. as mile), from Old French millet, millot, diminutive of mil "millet," from Latin milium "millet," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." Cognate with Greek meline, Lithuanian malnos (plural) "millet."ETD millet (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "thousand; thousandth part (of a metric unit)," from combining form of Latin mille "thousand" (see million).ETD milli-.2

    milliard (n.)

    "one thousand million," 1793, from French milliard (16c.), from million (see million) with change of suffix. A word made necessary by the double meaning of billion. It became familiar in English in news coverage of the indemnity paid by France to Germany after the war of 1870-71.ETD milliard (n.).2

    milliary (adj.)

    "pertaining to the ancient Roman mile," 1640s, from Latin milliarius, from mille (see mile (n.)). As a noun, "a milestone," c. 1600, from Latin milliarium.ETD milliary (adj.).2

    millibar (n.)

    unit of barometric pressure, by 1910, from milli- + bar (n.4).ETD millibar (n.).2

    milligram (n.)

    also milligramme, "one-thousandth part of a gram," 1802, from French milligramme; see milli- + gram.ETD milligram (n.).2

    milliliter (n.)

    also millilitre, "one-thousandth part of a liter," 1802, from French millilitre; see milli- + liter.ETD milliliter (n.).2

    millimeter (n.)

    also millimetre, "one-thousandth part of a meter," 1802, from French millimetre; see milli- + meter (n.2).ETD millimeter (n.).2

    milliner (n.)

    by 1520s, "vendor of fancy wares, man who deals in articles for women's wear," probably originally Milaner "native or resident of Milan" (in Middle English Milain, Milein, Millein, etc.), the northern Italian city famous for straw works, fancy goods, silks, ribbons, bonnets, and cutlery. Milener as "a native or inhabitant of Milan" is attested in English from mid-15c. From 16c. to 18c. it is difficult to know whether the English word means a type of merchant or "a resident of Milan" who is selling certain wares. The original milliners were men; by 1713 the word was being used of "a woman who makes and sells bonnets and other headgear for women," and this was the prevailing sense of the word 19c.ETD milliner (n.).2

    millinery (n.)

    1670s, "articles made or sold by a milliner;" see milliner + -y (1). By 1838 as "the industry of making bonnets and other headdresses for women," which in 19c. was noted as a women's occupation.ETD millinery (n.).2

    million (n.)

    "ten hundred thousand, a thousand thousands," late 14c., milioun, from Old French million (late 13c.), from Italian millione (now milione), literally "a great thousand," augmentative of mille "thousand," from Latin mille, which is of uncertain origin. From the start often used indefinitely for "a very great number or quantity."ETD million (n.).2

    In the West it was used mainly by mathematicians until 16c., but India, with its love of large numbers, had names before 3c. for numbers well beyond a billion. The ancient Greeks had no name for a number greater than ten thousand, the Romans for none higher than a hundred thousand. "A million" in Latin would have been decies centena milia, literally "ten hundred thousand." Million to one as a type of "long odds" is attested from 1761. Related: Millions.ETD million (n.).3

    millionaire (n.)

    "a person worth a million dollars, pounds, francs, etc.," 1821, from French millionnaire (1762); see million. The first in America is said to have been John Jacob Astor (1763-1848).ETD millionaire (n.).2


    "a million times as much or many," 1721, from million + -fold.ETD millionfold.2

    millionth (adj.)

    "being one of a million equal parts," 1670s, from million + -th (1).ETD millionth (adj.).2

    millipede (n.)

    also millepede, type of many-legged hard-shelled arthropod, c. 1600, from Latin millepeda "wood louse," a type of crawling, insect-like arthropod, from mille "thousand" (see million) + pes (genitive pedis) "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot." Probably a loan-translation of Greek khiliopous. The native name is thousand-legs. The number of legs is far from 1,000, though they are about twice as numerous as those of the centipede, but unlike some centipedes the millipede is quite harmless.ETD millipede (n.).2

    millisecond (n.)

    "one thousandth of a second," by 1901, from milli- + second (n.).ETD millisecond (n.).2

    mill-pond (n.)

    "reservoir of water behind a dam used for driving a mill-wheel," 1690s, from mill (n.1) + pond. Old English had mylen pol "mill-pool."ETD mill-pond (n.).2

    mill-race (n.)

    "current of water that drives a mill-wheel," late 15c., from mill (n.1) + race (n.1) in the "current" sense.ETD mill-race (n.).2

    millstone (n.)

    "one of a pair of cylindrical stones used in a mill for grinding grain," Middle English millestone, milne-ston, mullestone, from Old English mylenstan, from mill (n.1) + stone (n.). Compare Dutch molensteen, German Mühlstein, Danish møllesten. Figurative sense of "a burden" (1787) is from Matthew xviii.6.ETD millstone (n.).2

    millstream (n.)

    "a mill-race, a current of water that drives a mill-wheel," Old English mylestream; see mill (n.1) + stream (n.).ETD millstream (n.).2

    mill-wheel (n.)

    "wheel used to drive a mill," Old English mylnn-hweol; see mill (n.1) + wheel (n.).ETD mill-wheel (n.).2

    millwork (n.)

    also mill-work, "machinery used in mills or manufacturies," 1770, from mill (n.1) + work (n.).ETD millwork (n.).2

    millwright (n.)

    "engineer who designs and builds mills and their machinery," late 15c., from mill (n.1) + wright.ETD millwright (n.).2

    milord (n.)

    by 1758, from French, where it is a rendering of my lord used as an appellation in speaking to or of an English nobleman.ETD milord (n.).2

    milquetoast (n.)

    "timid, meek person," 1938, from Caspar Milquetoast, character created by U.S. newspaper cartoonist H.T. Webster (1885-1952) in the strip "The Timid Soul," which ran from 1924 in the "New York World" and later the "Herald Tribune." By 1930 the name was being referenced as a type of the meek man. The form seems to be milktoast with an added French twist; also see milksop.ETD milquetoast (n.).2

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