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    navelwort (n.) — negativity (n.)

    navelwort (n.)

    type of plant, mid-15c., from navel + wort. So called from the form of the nutlets.ETD navelwort (n.).2

    navy (n.)

    mid-14c., navie, "fleet of ships," especially for purposes of war, from Old French navie "fleet; ship," from Latin navigia, plural of navigium "vessel, boat," from navis "ship," from PIE root *nau- "boat."ETD navy (n.).2

    Meaning "a nation's collective, organized sea power" is from 1530s. The Old English words were sciphere (usually of Viking invaders) and scipfierd (usually of the home defenses). Navy blue was the color of the British naval uniform. Navy bean attested from 1856, so called because they were grown to be used by the Navy. Navy-yard "government dockyard," in the U.S. "a dockyard where government ships are built or repaired" is by 1842.ETD navy (n.).3

    navicular (adj.)

    "boat-shaped," early 15c., in reference to the navicular bone of the foot, from Late Latin navicularis "pertaining to a boat," from navicula, diminutive of navis "ship" (from PIE root *nau- "boat"). The classical sense of "relating to small ships or boats" (1650s) is rare in English.ETD navicular (adj.).2

    navigable (adj.)

    mid-15c., "affording passage to ships," from Old French navigable (14c.) or directly from Latin navigabilis, from navigat-, past-participle stem of navigare "to pass over in a ship" (see navigation). Related: Navigability.ETD navigable (adj.).2

    navigate (v.)

    1580s, "move from place to place in a ship, sail" (intrans.), a back-formation from navigation, or else from Latin navigatus, past-participle of navigare "to sail, sail over, go by sea, steer a ship," from navis "ship" (from PIE root *nau- "boat") + root of agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Transitive sense of "to pass over in a ship or ships, sail on" is from 1640s; that of "to steer, direct, or manage in sailing" is from 1660s. Extended to balloons (1784) and later to aircraft (1901). Related: Navigated; navigating.ETD navigate (v.).2

    navigational (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to navigation," 1862, from navigation + -al.ETD navigational (adj.).2

    navigator (n.)

    1580s, "one who navigates, one who directs the course of a ship," from Latin navigator "sailor," agent noun from navigat-, stem of navigare "to sail, sail over" (see navigation). Meaning "laborer employed in excavating a canal" is by 1775, from sense in inland navigation "communication by canals and rivers" (1727), later extended to those engaged in making railroads. In England, navigation was used in the sense of "an artificial waterway, or a part of a natural one that has been made navigable" by 1720.ETD navigator (n.).2

    navigation (n.)

    1530s, "act of moving on water in ships or other vessels," from French navigation (14c.) or directly from Latin navigationem (nominative navigatio) "a sailing, navigation, voyage," noun of action from past-participle stem of navigare "to sail, sail over, go by sea, steer a ship," from navis "ship" (from PIE root *nau- "boat") + root of agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Meaning "science or art of directing the course of vessels as they sail" is from 1550s.ETD navigation (n.).2

    navvy (n.)

    "laborer on a canal or railway," 1832, colloquial shortening of navigator (q.v.) in its sense of "one who digs navigation canals."ETD navvy (n.).2

    naysayer (n.)

    "one who refuses or denies," 1721, from verb naysay (implied from 1530s in naysaying); from nay + say (v.). The verbal phrase say (someone) no "refuse, deny" is from c. 1300. Nay-say (n.) "refusal" is from 1630s.ETD naysayer (n.).2

    Nazarene (n.)

    c. 1200, "holy man;" early 13c., "a native or resident of Nazareth," childhood home of Jesus, from Late Latin Nazarenus, from Greek Nazarenos, from Hebrew Natzerath. As an adjective from late 13c. As "a follower of Jesus" from late 14c. In Talmudic Hebrew notzri, literally "of Nazareth," was used dismissively for "a Christian;" likewise Arabic Nasrani (plural Nasara). In Christian use, however, it can be a nickname for Jesus, or refer to an early Jewish Christian sect (1680s in English), or, in modern use, to a member of the Church of the Nazarene, a U.S.-based Protestant denomination (1898 in this sense).ETD Nazarene (n.).2


    town in Lower Galilee, childhood home of Jesus, from Hebrew Natzerath, of unknown origin, perhaps a corruption of Gennesaret "Sea of Galilee." An obscure village, not named in the Old Testament or contemporary rabbinical texts.ETD Nazareth.2


    1930, noun and adjective, from German Nazi, abbreviation of German pronunciation of Nationalsozialist (based on earlier German sozi, popular abbreviation of "socialist"), from Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei "National Socialist German Workers' Party," led by Hitler from 1920.ETD Nazi.2

    The 24th edition of Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (2002) says the word Nazi was favored in southern Germany (supposedly from c. 1924) among opponents of National Socialism because the nickname Nazi, Naczi (from the masc. proper name Ignatz, German form of Ignatius) was used colloquially to mean "a foolish person, clumsy or awkward person." Ignatz was a popular name in Catholic Austria, and according to one source in World War I Nazi was a generic name in the German Empire for the soldiers of Austria-Hungary.ETD Nazi.3

    An older use of Nazi for national-sozial is attested in German from 1903, but EWdS does not think it contributed to the word as applied to Hitler and his followers. The NSDAP for a time attempted to adopt the Nazi designation as what the Germans call a "despite-word," but they gave this up, and the NSDAP is said to have generally avoided the term. Before 1930, party members had been called in English National Socialists, which dates from 1923. The use of Nazi Germany, Nazi regime, etc., was popularized by German exiles abroad. From them, it spread into other languages, and eventually was brought back to Germany, after the war. In the USSR, the terms national socialist and Nazi were said to have been forbidden after 1932, presumably to avoid any taint to the good word socialist. Soviet literature refers to fascists.ETD Nazi.4

    Nazism (n.)

    also Naziism, "the political doctrines expounded and implemented by Adolf Hitler and his followers," 1934, from Nazi + -ism. Perhaps based on French Nazisme (1930).ETD Nazism (n.).2


    abbreviation of Latin nota bene "note well," 1670s.ETD n.b..2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "not."ETD *ne-.2

    It forms all or part of: a- (3) "not, without;" abnegate; ahimsa; an- (1) privative prefix; annihilate; annul; aught (n.2) "zero, nothing;" deny; hobnob; in- (1) "not, opposite of, without;" ixnay; naught; naughty; nay; nefarious; negate; neglect; negligee; negotiate; neither; nepenthe; nescience; nescient; neuter; never; nice; nihilism; nihility; nil; nill; nimiety; nix; no; non-; none; nonplus; nor; not; nothing; null; nullify; nulliparous; renegade; renege; un- (1) prefix of negation; willy-nilly.ETD *ne-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit a-, an- "not;" Avestan na "not;" Greek a-, an-, ne- "not;" Latin in- "not," ne "that not;" Old Church Slavonic and Lithuanian ne "not;" Old Irish an-, ni, Cornish ny "not;" Gothic and Old English un- "not."ETD *ne-.4

    neal (v.)

    "to temper by heat," 1530s, shortened form of anneal. Related: Nealed; nealing.ETD neal (v.).2

    Neanderthal (adj.)

    1861, in reference to a type of extinct hominid, from German Neanderthal "Neander Valley," name of a gorge near Düsseldorf where humanoid fossils were identified in 1856.ETD Neanderthal (adj.).2

    The place name is from the Graecized form of Joachim Neumann (literally "new man," Greek *neo-ander), 1650-1680, German pastor, poet and hymn-writer, who made this a favorite spot in the 1670s. Adopting a classical form of one's surname was a common practice among educated Germans in this era. As a noun, by 1915; as a type of a big, brutish, stupid person from 1926. They were extinct by about 35,000 years ago. That they interbred with modern humans was long debated and denied, but DNA analysis settled the question in 2013: They did.ETD Neanderthal (adj.).3

    neap (adj.)

    "low, lowest," applied to tides which have the least difference of height between the flood and ebb, late 15c., from Old English nepflod "neap flood," the tide occurring at the end of the first and third quarters of the lunar month, in which high waters are at their lowest, of unknown origin, with no known cognates (Danish niptid probably is from English). Original sense perhaps is "without power." As a noun from 1580s, "a neap tide," also sometimes in modern use "the ebb or lowest point of a tide."ETD neap (adj.).2

    Neapolitan (n.)

    early 15c., "native or resident of Naples," literally "of Naples," from Latin Neapolitanus, from Neapolis (see Naples); it preserves in English the Greek name of the city. As an adjective from 1590s. As a type of ice cream, from 1871; originally meaning both "ice cream of three layers and flavors" and "ice cream made with eggs added to the cream before freezing." In early 18c., Neapolitan consolation meant "syphilis."ETD Neapolitan (n.).2

    near (adv.)

    Old English near "closer, nearer," comparative of neah, neh "nigh." Partially by the influence of Old Norse naer "near," it came to be used in English as a positive form mid-13c., and new comparative nearer developed in the 1500s (see nigh). Originally an adverb but now supplanted in most such senses by nearly; it has in turn supplanted correct nigh as an adjective.ETD near (adv.).2

    The adjectival use dates from c. 1300, "being close by, not distant;" from late 14c. as "closely related by kinship;" 1610s as "economical, parsimonious." Colloquial use for "so as to barely escape injury or danger" (as in a near thing, near miss) is by 1751. As a preposition, "close to, close by, near in space or time," from mid-13c. Related: Nearness. In near and dear (1620s) it refers to nearness of kinship. Near East is by 1894 (probably based on Far East). Near beer "low-alcoholic brew" is from 1908.ETD near (adv.).3

    near (v.)

    "to draw near, approach," 1510s, from near (adv.). Related: Neared; nearing.ETD near (v.).2

    nearby (adv.)

    also near-by, "close at hand, not far off," late 14c., from near (adv.) + by (adv.). As a preposition from mid-15c.; as an adjective by 1858. Middle English also had ner-honde "near-hand; near in space or time" (c. 1300).ETD nearby (adv.).2

    nearly (adv.)

    1530s, "carefully," 1570s, "close at hand, in close proximity;" see near + -ly (2). Meaning "almost, all but, within a little of" is from 1680s.ETD nearly (adv.).2

    near-sighted (adj.)

    also nearsighted, "seeing distinctly at a short distance only," 1680s, from near + sight. Figurative use is by 1856. Related: Nearsightedly; nearsightedness.ETD near-sighted (adj.).2

    neat (adj.)

    1540s, "clean, free from dirt," from Anglo-French neit, French net "clear, pure" (12c.), from Latin nitidus "well-favored, elegant, trim," literally "gleaming," from nitere "to shine," from PIE root *nei- "to shine" (source also of Middle Irish niam "gleam, splendor," niamda "shining;" Old Irish noib "holy," niab "strength;" Welsh nwyfiant "gleam, splendor").ETD neat (adj.).2

    From 1540s as "well-shaped, well-proportioned; characterized by nicety of appearance." Meaning "inclined to be tidy" is from 1570s; sense of "in good order" is from 1590s. Of liquor, "straight, undiluted," c. 1800, from meaning "unadulterated" (of wine), which is first attested 1570s. Informal sense of "very good, desirable" is noted by 1934 in American English, but in many earlier senses in English since 17c. neat seems to be simply a vague commendatory word; variant neato is teenager slang, by 1968. Related: Neatly; neatness.ETD neat (adj.).3

    neat (n.)

    "oxen, bullocks, cows, bovine cattle collectively," Old English neat "ox, beast, animal," singularly or collectively, from Proto-Germanic *nautam "thing of value, possession" (source also of Old Frisian nat, Middle Dutch noot, Old High German noz, Old Norse naut), from PIE root *neud- "to make use of, enjoy." Related: Neatherd; neats-foot.ETD neat (n.).2

    neaten (v.)

    "to make spruce or tidy," 1843, from neat (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Neatened; neatening.ETD neaten (v.).2

    neath (adv.)

    also 'neath, 1787, poetic shortening of beneath (q.v.).ETD neath (adv.).2

    neatnik (n.)

    "excessively tidy person," 1959, from neat (adj.) with a punning play on beatnik.ETD neatnik (n.).2

    neato (adj.)

    by 1968, American English teenager slang variant of neat (adj.) in its slang sense.ETD neato (adj.).2

    neb (n.)

    "beak or bill of a bird," Old English nebb "beak, nose; human face, countenance; beak-shaped thing," from Proto-Germanic nabja "beak, nose" (source also of Old Norse nef "beak, nose," Middle Dutch nebbe "beak," Old High German snabul, German Schnabel "beak," Old Frisian snavel "mouth"), which is of uncertain origin.ETD neb (n.).2

    nebbish (n.)

    "ineffectual or hapless person," 1905, nebbich, from Yiddish (used as a Yiddish word in American English from 1890s), from a Slavic source akin to Czech neboh "poor, unfortunate," literally "un-endowed," from Proto-Slavic *ne-bogu-, with negative prefix (see un- (1)) + from PIE root *bhag- "to share out, apportion; to get a share." Also as an adjective.ETD nebbish (n.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "cloud."ETD *nebh-.2

    It forms all or part of: nebula; nebular; nebulosity; nebulous; Neptune; Nibelungenlied; Niflheim; nimbus.ETD *nebh-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit nabhas- "vapor, cloud, mists, fog, sky;" Greek nephele, nephos "cloud;" Latin nebula "mist, vapor, fog, smoke, exhalation;" German Nebel "fog;" Old English nifol "dark, gloomy;" Welsh niwl "cloud, fog;" Slavic nebo.ETD *nebh-.4


    U.S. territory organized 1854, admitted as a state 1867, from a native Siouan name for the Platte River, either Omaha ni braska or Oto ni brathge, both literally "water flat." The modern river name is from French rivière platte, which means "flat river." Related: Nebraskan.ETD Nebraska.2


    king of Babylon (604-562 B.C.E.), from Hebrew Nebhukhadhnetztzar, from Babylonian Nabu-kudurri-usur, probably literally "Nebo, protect the boundary." A late 14c. Middle English text renders it as Nabugodenozar.ETD Nebuchadnezzar.2

    nebulizer (n.)

    "instrument for reducing a liquid to spray" (for inhalation, etc.), 1865, agent noun from verb nebulize "to reduce to a mist or spray" (1865), from Latin nebula "mist" (see nebula) + -ize. Related: Nebulization.ETD nebulizer (n.).2

    nebulous (adj.)

    late 14c., "cloudy, misty, hazy" (of the eye, fire-smoke, etc.), from Latin nebulosus "cloudy, misty, foggy, full of vapor," from nebula "mist, vapor" (from PIE root *nebh- "cloud"). The figurative sense of "hazy, vague, formless" is attested by 1831. Astronomical sense, in reference to stars or star clusters surrounded by luminous haze, is from 1670s. Related: Nebulously; nebulousness.ETD nebulous (adj.).2

    nebula (n.)

    mid-15c., nebule "a cloud, mist," from Latin nebula, plural nebulae, "mist, vapor, fog, smoke, exhalation," figuratively "darkness, obscurity," from PIE root *nebh- "cloud."ETD nebula (n.).2

    Re-borrowed from Latin 1660s in sense of "cataracts in the eye;" astronomical meaning "luminous cloud-like patch in the heavens" is from c. 1730. As early as Herschel (1802) astronomers realized that some nebulae were star clusters, but the certain distinction of relatively nearby cosmic gas clouds from distant galaxies (as these are now properly called) was not made until the 1920s, when the latter were resolved into individual stars (and nebulae) using the new 100-inch Mt. Wilson telescope.ETD nebula (n.).3

    nebular (adj.)

    1821, "pertaining to an (astronomical) nebula or nebulae," from nebula + -ar.ETD nebular (adj.).2

    nebulosity (n.)

    1754, "cloudiness, haziness," from French nébulosité, from Late Latin nebulositatem (nominative nebulositas), from Latin nebulosus, from nebula "mist, vapor" (from PIE root *nebh- "cloud"). From 1761 as "faint, misty appearance surrounding certain stars."ETD nebulosity (n.).2

    necessity (n.)

    late 14c., necessite, "constraining power of circumstances; compulsion (physical or moral), the opposite of liberty; a condition requisite for the attainment of any purpose," from Old French necessité "need, necessity; privation, poverty; distress, torment; obligation, duty" (12c.), from Latin necessitatem (nominative necessitas) "compulsion, need for attention, unavoidableness, destiny," from necesse (see necessary). Meaning "condition of being in need, want of the means of living" in English is from late 14c.ETD necessity (n.).2

    To maken vertu of necessite is in Chaucer. Related: Necessities.ETD necessity (n.).3

    necessary (adj.)

    late 14c., necessarie, "needed, required; essential, indispensable; such as must be, that cannot be otherwise; not voluntary or governed by chance or free will," from Old French necessaire "necessary, urgent, compelling" (13c.), and directly from Latin necessarius "unavoidable, indispensable, necessary," from necesse "unavoidable, indispensable," originally "no backing away," from ne- "not" (from PIE root *ne-) + cedere "to withdraw, go away, yield" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield").ETD necessary (adj.).2

    The etymological sense is of that from which there is no evasion, that which is inevitable. Necessary house "privy" is from 1610s (compare Medieval Latin necessarium "a privy"). Necessary evil is from 1540s (the original reference was to "woman").ETD necessary (adj.).3

    necessary (n.)

    also necessaries, mid-14c., "that which is indispensable; needed, required, or useful things; the necessities of life; actions determined by right or law; that which cannot be disregarded or omitted," perhaps from Old French necessaire (n.) "private parts, genitalia; lavatory," and directly from Latin necessarius (n.), in classical Latin "a relation, relative, kinsman; friend, client, patron;" see necessary (adj.).ETD necessary (n.).2

    necessarily (adv.)

    late 14c., necesserili, "inevitably, unavoidably, so that it cannot be otherwise," from necessary (adj.) + -ly (2). As "a necessary result or consequence" from c. 1500.ETD necessarily (adv.).2

    necessitate (v.)

    1620s, "force irresistably, compel, oblige," also "make necessary, render unavoidable," from Medieval Latin necessitatus, past participle of necessitare "to render necessary," from Latin necessitas "compulsion; destiny" (see necessity). Earlier verb in English was necessen (late 14c.). Related: Necessitated; necessitates; necessitating.ETD necessitate (v.).2

    necessitation (n.)

    "act of making necessary," 1650s, noun of action from necessitate.ETD necessitation (n.).2

    necessitarian (n.)

    "one who maintains the doctrines of philosophical necessitarianism," which holds that the action of the will is subject to the law of cause and effect (opposed to philosophical libertarianism), 1754, from necessity + -arian. As an adjective from 1739. Related: Necessitarianism.ETD necessitarian (n.).2

    neck (v.)

    "to kiss, embrace, caress," 1825 (implied in necking) in northern England dialect, from neck (n.). Compare Middle English halsen "to embrace or caress affectionately, to fondle sexually," from hals (n.) "neck." Earlier, neck as a verb meant "to kill by a strike on the neck" (mid-15c.). Related: Necked.ETD neck (v.).2

    neck (n.)

    "that part of an animal body between the head and the trunk and which connects those parts," Middle English nekke, from Old English hnecca "neck, nape, back of the neck" (a fairly rare word) from Proto-Germanic *hnekk- "the nape of the neck" (source also of Old Frisian hnekka, Middle Dutch necke, Dutch nek, Old Norse hnakkr, Old High German hnach, German Nacken "neck"), with no certain cognates outside Germanic, though Klein's sources suggest PIE *knok- "high point, ridge" (source of Old Irish cnocc, Welsh cnwch, Old Breton cnoch "hill").ETD neck (n.).2

    The more usual Old English words were hals (the general Germanic word, cognate with Gothic, Old Norse, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, German hals), from Proto-Germanic *halsaz, which is perhaps cognate with Latin collum (see collar (n.)); and sweora, swira "neck, nape," probably also from a PIE root meaning "column" (cognate with Old English swer "column," Sanskrit svaru- "post").ETD neck (n.).3

    Oxen and other draught animals being yoked by the neck, it became a symbol of burdens, of submission or subjugation, and also resistance or obstinacy (compare stiff-necked). Figuratively, "life" (late 15c.) from the breaking or severing of the neck in legal executions. Meaning "narrow part at the top of a bottle" is from late 14c.; meaning "part of a garment which covers the neck" is from 1520s. Meaning "long, slender part of a stringed musical instrument" is from 1610s.ETD neck (n.).4

    Sense of "isthmus, long, narrow strip of land connecting two larger ones" is from 1550s. Phrase neck of the woods (American English) is attested from 1780 in the sense of "narrow stretch of woods;" 1839 with meaning "settlement in a wooded region." To stick (one's) neck out "take a risk" is recorded by 1919, American English. Horses running neck and neck "at an equal pace" is attested from 1799; to win by a neck is from 1823. To be up to the neck "have a lot of" at first (mid-19c.) suggested "fed full," but since c. 1900 it has implied "in deep."ETD neck (n.).5

    necking (n.)

    "embracing and caressing a member of the opposite sex," 1825; see neck (v.). In architecture, "moldings near the capital of a column."ETD necking (n.).2

    necked (adj.)

    "having a neck" (of a specified kind); see neck (n.).ETD necked (adj.).2

    neck-band (n.)

    1590s, "part of a shirt which encircles the neck," from neck (n.) + band (n.1). Earlier it meant "band for the neck of an animal" (mid-15c.).ETD neck-band (n.).2

    neckerchief (n.)

    "scarf for the neck," late 14c., from neck (n.) + kerchief, which is, etymologically "a covering for the head," making the whole formation pleonastic. Corrupted form neckercher is from mid-15c.ETD neckerchief (n.).2

    necklace (n.)

    "flexible ornament worn round the neck," 1580s, from neck (n.) + lace (n.) in the sense of "cord, string." As the name of a South African form of lynching, from 1985. Related: Necklaced.ETD necklace (n.).2

    neckless (adj.)

    "having no neck," c. 1600, from neck (n.) + -less.ETD neckless (adj.).2

    neckline (n.)

    also neck-line, "shape of the top of a woman's garment at the front," 1900, from neck (n.) + line (n.).ETD neckline (n.).2

    necktie (n.)

    "narrow band of silk, satin, etc., worn around the neck and tied in front," 1838, from neck (n.) + tie (n.). American English slang necktie party "a lynching" is recorded from 1871.ETD necktie (n.).2

    neck-verse (n.)

    some printed Latin text (usually Psalm li.1) "set by the ordinary of a prison before a malefactor claiming benefit of clergy, in order to test his ability to read. If the ordinary or his deputy said legit ut clericus (he reads like a clerk or scholar), the malefactor was burned in the hand and set free, thus saving his neck" [Century Dictionary]. See neck (n.) + verse (n.).ETD neck-verse (n.).2

    neckweed (n.)

    old slang for "hemp," 1560s, from it being used for making a hangman's noose; from neck (n.) + weed (n.).ETD neckweed (n.).2

    neckwear (n.)

    "neckties, scarfs, cravats, collars, etc.," by 1859, from neck (n.) + wear (n.).ETD neckwear (n.).2


    before vowels, necr-, word-forming element meaning "death, corpse, dead tissue," from Latinized form of Greek nekros "dead body, corpse, dead person," from PIE root *nek- (1) "death."ETD necro-.2

    necrographer (n.)

    "a writer of obituary notices," 1808, from necro- "death" + ending as in biographer, etc.ETD necrographer (n.).2

    necrolatry (n.)

    "worship of the dead or their spirits," 1826, from Latinized form of Ecclesiastical Greek nekrolatreia; see necro- "death" + -latry "worship of."ETD necrolatry (n.).2

    necrology (n.)

    "register of deaths, obituary notices," 1705, from necro- "death" + -logy. Originally of those connected with a certain institution; by 1854 in reference to persons who died within a certain time. Related: Necrologic; necrological; necrologist.ETD necrology (n.).2

    necromancy (n.)

    c. 1300, nygromauncy, nigromauncie, "sorcery, witchcraft, black magic," properly "divination by communication with the dead," from Old French nigromancie "magic, necromancy, witchcraft, sorcery," from Medieval Latin nigromantia (13c.), from Latin necromantia "divination from an exhumed corpse," from Greek nekromanteia, from nekros "dead body" (from PIE root *nek- (1) "death") + manteia "divination, oracle," from manteuesthai "to prophesy," from mantis "one who divines, a seer, prophet; one touched by divine madness," from mainesthai "be inspired," which is related to menos "passion, spirit" (see mania). The spelling was influenced in Medieval Latin by niger "black," on notion of "black arts;" the modern English spelling is a mid-16c. correction. Related: Necromantic.ETD necromancy (n.).2

    necromancer (n.)

    late 14c., nygromanser, nigromauncere, "sorcerer, adept in black magic," from Old French nigromansere, from nigromancie (see necromancy). Properly "one who communicates with the dead" but typically used in a broader sense in English.ETD necromancer (n.).2

    necrophagous (adj.)

    "eating or feeding on carrion," 1819, from Medieval Latin necrophagus, from Greek nekrophagos; see necro- "corpse" + -phagous.ETD necrophagous (adj.).2

    necrophilia (n.)

    "morbid attraction toward the dead," 1892, in Chaddock's translation of Krafft-Ebbing's "Psychopathia Sexualis," from necro- "death, corpse" + -philia. Related: Necrophilism (1864); necrophilous; necrophiliac.ETD necrophilia (n.).2

    necrophobia (n.)

    "horror of death; abnormal fear of corpses," 1833, from necro- "death, corpse" + -phobia "fear." Related: Necrophobic.ETD necrophobia (n.).2

    necropolis (n.)

    "large cemetery" of an ancient or modern city, 1803, from Late Latin, literally "city of the dead," from Greek Nekropolis, a burial place near Alexandria, from nekros "corpse" (from PIE root *nek- (1) "death") + polis "city" (see polis).ETD necropolis (n.).2

    necropsy (n.)

    "post-mortem examination," 1839, from necro- "death, corpse" + opsis "a sight" (from PIE root *okw- "to see"). As a verb, recorded from 1889. Alternative necroscopy is attested from 1820.ETD necropsy (n.).2

    necrosis (n.)

    "death of bodily tissue," 1660s, from Latinized form of Greek nekrosis "a becoming dead, state of death," from nekroun "make dead," from nekros "dead body" (from PIE root *nek- (1) "death"). Related: Necrotic.ETD necrosis (n.).2

    necrotomy (n.)

    "dissection of dead bodies," 1821; see necro- "corpse" -tomy "a cutting."ETD necrotomy (n.).2

    nectar (n.)

    1550s, from Latin nectar, from Greek nektar, name of the drink of the gods, which is perhaps an ancient Indo-European poetic compound of nek- "death" (from PIE root *nek- (1) "death") + -tar "overcoming," from PIE root *tere- (2) "cross over, pass through, overcome." Sense of "any delicious drink" is from 1580s. Meaning "sweet liquid in flowers" first recorded c. 1600.ETD nectar (n.).2

    nectarine (n.)

    type of peach with smooth skin and firmer pulp, 1660s, noun use of adjective meaning "of or like nectar" (1610s; see nectar + -ine (1)). Probably inspired by German nektarpfirsich "nectar-peach." Earlier in English as nectrine.ETD nectarine (n.).2


    masc. proper name, a familiar abbreviation of Edward. Related: Neddy. From 1790 as the "an ass or donkey."ETD Ned.2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to bind, tie."ETD *ned-.2

    It forms all or part of: annex; annexation; connect; connection; denouement; net (n.) "netting, network, mesh used for capturing;" nettle; nexus; node; nodule; noose.ETD *ned-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit nahyati "binds, ties;" Latin nodus "knot;" Old Irish nascim "I bind, oblige;" Old English net "netting, network."ETD *ned-.4

    nee (adj.)

    introducing the maiden name of a married woman, 1758, from French née, literally "born," fem. past participle of naître "born," from Latin natus, past participle of nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci, from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget").ETD nee (adj.).2

    need (v.)

    Old English neodian "be necessary, be required (for some purpose)," intransitive; also transitive, "require, have need of," from the same root as need (n.). Meaning "to be under obligation (to do something)," especially in negative or interrogative sentences implying obligation or necessity, is from late 14c. Related: Needed; needing. The adjectival phrase need-to-know is attested from 1952. Dismissive phrase who needs it?, popular from c. 1960, is a translated Yiddishism.ETD need (v.).2

    need (n.)

    Middle English nede, from Old English nied (West Saxon), ned (Mercian) "what is required, wanted, or desired; necessity, compulsion, the constraint of unavoidable circumstances; duty; hardship, emergency, trouble, time of peril or distress; errand, business," originally "violence, force," from Proto-Germanic *nauthiz/*naudiz (source also of Old Saxon nod, Old Norse nauðr "distress, emergency, need," Old Frisian ned, "force, violence; danger, anxiety, fear; need," Middle Dutch, Dutch nood "need, want, distress, peril," Old High German not, German Not "need, distress, necessity, hardship," Gothic nauþs "need").ETD need (n.).2

    This is apparently from a root *nauti- "death, to be exhausted," source also of Old English ne, neo, Old Norse na, Gothic naus "corpse;" Old Irish naunae "famine, shortage," Old Cornish naun "corpse;" Old Church Slavonic navi "corpse," nazda, Russian nuzda, Polish nędza "misery, distress;" Old Prussian nowis "corpse," nautin "need, distress," nawe "death;" Lithuanian novyti "to torture, kill," nove "death." As it is attested only in Germanic, Celtic, and Balto-Slavic, it might be non-PIE, from a regional substrate language.ETD need (n.).3

    From 12c. as "lack of something that is necessary or important; state or condition of needing something;" also "a necessary act, required work or duty." Meaning "extreme poverty, destitution, want of means of subsistence" is from early 14c.ETD need (n.).4

    The more common Old English word for "need, necessity, want" was ðearf, but they were connected via a notion of "trouble, pain," and the two formed a compound, niedðearf "need, necessity, compulsion, thing needed." Nied also might have been influenced by Old English neod "desire, longing," which often was spelled the same. Nied was common in Old English compounds, such as niedfaru "compulsory journey," a euphemism for "death;" niedhæmed "rape" (the second element being an Old English word meaning "sexual intercourse"); niedling "slave."ETD need (n.).5

    needful (adj.)

    c. 1200, niedfulle, "necessary, needed, useful," also "in want, poor, hungry, starving, having or exhibiting need or distress," from need (n.) + -ful. Meaning "characterized by need" is from mid-13c. From mid-14c. as "indispensable, necessary," also "urgent, demanding attention."ETD needful (adj.).2

    As a noun, "the poor," from c. 1200. The meaning "what is necessary" is from 1709. The colloquial sense of "cash" is recorded from 1774 in phrase the needful "ready money." Related: Needfully; needfulness.ETD needful (adj.).3

    needs (adv.)

    "of necessity, necessarily," late 14c. and surviving in archaic constructions involving must, from Middle English nede (see need), used as an adverb reinforcing must (v.), hence the genitive ending.ETD needs (adv.).2

    needfire (n.)

    1630s, "fire produced by the friction of one piece of wood upon another or of a rope upon a stick of wood," from need (n.) + fire (n.).ETD needfire (n.).2

    needy (adj.)

    c. 1300, neodi, "very poor, indigent," from need (n.) + adjectival suffix -y (2). Similar formation in Dutch noodig, German nothig, Old Norse nauðigr. The sense of "needing or desiring more, not satisfied" is from early 14c. As a noun from early 15c. Related: Needily; neediness.ETD needy (adj.).2

    needle (n.)

    Old English nædl "small, pointed instrument for carrying a thread through woven fabric, leather, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *næthlo (source also of Old Saxon nathla, Old Norse nal, Old Frisian nedle, Old High German nadala, German Nadel, Gothic neþla "needle"), literally "a tool for sewing," from PIE *net-la-, from root *(s)ne- "to sew, to spin" (source also of Sanskrit snayati "wraps up," Greek nein "to spin," Latin nere "to spin," German nähen "to sew," Old Church Slavonic niti "thread," Old Irish snathat "needle," Welsh nyddu "to sew," nodwydd "needle") + instrumental suffix *-tla.ETD needle (n.).2

    Meaning "piece of magnetized steel in a compass" is from late 14c. (on a dial or indicator from 1928); the surgical instrument so called from 1727; phonographic sense from 1902; sense of "leaf of a fir or pine tree" first attested 1797. Needledom "the world of sewing" is from 1847. Needle's eye, figurative of a minute opening, often is a reference to Matthew xix.24.ETD needle (n.).3

    needle (v.)

    1715, "to sew or pierce with a needle," from needle (n.). Meaning "goad, provoke" (1881) probably is from earlier meaning "haggle in making a bargain" (1812). Needler, in addition to "maker or seller of needles" (late 14c.) meant "a sharp bargainer, thrifty person" (1829). Related: Needled; needling.ETD needle (v.).2

    needlepoint (n.)

    c. 1700, "the point of a needle;" 1865, "point lace made with the needle," 1865, from needle (n.) + point (n.).ETD needlepoint (n.).2

    needless (adj.)

    "not needed, unnecessary," c. 1300, nedeles, from need (n.) + -less. Related: Needlessly. Phrase needless to say or speak is recorded from early 16c.ETD needless (adj.).2

    needlework (n.)

    "sewing, embroidery, etc.; work produced by means of the needle," late 14c., from needle (n.) + work (n.).ETD needlework (n.).2

    needways (adv.)

    "by necessity, by compulsion," early 14c., a northern and Scottish word, marked as obsolete in OED; from need (n.) + way (n.), with adverbial genitive. In a similar sense Middle English also had needgates, needlong (c. 1400).ETD needways (adv.).2

    neep (n.)

    "a turnip," Scottish and dialectal, from Middle English nepe, from Old English (West Saxon) næp, Anglian nēp, "turnip," from Latin napus (see turnip).ETD neep (n.).2


    c. 1200, contraction of never.ETD ne'er.2

    ne'er-do-well (n.)

    "one who is good for nothing," 1737, Scottish and northern English dialect, from contraction of phrase never do well. The adjective is attested by 1773.ETD ne'er-do-well (n.).2

    neese (v.)

    also neeze "sneeze," mid-14c., nesen, probably from Old Norse hnjosa, of imitative origin (compare Old High German niosan, German niesen, Middle Dutch niesen). It is said to survive in north of England dialect and Scottish. Compare sneeze. Related: Neesing; neezing.ETD neese (v.).2

    nefandous (adj.)

    "not to be spoken of, abominable, very shocking to the general sense of justice or religion," 1630s, from Latin nefandus "unmentionable, impious, heinous," from ne-, negative particle (see un- (1)), + fandus "to be spoken," gerundive of fari "to speak," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say."ETD nefandous (adj.).2

    nefarious (adj.)

    "wicked in the extreme," c. 1600, from Latin nefarius "wicked, abominable, impious," from nefas "crime, wrong, impiety," from ne- "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + fas "right, lawful, divinely spoken," related to fari "to speak," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Related: Nefariously; nefariousness.ETD nefarious (adj.).2

    negative (v.)

    "reject, refuse to accept," 1706, from negative (adj.).ETD negative (v.).2

    negative (n.)

    late 14c., "a prohibition" (a sense now obsolete), also "absence, nonexistence; opposite," from Old French negatif and directly from Latin negativus (see negative (adj.)).ETD negative (n.).2

    Meaning "a negative statement" is from 1560s. Sense of "that side of a question which denies what the opposite side affirms" is from 1570s. Meaning "the right or power of refusing assent" is from 1610s. Meaning "a negative quality" is from 1640s. In mathematics, "a negative number," from 1706. Photographic sense of "image in which the lights and shades are the opposite of those in nature" is recorded by 1853. As a response, "I refuse, disagree, no," from 1945, originally in radio communication.ETD negative (n.).3

    negative (adj.)

    c. 1400, negatif, "expressing denial" (a sense now rare or obsolete), from Anglo-French negatif (early 14c.), Old French negatif (13c.) and directly from Latin negativus "that which denies," from negat-, past-participle stem of negare "deny, say no" (see deny).ETD negative (adj.).2

    The meaning "expressing negation" is from c. 1500; that of "characterized by absence of that which is affirmative or positive" is from 1560s. Algebraic sense, denoting quantities which are a subtraction from zero, is from 1670s. The electricity sense is from 1755.ETD negative (adj.).3

    Related: Negatively.ETD negative (adj.).4

    negativity (n.)

    "the quality of being negative in any sense," 1842, from negative + -ity.ETD negativity (n.).2

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