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    negation (n.) — nerf

    negation (n.)

    early 15c., negacioun, "an act of denial," from Old French negacion (12c.) and directly from Latin negationem (nominative negatio) "denial," noun of action from past-participle stem of negare "deny, say no," from PIE root *ne- "not." As "a negative assertion," mid-15c.ETD negation (n.).2

    negate (v.)

    "deny, make negative or null," 1795 (with an isolated use from 1620s), a back-formation from negation, or else from Latin negatus, past participle of negare, from PIE root *ne- "not." Related: Negated; negates; negating.ETD negate (v.).2

    negativism (n.)

    1824, "the policy of opposition;" see negative (adj.) + -ism. Or, specifically, "the views of a negationist" (one who simply denies beliefs commonly held without asserting an opposite view). Related: Negativistic.ETD negativism (n.).2

    negatory (adj.)

    "expressing denial or negation," 1570s, from French negatoire or directly from Medieval Latin negatorius "negative," from Latin negatus, past participle of negare "deny, say no, to refuse" (from PIE root *ne- "not"). In the sense "no" it is U.S. Air Force slang from the early 1950s.ETD negatory (adj.).2

    negentropy (n.)

    1950, compounded from negative entropy.ETD negentropy (n.).2

    neglectful (adj.)

    "characterized by inattention or indifference," 1640s, from neglect (n.) + -ful. Related: Neglectfully; neglectfulness. Earlier in same sense was neglective (1610s).ETD neglectful (adj.).2

    neglect (n.)

    1580s, "act of treating with slight attention;" 1590s, "omission, oversight, want of attention to what ought to be done;" from neglect (v.) or from Latin neglectus "a neglecting," noun use of past participle of neglegere.ETD neglect (n.).2

    neglected (adj.)

    "not treated with proper care or attention," c. 1600, past-participle adjective from neglect (v.). Related: Neglectedness.ETD neglected (adj.).2

    neglect (v.)

    1520s, "omit to do or perform;" 1530s, "treat carelessly or heedlessly, treat with disrespect or without proper attention or care;" from Latin neglectus, past participle of neglegere "to make light of, disregard, be indifferent to, not heed, not trouble oneself about," literally "not to pick up," variant of neclegere, from Old Latin nec "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + legere "pick up, select," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." Related: Neglected; neglecting.ETD neglect (v.).2

    neglection (n.)

    "neglect, negligence," 1590s, but by 1700 surviving only as a word in Shakespeare, from Latin neglectionem (nominative neglectio) "a neglecting," noun of action from past-participle stem of neglegere (see neglect (v.)).ETD neglection (n.).2

    negligible (adj.)

    "capable of being neglected, admitting of being disregarded," 1819, from negligence + -ible. Related: Negligibly; negligibility.ETD negligible (adj.).2

    negligence (n.)

    "heedless disregard of duty, inactivity, indifference, habit of omitting to do things which ought to be done," mid-14c., necligence, from Old French negligence "negligence, sloth; injury, injustice" (12c.), and directly from Latin neclegentia, neglegentia "carelessness, heedlessness, neglect," from neglegentem (nominative neglegens) "heedless, careless, unconcerned," present participle of neglegere "to neglect" (see neglect (v.)).ETD negligence (n.).2

    negligent (adj.)

    late 14c., necligent, of persons, "remiss, indifferent to duty," from Old French negligent "careless, negligent" (13c.) and directly from Latin negligentem (nominative neglegens) "heedless, careless, unconcerned," present participle of neglegere "to neglect" (see neglect (v.)). Of action, conduct, etc., c. 1500. Related: Negligently.ETD negligent (adj.).2

    negligee (n.)

    1756, "a kind of loose gown worn by women," from French négligée, noun use of fem. past participle of négligier "to neglect" (14c.), from Latin neglegere "to disregard, not heed, not trouble oneself about," also "to make light of" (see neglect (v.)).ETD negligee (n.).2

    So called in comparison to the elaborate costume of a fully dressed woman of the period. Grose ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1788] reports it "vulgarly termed a neggledigee." The word was borrowed again c.1835; the modern sense "semi-transparent, flimsy, lacy dressing gown" is yet another revival, recorded from 1930. It also was used in the U.S. funeral industry mid-20c. for "shroud of a corpse."ETD negligee (n.).3

    negotiation (n.)

    early 15c., negotiacioun, "a dealing with people, trafficking," from Old French negociacion "business, trade," and directly from Latin negotiationem (nominative negotiatio) "business, traffic," noun of action from past participle stem of negotiari "carry on business, do business, act as a banker," from negotium "a business, employment, occupation, affair (public or private)," also "difficulty, pains, trouble, labor," literally "lack of leisure," from neg- "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + otium "ease, leisure," a word of unknown origin.ETD negotiation (n.).2

    The sense expansion from "doing business" to also include "bargaining" about anything took place in Latin. Meaning "mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement" is from 1570s.ETD negotiation (n.).3

    negotiate (v.)

    1590s, "to communicate with another or others in search of mutual agreement," a back-formation from negotiation, or else from Latin negotiatus, past participle of negotiari "carry on business, do business," from negotium "a business, employment, occupation, affair (public or private)," literally "lack of leisure," from neg- "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + otium "ease, leisure," a word of unknown etymology.ETD negotiate (v.).2

    Transitive sense of "arrange for or procure by negotiation" is from 1610s. In the sense of "handle, manage, tackle successfully" (1862), it at first meant "to clear on horseback a hedge, fence, or other obstacle" and "originated in the hunting-field; those who hunt the fox like also to hunt jocular verbal novelties" [Gowers, 1965]. Related: Negotiated; negotiating.ETD negotiate (v.).3

    negotiable (adj.)

    1749, "capable of being negotiated" (of bills, bank notes, etc.), from negotiate + -able, or from French négociable (17c.). Of roads, passages, etc., by 1880. Related: Negotiably; negotiability.ETD negotiable (adj.).2

    negotiator (n.)

    1590s, "businessman" (a sense now obsolete); c. 1600, "one who carries on negotiations, one who treats with others as either principal or agent;" from Latin negotiator "one who carries on business by wholesale," from negotiatus, past participle of negotiari "carry on business, do business" (see negotiation).ETD negotiator (n.).2

    Negress (n.)

    "female of one of the black races of Africa," 1750, from French négresse, fem. of nègre "negro," which came to French via Spanish or Portuguese (see Negro). "In recent years felt by some to have 'racist' connotations" [OED, 1991]. Negrine (1703) also was used.ETD Negress (n.).2

    negrification (n.)

    "fact or act of making Negro; a placing under control of blacks," 1929, in social context, from Negro on model of pacification, etc. Related: Negrify; negrified (1855). Johnson (1755) has nigrification in a literal sense "act of making black," and nigrify "blacken" is from 1650s. Negrofy "to turn into a Negro" is from 1790.ETD negrification (n.).2

    Negritic (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the Negro race," 1851, from Negro + -itic. Nigritic (1883) is especially "of or pertaining to the (dark-skinned) Oceanic races," though formerly they were used somewhat interchangeably.ETD Negritic (adj.).2

    negritude (n.)

    also Negritude, 1950, from French négritude; see Negro + -tude. Used variously over the years, generally "quality or character of being a Negro," also "affirmation of the values of black or African culture." The French word was supposedly coined by poet Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) and young authors from the French colonies of Africa before World War II. Nigritude in the sense of "blackness" is recorded in English from 1650s.ETD negritude (n.).2

    Negro (n.)

    1550s, "member of a black-skinned race of Africa," from Spanish or Portuguese negro "black," from Latin nigrum (nominative niger) "black, dark, sable, dusky" (applied to the night sky, a storm, the complexion), figuratively "gloomy, unlucky, bad, wicked," according to de Vaan a word of unknown etymology; according to Watkins, perhaps from PIE *nekw-t- "night." The Latin word also was applied to the black peoples of Africa, but the usual terms were Aethiops and Afer.ETD Negro (n.).2

    As an adjective from 1590s. Use with a capital N- became general early 20c. (e.g. 1930 in "New York Times" stylebook) in reference to U.S. citizens of African descent, but because of its perceived association with white-imposed attitudes and roles the word was ousted late 1960s in this sense by Black (q.v.).ETD Negro (n.).3

    Meaning "African-American vernacular, the English language as spoken by U.S. blacks" is from 1704. French nègre is a 16c. borrowing from Spanish negro. Older English words were Moor and blackamoor. A Middle English word for "Ethiopian" (perhaps also "a negro" generally) was blewman "blue man."ETD Negro (n.).4

    negroid (adj.)

    "resembling or akin to the Negroes," 1844, a hybrid, from Negro and Greek suffix -oeidēs "like, resembling" (see -oid). As a noun from 1859.ETD negroid (adj.).2


    "non-Negro person who is considered unduly sympathetic to or supportive of black people," 1803, generally pejorative, from Negro + -phile.ETD Negrophile.2

    Negrophobe (n.)

    "one who has violent aversion to or hatred of Negroes," 1864, from Negro + -phobe. Often pejorative.ETD Negrophobe (n.).2

    Negrophobia (n.)

    "violent aversion to or hatred of Negroes," 1819, in U.S. Congressional debates over admitting slavery into Arkansas Territory, from Negro + -phobia.ETD Negrophobia (n.).2


    title of the ruler of Abyssinia, 1590s, from Amharic (Semitic) negush "king," from stem of nagasha "he forced, ruled."ETD Negus.2


    masc. proper name, Jewish leader under Persian king Artaxerxes, from Hebrew Nehemyah, literally "the Lord comforts."ETD Nehemiah.2


    in reference to a type of long, narrow jacket with a standing collar (popular in Western fashion late 1960s), 1967, from Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), first prime minister of independent India (1947-1964), who often wore such a jacket in public appearances.ETD Nehru.2

    neigh (v.)

    Middle English neighen, from Old English hnægan "to neigh, utter the cry of a horse," probably of imitative origin (compare Old Norse gneggja "to neigh," Middle High German negen, French hennir, Japanese inanaki). In Middle English also nyghe, neyen, nyen, nayʒen. Related: Neighed; neighing. As a noun, "the cry of a horse, a whinnying," from 1510s.ETD neigh (v.).2

    neighbor (n.)

    "one who lives near another," Middle English neighebor, from Old English neahgebur (West Saxon), nehebur (Anglian) "one who dwells nearby," from neah "near" (see nigh) + gebur "dweller," related to bur "dwelling," from Proto-Germanic *(ga)būraz (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow"). A common Germanic compound (cognates: Old Saxon nabur, Middle Dutch naghebuur, Dutch (na)bur, Old High German nahgibur, Middle High German nachgebur, German Nachbar). Good neighbor policy is attested by 1937, but good neighbor with reference to U.S. policy toward Latin America was used by 1928 by Herbert Hoover.ETD neighbor (n.).2

    neighbor (v.)

    "border on or be near to," 1580s, from neighbor (n.). Related: Neighbored; neighboring.ETD neighbor (v.).2

    neighborhood (n.)

    mid-15c., "neighborly conduct, mutual friendliness," from neighbor (n.) + -hood. Modern sense of "community of people who live close together" is recorded by 1620s. Phrase in the neighborhood of meaning "near, somewhere about" is by 1857, American English. The Old English word for "neighborhood" was neahdæl. Middle English had neighborship (early 14c.), "neighborliness; neighborly acts," later "state of being neighbors."ETD neighborhood (n.).2

    neighborly (adj.)

    1550s, "kindly, considerate, becoming a neighbor," from neighbor (n.) + -ly (1). Earlier as an adverb (1520s), while an earlier adjective form was neighborlike (late 15c.). Of persons, "cultivating familiar intercourse," 1610s. Related: Neighborliness, which ousted earlier neighborship (mid-15c.).ETD neighborly (adj.).2


    chiefly British English spelling of neighbor (q.v.); for spelling, see -or.ETD neighbour.2


    chiefly British English spelling of neighborhood; for spelling, see -or.ETD neighbourhood.2


    surname and masc. proper name, from Gaelic/Old Irish Niall "champion." Picked up by the Vikings in Ireland (as Njall), brought by them to Iceland and Norway, thence to France, from which place it was introduced in England at the Conquest. Incorrectly Latinized as Nigellus on mistaken association with niger "black," hence Nigel.ETD Neil.2

    neither (conj., adv.)

    "not one or the other," Middle English neither, naither, nether, from Old English nawþer, contraction of nahwæþer, literally "not of two," from na "no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + hwæþer "which of two" (see whether). Spelling altered c. 1200 by association with either. Paired with nor from c. 1300; earlier with ne. Meaning "not in any case, in no case, not at all" is from 1550s. Also used in late Old English as a pronoun. As an adjective, "not either," mid-14c.ETD neither (conj., adv.).2

    *nek- (1)

    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "death." It forms all or part of: innocent; innocuous; internecine; necro-; necropolis; necrosis; necromancy; nectar; nectarine; nociceptive; nocuous; noxious; nuisance; obnoxious; pernicious.ETD *nek- (1).2

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit nasyati "disappears, perishes," Avestan nasyeiti "disappears," nasu- "corpse," Old Persian vi-nathayatiy "he injures;" Greek nekros "corpse;" Latin nex, genitive necis "violent death, murder" (as opposed to mors), nocere "to harm, hurt," noxius "harmful;" Greek nekus "dead" (adj.), nekros "dead body, corpse;" Old Irish ec, Breton ankou, Welsh angeu "death."ETD *nek- (1).3


    collective name for free-swimming aquatic creatures, 1893, from German nekton (van Heusen, 1890), from Greek nekton, neuter of nektos "swimming," from nekhein "to swim" (from PIE root *sna- "to swim"). Compare plankton.ETD nekton.2


    fem. proper name, also Nellie, diminutive of Nell, a pet form of Ellen, Helen, or Eleanor. Meaning "weak-spirited person" is attested by 1961; Nervous Nellie is by 1936.ETD Nelly.2

    nelson (n.)

    type of wrestling hold, 1875, apparently from a proper or surname, but no one now knows whose.ETD nelson (n.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "assign, allot; take."ETD *nem-.2

    It forms all or part of: agronomy; anomie; anomy; antinomian; antinomy; astronomer; astronomy; autonomous; autonomy; benumb; Deuteronomy; economy; enumerate; enumeration; gastronomy; heteronomy; innumerable; metronome; namaste; nemesis; nimble; nim; nomad; nomothetic; numb; numeracy; numeral; numerator; numerical; numerology; numerous; numismatic; supernumerary; taxonomy.ETD *nem-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek nemein "to deal out," nemesis "just indignation;" Latin numerus "number;" Lithuanian nuoma "rent, interest;" Middle Irish nos "custom, usage;" German nehmen "to take."ETD *nem-.4


    combining form in scientific words, from Greek nēma "thread" (genitive nēmatos), from stem of nein "to spin," from PIE root *(s)ne- "to sew, to spin" (see needle (n.)).ETD nemato-.2

    nematocyst (n.)

    "thread cell, lasso cell," such as the stinging organs of jellyfish, 1875, from nemato- + cyst. Related: Nematocystic.ETD nematocyst (n.).2

    nematode (n.)

    a thread-worm, roundworm, pin-worm, etc., 1865, from Modern Latin Nematoda, the class or phylum name.ETD nematode (n.).2


    a class of worms, usually parasitic, irregular Modern Latin compound of Greek nemat- "thread" (see nemato-) + -odes "like, of the nature of" (see -oid). So called for their thread-like appearance.ETD Nematoda.2


    type of barbiturate, originally used to calm patients before anesthesia and operation, 1930, proprietary name of pentobarbitone sodium, formed from letters and syllables from N(a) "sodium" + full chemical name 5-ethyl-5-1-methylbutyl barbiturate.ETD Nembutal.2

    nem. con.

    abbreviation of Latin phrase nemine contradicente "no one dissenting," hence, "without opposition." From ablative of nemo "nobody" + ablative present participle of contradicere.ETD nem. con..2

    Nemean (adj.)

    1580s, "pertaining to Nemea," a wooded valley in the northern Argolis, from Greek nemos "grove, forest," from PIE *nemos (source also of Latin nemus "forest, (holy) wood" and the Celtic word for "(holy) wood, sanctuary" preserved in Gaulish nemeton, Old Irish nemed). Especially in reference to the lion there, which was said to have been killed by Herakles as one of his 12 labors. The Nemean Games were one of the four great national festivals of the ancient Greeks. The victor's garland was made of parsley.ETD Nemean (adj.).2


    1570s, Nemesis, "Greek goddess of vengeance, personification of divine wrath," from Greek nemesis "just indignation, righteous anger," literally "distribution" (of what is due), related to nemein "distribute, allot, apportion one's due," from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take." The notion is "divine allotment to everyone of his share of fortune, good or bad." With a lower-case -n-, in the sense of "retributive justice," attested from 1590s. General sense of "anything by which it seems one must be defeated" is by 1930.ETD nemesis.2

    nemo (n.)

    Latin, literally "no man, no one, nobody;" probably *ne-hemo, *ne-homo, from PIE root *ne- "not" + homo (see homunculus).ETD nemo (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "new, young, recent," used in a seemingly endless number of adjectives and nouns, mostly coined since c. 1880, from Greek neos "new, young, youthful; fresh, strange; lately, just now," from PIE root *newo- (see new). In the physical sciences, caeno-, ceno- is used in the same sense. Paleo- is opposed to both.ETD neo-.2


    also neoclassical, style of art, architecture, etc., influenced by classical patterns, 1859, especially in reference to 18th century English literature; from neo- + classical. Related: Neo-classicism/neoclassicism.ETD neo-classical.2

    neocolonialism (n.)

    also neo-colonialism, "the exertion of influence or control over other nations, especially former dependencies, without direct military or political control," 1955, from neo- "new" + colonialism.ETD neocolonialism (n.).2

    neocon (n.)

    by 1987, abbreviation for neo-conservative in the U.S. political sense.ETD neocon (n.).2

    neo-conservative (n.)

    also neoconservative; used in the modern sense by 1979:ETD neo-conservative (n.).2

    The term is attested from by 1964 (neo-conservatism is by 1959; new conservative is from mid-1950s), originally often applied to Russell Kirk and his followers, who would be philosophically opposed to the later neocons. From neo- "new" + conservative (n.).ETD neo-conservative (n.).3

    neocracy (n.)

    "government by new or inexperienced officials," 1844; see neo- "new" + -cracy "rule or government by."ETD neocracy (n.).2

    neogamist (n.)

    "one recently married," 1650s; see neo- "new" + -gamy "marriage."ETD neogamist (n.).2

    neo-liberal (adj., n.)

    also neoliberal, by 1958, earliest in reference to French politics and theology, from neo- "new" + liberal. Related: Neo-liberalism.ETD neo-liberal (adj., n.).2

    neolithic (adj.)

    "pertaining to the later Stone Age, belonging to the period of highly finished and polished stone implements," 1865, coined by John Lubbock, later Baron Avebury, (1834-1913) from neo- "new" + -lith "stone" + -ic.ETD neolithic (adj.).2

    neolocal (adj.)

    "Denoting a place of residence chosen by a newly-married couple which is independent of parental or family ties" [OED], 1949, from neo- "new" + local (adj.). Related: Neolocally.ETD neolocal (adj.).2

    neologism (n.)

    1772 (in a translation from French), "practice of innovation in language, the use of new words or old words in new senses," from French néologisme (18c.), from neo- "new" (see neo-) + Greek logos "word" (see Logos) + -ism. Meaning "new word or expression" is from 1803. Neological "characterized by new words or phrases" is attested from 1754. Related: Neologically.ETD neologism (n.).2

    neology (n.)

    "innovation in language," 1793, from French néologie, from neo- "new" (see neo-) + -logie (see -logy). Related: Neologist (1785); neologize. Neologian (1825) was used especially of "one who introduces needless innovations in language or thought," especially in theology.ETD neology (n.).2

    neon (n.)

    chemical element, one of the noble gases, 1898, coined by its discoverers, Sir William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers, from Greek neon, neuter of neos "new" (see new); so called because it was newly discovered. They also discovered its property of emitting colored light when electrified in a sealed glass tube. The use of neon lights in advertising dates to 1913; neon sign is attested by 1927.ETD neon (n.).2

    neonate (n.)

    "recently born infant," 1905, coined from neo- "new" + Latin natus "born," past participle of nasci "be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."ETD neonate (n.).2

    neonatal (adj.)

    also neo-natal, "relating to newborn children," 1883, from neo- + natal.ETD neonatal (adj.).2

    neonatology (n.)

    branch of medicine concerned with newborn infants, 1960, from neonate "recently born infant" + -ology.ETD neonatology (n.).2

    Neo-Nazi (n., adj.)

    by 1950 in reference to Nazi-inspired movements, ideologies, or persons (or those thought to be) after the fall of the Third Reich; from neo- "new" + Nazi.ETD Neo-Nazi (n., adj.).2

    neopaganism (n.)

    also neo-paganism, "a revival or reproduction of paganism," 1858; see neo- "new" + paganism. Related: Neopagan (1854 as an adjective, 1855 as a noun).ETD neopaganism (n.).2

    neophilia (n.)

    "love of novelty, fondness for what is new, strange, or unaccustomed," 1921; see neo- "new" + -philia.ETD neophilia (n.).2

    neophobia (n.)

    "fear of novelty, abhorrence of what is new or unaccustomed," 1877; see neo- "new" + -phobia "fear." German neophobie is attested as a dictionary word from 1870; Docteur Neophobus was an alias of French author Charles Nodier (1780-1844). Related: Neophobe; neophobic.ETD neophobia (n.).2

    neophyte (n.)

    c. 1400, neophite, "new convert" (modern spelling from 16c.), from Church Latin neophytus, from Greek neophytos "a new convert; one newly initiated," noun use of adjective meaning "newly initiated, newly converted," literally "newly planted," from neos "new" (see new) + phytos "grown; planted," verbal adjective of phyein "to bring forth, make grow," from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow."ETD neophyte (n.).2

    Church sense is from I Timothy iii.6. Rare before 19c. General sense of "one who is new to any subject" is recorded from 1590s. As an adjective, "newly entered into some state," c. 1600.ETD neophyte (n.).3

    neoplasia (n.)

    "the formation of neoplasms," 1868; see neo- "new" + -plasia "formation, growth."ETD neoplasia (n.).2

    neoplasm (n.)

    "a new growth distinct from the tissue in which it occurs, a true tumor," 1864, coined in Modern Latin by German physiologist Karl Friedrich Burdach (1776-1847) from neo- "new" + Greek plasma "formation, anything formed" (see -plasm). Related: Neoplastic.ETD neoplasm (n.).2

    Neoplatonism (n.)

    also Neo-platonism, 1827 in reference to a philosophical and religious system mixing Platonic ideas and oriental mysticism, originating 3c. at Alexandria, especially in writings of Plotinus, Porphyry, and Proclus; see neo- "new" + Platonism. The last Neoplatonic schools were suppressed in 6c. Neoplatonian is attested from 1831. Related: Neoplatonic; Neoplatonist.ETD Neoplatonism (n.).2

    neoteny (n.)

    "retention of juvenile characteristics in adult life," 1898, from German neotenie (1884), from Greek neos "young" (see new) + teinein "to extend," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." Related: Neotenic (1884).ETD neoteny (n.).2

    neoteric (adj.)

    "recent in origin, new, modern," 1590s, from Late Latin neotericus, from Greek neōterikos "youthful, fresh, modern," from neōteros, comparative of neos "new" (see new). Related: Neoterism.ETD neoteric (adj.).2


    Himalayan nation north of India and south of Tibet, from Sanskrit Nepala, said to be from nipat "to fly down" (from ni "down" + pat "to fly") + alaya "abode, house." If this is right, the reference would be to villages in mountain vales. Related: Nepalese.ETD Nepal.2

    nepenthe (n.)

    1590s, earlier nepenthes (1570s), "a drug or magic potion of Egypt mentioned in the 'Odyssey' as capable of banishing grief or trouble from the mind," from Greek nēpenthēs, from nē- "no, not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + penthos "pain, grief," from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer." The -s is a proper part of the word, but likely was mistaken in English as a plural affix and dropped. In medical use, "a drug having sedative properties" (1680s).ETD nepenthe (n.).2

    nephalist (n.)

    "teetotaler, one who practices or advocates total abstinence from intoxicating drink," 1860, from Late Greek nēphalismos, from nēphalios "sober," from nēphein "be sober," often metaphorical, from IE *(n)egwh- "sober," with negative particle + *hegwh- "drink." Related: Nephalism (1859).ETD nephalist (n.).2

    nephew (n.)

    c. 1300, neveu, "son of one's sister or brother," also "a grandson; a relative; a kinsman," from Old French neveu (Old North French nevu) "grandson, descendant," from Latin nepotem (nominative nepos) "sister's son, grandson, descendant," in post-Augustan Latin (c. 150 A.D.), "nephew," from PIE *nepot- "grandchild," and in a general sense, "male descendant other than son" (source also of Sanskrit napat "grandson, descendant;" Old Persian napat- "grandson;" Old Lithuanian nepuotis "grandson;" Dutch neef; German Neffe "nephew;" Old Irish nia, genitive niath "son of a sister," Welsh nei).ETD nephew (n.).2

    The original pronunciation is /nev-u/; the spelling was changed unetymologically to -ph- after c. 1400, and the pronunciation partly followed it. Used in English in all the classical senses until the meaning narrowed in 17c., and also as a euphemism for "the illegitimate son of an ecclesiastic" (1580s). The Old English cognate, nefa "nephew, stepson, grandson, second cousin" survived to 16c.ETD nephew (n.).3


    Biblical offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" before the Flood; of uncertain and much-disputed etymology.ETD Nephilim.2

    nephrectomy (n.)

    "excision of a kidney," 1880, from nephro- "kidney" + -ectomy "a cutting out."ETD nephrectomy (n.).2

    nephridium (n.)

    (plural nephridia), "sexual or renal organ of mollusks," 1848, Modern Latin, from Greek diminutive of nephros "kidney" (see nephro-).ETD nephridium (n.).2

    nephritis (n.)

    "inflammation of the kidneys," 1570s, from Late Latin nephritis, from Greek nephritis "disease of the kidneys," from nephros "kidney" (see nephro-) + -itis "inflammation." The earlier word was nefresis (late 14c.), and nefretik (modern nephritic) "affected by a disease of the kidneys" (from Medieval Latin nephreticus) also is from late 14c.ETD nephritis (n.).2


    before vowels nephr-, word-forming element meaning "kidney, kidneys," from Greek nephros "a kidney" (plural nephroi), from PIE *negwhro- "kidney" (source also of Latin nefrones, Old Norse nyra, Dutch nier, German Niere "kidney").ETD nephro-.2

    nephrolithiasis (n.)

    "the formation of kidney stones," 1837, probably from German, from nephro- "kidney" + lithos "stone" (see litho-) + -iasis "pathological or morbid condition."ETD nephrolithiasis (n.).2

    nephrology (n.)

    "scientific study of the kidney," 1839, from nephro- "kidney" + -logy. Related: Nephrologist.ETD nephrology (n.).2

    nephron (n.)

    "a filtration unit of the kidney," 1932, from German nephron (1924), from Greek nephros "kidney" (see nephro-).ETD nephron (n.).2

    ne plus ultra

    "utmost limit to which one can go," Latin, literally "no more beyond;" the motto traditionally inscribed on the Pillars of Hercules.ETD ne plus ultra.2

    nepotism (n.)

    "favoritism shown to relatives, especially in appointment to high office," 1660s, from French népotisme (1650s), from Italian nepotismo, from nepote "nephew," from Latin nepotem (nominative nepos) "grandson, nephew" (see nephew). Originally, practice of granting privileges to a pope's "nephew" which was a euphemism for his natural son.ETD nepotism (n.).2


    late 14c., "Roman god of the sea," from Latin Neptunus, the Roman god of the sea (son of Saturn, brother of Jupiter, later identified with Greek Poseidon), probably from PIE root *nebh- "cloud" (source of Latin nebula "fog, mist, cloud"), via a sense of "moist, wet."ETD Neptune.2

    The planet so named was discovered by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle (1812-1910) on the night of Sept. 23-24, 1846 and named by French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier (1811-1877), who had predicted its position based on anomalies in the motion of Uranus and sent the coordinates to Galle.ETD Neptune.3

    It is too dim to be seen with the naked eye, but it had been seen by observers using telescopes as far back as Galileo, but they did not recognize and identify it as a planet. Until the identification of Pluto in 1930 (and again since that planet's demotion), it was the most distant known planet of the solar system.ETD Neptune.4

    Neptunian (adj.)

    1650s, "pertaining to the god Neptune;" 1794 in the geological sense, referring to certain features (later confirmed as volcanic) believed to be formed or deposited by actions of water, from Neptune + -ian. Usually opposed in the latter sense to volcanic or plutonic. "A most violent discussion in regard to this subject was carried on, during the latter third of the eighteenth century, by geologists and theologians" [Century Dictionary]. As a noun meaning "inhabitant of the planet Neptune" it is recorded from 1870.ETD Neptunian (adj.).2

    neptunium (n.)

    transuranic element, 1941, from Neptune + element ending -ium. Named for its relative position in the periodic table, next after uranium, as the planet Neptune is one beyond Uranus. See also plutonium.ETD neptunium (n.).2

    *ner- (2)

    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "man," also "vigorous, vital, strong."ETD *ner- (2).2

    It forms all or part of: Alexander; Andrew; andro-; androgynous; android; Andromache; Andromeda; andron; anthropo-; anthropocentric; anthropology; anthropomorphous; Leander; lycanthropy; Lysander; misanthrope; pachysandra; philander; philanthropy; polyandria; polyandrous.ETD *ner- (2).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit nar-, Armenian ayr, Welsh ner "a man;" Greek aner (genitive andros) "a man, a male" (as opposed to a woman, a youth, or a god).ETD *ner- (2).4

    nerd (n.)

    also nurd, 1951, "a person lacking in social skills, fashion sense or both" (Partridge Dictionary of Slang). U.S. student slang, probably an alteration of 1940s slang nert "stupid or crazy person," itself an alteration of nut. The word turns up in a Dr. Seuss book from 1950 ("If I Ran the Zoo"), which may have contributed to its rise.ETD nerd (n.).2

    In late 1970s-early 1980s often with a derogatory sense of "person who doesn't use drugs or attend parties." From ca. 1984 considered roughly synonymous with geek.ETD nerd (n.).3

    nerdy (adj.)

    1978, from nerd + -y (2). Related: Nerdiness.ETD nerdy (adj.).2


    sea-nymph, in Greek mythology, late 14c., Nereides (plural), via Latin from Greek Nēreis (genitive Nēreidos), daughter of the ancient sea-god Nēreus, son of Pontus and Gaia, husband of Doris, whose name is related to naros "flowing, liquid, I flow" (see Naiad). In zoology, "a sea-centipede" (1840).ETD Nereid.2


    1955, in nerf bars, hot-rodder slang for "custom bumpers;" from slang verb in auto racing (1953) meaning "to nudge something with a bumper in passing and knock it off course;" further etymology and signification unknown.ETD nerf.2

    As a trademark name for toys made of foam-like material for indoor play, introduced 1970 (Nerf ball). By 1995 this had yielded a verbal sense of "to make less effective" (as a Nerf basketball is softer and lighter than the real thing).ETD nerf.3

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