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    paper (v.) — parboil (v.)

    paper (v.)

    1590s, "to write down on paper," from paper (n.). Meaning "to decorate a room with paper hangings" is from 1774. Related: Papered; papering. Verbal phrase paper over in the figurative sense is from 1955, probably from the notion of hiding cracks in plaster with wallpaper. Paper (n.) also had a sense of "free passes to theaters or other public entertainments" (1785), so paper (v.) once meant "fill (a theater, etc.) with non-paying spectators."ETD paper (v.).2

    paper (adj.)

    1590s, "made of paper, consisting of paper," from paper (n.). Figurative of something flimsy or unsubstantial from 1716, probably on the notion of "appearing merely in written or printed statements, not tangible or existing in reality." Paper tiger (1952) translates Chinese tsuh lao fu, popularized by Mao Zedong. Paper doll is attested by 1817; paper plate "disposable plate made of paper or cardboard" is from 1723. Paper money is from 1690s.ETD paper (adj.).2

    paperback (n.)

    "book with a paper cover," 1899, from paper (n.) + back (n.).ETD paperback (n.).2

    papery (adj.)

    "like paper, having the thinness and consistency of paper," 1620s, from paper (n.) + -y (2).ETD papery (adj.).2

    paperless (adj.)

    1938 of cigarettes; 1967 of banks; 1971 of offices in reference to automated business systems in which information and communication is not done or stored on paper, from paper (n.) + -less.ETD paperless (adj.).2

    paper-weight (n.)

    "small, heavy object used to hold down loose papers," by 1832, from paper (n.) + weight (n.).ETD paper-weight (n.).2

    paperwork (n.)

    1580s, "things made of paper," from paper (n.) + work (n.). Meaning "work done on paper" is from 1889.ETD paperwork (n.).2

    Paphian (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to Paphos," a town in Cyprus celebrated for its temple of Aphrodite, the center of her worship throughout the Greek world. She was traditionally said to have come ashore there at her birth from the sea. The fertility cult there is probably pre-Greek and may have been begun by the Phoenicians. Its transferred sense of "of or pertaining to sexual love" is by 1650s in English.ETD Paphian (adj.).2

    papier-mache (n.)

    also papier mache, material prepared from paper pulped to a doughy consistence, 1753, from French papier-mâché, literally "chewed paper," from Old French papier "paper" (see paper (n.)) + mâché "compressed, mashed," from past participle of mâcher, literally "to chew," from Late Latin masticare "to chew" (see mastication).ETD papier-mache (n.).2

    papilla (n.)

    plural papillae, 1690s, "a nipple of a mammary gland," from Latin papilla "nipple," diminutive of papula "swelling" (see pap (n.2)). Meaning "nipple-like protuberance" attested from 1713.ETD papilla (n.).2

    papillary (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or resembling a nipple," 1660s, from Latin papilla "nipple" (see papilla) + -ary.ETD papillary (adj.).2

    papilledema (n.)

    also papilloedema, non-inflammatory swelling of the optic disc, 1908, from papilla + edema.ETD papilledema (n.).2

    papilloma (n.)

    "a tumor resembling a nipple," 1866, a modern Latin hybrid from papilla "nipple" + -oma "tumor," which is from Greek.ETD papilloma (n.).2

    papillon (n.)

    1907 as a breed of dog, from French papillon, literally "butterfly," from Latin papilionem (nominative papilio) "butterfly," which is perhaps from a reduplicated form of a PIE root *pl- "to fly, flutter." The Latin word is believed to be cognate with Old English fifealde, Old Saxon fifoldara, Old Norse fifrildi, Old High German vivaltra, German Falter "butterfly;" Old Prussian penpalo, Lithuanian piepala, Russian perepel "quail." The dog was so called for the shape of the ears. Middle English had papilloun "a butterfly," from Old French.ETD papillon (n.).2

    papish (adj.)

    1540s; regarded in Century Dictionary and other sources as a "corrupt or dialectal form of papist."ETD papish (adj.).2

    papist (n.)

    1530s, "adherent of the pope, one who acknowledges the supreme authority of the Church of Rome," from French papiste, from papa "pope," from Church Latin papa (see pope). Historically usually a term of anti-Catholic opprobrium. Related: Papism.ETD papist (n.).2

    papoose (n.)

    "North American Indian baby or young child," commonly carried by its mother bound up and strapped to a board, 1630s, from Narragansett papoos "child," or a similar New England Algonquian word; said to mean literally "very young."ETD papoose (n.).2

    paprika (n.)

    condiment made from types of dried, ground sweet red peppers, 1839, from Hungarian paprika, a diminutive from Serbo-Croatian papar "pepper," from Latin piper or Modern Greek piperi (see pepper (n.)). A condiment made from a New World plant, introduced into Eastern Europe by the Turks; known in Hungary by 1569.ETD paprika (n.).2

    Pap test (n.)

    1963, short for Papanicolaou (1947) in reference to George Nicholas Papanicolaou (1883-1962), Greek-born U.S. anatomist who developed the technique of examining secreted cells to test for cancer.ETD Pap test (n.).2

    Papuan (n.)

    1814 in reference to the race that inhabits New Guinea (the large island north of Australia); earlier simply Papua (1610s), from Malay (Austronesian) papuah "frizzled." As an adjective by 1869.ETD Papuan (n.).2

    papule (n.)

    "pimple, small inflammatory elevation of the skin," 1864, from Latin papula "pustule, pimple, swelling" (see pap (n.2)). Papula in the same sense is attested in English from 1706. Related: Papular.ETD papule (n.).2

    papyrus (n.)

    late 14c., papirus, from Latin papyrus "the paper plant," also the paper made from it, from Greek papyros "any plant of the paper plant genus," a loan-word of unknown origin, often said to be Egyptian. The classically correct plural is papyri. A type of rush or reed formerly abundant on marshy river banks in Egypt, Palestine, etc., it afforded the ancient Egyptians a convenient and inexpensive writing surface. Related: Papyraceous.ETD papyrus (n.).2

    par (n.)

    1620s, "equality in value or circumstances," also "value of one currency in terms of another," from Latin par "equal, equal-sized, well-matched," also as a noun, "that which is equal, equality," a word of unknown and disputed origin. De Vaan is noncommittal. Watkins suggests perhaps from PIE root *pere- (2) "to grant, allot," with suggestion of reciprocality. Another guess connects it with PIE root *per- (5) "to traffic in, sell" (on notion of "give equal value for"). Meaning "a standard fixed by consent or by natural conditions, average or usual amount" is first attested 1767. Golf sense is attested by 1898, which led to the figurative use of par for the course for "fairly normal, what can be expected" (by 1928).ETD par (n.).2

    par (prep.)

    "by, for," mid-13c., from Old French par, per, from Latin per (see per). It figures in some French phrases borrowed into English and in the formation of some words (parboil, pardon, parvenu). In some older borrowings from French it has been re-Latinized to per- (perceive, perfect, perform, pertain).ETD par (prep.).2

    para- (1)

    before vowels, par-, word-forming element of Greek origin, "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal," from Greek para- from para (prep.) "beside, near; issuing from; against, contrary to" (from PIE *prea, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "toward, near; against").ETD para- (1).2

    It is cognate with Old English for- "off, away." Originally in English in Greek-derived words; it has been active in English mostly in scientific and technical words, but until recently was not usually regarded as a naturalized formative element in English.ETD para- (1).3

    para- (2)

    before vowels par-, word-forming element of Latin origin meaning "defense, protection against; that which protects from," from Italian para, imperative of parare "to ward off," from Latin parare "make ready" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure"). It figures in parachute, parasol, parapet, etc.ETD para- (2).2

    Parabellum (n.)

    proprietary name for a type of automatic firearm, 1904 (Mauser & Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken), from Latin phrase si vis pacem, para bellum, from para, imperative of parare "to prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure") + bellum "war" (see bellicose).ETD Parabellum (n.).2

    parable (n.)

    "allegorical or metaphorical narrative, usually having a moral for instruction," late 13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., "saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else," from Old French parable "parable, parabolic style in writing" (13c.), from Latin parabola "comparison," from Greek parabolē "a comparison, parable," literally "a throwing beside," hence "a juxtaposition," from para- "alongside" (see para- (1)) + bolē "a throwing, casting, beam, ray," related to ballein "to throw" (from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach").ETD parable (n.).2

    Rendered in Old English as bispell. In Vulgar Latin, parabola took on the meaning "word," hence Italian parlare, French parler "to speak" (see parley (n.)).ETD parable (n.).3

    parabolic (adj.)

    mid-15c., parabolik, "figurative, allegorical, of or pertaining to a parable or a parabole," from Medieval Latin parabolicus, from late Greek parabolikos "figurative," from parabolē "comparison" (see parable). In geometry, "of or pertaining to a parabola," by 1702 (see parabola). Related: Parabolical.ETD parabolic (adj.).2

    parabole (n.)

    in rhetoric, "comparison, metaphor," according to Century Dictionary, "especially a formal simile, as in poetry or poetic prose, taken from a present or imagined object or event: distinguished from a paradigm, or comparison with a real past event," 1580s, from Greek parabolē "comparison" (see parable).ETD parabole (n.).2

    parabola (n.)

    "a curve commonly defined as the intersection of a cone with a plane parallel with its side," 1570s, from Modern Latin parabola, from Greek parabole "a comparison, parable," literally "a throwing beside," hence "a juxtaposition" (see parable), so called by Apollonius of Perga c. 210 B.C.E. because it is produced by "application" of a given area to a given straight line. It had a different sense in Pythagorean geometry. Related: Parabolic.ETD parabola (n.).2

    paracentesis (n.)

    "surgical perforation of a cavity of the body for the purpose of evacuation of effused fluid," 1590s, from the medical Latin form of Greek parakentēsis "perforation," from parakentein "to tap," literally "to pierce at the side," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + kentein "to prick, stab" (see center (n.)).ETD paracentesis (n.).2

    parachronism (n.)

    "error in chronology by which an event has assigned to it a date later than the proper one," 1640s, from para- "beside, beyond" + Latinized form of Greek khronos "time" (see chrono-) + -ism.ETD parachronism (n.).2

    parachute (n.)

    "apparatus, usually in the shape of a very large umbrella, carried in an aircraft, that may allow a person or thing to drop to the surface below without injury or damage," 1784 (the year the first use of one was attempted, in Paris), from French parachute, literally "that which protects against a fall," hybrid coined by French aeronaut François Blanchard (1753-1809) from para- "defense against" (see para- (2)) + chute "a fall" (see chute).ETD parachute (n.).2

    parachute (v.)

    "to descend or convey by or as if by the aid of a parachute," 1807, from parachute (n.). Marked "rare" in Century Dictionary (1895); it became more common 20c. Related: Parachuted; parachuting.ETD parachute (v.).2

    paraclete (n.)

    mid-15c., Paraclit, a title of the Holy Spirit, from Old French paraclet (13c.), from Medieval Latin paracletus, from a Church Latin rendering of Greek paraklētos "advocate, intercessor, legal assistant," noun use of an adjective meaning "called to one's aid," from parakalein "to call to one's aid," in later use "to comfort, to console," from para (see para- (1)) + kalein "to call" (from PIE root *kele- (2) "to shout").ETD paraclete (n.).2

    But also sometimes translated in English bibles as Advocate, on the notion of "intercession." The word was earlier borrowed directly from Latin as paraclitus (early 13c.).ETD paraclete (n.).3

    parade (n.)

    1650s, "a show of bravado," also "an orderly assembly of troops for inspections," from French parade "display, show, military parade," formerly also "a halt on horseback" (15c.), or from Italian parate "a warding or defending, a garish setting forth," or Spanish parada "a staying or stopping; a parade," all from Vulgar Latin *parata, from Latin parare "arrange, prepare, adorn" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").ETD parade (n.).2

    The Latin word developed widespread senses in Medieval Latin: "to stop, halt; prevent, guard against; dress, trim, adorn." These were passed on to its Romanic offspring. The verb is a doublet of parry. Non-military sense of "public walk, march, procession" is recorded from 1670s. Parade-ground is by 1724; parade-rest is by 1888:ETD parade (n.).3

    parade (v.)

    1680s (transitive), "to marshal and array in military order," from parade (n.). Intransitive sense of "march up and down upon" is from 1748. Transferred transitive sense of "exhibit or manifest ostentatiously, show off" is by 1818. Intransitive meaning "march up and down or promenade in a public place for the purpose of showing oneself" is by 1809. Related: Paraded; parading.ETD parade (v.).2

    paradigm (n.)

    late 15c., "an example, a model," from Late Latin paradigma "pattern, example," especially in grammar, from Greek paradeigma "pattern, model; precedent, example," from paradeiknynai "exhibit, represent," literally "show side by side," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + deiknynai "to show" (cognate with Latin dicere "to show;" from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly"). In 20c. it began to be used in the more specific philosophical sense of "logical or conceptual structure serving as a form of thought within a given area of experience," especially in Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (1962). Related: Paradigmatic; paradigmatical.ETD paradigm (n.).2

    paradise (n.)

    late Old English, "the garden of Eden," from Old French paradis "paradise, garden of Eden" (11c.), from Late Latin paradisus "a park, an orchard; the garden of Eden, the abode of the blessed," from Greek paradeisos "a park; paradise, the garden of Eden," from an Iranian source similar to Avestan pairidaeza "enclosure, park" (Modern Persian and Arabic firdaus "garden, paradise"), a compound of pairi- "around" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, near, against, around") + diz "to make, to form (a wall)." The first element is cognate with Greek peri "around, about" (see per), the second is from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build."ETD paradise (n.).2

    The Greek word was used by Xenophon and others for an orchard or royal hunting park in Persia, and it was taken in Septuagint to mean "the garden of Eden," and in New Testament translations of Luke xxiii.43 to mean "the Christian heaven, place where the souls of the righteous departed await resurrection" (a sense attested in English from c. 1200; extended from c. 1400 to the Muslim heaven). Meaning "place of extreme beauty, blissful state like or comparable to Paradise" is from c. 1300. The Gates of Paradise originally meant "the Virgin Mary" (late 14c.)ETD paradise (n.).3

    paradisiacal (adj.)

    "pertaining to or relating to paradise or a place or state resembling it," 1630s, from Latin paradisiacus (from Greek paradeisiakos, from paradeisos; see paradise) + -al (1).ETD paradisiacal (adj.).2

    parados (n.)

    "rear wall of a trench," 1917, earlier "elevation behind a fortified place" to protect it from attack in the rear (1853), literally "defense from the back," from French parados, from para- "defense" (see para- (2)) + dos "back" (see dossier).ETD parados (n.).2

    paradox (n.)

    1530s, "a statement contrary to common belief or expectation," from French paradoxe (14c.) and directly from Latin paradoxum "paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true," from Greek paradoxon "incredible statement or opinion," noun use of neuter of adjective paradoxos "contrary to expectation, incredible," from para- "contrary to" (see para- (1)) + doxa "opinion," from dokein "to appear, seem, think" (from PIE root *dek- "to take, accept").ETD paradox (n.).2

    Originally with notions of "absurd, fantastic." Meaning "statement that is seemingly self-contradictory yet not illogical or obviously untrue" is from 1560s. Specifically in logic, "a statement or proposition from an acceptable premise and following sound reasoning that yet leads to an illogical conclusion," by 1903.ETD paradox (n.).3

    paradoxical (adj.)

    "of the nature of a paradox," 1580s, from paradox + -ical. Meaning "inconsistent with itself" is by 1630s. Competing forms were paradoxal (1560s), paradoxial (1620s), but these survive in niches, if at all. Related: Paradoxically.ETD paradoxical (adj.).2

    paradoxology (n.)

    "the holding and defending of opinions contrary to those generally prevalent," 1640s; see paradox + -logy.ETD paradoxology (n.).2

    paraesthesia (n.)

    also paresthesia, "abnormal sensation, hallucination of the senses," 1835, from para- (1), here meaning "disordered," + Greek aisthēsis "perception, feeling" (from PIE root *au- "to perceive") + abstract noun ending -ia.ETD paraesthesia (n.).2

    paraffin (n.)

    colorless, tasteless fatty crystalline substance obtained from petroleum, etc., by 1832, from German Paraffin, coined c. 1830 by German chemist Karl von Reichenbach (1788-1869), who first obtained it as a waxy substance from wood tar, irregularly from Latin parum "not very, too little," which probably is related to parvus "little, small" (from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little") + affinis "associated with" (see affinity).ETD paraffin (n.).2

    So called "in reference to the unreactive nature of the substance" [Flood].ETD paraffin (n.).3

    The liquid form (originally paraffin oil) Reichenbach called eupion, but this was the standard meaning of paraffin in English by 1860.ETD paraffin (n.).4

    paragon (n.)

    "a model or pattern of special excellence or perfection; a person of supreme merit or excellence," 1540s, from French paragon "a model, pattern of excellence" (15c., Modern French parangon), from Italian paragone, originally "touchstone to test gold" (early 14c.), from paragonare "to test on a touchstone, compare," from Greek parakonan "to sharpen, whet," from para- "on the side" (see para- (1)) + akonē "whetstone" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").ETD paragon (n.).2

    paragraph (n.)

    c. 1500, paragraf, "a distinct part of writing or discourse relating to a particular point," also "paragraph mark, the symbol used to mark commencement of a new section of writing" ( ¶ ), from Old French paragrafe (13c.), from Medieval Latin paragraphus "sign indicating the start of a new section of a discourse" (the sign looks something like a stylized letter -P- and a version of it still is used in copy-editing), from Greek paragraphos "short stroke below the beginning of a line marking a break in sense," also "a passage so marked," literally "anything written beside," from paragraphein "write by the side," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + graphein "to write" (see -graphy).ETD paragraph (n.).2

    The sense shifted from the mark to the thing itself. The marks still were used in printed material into 17c., but now a paragraph is usually indicated by beginning on a new line with an indented letter. The word is earlier in English in the contracted form paraf (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin paraffus and Old French forms. In 16c. the spelling was re-Latinized in English and French.ETD paragraph (n.).3


    South American country, named for the river, which is said to be from Guarani para "water" + guay "born." This is said to have been the name of a local chieftain who treated with the first Spanish explorers. Related: Paraguayan (1690s).ETD Paraguay.2

    parakeet (n.)

    "a small parrot," 1620s, from Spanish perquito; earlier English form parroket (1580s) is from French paroquet, from Old French paroquet (14c.), which is said by etymologists of French to be from Italian parrocchetto, literally "little priest," from parroco "parish priest," from Church Latin parochus (see parish), or from parrucchetto, diminutive of parrucca "peruke, periwig," in reference to the head plumage.ETD parakeet (n.).2

    The Spanish form, meanwhile, is sometimes said to be a diminutive of Perico, a familiar form of Pedro "Peter," and the Old French word is likewise perhaps from or influenced by a diminutive of Pierre "Peter." "The relationship between the Sp. and It. forms cannot be settled until the chronology is known; prob. the name has been modified by popular etymology in one or both" [OED].ETD parakeet (n.).3

    paralanguage (n.)

    "non-phonemic vocal factors in speech" (tone of voice, tempo, etc.), 1958, from para- (1) + language. Related: Paralinguistic.ETD paralanguage (n.).2

    paralegal (n.)

    "one trained in subsidiary legal matters," 1972, from para- (1) + legal assistant.ETD paralegal (n.).2

    paralipsis (n.)

    "pretended or suggested omission for rhetorical effect," 1580s, from Greek paraleipsis "passing by omission," from paraleipein "to leave on one side, pass over, leave untold," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + leipein "to leave" (from PIE root *leikw- "to leave"). As in passages that open with "not to mention," "to say nothing of," etc.ETD paralipsis (n.).2

    parallax (n.)

    "apparent displacement of an object observed, due to an actual displacement of the observer," 1570s, from French parallaxe (mid-16c.), from Greek parallaxis "change, alteration, inclination of two lines meeting at an angle," from parallassein "to alter, make things alternate," from para- (see para- (1)) + allassein "to change," from allos "other" (from PIE root *al- "beyond"). Related: Parallactic.ETD parallax (n.).2

    parallel (v.)

    1590s, transitive, "place in position parallel to something else," from parallel (n.). Meaning "make closely similar to something else" is from 1620s; intransitive sense of "be like or equal, agree" is from 1620s.ETD parallel (v.).2

    parallel (adj.)

    1540s, in geometry, of lines, "lying in the same plane but never meeting in either direction;" of planes, "never meeting, however far extended;" from French parallèle (16c.) and directly from Latin parallelus, from Greek parallēlos "parallel," from para allēlois "beside one another," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + allēlois "each other," from allos "other" (from PIE root *al- "beyond"). Figurative sense of "having the same direction, tendency, or course" is from c. 1600.ETD parallel (adj.).2

    As a noun from 1550s, "a line parallel to another line." Meanings "a comparison made by placing things side by side" and "thing equal to or resembling another in all particulars" are from 1590s. Parallel bars as gymnastics apparatus is recorded from 1868.ETD parallel (adj.).3

    parallelism (n.)

    c. 1600, " parallel position," from Greek parallelismos, from parallelizein (see parallel). In literature, "correspondence resulting from repetition of the same sentiment, imagery, or construction" is from 1778.ETD parallelism (n.).2

    parallelogram (n.)

    "quadrilateral whose opposite sides are parallel," 1560s, from French parallélogramme (1550s) and directly from Late Latin parallelogrammum, from Greek parallelogrammon noun use of a neuter adjective meaning "bounded by parallel lines," from parallelos (see parallel) + stem of graphein "to write" (see -graphy). Related: Parallelogrammic; parallelogramical.ETD parallelogram (n.).2

    paralyse (v.)

    alternative (chiefly British) spelling of paralyze. For ending, see -ize. Related: Paralysed; paralysing.ETD paralyse (v.).2

    paralysis (n.)

    1520s, "impairment of the normal action of the nervous system in bringing body parts or organs into action," from Latin paralysis, from Greek paralysis "paralysis, palsy," literally "loosening," from paralyein "disable, enfeeble," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + lyein "loosen, untie" (from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart"). Figurative meaning "loss of energy, loss of the power of performing regular functions" is from 1813. Earlier form was paralysie (late 14c., see palsy). Old English equivalent was lyft adl (see left (adj.)) or crypelnes "crippleness."ETD paralysis (n.).2


    late 14c., paralitik, as an adjective, of persons or body parts, "affected with paralysis;" also as a noun "person affected with paralysis or palsy," from Old French paralitique "paralyzed, unable to move," from Latin paralyticus, from Greek paralytikos, from paralysis (see paralysis).ETD paralytic.2

    paralyze (v.)

    1804, "affect with paralysis," from French paralyser (16c.), from Old French paralisie "paralysis," from Latin paralysis (see paralysis). Figurative use "render helpless, useless, or ineffective; deaden the action or power of" is from 1805. Related: Paralyzed; paralyzing. Paralized as a past-participle adjective is from early 15c.ETD paralyze (v.).2

    paramagnetic (adj.)

    "assuming, when freely suspended between the poles of a horseshoe magnet, a position in a line from one pole to the other," 1850, from para- (1) + magnetic. Related: Paramagnetism.ETD paramagnetic (adj.).2

    paramecium (n.)

    "genus of holotrichous ciliate Infusorial" [OED]; "the slipper-animalcule" [Century Dictionary]; 1752, Modern Latin Paramecium, the genus name, coined from Greek paramēkēs "oblong, oval," from para- "on one side" (see para- (1)) + mēkos "length," related to makros "long," from PIE root *mak- "long, thin."ETD paramecium (n.).2

    paramedic (n.)

    "medical technician," 1970, back-formation from paramedical. The meaning "medical corpsman who parachutes" is 1951 from parachute + medic.ETD paramedic (n.).2

    paramedical (adj.)

    "related to medicine in an auxiliary capacity," 1908, from para- (1) "subsidiary" + medical (adj.).ETD paramedical (adj.).2

    parameter (n.)

    1650s in geometry, in reference to conic sections, from Modern Latin parameter (1630s), from Greek para- "beside, subsidiary" (see para- (1)) + metron "measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").ETD parameter (n.).2

    A geometry term until late 1920s when it began to be extended to "measurable factor which helps to define a particular system," hence the common meaning (influenced by perimeter) of "boundary, limit, characteristic factor," common from 1950s. Related: Parametric; parametrical.ETD parameter (n.).3

    paramilitary (adj.)

    "in reference to organizations or forces analogous or auxiliary to that of military units but not professional," 1935, from para- (1) + military. In early use often in reference to the S.A. and S.S. of Nazi Germany.ETD paramilitary (adj.).2

    paramount (adj.)

    "supreme, superior in power or jurisdiction," 1530s, from Anglo-French paramont, Old French paramont "above" (in place, order, degree), mid-14c., from Old French par "by," from Latin per "through, for, by" (see per (prep.)) + amont "up," from a mont "upward" (see amount (v.)). The word is equivalent to the Latin phrase per ad montem, literally "to the hill." Related: Paramountcy.ETD paramount (adj.).2

    paramour (n.)

    early 14c., "a lover or wooer" of either sex, noun use of adverbial phrase par amour (c. 1300) "passionately, with strong love or desire," from Anglo-French and Old French par amour, from accusative of amor "love," from amare "to love" (see Amy). Originally a term for Christ (by women) or the Virgin Mary (by men), it came to mean "darling, sweetheart" (mid-14c.) and "wife, husband," also, in a bad sense, "mistress, concubine; (a woman's) male lover; clandestine lover" (late 14c.) which from 17c. became the only sense, except in poetry.ETD paramour (n.).2

    paranoia (n.)

    "mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions of more or less definite scope," 1848 (earlier paranoea 1811), from Greek paranoia "mental derangement, madness," from paranoos "mentally ill, insane," from para- "beside, beyond" (see para- (1)) + noos "mind," which is of uncertain origin.ETD paranoia (n.).2

    The morbid condition seems to have been noticed before. Middle English medical writing has suspecioushed "suspicioushood") for "pathological or delusional state of suspiciousness" (early 15c.).ETD paranoia (n.).3


    1892 as an adjective, "pertaining to or exhibiting paranoia; also as a noun, "a patient exhibiting paranoia," from paranoia on model of maniac, etc.ETD paranoiac.2

    paranoid (adj.)

    "resembling or characterized by paranoia," 1901, irregularly formed from paranoia + -oid. As a noun, "a paranoid person," attested by 1922.ETD paranoid (adj.).2

    paranormal (adj.)

    1905, in reference to observed events or things presumed to operate by natural laws but not conforming to those known or normal, from para- (1) + normal. Related: Paranormally.ETD paranormal (adj.).2

    parapet (n.)

    1580s, "wall or rampart rising breast-high," from French parapet "breastwork" (16c.), or directly from Italian parapetto, from para- "defense" (see para- (2)) + petto "breast," from Latin pectus (see pectoral (adj.)). Meaning "low wall at the edge of a structure to keep people from falling off" is from 1590s.ETD parapet (n.).2

    paraph (n.)

    "figure formed by a flourish of a pen at the conclusion of a signature" (a precaution against forgers), 1580s, from French parafe, paraphe "a paragraph, signature, a flourish," a shortened form of paragraph.ETD paraph (n.).2

    paraphernalia (n.)

    1650s, in law, "a woman's property besides her dowry," from Medieval Latin paraphernalia (short for paraphernalia bona "paraphernal goods"), neuter plural of paraphernalis (adj.), from Late Latin parapherna, in Roman law "a woman's property besides her dowry," from Greek parapherna, neuter plural, from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + pherne "dowry," which is related to pherein "to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Meaning "equipment, apparatus" is attested by 1736, from the notion of "odds and ends."ETD paraphernalia (n.).2

    paraphilia (n.)

    "sexual perversion, deviate desires," 1913, from German paraphilie (by 1903), apparently coined by Austrian ethnologist Friedrich Salomo Krauss (1859-1938) as meaning "inverted erotic instinct," from Greek para- "beside, aside" (see para- (1)) + philos "loving" (see -phile). Popularized in psychology circles in English from c. 1918 in translation of work by Viennese-born psychotherapist Wilhelm Stekel (1868-1940); not in widespread use until 1950s. It was added to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" in 1980 as a morally neutral and more dignified label than perversion, to which it is nonetheless etymologically similar. Related: Paraphiliac; paraphilic.ETD paraphilia (n.).2

    paraphrase (n.)

    "a restatement of a text or passage, giving the sense of the original in other words," often in fuller terms and greater detail, 1540s, from French paraphrase (1520s), from Latin paraphrasis "a paraphrase," from Greek paraphrasis "a free rendering," from paraphrazein "to tell in other words," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + phrazein "to tell" (see phrase (n.)).ETD paraphrase (n.).2

    paraphrase (v.)

    "restate, interpret, express the meaning of in other words," c. 1600, from paraphrase (n.) or from French paraphraser. Related: Paraphrased; paraphrasing.ETD paraphrase (v.).2

    paraphrastic (adj.)

    "having the character of a paraphrase," 1620s, from Medieval Latin paraphrasticus, from Greek paraphrastikos, from paraphrazein "to tell in other words" (see paraphrase (n.)). Related: Paraphrastical (1540s).ETD paraphrastic (adj.).2

    paraplegic (adj.)

    1821, "affected with paraplegia;" see paraplegia + -ic. The noun meaning "paraplegic person" is recorded by 1890. An earlier adjectival form was paraplectic (1660s).ETD paraplegic (adj.).2

    paraplegia (n.)

    "paralysis of the lower half of the body," 1650s, Latinized form of (Ionic) Greek paraplēgia "paralysis of one side of the body," from paraplēssein "strike at the side," paraplēssesthai "be stricken on one side," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + plēssein "to strike" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike").ETD paraplegia (n.).2

    parapraxis (n.)

    "faulty action, blunder," 1904, from Modern Latin, from para-, here meaning "contrary" (see para- (1)) + Greek praxis "a doing, transaction, business" (see praxis). In psychology, a minor error held to reveal a subconscious motive.ETD parapraxis (n.).2

    paraprofessional (adj.)

    of persons, "performing part of a professional task but not having professional training or credentials," by 1961 in education, from para- (1) + professional (adj.). As a noun, "person without professional credentials or training to whom a part of a professional task is delegated," by 1968.ETD paraprofessional (adj.).2

    parapsychology (n.)

    "the study of phenomena outside the sphere of orthodox psychology," by 1923, from German para-psychologie; see para- (1) "beside" + psychology. Related: Parapsychological.ETD parapsychology (n.).2

    paraquat (n.)

    quick-acting herbicide, 1961, from para- (1) + first element in quaternary. So called in reference to its chemical configuration.ETD paraquat (n.).2

    parasail (n.)

    1963, in reference to vehicles attached to parachute-like canopies, from first element of parachute (n.) + sail (n.). As a verb by 1970. Related: Parasailing.ETD parasail (n.).2

    parasitism (n.)

    "a habitual living on or at the expense of another," 1610s, from parasite + -ism. Biological sense of "vital relation of a parasite to a host" is by 1840.ETD parasitism (n.).2

    parasitize (v.)

    in zoology, "infest as a parasite," 1880, from parasite + -ize. Related: Parasitized; parasitizing.ETD parasitize (v.).2

    parasitic (adj.)

    "of pertaining to, or characteristic of a parasite," in any sense, 1620s, from Latin parasiticus, from Greek parasitikos "of or pertaining to a parasite; the trade of a parasite," from parasitos "one who lives at another's expense" (see parasite). Biological sense is from 1731. Related: Parasitical, 1570s in reference to toadies; from 1640s in the biological sense.ETD parasitic (adj.).2

    parasite (n.)

    1530s, "a hanger-on, a toady, person who lives on others," from French parasite (16c.) or directly from Latin parasitus "toady, sponger," and directly from Greek parasitos "one who lives at another's expense, person who eats at the table of another," especially one who frequents the tables of the rich and earns his welcome by flattery.ETD parasite (n.).2

    This is from noun use of an adjective meaning "feeding beside," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + sitos "grain, bread, food," a word of unknown origin. It is in other Greek compounds, such as syssitos "table companion, messmate." Often explained as a loan-word from another IE language or as a substrate word, but Beekes suggests it is from an IE root for "to strike, hit," and related to simos "snub-nosed" ("flattened").ETD parasite (n.).3

    The scientific meaning "animal or plant that lives on or in and at the expense of another" is recorded from 1640s (implied in parasitical).ETD parasite (n.).4

    parasol (n.)

    "light, portable screen or canopy carried to shield from the sun," 1610s, from French parasol (1570s), from Italian parasole, literally "protection from the sun," from para- "defense against" (see para- (2)) + sole "sun," from Latin solem (nominative sol; from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"). Originally used by persons of high rank in the East and by fashionable women in Europe.ETD parasol (n.).2

    parastate (n.)

    also para-state, "institution or body which takes on some of the roles of civil government," 1959, from para- (1) "beside" + state (n.). Related: Parastatal.ETD parastate (n.).2

    parasympathetic (adj.)

    in reference to major divisions of the nervous system, 1905, from para- (1) "beside" + sympathetic.ETD parasympathetic (adj.).2

    parataxis (n.)

    "the placing of clauses one after another without connecting words to indicate their relation," 1838, from Greek parataxis "a placing side by side, a placing in line of battle," from stem of paratassein "to place side by side," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + tassein "to arrange" (see tactics). Related: Paratactic.ETD parataxis (n.).2

    paratransit (n.)

    also para-transit, "public transportation of a flexible, informal kind" (such as taxis, carpools, etc.), 1973, from para- (1) + transit.ETD paratransit (n.).2

    paratrooper (n.)

    "soldier dropped by parachute into enemy territory," 1941, from parachute + trooper. The collective noun paratroops is first recorded 1940. Earliest reference is to the German invaders who were expected to drop on England.ETD paratrooper (n.).2

    paratroops (n.)

    "body of soldiers who are dropped by parachute into enemy territory," 1940, from parachute + plural of troop (n.).ETD paratroops (n.).2

    parboil (v.)

    late 14c., parboilen, "to boil partially;" mid-15c., "to boil thoroughly," from Old French parboillir "to boil thoroughly," from Medieval Latin perbullire "to boil thoroughly," from Latin per "through, thoroughly" (see per (prep.)) + bullire "to boil" (see boil (v.)). The etymological sense is extinct in English; the surviving meaning "boil partially" is by mistaken association of the prefix with part. Related: Parboiled; parboiling.ETD parboil (v.).2

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