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    pentad (n.) — perfective (adj.)

    pentad (n.)

    "set of five things considered together," 1650s, from Greek pentas (genitive pentados) "the number five, a group of five," from PIE root *penkwe- "five." Meaning "period of five years" is from 1880; meaning "period of five days" is from 1906, originally in meteorology.ETD pentad (n.).2

    pentagon (n.)

    1560s, "plane figure with five angles and five sides," from French pentagone (13c.) or directly from Late Latin pentagonum "pentagon," from Greek pentagōnon, a noun use of the neuter of the adjective pentagōnos "five-angled," from pente "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + gōnia "angle, corner" (from PIE root *genu- (1) "knee; angle"). The U.S. military headquarters known as the Pentagon was completed in 1942, and so called for its shape; used allusively for "U.S. military leadership" from 1945; Pentagonese "U.S. official military jargon" is by 1951. Related: Pentagonal.ETD pentagon (n.).2

    pentagram (n.)

    "five-pointed star or other figure, a pentacle," 1820, from Greek pentagrammon, noun use of neuter of adj. pentagrammos "having or consisting of five lines," from pente "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + gramma "letter, character, what is written" (see -gram).ETD pentagram (n.).2

    pentameter (adj.)

    "consisting of five metrical feet," 1540s, from French pentametre, from Latin pentameter, from Greek pentametros (adj.) "having five measures," from pente "five" (see five) + metron "measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure"). As a noun from 1580s, "a verse line of five feet;" in ancient prosody "a dactylic dipenthemimeres or combination of two catalectic dactylic tripodies" [Century Dictionary]. Saintsbury, the great early 20c. prosodist, objects to the "verse line" sense as a misuse of meter and prefers decasyllable, (octosyllable for tetrameter) though it begs the question of what is being counted.ETD pentameter (adj.).2

    pentangle (n.)

    "five-pointed or five-angled figure, a pentagon or pentacle," late 14c., pent-angel, "a representation of a five-pointed star;" see penta- + angle (n.). In some early uses perhaps a corruption of pentacle. Related: Pentangular.ETD pentangle (n.).2


    "the first five books of the Bible," those traditionally ascribed to Moses, c. 1400, Penta-teuke, from Late Latin pentateuchus (Tertullian, c. 207), from Greek pentateukhos (c. 160), originally an adjective (abstracted from phrase pentateukhos biblos), from pente "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + teukhos "implement, vessel, gear" (in Late Greek "book," via notion of "case for scrolls"), literally "anything produced," related to teukhein "to make ready," from PIE *dheugh- "to produce something of utility" (see doughty). Glossed in Old English as fifbec. Related: Pentateuchal.ETD Pentateuch.2

    pentathlon (n.)

    "athletic contest of five separate events involving the same competitors and all taking place on the same day," 1650s, from Greek pentathlon "the contest of five exercises," from pente "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + athlon "prize, contest," a word of uncertain origin. Earlier in English in Latin form pentathlum (1706). The Greek version consisted of jumping, sprinting, discus and spear throwing, and wrestling. The modern version (1912) consists of horseback riding, fencing, shooting, swimming, and cross-country running. Related: Pentathlete.ETD pentathlon (n.).2

    pentecostal (adj.)

    1660s, "pertaining to the Pentecost," from Latin pentecostalis (Tertullian), from pentecoste (see Pentecost). With a capital P- and meaning "Pentecostalist," in reference to Christian sects emphasizing gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts ii), it is attested from 1904 (noun and adjective). Related: Pentecostalism (1932); Pentecostalist.ETD pentecostal (adj.).2


    Old English Pentecosten "Christian festival on seventh Sunday after Easter," from Late Latin pentecoste, from Greek pentekostē (hēmera) "fiftieth (day)," fem. of pentekostos, from pentekonta "fifty," from pente "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five"). The Hellenic name for the Old Testament Feast of Weeks, a Jewish harvest festival observed on 50th day of the Omer (see Leviticus xxiii.16).ETD Pentecost.2

    penthouse (n.)

    c. 1300, pentis, pendize, "a shed or sloping roof projecting from a main wall or the side or end of a building," from Anglo-French pentiz, a shortening of Old French apentis "attached building, appendage," from Medieval Latin appendicium, from Latin appendere "to hang" (see append).ETD penthouse (n.).2

    The modern spelling is from c. 1530 by folk etymology influence of French pente "slope," and English house (the meaning at that time was "attached building with a sloping roof or awning"). Originally a simple structure (Middle English homilies describe the stable where Jesus was born as a "penthouse"); meaning "apartment or small house built on the roof of a skyscraper" is attested by 1921, from which time dates its association with luxury.ETD penthouse (n.).3


    trademark name of an anaesthetic and hypnotic, 1935, refashioning of Thiopental, from pento-, in reference to the methylbutyl five-carbon group (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + first two letters of thiobarbiturate + chemical product suffix -ol.ETD Pentothal.2

    penult (adj.)

    "last but one," 1530s, abbreviation of penultima. As a noun from 1570s as "last day but one of a month;" grammatical sense of "last syllable but one of a word" is by 1828.ETD penult (adj.).2

    penultimate (adj.)

    "next to the last, immediately proceeding that member of a series which is the last," 1670s, from penultima (n.) on model of proximate. Earlier was penultim (mid-15c.), from Old French penultime.ETD penultimate (adj.).2

    penultima (n.)

    "last syllable but one of a word or verse, a penult," 1580s, from Latin pænultima (syllaba), "the next to the last syllable of a word or verse," from fem. of Latin adjective pænultimus "next-to-last," from pæne "almost" (a word of uncertain origin) + ultimus "final" (see ultimate).ETD penultima (n.).2

    penumbra (n.)

    1660s, "partially shaded region around the shadow of an opaque body, a partial shadow," from Modern Latin penumbra "partial shadow outside the complete shadow of an eclipse," coined 1604 by Kepler from Latin pæne "nearly, almost, practically," which is of uncertain origin, + umbra "shadow" (see umbrage). Figurative use is by 1801. Related: Penumbral.ETD penumbra (n.).2

    penury (n.)

    "extreme poverty, indigence, destitution," c. 1400, penurie, from Latin penuria "want, need; scarcity," related to pæne "nearly, almost, practically," which is of uncertain origin.ETD penury (n.).2

    penurious (adj.)

    1590s, "in want, needy, poverty-stricken," a sense now obsolete, from penury + -ous, or else from Medieval Latin penuriosus, from Latin penuria "penury." The meaning "parsimonious, excessively saving or sparing in the use of money" is attested by 1630s. Related: Penuriously; penuriousness.ETD penurious (adj.).2


    place in Cornwall, Pensans (late 13c.), literally "Holy Headland," from Cornish penn "head" + sans "holy."ETD Penzance.2

    peon (n.)

    in Spanish America, "unskilled worker," formerly in Mexico especially "a type of serf held in servitude by his creditor until his debts are worked off," 1826, from Mexican Spanish peon "agricultural laborer" (especially a debtor held in servitude by his creditor), from Spanish peon "day laborer," also "pedestrian," originally "foot soldier," from Medieval Latin pedonem "foot soldier" (see pawn (n.2)). The word entered British English earlier (c. 1600) in the sense "native constable, soldier, or messenger in India," via Portuguese peao "pedestrian, foot soldier, day laborer."ETD peon (n.).2

    peonage (n.)

    the work or condition of a peon; a form of servitude formerly prevailing in Mexico," "1848, American English, from peon (q.v.) + -age.ETD peonage (n.).2

    peony (n.)

    type of strong-growing perennial of the family Pæonia, with large, showy, globular flowers, familiar in gardens, Middle English pyony, a merger of Old English peonie and Old North French pione (Modern French pivoine), both from Late Latin peonia, from Latin pæonia, from Greek paionia (fem. of paionios), perhaps from Paiōn, name of the physician of the gods (or Apollo in this aspect), and so called for the plant's healing qualities (see paean). The root, flowers, and seeds formerly were used in medicine. The modern spelling is from 16c.ETD peony (n.).2

    people (v.)

    mid-15c., peplen, "to provide (a land) with inhabitants" (transitive), also "inhabit, populate, fill or occupy as inhabitants" (intransitive, implied in peopled), from people (n.), or else from Old French popler, peupler, from Old French peuple. Related: Peopling.ETD people (v.).2

    people (n.)

    c. 1300, peple, "humans, persons in general, men and women," from Anglo-French peple, people, Old French pople, peupel "people, population, crowd; mankind, humanity," from Latin populus "a people, nation; body of citizens; a multitude, crowd, throng," a word of unknown origin. Based on Italic cognates and derivatives such as populari "to lay waste, ravage, plunder, pillage," Populonia, a surname of Juno, literally "she who protects against devastation," the Proto-Italic root is said to mean "army" [de Vaan]. An Etruscan origin also has been proposed. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish pueblo, Italian popolo. In English, it displaced native folk.ETD people (n.).2

    Sense of "Some unspecified persons" is from c. 1300. Meaning "body of persons comprising a community" is by mid-14c. (late 13c. in Anglo-French); the meaning "common people, masses" (as distinguished from the nobility) is from late 13c. The meaning "members of one's family, tribe, or clan" is from late 14c.ETD people (n.).3

    The word was adopted after c. 1920 by Communist totalitarian states, according to their opponents to give a spurious sense of populism to their governments. It is based on the political sense of the word, "the whole body of enfranchised citizens (considered as the sovereign source of government power," attested from 1640s. This also is the sense in the legal phrase The People vs., in U.S. cases of prosecution under certain laws (1801).ETD people (n.).4

    People of the Book "those whose religion entails adherence to a book of divine revelation" (1834) translates Arabic Ahl al-Kitab.ETD people (n.).5


    small city in Illinois, U.S., originally the name of a subdivision of the Miami/Illinois people (1673), from native /peewaareewa/. Their own name is said to mean "carriers." The place name also is found in Oklahoma and Iowa, but it is the Illinois city that has been proverbially regarded as the typical measure of U.S. cultural and intellectual standards at least since Ambrose Bierce (c. 1890). Also the butt of baseball player jokes (c. 1920-40, when a team there was part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system) and popularized in the catchphrase It'll play in Peoria (often negative), meaning "the average American will approve," which was popular in the Nixon White House (1969-74) but seems to have had a vaudeville origin. Personification in little old lady in Peoria is said to be from Harold Ross of the New Yorker. Peoria's rivals as embodiment of U.S. small city values and standards include Dubuque, Iowa; Hoboken and Hackensack, N.J.; Oakland (Gertrude Stein: "When you get there, there isn't any there there") and Burbank, Calif., and the entire state of North Dakota.ETD Peoria.2

    pep (n.)

    "vigor, energy," 1912, shortened form of pepper (n.), which was used in the figurative sense of "spirit, energy" from at least 1847. Pep rally "meeting to inspire enthusiasm" is attested from 1915; pep talk is from 1926. To pep (something) up "fill or inspire with vigor or energy" is from 1925.ETD pep (n.).2

    pepper (v.)

    "to sprinkle as with pepper," 1610s, from pepper (n.). Old English had gepipera. Meaning "to pelt with shot, etc.; hit with what pains or annoys" is from 1640s. Related: Peppered; peppering.ETD pepper (v.).2

    pepper (n.)

    "dried berries of the pepper plant," Middle English peper, from Old English pipor, from an early West Germanic borrowing of Latin piper "pepper," from Greek piperi, probably (via Persian) from Middle Indic pippari, from Sanskrit pippali "long pepper." The Latin word is the source of German Pfeffer, Italian pepe, French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc.ETD pepper (n.).2

    Application to fruits of the Capsicum family (unrelated, originally native of tropical America) is from 16c. To have pepper in the nose in Middle English was "to be supercilious or unapproachable."ETD pepper (n.).3

    pepper-box (n.)

    "small box with a perforated lid, used for sprinkling ground pepper on food," 1540s, from pepper (n.) + box (n.1). Meaning "hot-tempered person" is by 1867.ETD pepper-box (n.).2

    pepper-caster (n.)

    "pepper-box," 1670s, from pepper (n.) + caster (n.1). As a colloquial term for an early and clumsy form of revolver with a long cylinder, by 1889.ETD pepper-caster (n.).2

    peppercorn (n.)

    "dried pepper berry," late Old English piporcorn, from pepper (n.) + corn (n.1). Used figuratively for "small particle, insignificant quality" by 1791.ETD peppercorn (n.).2

    peppery (adj.)

    1690s, "of or pertaining to pepper," from pepper (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense of "irritable, passionate, sharp" is from 1826. Related: Pepperiness.ETD peppery (adj.).2

    pepperidge (n.)

    "black gum tree, tupelo," 1680s, American English, a word of obscure origin.ETD pepperidge (n.).2

    pepper-mill (n.)

    "utensil in which peppercorns are ground by turning a handle," 1828, from pepper (n.) + mill (n.1). An older word for such a device was peperquerne (mid-14c.).ETD pepper-mill (n.).2

    peppermint (n.)

    herb native to Europe, naturalized in the U.S., noted for its aromatic, pungent oil, 1690s, from pepper (n.) + mint (n.1). Compare Dutch pepermunt, German Pfeffermünze. As "candy drop flavored with peppermint" by 1829 (peppermint-drop is by 1799).ETD peppermint (n.).2

    pepperoni (n.)

    "beef and pork sausage seasoned with pepper," by 1904, from Italian peperone "chilli," from pepe (see pepper (n.)).ETD pepperoni (n.).2

    pepper-pot (n.)

    "pepper-box, pepper-caster," said to be more common in Britain than in U.S., 1670s, from pepper (n.) + pot (n.1). As the name of a West Indian dish or stew involving pepper and other spices, by 1690s.ETD pepper-pot (n.).2

    peppy (adj.)

    "full of pep," 1915, from pep + -y (2).ETD peppy (adj.).2


    U.S. patent filed Sept. 23, 1902, by Caleb D. Bradham (1867-1934), pharmacist and drugstore owner of New Bern, N.C., probably from pepsin; early Pepsi ads tout it as a digestive aid.ETD Pepsi-Cola.2

    pepsin (n.)

    also pepsine, "fermin found in gastric juice, used medicinally for cases of indigestion," 1844, coined in German (Theodor Schwann, 1835) from Greek pepsis "digestion; a cooking," from stem pep- (see peptic) + -in (2).ETD pepsin (n.).2

    peptic (adj.)

    1650s, "of or pertaining to the function of digestion;" 1660s, "promoting digestion," from Latin pepticus, from Greek peptikos "able to digest," from peptos "cooked, digested," verbal adjective of peptein "to cook" (from PIE root *pekw- "to cook, ripen").ETD peptic (adj.).2

    peptide (n.)

    "short chain of amino acids linked by amide bonds," 1906, from German peptid (1902); see peptone + -ide, here probably indicating a derivative. Related: Peptidic.ETD peptide (n.).2

    peptone (n.)

    a general name for a substance into which the nitrogenous elements of food are converted by digestion, 1860, from German Pepton (1849), from Greek pepton, neuter of peptos "cooked, digested," verbal adjective of peptein "to cook" (from PIE root *pekw- "to cook, ripen"). Related: Peptonic.ETD peptone (n.).2


    word-forming element common in words of French and Latin origin, meaning primarily "through," thus also "throughout; thoroughly; entirely, utterly," from Latin preposition per (see per (prep.)).ETD per-.2

    *per- (2)

    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to lead, pass over." A verbal root associated with *per- (1), which forms prepositions and preverbs with the basic meaning "forward, through; in front of, before," etc.ETD *per- (2).2

    It forms all or part of: aporia; asportation; comport; deport; disport; emporium; Euphrates; export; fare; farewell; fartlek; Ferdinand; fere; fern; ferry; firth; fjord; ford; Fuhrer; gaberdine; import; important; importune; opportune; opportunity; passport; porch; pore (n.) "minute opening;" port (n.1) "harbor;" port (n.2) "gateway, entrance;" port (n.3) "bearing, mien;" port (v.) "to carry;" portable; portage; portal; portcullis; porter (n.1) "person who carries;" porter (n.2) "doorkeeper, janitor;" portfolio; portico; portiere; purport; practical; rapport; report; sport; support; transport; warfare; wayfarer; welfare.ETD *per- (2).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit parayati "carries over;" Greek poros "journey, passage, way," peirein "to pierce, pass through, run through;" Latin portare "to carry," porta "gate, door," portus "port, harbor," originally "entrance, passage," peritus "experienced;" Avestan peretush "passage, ford, bridge;" Armenian hordan "go forward;" Old Welsh rit, Welsh rhyd "ford;" Old Church Slavonic pariti "to fly;" Old English faran "to go, journey," Old Norse fjörðr "inlet, estuary."ETD *per- (2).4

    *per- (3)

    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to try, risk," an extended sense from root *per- (1) "forward," via the notion of "to lead across, press forward."ETD *per- (3).2

    It forms all or part of: empiric; empirical; experience; experiment; expert; fear; parlous; peril; perilous; pirate.ETD *per- (3).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin experiri "to try," periculum "trial, risk, danger;" Greek peira "trial, attempt, experience," empeiros "experienced;" Old Irish aire "vigilance;" Old English fær "calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack," German Gefahr "danger," Gothic ferja "watcher.ETD *per- (3).4

    *per- (4)

    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to strike," an extended sense from root *per- (1) "forward, through."ETD *per- (4).2

    It forms all or part of: compress; depress; espresso; express; impress (v.1) "have a strong effect on the mind or heart;" imprimatur; imprint; oppress; oppression; pregnant (adj.2) "convincing, weighty, pithy;" press (v.1) "push against;" pressure; print; repress; reprimand; suppress.ETD *per- (4).3

    per (prep.)

    "through, by means of," 1580s (earlier in various Latin and French phrases, in the latter often par), from Latin per "through, during, by means of, on account of, as in," from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through, in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, around, against."ETD per (prep.).2

    *per- (1)

    Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.ETD *per- (1).2

    It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.ETD *per- (1).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.ETD *per- (1).4

    *per- (5)

    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to traffic in, to sell," an extended sense from root *per- (1) "forward, through" via the notion of "to hand over" or "distribute."ETD *per- (5).2

    It forms all or part of: appraise; appreciate; depreciate; interpret; praise; precious; price; pornography.ETD *per- (5).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit aprata "without recompense, gratuitously;" Greek porne "prostitute," originally "bought, purchased," pernanai "to sell;" Latin pretium "reward, prize, value, worth;" Lithuanian perku "I buy."ETD *per- (5).4

    peradventure (adv.)

    "perhaps, possibly, maybe," Middle English peraventure, paraventure (late 14c.), per auenture (c. 1300), from Old French par aventure (see per + adventure (n.)). Refashioned 17c. as though from Latin.ETD peradventure (adv.).2

    perambulation (n.)

    mid-15c., perambulacioun, "a journey or tour of inspection," especially a walk around the borders of a property, parish, etc., to determine the boundaries, from Anglo-Latin (c. 1300) and Anglo-French perambulacion, from Medieval Latin perambulationem (nominative perambulatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin perambulare "to walk through, go through, ramble through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + ambulare "to walk, go about" (see amble (v.)). Meaning "act of passing or wandering through or over" is by late 15c.ETD perambulation (n.).2

    perambulate (v.)

    "walk through, about, or over," 1560s, from Latin perambulatus, past participle of perambulare "to walk through, go through, ramble through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + ambulare "to walk, go about" (see amble (v.)). Related: Perambulated; perambulating.ETD perambulate (v.).2

    perambulator (n.)

    1610s, "one who perambulates," agent noun in Latin form from perambulate. From 1680s as "instrument for measuring distances traveled." Sense of "small three- or four-wheeled baby carriage" is attested by 1856; often colloquially shortened to pram.ETD perambulator (n.).2

    per annum

    "in each year, annually," c. 1600, Latin, "by the year," from per (see per) + annum, accusative singular of annus "year" (see annual (adj.)).ETD per annum.2

    percale (n.)

    1620s, name of a kind of closely and firmly woven fabric imported from the East, from French percale, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from Persian pargalah "a rag." In modern use (1840) a fabric of French manufacture.ETD percale (n.).2

    per capita

    1680s, Latin, "by the head, by heads," from per (see per) + capita "head" (see capital).ETD per capita.2

    perceive (v.)

    c. 1300, perceiven, "become aware of, gain knowledge of," especially "to come to know by direct experience," via Anglo-French parceif, Old North French *perceivre (Old French perçoivre) "perceive, notice, see; recognize, understand," from Latin percipere "obtain, gather, seize entirely, take possession of," also, figuratively, "to grasp with the mind, learn, comprehend," literally "to take entirely," from per "thoroughly" (see per) + capere "to grasp, take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."ETD perceive (v.).2

    Replaced Old English ongietan. Both the Latin senses were in Old French, though English uses the word almost always in the metaphorical sense. Related: Perceived; perceiving.ETD perceive (v.).3

    perceivable (adj.)

    "recognizable, capable of falling under the cognizance of the senses," late 15c., from Old French percevable, from perçoivre "to notice, see; recognize, understand" (see perceive). Related: Perceivably.ETD perceivable (adj.).2


    "by the hundred;" with a preceding numeral expressing a proportion of the whole amount, 1560s, per cent, from Modern Latin per centum "by the hundred" (see per and see hundred). Until early 20c. often treated as an abbreviation and punctuated accordingly.ETD percent.2

    percentage (n.)

    "a proportion or rate per hundred," 1789, from percent + -age. Commercial sense of "profit, advantage" is from 1862.ETD percentage (n.).2

    percentile (n.)

    in statistics, "each of a series of values obtained by dividing a large number of quantities into 100 equal groups in order of magnitude," 1885, coined by English scientist Francis Galton (1822-1911) from percent + -ile.ETD percentile (n.).2

    perception (n.)

    late 14c., percepcioun, "understanding, a taking cognizance," from Latin perceptionem (nominative perceptio) "perception, apprehension, a taking," noun of action from past-participle stem of percipere "to perceive" (see perceive). Also used in Middle English in the more literal sense of the Latin word. The meaning "intuitive or direct recognition of some innate quality" is from 1827.ETD perception (n.).2

    perceptive (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the act or power of perceiving," 1650s, from Latin percept-, past-participle stem of percipere (see perceive) + -ive. In reference to intelligence from 1860. From mid-15c. as the name of a type of optical instrument or magic glass revealing future events. The older word in the mental sense was perceptible (q.v.); also compare Middle English perceivaunt "observant" (late 14c.), from Old French and Medieval Latin. Related: Perceptively; perceptiveness.ETD perceptive (adj.).2

    perceptible (adj.)

    early 15c., "perceptive, capable of perceiving," from Old French perceptible and directly from Late Latin perceptibilis "perceptible," from Latin percept-, past-participle stem of percipere (see perceive). Meaning "capable of coming under the cognizance of the senses" is from c. 1600. Related: Perceptibly; perceptibility.ETD perceptible (adj.).2

    percept (n.)

    "immediate object in perception," 1837, from Latin perceptum "(a thing) perceived," noun use of neuter past participle of percipere "to perceive" (see perceive). Formed on model of concept.ETD percept (n.).2

    perceptual (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to perception," 1852, from percept + -ual as in factual. Related: Perceptually.ETD perceptual (adj.).2

    perch (n.1)

    "rod or pole on which a bird alights and rests," late 13c., originally only "a pole, rod, stick, stake," from Old French perche "unit of linear measurement" (5.5 yards), also "measuring rod, pole, bar" used to measure this length (13c.), from Latin pertica "pole, long staff, measuring rod," which is related to Oscan perek "pole," Umbrian perkaf "twigs, rods." Meaning "a bar fixed horizontally for a hawk or tame bird to rest on" is attested from late 14c.; this led to the general sense of "any thing that any bird alights or rests on" (late 15c.). Figurative sense of "an elevated or secure position" is recorded from 1520s.ETD perch (n.1).2

    perch (n.2)

    common spiny-finned freshwater fish, c. 1300, perche, from Old French perche, from Latin perca "perch," from Greek perkē "a perch," from perknos "spotted, having dark spots," from PIE root *perk- "speckled, spotted" (source also of Sanskrit prsnih "speckled, variegated;" Greek perkazein "to become dark"), typically in names of animals; compare Middle Irish erc, Welsh erch "spotted, dark red; salmon, trout," also "cow, lizard;" Old High German forhana, Old English forne "trout."ETD perch (n.2).2

    perch (v.)

    "to roost, to alight or settle on or as on a perch; to occupy some elevated position," late 14c., from Old French perchier "to sit on a perch" (of a bird), from perche (n.); see perch (n.1). Related: Perched; perching.ETD perch (v.).2

    perch (n.3)

    "measure of land equal to a square lineal perch" (usually 160 to the acre), late 14c., earlier "land-measuring rod" (c. 1300), from Old French perche "unit of linear measurement" (5.5 yards), also "measuring rod, pole, bar" used to measure this length (13c.), from Latin pertica "pole, long staff, measuring rod," which is related to Oscan perek "pole," Umbrian perkaf "twigs, rods." The same word as perch (n.1).ETD perch (n.3).2

    perchance (adv.)

    "perhaps, possibly, maybe," mid-14c., parchaunce, from Old French par cheance, literally "by chance." With Latin per substituted c. 1400 for French cognate par. See per + chance (n.).ETD perchance (adv.).2

    Percheron (n.)

    type of horse, large and stout but relatively free in action, by 1875, from French Percheron, adjective formed from le Perche, region south of Normandy where horses were bred that were strong, light, and fast.ETD Percheron (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from the surname, which is of Norman origin, from a place name, from Old French percer "to pierce, break through" (see pierce). As a given name sometimes also short for Percival (for which see Parzival). The colloquial connotation of weakness or effeminacy in the man's name is attested by 1916.ETD Percy.2

    percipient (adj.)

    "having the faculty of perception," 1690s, from Latin percipientem (nominative percipiens), present participle of percipere (see perceive). Earlier in English as a noun, "one who perceives" (1660s).ETD percipient (adj.).2

    percipience (n.)

    "act or power of perceiving," 1768, from percipient + -ence. Related: Percipiency (1660s).ETD percipience (n.).2


    by 1991, a North American brand name for oxycodone/acetaminophen.ETD Percocet.2

    percolation (n.)

    "the act of straining or filtering through some porous material," 1610s, from Latin percolationem (nominative percolatio) "a straining through; the act of filtering," noun of action from past-participle stem of percolare "to strain through, filter," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + colare "to strain," from colum "a strainer," which is of uncertain origin.ETD percolation (n.).2

    percolator (n.)

    1795, "one who or that which filters," agent noun in Latin form from percolate. As a type of coffee-maker, by 1808. American English slang meaning "house party" is recorded from 1946.ETD percolator (n.).2

    percolate (v.)

    1620s, "to strain through" (transitive), a back-formation from percolation, or else from Latin percolatus, past participle of percolare "to strain through." Figurative sense by 1670s. Intransitive sense of "to pass through small interstices" is from 1680s. Related: Percolated; percolating.ETD percolate (v.).2

    percussive (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to percussion," 1735, from Latin percuss-, past-participle stem of percutere "to strike hard" (see percussion) + -ive. It was used earlier as a noun, "a repercussive medicine" (late 14c.).ETD percussive (adj.).2

    percuss (v.)

    1550s, "to strike," from French percussir, from Latin percussus, past participle of percutere "to strike hard, beat" (see percussion). Especially, in medicine, "to tap or strike for diagnostic purposes" (1821, implied in percussed). Related: Percussing.ETD percuss (v.).2

    percussion (n.)

    early 15c., percussioun, "a striking, a blow; internal injury, contusion," from Latin percussionem (nominative percussio) "a beating, striking; a beat as a measure of time," noun of action from past participle stem of percutere "to strike hard, beat, smite; strike through and through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + quatere "to strike, shake" (see quash).ETD percussion (n.).2

    In reference to musical instruments sounded by a stroke or blow, attested by 1776 (instrument of percussion). In medical diagnosis, "a method of striking or tapping the surface of the body to determine the condition of the organs in the region struck," by 1781.ETD percussion (n.).3

    percussionist (n.)

    "player of a percussion instrument," 1921, from percussion + -ist. Earlier "one who uses a percussion gun" (1817).ETD percussionist (n.).2

    percutaneous (adj.)

    "passed, done, or effected through the skin," 1862, with -ous + Latin per cutem "through the skin," from per "through" (see per) + cutem, accusative singular of cutis "skin" (from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal"). Related: Percutaneously.ETD percutaneous (adj.).2

    per diem

    1510s, "by the day, in each day," Latin, "by the day," from per (see per) + diem, accusative singular of dies "day" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine"). As a noun from 1809, "amount or allowance of so much every day."ETD per diem.2

    perdition (n.)

    mid-14c., "condition of damnation, spiritual ruin, state of the souls of the wicked in Hell," a special theological sense; the general sense of "utter destruction, entire ruin, great harm, death, fact of being lost or destroyed," is by late 14c.; from Old French perdicion "loss, calamity, perdition" of souls (11c.) and directly from Late Latin perditionem (nominative perditio) "ruin, destruction," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin perdere "do away with, destroy; lose, throw away, squander," from per- "through" (here perhaps with intensive or completive force, "to destruction") + dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give"). The theological sense gradually extinguished the general use of the word.ETD perdition (n.).2

    perdurable (adj.)

    "long-lasting; permanent, imperishable," mid-13c. (implied in perdurably), from Old French pardurable "eternal, everlasting, perpetual" (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin perdurabilis "lasting," from Latin perdurare "to last, hold out," from per-, intensive prefix, + durare "to harden," from durus "hard," from PIE *dru-ro-, suffixed variant form of root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast." Related: Perdurability.ETD perdurable (adj.).2


    title affixed to the name of a French priest, 1610s, from French père "father," from Latin patrem (nominative pater); see father (n.). Attached to a name, to distinguish a father from a son of the same name (e.g. Dumas père), from 1802.ETD pere.2

    *pere- (2)

    *perə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to grant, allot" (and reciprocally, "to get in return"); possibly related to *pere- (1) "to produce, procure."ETD *pere- (2).2

    It forms all or part of: apart; apartment; bipartient; bipartisan; bipartite; compartment; depart; department; ex parte; impart; jeopardy; multipartite; parcel; parse; part; partial; participate; participation; particle; particular; particulate; partisan; partition; partitive; partner; party; portion; proportion; quadripartite; repartee; tripartite.ETD *pere- (2).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit purtam "reward;" Hittite parshiya- "fraction, part;" Greek peprotai "it has been granted;" Latin partem (nominative pars) "a part, piece," portio "share, portion."ETD *pere- (2).4

    *pere- (1)

    *perə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to produce, procure" and yielding and derived words in diverse senses; possibly related to *pere- (2) "to grant, allot."ETD *pere- (1).2

    It forms all or part of: ante-partum; apparatus; apparel; biparous; disparate; emperor; empire; heifer; imperative; imperator; imperial; juniper; multiparous; nulliparous; oviparous; para- (2) "defense, protection against; that which protects from;" Parabellum; parachute; parade; parados; parapet; parasol; pare; parent; -parous; parry; parturient; poor; post-partum; preparation; prepare; primipara; puerperal; rampart; repair (v.1) "to mend, put back in order;" repertory; separate; sever; several; spar (v.); viper; vituperation; viviparous.ETD *pere- (1).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit prthukah "child, calf, young of an animal;" Greek poris "calf, bull;" Latin parare "make ready, prepare," parire "produce, bring forth, give birth to;" Czech spratek "brat, urchin, premature calf;" Lithuanian periu, perėti "to brood;" Old High German farro, German Farre "bullock," Old English fearr "bull."ETD *pere- (1).4

    peregrination (n.)

    early 15c., peregrinacioun, "a journey, pilgrimage," hence, later, "roaming or wandering about in general," from Old French peregrination "pilgrimage, long absence" (12c.) or directly from Latin peregrinationem (nominative peregrinatio) "a journey, a sojourn abroad," noun of action from past-participle stem of peregrinari "to journey or travel abroad," figuratively "to roam about, wander," from peregrinus "from foreign parts, foreigner," from peregre (adv.) "abroad," properly "from abroad, found outside Roman territory," from per "away" (see per) + agri, locative of ager "field, territory, land, country" (from PIE root *agro- "field"). The earlier English word was peregrinage (mid-14c.).ETD peregrination (n.).2

    peregrinate (v.)

    "to travel from place to place," 1590s, from Latin peregrinatus, past participle of peregrinari "to travel abroad, be alien," figuratively "to wander, roam, travel about," from peregrinus "from foreign parts, foreigner," from peregre (adv.) "abroad," properly "from abroad, found outside Roman territory," from per "away" (see per) + agri, locative of ager "field, territory, land, country" (from PIE root *agro- "field").ETD peregrinate (v.).2

    peregrine (n.)

    also peregrin, type of large, spirited falcon, 1550s, short for peregrine falcon (late 14c.), from Old French faulcon pelerin (mid-13c.), from Medieval Latin falco peregrinus, from Latin peregrinus "coming from foreign parts," from peregre (adv.) "abroad," properly "from abroad, found outside Roman territory," from per "away" (see per) + agri, locative of ager "field, territory, land, country" (from PIE root *agro- "field"). The original implications of the term in falconry are not clear; they may have been of a bird "caught in transit," as opposed to one taken from the nest. Peregrine as an adjective in English meaning "not native, foreign" is attested from 1520s.ETD peregrine (n.).2

    peremptory (adj.)

    mid-15c., peremptorie, "absolute, allowing no refusal," a legal term, from Anglo-French peremptorie, from Late Latin peremptorius "destructive, decisive, final," from peremptor "destroyer," agent noun from past-participle stem of Latin perimpere "destroy, cut off," from per "away entirely, to destruction" (see per) + emere (past participle emptus) "to take" (from PIE root *em- "to take, distribute"). Of persons or their words, "certain, assured, brooking no debate or question," 1580s. Related: Peremptorily.ETD peremptory (adj.).2

    perennial (adj.)

    1640s, of plants or leaves, "evergreen" (a sense now obsolete), formed in English from Latin perennis "lasting through the year (or years)," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + annus "year" (see annual (adj.)). The botanical sense of "remaining alive through more than two years" is attested from 1670s; of springs, etc., "lasting or continuing without cessation through a year or many years," by 1703. The figurative meaning "enduring, permanent" is from 1750. Related: Perennially. For vowel change, see biennial. The noun meaning "a perennial plant" is from 1763.ETD perennial (adj.).2

    perestroika (n.)

    1981, from Russian perestroika, literally "rebuilding, reconstruction, reform" (of Soviet society, etc.), from pere- "re-" (from Old Russian pere- "around, again," from Proto-Slavic *per-, from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through, around, against") + stroika "building, construction," from Old Russian stroji "order," from PIE *stroi-, from root *stere- "to spread." First proposed at the 26th Party Congress (1981); popularized in English 1985 during Mikhail Gorbachev's leadership of the U.S.S.R.ETD perestroika (n.).2

    perfect (adj.)

    early 15c. classical correction of Middle English parfit "flawless, ideal" (c. 1300), also "complete, full, finished, lacking in no way" (late 14c.), from Old French parfit "finished, completed, ready" (11c.), from Latin perfectus "completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite," past participle of perficere "accomplish, finish, complete," from per "completely" (see per) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD perfect (adj.).2

    Often used in English as an intensive (perfect stranger, etc.), from the notion of "complete." Grammatical sense, in reference to verb tense describing an action as completed, is from c. 1500. As a noun, late 14c. ("perfection"), from the adjective.ETD perfect (adj.).3

    perfection (n.)

    early 13c., perfeccioun, "consummate state or form, that degree of excellence which leaves nothing to be desired," from Old French perfection "perfection, completeness" (12c.), from Latin perfectionem (nominative perfectio) "a finishing, completing, perfection," noun of action from past-participle stem of perficere "to accomplish, finish, complete" (see perfect (adj.)).ETD perfection (n.).2

    From late 14c. as "flawlessness, correctness, purity," also "act of making perfect," also "state of being complete." The meaning "quality, endowment, or acquirement characterized by excellence or great worth or value" is from 1570s.ETD perfection (n.).3

    perfect (v.)

    "to bring to full development, finish or complete so as to leave nothing wanting," late 14c., parfiten, from perfect (adj.). Related: Perfected; perfecting.ETD perfect (v.).2

    perfectible (adj.)

    "capable of being made or becoming perfect," 1630s; see perfect (adj.) + -ible. Related: Perfectibility.ETD perfectible (adj.).2

    perfective (adj.)

    "tending or conducing to perfection," 1590s, from Medieval Latin perfectivus, from Latin perfect-, past-participle stem of perficere "accomplish, finish, complete" (see perfect (adj.)). Grammatical use is from 1844.ETD perfective (adj.).2

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