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    perpetration (n.) — pester (v.)

    perpetration (n.)

    mid-15c., perpetracioun, "act of perpetrating; that which is perpetrated," from Late Latin perpetrationem (nominative perpetratio) "an accomplishing, performing," noun of action from past participle stem of perpetrare "to perform, accomplish" (see perpetrate).ETD perpetration (n.).2

    perpetrator (n.)

    1560s, "one who commits or has committed," literally "the one who did it" (in English usually an evil act), from Late Latin perpetrator, agent noun from past-participle stem of perpetrare "to perform, to accomplish" (see perpetrate). Fem. forms are perpetratress (1811, of Nero's poisoner Locusta); perpetratrix (1862, in reference to Charlotte Corday).ETD perpetrator (n.).2

    perpetuous (adj.)

    "perpetual," 1610s, from Latin perpetuus "continuous, unbroken, uninterrupted" (see perpetual). A rare word, marked as obsolete in OED.ETD perpetuous (adj.).2

    perpetuate (v.)

    "cause to endure or to continue indefinitely, preserve from extinction or oblivion," 1520s, a back-formation from perpetuation or else from Latin perpetuatus, past participle of perpetuare "to make perpetual," from perpetuus "continuous, universal" (see perpetual). Related: Perpetuated; Perpetuating.ETD perpetuate (v.).2

    perpetuation (n.)

    "prolongation, permanent continuation; act of preserving through an endless existence," late 14c., perpetuacioun, from Medieval Latin perpetuationem (nominative perpetuatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin perpetuare "to make perpetual," from perpetuus "continuous, universal" (see perpetual).ETD perpetuation (n.).2

    perpetual (adj.)

    mid-14c., perpetuel, "everlasting, unceasing, existing indefinitely, continuing forever in future time;" late 14c., "uninterrupted, continuous," from Old French perpetuel "without end" (12c.) and directly from Latin perpetualis "universal," in Medieval Latin "permanent," from perpetuus "continuous, universal," from perpetis, genitive of Old Latin perpes "lasting," probably from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + root of petere "to seek, go to, aim at" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").ETD perpetual (adj.).2

    Related: Perpetually. Perpetual motion in reference to a hypothetical machine which, being set once in motion, will continue forever unless stopped by some external force" is attested from 1590s.ETD perpetual (adj.).3

    perpetuity (n.)

    "quality or state of endless duration, continued uninterrupted existence for an indefinite period of time," late 14c., perpetuite, from Old French perpetuité "permanence, duration" (13c., Modern French perpétuité) and directly from Latin perpetuitatem (nominative perpetuitas) "uninterrupted duration, continuity, continuous succession," from perpetuus (see perpetual).ETD perpetuity (n.).2

    perplexity (n.)

    mid-14c., perplexite, "bewilderment, doubt, uncertainty," from Old French perplexite "confusion, perplexity," from Late Latin perplexitatem (nominative perplexitas), from Latin perplexus "confused, involved, interwoven," from per- "completely" + plexus "entangled," past participle of plectere "to twine" (from suffixed form of PIE root *plek- "to plait"). From 1590s as "something that causes perplexity, an intricate or involved state or confusion."ETD perplexity (n.).2

    perplexed (adj.)

    of persons, "doubtful or full of anxieties, bewildered, puzzled due to matter under consideration," c. 1500, a variant of Middle English perplex (adj.); see perplex. A case of a past-participle form attested generations before the verb (perplex isn't recorded until late 16c.). Related: Perplexedly; perplexedness.ETD perplexed (adj.).2

    perplex (v.)

    1590s, "embarrass, puzzle, bewilder, fill (someone) with uncertainty," evidently a back-formation from perplexed, a variant of the adjective perplex (late 14c.), "perplexed, puzzled, bewildered," from Latin perplexus "involved, confused, intricate;" but Latin had no corresponding verb *perplectere. The Latin compound would be per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + plexus "entangled," past participle of plectere "to twine, braid, fold" (from suffixed form of PIE root *plek- "to plait").ETD perplex (v.).2

    The form of the English adjective began to shift to perplexed by late 15c., probably to conform to other past-participle adjectives, and the adjective perplex became obsolete from 17c. The verb is the latest attested of the group. The sense of "make intricate, involve, entangle, make difficult to be understood" is from 1610s. Related: Perplexing, which well describes the history of the word; perplexingly.ETD perplex (v.).3

    perquisite (n.)

    mid-15c., "property acquired other than by inheritance" (c. 1300 in Anglo-Latin), from Medieval Latin perquisitum "thing gained, profit," in classical Latin, "thing sought after," noun use of neuter past participle of perquirere "to seek, ask for," from per "thoroughly" (see per) + quærere "to seek" (see query (v.)). For Latin vowel change, see acquisition. The general meaning "any incidental profit, gain, or fee on top of regular wages" is by 1560s.ETD perquisite (n.).2


    surname attested from late 12c., literally "dweller by the pear tree."ETD Perry.2


    proprietary name of a natural mineral water from southern France, attested in English by 1904.ETD Perrier.2

    perse (adj.)

    late 13c., "blue, bluish-gray," later "rich, dark blue; purplish-black," from Old French pers "(dark) blue, livid; wan, pale," from Late Latin persus, perhaps a back-formation from one of the early European forms of Persia. Compare indigo, from India.ETD perse (adj.).2

    per se

    "by himself, herself, or itself," 1570s, Latin, literally "by itself;" from per (see per) + se, reflexive pronoun, "himself, herself, itself, themselves," from PIE root *swe-, pronoun of the third person (see idiom). The Latin phrase translates Greek kath auto (Aristotle).ETD per se.2

    persea (n.)

    sacred fruit-bearing tree of Egypt and Persia, c. 1600, from Latin persea, from Greek persea; Beekes says the tree name in Greek, though referring to the tree in Egypt, reflects its Persian origin. Used from early 19c. of a genus of trees and shrubs in the West Indies.ETD persea (n.).2

    persecute (v.)

    mid-15c., persecuten, "to oppress for the holding of an opinion or adherence to a particular creed or mode of worship," from Old French persécuter "pursue, torment, open legal action" (14c.) and directly from Latin persecutus, past participle of persequi "to follow, pursue, hunt down; proceed against, prosecute, start a legal action," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + sequi "follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow"). Related: Persecuted; persecuting.ETD persecute (v.).2

    persecution (n.)

    mid-14c., persecucioun, "oppression for the holding of a belief or opinion," from Old French persecucion "persecution, damage, affliction, suffering" (12c.) and directly from Latin persecutionem (nominative persecutio), noun of action from past-participle stem of persequi "to follow, pursue, hunt down; proceed against, prosecute, start a legal action," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + sequi "follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow").ETD persecution (n.).2

    General senses of "malevolent oppression, harassing or oppressive treatment," also "a time of general or systematic oppression" are from late 14c. Psychological persecution complex in reference to an irrational sense of being victimized by malign forces as a feature of a mental disorder is recorded from 1961; the earlier phrase for it was persecution mania (1892).ETD persecution (n.).3

    persecutor (n.)

    early 15c., persecutour, "one who pursues and harasses another unjustly and vexatiously," especially "a persecutor of Christians, an oppressor (of the Church or Christians)," from Anglo-French persecutour, Old French persecutor "persecutor, enemy" (12c., Modern French persécuteur) and directly from Latin persecutor, agent noun from persequi (see persecution).ETD persecutor (n.).2

    Perseid (n.)

    "a meteor from an annual shower that appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus," 1867, from Modern Latin Perseides (plural; Schiaparelli, 1866), from Greek Perseis "daughter of Perseus" (see Perseus; also see -id). The name might have been introduced in English via the writings of Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli. Other recorded old names for them in English include August meteors and Tears of St. Lawrence (whose feast day is August 10).ETD Perseid (n.).2


    wife of Hades, queen of the netherworld, identified with Kore, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, from Greek Persephone. De Vaan writes that "The name was always considered obscure" until a thorough investigation published in 2006 reported that the original form was persophatta, "as found in eight attestations, seven of which are on 5th c. BC Attic vases (by seven different painters)." He analyzes it as *perso-, cognate with Sanskrit parsa- "sheaf of corn," + a second element from the PIE root *gwhen- "to hit, strike" (see bane) thus "a female thresher of corn."ETD Persephone.2


    ancient capital of Persia, founded 6c. B.C.E. by Darius the Great; from Greek, literally "city of the Persians," from Perses "Persians" (see Persian) + -polis "city" (see polis). The modern Iranian name for the place is Takht-e-jamshid, literally "throne of Jamshid," a legendary king whose name was substituted when Darius was forgotten. Related: Persepolitan.ETD Persepolis.2


    Greek hero, son of Zeus and Danaë, slayer of the gorgon Medusa, from Greek Perseus, a name of unknown origin. Also the name of an ancient northern constellation representing him.ETD Perseus.2

    perseverance (n.)

    mid-14c., perseveraunce "will or ability to persevere, tenacity," from Old French perseverance "persistence, endurance" (12c., Modern French persévérance) and directly from Latin perseverantia "steadfastness, constancy," from perseverant- past-participle stem of perseverare "continue steadfastly" (see persevere). From late 14c. as "quality or state of continuing or enduring."ETD perseverance (n.).2

    perseverant (adj.)

    mid-14c. perseveraunt (implied in perseverantly) "constant, steadfast; persistent, unflagging," from Old French persévérant (12c.), present participle of persévérer (see persevere). Marked as obsolete in Century Dictionary (1895). Related: Perseverantly.ETD perseverant (adj.).2

    persevere (v.)

    "to persist in what one has undertaken, to pursue steadily a design or course," late 14c., perseveren, from Old French perseverer "continue, persevere, endure" and directly from Latin perseverare "continue steadfastly, persist," from persevereus "very strict, earnest," from per "very" (see per) + severus "serious, grave, strict, austere," which is probably from PIE root *segh- "to have, hold," on the notion of "steadfastness, toughness." Related: Persevered; persevering.ETD persevere (v.).2

    perseverate (v.)

    "repeat a response after the cessation of the original stimulus," by 1909, in psychology, a back-formation from perseveration. Related: Perseverating; perseverative.ETD perseverate (v.).2

    perseveration (n.)

    late 14c., perseveracioun "will to persevere;" early 15c., "duration, quality of persisting," from Old French perseveracion "persistence, stubbornness" (13c.) and directly from Latin perseverationem (nominative perseveratio), noun of action from past-participle stem of perseverare "continue steadfastly, persist" (see persevere). Psychological sense (1903) is from German (see perseverate).ETD perseveration (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from Latin, from Greek Persis, literally "a Persian woman," related to Perses "Persian" (see Persian).ETD Persis.2


    c. 1200, Perse, "land of the Persians," from Latin Persia "Persia," from Greek Persis, from Old Persian Parsa (cognate with Persian Fars, Hebrew Paras, Arabic Faris).ETD Persia.2

    Persian (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to ancient or modern Persia," c. 1300, Percien, from Latin *Persianus (the adjective via Old French persien), from Persia "Persia" (see Persia). As a noun, "native or inhabitant of ancient or modern Persia." First record of Persian cat is from 1785; they were first brought to Europe from Persia in 17c.ETD Persian (adj.).2

    persiflage (n.)

    "light, flippant banter; an ironical or frivolous treatment of a subject," 1757, from French persiflage, from persifler "to banter" (18c.), from Latin per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + French siffler "to whistle, hiss," from collateral form of Latin sibilare "to hiss," which possibly is of imitative origin. Said to have been introduced in English by Chesterfield.ETD persiflage (n.).2

    persimmon (n.)

    the North American date-plum, a tree common in the U.S. South, 1610s, from Powhatan (Algonquian) pasimenan "fruit dried artificially," from pasimeneu "he dries fruit," containing Proto-Algonquian */-min-/ "fruit, berry."ETD persimmon (n.).2

    persistent (adj.)

    1723, "enduring," at first mostly in botany, from persistence or from Latin persistentem (nominative persistens), present participle of persistere (see persist). Meaning "continuing in spite of opposition, warning, etc." is by 1830. Shakespeare used persistive. Related: Persistently.ETD persistent (adj.).2

    persistence (n.)

    1540s, "steady or firm adherence to or continuance in a state, course of action, or pursuit that has been entered upon, especially if more or less obstinate," from French persistance, from persistant "lasting, enduring, permanent," from Latin persistentem (nominative persistens), present participle of persistere (see persist). In 16c. often spelled persistance, but the classical spelling prevailed. Meaning "continuance of an effect after the cause which gave rise to it is removed" is from 1862. Related: Persistency.ETD persistence (n.).2

    persist (v.)

    "continue steadily and firmly in some state or course of action," especially in spite of opposition or remonstrance; "persevere obstinately," 1530s, from French persister (14c.), from Latin persistere "abide, continue steadfastly," from per "thoroughly" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + sistere "come to stand, cause to stand still" (from PIE *si-st-, reduplicated form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm"). Related: Persisted; persisting.ETD persist (v.).2

    persnickety (adj.)

    1889, alteration of pernickety (q.v.).ETD persnickety (adj.).2

    person (n.)

    c. 1200, persoun, "an individual, a human being," from Old French persone "human being, anyone, person" (12c., Modern French personne) and directly from Latin persona "human being, person, personage; a part in a drama, assumed character," originally "a mask, a false face," such as those of wood or clay, covering the whole head, worn by the actors in later Roman theater. OED offers the general 19c. explanation of persona as "related to" Latin personare "to sound through" (i.e. the mask as something spoken through and perhaps amplifying the voice), "but the long o makes a difficulty ...." Klein and Barnhart say it is possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu "mask." De Vaan has no entry for it.ETD person (n.).2

    From mid-13c. as "one of the persons of the Trinity," a theological use in Church Latin of the classical word. Meanings "one's physical being, the living body" and "external appearance" are from late 14c. In grammar, "one of the relations which a subject may have to a verb," from 1510s. In legal use, "corporate body or corporation other than the state and having rights and duties before the law," 15c., short for person aggregate (c. 1400), person corporate (mid-15c.).ETD person (n.).3

    The use of -person to replace -man in compounds for the sake of gender neutrality or to avoid allegations of sexism is recorded by 1971 (in chairperson). In person "by bodily presence" is from 1560s. Person-to-person (adj.) is attested by 1919, originally of telephone calls; the phrase itself was in use by 1880 in reference to the spreading of diseases.ETD person (n.).4

    personal (adj.)

    late 14c., "private, pertaining to the self or to a self-conscious individual; performed by the individual himself," from Old French personal (12c., Modern French personnel), from Late Latin personalis "pertaining to a person," from Latin persona (see person).ETD personal (adj.).2

    The meaning "applicable to, directed at, or aimed at some particular person" (usually in a hostile manner) is attested from 1610s. Designating an official or employee attached to one's person (as in personal secretary) by 1928.ETD personal (adj.).3

    The noun sense of "newspaper item about private matters" is attested from 1888. As "a classified ad addressed to an individual," it is recorded from 1861. Personal computer is from 1976.ETD personal (adj.).4

    personality (n.)

    late 14c., personalite, "quality or fact of being a person," from Old French personalité and directly from Medieval Latin personalitatem (nominative personalitas), from Late Latin personalis (see personal). Sense of "a distinctive essential character of a self-conscious being" is recorded by 1795, from French personnalité.ETD personality (n.).2

    Meaning "person whose character stands out from that of others" is from 1889. Personality cult "devotion to a leader encouraged on the basis of aspects of his personality, rather than ideological or political considerations," is attested by 1956.ETD personality (n.).3

    personable (adj.)

    "pleasing in one's person, of good appearance," mid-15c., from person + -able, or else from Old French personable. Related: Personably.ETD personable (adj.).2

    personalization (n.)

    also personalisation, "attribution of personal qualities to that which is impersonal," 1849, from personalize + noun ending -ation.ETD personalization (n.).2

    personally (adv.)

    late 14c., "in person; by one's own actions," from personal + -ly (2). Sense of "with respect to an individual" is from late 15c. Meaning "as far as I'm concerned" is from 1849.ETD personally (adv.).2

    personalize (v.)

    also personalise, "make personal, make (something) more obviously related to a particular individual," 1747, from personal + -ize. Related: Personalized; personalizing.ETD personalize (v.).2

    persona (n.)

    1917, "outward or social personality," a Jungian psychology term, from Latin persona "person" (see person). Used earlier (1909) by Ezra Pound in the sense "literary character representing voice of the author." Persona grata is Late Latin, literally "an acceptable person," originally applied to diplomatic representatives acceptable to the governments to which they were sent; hence also persona non grata (plural personæ non gratæ).ETD persona (n.).2

    personage (n.)

    mid-15c., "body of a person" (with regard to appearance), also "notable person, a man or woman of high rank or distinction," from Old French personage "size, stature," also "a dignitary" (13c.), from Medieval Latin personaticum (11c.), from Latin persona (see person). As a longer way to say person, the word was in use from 1550s (but often slyly ironical, with suggestion that the subject is overly self-important).ETD personage (n.).2

    personalty (n.)

    1540s, a legal term, "personal property" (in distinction from realty), from Anglo-French personaltie (late 15c.), corresponding to French personalite, from Medieval Latin personalitas (see personality).ETD personalty (n.).2

    personhood (n.)

    "quality or condition of being an individual person," 1878, from person + -hood.ETD personhood (n.).2

    personification (n.)

    "figure of speech or artistic representation in which something inanimate or abstract takes the form of a person," 1755, noun of action from personify. Sense of "embodiment of a quality in a person" is attested from 1807.ETD personification (n.).2

    personify (v.)

    1727 "to attribute personal form to inanimate objects or abstractions" (especially as an artistic or literary technique), from person + -fy or from French personnifier (17c.), from personne. Meaning "to represent, embody" attested from 1806. Related: Personified; personifying.ETD personify (v.).2

    personnel (n.)

    1837, "body of persons engaged in any service," from French personnel (originally military, a contrastive term to matériel), noun use of personnel (adj.) "personal," from Old French personel (see personal).ETD personnel (n.).2

    perspective (n.)

    late 14c., perspectif, "the science of optics," from Old French perspective and directly from Medieval Latin perspectiva ars "science of optics," from fem. of perspectivus "of sight, optical" from Latin perspectus "clearly perceived," past participle of perspicere "inspect, look through, look closely at," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). The English word is also attested from early 15c. as an adjective, "pertaining to the science of optics."ETD perspective (n.).2

    The sense of "the art of drawing solid objects on a flat surface so as to give appearance of distance or depth" is attested by 1590s, probably by influence of Italian prospettiva, an artists' term. The meaning "proper or just proportion, appropriate relation in the mind of the parts of a subject to one another" is recorded by c. 1600, hence the figurative meaning "mental outlook over time" (1762).ETD perspective (n.).3


    1935, trade name in Britain for what in the U.S. is called Plexiglas or Lucite, irregularly formed from Latin perspect-, past participle stem of perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective).ETD Perspex.2

    perspicacity (n.)

    "state or character of being perspicacious; keenness of sight, clearness of understanding," 1540s, from French perspicacité (15c.) and directly from Late Latin perspicacitas "sharp-sightedness, discernment," from Latin perspicax "sharp-sighted, having the power of seeing through," from perspicere "look through, look closely at," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). An earlier word was perspicience "ability to see all things, infinite vision" (c. 1400).ETD perspicacity (n.).2

    perspicacious (adj.)

    "sharp-sighted," also "of acute mental discernment," 1630s, formed as an adjective to perspicacity, from Latin perspicax "sharp-sighted, having the power of seeing through; acute," from perspicere "look through, look closely at," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Related: Perspicaciously; perspicaciousness.ETD perspicacious (adj.).2

    perspicuity (n.)

    late 15c., perspicuite, of things, "clearness, transparency" (a sense now obsolete); 1540s of words or expressions, "quality of being clear to the mind; quality by which the meaning can be seen through the words," from Old French perspicuité and directly from Latin perspicuitas "transparency, clearness," from perspicuus "transparent," from perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective).ETD perspicuity (n.).2

    perspicuous (adj.)

    late 15c., "capable of being seen through" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin perspicuus "transparent, clear, evident," from perspicere "look through, look closely at" (see perspective). From 1580s as "clear to the understanding, not obscure or ambivalent." Related: Perspicuously; perspicuousness.ETD perspicuous (adj.).2

    perspire (v.)

    1640s, of a volatile liquid, "to evaporate through the pores" (intransitive), a back-formation from perspiration and in part from Latin perspirare "blow or breathe constantly," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + spirare "to breathe, blow" (see spirit (n.)). The meaning "to sweat, to give out watery substance through the pores of the skin" (intransitive) is a polite usage attested from 1725. Medical men tried to maintain a distinction between "sensible" (sweat) and "insensible" perspiration:ETD perspire (v.).2

    Related: Perspired; perspiring.ETD perspire (v.).3

    perspiration (n.)

    1610s, "a breathing through," a sense now obsolete, from French perspiration (1560s), noun of action from perspirer "perspire," from Latin perspirare "blow or breathe constantly," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + spirare "to breathe, blow" (see spirit (n.)). Applied by 1620s to "excretion of invisible moistures through the skin," hence its later use as a euphemism for "sweat" (1725).ETD perspiration (n.).2

    per stirpes

    1680s, Latin, "by families, by stocks;" in legal use, for inheritances, etc., opposed to per capita. See per- + stirpes.ETD per stirpes.2

    persuadable (adj.)

    1520s, "having the quality of persuading" (a sense now obsolete); 1590s, "capable of being persuaded or prevailed upon," from persuade + -able. Fowler recommends this over the older adjective, persuasible (c. 1400). Related: Persuadableness.ETD persuadable (adj.).2

    persuade (v.)

    "lead to the opinion or conclusion (that), make (one) believe or think, successfully urge the acceptance or practice of," 1510s, from French persuader (14c.), from Latin persuadere "to bring over by talking," (see persuasion). From 1530s as "prevail upon, as by demonstration, arguments, etc." Related: Persuaded; persuading.ETD persuade (v.).2

    persuasive (adj.)

    "having the power of persuading," 1580s, from French persuasif, from Medieval Latin persuasivus, from Latin persuas-, past-participle stem of persuadere "persuade, convince" (see persuasion). Related: Persuasively; persuasiveness. Replaced earlier persuasible in this sense (see persuadable).ETD persuasive (adj.).2

    persuasible (adj.)

    c. 1400, "plausible, convincing, having the power to persuade," from Latin persuasibilis "convincing, persuasive," from past-participle stem of persuadere (see persuade). The sense of "capable of being persuaded" is from c. 1500, and the older sense then became obsolete. Related: Persuasibility.ETD persuasible (adj.).2

    persuasion (n.)

    late 14c., persuasioun, "action of inducing (someone) to believe (something) by appeals to reason (not by authority, force, or fear); an argument to persuade, inducement," from Old French persuasion (14c.) and directly from Latin persuasionem (nominative persuasio) "a convincing, persuading," noun of action from past-participle stem of persuadere "persuade, convince," from per "thoroughly, strongly" (see per) + suadere "to urge, persuade," from PIE root *swād- "sweet, pleasant" (see sweet (adj.)).ETD persuasion (n.).2

    Meaning "state of being convinced" is from 1530s; that of "religious belief, creed" is from 1620s. Colloquial or humorous sense of "kind, sort, nationality" is by 1864.ETD persuasion (n.).3

    pert (adj.)

    mid-13c., "evident, unconcealed, manifest, apparent to the eye;" early 14c., "attractive, comely, of good appearance," shortened form of Middle English apert "open, frank," from Old French apert, from Latin apertus, past participle of aperire "to open" (see overt). Sense of "saucy, impudent" is recorded from late 14c. Less pejorative meaning "lively, brisk, in good spirits" (c. 1500) survives in U.S. dialectal peart (with Middle English alternative spelling). Related: Pertly; pertness.ETD pert (adj.).2

    pertain (v.)

    early 14c., perteinen, "be attached legally," from Old French partenir "to belong to" and directly from Latin pertinere "to reach, stretch; relate, have reference to; belong, be the right of; be applicable," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + tenere "to hold" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").ETD pertain (v.).2

    From late 14c. as "to belong to as a possession or an adjunct; belong to as one's care or concern," also "have reference to." Related: Pertained; pertaining.ETD pertain (v.).3

    pertinent (adj.)

    "belonging or relating to the subject or matter in hand," late 14c., from Anglo-French purtinaunt (late 13c.), Old French partenant (mid-13c.) and directly from Latin pertinentem (nominative pertinens) "pertaining," present participle of pertinere "to relate, concern" (see pertain). Related: Pertinently.ETD pertinent (adj.).2

    pertinence (n.)

    mid-15c., "arrogance, presumption," a sense now obsolete; 1650s, "character of being to the point; relevance, suitableness," from French pertenance or formed in English from pertinent + -ence.ETD pertinence (n.).2

    pertinency (n.)

    "quality of being relevant to the matter in hand," 1590s, from stem of Latin pertinens "pertaining," present participle of perinere (see pertain) + -cy.ETD pertinency (n.).2

    pertinacity (n.)

    "resolute or unyielding adherence," c. 1500, from French pertinacité (early 15c.), from Old French pertinace "obstinate, stubborn," from Latin pertinacem (nominative pertinax) "very firm, tenacious, steadfast, persevering," from per "very" (see per) + tenax (see tenacious). It drove out earlier pertinacy (late 14c.), which was especially "persevering in disbelief."ETD pertinacity (n.).2

    pertinacious (adj.)

    "unyielding, persistent, resolute" (in holding to a purpose, opinion, course of action, etc.), 1620s, from pertinacy "stubbornness" (late 14c.), from Latin pertinacia, from pertinax "very firm, tenacious" (see pertinacity) + -ous. Related: Pertinaciously.ETD pertinacious (adj.).2

    perturbation (n.)

    late 14c., perturbacioun, "mental disturbance, state of being perturbed," from Old French perturbacion "disturbance, confusion" (14c.) and directly from Latin perturbationem (nominative perturbatio) "confusion, disorder, disturbance," noun of action from past participle stem of perturbare (see perturb).ETD perturbation (n.).2

    perturbate (v.)

    "to disturb greatly," 1540s, from Latin perturbatus "troubled, disturbed, agitated," past participle of perturbare (see perturb). Related: Perturbated; perturbating. Now rare or obsolete.ETD perturbate (v.).2

    perturb (v.)

    late 14c., perturben, "disturb greatly, disturb mentally; cause disorder in," from Old French perturber "disturb, confuse" (14c.) and directly from Latin perturbare "to confuse, disorder, disturb," especially of states of the mind, from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + turbare "disturb, confuse," from turba "turmoil, crowd" (see turbid). Related: Perturbed; perturbing.ETD perturb (v.).2

    perturbed (adj.)

    "greatly disturbed, agitated," 1510s, past-participle adjective from perturb (v.).ETD perturbed (adj.).2

    perturbate (adj.)

    late 15c., "confused, unclear;" 1560s, "disturbed, put out of order," from Latin perturbatus "troubled, disturbed, agitated," past participle of perturbare (see perturb). Now rare or obsolete.ETD perturbate (adj.).2

    pertussis (n.)

    "whooping cough," 1670s (Sydenham), from Modern Latin pertussis, from per- "thoroughly," or here perhaps with intensive force (see per), + tussis "cough," a word of unknown origin.ETD pertussis (n.).2


    ancient realm in northwestern South America, later a Spanish viceroyalty, since 1821 an independent republic, from Spanish Peru, said to be from Quechua (Inca) pelu "river." Related: Peruvian.ETD Peru.2

    peruke (n.)

    1540s, "natural head of hair" (a sense now obsolete), from French perruque (late 15c.), which is from Italian perrucca "head of hair, wig," a word of uncertain origin; supposed by some to be connected to Latin pilus "hair," "but the phonetic difficulties are considerable" [OED]. Meaning "periwig, artificial head of hair" (especially one having large and ample masses) is attested from 1560s. Compare periwig.ETD peruke (n.).2

    peruse (v.)

    late 15c., "to go through searchingly or in detail, run over with careful scrutiny," from Middle English per- "completely" (see per) + use (v.). Meaning "read carefully and critically" is by 1530s, but this could be a separate formation. Meaning "read casually" is from 19c. Related: Perused; perusing. "The formation looks unusual, but it is well supported by similar formations now obsolete, e.g. peract, perplant, perstand, etc." [Century Dictionary].ETD peruse (v.).2

    perusal (n.)

    "careful examination, scrutiny; the act of reading through or over," c. 1600, from peruse + -al (2).ETD perusal (n.).2

    perv (n.)

    also perve, "a sexual pervert," 1944, slang shortening of (sexual) pervert (n.). As a slang verb, by 1941 as "to act erotically" (intransitive), by 1959 as "to eroticize" something (transitive).ETD perv (n.).2

    pervade (v.)

    "to pass or flow through; to extend or diffuse (itself) throughout," 1650s, from Latin pervadere "spread or go through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + vadere "to go" (see vamoose). Related: Pervaded; pervading; pervasion.ETD pervade (v.).2

    pervasive (adj.)

    tending or having the power to pervade," "1750, with -ive + Latin pervas-, past-participle stem of pervadere "spread or go through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + vadere "to go" (see vamoose). Related: Pervasively; pervasiveness.ETD pervasive (adj.).2

    perversity (n.)

    early 15c., perversite, "wickedness," from Old French perversité "depravity, degeneracy" (12c.), from Latin perversitatem (nominative perversitas) "forwardness, untowardness," from perversus (see perverse). From 1520s as "perverse character, disposition, or conduct."ETD perversity (n.).2

    perverse (adj.)

    late 14c., "wicked," from Old French pervers "unnatural, degenerate; perverse, contrary" (12c.) and directly from Latin perversus "turned away, contrary, askew," figuratively, "turned away from what is right, wrong, malicious, spiteful," past participle of pervertere "to corrupt" (see pervert (v.)).ETD perverse (adj.).2

    The Latin word is glossed in Old English by forcerred, from past participle of forcyrran "to avoid," from cierran "to turn, return." The meaning "wrong, not in accord with what is accepted or standard, turned away from what is right" is from 1560s; the sense of "obstinate in the wrong, stubborn" is from 1570s. It keeps the non-sexual senses of pervert (v.) and allows the psychological ones to go with perverted. Related: Perversely; perverseness.ETD perverse (adj.).3

    perversion (n.)

    late 14c., "action of turning aside from truth; corruption, distortion" (originally of religious beliefs), from Latin perversionem (nominative perversio) "a turning about," noun of action from past-participle stem of pervertere (see pervert (v.)). Psychological sense of "disorder of sexual behavior in which satisfaction is sought through channels other than those of normal heterosexual intercourse" is from 1892, originally including homosexuality.ETD perversion (n.).2

    pervert (v.)

    late 14c., perverten (transitive), "to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one; to distort natural order, misdirect misapply (justice, law, truth, etc.); to turn (something or someone) from right opinion or conduct," from Old French pervertir "pervert, undo, destroy" (12c.) and directly from Latin pervertere "overthrow, overturn," figuratively "to corrupt, subvert, abuse," literally "turn the wrong way, turn about," from per "away" (see per) + vertere "to turn, turn back, be turned; convert, transform, translate; be changed" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend").ETD pervert (v.).2

    Related: Perverted; perverting. Replaced native froward, which embodies the same image. Old English had mishweorfed "perverted, inverted," an identical formation to the Latin word using native elements.ETD pervert (v.).3

    perverted (adj.)

    late 14c., in Bible translations, "corrupted, false, turned from the right way," past-participle adjective from pervert (v.). With an implied sexual sense by 1897.ETD perverted (adj.).2

    pervert (n.)

    1660s, "one who has forsaken a doctrine or system regarded as true, an apostate," from pervert (v.). The psychological sense of "one who has a perversion of the sexual instinct" is attested by 1897 (Havelock Ellis), originally especially of homosexuals, short for sexual pervert, which is attested by 1889.ETD pervert (n.).2

    pervious (adj.)

    "capable of being penetrated or permeated by something else, accessible, permeable," 1610s, originally figurative (literal sense is from 1630s), from Latin pervius "that may be passed through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + via "road" (see via (adv.)). Related: Perviousness.ETD pervious (adj.).2

    peseta (n.)

    silver coin of Spain and some Spanish-American countries, 1811, from Spanish peseta, a diminutive of pesa "weight," from Medieval Latin pensum (see peso).ETD peseta (n.).2

    pesky (adj.)

    "troublesome, annoying," 1775, originally in New England dialect, perhaps a dialectal formation from pest (OED compares plaguy "confounded, annoying, disagreeable"). Partridge suggests an origin in Essex dialect. Sometimes in American-English colloquial use a mere intensive, "excessively." Related: Peskily.ETD pesky (adj.).2

    peso (n.)

    "Spanish coin, the Spanish dollar," also a coin in various Spanish-American nations, 1550s, from Spanish peso, literally "a weight," from Medieval Latin pensum, properly past participle of Latin pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin"). For the financial sense of the Latin verb, see pound (n.1).ETD peso (n.).2

    pessary (n.)

    c. 1400, pessarie, "a suppository; a medicated plug inserted into an orifice of the body," from Late Latin pessarium, from Greek pessarion "medicated tampon of wool or lint," diminutive of pessos "pessary," earlier "oval stone used in games," a word of uncertain, perhaps Semitic, origin. As an instrument worn in the vagina to remedy various uterine displacements, by 1754.ETD pessary (n.).2

    pessimism (n.)

    1794 "worst condition possible, point of greatest deterioration" (a sense now rare or obsolete), borrowed (by Coleridge) from French pessimisme, formed (on model of French optimisme) from Latin pessimus "worst," perhaps originally "bottom-most," from PIE *ped-samo-, suffixed (superlative) form of *ped- "to walk, stumble, impair," from root *ped- "foot." Compare Latin pessum "downward, to the ground."ETD pessimism (n.).2

    As a name given to the metaphysical doctrines of Schopenhauer, Hartmann, etc., that this is the worst possible world, or that everything tends toward evil, it is recorded in English by 1835, from German pessimismus (Schopenhauer, 1819). As "tendency to exaggerate in thought the evils of life or to look only on the dark side," by 1815. The attempt to make a verb of it as pessimize (1862) did not succeed.ETD pessimism (n.).3

    pessimist (n.)

    1820, "one who habitually expects the worst, one who exaggerates the evils of life, one given to melancholy or depressing views" (Knowles' dictionary, 1835, defines it as "A universal complainer"), from 19c. French pessimiste (see pessimism). Also "one who accepts the metaphysical doctrine of pessimism" (it is difficult to distinguish the senses).ETD pessimist (n.).2

    pessimistic (adj.)

    "pertaining to, characterized by, or of the nature of pessimism," 1866, from pessimist + -ic.ETD pessimistic (adj.).2

    pest (n.)

    1550s (in imprecations, "a pest upon ____," etc.), "plague, pestilence, epidemic disease," from French peste (1530s), from Latin pestis "deadly contagious disease; a curse, bane," a word of uncertain origin. Meaning "any noxious, destructive, or troublesome person or thing" is attested by c. 1600. Pest-house "hospital for persons suffering from infectious diseases" is from 1610s.ETD pest (n.).2

    pester (v.)

    1520s, "to clog, entangle, encumber" (a sense now obsolete), probably a shortening of empester, impester, from French empestrer "place in an embarrassing situation" (Modern French empêtrer, Walloon epasturer), from Vulgar Latin *impastoriare "to hobble" (an animal), from Latin im- "in" + Medieval Latin pastoria (chorda) "(rope) to hobble an animal," from Latin pastoria, fem. of pastorius "of a herdsman," from pastor "herdsman" (see pastor (n.)).ETD pester (v.).2

    Or directly from the French word. The sense of "annoy, disturb, trouble" (1560s) is from influence of pest. Related: Pestered; pestering.ETD pester (v.).3

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