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    plague (v.) — platitude (n.)

    plague (v.)

    late 15c. (Caxton), "infest with disease or other natural calamity," from Middle Dutch plaghen, from plaghe (n.) "plague" (see plague (n.)). The sense of "vex, harass, bother, annoy" is recorded from 1590s. Related: Plagued; plaguing.ETD plague (v.).2

    plague (n.)

    late 14c., plage, "affliction, calamity, evil, scourge, severe trouble or vexation;" early 15c., "malignant disease," from Old French plage (14c., Modern French plaie), from Late Latin plaga "affliction; slaughter, destruction," used in Vulgate for "pestilence," from Latin plaga "stroke, wound," probably from root of plangere "to strike, lament (by beating the breast)," from or cognate with Greek (Doric) plaga "blow" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike").ETD plague (n.).2

    Sometimes in Middle English also "a strike, a blow" (late 14c.). The Latin word also is the source of Old Irish plag (genitive plaige) "plague, pestilence," German Plage, Dutch plaage. Meaning "epidemic that causes many deaths" is from 1540s; specifically in reference to bubonic plague from c. 1600. Modern spelling follows French, which had plague from 15c. Weakened sense of "anything annoying" is from c. 1600.ETD plague (n.).3

    plaguey (adj.)

    1570s, "pertaining to a plague," from plague (n.) + -y (2). Figurative meaning "vexatious, troublesome" is from 1610s. As an adverb, "vexatiously, deucedly" (properly plaguily) it is attested from 1580s, often with deliberate attempt at humor. Johnson also has woundy "excessive." The sense of "plague-stricken, marked by the plague" (c. 1600) is now archaic or obsolete.ETD plaguey (adj.).2

    play (n.)

    Middle English pleie, from Old English plega (West Saxon), plæga (Anglian) "quick motion; recreation, exercise, any brisk activity" (the latter sense preserved in swordplay — Old English sweordplegan — etc.), from or related to Old English plegan (see play (v.)).ETD play (n.).2

    By early Middle English it could mean variously, "a game, a martial sport, activity of children, joke or jesting, revelry, sexual indulgence." The sporting sense of "the playing of a game" is attested from mid-15c.; that of "specific maneuver or attempt" is from 1868.ETD play (n.).3

    The meaning "dramatic performance" is attested by early 14c., perhaps late Old English.ETD play (n.).4

    Of physical things, "rapid, brisk, or light movement," by 1620s. The meaning "free or unimpeded movement, liberty and room for action," of mechanisms, etc., is from 1650s. The meaning "activity, operation" (1590s) is behind expressions such as in full play, come into play.ETD play (n.).5

    The U.S. slang meaning "attention, publicity" is by 1929. To be in play (of a hit ball, etc.) is from 1788. Play-by-play in reference to running commentary on a game is attested from 1927. Play on words "pun" is from 1798. Play-money is attested from 1705 as "money won in gambling," by 1920 as "pretend money."ETD play (n.).6

    play (v.)

    Middle English pleien, from Old English plegan, plegian "move lightly and quickly, occupy or busy oneself, amuse oneself; engage in active exercise; frolic; engage in children's play; make sport of, mock; perform music." It is from Proto-West Germanic *plegōjanan "occupy oneself about" (source also of Old Saxon plegan "vouch for, take charge of," Old Frisian plega "tend to," Middle Dutch pleyen "to rejoice, be glad," German pflegen "take care of, cultivate"). This apparently is connected to the root of plight (v.), but the ultimate etymology is uncertain and the phonetic development is difficult to explain.ETD play (v.).2

    The meaning "take part in" a martial or athletic game is from c. 1200. It has been opposed to work (v.) since late 14c. The meaning "perform or act on the stage" (transitive) is by late 14c., as are the senses of "take the role of" and "make a pretense of, make believe" and "act thoughtlessly or wantonly."ETD play (v.).3

    The sense of "put forward, move, throw, lay on the table, etc." in the course of a game or contest is by 1560s of chess pieces, 1670s of playing cards. The sense of "operate or cause to operate with continuous or repeated action" is from 1590s. The meaning "to cause (a recording) to reproduce what is on it" is by 1903, probably from the "make music" sense. Related: Played; playing.ETD play (v.).4

    Many expressions are from the stage, sports and games, or music, and it is not always easy to say which is from which. To play up "emphasize" is from 1909 (perhaps originally "play music more vigorously"); to play down "minimize" is from 1930; to play along "pretend to agree or cooperate" is from 1929. To play fair "be nice" is from mid-15c. To play house as a children's activity is from 1958.ETD play (v.).5

    To play for keeps is from 1861, originally of marbles or other children's games with tokens. To play (something) safe is from 1911; to play favorites is attested from 1902. To play second fiddle in the figurative sense is from 1809 ("Gil Blas"). To play into the hands (of someone) "act in such a way as to give the advantage to one's opponent or a third party" is from 1705.ETD play (v.).6

    For play the _______ card see card (n.1). For play the field see field (n.). To play with oneself "masturbate" is from 1896 (to play with "have sexual intercourse with" is from mid-13c.). Playing-card "one of a pack of cards used for playing games" is from 1540s.ETD play (v.).7

    plaice (n.)

    type of European edible flatfish, late 13c., plais, from Old French plaise (12c., Modern French plie), from Late Latin platessa "plaice, flatfish," which is perhaps related to or from Greek platys "broad, flat," from PIE root *plat- "to spread."ETD plaice (n.).2

    plaid (n.)

    1510s, "garment consisting of a long piece of woolen cloth, often having a tartan pattern, traditionally worn in Scotland," from Scottish, from or related to Gaelic plaide "blanket, mantle," a word of uncertain etymology, perhaps a contraction of peallaid "sheepskin," from peall "skin," from Latin pellis (but OED finds this "phonetically improbable").ETD plaid (n.).2

    The wearing of it by males was forbidden by Act of Parliament, under penalty of transportation, 1746-82. The meaning "a pattern of bars crossing each other at right angles" is by 1890. As an adjective, "ornamented with a pattern of bars or stripes of color crossing one another at right angles," c. 1600, from the noun.ETD plaid (n.).3

    Plains (n.)

    "lands of the American Midwest lying from roughly to the 104th meridian to the eastern slopes of the Rockies," 1755 (in singular form from 1680s), see plain (n.). Plains Indian is attested from 1844.ETD Plains (n.).2

    plainness (n.)

    c. 1300, plainnes, "flatness, level ground, flat surface;" late 14c., "smoothness, evenness," from plain (adj.) + -ness. Meaning "clarity, lucidity" is from mid-15c.; that of "open conduct" is from 1540s; that of "absence of ornament" is from 1580s.ETD plainness (n.).2

    plain (n.)

    "level country, expanse of level or nearly level ground," c. 1300 (in reference to Salisbury Plain), from Old French plain "open countryside," from Latin planum "level ground, plain," noun use of neuter of planus (adj.) "flat, even, level" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). Latin planum was used for "level ground" but much more common was campus.ETD plain (n.).2

    plain (adj.)

    c. 1300, "flat, smooth," from Old French plain "flat, smooth, even" (12c.), from Latin planus "flat, even, level" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). Sense of "explicit, clear, evident" is from late 14c.; that of "free from obstruction" is mid-14c.; meaning "simple, sincere, ordinary" is recorded from late 14c., especially of dress, "unembellished, without decoration, unadorned." Of words, speech, etc., "direct and to the point," late 14c. As an adverb from late 14c.ETD plain (adj.).2

    In reference to the dress and speech of Quakers, it is recorded from 1824; of Amish and Mennonites, from 1894 (in the Dutch regions of Pennsylvania Plain with the capital is shorthand adjective for "Amish and Old Order Mennonite"). Of appearance, as a euphemism for "ill-favored, ugly" it dates from 1749. Of envelopes from 1913.ETD plain (adj.).3

    Plain English is from c. 1500. Plain dealer "one who speaks his opinions candidly; one who is frank, honest, and open" is from 1570s, marked "Now rare" in OED 2nd edition, though it survives since 1842 as the name of the main newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio. To be as plain as the nose on (one's) face "obvious" is from 1690s.ETD plain (adj.).4

    plain clothes (n.)

    "ordinary dress of civil life" (as opposed to military uniform), 1822; in reference to police detectives, it is attested from 1842. Also plainclothes.ETD plain clothes (n.).2

    plain Jane

    "homely or unattractive woman, girl without beauty," attested by 1912, a rhyming formation from plain (adj.).ETD plain Jane.2

    plainly (adv.)

    late 14c., "frankly, candidly; without a doubt, truly; in a clear and distinct manner; simply, straightforwardly," from plain (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "simply, frugally" is from 1560s.ETD plainly (adv.).2

    plainsman (n.)

    "a dweller on the Plains," 1858, from Plains + man (n.).ETD plainsman (n.).2

    plain-song (n.)

    also plainsong, unisonous vocal music used in the Christian churches in the earliest centuries, mid-15c., translating Latin cantus planus, French plain chant; see plain (adj.) + song (n.).ETD plain-song (n.).2

    plain-spoken (adj.)

    "speaking or spoken with unreserved sincerity," 1670s, from plain (adj.) + -spoken.ETD plain-spoken (adj.).2

    plaint (n.)

    c. 1200, pleinte, "lamentation, mourning, audible expression of sorrow," from Old French plainte "lament, lamentation" (12c.), from Latin planctus "lamentation, wailing, beating of the breast," from past-participle stem of plangere "to lament; to strike (the breast, in grief or mourning)," from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike." The connecting notion in Latin probably is beating one's breast in grief. Meaning "complaint, murmuring, grumbling" is from late 14c. Sense of "lawsuit, legal complaint, statement of grievances made to a court for the purpose of asking redress" is from late 14c.ETD plaint (n.).2

    plaintiff (n.)

    in law, "the person who begins a suit before a tribunal for the recovery of a claim" (opposed to defendant), c. 1400, pleintif, from Anglo-French pleintif (late 13c.), from noun use of Old French plaintif "complaining; wretched, miserable," in law, "aggrieved" (as in partie plaintif "the party bringing a suit at law"), from plainte (see plaint). Identical with plaintive at first; the form that receded into legal usage retained the older -iff spelling.ETD plaintiff (n.).2

    plaintive (adj.)

    late 14c., "lamenting, complaining, giving utterance to sorrow or grief," from Old French plaintif "complaining; wretched, miserable," from plainte (see plaint). Sense of "expressive of sorrow or melancholy, mournful, sad" is recorded from 1570s. Earlier was pleintful "grievous, lamentable" (early 14c.). Related: Plaintively; plaintiveness.ETD plaintive (adj.).2

    plaisance (n.)

    obsolete form of pleasance.ETD plaisance (n.).2

    plait (v.)

    late 14c., pleiten, "to fold (something), gather in pleats, double in narrow strips," also "to braid or weave (something)," from plait (n.) and also from Old French pleir "to fold," variant of ploier, ployer "to fold, bend," from Latin plicare "to fold" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait"). Related: Plaited; plaiting.ETD plait (v.).2

    plait (n.)

    late 14c., pleit, "a fold, a crease, a flattened gather made by doubling cloth or similar fabric in narrow strips upon itself," also "interlaced strands of hair," from Anglo-French pleit, Old French ploit, earlier pleit, "fold, manner of folding," from Latin plicatus, past participle of plicare "to lay, fold, twist" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait").ETD plait (n.).2

    *plak- (2)

    *plāk-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to strike."ETD *plak- (2).2

    It forms all or part of: apoplexy; cataplexy; complain; fling; paraplegia; plaint; plangent; plankton; planxty; plague; plectrum; quadriplegia.ETD *plak- (2).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek plazein "to drive away," plēssein "to beat, strike;" Latin plangere "to strike, lament;" Old English flocan "to strike, beat;" Gothic flokan "to bewail;" German fluchen, Old Frisian floka "to curse."ETD *plak- (2).4

    *plak- (1)

    also *plāk-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be flat;" extension of root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread."ETD *plak- (1).2

    It forms all or part of: flag (n.2) "flat stone for paving;" flagstone; flake (n.) "thin flat piece,; flaw; floe; fluke (n.3) "flatfish;" placenta; plagal; plagiarism; plagio-; planchet; plank.ETD *plak- (1).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek plakoeis "flat," plax "level surface, anything flat;" Lettish plakt "to become flat;" Old Norse flaga "layer of earth," Norwegian flag "open sea," Old English floh "piece of stone, fragment," Old High German fluoh "cliff."ETD *plak- (1).4

    plan (v.)

    1728, "make a plan of; put on paper the parts, dimensions, and methods of construction of," from plan (n.). By 1737 as "to scheme, to devise ways and means for (the doing of something)." Related: Planned; planning; plans. Planned economy is attested by 1931. Planned Parenthood (1942) formerly was Birth Control Federation of America.ETD plan (v.).2

    plan (n.)

    1670s as a technical term in perspective drawing; more generally by 1706 as "the representation of anything drawn on a plane; a drawing, sketch, or diagram of any object," from French plan "ground plot of a building, map," literally "plane surface" (mid-16c.), from Latin planum "level or flat surface," noun use of adjective planus "level, flat" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread").ETD plan (n.).2

    The notion is of "a drawing on a flat surface." A doublet of plain via a later, learned French form. The meaning "scheme of action, formulated scheme for the accomplishment of some object or attainment of an end" is by 1713.ETD plan (n.).3

    planning (n.)

    "the forming or making of plans," 1748, verbal noun from plan (v.).ETD planning (n.).2

    planar (adj.)

    "lying in or otherwise related to a plane, flat," 1850, from Latin planaris "level, flat," from planum "plane" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). An earlier word in the same sense was planary (1660s).ETD planar (adj.).2

    Planaria (n.)

    flat worm-like animal, 1819, from Modern Latin (1776) noun use of fem. of Late Latin planarius, literally "on level ground" (here used to mean "flat"), from Latin planum, planus "flat, level, even, plain" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). Related: Planarian.ETD Planaria (n.).2

    planchet (n.)

    "metal disk out of which a coin is made," 1610s, from French planchette, literally "a small board," a diminutive of Old French planche (12c.; the source of plank), from Late Latin planca "board, slab, plank," which is probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of the PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat."ETD planchet (n.).2

    The small, heart-shaped planchette on its three legs, used in automatism and on Ouija boards, is a re-borrowing of the French word, by 1860.ETD planchet (n.).3


    in physics, in reference to the work of German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947); such as Planck's constant, attested in English from 1901.ETD Planck.2

    plane (n.1)

    "flat surface, simplest of all geometrical surfaces," c. 1600, from Latin planum "flat surface, plane, level, plain," noun use of neuter of adjective planus "flat, level, even, plain, clear," from PIE *pla-no- (source also of Lithuanian plonas "thin;" Celtic *lanon "plain;" perhaps also Greek pelanos "sacrificial cake, a mixture offered to the gods, offering (of meal, honey, and oil) poured or spread"), suffixed form of root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread."ETD plane (n.1).2

    Introduced (perhaps by influence of French plan in this sense) to differentiate the geometrical senses from plain, which in mid-16c. English also meant "geometric plane." The figurative sense, in reference to inanimate things, is attested from 1850.ETD plane (n.1).3

    plane (n.2)

    1908, short for aeroplane (see airplane).ETD plane (n.2).2

    plane (n.3)

    "tool for smoothing surfaces," mid-14c., from Old French plane, earlier plaine (14c.) and directly from Late Latin plana, back-formation from planare "make level," from Latin planus "level, flat, smooth" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread").ETD plane (n.3).2

    plane (n.4)

    "tree of the genus Platanus," native to Persia and the Levant, late 14c., from Old French plane, earlier plasne (14c.), from Latin platanus, from Greek platanos, earlier platanistos "plane tree," a species from Asia Minor, associated with platys "broad" (from PIE root *plat- "to spread") in reference to its leaves. Applied since 1778 in Scotland and northern England to the "sycamore" maple (mock-plane), whose leaves somewhat resemble those of the true plane tree. Compare sycamore.ETD plane (n.4).2

    plane (v.1)

    "to make smooth," early 14c., originally in a figurative sense, "to gloss over, explain away;" mid-14c. as "to make smooth or even" (especially by use of a plane (n.3)), from Old French planer "to smooth, level off; wipe away, erase" (12c.) and directly from Late Latin planare "make level," from Latin planus "level, flat" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). In early use in English often plain. Related: Planed; planing.ETD plane (v.1).2

    plane (v.2)

    "soar, glide on motionless wings," early 15c., planen, from Old French planer "to hover (as a bird), to lie flat," from plan (n.) "plane," or perhaps via Medieval Latin; in either case from Latin planum "flat surface" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"), on notion of bird gliding with flattened wings. Of boats, etc., "to skim over the surface of water," it is attested by 1913. Related: Planed; planing.ETD plane (v.2).2

    plane (adj.)

    "having the characteristics of a plane," 1560s, from French plan, from Latin planus "flat, level, even" (see plane (n.1)).ETD plane (adj.).2

    planeness (n.)

    "quality or condition of being flat or level," 1650s, from plane (adj.) + -ness.ETD planeness (n.).2

    planet (n.)

    late Old English planete, in old astronomy, "star other than a fixed star; star revolving in an orbit," from Old French planete (Modern French planète) and directly from Late Latin planeta, from Greek planētēs, from (asteres) planētai "wandering (stars)," from planasthai "to wander," a word of uncertain etymology.ETD planet (n.).2

    Perhaps it is from a nasalized form of PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread," on the notion of "spread out," "but the semantics are highly problematic," according to Beekes, who notes the similarity of meaning to Greek plazein "to make devious, repel, dissuade from the right path, bewilder," but adds, "it is hard to think of a formal connection."ETD planet (n.).3

    So called because they have apparent motion, unlike the "fixed" stars. Originally including also the moon and sun but not the Earth; modern scientific sense of "world that orbits a star" is from 1630s in English. The Greek word is an enlarged form of planes, planetos "who wanders around, wanderer," also "wandering star, planet," in medicine "unstable temperature."ETD planet (n.).4

    planetary (adj.)

    1590s, "of or pertaining to a planet;" see planet + -ary. Perhaps from or based on Late Latin planetarius "pertaining to a planet or planets," but according to OED this is attested only as a noun meaning "an astrologer." Planetary nebula, so called for its shape as seen through a telescope, attested from 1785.ETD planetary (adj.).2

    planetarium (n.)

    1734, "orrery, astronomical machine which by the movements of its parts represents the motions and orbits of the planets," Modern Latin, from Late Latin planeta (see planet) + Latin -arium "a place for." Sense of "device for projecting the night sky onto the interior of a dome," developed by Zeiss in Germany, debuted in Munich in 1923 and is attested by the name in English from 1929.ETD planetarium (n.).2

    planetoid (n.)

    "one of the asteroids, or minor planets, revolving about the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter," 1803; see planet + -oid. Related: Planetoidal.ETD planetoid (n.).2

    plangent (adj.)

    "beating with a loud sound," 1822, from Latin plangentem (nominative plangens), present participle of plangere "to strike, beat" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike"). Related: Plangently; plangency.ETD plangent (adj.).2


    word-forming element meaning "level, flat, plane," from Latin plani-, from planus "flat, level" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread").ETD plani-.2

    planisphere (n.)

    "map of the heavens made by projection of a portion of the celestial sphere onto a plane surface," late 14c., planisperie, from Anglo-Latin planispherium, Medieval Latin planisphaerium, from Latin planus "flat, level" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread") + sphaera (see sphere (n.)). Related: Planispheric.ETD planisphere (n.).2

    plank (n.)

    late 13c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "thick board used in construction," from Old North French planke, a variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." Planche itself was also used in Middle English.ETD plank (n.).2

    Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. The political sense of "article or paragraph formulating a distinct principle in a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848, based on the double sense of platform. To be made to walk the plank, "be forced to walk along a plank laid across the bulwarks of a ship until one reaches the end and falls into the sea," popularly supposed to have been a pirate form of execution, is attested from 1789, and most early references are to slave-ships disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.ETD plank (n.).3

    plank (v.)

    "to cover or lay with planks," early 15c., from plank (n.). Related: Planked; planking.ETD plank (v.).2

    planktology (n.)

    "scientific study of plankton," 1892, from German planktologie (1891); see plankton + -logy. The native formation planktonology (1896) is less common.ETD planktology (n.).2

    plankton (n.)

    "organism that lives in a large body of water and is unable to swim against the current," 1891, from German Plankton (1887), coined by German physiologist Viktor Hensen (1835-1924) from Greek plankton, neuter of planktos "wandering, drifting," verbal adjective from plazesthai "to wander, drift," from plazein "to drive astray," from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike." Related: Planktonic.ETD plankton (n.).2

    planner (n.)

    1716, "one who plans, a deviser or arranger," agent noun from plan (v.). Betjeman coined the derogatory variant planster in 1945. Meaning "book or device that enables one to plan" is from 1971.ETD planner (n.).2


    alternative form of plani- "flat, level" (based on Latin planus), but an identical word-forming element is used in sciences as a combining form of Greek planos "wandering" (see planet).ETD plano-.2

    plant (n.)

    Old English plante "young tree or shrub, herb newly planted, a shoot or strip recently sprouted from seed," from Latin planta "sprout, shoot, cutting" (source of Spanish planta, French plante), which is perhaps from an unattested verb *plantare "to drive in with the feet, push into the ground with the feet," or perhaps "to level the earth," from planta "sole of the foot," from nasalized form of PIE root *plat- "to spread." German Pflanz, Irish cland, Welsh plant also are from Latin.ETD plant (n.).2

    Broader sense of "any small vegetable life, vegetation generally" (sometimes popularly excluding trees), "an individual living being with material organization but not animal in nature" is recorded by 1550s.ETD plant (n.).3

    Most extended usages are from the verb, on the notion of "something planted;" such as "construction for an industrial process," 1789, at first with reference to the machinery, tools, apparatus, etc., later also the building; also slang meaning "a spy" (1812). Many of these follow similar developments in the French form of the word.ETD plant (n.).4

    plant (v.)

    Old English plantian "put or set in the ground to grow" (transitive and intransitive), also "introduce and establish, set up for the first time," from Latin *plantare "to plant, drive in with the feet" (see plant (n.)). Reinforced by cognate Old French planter.ETD plant (v.).2

    Without reference to growing, "to insert firmly," late 14c. Of colonies, "introduce and establish new settlers in," from c. 1300. Figuratively, of ideas, etc., from early 15c. Meaning "to station (someone) for a surreptitious or secret purpose" is by 1690s; sense of "place (something) in a concealed place to mislead a later discoverer" is by 1865. In pugilistic slang, "to land, deliver" (a blow, etc.) by 1808. Meaning "to bury" is U.S. slang from U.S., 1855. Related: Planted; planting.ETD plant (v.).3

    planting (n.)

    late Old English plantung "action of planting, inserting plants in the soil," also "a thing planted," verbal noun from plant (v.).ETD planting (n.).2


    house or family which reigned in England from 1154 to 1485, the name apparently is literally "broom-plant" (French plante genêt), from Latin genista "broom plant."ETD Plantagenet.2

    plantain (n.1)

    "tropical banana-like tree or fruit," 1550s, plantan, from Spanish plátano, plántano, probably from Carib palatana "banana" (Arawak pratane), and altered by association with Spanish plátano "plane tree," from Medieval Latin plantanus "plane tree," itself altered (by association with Latin planta "plant") from Latin platanus (see plane (n.4)). So called from the shape of its leaves. There is no similarity or relation between this plant and plantain (n.2).ETD plantain (n.1).2

    plantain (n.2)

    "common yard weed of the genus Plantago," with large, spreading leaves close to the ground and slender spikes, c. 1300, planteine, from Anglo-French plaunteyne, Old French plantain, from Latin plantaginem (nominative plantago), the common weed, from planta "sole of the foot" (see plant (n.)); so called from its flat leaves.ETD plantain (n.2).2

    plantar (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the sole of the foot," 1706, from Latin plantaris "pertaining to the sole of the foot," from planta "sole of the foot" (from nasalized form of PIE root *plat- "to spread").ETD plantar (adj.).2

    plantation (n.)

    mid-15c., plantacioun, "action of planting (seeds, etc.)," a sense now obsolete, from Latin plantationem (nominative plantatio) "a planting," noun of action from past-participle stem of *plantare "to plant" (see plant (n.)).ETD plantation (n.).2

    From c. 1600 as "introduction, establishment." From 1580s as "a planting with people or settlers, a colonization;" used historically used for "a colony, an original settlement in a new land" by 1610s (the sense in Rhode Island's Providence Plantations, which were so called by 1640s).ETD plantation (n.).3

    The meaning "large farm on which tobacco or cotton is grown" is recorded by 1706; "Century Dictionary" [1895] defines it in this sense as "A farm, estate, or tract of land, especially in a tropical or semi-tropical country, such as the southern parts of the United States, South America, the West Indies, Africa, India, Ceylon, etc., in which cotton, sugar-cane, tobacco, coffee, etc., are cultivated, usually by negroes, peons, or coolies."ETD plantation (n.).4

    planter (n.)

    late 14c., plaunter, "one who sows seeds," agent noun from plant (v.). The mechanical sense of "tool or machine for planting seeds" is by 1850. Figurative sense of "one who introduces, establishes, or sets up" is from 1630s. Meaning "one who owns a plantation, the proprietor of a cultivated estate in West Indies or southern colonies of North America" is from 1640s, hence planter's punch (1890). Meaning "a pot for growing plants" recorded by 1959.ETD planter (n.).2

    plantigrade (adj.)

    "walking on the whole sole of the foot" (opposed to digitigrade), 1831, from French plantigrade "walking on the sole of the foot" (1795), from Latin planta "sole of the foot" (from nasalized form of PIE root *plat- "to spread") + gradi "to walk, go, step" (from PIE root *ghredh- "to walk, go"). Used of man and quadrupeds (bears, etc.) whose heels touch the ground in walking.ETD plantigrade (adj.).2

    planxty (n.)

    in Irish music, "harp tune of a sportive and animated character" [OED 2nd. ed. print, 1989], 1790, of unknown origin, evidently not a native Irish word. According to OED, some suggest ultimate derivation from Latin plangere "to strike, beat" (from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike"). See also Katrin Thier, "Of Picts and Penguins — Celtic Languages in the New Edition of the OED," in "The Celtic Languages in Contact," 2007.ETD planxty (n.).2

    plaque (n.)

    1848, "ornamental plate or tablet," from French plaque "metal plate, coin" (15c.), perhaps through Flemish placke "small coin," from Middle Dutch placke "disk, patch, stain," related to German Placken "spot, patch" (compare placard). Meaning "deposit on walls of arteries" is attested by 1891; that of "bacteria deposits on teeth" is by 1898.ETD plaque (n.).2


    parish at the mouth of the Mississippi in Louisiana, U.S., from Louisiana French, literally "persimmon" (18c.), probably from Miami/Illinois (Algonquian) piakimina.ETD Plaquemines.2

    plash (v.2)

    "to interlace, to bend and interweave the branches or twigs of," late 15c. (implied in plashing), from Old French plaissier, from Latin plectere "to plait," from suffixed form of PIE root *plek- "to plait." Related: Plashed.ETD plash (v.2).2

    plash (n.)

    "small puddle, shallow pool, wet ground," Old English plæsc "pool of water, puddle," probably imitative (compare plash (v.1) and Dutch plass "pool"). Meaning "noise made by splashing" is recorded by 1510s. Related: Plashy.ETD plash (n.).2

    plash (v.1)

    "to splash, dabble in water," 1580s, from plash (n.) and also imitative (compare Dutch plassen, German platschen). An earlier form of splash. Related: Plashed; plashing.ETD plash (v.1).2


    word-forming element in biology and medicine denoting "formation, growth, development," from Modern Latin -plasia, from Greek plasis "molding, formation," from plassein "to mold" (see plasma).ETD -plasia.2

    plasm (n.)

    1610s, "mold or matrix in which anything is cast or formed to a particular shape" (a sense now obsolete); see plasma. In biology, the meaning "living matter of a cell, protoplasm" is attested by 1864.ETD plasm (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "a growth, a development; something molded," from Greek -plasma, from plasma "something molded or created" (see plasma).ETD -plasm.2

    plasma (n.)

    1712, "form, shape" (a sense now obsolete), a more classical form of earlier plasm; from Late Latin plasma, from Greek plasma "something molded or created," hence "image, figure; counterfeit, forgery; formed style, affectation," from plassein "to mold," originally "to spread thin," from PIE *plath-yein, from root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread."ETD plasma (n.).2

    Sense of "the liquid part of blood, etc., as distinguished from the corpuscles" is from 1845. In physics, the sense of "ionized gas" is by 1928.ETD plasma (n.).3

    plasmatic (adj.)

    by 1832, "plastic, formative;" by 1864, "of the nature of (blood) plasma," a modern adjective formed from the stem of plasma (q.v.) + -ic. Greek plasmatikos meant "imitative."ETD plasmatic (adj.).2

    plasmic (adj.)

    "of the nature of plasma; pertaining to or consisting of plasma," 1875, from plasma + -ic.ETD plasmic (adj.).2

    plasmid (n.)

    "genetic structure in a cell that can replicate independently of the chromosomes," 1952, from plasma + -id.ETD plasmid (n.).2

    plasmodium (n.)

    "protoplasm of protozoans in sheets, masses, or large quantities," 1871, Modern Latin, coined 1863 in Germany from plasma + -odium, from Greek -oeidēs "like" (see -oid). The classical plural is plasmodia.ETD plasmodium (n.).2

    plasmolysis (n.)

    1883, in biology, from French plasmolysis (1877), from plasmo- (see plasma) + Greek lysis "a loosening" (see -lysis). Related: Plasmolytic; plasmolyze.ETD plasmolysis (n.).2


    word-forming element denoting "something made," from Greek plastos "formed, molded," verbal adjective from plassein "to mold" (see plasma). Used to form names of small particles of living matter.ETD -plast.2

    plaster (v.)

    early 14c., "to cover or overlay (walls) with plaster;" late 14c., "to coat with a medicative plaster," from plaster (n.) and partly from Old French plastrier "to cover with plaster" (Modern French plâtrer), from plastre. Figurative use, "to load to excess" (with praise, etc.), is from c. 1600. Meaning "to bomb (a target) heavily" is first recorded 1915. Sports sense of "to defeat decisively" is from 1919. as an adjective, plastered is from late 14c. as "coated with plaster." The slang meaning "very drunk" is attested by 1912.ETD plaster (v.).2

    plaster (n.)

    late Old English plaster "a medicinal solid compounded for external application," from medical Latin plastrum, shortened by loss of the original prefix from Latin emplastrum "a plaster" (in the medical as well as the building sense), from Greek emplastron "salve, plaster" (used by Galen instead of the more usual emplaston), noun use of neuter of emplastos "daubed on," from en- "on" + plastos "molded," verbal adjective from plassein "to mold" (see plasma).ETD plaster (n.).2

    The use in reference to the material composed of lime, water, and sand (with or without hair for binding), used for coating walls, is recorded in English from c. 1300, via Old French plastre, from the same source, and in early use the English word often had the French spelling. The meaning "gypsum" is from late 14c.; plaster of Paris "powdered calcinated (heat-dried) gypsum," which sets rapidly and expands when mixed with water(mid-15c.) originally was made from the extensive gypsum deposits of Montmartre in Paris. Plaster saint "person who makes a hypocritical show of virtue" is by 1890.ETD plaster (n.).3


    word-forming element meaning "act or process of forming," also "plastic surgery" applied to a specific part, from Greek -plastia, from plastos "molded, formed," verbal adjective from plassein "to mold" (see plasma).ETD -plasty.2

    plastic (n.)

    1905, "solid substance that can be molded," originally of dental molds, from plastic (adj.). The main current meaning, "synthetic product made from oil derivatives," is recorded by 1909, used in this sense by Leo Baekeland (see Bakelite).ETD plastic (n.).2

    plasticity (n.)

    "capability of being molded or formed; property of giving form or shape to matter," 1768, from plastic (adj.) + -ity.ETD plasticity (n.).2

    plastic (adj.)

    1630s, "capable of shaping or molding a mass of matter," from Latin plasticus, from Greek plastikos "fit for molding, capable of being molded into various forms; pertaining to molding," also in reference to the arts, from plastos "molded, formed," verbal adjective from plassein "to mold" (see plasma). Related: Plastically.ETD plastic (adj.).2

    Hence "capable of change or of receiving a new direction" (1791). The surgical sense of "remedying a deficiency of structure" is recorded by 1839 (in plastic surgery). Meaning "made of plastic" is from 1909; this was picked up in counterculture slang and given an extended meaning "false, superficial" (1963). Plastic explosive (n.) "explosive material with a putty-like consistency" is attested from 1894.ETD plastic (adj.).3


    proprietary name of a modeling clay substitute, 1897, from plastic (adj.) + -ine (2).ETD Plasticine.2

    plastid (n.)

    "unicellular organism, individual mass of protoplasm," 1876, from German plastid, coined by Haeckel from Greek plastos "formed, molded" (verbal adjective from plassein "to mold;" see plasma) + -id.ETD plastid (n.).2

    plastron (n.)

    "breastplate," c. 1500, from French plastron "breastplate," from Italian piastrone, augmentative of piastra "breastplate, thin metal plate" (see piaster). As an animal part, from 1813; as an article of women's dress, 1876.ETD plastron (n.).2

    plat (v.)

    "to interweave," late 14c., a variant of plait (v.). Related: Platted; platting.ETD plat (v.).2


    also *pletə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to spread;" extension of root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread."ETD *plat-.2

    It forms all or part of: clan; flan; flat (adj.) "without curvature or projection;" flat (n.) "a story of a house;" flatter (v.); flounder (n.) "flatfish;" implant; piazza; place; plaice; plane; (n.4) type of tree; plant; plantain (n.2); plantar; plantation; plantigrade; plat; plate; plateau; platen; platform; platinum; platitude; Platonic; Plattdeutsch; platter; platypus; plaza; supplant; transplant.ETD *plat-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit prathati "spreads out;" Hittite palhi "broad;" Greek platys "broad, flat;" Latin planta "sole of the foot;" Lithuanian platus "broad;" German Fladen "flat cake;" Old Norse flatr "flat;" Old English flet "floor, dwelling;" Old Irish lethan "broad."ETD *plat-.4

    plat (n.)

    "flat piece of ground," mid-15c. (mid-13c. in surnames), a variant of plot (n.) assimilated to Middle English plat (adj.) "flat," which is from Old French plat "flat, stretched out" (see plateau (n.)). See OED plat sb.3 for full explanation.ETD plat (n.).2

    plate (v.)

    "to cover (something) with a layer of metal or mail," late 14c., platen, from plate (n.). Related: Plated.ETD plate (v.).2

    plate (n.)

    mid-13c., "flat sheet of gold or silver," also "flat, round coin," from Old French plate "thin piece of metal" (late 12c.), from Medieval Latin plata "plate, piece of metal," perhaps via Vulgar Latin *plattus, formed on model of Greek platys "flat, broad" (from PIE root *plat- "to spread"). The cognate in Spanish (plata) and Portuguese (prata) has become the usual word for "silver," superseding argento via a shortening of *plata d'argento "plate of silver, coin."ETD plate (n.).2

    From 14c. as "armor made of sheets of metal." Meaning "table utensils" (originally of silver or gold only) is from Middle English. Meaning "shallow dish on which food is served at table," now usually of china or earthenware, originally of metal or wood, is from mid-15c. Meaning "articles which have been covered with a plating of precious metal" is from 1540s.ETD plate (n.).3

    In photography, "common rectangular piece of glass used to receive the picture," by 1840. The baseball sense "home base" is from 1857. Geological sense "nearly rigid part of the earth's lithosphere" is attested from 1904; plate tectonics is attested from 1967. Plate-glass for a superior kind of thick glass used for mirrors, shop-windows, etc., is recorded from 1729.ETD plate (n.).4

    plating (n.)

    1825, "the art or operation of covering articles with a thin coating or film of metal;" 1833, "thin coating of one metal laid upon another," verbal noun from plate (v.).ETD plating (n.).2

    plateau (v.)

    "enter a period of stability or stagnation, cease to rise," 1952, from plateau (n.). Related: Plateaued; plateauing.ETD plateau (v.).2

    plateau (n.)

    1796, "elevated tract of relatively level land," from French plateau "table-land," from Old French platel (12c.) "flat piece of metal, wood, etc.," diminutive of plat "flat surface or thing," noun use of adjective plat "flat, stretched out" (12c.), perhaps from Vulgar Latin *plattus, from or modeled on Greek platys "flat, wide, broad" (from PIE root *plat- "to spread"). Meaning "stage at which no progress is apparent" is attested from 1897, originally in psychology of learning. In reference to sexual stimulation from 1960.ETD plateau (n.).2

    platelet (n.)

    "a little plate," originally and especially of the disk-shaped corpuscles in mammalian blood, 1895, formed in English from plate (n.) + diminutive suffix -let.ETD platelet (n.).2

    platen (n.)

    1540s, "flat plate of metal," from French plateine, from Old French platine "flat piece, metal plate" (13c.), perhaps altered (by influence of plat "flat") from patene, from Latin patina "pan; broad, shallow dish," from Greek patane "plate, dish" (from PIE root *pete- "to spread"). From 1590s as "the flat part of a press which comes down upon the form and by which the impression is made." Hence, on a typewriter, "cylindrical roller or other surface against which the paper is held" (1890).ETD platen (n.).2

    platform (n.)

    1540s, "plan of action, scheme, design;" 1550s, "ground-plan, drawing, sketch," senses now obsolete, from French plateforme, platte fourme, literally "flat form," from Old French plat "flat, level" (see plateau (n.)) + forme "form" (see form (n.)). These senses later went with plan (n.).ETD platform (n.).2

    The sense of "raised, level surface or place" in English is attested from 1550s, especially "raised frame or structure with a level surface." Specifically in geography, "flat, level piece of ground," by 1813. The railroad station sense of "raised walk along the track at a station for landing passengers and freight" is from 1832.ETD platform (n.).3

    The U.S. political meaning, "statement of political principles and of the course to be adopted with regard to certain important questions of policy, issued by the representatives of a political party assembled in convention to nominate candidates for an election," is from 1803. It is probably originally an image of a literal platform on which politicians gather, stand, and make their appeals, and perhaps it was influenced by the earlier sense in England of "set of rules governing church doctrine" (1570s). In 19c., platform was used generally in a figurative sense for "the function of public speaking," and even was a verb, "to address the public as a speaker."ETD platform (n.).4

    platinum (n.)

    metallic element, 1812, Modern Latin, altered from earlier platina, from Spanish platina "platinum," diminutive of plata "silver," from Old French plate or Old Provençal plata "sheet of metal" (see plate (n.)). Related: Platiniferous.ETD platinum (n.).2

    The metal looks like silver, and the Spaniards at first thought it an inferior sort of silver, hence the name platina. It was first obtained from Spanish colonies in Mexico and Colombia, brought to Europe in 1735, and identified as an element 1741. Taken into English as platina (1750), it took its modern form (with element ending -ium) in 1812, at the time the names of elements were being regularized.ETD platinum (n.).3

    As a grayish-white color (similar to that of the metal) it is attested by 1923; especially as a shade of blond hair, it is attested by 1927 (in platinum blonde "woman with platinum-blonde hair;" Jean Harlow, famously associated with the label, starred in a popular movie of that name in 1931).ETD platinum (n.).4

    As a designation for a recording that has sold at least one million copies, platinum is attested from 1960 ("The Battle of New Orleans"); in the late '50s it had been used to commemorate 3 million sales of a record (Pat Boone "Love Letters in the Sand"), and, from 1954, 25 million in total record sales (Jo Stafford, Gene Autry).ETD platinum (n.).5

    platitude (n.)

    1812, "dullness, insipidity of thought, triteness," from French platitude "flatness, vapidness" (late 17c.), from Old French plat "flat" (see plateau (n.)); formed on analogy of latitude, etc. Meaning "a flat, dull, trite, or commonplace remark," especially a truism uttered as if it were a novelty, is recorded from 1815. Related: Platitudinous (1862). Hence platitudinarian (n.) "one who indulges in platitudes," 1855; platitudinize (1867).ETD platitude (n.).2

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