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    presentable (adj.) — priapic (adj.)

    presentable (adj.)

    mid-15c., of a benefice, "capable of being presented or receiving presentation;" also, in law, "liable to formal charge of wrongdoing," from present (v.) + -able. Meaning "suitable in appearance" is from 1800. Related: Presentably; presentability.ETD presentable (adj.).2

    present (n.2)

    c. 1200, "thing offered, what is offered or given as a gift," from Old French present and directly from Medieval Latin presentia, from phrases such as French en present "(to offer) in the presence of," mettre en present "place before, give," from Latin in re praesenti "in the situation in question," from praesens "being there" (see present (adj.), and compare present (v.)). The notion is of "something brought into someone's presence."ETD present (n.2).2

    presenter (n.)

    mid-15c., presentour, "one who formally introduces a royal personage; one who presents or offers (a document, legal charge, etc.) for acceptance," agent noun from present (v.). The meaning "host of a radio or television program" is from 1967.ETD presenter (n.).2

    present (v.)

    c. 1300, presenten, "bring into the presence of, introduce (someone or something) formally or ceremonially;" also "make a formal presentation of; give as a gift or award; bestow; approach with a gift, bring or lay before one for acceptance," from Old French presenter (11c., Modern French présenter) and directly from Latin praesentare "to place before, show, exhibit," from stem of praesens (see present (adj.)).ETD present (v.).2

    From late 14c. as "exhibit (something), demonstrate, reveal, offer for inspection, display;" also, in law, "accuse to the authorities, make a formal complaint or charge of wrongdoing." From c. 1400 as "represent, portray." Related: Presented; presenting. To present arms "bring the firearm to a perpendicular position in front of the body" is by 1759.ETD present (v.).3

    present-day (adj.)

    "current, contemporary, now in existence," 1870, from present (adj.) + day.ETD present-day (adj.).2

    presentiment (n.)

    "a direct, though vague, perception of a future event," 1714, from French presentiment (Modern French pressentiment), from pressentir "to have foreboding," from Latin praesentire "to sense or feel beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + sentire "perceive, feel" (see sense (n.)). Especially a feeling that some misfortune or calamity is about to happen, a foreboding.ETD presentiment (n.).2

    preserve (v.)

    late 14c., preserven, "keep safe or free from harm," also "act so as to insure that something does not occur," from Anglo-French preservare, Old French preserver, Medieval Latin preservare "keep, preserve," all from Late Latin praeservare "guard beforehand," from Latin prae "before" (see pre-) + servare "to keep safe" (from PIE root *ser- (1) "to protect").ETD preserve (v.).2

    From early 15c. as "maintain, keep in a certain quality, state or condition." Of fruit, etc., "prevent from spoiling by use of preservative substances," 1570s; of organic bodies, "keep in existence or alive," from 1610s. Related: Preserved; preserver; preserving.ETD preserve (v.).3

    preservative (adj.)

    late 14c., preservatif, "tending to keep safe, sound, or free from harm," from Old French preservatif and directly from Medieval Latin praeservativus, from stem of Late Latin praeservare "guard beforehand" (see preserve (v.)).ETD preservative (adj.).2

    The noun is from early 15c., "a preservative medication; substance that preserves corpses," also generally "anything that preserves or maintains." The sense of "chemical added to foods to keep them from rotting" is from 1875.ETD preservative (adj.).3

    preservation (n.)

    early 15c., preservacioun "protection from disease," from Old French preservacion (13c.), from Medieval Latin preservationem (nominative preservatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of preservare "to guard beforehand" (see preserve (v.)). General sense of "protection, act of keeping safe or sound" is from mid-15c.ETD preservation (n.).2

    preserve (n.)

    "fruit preserved with sugar," c. 1600, from preserve (v.). Earlier it meant "a preservative" (1550s). Sense of "protected place for animals or plants" (a sense more properly belonging to conserve) is from 1807. The verb preserve in the sense of "maintain and reserve for special use in hunting or fishing" is from 1610s.ETD preserve (n.).2

    preservationist (n.)

    "advocate of protecting existing things," 1905, from preservation + -ist; specifically of historic buildings by 1957.ETD preservationist (n.).2


    also pre-set, 1934 (adj.) "decided or determined in advance;" 1946 (v.); from pre- "before" + set (adj.).ETD preset.2

    presidency (n.)

    1590s, "office of a president," also "superintendence, direction," from Medieval Latin praesidentia "office of a president" (mid-13c.), from Latin praesidentem (nominative praesidens) "president, governor" (see president). Earlier was presidentship (1520s), presidence (c. 1500). Meaning "a president's term in office" is from 1610s. In British India, a chief administrative division.ETD presidency (n.).2

    preside (v.)

    "be set over others, have place of authority, direct and control," 1610s, from French présider "preside over, govern" (15c.), from Latin praesidere "stand guard; superintend," literally "sit in front of," from prae "before" (see pre-) + sedere "to sit," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit." Usually denoting temporary superintendence or direction.ETD preside (v.).2

    president (n.)

    late 14c., "appointed governor of a province; chosen leader of a body of persons," from Old French president and directly from Latin praesidentum (nominative praesidens) "president, governor," noun use of present participle of praesidere "to act as head or chief" (see preside). In Middle English of heads of religious houses, hospitals, almshouses, colleges and universities.ETD president (n.).2

    First use for "chief executive officer of a republic" is in U.S. Constitution (1787), from earlier American use for "officer in charge of the Continental Congress" (1774), earlier of individual colonies (Virginia, 1608), a sense derived from that of "chosen head of a meeting or group of persons," which is from Middle English. During and immediately after the Revolution the chief magistrates of certain states (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina) took the title, which eventually reverted to governor.ETD president (n.).3

    It had been used of chief officers of banks from 1781. Slang shortening prez is recorded from 1883. Fem. form presidentess is attested from 1763.ETD president (n.).4

    presidence (n.)

    c. 1500, "authority, sovereignty;" 1590s, "action of presiding," from French présidence (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin praesidentia (see presidency). Rare in English, presidency being the usual word.ETD presidence (n.).2

    presidential (adj.)

    c. 1600, "pertaining to a president or presidency," from Medieval Latin praesidentialis, from praesidentia "office of a president" (see presidency). Related: Presidentially.ETD presidential (adj.).2

    presidio (n.)

    a seat of government, especially a place of military authority, hence, in U.S. Southwest, "a military post," 1808, American English, from Spanish presidio "fort, settlement," from Latin praesidium "defense, protection," from praesidere "to sit before, protect" (see preside). Related: Presidial; presidary.ETD presidio (n.).2

    Presidium (n.)

    permanent administrative committee of the U.S.S.R., 1924, from Russian prezidium, from Latin praesidium "a presiding over, defense," from praesidere "to protect," literally "to sit before" (see preside).ETD Presidium (n.).2

    press (n.)

    c. 1300, presse, "a crowd, throng, company; crowding and jostling of a throng; a massing together," from Old French presse (n.) "a throng, a crush, a crowd; wine or cheese press" (11c.), from Latin pressare (see press (v.1)). Late Old English had press in the sense of "clothes press," but the Middle English word probably is from French.ETD press (n.).2

    The general sense of "instrument or machine by which anything is subjected to pressure" is from late 14c.: "device for pressing cloth," also "device to squeeze juice from grapes, oil from olives, cider from apples, etc." The sense of "urgency, urgent demands of affairs" is from 1640s. Weightlifting sense is from 1908. The basketball defense so called from 1959 (in full-court press).ETD press (n.).3

    The specific sense "machine for printing" is from 1530s; this was extended to publishing houses and agencies of producing printed matter collectively by 1570s and to publishing generally (in phrases such as freedom of the press) from c. 1680. This gradually shifted c. 1800-1820 to "the sum total of periodical publishing, newspapers, journalism." The press, meaning "journalists collectively" is attested from 1921 (though superseded by media since the rise of television, etc.).ETD press (n.).4

    Press agent, employed to tend to newspaper advertisements and supply news editors with information, is from 1873, originally theatrical; press conference "meeting at which journalists are given the opportunity to question a politician, celebrity, etc.," is attested from 1931, though the thing itself dates to at least World War I. Press secretary is recorded from 1940; press release "official statement offered to a newspaper for publication" is by 1918.ETD press (n.).5

    Via the sense "crowd, throng," Middle English in press meant "in public," a coincidental parallel to the modern phrase in the press.ETD press (n.).6

    press (v.1)

    early 14c., pressen, "to clasp, hold in embrace;" mid-14c. "to squeeze out;" also "to cluster, gather in a crowd;" late 14c., "to exert weight or force against, exert pressure," also "assault, assail;" also "forge ahead, push one's way, move forward," from Old French presser "squeeze, press upon; torture" (13c.), from Latin pressare "to press," frequentative formation from pressus, past participle of premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress," from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike." Related: Pressed; pressing.ETD press (v.1).2

    Sense of "to reduce to a particular shape or form by pressure" is from early 15c. Figurative sense is from late 14c. ("to attack"); meaning "to urge, beseech, argue for" is from 1590s. To press the flesh "shake hands" is by 1926.ETD press (v.1).3

    pressing (adj.)

    mid-14c., "exerting pressure," present-participle adjective from press (v.1). Figurative sense of "urgent, compelling, forceful, requiring instant attention or action" is from 1705. Related: Pressingly.ETD pressing (adj.).2

    press (v.2)

    "force into service," especially military or naval service, 1570s, alteration (by association with press (v.1)) of prest (mid-14c.) "engage by loan, pay in advance," especially in reference to money paid to a soldier or sailor on enlisting, from Latin praestare "to stand out, stand before; fulfill, perform, provide," from prae- "before" (see pre-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." The verb is related to praesto (adv.) "ready, available." Related: Pressed; pressing.ETD press (v.2).2

    press-gang (n.)

    "detachment under command of an officer empowered to press men into public service," 1690s, from press (v.2) + gang (n.).ETD press-gang (n.).2

    pressman (n.)

    1590s, "one who operates or has charge of a printing press," from press (n.) + man (n.). From 1610s as "one employed in a wine-press."ETD pressman (n.).2

    pressroom (n.)

    1680s, "a room where printing presses are worked," from press (n.) + room (n.). By 1902 as "room (in a courthouse, etc.) reserved for the use of reporters."ETD pressroom (n.).2

    pressurize (v.)

    "produce or maintain pressure artificially" in an aircraft, etc., 1938 (implied in pressurized), from pressure (n.) + -ize. Related: Pressurizing.ETD pressurize (v.).2

    pressure (n.)

    late 14c., "suffering, anguish; act or fact of pressing on the mind or heart," from Old French presseure "oppression; torture; anguish; press" (for wine or cheeses), "instrument of torture" (12c.) and directly from Latin pressura "action of pressing," from pressus, past participle of premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress" (from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike").ETD pressure (n.).2

    The literal meaning "act or fact of pressing" in a physical sense is attested in English from early 15c. The meaning "moral or mental coercing force, exertion of authority or influence" is from 1620s; the meaning "urgency, demand on one's time or energies" is from 1812. Scientific sense in physics, "force per unit area exerted over a surface and toward the interior" is from 1650s.ETD pressure (n.).3

    Pressure cooker "airtight vessel in which food is cooked in steam under pressure" is attested from 1915; figurative sense is from 1958. Pressure point of the skin is attested from 1876. Pressure-treated, of woods impregnated with a preservative fluid under pressure, is from 1911.ETD pressure (n.).4

    pressure (v.)

    "to pressurize," 1886, American English, from pressure (n.). Meaning "to exert pressure on" (someone) is attested by 1922. Related: Pressured; pressuring.ETD pressure (v.).2

    pressurization (n.)

    "action or result of pressuring," 1937, from pressure (v.) + -ization.ETD pressurization (n.).2

    Prester John

    c. 1300, Prestre Johan, legendary medieval Christian king and priest, said to have ruled either in the Far East or Ethiopia. Prestre (attested as a surname late 12c.) is from Vulgar Latin *prester, a transition between Latin presbyter and English priest. First mentioned in the West by mid-12c. chronicler Otto of Freising, who told how Johannes Presbyter won a great victory over the Persians and the Medes. Between 1165 and 1177 a forged letter purporting to be from him circulated in Europe. All this recalls the time when the Christian West was militarily threatened on its frontiers by Muslim powers, dreaming of a mythical deliverer. Compare Old French prestre Jehan (13c.), Italian prete Gianni.ETD Prester John.2

    prestidigitator (n.)

    "a juggler; one who performs feats requiring dexterity and skill, particularly of the fingers," 1843, from French prestidigitateur, a hybrid coined 1830 by Jules de Rovère (who sought a new word, "qui s'accorderait mieux à ses nobles origines" to replace escamoteur and physicien), roughly based on Latin praestigiator "juggler, trickster" (see prestigious); influenced by Italian presto "quick," a conjuror's word (see presto), and by Latin digitus "finger" (see digit).ETD prestidigitator (n.).2

    prestidigitation (n.)

    "sleight of hand; the performance of feats requiring dexterity and skill, particularly of the fingers," 1843, from French prestidigitation, which was coined along with prestidigitator (q.v.).ETD prestidigitation (n.).2

    prestige (n.)

    1650s, "trick, illusion, imposture" (senses now obsolete), from French prestige (16c.) "deceit, imposture, illusion" (in Modern French, "illusion, magic, glamour"), from Latin praestigium "delusion, illusion" (see prestigious).ETD prestige (n.).2

    From about 1815 it was used in the sense of "an illusion as to one's personal merit or importance, a flattering illusion," hence, positively, "a reputation for excellence, importance, or authority," senses probably introduced from French, often in reference to Napoleon:ETD prestige (n.).3

    prestigious (adj.)

    1540s, "practicing illusion or magic, juggling; deluding, deceptive," from Latin praestigious "full of tricks," from praestigiae "juggler's tricks," probably altered by dissimilation from praestrigiae, from praestringere "to blind, blindfold, dazzle," from prae "before" (see pre-) + stringere "to tie or bind" (see strain (v.)). Derogatory until 19c., marked as obsolete in Century Dictionary (1895); the positive meaning "having dazzling influence" is attested from 1913, from prestige. Related: Prestigiously; prestigiousness.ETD prestigious (adj.).2

    presto (adv.)

    1590s, "quickly, immediately," a word used by conjurers, etc., from Italian presto "quick, quickly" in conjuror's patter, from Latin praestus "ready," praesto (adv.) "ready, available," from prae "before" (see pre-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." Compare Latin praesto esse "to be at hand, be ready," source of French prêt "ready," and compare press (v.2). As a musical direction, "in rapid tempo," it is a separate borrowing from Italian, first recorded 1680s (Purcell).ETD presto (adv.).2

    presume (v.)

    late 14c., presumen, "to take upon oneself, to take liberty," also "to take for granted, believe or accept upon probable evidence, presuppose," especially overconfidently, from Old French presumer (12c.) and directly from Latin praesumere "anticipate," in Late Latin, "assume," from prae "before" (see pre-) + sumere "to take, obtain, buy," from sus‑, variant of sub‑ "up from under" + emere "to take" (from PIE root *em- "to take, distribute").ETD presume (v.).2

    The intransitive sense of "to venture beyond the limits of ordinary license or propriety" and that of "to press forward presumptuously" are from early 15c. Related: Presumed; presumedly; presuming; presumingly.ETD presume (v.).3

    presumably (adv.)

    1640s, "with presumption, without examination," from presumable + -ly (2). As a qualifier, "probably, as one would reasonably suppose," from 1830.ETD presumably (adv.).2

    presumable (adj.)

    "capable of being taken for granted, entitled to belief without examination or direct evidence," 1690s, from presume + -able.ETD presumable (adj.).2

    presumptive (adj.)

    "speculative, based on presumption or probability," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin presumptivus, from Late Latin praesumptivus, from Latin praesumpt- past-participle stem of praesumere (see presume). The heir presumptive (1620s) is "presumed" to be the heir if the heir apparent is unavailable. Related: Presumptively.ETD presumptive (adj.).2

    presumption (n.)

    mid-13c., presumpcioun, "seizure and occupation without right," also "taking upon oneself more than good sense and propriety warrant," from Old French presumcion (12c., Modern French présomption) and directly from Late Latin praesumptionem (nominative praesumptio) "confidence, audacity," in classical Latin, "a taking for granted, anticipation," noun of action from past-participle stem of praesumere "to take beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + sumere "to take, obtain, buy," from sus‑, variant of sub‑ "up from under" + emere "to take" (from PIE root *em- "to take, distribute").ETD presumption (n.).2

    In English, the meaning "the taking of something for granted" is attested from c. 1300; that of "a ground for presuming or believing" is from 1580s. Presumptuous preserves the older sense.ETD presumption (n.).3

    presumptuous (adj.)

    mid-14c., "arrogant, overweening, impertinent, going beyond the limits of propriety or good sense in thought or conduct," from Old French presuntuex, presontuos, presumptueuse (12c.; Modern French présomptueux) and directly from Late Latin praesumptuosus "full of boldness," a variant of praesumptiosus, from past participle stem of Latin praesumere "anticipate," in Late Latin, "assume" (see presume). Related: Presumptuously; presumptuousness.ETD presumptuous (adj.).2

    presuppose (v.)

    early 15c., altered from presupponen (c. 1400), "assume beforehand or in the beginning," from Old French presupposer (14c.), formed in French or else from Medieval Latin praesupponere; see pre- + suppose. The meaning "take for granted in advance of actual knowledge or experience" is from 1520s. Related: Presupposed; presupposing.ETD presuppose (v.).2

    presupposition (n.)

    1530s, "surmise, conjecture, supposition antecedent to knowledge," from French présupposition and directly from Medieval Latin praesuppositionem (nominative praesuppositio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin praesupponere, from prae "before" (see pre-) + suppositio (see suppose). Meaning "postulation as of an antecedent condition," hence "a prerequisite" is from 1570s.ETD presupposition (n.).2

    pret a porter (adj.)

    denoting clothes sold in standard sizes, 1957, from French prêt à porter, "ready-to-wear." For pret, see presto. Porter is literally "to carry," from Latin portare "to carry" (from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over"). For a similar sense evolution, compare German kleider tragen.ETD pret a porter (adj.).2

    pre-teen (adj.)

    also preteen, "just prior to one's teenage years," 1926, from pre- + teen. As a noun, "pre-teen person," from 1962. Sub-teen (1944) also was used.ETD pre-teen (adj.).2

    pretend (v.)

    late 14c., pretenden, "to profess, put forward as a statement or assertion, maintain" (a claim, etc.), "to direct (one's) efforts," from Old French pretendre "to lay claim," from Latin praetendere "stretch in front, spread before, put forward; put forward as an excuse, allege," from prae "before" (see pre-) + tendere "to stretch" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").ETD pretend (v.).2

    Main modern sense of "feign, use as a pretext, put forward a false claim" is recorded from c. 1400; the older sense of simply "lay claim to" is behind the royal pretenders (1690s) in English history (see pretender). Meaning "to play, make believe" is recorded from 1865. In 17c. pretend also could mean "make a suit of marriage for," from a sense in French. Related: Pretended; pretending.ETD pretend (v.).3

    pretend (n.)

    "act or fact of pretending in imagination or play," 1888, from children's talk, from pretend (v.). Earlier in same sense was the verbal noun pretending (1640s).ETD pretend (n.).2

    pretender (n.)

    1590s, "one who intends;" 1620s as "one who puts forth a claim;" agent noun from pretend (v.). Specifically of a claimant to the English throne from 1690s, especially the Old and Young Pretenders, the son and grandson of James II who asserted claims to the throne against the Hanoverians. Meaning "one who feigns, one who makes a false show, one who puts forth a claim without adequate grounds" is from 1630s.ETD pretender (n.).2

    pretended (adj.)

    mid-15c., "so-called, not legitimate," past-participle adjective from pretend (v.).ETD pretended (adj.).2

    pretension (n.)

    mid-15c., pretensioun, "assertion, allegation; objection; intention; signification," from Medieval Latin pretensionem (nominative pretensio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin praetendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege" (see pretend (v.)).ETD pretension (n.).2

    Meaning "unproven claim" is from c. 1600. The sense of "ostentation" is from 1727, from the notion of "act of putting forth a (false) claim to merit, dignity, or importance."ETD pretension (n.).3

    pretense (n.)

    also pretence, early 15c., "the putting forth of a claim; false or hypocritical profession, feigning, disguise, that under cover of which an actual design or meaning is concealed," also "a stated ground or reason, an assertion of a legal right," from Anglo-French pretensse (Modern French prétense), from Medieval Latin pretensio, noun of action from Late Latin praetensus, altered from Latin praetentus, past participle of praetendere "stretch in front, put forward; allege" (see pretend (v.)).ETD pretense (n.).2

    pretentious (adj.)

    "characterized by or full of claims to greater excellence or importance than the truth merits," 1836, from French prétentieux (17c.), from prétention "pretension," from Medieval Latin pretentionem (nominative pretentio) "pretension," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin praetendere (see pretend (v.)). Related: Pretentiously; pretentiousness.ETD pretentious (adj.).2


    also praeter-, word-forming element meaning "beyond; over, more than in quantity or degree," from Latin praeter (adverb and preposition) "beyond, before, above, more than," properly comparative of prae "before," from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before."ETD preter-.2

    preterhuman (adj.)

    "more than human, beyond what is human," 1803, from preter- "beyond" + human (adj.). Used to avoid the specific connotations of superhuman.ETD preterhuman (adj.).2

    preterist (n.)

    "one who favors the past, one whose chief interest is in the past," 1864, from preter- "before" + -ist. As a theological term from 1843, "one who holds that the Apocalyptic prophecies have been nearly or entirely fulfilled" (opposed to futurist).ETD preterist (n.).2

    preterite (adj.)

    mid-14c., "having to do with the past," from Old French preterit "past tense" (13c.) and directly from Latin praeteritum (as in tempus praeteritum "time past"), past participle of praeterire "to go by, go past," from praeter "beyond, over; more than" (see preter-) + itum, past participle of ire "to go" (from PIE root *ei- "to go").ETD preterite (adj.).2

    Grammar sense is late 14c. The word also was a noun in Middle English meaning "past times" (late 14c.). Related: Preteritive. Preterite-present attested from 1813.ETD preterite (adj.).3

    preterm (adj.)

    also pre-term, "born or occurring after a pregnancy that lasted much less than the usual term," 1928, from pre- "before" + term (n.).ETD preterm (adj.).2

    pretermission (n.)

    "act of passing by, an omission or disregarding," 1580s, from Latin pretermissionem (nominative pretermissio) "an omission, a passing over," noun of action from past-participle stem of praetermittere "to pass by, let pass, neglect" (see pretermit).ETD pretermission (n.).2

    pretermit (v.)

    1510s, "neglect to do, leave undone," from Latin praetermittere "let pass, overlook," from praeter- (see preter-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission). From 1530s as "intentionally omit, leave unnoticed or unmentioned." Related: Pretermitted; pretermitting.ETD pretermit (v.).2

    preternatural (adj.)

    "beyond or different from what is natural," 1570s, from Medieval Latin preternaturalis (mid-13c.), from Latin phrase praeter naturam (praeterque fatum) "beyond nature (and beyond fate)," from praeter "beyond, over, more than in quantity or degree" (see preter-) + accusative of natura "nature" (see natural (adj.)).ETD preternatural (adj.).2

    Used at least since 1770s in the sense of supernatural, but technically and properly distinct from that word. "Preternatural is used especially to note that which might have been a work of nature, but is not" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Preternaturally; preternaturalness; preternaturalism.ETD preternatural (adj.).3

    preternuptial (adj.)

    "beyond what is permitted by the marriage tie or vow," hence, euphemistically, "adulterous," 1833 (Carlyle), from preter- "beyond" + nuptial.ETD preternuptial (adj.).2

    preterperfect (n.)

    in grammar, "past perfect," applied to a tense which indicates a past or completed state or action, 1530s, from Late Latin praeteritum perfectum "complete past;" see preter- + perfect (adj.). Related: Preterpluperfect.ETD preterperfect (n.).2


    also pre-test, by 1949 as a verb ("to test before") and noun ("experimental test to assess the questions or methods intended for a projected test"), from pre- "before" + test.ETD pretest.2

    pretext (n.)

    "that which is assumed as a cloak or means of concealment," 1510s, from French prétexte, from Latin praetextum "a pretext, outward display," noun use of neuter past participle of praetexere "to disguise, cover," literally "weave in front" (for sense, compare pull the wool over (someone's) eyes); from prae- "in front" (see pre-) + texere "to weave" (from PIE root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate").ETD pretext (n.).2

    pre-treat (v.)

    also pretreat, "to treat beforehand," by 1912, originally in reference to water purification, from pre- "before" + treat (v.). Related: Pre-treated; pre-treating; pre-treatment.ETD pre-treat (v.).2

    pretrial (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the period before a trial," 1921, American English, from pre- "before" + trial. As a noun, "preliminary hearing before a trial," 1938.ETD pretrial (adj.).2

    pretty (n.)

    "a pretty person or thing," 1736 of things, by 1773 of persons, from pretty (adj.). Prettinesses "pretty things, etc." is attested from 1640s.ETD pretty (n.).2

    prettiness (n.)

    "Beauty without dignity; neat elegance without elevation" [Johnson], 1520s, from pretty (adj.) + -ness.ETD prettiness (n.).2

    pretty (adj.)

    Middle English pratie "cunning, crafty, clever" (c. 1300 as a surname), from Old English prættig (West Saxon), pretti (Kentish), *prettig (Mercian) "cunning, skillful, artful, wily, astute," from prætt, *prett "a trick, wile, craft," from Proto-Germanic *pratt- (source also of Old Norse prettr "a trick," prettugr "tricky;" Frisian pret, Middle Dutch perte, Dutch pret "trick, joke," Dutch prettig "sportive, funny," Flemish pertig "brisk, clever"), a word of unknown origin.ETD pretty (adj.).2

    The connection between the Old English and Middle English words "has several points of obscurity" [OED], and except in surnames there is no record of it 13c.-14c., but they generally are considered the same. The meaning had expanded by c. 1400 to "manly, gallant," also "ingeniously or cleverly made," to "fine, pleasing to the aesthetic sense," to "beautiful in a slight way" (mid-15c.). Also used of bees (c. 1400). For sense evolution, compare nice, silly, neat (adj.), fair (adj.).ETD pretty (adj.).3

    Of things, "fine, pleasing" 1560s. Ironical use is from 1530s (compare ironical use of fine (adj.)). The meaning "not a few, considerable, moderately large in quantity, number, extent, or duration" is from late 15c. Pretty please as an emphatic plea is attested from 1902. A pretty penny "lot of money" is recorded from 1703.ETD pretty (adj.).4

    pretty (v.)

    "to make pretty," 1916 (transitive), usually with up (adv.); intransitive sense by 1932; from pretty (adj.). Related: Prettied; prettying. Compare prettify.ETD pretty (v.).2

    pretty (adv.)

    "to a considerable extent," expressing a degree less than very, 1560s, from pretty (adj.). Pretty much "in a considerable degree" is by 1660s.ETD pretty (adv.).2

    prettification (n.)

    "act, fact, or process of making pretty," 1902, noun of action from prettify (q.v.).ETD prettification (n.).2

    prettify (v.)

    "make pretty, embellish," especially in a petty, finical way, by the excessive or fanciful use of ornamentation, 1836, from pretty (adj.) + -fy. Related: Prettified; prettifying.ETD prettify (v.).2

    prettily (adv.)

    mid-15c., pratili, "skillfully, in a cunning manner" (a sense now obsolete), also "in a way that pleases the eye, with neatness and taste, beautifully but not grandly," from pretty (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD prettily (adv.).2


    1885 as an adjective, 1888 as a noun, "foppish or effeminate man," often shading into "male homosexual," from pretty (adj.) + boy (n.). Sometimes ironically, "a thug, a tough." In Middle English a pretty man was "a worthy or clever fellow."ETD pretty-boy.2

    prettyish (adj.)

    "somewhat pretty," 1741, from pretty (adj.) + -ish.ETD prettyish (adj.).2

    pretzel (n.)

    1836, "small, crisp biscuit in the form of a knot, salted on the outside," from German Prezel, also Brezel, from Middle High German brezel, prezel, from Old High German brezitella, brecedela, from Medieval Latin *brachitella, presumably a kind of biscuit baked in the shape of folded arms (source also of Italian bracciatella, Old Provençal brassadel), diminutive of Latin bracchiatus "with branches, with arms," from bracchium "an arm, a forearm," from Greek brakhion "an arm" (see brachio-).ETD pretzel (n.).2

    The figurative sense of "a thing much twisted" is by 1945. Soft pretzels are attested by 1893 in the German regions of Pennsylvania, but did not become widely popular until mid-20c.ETD pretzel (n.).3

    prevailing (adj.)

    1590s, "vigorous;" 1680s, "widely accepted, generally current," present-participle adjective from prevail (v.). Related: Prevailingly.ETD prevailing (adj.).2

    prevail (v.)

    c. 1400, prevailen, "be successful; be efficacious," from Old French prevaleir (Modern French prévaloir) and directly from Latin praevalere "be stronger or more able, have greater power," from prae "before" (see pre-) + valere "have power, be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong").ETD prevail (v.).2

    The spelling in English perhaps has been influenced by avail. The meaning "have or exert superior influence" is from mid-15c. (to prevail upon "succeed in persuading" is by 1570s). The sense of "be in force, be prevalent or current" is by 1776. Related: Prevailed; prevailing.ETD prevail (v.).3

    prevalent (adj.)

    early 15c., "having great power or force, controlling, ruling," from Latin praevalentem (nominative praevalens) "of superior strength; mighty," present participle of praevalere "to be more able," from prae "before" (see pre-) + valere "have power, be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong"). Meaning "widespread, extensively existing, in general use" is from 1650s.ETD prevalent (adj.).2

    prevalence (n.)

    1590s, "fact of having mastery," from French prévalence (15c.), from Medieval Latin praevalentia "superior force," from Latin praevalens, present participle of praevalere "to be more able," from prae "before" (see pre-) + valere "have power, be strong" (from PIE root *wal- "to be strong"). Meaning "condition of being widespread or general" is from 1713. Shakespeare has prevailment.ETD prevalence (n.).2

    prevarication (n.)

    late 14c., prevaricacioun, "divergence from a right course, transgression, violation of a law or commandment" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French prevaricacion "breaking of God's laws, disobedience (to the Faith)" (12c., Modern French prévarication) and directly from Latin praevaricationem (nominative praevaricatio) "duplicity, collusion, a stepping out of line (of duty or behavior)," noun of action from past-participle stem of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate," literally "walk crookedly," in Church Latin, "to transgress."ETD prevarication (n.).2

    This Latin word is from prae "before" (see pre-) + varicare "to straddle," from varicus "straddling," from varus "bowlegged, knock-kneed" (see varus). The main modern meaning "evasion, quibbling, act of deviating from truth, honesty, or plain dealing" is attested from 1650s.ETD prevarication (n.).3

    prevaricator (n.)

    c. 1400, prevaricatour, "transgressor of the law," a sense now obsolete, from Old French prevaricator and directly from Latin praevaricator "sham accuser; unfaithful advocate," agent noun from past participle stem of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate" (from the path of duty), literally "walk crookedly" (see prevaricate). "At Cambridge Univ: An orator who made a jocose or satirical speech at Commencement" [OED] (1610s). Fem. form prevaricatrice is attested from c. 1500. Main modern meaning "one who acts or speaks so as to evade the strict truth" is from 1640s.ETD prevaricator (n.).2

    prevaricate (v.)

    1580s, "to go aside from the right course or mode of action" (originally figurative, now obsolete), a back formation from prevarication or else from Latin praevaricatus, past participle of praevaricari "to make a sham accusation, deviate" (from the path of duty), literally "walk crookedly;" in Church Latin, "to transgress." The meaning "to act or speak evasively, swerve from the truth" is from 1630s. Related: Prevaricated; prevaricating.ETD prevaricate (v.).2

    prevenient (adj.)

    "coming or going before, preceding, previous," 1650s, from Latin praevenientem (nominative praeveniens), present participle of praevenire, from prae "before" (see pre-) + venire "to come" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *gwa- "to go, come"). Related: Prevenience; preveniently.ETD prevenient (adj.).2

    The earliest sense is theological, in prevenient grace (c.1600), where it means either "antecedent to human action," specifically "preventive, hindering." A verb prevene "to come or go before" is attested in English by mid-15c., but is archaic or obsolete.ETD prevenient (adj.).3

    prevent (v.)

    early 15c., preventen, "act in anticipation of, act sooner or more quickly than (another)," from Latin praeventus, past participle of praevenire "come before, anticipate, hinder," in Late Latin also "to prevent," from prae "before" (see pre-) + venire "to come" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *gwa- "to go, come").ETD prevent (v.).2

    Originally in the literal classical meaning. The meaning "keep from existing or occurring" is by 1540s; the sense of "anticipate to hinder, hinder from action by opposition of obstacles" was in Latin but is not recorded in English until 1660s.ETD prevent (v.).3

    preventable (adj.)

    "that can be prevented or hindered," 1630s, from prevent + -able. Related: Preventability.ETD preventable (adj.).2

    preventative (adj.)

    "serving to prevent or hinder," 1650s, from prevent + -ative. An irregular formation; preventive is more correct. As a noun from 1774.ETD preventative (adj.).2

    prevention (n.)

    mid-15c., prevencioun, "action of stopping an event or practice," from Medieval Latin preventionem (nominative preventio) "action of anticipating; a going before," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin praevenire "come or go before, anticipate" (see prevent). Original sense in English now is obsolete; the meaning "act of hindering or rendering impossible by previous measures" is from 1660s.ETD prevention (n.).2

    preventive (adj.)

    "serving to prevent or hinder; guarding against or warding off," 1630s, from Latin praevent-, past-participle stem of praevenire "come or go before, anticipate" (see prevent), + -ive. As a noun, "something taken or done beforehand," from 1630s; in medical use from 1670s. Related: Preventively; preventiveness.ETD preventive (adj.).2

    preverbal (adj.)

    also pre-verbal, "prior to or present before the development of speech," 1931, from pre- "before" + verbal.ETD preverbal (adj.).2

    preview (n.)

    "a foretaste," 1880, from preview (v.); specifically "a showing of a book, film, etc. before public release" by 1920.ETD preview (n.).2

    preview (v.)

    c. 1600, "to see beforehand," from pre- "before" + view (v.). Marked "rare" in Century Dictionary (1895). The meaning "to show (a film, etc.) before its public opening" is from 1928. Related: Previewed; previewing.ETD preview (v.).2

    previous (adj.)

    "going before in time, being or occurring before something else," 1620s, from Latin praevius "going before," from prae "before" (see pre-) + via "road" (see via). Related: Previously.ETD previous (adj.).2

    In parliamentary practice, previous question is the question whether a vote shall be taken on the main issue or not, brought forward before the main question is put by the Speaker.ETD previous (adj.).3

    prevision (n.)

    early 15c., previsioun, "foresight," from Old French prévision (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin previsionem (nominative previsio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin praevidere "see first, see beforehand," from prae "before" (see pre-) + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). A verb previse "foresee; cause to foresee" is attested in English from 1590s, from the Latin past participle.ETD prevision (n.).2

    prex (n.)

    U.S. college slang for president (of a college), 1828. As a Latin verb, it meant "a request, entreaty."ETD prex (n.).2

    prexy (n.)

    1871, college slang, an extension or diminutive of prex.ETD prexy (n.).2

    prez (n.)

    slang shortening of president, 1892, American English. Compare prex.ETD prez (n.).2


    prī-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to love." In some languages (notably Germanic and Celtic) it developed derivatives with the sense "free, not in bondage," perhaps via "beloved" or "friend" being applied to the free members of one's clan (as opposed to slaves).ETD *pri-.2

    It forms all or part of: afraid; affray; filibuster; Frederick; free; freebooter; freedom; friend; Friday; Frigg; Godfrey; Geoffrey; Siegfried; Winfred.ETD *pri-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit priyah "own, dear, beloved," priyate "loves;" Old Church Slavonic prijati "to help," prijatelji "friend;" Welsh rhydd "free;" Old English freo "exempt from; not in bondage, acting of one's own will," Gothic frijon "to love," Old English freod "affection, friendship, peace," friga "love," friðu "peace," Old Norse Frigg, name of the wife of Odin, literally "beloved" or "loving."ETD *pri-.4

    priapic (adj.)

    "phallic; of or relating to the cult and myths of Priapus," 1786, with -ic + Priapus (Greek Priapos), son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, the god who personified male reproductive power. His name is of unknown origin. Earlier was Priapean (1690s).ETD priapic (adj.).2

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