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    protuberance (n.) — pseudo-scientific (adj.)

    protuberance (n.)

    1640s, "a swelling tumor on the body; anything swelled or pushed beyond the surrounding or adjacent surface," from Late Latin protuberantem (nominative protuberans), present participle of protuberare "to swell, bulge, grow forth," from Latin pro "forward" (see pro-) + tuber "lump, swelling" (from PIE root *teue- "to swell"). Meaning "fact or condition of swelling or pushing beyond the surrounding or adjacent surface" is by 1680s. Related: Protuberancy.ETD protuberance (n.).2

    protuberant (adj.)

    "prominent beyond the surrounding surface," 1640s, from French protubérant (16c.) and directly from Late Latin protuberantem (nominative protuberans), present participle of protuberare "to swell, bulge, grow forth," from Latin pro "forward" (see pro-) + tuber "lump, swelling" (from PIE root *teue- "to swell"). Related: Protuberantly.ETD protuberant (adj.).2

    protuberate (v.)

    "bulge out, swell beyond the adjacent surface," 1570s, from Late Latin protuberatus, past participle of protuberare "to swell, bulge, grow forth" (see protuberant). Related: Protuberated; protuberating; protuberation.ETD protuberate (v.).2

    proud (n.)

    "proud or haughty person or persons," late Old English, from proud (adj.).ETD proud (n.).2

    proudness (n.)

    "pride, arrogance; the sin of Pride," early 15c., proudnesse; see proud (adj.) + -ness.ETD proudness (n.).2

    proud (adj.)

    late Old English prud, prute "excellent, splendid; arrogant, haughty, having or cherishing a high opinion of one's own merits; guilty of the sin of Pride," from Old French prud, oblique case of adjective prouz "brave, valiant" (11c., Modern French preux; compare prud'homme "brave man"), from Late Latin prode "advantageous, profitable" (source also of Italian prode "valiant"), a back-formation from Latin prodesse "be useful."ETD proud (adj.).2

    This is a compound of pro- "before, for, instead of" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first, chief") + esse "to be" (from PIE root *es- "to be"). Also see pride (n.), prowess. "The -d- in prodesse is probably due to the influence of forms like red-eo-, 'I go back,' red-imo- 'I buy back,' etc." [OED]. The Old English form with -te probably is from or influenced by pride (Old English pryto).ETD proud (adj.).3

    Meaning "elated by some act, fact, or thing" is from mid-13c. The sense of "of fearless or untamable spirit" is by c. 1400; that of "ostentatious, grand, giving reason for pride" is by mid-14c. To do (someone) proud is attested by 1819. The surname Proudfoot is attested from c. 1200 (Prudfot). A Middle English term for "drunk and belligerent" was pitcher-proud (early 15c.).ETD proud (adj.).4

    The sense of "having a high opinion of oneself," not found in Old French, might reflect the Anglo-Saxons' opinion of the Norman knights who called themselves "proud." Old Norse pruðr, either from the same French source or borrowed from Old English, had only the sense "brave, gallant, magnificent, stately" (compare Icelandic pruður, Middle Swedish prudh, Middle Danish prud).ETD proud (adj.).5

    Likewise a group of "pride" words in the Romance languages — such as French orgueil, Italian orgoglio, Spanish orgullo — are borrowings from Germanic, where they had positive senses (Old High German urgol "distinguished").ETD proud (adj.).6

    Most Indo-European languages use the same word for "proud" in its good and bad senses, but in many the bad sense seems to be the earlier one. The usual way to form the word is by some compound of terms for "over" or "high" and words for "heart," "mood," "thought," or "appearance;" such as Greek hyperephanos, literally "over-appearing;" Gothic hauhþuhts, literally "high-conscience." Old English had ofermodig "over-moody" ("mood" in Anglo-Saxon was a much more potent word than presently) and heahheort "high-heart."ETD proud (adj.).7

    Words for "proud" in other Indo-European languages sometimes reflect a physical sense of being swollen or puffed up; such as Welsh balch, probably from a root meaning "to swell," and Modern Greek kamari, from ancient Greek kamarou "furnish with a vault or arched cover," with a sense evolution via "make an arch," to "puff out the chest," to "be puffed up" (compare English slang chesty).ETD proud (adj.).8

    proud (adv.)

    early 14c., "proudly, haughtily," from proud (adj.).ETD proud (adv.).2

    proudly (adv.)

    late Old English prutlice "arrogantly, haughtily;" from proud (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "with lofty mien or conscious honor" is attested by 1753.ETD proudly (adv.).2

    provable (adj.)

    late 14c., "approvable, worthy of praise or admiration" (a sense now obsolete); c. 1400, "that can be proved, capable of being demonstrated," from Old French provable, from prover "show; convince; put to the test" (see prove (v.)). Related: Provably; provability; provableness.ETD provable (adj.).2

    prove (v.)

    c. 1200, prēven, pruven, proven "to try by experience or by a test or standard; evaluate; demonstrate in practice," from Old French prover, pruver "show; convince; put to the test" (11c., Modern French prouver), from Latin probare "to make good; esteem, represent as good; make credible, show, demonstrate; test, inspect; judge by trial" (source also of Spanish probar, Italian probare, and English probe), from probus "worthy, good, upright, virtuous."ETD prove (v.).2

    This is from PIE *pro-bhwo- "being in front," from *pro-, extended form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of," + root *bhu- "to be," source also of Latin fui "I have been," futurus "about to be;" Old English beon "to be;" see be.ETD prove (v.).3

    From early 13c. as "render certain, put out of doubt," also "establish the validity or authenticity of a will, etc." By c. 1300 as "test and find worthy, virtuous, false, etc.," also "find out, discover, ascertain; prove by argument." By mid-14c. as "check the accuracy of." The meaning "be found to be (a hero, coward, etc.) by experience or trial" is by late 14c.ETD prove (v.).4

    The word had many more senses and broader application in Middle English than Modern English: "to experience; to strive, endeavor; act, accomplish; thrive, succeed." Also in Middle English in a now-obsolete sense of "approve, sanction, praise" (c. 1300; compare approve). Related: Proved; proven; proving. Proving ground "place used for firing cannons for making ballistics tests and testing powder" is by 1837.ETD prove (v.).5

    provection (n.)

    1650s, "advancement" (a sense now obsolete); 1868 in the philological sense "carrying of the final letter of a word into the next one" (as in newt), from Late Latin provectionem (nominative provectio) "advancement," noun of action from past-participle stem provehere "to carry forward," from pro "toward, ahead" (see pro-) + vehere "to carry" (from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move, transport in a vehicle"). Middle English had a verb provecten "to advance (someone), exalt" (mid-15c.), from Latin provectus, past participle of provehere.ETD provection (n.).2


    also providore, "one who provides necessities and supplies," 1570s, from Portuguese provedor, Spanish proveedor "a provider, purveyor," perhaps via Venetian dialect, from an agent noun from verbs rooted in Latin providere (see provide). English had the word as well in a now-obsolete form proveditor (1580s), from Italian proveditore.ETD provedore.2

    provenance (n.)

    "origin, source or quarter from which anything comes," 1785, from French provenance "origin, production," from provenant, present participle of provenir "come forth, arise, originate," from Latin provenire "come forth, originate, appear, arise," from pro "forth" (see pro-) + venire "to come" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *gwa- "to go, come"). Often in italics well into 19c.; the English form is provenience.ETD provenance (n.).2

    proven (adj.)

    "tried and proved," 1650s, adjective from alternative (strong) past participle, originally in Scottish legal use, of prove (v.). In this sense, Middle English had preved ("proved"), c. 1300.ETD proven (adj.).2

    Provencal (adj.)

    "pertaining or belonging to Provence," the former province of southeastern France, 1580s, from French Provençal, from Provence (see Provence). As a name of the region's Romanic language (the dialect of the troubadours), from 1640s. In reference to a style of cooking, attested from 1841. Sometimes also Provencial; Middle English had Provinciales "men from Provence" (early 14c.).ETD Provencal (adj.).2


    region and former province of southeast France, from French Provence, from Latin provincia "province" (see province); the southern part of ancient Gaul technically was the province of Gallia Narbonensis, but it came under Roman rule long before the rest of Gaul and as the Romans considered it the province par excellence they familiarly called it (nostra) provincia "our province."ETD Provence.2

    provender (n.)

    c. 1300, provendre, "allowance paid each chapter member of a cathedral," from Anglo-French provendir, Old French provendier "provider; recipient, beneficiary," from Gallo-Roman *provenda, altered (by influence of Latin providere "supply") from Late Latin praebenda "allowance, subsistence," from Latin praebenda "(things) to be furnished," neuter plural gerundive of praebere "to furnish, offer," from prae "before" (see pre-) + habere "to hold" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive"). Meaning "food, provisions, etc." (especially dry food for horses or other domesticated beasts) is recorded from mid-14c.ETD provender (n.).2

    provenience (n.)

    "origin, place from which something comes," 1881, a Latinization of provenance, or else from Latin provenientem (nominative proveniens), present participle of provenire "come forth" (see provenance). "Preferred to PROVENANCE by those who object to the French form of the latter" [OED].ETD provenience (n.).2

    proverb (n.)

    c. 1300, in boke of Prouerbyys, the Old Testament work, from Old French proverbe (12c.) and directly from Latin proverbium "a common saying, old adage, maxim," literally "words put forward," from pro "forth" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward") + verbum "word" (see verb). Hence, in the Scriptural sense, "an enigmatical utterance; a mysterious or oracular saying that requires interpretation."ETD proverb (n.).2

    Used generally from c. 1300 in reference to native sayings, "short pithy sentence, often repeated colloquially, expressing a well-known truth or a common fact ascertained by experience or observation; a popular saying which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical precept; an adage; a wise saw: often set forth in the guise of metaphor and in the form of rime, and sometimes alliterative" [Century Dictionary].ETD proverb (n.).3

    By late 14c. as "byword, reproach, object of scorn." The Book of Proverbs in Old English was cwidboc, from cwide "speech, saying, proverb, homily," related to cwiddian "to talk, speak, say, discuss;" cwiddung "speech, saying, report."ETD proverb (n.).4

    proverbial (adj.)

    "pertaining to or resembling proverbs; mentioned in a proverb," late 15c., from Late Latin proverbialis "pertaining to a proverb," from proverbium (see proverb). Related: Proverbially (early 15c.).ETD proverbial (adj.).2

    provider (n.)

    "one who provides, furnishes, or supplies," 1520s, agent noun from provide.ETD provider (n.).2

    provide (v.)

    early 15c., providen, "make provision for the future; arrange, plan; take care, relieve of needs, supply the needs of," from Latin providere "look ahead, prepare, supply, act with foresight," from pro "ahead" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward") + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Related: Provided; providing. Earlier in same sense was its doublet purvey, which is from the same Latin verb, deformed in Old French (pourvoir).ETD provide (v.).2

    provident (adj.)

    c. 1400, "prudent, foreseeing wants and making provision to supply them," from Old French provident and directly from Latin providentem (nominative providens) "foreseeing, prudent," present participle of providere "to foresee" (see provide). By 1590s as "frugal, economical."ETD provident (adj.).2

    providence (n.)

    late 14c., "foresight, prudent anticipation, timely care or preparation," from Old French providence "divine providence, foresight" (12c.) and directly from Latin providentia "foresight, precaution, foreknowledge," abstract noun from present-participle stem of providere "look ahead, prepare, supply, act with foresight," which is from pro "ahead" (see pro-) + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see").ETD providence (n.).2

    Providence (usually capitalized) "God as beneficent caretaker of his creatures," is recorded c. 1600, from earlier use of the word for "God's beneficent care, guardianship, or guidance" (late 14c., short for divine providence, etc.). The noun in classical Latin occasionally was used as the name of a goddess and in Late Latin as "God; the government of the world by God's infinite wisdom and foresight."ETD providence (n.).3

    provided (conj.)

    "with or on condition that; this (or it) being understood, conceded, or established," early 15c., conjunction use of past participle of provide. As an adjective, "destined" (early 15c.); "prepared, ready" (1570s); "furnished" (1878).ETD provided (conj.).2

    providential (adj.)

    1610s, "pertaining to foresight" (implied in providentially); 1640s as "pertaining to divine providence," from Latin providentia "foresight, precaution, foreknowledge" (see providence) + -al (1). Meaning "by divine interposition, effected by the providence of God" is recorded from 1719. Related: Providentially.ETD providential (adj.).2

    province (n.)

    mid-14c., "country, territory, region, political or administrative division of a country," from Old French province "province, part of a country; administrative region for friars" (13c.) and directly from Latin provincia "territory outside Italy under Roman domination," also "a public office; public duty," a word of uncertain origin. It commonly is explained as pro- "before" + vincere "to conquer" (from nasalized form of PIE root *weik- (3) "to fight, conquer"); but this does not suit the earliest Latin usages. Compare Provence. Meaning "one's particular business or expertise" is from 1620s.ETD province (n.).2

    provincial (adj.)

    late 14c., "pertaining to a province," originally ecclesiastical, in reference to the jurisdiction of an archbishop or the districts of orders of friars, from Old French provincial "belonging to a particular province (of friars)" (13c.), from Latin provincialis "of a province," from provincia (see province).ETD provincial (adj.).2

    Meaning "of the small towns and countryside" (as opposed to the capital and urban center) is from 1630s, a borrowed idiom from French, transferred from sense of "particular to the province," hence "local." Suggestive of rude, petty, or narrow society ("characteristic of or exhibiting the manners of the inhabitants of small towns and the countryside") by 1755. Classical Latin provincialis seems not to have had this tinge. In British use, with reference to the American colonies, from 1680s.ETD provincial (adj.).3

    provincialism (n.)

    1820 in the political sense, "local attachment as opposed to national unity," from provincial + -ism. Meaning "a certain narrowness of localism of thought or interest; lack of polish or enlightenment," reflecting manners or modes of a certain province or of provinces generally (as opposed to the big city or the capital) is by 1836. Sense of "a local word or usage or expression" is from 1770.ETD provincialism (n.).2

    provincial (n.)

    late 14c., "ecclesiastical head of a province," from provincial (adj.). From mid-15c. as "native or inhabitant of a province," from province or from Latin provincialis. from 1711 as "country person." Also from c. 1500 as the name of a variety of backgammon.ETD provincial (n.).2

    provinciality (n.)

    "quality or condition of being provincial," 1759, from provincial + -ity.ETD provinciality (n.).2

    provision (n.)

    late 14c., provisioun, "foresight, prudence, care;" also "a providing beforehand, action of arranging in advance" (at first often in reference to ecclesiastical appointments made before the position was vacant), from Old French provision "precaution, care" (early 14c.), from Latin provisionem (nominative provisio) "a foreseeing, foresight, preparation, prevention," noun of action from past-participle stem of providere "look ahead" (see provide).ETD provision (n.).2

    The meaning "something provided, supply of necessary things" is attested from mid-15c.; specific sense of "supply of food" (provisions) is by c. 1600. In law, "a stipulation, a distinct clause in a statute, etc.; a rule or principle," late 15c. A provision-car (by 1864) was a railroad car with refrigeration for preserving perishable products during transportation.ETD provision (n.).3

    provision (v.)

    "to supply with things necessary," especially a store of food, 1787, from provision (n.). Related: Provisioned; provisioning.ETD provision (v.).2

    provisions (n.)

    "supply of food," c. 1600; see provision.ETD provisions (n.).2

    provisional (adj.)

    "as a temporary arrangement, provided for present need or occasion," c. 1600, from provision (n.) + -al (1), or else from French provisionnal (15c.), from provision. The notion is of something that will "provide for present needs." Related: Provisionally.ETD provisional (adj.).2

    provisioner (n.)

    "one who furnishes provisions or supplies," 1814, agent noun from provision (v.).ETD provisioner (n.).2

    proviso (n.)

    "a clause making what precedes conditional on what follows, a stipulation, a special exception to the general terms of a legislative act," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin proviso (quod) "provided (that)," the original Latin wording of the usual phrase at the beginning of clauses in legal documents (mid-14c.), from Latin proviso "it being provided," ablative neuter of provisus, past participle of providere (see provide). Related: Provisory.ETD proviso (n.).2

    provocative (adj.)

    mid-15c., "eliciting," from Old French provocatif (15c.) and directly from Late Latin provocativus "calling forth," from provocat-, past-participle stem of Latin provocare (see provoke). Specifically "serving or tending to excite or stimulate sexual desire" from 1620s. Related: Provocatively; provocativeness. The earliest appearance of the word in English is as a noun meaning "an aphrodisiac" (early 15c.).ETD provocative (adj.).2

    provocation (n.)

    c. 1400, provocacioun, "incitement, urging," from Old French provocacion (12c.) and directly from Latin provocationem (nominative provocatio) "a calling forth, a summoning, a challenge," noun of action from past-participle stem of provocare "to call out" (see provoke). Specifically "act of exciting anger or vexation" (early 15c.); the meaning "anything that excites anger, a cause of resentment" is by 1716.ETD provocation (n.).2

    provocate (v.)

    "to provoke, call forth," early 15c., provocaten, rare then and obsolete now, from Latin provocatus, past participle of provocare "to call out" (see provoke). Related: Provocated; provocating.ETD provocate (v.).2

    provocateur (n.)

    "undercover agent who commits damning or illegal acts in the name of a group, or who encourages group members to commit them so as to damage its reputation or draw down punishment from authorities," 1915 (Emma Goldman), shortened form of agent provocateur "person hired to make trouble" (1845), from French provocateur, from Latin provocator "challenger," from provocare "to call out" (see provoke).ETD provocateur (n.).2

    provoke (v.)

    late 14c., provoken, in medicine, "to induce" (sleep, vomiting, etc.), "to stimulate" (appetite), from Old French provoker, provochier (12c., Modern French provoquer) and directly from Latin provocare "call forth, challenge," from pro "forth" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward") + vocare "to call," which is related to vox (genitive vocis) "voice" (from PIE root *wekw- "to speak"). Related: Provoked; provoking. The general sense of "urge, incite, stimulate to action" is from c. 1400.ETD provoke (v.).2

    provoking (adj.)

    1520s, "that incites or instigates," present-participle adjective from provoke. Meaning "irritating, frustrating, having the power or quality of exciting resentment" is attested from 1640s. Related: Provokingly.ETD provoking (adj.).2

    provolone (n.)

    1946, from Italian, augmentative of provola "cheese made from buffalo milk," from Medieval Latin probula, a word of uncertain origin.ETD provolone (n.).2

    provost (n.)

    Old English profost, "local governor, representative of a king in a country or district," reinforced by Old French cognate provost, both from Late Latin propositus, from Latin propositus/praepositus "a chief, prefect" (source of Old Provençal probost, Old High German probost, German Propst), literally "placed before, in charge of," past participle of praeponere "put before" (see preposition).ETD provost (n.).2

    Provost marshal, "military officer who acts as head of police in a district, town, camp, etc., to preserve order and punish offenses against military discipline," is attested from 1510s.ETD provost (n.).3

    prow (n.)

    "forepart of a ship," 1550s, from French proue, from Italian (Genoese) prua, from Vulgar Latin *proda, by dissimilation from Latin prora "prow," from Greek prōira "bow of a ship," which is related to pro "before, forward," proi "early in the morning" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first").ETD prow (n.).2

    Middle English and early Modern English (and Sir Walter Scott) had prore in same sense, from Latin. Modern Italian has proda only in sense "shore, bank." Prow and poop meant "the whole ship," hence 16c.-17c. figurative use of the expression for "the whole" (of anything).ETD prow (n.).3

    prowess (n.)

    early 13c., prouesse, "an act of bravery;" c. 1300, "military bravery combined with skill in combat," from Old French proece "prowess, courage, brave deed" (Modern French prouesse), from prou, later variant of prud "brave, valiant," from Vulgar Latin *prodem (source also of Spanish proeza, Italian prodezza; see proud (adj.)). Prow was in Middle English as a noun meaning "advantage, profit," also as a related adjective ("valiant, brave"), but it has become obsolete. "In 15-17th c. often a monosyllable" [OED].ETD prowess (n.).2

    prowl (v.)

    late 14c., prollen, "rove or wander in a stealthy manner, move about in search of something," a word of unknown origin, with no known cognates. Spelling with -w- is from 1500s (compare bowls), but the word was pronounced "prôll" till late 18c. Transitive meaning "go stealthily over, as one in search of prey or plunder" is recorded by 1580s. Related: Prowled; prowling. The noun, in on the prowl, is attested from 1803.ETD prowl (v.).2

    prowling (n.)

    mid-15c., prollinge, "searching, seeking," verbal noun from prowl (v.).ETD prowling (n.).2

    prowler (n.)

    1510s, proller, "one who prowls or roves, as seeking prey," agent noun from prowl (v.).ETD prowler (n.).2

    proxemics (n.)

    "the study of social distancing in a cultural context," 1963, from proximity + emic (also see -ics). Apparently coined by U.S. anthropologist Edward T. Hall.ETD proxemics (n.).2

    proxy (n.)

    early 15c., procusie, proccy, prokecye, "agency of one who acts instead of another, office or authority of a substitute; letter of power of attorney," contraction of Anglo-French procuracie (c. 1300), from Medieval Latin procuratia "administration," from Latin procuratio "a caring for, management," from procurare "manage" (see procure). Also compare proctor (n.).ETD proxy (n.).2

    Meaning "person who is deputed to represent or act for another" is from 1610s. Of things, "that which takes the place of something else," 1630s. Meaning "vote sent by a deputy" is from 1650s in a Rhode Island context. Proxy war, one started or stoked by, but not directly involving, a major power is by 1955.ETD proxy (n.).3

    proximal (adj.)

    1727, "nearest, next," from Latin proximus "nearest, next" (see proximity) + -al (1). In biological sciences, "situated near the center of the body," 1803, opposed to distal or extremital. Related: Proximally.ETD proximal (adj.).2

    proximate (adj.)

    1590s (implied in proximately), "closely neighboring; next, immediate, without intervention of a third," from Late Latin proximatus, past participle of proximare "to draw near, approach," from proximus "nearest, next; most direct; adjoining," figuratively "latest, most recent; next, following; most faithful," superlative of prope "near" (see propinquity). Meaning "coming next in a chain of causation" is by 1660s. Related: Proximately.ETD proximate (adj.).2

    proximity (n.)

    "nearness in place, time, or relation," late 15c., proxymyte [Caxton], from French proximité "nearness" (14c.), from Latin proximitatem (nominative proximitas) "nearness, vicinity," from proximus "nearest, next; most direct; adjoining," figuratively "latest, most recent; next, following; most faithful," superlative of prope "near" (see propinquity).ETD proximity (n.).2


    in correspondence, etc., "in or of the next or coming month," noting a day in the coming month (proximo mense), Latin ablative singular of proximus "nearest, next" (see proximate). Often abbreviated prox. Compare ultimo, instant (adj.).ETD proximo.2

    Prozac (n.)

    1985, proprietary name for fluoxetine hydrochloride, developed early 1970s by Lilly Industries.ETD Prozac (n.).2

    prude (n.)

    1704, "woman who affects or upholds modesty in conduct and thought in a degree considered rigid and excessive," from French prude "excessively prim or demure woman," first recorded in Molière.ETD prude (n.).2

    Perhaps it is a false back-formation or an ellipsis of preudefemme "a discreet, modest woman," from Old French prodefame "noblewoman, gentlewoman; wife, consort," the fem. equivalent of prudhomme "a brave man" (see proud (adj.)). Or perhaps the French noun is from the French adjective prude "prudish," from Old French prude, prode, preude, which however is attested only in a laudatory sense, "good, virtuous, modest," a feminine form of the adjective preux. Also occasionally as an adjective in English 18c.; the application of the noun to a man was still considered rare at the end of 19c.ETD prude (n.).3

    prudence (n.)

    mid-14c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "intelligence; discretion, foresight; practical wisdom to see what is suitable or profitable;" also one of the four cardinal virtues, "wisdom to see what is virtuous;" from Old French prudence (13c.) and directly from Latin prudentia "a foreseeing, foresight, sagacity, practical judgment," contraction of providentia "foresight" (see providence, which is a doublet). The secondary sense of "knowledge, science" (late 14c.) is preserved in jurisprudence.ETD prudence (n.).2


    fem. proper name; see prudence.ETD Prudence.2

    prudent (adj.)

    late 14c., "wise, discerning, judicious," from Old French prudent "with knowledge, deliberate" (c. 1300) and directly from Latin prudentem (nominative prudens) "knowing, skilled, sagacious, circumspect;" rarely in literal sense "foreseeing;" contraction of providens, present participle of providere "look ahead, prepare, supply, act with foresight," from pro "ahead" (see pro-) + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see").ETD prudent (adj.).2

    The sense gradually grew to emphasize the notions of "discreet, circumspect; careful of self-interest." As a noun, "wise ones, skillful ones," late 14c. Related: Prudently.ETD prudent (adj.).3

    prudential (adj.)

    "involving or characterized by prudence," mid-15c., prudencial, from Medieval Latin prudentialis, from Latin prudentia "a foreseeing, foresight" (see prudence). Related: Prudentially.ETD prudential (adj.).2

    Prudential, the U.S. insurance company, dates to the 1870s; its logo featuring the Rock of Gibraltar dates from c. 1900 and was widely known 20c. The Prudential of Great Britain is a different company, founded 1848 to provide loans to professional and working people, noted for its door-to-door agents ("the Man from the Pru").ETD prudential (adj.).3

    prudery (n.)

    "quality or character of being prudish, extreme propriety in behavior," 1709, from prude + -ery and in part from French pruderie (Molière).ETD prudery (n.).2

    Some 20c. writers in English used an extended form prudibundery, in many cases likely for contemptuous emphasis, from French prudibonderie "prudery."ETD prudery (n.).3

    prudish (adj.)

    "having the character or manner of a prude; prim, rigid, severe," 1717, from prude (adj.) + -ish. Related: Prudishly; prudishness.ETD prudish (adj.).2

    pruinose (adj.)

    "covered with a bloom or powder so as to appear to be frosted," of fruits, etc., by 1818, from Latin pruinosus "frosted," from pruina "hoar-frost," from PIE *prus-uo- "sprinkling, drop" (source also of Sanskrit pruṣva "drop of dew, cool drop."ETD pruinose (adj.).2

    prune (v.)

    late 14c., prouynen, proinen, of a bird, "to trim the feathers with the beak;" of a person, "to dress or groom oneself carefully," from an extended or transferred sense of Old French proignier, poroindre "cut back (vines), prune" (Modern French provigner), a word of unknown origin. Compare preen, which seems to be a variant of this word that kept the original senses.ETD prune (v.).2

    The main modern sense of "lop superfluous twigs or branches from" is from 1540s, perhaps a separate borrowing of the French word. It is earlier in English in a general sense of "lop off as superfluous or injurious" (early 15c.).ETD prune (v.).3

    Perhaps [Watkins] from Gallo-Roman *pro-retundiare "cut in a rounded shape in front," from pro "forth" (see pro-) + *retundiare "round off," from Latin rotundus (see round (adj.)). Klein suggests the Old French word is from provain "layer of a vine," from Latin propago (see prop (n.1)).ETD prune (v.).4

    Related: Pruned; pruning. Pruning hook, knife with a hooked blade used for pruning plants, is from 1610s; pruning knife, knife with a curved blade, is from 1580s.ETD prune (v.).5

    prune (n.)

    mid-14c., "a plum," also "a dried plum" (c. 1200 in place name Prunhill), from Old French pronne "plum" (13c.), from Vulgar Latin *pruna, fem. singular formed from Latin pruna, neuter plural of prunum "a plum," a dissimilated borrowing of Greek proumnon, from proumnē "plum tree," a word probably, like the tree itself, of Anatolian origin and thus from a language of Asia Minor. Slang meaning "disagreeable or disliked person" is from 1895. Prune juice is from 1807.ETD prune (n.).2

    prunella (n.)

    stout textile used for men's robes and gowns, 1650s, from French prunelle, noun use of adjective meaning "plum-colored," from prunelle, diminutive of prune "plum" (see prune (n.)). In English, prunelle "small plum" is attested from mid-15c.ETD prunella (n.).2

    prurience (n.)

    "an itching or longing after something; a tendency toward lascivious thought," 1680s, from prurient + -ence. Related: Pruriency (1660s).ETD prurience (n.).2

    prurient (adj.)

    1630s, "itching," later, and now exclusively, "having an itching desire for something" (1650s), especially "lascivious, inclined to lewd thoughts," (1746), from Latin prurientem (nominative pruriens), present participle of prurire "to itch; to long for, be wanton," which is perhaps related to pruna "glowing coals" (from PIE root *preus- "to freeze; to burn;" see freeze (v.)).ETD prurient (adj.).2

    De Vaan suggests a source in PIE *preus-i-, *prus-no- "(cold and) wet; itching," source also of Welsh rhew, Breton rev, reo "frost," Sanskrit prushnuvanti "to (be)sprinkle, wet," and writes that "The meaning 'to be wet, itch' was metaphorically also applied to high temperatures, hence 'burning' in pruna." But it needn't be metaphorical: Cold damage to skin is called ice burn and the paradoxical sensation of burning when the skin contacts an extreme cold surface has long been noted. Related: Pruriently.ETD prurient (adj.).3

    pruritus (n.)

    "affection of the skin characterized by simple itching without visible eruption," 1650s, from Latin pruritus, past participle of prurire "to itch" (see prurient). The word was earlier in English via Old French in form prurite (early 15c.). Related: Pruritic.ETD pruritus (n.).2

    prushun (n.)

    "boy who travels with a tramp and begs for him," by 1893, a jargon term of unknown origin. There are contemporary slang or vernacular alterations of professional that approach it in form. His protector/owner was a jocker, which also was used as a verb.ETD prushun (n.).2

    Prussia (n.)

    region in northeastern Germany, late 14c., Prusse (late 13c. as a surname), from Medieval Latin Borussi, Prusi, Latinized forms of the native name of the Lithuanian people who lived in the bend of the Baltic before being conquered 12c. and exterminated by (mostly) German crusaders who replaced them as the inhabitants.ETD Prussia (n.).2

    Perhaps from Slavic *Po-Rus "(Land) Near the Rusi" (i.e. Russians; compare Pomerania). The German duchy of Prussia after the 17c. union with the Mark of Brandenberg became the core of the Prussian monarchy and later the chief state in the German Empire. The center of power shifted to Berlin after the union, and the old core of the state came to be known as East Prussia.ETD Prussia (n.).3


    1550s (n.), "native or inhabitant of Prussia;" 1560s (adj.), "of or pertaining to Prussia;" from Prussia + -an. In reference to the language of the earlier inhabitants of (East) Prussia, which was closely related to Lithuanian, by 1888. It was spoken between the lower Vistula and the Niemen and was extinct by the end of 17c. Prussian blue pigment (1724) came to English from French bleu de Prusse, so called for being discovered in Berlin, the Prussian capital.ETD Prussian.2

    Early German sources refer to it as Preußisches Ultra-Marin and berliner blau. Prussic acid (1790), is from French acide prussique, so called in reference to Prussian blue pigment, to which it is chemically related.ETD Prussian.3

    pry (v.2)

    "raise or move by force," 1823, from a noun meaning "large lever used to raise or move heavy things, crowbar;" an alteration of prize (as though it were a plural) in its obsolete sense of "lever" (c. 1300), from Old French prise "a taking hold, grasp" (see prize (n.2)).ETD pry (v.2).2

    pry (v.1)

    "look inquisitively, look closely or with scrutinizing curiosity," c. 1300, prien "to peer in," a word of unknown origin, perhaps related to late Old English bepriwan "to wink." Related: Pried; prying. As a noun, "act of prying, curious or close inspection," from 1750; meaning "inquisitive, intrusive person" is from 1845.ETD pry (v.1).2


    1610s, abbreviation of Latin post scriptum (see postscript).ETD P.S..2

    psalm (n.)

    "sacred poem or song," especially one expressing praise and thanksgiving, Old English psealm (West Saxon sealm; Anglian salm), partly from Old French psaume, saume, and partly from Church Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos "song sung to a harp," originally "performance on stringed instrument; a plucking of the harp" (compare psaltēs "harper"), from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, twitch" (see feel (v.)).ETD psalm (n.).2

    Used in Septuagint for Hebrew mizmor "song," especially the sort sung by David to the harp and collected in the Old Testament Book of Psalms. Related: Psalmodize. After some hesitation, the pedantic ps- spelling prevailed in English, as it has in many neighboring languages (German, French, etc.), but English is almost alone in not pronouncing the p-.ETD psalm (n.).3

    psalmist (n.)

    "writer or singer of psalms," especially in reference to David the Psalmist, c.1500 (replacing psalmistre, late 14c.), from Old French psalmiste and directly from Church Latin psalmista, from Ecclesiastical Greek psalmistēs "a composer or singer of psalms," from psalmizein "to sing psalms," from psalmos (see psalm). Related: Psalmistry.ETD psalmist (n.).2

    psalmody (n.)

    "art, act, or practice of singing or composing psalms," mid-14c., from Old French saumodie, psalmodie and directly from Medieval Latin psalmodia, from Greek psalmōdia "a singing to the harp," from psalmos "song sung to the harp" (see psalm) + odein "to sing" (see ode). Related: Psalmodic.ETD psalmody (n.).2

    psalter (n.)

    "the Book of Psalms," Middle English sauter, psauter, from Old English saltere, psaltere, Old French sautier, psaltier, and directly from Church Latin psalterium "the songs of David," in secular Latin, "stringed instrument played by twanging," from Greek psaltērion "stringed instrument, psaltery, harp," from psallein "to pluck, play on a stringed instrument" (see psalm).ETD psalter (n.).2

    psaltery (n.)

    type of ancient stringed instrument, the accompanying instrument for psalms, c. 1300, sautrie, from Old French psalterie (12c.) and directly from Latin psalterium "stringed instrument," from Greek psaltērion "stringed instrument," from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, pluck" (see psalm).ETD psaltery (n.).2

    From c. 1200 in English in Latin form salteriun. It was similar to a harp, but of different shape and means of obtaining resonance (having a sound-board behind and parallel with the strings). Related: Psalterial; psalterian.ETD psaltery (n.).3

    psammite (n.)

    "sandstone," by 1817, from Greek psammos "sand" (see sand (n.)) + -ite (1). Related: Psammitic.ETD psammite (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "sand," from Greek psammos "sand," which is related to psamathos (see sand (n.)). Related: Psammic.ETD psammo-.2

    psammophile (n.)

    "plant or animal thriving in sandy places," 1881 (in plural psammophiles, "Proceedings of the Geologists' Association," vol. vi, p. 413, London), 1870s in German and French; see psammo- "sand" + -phile "one that loves." Related: Psammophilic.ETD psammophile (n.).2

    psephocracy (n.)

    "government formed by election by ballot," by 1966, from Greek psēphizein "to vote" (properly "to vote with pebbles"), from psēphos "pebble, small stone," especially as used for counting and calculating (a word of uncertain origin, perhaps related to psammos "sand"), + -cracy "rule or government by."ETD psephocracy (n.).2

    The common method of voting in Greek cities was by dropping pebbles in different marked urns, and thus the word for "pebble" figures largely in the ancient Greek vocabulary of democracy (e.g. isopsēphos "having an equal vote"). Also a psēphados was "a juggler." Related: Psephocrat; psephocratic.ETD psephocracy (n.).3

    psephology (n.)

    "the study of voting and elections," 1952, from Greek psēphizein "to vote" (properly "to vote with pebbles," from psēphos "pebble;" see psephocracy) + -logy.ETD psephology (n.).2

    psephomancy (n.)

    "divination by means of pebbles drawn from a heap," 1727, from Greek psēphos "pebble" (a word of uncertain origin) + -mancy "divination by means of."ETD psephomancy (n.).2

    pseudepigrapha (n.)

    "books or writings of false authorship," 1620s (implied in pseudepigraphical), especially of spurious writing professing to be Biblical in character and inspired in authorship, from Modern Latin use of Greek neuter plural of pseudepigraphos "with false title," from pseudos "a lie" (see pseudo-) + epigraphē "a writing" (see epigraph).ETD pseudepigrapha (n.).2

    pseudepigraphy (n.)

    "ascription of false authorship to a book," 1842, probably via German or French, from Modern Latin pseudepigrapha (see pseudepigrapha). Related: Pseudepigraphic (1830); pseudepigraphical (1838); pseudepigraphal (1630s).ETD pseudepigraphy (n.).2

    pseudo (n.)

    late 14c., "false or spurious thing," especially "person falsely claiming divine authority," from Medieval Latin; see pseudo-. In modern use, of things, "imitated and exaggerated;" of persons, "pretentious, insincere," from 1945; as a noun in the modern sense from 1959. Related: Pseudish.ETD pseudo (n.).2


    often before vowels pseud-, word-forming element meaning "false; feigned; erroneous; in appearance only; resembling," from Greek pseudo-, combining form of pseudēs "false, lying; falsely; deceived," or pseudos "falsehood, untruth, a lie," both from pseudein "to tell a lie; be wrong, break (an oath)," also, in Attic, "to deceive, cheat, be false," but often regardless of intention, a word of uncertain origin. Words in Slavic and Armenian have been compared; by some scholars the Greek word is connected with *psu- "wind" (= "nonsense, idle talk"); Beekes suggests Pre-Greek origin.ETD pseudo-.2

    Productive in compound formation in ancient Greek (such as pseudodidaskalos "false teacher," pseudokyon "a sham cynic," pseudologia "a false speech," pseudoparthenos "pretended virgin"), it began to be used with native words in later Middle English with a sense of "false, hypocritical" (pseudoclerk "deceitful clerk;" pseudocrist "false apostle;" pseudoprest "heretical priest;" pseudoprophete; pseudofrere) and has been productive since then; the list of words in it in the OED print edition runs to 13 pages. In science, indicating something deceptive in appearance or function.ETD pseudo-.3

    pseudocide (n.)

    "pretended suicide attempt," 1959, from pseudo- + ending abstracted from suicide. Related: Pseudocidal.ETD pseudocide (n.).2

    pseudodox (n.)

    "false but common opinion, a vulgar error," 1610s, from Greek pseudodoxos "holding a false opinion," from pseudes "false" (see pseudo-) + doxa "opinion" (from dokein "to seem;" from PIE root *dek- "to take, accept"). Related: Pseudodoxal.ETD pseudodox (n.).2

    pseudograph (n.)

    "writing falsely ascribed to someone," 1828 (in German from 1809), from Late Latin pseudographus, from Greek pseudographos "writer of falsehoods," from pseudo- (see pseudo-) + graphos "(something) drawn or written" (see -graphy). Pseudography was in English from 1570s with a sense of "bad spelling; incorrect system or method of graphic representation."ETD pseudograph (n.).2

    pseudomorph (n.)

    "irregular form," especially in mineralogy, 1838, earlier in German and French, from pseudo- "false, deceptive" + Greek morphē "form," a word of uncertain etymology. Related: Pseudomorphic.ETD pseudomorph (n.).2

    pseudonymous (adj.)

    "bearing a false name," 1706, from Modern Latin pseudonymus, from Greek pseudōnymos "falsely named, falsely called" (see pseudonym). Related: Pseudonymously.ETD pseudonymous (adj.).2

    pseudonym (n.)

    "false name," especially a fictitious name assumed by an author to conceal identity, 1828, in part a back-formation from pseudonymous, in part from German pseudonym and French pseudonyme (adj.), from Greek pseudōnymos "having a false name, under a false name," from pseudēs "false" (see pseudo-) + onyma, Aeolic dialectal variant of onoma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name").ETD pseudonym (n.).2

    "Possibly a dictionary word" at first [Barnhart]. Fowler calls it "a queer out-of-the-way term for an everyday thing." Properly in reference to made-up names; the name of an actual author or person of reputation affixed to a work he or she did not write is an allonym. An author's actual name affixed to his or her own work is an autonym (1867). Related: Pseudonymity.ETD pseudonym (n.).3

    pseudopod (n.)

    type of protozoa, 1862, from Modern Latin pseudopodium (itself in English from 1854), from pseudo- + Latinized form of Greek podion, diminutive of pous "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot"). Related: Pseudopodal.ETD pseudopod (n.).2

    pseudo-science (n.)

    also pseudoscience, "a pretended or mistaken science," 1796 (the earliest reference is to alchemy), from pseudo- + science.ETD pseudo-science (n.).2

    pseudo-scientific (adj.)

    also pseudoscientific, "of the nature of or characteristic of a pseudo-science," 1816; see pseudo- + scientific; also compare pseudo-science.ETD pseudo-scientific (adj.).2

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