Larger font
Smaller font
Etymology dictionary - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    redshirt (v.) — reform (n.)

    redshirt (v.)

    "to withdraw (a player) from the varsity team to add a year to his or her eligibility," 1950, in reference to the red shirts worn by athletes on the scrimmage squad; from red (adj.1) + shirt (n.). Also as a noun, "a college athlete whose course of study is extended for the sake of sports eligibility" (by 1970). Earlier a red-shirt was "a supporter of Garibaldi" (1860s); hence, generally, "a revolutionary."ETD redshirt (v.).2

    redskin (n.)

    "North American Indian," 1690s, from red (adj.1) + skin (n.). "(Not the preferred term.)" [OED]. Red as the skin color of Native Americans is from 1580s; red man "North American Indian" is from 1580s.ETD redskin (n.).2

    redstart (n.)

    type of bird with a more or less red tail, 1560s, from red (adj.1) + start "tail," from Old English steort "tail, rump," from Proto-Germanic *stertaz (from PIE *sterd-, extended form of root *ster- (1) "stiff"). Similar formation in German Rotsterz; Dutch roodstaartje, etc.ETD redstart (n.).2

    red-streak (n.)

    type of apple prized for cider-making, 1660s, from red (adj.1) + streak (n.). So called from the color of the skin.ETD red-streak (n.).2

    redtail (n.)

    also red-tail, 1812 in reference to a type of North American hawk; earlier used of various smaller European birds with red tail feathers (1550s, compare redstart); from red (adj.1) + tail (n.). Related: Red-tailed (c. 1600).ETD redtail (n.).2

    red tape (n.)

    "official routine or formula," especially "excessive bureaucratic rigmarole," 1736, in reference to the red tape formerly used in Great Britain (and the American colonies) for binding up legal and other official documents, which is mentioned from 1690s.ETD red tape (n.).2

    reduce (v.)

    late 14c., reducen, "bring back" (to a place or state, a sense now obsolete), also "to diminish" (something), from Old French reducer (14c.), from Latin reducere "lead back, bring back," figuratively "restore, replace," from re- "back" (see re-) + ducere "bring, lead" (from PIE root *deuk- "to lead").ETD reduce (v.).2

    In Middle English largely with positive senses, including "bring back to virtue, restore to God; bring back to health." The specific meaning "bring to an inferior condition" is by 1570s; that of "bring to a lower rank" is by 1640s (military reduce to ranks is from 1802); that of "subdue by force of arms" is from 1610s. The sense of "to lower, diminish, lessen" is from 1787. Related: Reduced; reducing.ETD reduce (v.).3

    reducible (adj.)

    early 15c., "capable of being converted into or derived from," from Medieval Latin reducibilis (see reduce + -ible), and compare Old French redusible.ETD reducible (adj.).2

    reduction (n.)

    early 15c., reduccioun, "a restoring to a former state" (a sense now obsolete), also "a conquest or subjugation" (of a people, etc.), from Old French reducion (13c., Modern French réduction) and directly from Latin reductionem (nominative reductio) "a leading back, restoration," noun of action from past-participle stem of reducere (see reduce). The meaning "diminution, a lessening" is from 1670s; chemical sense of "reversion to a simpler form" is from 1660s.ETD reduction (n.).2

    reductive (adj.)

    1630s, "that reduces; having the property, power, or effect of reducing;" 1650s, "that leads or brings back" (now especially in psychology), from Medieval Latin reductivus, from reduct-, past participle stem of Latin reducere "lead back, bring back," figuratively "restore, replace" (see reduce). Related: Reductively.ETD reductive (adj.).2

    reductio ad absurdum

    Latin, literally "reduction to the absurd." Absurdum is neuter of absurdus. See reduction + absurd. The tactic is useful and unobjectionable in proofs in geometry.ETD reductio ad absurdum.2

    reductionism (n.)

    1948, in philosophy, from reduction in specialized sense in philosophy (1914) + -ism. Related: Reductionist.ETD reductionism (n.).2

    reductionist (n.)

    1861 and after, "one who favors reduction" in various senses, from reduction + -ist. Philosophical sense, related to reductionism, is from 1934. Related: Reductionistic.ETD reductionist (n.).2

    redundant (adj.)

    "superfluous, exceeding what is natural or necessary," c. 1600, from Latin redundantem (nominative redundans), present participle of redundare, literally "overflow, pour over; be over-full;" figuratively "be in excess," from re- "again" (see re-) + undare "rise in waves," from unda "a wave" (from PIE *unda-, nasalized form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet").ETD redundant (adj.).2

    Also sometimes in 17c. in a more positive sense, "abounding to excess or fullness, exuberant, plentiful," e.g. in "Paradise Lost," though what he meant by it here is anyone's guess:ETD redundant (adj.).3

    Of persons, in employment situations by 1928, chiefly British. Related: Redundantly. As a verb, redund has been tried at least once (1904); the etymological corresponding verb is the Frenchified redound.ETD redundant (adj.).4

    redundancy (n.)

    c. 1600, "condition of superfluity, overabundance;" see redundant + -ancy. The meaning "that which is redundant" is by 1630s; the sense in employment ("superfluous jobs, jobs in excess of what are necessary") is by 1931, chiefly British.ETD redundancy (n.).2

    redundance (n.)

    1610s, "superfluity, overabundance," from Latin redundantia "an overflowing, superfluity, excess," from redundare "overflow, pour over; be in excess" (see redundant). Meaning "that which is redundant" emerged by 1788.ETD redundance (n.).2

    reduplication (n.)

    early 15c., "a turn back, a bend," a sense now obsolete; 1580s, "act of redoubling or repeating; state of being reduplicated," from French réduplication (16c.) and directly from Medieval Latin reduplicationem (nominative reduplicatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of reduplicare "to redouble," from re- "back, again" (see re-) + Latin duplicare "to double" (see duplicate (adj.)).ETD reduplication (n.).2

    From 1640s as "act of reduplicating, doubling, or repeating;" specifically in philology, "repetition of a syllable or part of a syllable," by 1774.ETD reduplication (n.).3

    reduplicate (v.)

    "to double again, multiply, repeat," 1560s, from Medieval Latin reduplicatus, past participle of reduplicare "to redouble," from re- "back, again" (see re-) + Latin duplicare "to double" (see duplicate (adj.)). In philology, "to repeat or double, as a syllable or the initial part of a syllable (usually a root syllable)," by 1832. Related: Reduplicated; reduplicating; reduplicative; reduplicature.ETD reduplicate (v.).2

    redux (adj.)

    "restored, brought back," as from a distance, captivity, etc., Latin redux "that leads or brings back; led or brought back," from reducere (see reduce). In book titles at least since 1662 (Dryden, "Astraea Redux," written on the restoration of Charles II).ETD redux (adj.).2

    redware (n.)

    also red ware, a term used of several type of pottery since at least 1690s, from red (adj.1) + ware (n.). It also was a dialectal word for a type of seaweed.ETD redware (n.).2

    redwood (n.)

    also red-wood, 1610s, "wood that has a red hue," from red (adj.1) + wood (n.). Of various types of New World trees that yield such wood, from 1716; specifically the California Sequoia sempervirens from 1819. In Scottish English 16c.-18c. the same word as an adjective meant "completely deranged, raving, stark mad," from wood (adj.).ETD redwood (n.).2

    reebok (n.)

    South African antelope, 1775, from Dutch form of roebuck.ETD reebok (n.).2

    re-echo (v.)

    "to echo back, sound back or reverberate again," 1580s, from re- "back, again" + echo (v.). Related: Re-echoed; re-echoing.ETD re-echo (v.).2

    reed (n.)

    "tall, broad-leafed grass growing on the margins of streams or in other wet places," Middle English rēd, rede, from Old English hreod "reed, rush," from Proto-Germanic *kreut- "reed" (source also of Old Saxon hraid, Old Frisian hriad, Middle Dutch ried, Dutch riet, Old High German hriot, German Ried), with no known cognates beyond Germanic.ETD reed (n.).2

    Meaning "musical pipe made from a reed stem" is from late 14c. (reed-pipe is from c. 1300). As part of the mouthpiece of a musical instrument it is attested from 1520s. Meaning "a reed instrument" is from 1838. Figuratively, as a type of frailty, etc., from early 13c.ETD reed (n.).3

    reedy (adj.)

    late 14c., "full of reeds; made of reed," from reed + -y (2), or from Old English hreodig. Of tones, from 1811 in reference to musical reeds. Related: Reediness.ETD reedy (adj.).2

    re-educate (v.)

    also reeducate, "to educate anew or again," 1808, from re- "again" + educate (v.). "Now often spec. with the object of changing political beliefs or social behavior," according to OED 2nd ed., which carries a citation in this sense from 1947. Related: Re-educated; re-educating; re-education.ETD re-educate (v.).2

    reef (n.1)

    "low, narrow rock ridge underwater," 1580s, riffe, probably via Dutch riffe, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse rif "ridge in the sea; reef in a sail," literally "rib" (see rib (n.)). Also extended to the low islands formed by coral debris or to any extensive elevation of the bottom of the sea.ETD reef (n.1).2

    reef (n.2)

    "horizontal section of sail rolled or folded" to reduce the area exposed to the wind, late 14c., rif (mid-14c. in rif-rope "rope used in tying down a reef"), from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse rif "reef of a sail," probably a transferred use of rif "ridge under the sea; rib" (see rib (n.) and compare reef (n.1)). German reff, Swedish ref, Norwegian riv, Danish reb likely all are from the Old Norse word.ETD reef (n.2).2

    reef (v.)

    1660s, "take in, roll up" (a section of a ship's sail or something like it, t reduce the extent of it), from reef (n.2). Later also in a general sense of "gather up stuff" of any kind (1836), hence the criminal slang sense of "to pick" (a pocket). Related: Reefed; reefing.ETD reef (v.).2

    reefer (n.)

    "marijuana cigarette," 1920s, perhaps an alteration of Mexican Spanish grifo "marijuana, drug addict" [OED]; or perhaps from reef (v.), on resemblance to a rolled sail. It also meant "pickpocket" in criminal slang (by 1935), and Century Dictionary also has it as "oyster that grows on reefs in the wild."ETD reefer (n.).2

    Reefer also was a nickname for the sailing navy's equivalent to a midshipman (1818) "because they attend in the tops during the operation of reefing" [Century Dictionary], which is the source of the meaning "coat of a nautical cut" (1878) worn by sailors and fishermen "but copied for general use in the fashions of 1888-90" [CD].ETD reefer (n.).3

    reek (n.)

    Middle English reke "smoke, fumes; steam, vapor," from Old English rec (Anglian), riec (West Saxon), "smoke from burning material," probably from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse reykr, Danish rǿg, Swedish rök "smoke, steam."ETD reek (n.).2

    These are reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *raukiz (source also of Old Frisian rek, Middle Dutch rooc, Old High German rouh, German Rauch, Icelandic reykr "smoke, steam"), from PIE *reug- "to vomit, belch;" also "smoke, cloud."ETD reek (n.).3

    The sense of "stench" is attested 1650s via the notion of "that which rises" (compare reek (v.)). Century Dictionary (1891) marks the word "Obsolete, archaic, or Scotch." According to OED, "As the word has chiefly survived in northern use the palatalized form reech is comparatively rare." A c. 1250 document refers to the period March-April as Reke-fille "the misty month."ETD reek (n.).4

    reek (v.)

    Middle English reken "to emit smoke," of smoke or stench, "to rise," from Old English recan (Anglian), reocan (West Saxon) "emit smoke," from Proto-Germanic *reukan (source also of Old Frisian reka "smoke," Middle Dutch roken, Dutch rieken "to smoke," Old High German riohhan "to smoke, steam," German rauchen "to smoke," riechen "to smell"); from the same source as the nouns (see reek (n.)).ETD reek (v.).2

    Originally a strong verb, with past tense reac, past participle gereocen, but occasionally showing weak conjugation in Old English. Meaning "to emit a bad smell" is recorded from 1710 via sense "be heated and perspiring" (early 15c.). Related: Reeked; reeking.ETD reek (v.).3

    reeky (adj.)

    early 15c., reki, "smoky, steamy, vaporous; giving off rank, offensive vapors," from reek (n.) + -y (2). The sense of "soiled with smoke" is from 1580s. Related: Reekily; reekiness.ETD reeky (adj.).2

    reel (v.2)

    late 14c., relen, "to wind on a reel, wind (yarn, thread, etc.) on a reel," from reel (n.1). Fishing sense of "wind (the line) on a reel" is from 1849.ETD reel (v.2).2

    The verbal phrase reel off "recite without pause or effort" is from 1837, perhaps an image from spinning (reel off is attested by 1801 as "wind off on a reel"), but in early 19c. it had a particular sense in silk manufacture. To reel (something) in "recover by winding on the reel after the line has been played" (1881) is an image from fishing. Related: Reeled; reeling.ETD reel (v.2).3

    reel (n.2)

    "lively Highland dance" for two or three couples, 1580s, probably a special use of reel (n.1), which had a secondary sense of "a whirl, whirling movement" (1570s) or from reel (v.1). Applied to the music for such a dance from 1590s.ETD reel (n.2).2

    reel (n.1)

    "cylinder or frame turning on an axis," especially one on which thread, yarn, string, etc. is wound after being spun, Middle English rele, from late Old English reol, hreol "reel for winding thread," from Proto-Germanic *hrehulaz; probably related to hrægel "garment," and Old Norse hræll "spindle" (from PIE *krek- "to weave, beat;" source also of Greek krokus "nap of cloth").ETD reel (n.1).2

    Specifically of the fishing rod attachment from 1726. Of a film projector apparatus from 1896, hence in movie jargon "a length of film wound on one reel" as a part of a whole motion picture. With a number (two-reeler, typical of short comedy, etc.) indicating film length (by 1912). Reel-to-reel as a type of tape deck is attested from 1958.ETD reel (n.1).3

    reel (v.1)

    late 14c., relen, "to whirl about, turn around," also "sway, swing, rock, become unsteady," probably from reel (n.1), on the notion of "spinning." The sense of "sway or stagger as a result of a blow, etc." is from late 15c. The meaning "walk in a swaying or staggering manner," as one intoxicated might, is from c. 1600. Of the mind or head "be affected by a whirling or dizzy sensation, become giddy," from 1796 (reeling, in reference to mental processes, is from mid-15c.). Related: Reeled; reeling.ETD reel (v.1).2

    reel (n.3)

    "a staggering motion," 1570s, from reel (v.1).ETD reel (n.3).2

    re-elect (v.)

    also reelect, "elect again," c. 1600, from re- "back, again" + elect (v.). Related: Re-elected; re-electing. Re-election "election a second time to the same office" is attested by 1745.ETD re-elect (v.).2

    reem (n.)

    1719, Hebrew name of an animal in the Old Testament (Job xxxix.9, etc.), now identified with the wild ox, but formerly translated in Latin as rhinoceros and in English as unicorn.ETD reem (n.).2


    1580s, transitive, "go aboard again," from re- "back, again" + embark. Transitive meaning "put on board again" is from 1610s. Related: Re-embarked; re-embarking.ETD re-embark.2

    re-emerge (v.)

    also reemerge, "to emerge again or anew," 1775; see re- "back, again" + emerge (v.). Related: Re-emerged; re-emerging; re-emergence (1801).ETD re-emerge (v.).2

    re-emphasize (v.)

    also reemphasize, "place renewed emphasis on," by 1857; see re- "back, again" + emphasize (v.). Related: Re-emphasized; re-emphasizing; re-emphasis.ETD re-emphasize (v.).2

    re-enactment (n.)

    also reenactment, 1780, "the enacting (of a law) a second time;" see re-enact + -ment.ETD re-enactment (n.).2

    re-enact (v.)

    also reenact, "enact again," 1670s, from re- "back, again" + enact. Originally especially of legislation; the general meaning "to perform again, reproduce" is attested by 1854. Related: Re-enacted; re-enacting.ETD re-enact (v.).2

    re-enactor (n.)

    1965, agent noun from re-enact (v.). Specifically, "one whose hobby or profession is to embody accurate historical presentation" by 1984, American English.ETD re-enactor (n.).2

    re-energize (v.)

    "energize anew, impart fresh energy to," 1803, from re- "back, again" + energize. Related: Re-energized; re-energizing.ETD re-energize (v.).2

    re-enforce (v.)

    also reenforce, 1580s, "to give fresh strength to," from re- "back, again" + enforce (v.). Originally of persons or military units; of buildings, structures, etc., "to strengthen by additional support," from 1883. Compare reinforce. Related: Re-enforced; re-enforcing.ETD re-enforce (v.).2

    re-enforcement (n.)

    also reenforcement, "act of re-enforcing; state of being re-enforced; that which gives fresh strength to," c. 1600, from re- "back, again" + enforcement or else formed as a noun to go with re-enforce. Compare reinforcement.ETD re-enforcement (n.).2

    re-engender (v.)

    "regenerate," 1540s; see re- "back, again" + engender. Related: Re-engendered; re-engendering.ETD re-engender (v.).2

    re-engineer (v.)

    "design and construct anew," 1944; see re- "back, again" + engineer (v.). Related: Re-engineered; re-engineering.ETD re-engineer (v.).2

    re-enlist (v.)

    also reenlist, "to enlist again," 1828, from re- "back, again" + enlist. Related: Re-enlisted; re-enlisting; re-enlistment.ETD re-enlist (v.).2

    re-enslave (v.)

    "cast again into bondage," 1650s, from re- "back, again" + enslave. Related: Re-enslaved; re-enslaving; re-enslavement.ETD re-enslave (v.).2

    re-enter (v.)

    mid-15c., reentren, "to enter (a place) again or anew," from re-, denoting "repetition of an action," + enter. By 1838 in reference to an account or record. Related: Re-entered; re-entering.ETD re-enter (v.).2

    re-entry (n.)

    also reentry, mid-15c., reentre, "act of entering again," from re- "again" + entry; probably on model of Old French rentree. Originally especially of the right to resume possession of lands or estates; specifically of spacecraft returning through the atmosphere from 1948. Re-entering as a noun is from 1630s; re-entrance (1901) was introduced as a technical term.ETD re-entry (n.).2

    re-establish (v.)

    also reestablish, "set up again or anew," late 15c. (Caxton); from re- "back, again" + establish. Related: Re-established; re-establishing; re-establishment.ETD re-establish (v.).2

    reet (adj.)

    "good, proper, excellent," 1934, jazz slang, from American English dialectal pronunciation of right (adj.1). An identical dialectal form of the word was in 19c. English as "smooth, put in order, comb (the hair)."ETD reet (adj.).2

    reeve (n.)

    "steward," Middle English reve, refe, reive, rive, from Old English gerefa "king's officer," an Anglo-Saxon official of high rank, having local jurisdiction under a king, usually charged with administration of the affairs of a town or district. A word of unknown origin and with no known cognates, it is not considered to be connected to German Graf (see margrave). Compare sheriff. In Middle English also of manorial managers (c. 1300), an agent or steward of God (late 14c.). The mid-15c. "Life of St. Norbert" calls the Devil a wikkid reue. Related: Reeveship.ETD reeve (n.).2

    re-evaluation (n.)

    also reevaluation, "a second or further evaluation," 1905, noun of action from re-evaluate.ETD re-evaluation (n.).2

    re-evaluate (v.)

    also reevaluate, "evaluate again," 1903, from re- + evaluate. Related: Re-evaluated; re-evaluating.ETD re-evaluate (v.).2

    re-examine (v.)

    also reexamine, "examine again, subject to another examination," 1590s, from re- + examine. Related: Re-examined; re-examining; re-examination.ETD re-examine (v.).2

    re-experience (v.)

    also reexperience, "experience again or anew," 1789, from re- "back, again" + experience (v.). Related: Re-experienced; re-experiencing.ETD re-experience (v.).2

    re-export (v.)

    also reexport, "export after having imported," 1680s, from re- "back, again" + export (v.). As a noun, re-exported products or goods," by 1761. Related: Re-exported; re-exporting; re-exportation.ETD re-export (v.).2


    1899 (n.), 1929 (v.); short for referee. Related: Reffed; reffing.ETD ref.2

    refashion (v.)

    "form or mold into shape anew or a second time," 1788 (implied in refashioned), from re- + fashion (v.). Related: Refashioning; refashionment.ETD refashion (v.).2

    refasten (v.)

    also re-fasten, "to fasten anew or again," 1590s, from re- "back, again" + fasten (v.). Related: Refastened; refastening.ETD refasten (v.).2

    refectory (n.)

    "dining hall," especially in a monastery, early 15c., refectori, from Medieval Latin refectorium, "place of refreshment," from past participle stem of reficere "to remake, restore," from re- (see re-) + combining form of facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD refectory (n.).2

    Middle English (and after) also had it as a verb, refeten, "to refresh, restore, feed" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French refeter, Old French refactier. Also refection "refreshment, nourishment," all ultimately from Latin. Some survive in specialized senses.ETD refectory (n.).3

    reference (n.)

    1580s, "act of referring" (some matter, to someone for consideration), from refer + -ance, or else from French référence, from Medieval Latin *referentia, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre.ETD reference (n.).2

    Meaning "direction to a book or passage" where certain information may be found is recorded from 1610s. By 1837 as "one who or that which may be referred to." The meaning "testimonial" is from 1895. Reference book , a dictionary, encyclopedia, or similar book intended to be consulted as occasion requires, dates from 1808; reference library is by 1834. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s. "By slipshod extension, the word is often now made to mean a person to whom r[eference] is permitted as a witness to character, & even a written testimonial" [Fowler, 1926]. The earlier word for "one who gives characters for people seeking employment" was referee (1862) but this word had a bad savor, of literate accomplices of professional beggars and thieves.ETD reference (n.).3

    reference (v.)

    1620s, "to assign;" as "to provide a reference to, find by reference," from 1837 (implied in referenced); from reference (n.). Related: Referencing.ETD reference (v.).2

    referent (adj.)

    "having reference," 1838, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre "to refer" (see refer). As a noun, "one who is referred to," from 1844; from 1923 as "that to which something has reference."ETD referent (adj.).2

    refer (v.)

    late 14c., referren, "to trace back (a quality, etc., to a first cause or origin), attribute, assign," from Old French referer (14c.) and directly from Latin referre "to relate, refer," literally "to carry back," from re- "back" (see re-) + ferre "to carry, bear" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children").ETD refer (v.).2

    The meaning "to commit to some authority for consideration and decision" is from mid-15c.; sense of "to direct (someone) to a book, etc." for information is from c. 1600. Related: Referred; referring.ETD refer (v.).3

    referee (n.)

    1620s, an official position, "person who examines patent applications" (see refer), a sense now obsolete. By 1660s as "one to whom any matter in question is referred for decision, an umpire." Also in legal use, "person selected under authority of law to try a case in place of the court" (1680s). Sporting use is recorded by 1820 (specifically of baseball from 1856).ETD referee (n.).2

    referee (v.)

    "preside over as a referee or umpire," 1883, originally colloquial, from referee (n.). Related: Refereed; refereeing.ETD referee (v.).2

    referendum (n.)

    1847, "a submitting of a question to the voters as a whole" (originally chiefly in reference to Switzerland, where the people have the right to decide on certain laws which have been passed by the legislature), from French or German, from Latin referendum "that which must be referred," literally "thing brought back," neuter gerundive of referre "to bring or take back" (see refer). General (non-Swiss) use is by 1882. Fowler (1926) preferred a plural referendums because referenda is "too suggestive (cf. memoranda, agenda &c.) of the correct sense—questions to be referred."ETD referendum (n.).2

    referential (adj.)

    "relating to or having reference to," 1650s, from reference (n.) on model of inferential, etc. Related: Referentially.ETD referential (adj.).2

    referral (n.)

    1920, "act of referring," from refer + -al (2). Especially to an expert or specialist, for advice (a sense attested by 1955 in social work). Earlier word was referment (1550s), and compare reference (n.).ETD referral (n.).2

    refigure (v.)

    late 14c., refiguren, "represent; represent again" (to the mind), from re- "again, back" + figure (v.) or else from Latin refigurare. Related: Refigured; refiguring; refiguration.ETD refigure (v.).2

    refill (v.)

    also re-fill, "to fill again," 1680s, from re- "back, again" + fill (v.). Related: Refilled; refilling.ETD refill (v.).2

    refill (n.)

    "an act of filling again; that which serves to refill anything," 1884, from refill (v.). Meaning "a second drink" is from 1929; by 1960 as "the renewed contents of a glass."ETD refill (n.).2

    refillable (adj.)

    "that may be filled anew, a second time, or repeatedly," by 1914, from refill (v.) + -able. Non-refillable (1896) is older.ETD refillable (adj.).2

    refinement (n.)

    1610s, "act or process of refining; state of being pure or purified," from refine + -ment. The meaning "fineness of feeling, state of being free from what is coarse or debasing" is from 1710; that of "that which proceeds from refinement or the desire to be refined, an improvement of language, taste, etc., or an alteration in them for the better" is from 1670s (Dryden). Related: Refinements.ETD refinement (n.).2

    refinance (v.)

    also re-finance, "to finance again," 1901, from re- "again" + finance (v.). Related: Refinanced; refinancing.ETD refinance (v.).2

    refined (adj.)

    1570s, "subtle;" 1580s, "elegant, cultivated;" 1590s, "purified," past-participle adjective from refine (v.). Related: Refinedly.ETD refined (adj.).2

    refine (v.)

    "to bring or reduce to a pure state or a condition of purity as full as possible," 1580s of metals; c. 1590 of manners ("purify from what is coarse, low, vulgar, inelegant, etc.;" from re-, here perhaps an intensive prefix, + obsolete fine (v.) "make fine," from fine (adj.) "delicate." Compare French raffiner, Italian raffinare, Spanish refinar. General and figurative sense is recorded from 1590s; of sugar from 1610s. Intransitive sense of "become pure" is from c. 1600. Related: Refined; refining.ETD refine (v.).2

    refinery (n.)

    "place or establishment where some substance is refined," 1727, from refine + -ery. Originally in metallurgy and sugar-making; of petroleum by 1865.ETD refinery (n.).2

    refit (v.)

    also re-fit," to fit or prepare again; get refitted," 1660s, from re- "again" + fit (v.). Originally nautical, "to restore (ships) after damages." Related: Refitted; refitting. As a noun, 1799 as "an act or instance of refitting." Earlier nouns were refitment (1706); refitting (1690s).ETD refit (v.).2

    reflect (v.)

    late 14c., reflecten, "turn or bend (something) back, reverse;" early 15c., "to divert, to turn (something) aside, deflect," from Old French reflecter (14c.), from Latin reflectere "to bend back, bend backwards, turn away," from re- "back" (see re-) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible). Of mirrors or other bodies or surfaces, "to shine back light rays or images," early 15c., later also of heat or sound. The meaning "to turn one's thoughts back on, resolve matters in the mind" is from c. 1600. Related: Reflected; reflecting.ETD reflect (v.).2

    Middle English also had a separate verb reflexen "refract (light); deflect" (early 15c.), directly from Latin reflexus, past participle of reflectere.ETD reflect (v.).3

    reflection (n.)

    late 14c., refleccioun, reflexioun, reflectioun, of surfaces or bodies, "the action of throwing back light or heat," from Old French reflexion, refleccion, and directly from Late Latin reflexionem (nominative reflexio) "a reflection," literally "a bending back," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin reflectere "to bend back, bend backwards, turn away," from re- "back" (see re-) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible).ETD reflection (n.).2

    Meaning "an image produced by the action of a mirror, etc." is from 1580s. Of the mind, "turning of the thought back upon past experiences or ideas," from 1670s. Meaning "remark made after turning back one's thought on some subject" is from 1640s. Spelling with -ct- recorded from late 14c., established 18c., by influence of the verb. OED considers the version with -x- to be "the etymological spelling," but Fowler (1926) points out that -ct- is usual in the general senses and even technical ones.ETD reflection (n.).3

    reflective (adj.)

    1620s, "throwing back rays or images, giving reflections of objects, reflecting," from reflect + -ive. From 1670s as "of or pertaining to (mental) reflection, taking cognizance of the operations of the mind." By 1820 as "having a tendency to or characterized by (mental) reflection, meditative, thoughtful." Related: Reflectively; reflectiveness.ETD reflective (adj.).2

    reflectivity (n.)

    "reflectiveness, degree to which a thing or surface reflects or is reflected," 1849, from reflective + -ity.ETD reflectivity (n.).2

    reflector (n.)

    also, less correctly, reflecter, 1660s, "one who reflects or considers;" by 1797 as "that which reflects, a surface or apparatus to reflect light or heat in a desired direction;" agent noun in Latin form from reflect. As an attachment to a vehicle, etc., from 1909. As a type of telescope, 1767.ETD reflector (n.).2

    reflex (n.)

    c. 1500, "reflection of light, image produced by reflection," from a verb reflex meaning "refract, deflect" (late 14c.; compare reflect), from Late Latin reflexus "a bending back," noun use of past participle of reflectere "to bend back, bend backwards, turn away," from re- "back" (see re-) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible). Also as an adjective (1640s), "thrown or turned backward," also of thoughts or the mind. Meaning "involuntary nerve stimulation" is recorded by 1877, short for reflex action (1833) "simple, involuntary action of the nervous system."ETD reflex (n.).2

    reflexive (adj.)

    1580s, "reflective, capable of bending or turning back," from Medieval Latin reflexivus, from Late Latin reflexus (see reflect). Meaning "of the nature of a reflex" is from 1839 (implied in reflexively). Grammatical sense, in reference to verbs especially, "turning the action back upon the subject," is by 1740. Related: Reflexiveness; reflexivity.ETD reflexive (adj.).2

    reflexology (n.)

    1927, as a psychological theory, from German reflexologie (1912); see reflex + -ology. As a foot massage technique for releasing nervous tension, recorded by 1976.ETD reflexology (n.).2

    reflux (n.)

    early 15c., "a flowing back" (of the sea, etc.), "ebb tide," also figurative of instability, from Medieval Latin refluxus, from Latin re- "back, again" (see re-) + fluxus "a flowing," from fluere "to flow" (see fluent). Digestive sense is recorded from 1937; reflux-valve is attested by 1853.ETD reflux (n.).2

    refocus (v.)

    also re-focus, "to focus again or anew," 1858, from re- "back, again" + focus (v.). Related: Refocused; refocusing.ETD refocus (v.).2

    reforest (v.)

    also re-forest, "to restore to a wooded condition, replant with forest trees," 1831, from re- "back, again" + verb use of forest (n.). Related: Reforested; reforesting. Compare reafforest.ETD reforest (v.).2

    reforge (v.)

    also re-forge, "to form again or anew in a forge," early 15c.; see re- "again" + forge (v.). Related: Reforged; reforging.ETD reforge (v.).2

    re-formation (n.)

    "act of forming anew, a second formation," early 15c., from re- "back, again" + formation. The hyphenation is from 17c. to keep it distinct from reformation, as is the full pronunciation of the prefix.ETD re-formation (n.).2

    reform (v.)

    late 14c., reformen, "to convert into or restore to another and better form" (of strength, health, firmness, etc.), from Old French reformer "rebuild, reconstruct, recreate" (12c.) and directly from Latin reformare "to form again, change, transform, alter," from re- "again" (see re-) + formare "to form" (see form (n.)).ETD reform (v.).2

    The meaning "change (someone or something) for the better, correct, improve; bring (someone) away from an evil course of life" is recorded from late 14c.; of governments, institutions, etc., from early 15c. Intransitive sense of "abandon wrongdoing or error" is by 1580s. Related: Reformed; reforming. Reformed churches (1580s) on the European continent were usually Calvinist as opposed to Lutheran (in France they were the Huguenots). Reformed Judaism (1843) is a movement initiated in Germany by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Reform school is attested from 1859.ETD reform (v.).3

    reform (n.)

    "any proceeding which brings back a better order of things or attempts to improve the present," 1660s, from reform (v.) and in some uses from French réforme. The older word for this was reformation, but it had acquired a specialized sense. As a branch of Judaism from 1843.ETD reform (n.).2

    Larger font
    Smaller font