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    ripper (n.) — rocker (n.)

    ripper (n.)

    1610s, "one who or that which rips," in any sense of that word, originally chiefly in technical use and slang, agent noun from rip (v.).ETD ripper (n.).2

    The meaning "killer who mutilates his victims" (1890) is from Jack the Ripper, the notorious London serial murderer of 1888-1891, whose nickname contains a pun on ripper in sense of "tool for ripping" old slates, etc. (1823) and the slang meaning "very efficient or excellent person or thing, a 'ripping' fellow" (1838), from ripping (q.v.) in the sense of "excellent, splendid."ETD ripper (n.).3

    ripple (v.)

    early 15c., riplen, "to crease, wrinkle;" 1660s, "to present a ruffled surface," of obscure origin, perhaps a frequentative of rip (v.), and compare rip (n.2) and rumple. Transitive sense, in reference to the surface of water, "cause to ripple, agitate lightly," is from 1786. Related: Rippled; rippling.ETD ripple (v.).2

    ripple (n.)

    "very small wave," 1798, from earlier meaning "stretch of shallow, rippling water" (1755), from ripple (v.). The meaning "light ruffling of the surface suggestive of a ripple" is from 1843.ETD ripple (n.).2

    The meaning "ice cream streaked with colored syrup" is attested by 1939, so called from its appearance. In reference to the ripple-rings in water from a cast stone, by 1884. (Chaucer, late 14c., used roundel "a little circle" for that.) As the name of a brand of inexpensive wine sold by E&J Gallo Winery, from 1960 to 1984. In geology, ripple-mark "wavy surface on sand formed by wind or water" is by 1833. Ripple effect "continuous spreading results of an event or action" is from 1950.ETD ripple (n.).3

    rip-rap (n.)

    also riprap, "loose stone thrown down in water or soft ground as foundation," 1822, American English, perhaps connected with earlier nautical word rip-rap meaning "stretch of rippling water" (often caused by underwater elevations), 1660s, which is perhaps of imitative origin (compare riprap "a sharp blow," 1570s). Also compare rip (n.2).ETD rip-rap (n.).2

    riproaring (adj.)

    also rip-roaring, "full of vigour, spirit, or excellence" [OED], 1834, in affectations of Western U.S. (Kentucky) slang, altered from riproarious "boisterous, violent" (1821), from rip (v.) "tear apart" + uproarious; see uproar. Rip-roarer was noted as a nickname for a Kentuckian in 1837. Related: Riproaringest.ETD riproaring (adj.).2

    rip-saw (n.)

    "a hand-saw the teeth of which have more rake and less set than a cross-cut saw, used for cutting wood in the direction of the grain" [Century Dictionary], 1846, from rip (n.) "split timber" (see rip (v.) + saw (n.1)).ETD rip-saw (n.).2

    ripsnorter (n.)

    "something of exceptional strength, someone of remarkable qualities," 1840 [Davy Crockett], probably from rip (v.) + snorter (q.v.). Compare riproaring.ETD ripsnorter (n.).2

    rip-tide (n.)

    also riptide, 1862, "strong tidal flow in a coastal channel, etc.;" see rip (n.2). Since early 20c. it has been used mostly of strong currents flowing straight out from shore, which are not tides, and the attempt to correct it in that sense to rip current dates from 1936.ETD rip-tide (n.).2

    Rip Van Winkle

    "person out of touch with current conditions," 1829, the name of the character in Washington Irving's popular Catskills tale (published 1819) of the henpecked husband who sleeps enchanted for 20 years and finds the world has forgotten him.ETD Rip Van Winkle.2

    rise (v.)

    Middle English risen, from Old English risan "to rise from sleep, get out of bed; stand up, rise to one's feet; get up from table; rise together; be fit, be proper" (typically gerisan, arisan; a class I strong verb; past tense ras, past participle risen), from Proto-Germanic *us-rīsanan "to go up" (source also of Old Norse risa, Old Saxon risan, Old Frisian risa, "to rise; arise, happen," Gothic urreisan "to rise," Old High German risan "to rise, flow," German reisen "to travel," originally "to rise for a journey"). OED writes, "No related terms have been traced outside of Teutonic"; Boutkan suggests an origin in a lost European substrate language.ETD rise (v.).2

    From late 12c. as "to rise from the dead," also "rebel, revolt, stand up in opposition." It is attested from c. 1200 in the senses of "move from a lower to a higher position, move upward; increase in number or amount; rise in fortune, prosper; become prominent;" also, of heavenly bodies, "appear above the horizon." To rise and shine "get up, get out of bed" is by 1916 (earlier it was a religious expression). Of seas, rivers, etc., "increase in height," c. 1300.ETD rise (v.).3

    The meaning "come into existence, originate; result (from)" is by mid-13c. From early 14c. as "occur, happen, come to pass; take place." From 1540s of sound, "ascend in pitch." Also from 1540s of dough. It seems not to have been used of heat or temperature in Middle English; that sense may have developed from the use of the verb in reference to the behavior of fluid in a thermometer or barometer (1650s). Related to raise (v.). Related: Rose; risen.ETD rise (v.).4

    rising (n.)

    c. 1200, "resurrection, act or fact of rising from the dead," especially of the Resurrection of Christ; c. 1300, "action of rising from sleep, getting out of med," verbal noun from rise (v.). Of heavenly bodies, "appearance above the horizon," from mid-14c. Of tides, rivers, etc., late 14c. Also from mid-14c. as "act of standing up." The sense of "insurrection, hostile demonstration of people opposed to the government" is from late 14c.ETD rising (n.).2

    rising (adj.)

    1540s, "having an upward slope," present-participle adjective from rise (v.). In reference to heavenly bodies, "appearing above the horizon," by c. 1600. From 1630s as "increasing in possessions, importance, or power;" from 1660s as "growing, coming into existence."ETD rising (adj.).2

    rise (n.)

    c. 1400, "a rebellion, a rising up in opposition;" mid-15c., "place elevated above the common level, piece of rising land;" from rise (v.). General sense of "upward movement" is by 1570s; more specific sense of "vertical height of an object or surface, elevation, degree of ascent" is from 1660s.ETD rise (n.).2

    Of heavenly bodies, "appearance above the horizon," by 1590s. The meaning "spring, source, origin, beginning" is from 1620s. As "an advance in wages or salary" by 1836 (compare raise (n.)).ETD rise (n.).3

    The phrase on the rise originally meant "becoming more valuable" (1808). The sense in give rise to "to occasion, cause, bring about" (1705) is the otherwise obsolete meaning "an occasion, a ground or basis" (1640s), which OED writes was "Common c 1650-90." The phrase get a rise out of (someone), by 1829, seems to be a metaphor from angling (1650s) in reference to the action of a fish in coming to the surface to take the bait.ETD rise (n.).4


    past participle of rise (v.); Old English gerisen, past participle of risan.ETD risen.2

    riser (n.)

    late 14c., risere, "rebel, insurgent, one who rises in revolt," agent noun from rise (v.). Meaning "one who rises" (from bed, in a certain manner) is from mid-15c. Meaning "upright face of a stair-step" is by 1738.ETD riser (n.).2

    risible (adj.)

    1550s, "given to laughter," from French risible (14c.) and directly from Late Latin risibilis "laughable, able to laugh," from Latin risus, past participle of ridere "to laugh," a word which, according to de Vaan, "has no good PIE etymology." Meaning "laughable, capable of exciting laughter, comical" is by 1727. Related: Risibility.ETD risible (adj.).2

    risk (n.)

    1660s, risque, "hazard, danger, peril, exposure to mischance or harm," from French risque (16c.), from Italian risco, riscio (modern rischio), from riscare "run into danger," a word of uncertain origin.ETD risk (n.).2

    The Englished spelling is recorded by 1728. Spanish riesgo and German Risiko are Italian loan-words. The commercial sense of "hazard of the loss of a ship, goods, or other properties" is by 1719; hence the extension to "chance taken in an economic enterprise."ETD risk (n.).3

    Paired with run (v.) from 1660s. Risk aversion is recorded from 1942; risk factor from 1906; risk management from 1963; risk-taker from 1892.ETD risk (n.).4

    risk (v.)

    1680s, "expose to chance of injury or loss," from risk (n.), or from French risquer, from Italian riscare, rischaire, from the noun. By 1705 as "venture upon, take the chances of." Related: Risked; risks; risking.ETD risk (v.).2

    risky (adj.)

    "attended with risk, dangerous," 1825, from risk (n.) + -y (2). Riskful in same sense is from 1793. Related: Riskiness. Riskless is attested by 1818.ETD risky (adj.).2

    Risorgimento (n.)

    movement which culminated in the unification and independence of Italy, 1889, from Italian, literally "uprising" (of Italy against Austria, c. 1850-60), from risorgere, from Latin resurgere "rise again, lift oneself, be restored" (see resurgent).ETD Risorgimento (n.).2

    risotto (n.)

    rice cooked in broth with meat and cheese, 1848, from Italian risotto, from riso "rice" (see rice). At first in Italian contexts; it begins to appear in English cookery books c. 1880.ETD risotto (n.).2

    risque (adj.)

    "tending toward impropriety," 1867, from French risqué, past participle of risquer "to risk" (see risk (v.)).ETD risque (adj.).2

    Ritalin (n.)

    central nervous system stimulant, a proprietary name (Ciba Ltd., originally in Switzerland) for the drug methylphenidate hydrochloride. It was trademarked 1948, years before the drug itself was marketed.ETD Ritalin (n.).2

    ritardando (adv.)

    in music, "becoming gradually slower," 1811, from Italian, present participle of ritardare "to slow down," from Latin retardare "to make slow" (see retardation). The Italian plural is ritardandi.ETD ritardando (adv.).2

    rite (n.)

    early 14c., "formal act or procedure of religious observance performed according to an established manner," from Latin ritus "custom, usage," especially "a religious observance or ceremony" (source also of Spanish, Italian rito), which perhaps is from PIE root *re- "to reason, count," on the notion of "to count; to observe carefully." Rite of passage (1909), marking the end of one phase and the start of another in an individual life, is translated from French rite de passage, coined by French anthropologist Arnold van Gennep (1873-1957).ETD rite (n.).2

    ritual (adj.)

    1560s, "pertaining to or consisting of a rite or rites," from French ritual or directly from Latin ritualis "relating to (religious) rites," from ritus "religious observance or ceremony, custom, usage," (see rite). By 1630s as "done as or in the manner of a rite" (as in ritual murder, attested by 1896). Related: Ritually.ETD ritual (adj.).2

    ritual (n.)

    1640s, "prescribed manner of performing religious worship," from ritual (adj.). From 1650s as "book containing the rites or ordinances of a church," also "the external forms of religious or other devotional exercises," often in that sense somewhat pejorative (mere ritual, forgetful of meaning).ETD ritual (n.).2

    ritualistic (adj.)

    1844, "pertaining to or according to ritual," with -ic + ritualist "one versed in or devoted to rituals" (1650s), later "one who advocates a particular sacramental ritual" (especially one established by law or custom), 1670s; see ritual (adj.). By late 19c. ritualistic meant especially "placing great emphasis on external forms and symbols." Related: Ritually; ritualism (1838).ETD ritualistic (adj.).2

    Ritz (n.)

    as a symbol or embodiment of high quality or superiority, 1910 (Ritzian, adj., is attested by 1908), a reference to the luxurious Ritz hotels in New York, London, Paris, etc., commemorating Swiss hotelier César Ritz (1850-1918).ETD Ritz (n.).2

    Lawyers representing the holder of the trade mark name ask that ritzy be deleted entirely from the dictionary, but "may be able to tolerate Ritz (only) being listed, provided that in accordance with s.99A of the UK Trade Marks Act 1994, a revised definition that makes it clear that it is a trade mark and therefore can only be used by The Ritz London, to alleviate our concerns."ETD Ritz (n.).3

    To put on the ritz "assume an air of superiority" is recorded from 1926. A verb ritz "to behave haughtily" is recorded from 1911. As an adjective by 1926.ETD Ritz (n.).4


    "classy, glamorous," 1920, from a generic use of Ritz, in reference to luxurious hotels, + -y (2). Related: Ritzily; ritziness.ETD ritzy.2

    Lawyers representing the holder of the Ritz trade mark name ask that ritzy be deleted entirely from the dictionary.ETD ritzy.3

    rival (n.)

    1570s, "one who is in pursuit of the same object as another;" 1640s, "one who emulates or strives to equal or exceed another" in some way; from Latin rivalis "a rival, adversary in love; neighbor," originally, "of the same brook," from rivus "brook" (from PIE root *rei- "to run, flow").ETD rival (n.).2

    The sense evolution seems to be based on the competitiveness of neighbors: "one who uses the same stream," or "one on the opposite side of the stream," hence in various ways "one who is in pursuit of the same object or resource as another."ETD rival (n.).3

    A secondary sense in Latin and sometimes in English was "associate, companion in duty," from the notion of "one having a common right or privilege with another." As an adjective, "having the same pretentions or claims, holding the position of rivals," 1580s, from the noun.ETD rival (n.).4

    rival (v.)

    "stand in or enter into competition with another; strive to equal, emulate," c. 1600, from rival (n.). Related: Rivaled; rivaling.ETD rival (v.).2

    rivalrous (adj.)

    1812, "of the nature of rivalry;" see rivalry + -ous. It seems to have been rare (not in Century Dictionary, 1891) before the later sense "given to rivalry" emerged c. 1920.ETD rivalrous (adj.).2

    rivalry (n.)

    "act of rivaling, competition, strife or effort to attain an object another is pursuing," 1590s; from rival (n.) + -ry. Shakespeare has rivality ("Antony and Cleopatra"), but meaning "association, partnership, equality in rank," from the secondary sense of the Latin adjective. Jonson has rivalship (1630s); rivaltry (1640s) also was used.ETD rivalry (n.).2

    rive (v.)

    "tear in pieces, strike asunder," c. 1200, from a Scandinavian or North Sea Germanic source akin to Old Norse rifa "to tear apart," from Proto-Germanic *rifanan "to tear, scratch" (compare Swedish rifva, Danish rive "scratch, tear"), from PIE root *rei- "to scratch, tear, cut" (see riparian).ETD rive (v.).2

    riven (adj.)

    "split, cloven, burst asunder," c. 1300, past-participle adjective from rive "to tear, rend."ETD riven (adj.).2

    river (n.)

    early 13c. (late 12c. in surnames), "a considerable body of water flowing with perceptible current in a definite course or channel," from Anglo-French rivere, Old French riviere "river, riverside, river bank" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *riparia "riverbank, seashore, river" (source also of Spanish ribera, Italian riviera), noun use of fem. of Latin riparius "of a riverbank" (see riparian).ETD river (n.).2

    The generalized sense of "a copious flow" of anything is from late 14c., as is figurative use. The Old English word was ea "river," cognate with Gothic ahwa, Latin aqua (see aqua-). Romanic cognate words tend to retain the sense "river bank" as the main one, or else the secondary Latin sense "coast of the sea" (compare Riviera). In printing by 1898: "streaks of white space in text caused by the spaces between words in several lines happening to fall one almost below the other."ETD river (n.).3

    U.S. slang phrase up the river "in prison" (1891) is said to be originally in reference to Sing Sing prison, up the Hudson River from New York City. The phrase down the river "done for, finished" (1893) perhaps echoes the sense in sell down the river (1836, American English), originally of slaves sold from the Upper South to the harsher plantations of the Deep South.ETD river (n.).4

    river-bank (n.)

    "sloping edge or border of a river," 1560s, from river (n.) + bank (n.2).ETD river-bank (n.).2

    river-bottom (n.)

    "alluvial land along the margin of a river," 1752, American English, from river (n.) + bottom (n.).ETD river-bottom (n.).2

    riverine (adj.)

    "situated on the banks of a river; of or pertaining to a river; resembling a river," 1849, from river + -ine (1). French form riverain is attested from 1858.ETD riverine (adj.).2

    riverman (n.)

    also river-man, "waterman, one who frequents a river and makes a livelihood about it," 1722, from river (n.) + man (n.).ETD riverman (n.).2

    riverrun (n.)

    "course a river shapes through a landscape," 1939, coined by Joyce; see river (n.) + run (n.).ETD riverrun (n.).2

    riverside (n.)

    "the bank of a river," c. 1400, from river + side (n.).ETD riverside (n.).2

    riveting (adj.)

    "commanding attention," 1854, present-participle adjective from rivet (v.). Earlier in a figurative sense of "clinching" (of an argument, etc.), 1670s. Related: Rivetingly.ETD riveting (adj.).2

    rivet (v.)

    early 15c., riveten, "to fasten (something) with rivets," also "to fasten (a nail or bolt) by hammering down the rivet," from rivet (n.). Figurative meaning "to command the attention" is from c. 1600 (For I mine eyes will rivet to his Face - "Hamlet"). Related: Riveted; riveting.ETD rivet (v.).2

    rivet (n.)

    c. 1300, "cinch on a nail;" c. 1400, "short metal pin or bolt inserted through a hole at the junction of two or more metal pieces," the point then hammered broad to hold them together; from Old French rivet "nail, rivet," from river "to clench, fix, fasten," which is of uncertain origin; possibly from Middle Dutch wriven "turn, grind," and thus related to rive (v.). Or the English word might be directly from Middle Dutch.ETD rivet (n.).2

    riveter (n.)

    1800, "one who rivets," agent noun from rivet (v.). By 1884 as "a riveting machine." The same word was used c. 1300 as "a riveter" or "a maker of rivets."ETD riveter (n.).2

    Riviera (n.)

    1630s, "Mediterranean seacoast around Genoa," from Italian riviera, literally "bank, shore" (see river). In extended use it refers to the whole coast from Marseilles in France to La Spezia in Italy, which became popular 19c. as a winter resort. Thence adopted (sometimes ironically) in reference to areas of other countries, as in American Riviera (Florida, 1887); English Riviera (Devonshire coast, 1882). Related: Rivieran.ETD Riviera (n.).2

    rivulet (n.)

    "small stream or brook," 1580s, perhaps from Italian rivoletto, diminutive of rivolo, itself a diminutive of rivo "brook," from Latin rivus "stream, brook" (from PIE *reiwos "that which flows," from root *rei- "to run, flow"). For ending, see -let.ETD rivulet (n.).2

    RNA (n.)

    1948, abbreviation of ribonucleic acid (see ribonucleic).ETD RNA (n.).2

    rosé (n.2)

    light red wine, 1897, from French vin rosé, literally "pink wine" (see rose (n.1)). In Middle English rosē also was used of a kind of red wine (late 15c.).ETD rosé (n.2).2

    roach (n.2)

    common small freshwater fish of northern Europe, late 12c., from Old French roche (13c.), a name of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Germanic source (compare Middle Dutch roch, Low German ruche). Applied later to fish in North America that resemble it.ETD roach (n.2).2

    roach (n.1)

    a shortened form of cockroach, on the mistaken notion that it is a compound, attested by 1830.ETD roach (n.1).2

    In contemporary writing the shortening sometimes is credited to a polite desire to avoid the sexual connotation in the first syllable of the full word, especially among Americans, but this seems to be another English fiction and early uses typically are in natural history publications.ETD roach (n.1).3

    The meaning "butt of a marijuana cigarette" is recorded by 1938, perhaps from resemblance to the insect but rather this might be a different word entirely. Related: Roach-clip (by 1968).ETD roach (n.1).4

    road (n.)

    Middle English rode, from Old English rad "riding expedition, journey, hostile incursion," from Proto-Germanic *raido (source also of Old Frisian red "ride," Old Saxon reda, Middle Dutch rede, Old High German reita "foray, raid"), from PIE *reidh- "to ride" (see ride (v.)). Also related to raid (n.).ETD road (n.).2

    In Middle English it was still, "a riding, a journey on horseback; a mounted raid;" the sense of "an open passage or way for traveling between two places" is recorded from 1590s, and the older senses now are obsolete. "The late appearance of this sense makes its development from sense 1 somewhat obscure," according to OED, which however finds similar evolutions in Flemish and Frisian words. The modern spelling was established 18c.ETD road (n.).3

    The meaning "narrow stretch of sheltered water near shore where ships can lie at anchor" is from early 14c. (as in Virginia's Hampton Roads). In late 19c. U.S. use it is often short for railroad.ETD road (n.).4

    On the road "traveling" is from 1640s. Road test (n.) of a vehicle's performance is by 1906; as a verb from 1937. Road hog "one who is objectionable on the road" [OED] is attested from 1886; road rage is by 1988. Road map is from 1786; road trip is by 1950, originally of baseball teams. Old English had radwerig "weary of traveling."ETD road (n.).5

    roadblock (n.)

    "barrier or obstruction on a road," usually for military or police purposes, 1940, from road (n.) + block (n.2).ETD roadblock (n.).2

    roadhouse (n.)

    "inn by a roadside," 1857, later "place for refreshment and entertainment along a road" (1922), from road (n.) + house (n.).ETD roadhouse (n.).2

    roadie (n.)

    "laborer employed by pop groups while on tour," by 1969, from road (n.) + -ie.ETD roadie (n.).2

    road kill (n.)

    also roadkill, "animal killed by vehicular traffic," 1962, from road (n.) + kill (n.). The figurative sense is from 1992.ETD road kill (n.).2

    road-runner (n.)

    "long-tailed crested desert cuckoo, the chaparral-cock," 1847, American English, from road (n.) + runner. Earliest references give the Mexican Spanish name for it as correcamino and the English name might be a translation of that. The Warner Bros. cartoon character dates to 1948.ETD road-runner (n.).2

    roadside (n.)

    "the side or border of a road," 1744, from road (n.) + side (n.). As an adjective by 1810.ETD roadside (n.).2

    roadster (n.)

    "open two-seat automobile," 1908, from road (n.) + -ster. Earlier it was used in reference to a type of light, horse-drawn carriage (1892); a horse for riding for pleasure (1818); and "a ship lying near the shore and working by tides" (1744).ETD roadster (n.).2

    roadway (n.)

    "a highway; the part of a road used by horses and vehicles," c. 1600, from road (n.), perhaps preserving some of that word's old sense of "a riding," + way (n.).ETD roadway (n.).2

    roadwork (n.)

    also road-work, 1765, "work done in making and repairing roads;" 1903 as "exercise done on roads;" from road (n.) + work (n.).ETD roadwork (n.).2

    roam (v.)

    c. 1300, romen, "walk, go, walk about;" early 14c., "wander about, prowl," a word of obscure origin, possibly from Old English *ramian "act of wandering about," which is probably related to aræman "arise, lift up."ETD roam (v.).2

    There are no certain cognate forms in other Germanic languages, but Barnhart and Middle English Compendium point to Old Norse reimuðr "act of wandering about," reimast "to haunt."ETD roam (v.).3

    "Except in late puns, there is no evidence of connexion with the Romance words denoting pilgrims or pilgrimages to Rome ...." [OED], such as Spanish romero "a pilot-fish; a pilgrim;" Old French romier "traveling as a pilgrim; a pilgrim," from Medieval Latin romerius "a pilgrim" (originally to Rome). Transitive sense is from c. 1600. Related: Roamed; roamer; roaming.ETD roam (v.).4

    roan (adj.)

    1520s, of horses, "of a bay, sorrel, or chestnut color, thickly interspersed with gray or white, from French roan "reddish brown," perhaps from Spanish roano, from Old Spanish raudano, probably from a Germanic source (compare Gothic raudan, accusative of rauðs "red"), from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy." As a noun, "a roan horse," 1570s.ETD roan (adj.).2


    county in Virginia, the name (also used in other places in U.S.) is that of Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colony in what is now North Carolina; probably an Algonquian name, recorded by 1584. It might be the same word as rawranock "shells used for money, kind of wampum," which is attested in English by 1624.ETD Roanoke.2

    roar (n.)

    late 14c., rore, "the loud, continued cry of a large beast," from roar (v.) and Old English gerar. Of other full, loud, continued, confused sounds by c. 1400; specifically of thunder and cannon by 1540s.ETD roar (n.).2

    roaring (adj.)

    "that roars or bellows; making or characterized by noise or disturbance," late 14c., present-participle adjective from roar (v.). Used of periods of years characterized by noisy revelry, especially roaring twenties (1930, which OED credits to "postwar buoyancy"); but also, in Australia, roaring fifties (1892, in reference to the New South Wales gold rush of 1851). Roaring Forties in reference to exceptionally rough seas between latitudes 40 and 50 south, is attested from 1841.ETD roaring (adj.).2

    This is from the use of roar (v.) in old London slang for "behave in a riotous and bullying manner" (1580s).ETD roaring (adj.).3

    roar (v.)

    Middle English roren, "shout out, cry out with a full, loud, continued sound," from Old English rarian "roar, wail, lament, bellow, cry," probably of imitative origin (compare Middle Dutch reeren, German röhren "to roar;" Sanskrit ragati "barks;" Lithuanian rieju, rieti "to scold;" Old Church Slavonic revo "I roar;" Latin raucus "hoarse," all alike probably imitative).ETD roar (v.).2

    Of animals, the wind, etc., early 14c. Sense of "laugh loudly and continuously" is by 1815. The meaning "travel in a motor vehicle making a loud noise" is by 1923. Related: Roared; roaring.ETD roar (v.).3

    roast (n.)

    early 14c., "meat roasted or for roasting;" see roast (v.). The sense of "an unmerciful bantering" is from 1740.ETD roast (n.).2

    roast (v.)

    late 13c., rosten, "to cook (meat, fish, etc.) by dry heat," from Old French rostir "to roast, burn" (Modern French rôtir), from Frankish *hraustjan (cognate with Old High German rosten, German rösten, Middle Dutch roosten "to roast"), originally "cook on a grate or gridiron," related to Germanic words meaning "gridiron, grate;" such as German Rost, Middle Dutch roost, from Proto-Germanic *raustijanan "to roast." Compare roster.ETD roast (v.).2

    "Also freq. in mod. use to cook (meat) in an oven, for which the more original term is bake" [OED]. Intransitive sense of "be very hot, be exposed to great heat, become roasted" is from c. 1300. Of coffee beans by 1724. The meaning "make fun of (often in an affectionate way) for the amusement of the company" is from 1710. Related: Roasted; roasting.ETD roast (v.).3

    Roast beef is recorded from 1630s; French rosbif is from English.ETD roast (v.).4

    roaster (n.)

    mid-15c., rostere, "person who roasts meat," agent noun from roast (v.). As a kind of oven, from 1799; as "animal fit for roasting, article of food prepared for roasting," by 1680s.ETD roaster (n.).2

    rob (v.)

    late 12c., robben, "steal, take away (from someone) unlawfully; plunder or strip (a place) by force or violence," from Old French rober "rob, steal, pillage, ransack, rape," from West Germanic *rauba "booty" (source also of Old High German roubon "to rob," roub "spoil, plunder;" Old English reafian, source of the reave in bereave), from Proto-Germanic *raubon "to rob" (from PIE *runp- "to break;" see corrupt (adj.)).ETD rob (v.).2

    To rob the cradle is attested from 1864 in reference to drafting young men in the American Civil War; by 1949 in reference to seductions or romantic relationships with younger persons. Related: Robbed; robbing.ETD rob (v.).3

    robber (n.)

    late 12c., "one who commits robbery, one who steals, plunders, or strips unlawfully by violence," from Anglo-French robbere, Old French robeor, agent noun from rober "to rob, steal, pillage, ransack, rape" (see rob).ETD robber (n.).2

    Robber baron in the "corrupt, greedy financier" sense is attested from 1870s, from a comparison of Gilded Age capitalists to medieval European warlords (the phrase is attested in the historical sense from 1831).ETD robber (n.).3

    robbery (n.)

    c. 1200, robberie, "the act, practice, or occupation of stealing or plundering," from Old French roberie "robbery, theft," from rober "to rob" (see rob).ETD robbery (n.).2

    robe (v.)

    "to clothe," especially magnificently and ceremonially, c. 1300 (implied in robed), from robe (n.). Related: Robing; robery.ETD robe (v.).2

    robe (n.)

    "long, loose outer garment reaching almost to the floor, worn by men or women over other dress," late 13c., from Old French robe "long, loose outer garment" (12c.), from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rouba "vestments"), from West Germanic *raubo "booty" (cognate with Old High German roub "robbery, breakage"), which also yielded rob (v.).ETD robe (n.).2

    Presumably the notion is of fine garments taken from an enemy as spoil, and the Old French word had a secondary sense of "plunder, booty," while Germanic cognates had both senses; as in Old English reaf "plunder, booty, spoil; garment, armor, vestment."ETD robe (n.).3

    The meaning "dressing gown" is from 1854; such extended senses often appear first in French, e.g. robe de chambre "dressing gown," robe de nuit "nightgown." From c. 1300 in reference to official vestments and thus indicative of position or membership in a religious order, guild, etc.; metonymic sense of The Robe for "the legal profession" is attested from 1640s.ETD robe (n.).4


    masc. proper name, from an Old North French form of Old High German Hrodberht "bright-fame, bright with glory," from hrod- "fame, glory" (from Proto-Germanic *hrothi-), + *berht "bright" (from PIE root *bhereg- "to shine; bright, white"). Never a king's name, though it was the name of William the Conqueror's rebellious oldest son. "It was introduced by Normans during the reign of Edward the Confessor and became very popular" ["Dictionary of English Surnames"].ETD Robert.2

    In Middle English, from mid-13c., also "a designation for a robber, vagabond, or lowly person" ["Middle English Compendium"]; hence Robertes men "robbers, marauders;" Robert-renne-aboute "a wastrel, a good-for-nothing."ETD Robert.3

    robin (n.)

    common small European songbird, 1540s, a shortening of Robin Redbreast (mid-15c.), from masc. personal name Robin, also (in reference to the bird) in the diminutive form robinet. Redbreast alone for the bird is from early 15c., and the Robin might have been added for the alliteration. It ousted the native ruddock. In North America, the name was applied to the red-breasted thrush by 1703.ETD robin (n.).2

    Robin's egg as a shade of somewhat greenish blue is attested from 1881; it refers to the North American species; the English robin's eggs are pinkish-white and freckled with purplish-red.ETD robin (n.).3


    masc. proper name, from Old French Robin, diminutive of Robert (q.v.). Robin Goodfellow, "sportive elf or domestic fairy of the English countryside," said to be the offspring of King Oberon of Fairyland and a mortal, is attested by 1530s (Tyndale), popular 16-17c.; Robin Hood is from at least late 14c.ETD Robin.2

    Robinson Crusoe

    "man without companionship," 1768, from the eponymous hero of Daniel Defoe's fictional shipwreck narrative (1719).ETD Robinson Crusoe.2

    robot (n.)

    1923, "mechanical person," also "person whose work or activities are entirely mechanical," from the English translation of the 1920 play "R.U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots") by Karel Capek (1890-1938), from Czech robotnik "forced worker," from robota "forced labor, compulsory service, drudgery," from robotiti "to work, drudge," from an Old Czech source akin to Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude," from rabu "slave" (from Old Slavic *orbu-, from PIE *orbh- "pass from one status to another;" see orphan).ETD robot (n.).2

    The Slavic word thus is a cousin to German Arbeit "work" (Old High German arabeit). The play was enthusiastically received in New York from its Theatre Guild performance debut on Oct. 9, 1922. According to Rawson the word was popularized by Karel Capek's play, "but was coined by his brother Josef (the two often collaborated), who used it initially in a short story." Hence, "a human-like machine designed to carry out tasks like a human agent."ETD robot (n.).3

    robotics (n.)

    "the science of robots, their construction and use," 1941, from robot + -ics. Coined in a science fiction context by Russian-born U.S. author Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), who proposed the "Three Laws of Robotics" in 1968.ETD robotics (n.).2

    robotic (adj.)

    1941 (Asimov), "of or pertaining to robots," from robot + -ic.ETD robotic (adj.).2

    Rob Roy (n.)

    Highland freebooter and folk hero, Robert Roy MacGregor (1671-1734). His name means "Red Robert." Scott's novel first was published in 1817. As a type of cocktail made with Scotch whiskey, it is attested from 1960.ETD Rob Roy (n.).2

    robust (adj.)

    1540s, of persons, "having or indicating great strength, muscular, vigorous," from French robuste (14c.) and directly from Latin robustus "strong and hardy," literally "as strong as oak," originally "oaken," from robur, robus "hard timber, strength," also "a special kind of oak," named for its reddish heartwood, from Latin ruber "red" (related to robigo "rust"), from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy." Related: Robustly; robustness; robusticity.ETD robust (adj.).2

    Robustious (1540s) was an elaborated form common in 17c. (see "Hamlet" iii.2), with more of a sense of "rough, violent, rude;" according to OED it fell from use by mid-18c., but was somewhat revived by mid-19c. antiquarian writers. Related: Robustiously; robustiousness.ETD robust (adj.).3

    roc (n.)

    monstrous predatory bird of Arabian mythology, 1570s, from Arabic rukhkh, from Persian rukh. It is mentioned in Marco Polo's account of Madagascar; according to OED, modern use of the word mostly is due to translations of the "Arabian Nights" tales. Hence roc's egg "something marvelous or prodigious." Compare simurgh.ETD roc (n.).2

    rock (v.2)

    "to dance to popular music with a strong beat," 1948 (in song title "We're gonna rock"), from rock (v.1) in an earlier blues slang sense of "cause to move with musical rhythm" (1922); often used at first with sexual overtones, as in the 1922 song title "My Man Rocks Me (with One Steady Roll)". The sense developed in early 1950s to "play or dance to rock and roll music." Also see rock (n.2). Related: Rocked; rocking.ETD rock (v.2).2

    In reference to music, by 1938 as "to have a rocking rhythm;" by 1977 as "exhibit the characteristics of rock music." To rock out "enjoy oneself to rock music" is by 1968. Rocksteady, Jamaican pop music style (precursor of reggae), is attested from 1969.ETD rock (v.2).3

    rock (n.2)

    1823, "action of rocking; a movement to and fro," from rock (v.1). As short for rock and roll, by 1957; but the sense of "musical rhythm characterized by a strong beat" is from 1946, in blues slang (Mezz Mezzrow, "Really the Blues"). Rock star is attested by 1966.ETD rock (n.2).2

    rocking (adj.)

    "moving back and forth or to and fro," late 14c., rokking, present-participle adjective from rock (v.1). Of music, from 1949 (see rock (v.2)). Rocking-horse "wooden horse mounted on rockers for children" is recorded from 1724; rocking-chair "chair mounted on rockers" is from 1766.ETD rocking (adj.).2

    rock (n.1)

    [stone, mass of mineral matter], Middle English rokke, roche "stone as a substance; large rocky formation, rocky height or outcrop, crag," from Old English rocc (as in stanrocc "stone rock or obelisk") and directly from Old North French roque, variant of Old French roche, which is cognate with Medieval Latin rocca (8c.), from Vulgar Latin *rocca, a word of uncertain origin. According to Klein and Century Dictionary, sometimes said to be from Celtic (compare Breton roch). Diez suggests Vulgar Latin *rupica, from Latin rupes "rocks."ETD rock (n.1).2

    In Middle English it seems to have been used principally for large rock formations but occasionally of individual boulders. The extended sense of "a stone of any size" is by 1793, American English colloquial, and long was considered incorrect.ETD rock (n.1).3

    The meaning "precious stone," especially a diamond, is by 1908, U.S. slang; the sense of "crystallized cocaine" is attested from 1973 in West Coast slang. Also used attributively in names of animals that frequent rocky habitats, as in rockfish, rock badger, rock lobster (the last attested by 1843).ETD rock (n.1).4

    Rock is used figuratively for "a sure foundation, something which gives one protection and security" (especially with reference to Christ), from the 1520s (Tyndale); but it also has been used since the 1520s as "cause or source of peril or destruction," an image from shipwrecks.ETD rock (n.1).5

    Between a rock and a hard place "beset by difficulties with no good alternatives" is attested by 1914 in U.S. Southwest:ETD rock (n.1).6

    The rock-scissors-paper game is attested by that name by 1976 (as paper stone and scissors by 1941). Sources agree it is based on Japanese Jan Ken Po or Jan Ken Pon (or Janken for short); the Japanese game is described in English publications by 1879.ETD rock (n.1).7

    rock (v.1)

    [to sway, move backward and forward] Middle English rokken "rock (a cradle), cause to sway back and forth; rock (someone) in a cradle," from late Old English roccian "move a child gently to and fro" in a cradle, which is related to Old Norse rykkja "to pull, tear, move," Swedish rycka "to pull, pluck," Middle Dutch rucken, Old High German rucchan, German rücken "to move jerkily."ETD rock (v.1).2

    The intransitive sense of "move or sway back and forth unstably" is from late 14c. For the popular music senses, see rock (v.2). Related: Rocked; rocking.ETD rock (v.1).3

    The earliest associations of the word were with slumber, rest, security. The sense of of "sway to and fro under some impact or stress" is from late 14c., especially of vessels in the waves (1510s); hence rock the boat in the figurative sense "stir up trouble" (1914). The sense of "swing to and fro in or as in a rocking chair" is by 1795.ETD rock (v.1).4

    rocks (n.)

    plural of rock (n.1). Meaning "ice cubes" is from 1946; slang meaning "testicles" is attested by 1948 in the phrase get (one's) rocks off "achieve intense satisfaction." On the rocks "likely to be ruined or wrecked" is from 1889, a figurative use of the expression with reference to ships (by 1735), with further figurative extension to marriages, romances, etc., by 1958. Of an alcoholic drink, on the rocks, "served over ice cubes," is by 1946.ETD rocks (n.).2

    rockabilly (n.)

    type of popular music blending elements of rock 'n' roll and hillbilly music, 1956, from rock (n.2) in the music sense + second element abstracted from hillbilly music. One of the first uses is in a Billboard magazine item about Johnny Burnette's "Lonesome Train."ETD rockabilly (n.).2


    phrase in nursery rhyme sleeping-songs, by 1805; see rock (v.1). Compare lullaby.ETD rock-a-bye.2

    rock and roll (n.)

    also rock 'n' roll, 1954 in reference to a specific style of popular music, from rock (v.2) + roll (v.). The verbal phrase had been an African-American vernacular euphemism for "sexual intercourse," used in popular dance music lyrics and song titles at least since the 1930s.ETD rock and roll (n.).2

    rock-bottom (adj.)

    "lowest possible," 1884, from the noun phrase meaning "bedrock" (1815), also figurative, from rock (n.1) + bottom (n.).ETD rock-bottom (adj.).2

    rock-candy (n.)

    "hard confection made of pure sugar in crystals of considerable size," 1723, from rock (n.1) + candy (n.).ETD rock-candy (n.).2

    rock-climbing (n.)

    by 1887, originally "the more showy branch of mountaineering" according to the author below:ETD rock-climbing (n.).2

    The modern sport of rock-climbing emerged c. 1993. Rock-climb (n.) "an ascent of a rock-face," is by 1895. Rock-climb as a verb is by 1934.ETD rock-climbing (n.).3

    Rockefeller (n.)

    "immensely rich man," 1938, in reference to U.S. financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937).ETD Rockefeller (n.).2

    rocker (n.)

    1852, "a rocking chair," American English, agent noun from rock (v.1). Middle English had rokker, "nurse charged with rocking a cradle" (early 14c.). In sense of "one of the curved pieces of wood that makes a chair or cradle rock" it dates from 1787. Meaning "one who enjoys rock music" (opposed to mod (n.1)) is recorded from 1963, from rock (v.2).ETD rocker (n.).2

    Slang off (one's) rocker "crazy" is attested by 1897 according to OED; a widely reprinted 1903 newspaper column in U.S. identified it as British slang; the image is perhaps mechanical. To get (off) one's rocker seems to have been used earlier in U.S. baseball slang for "get busy, get active in a game" (1895) and does suggest the rocking-chair.ETD rocker (n.).3

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