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    rocket (n.1) — rook (n.1)

    rocket (n.1)

    garden plant of the cabbage family, c. 1500, rokette, from French roquette (16c.), perhaps via Italian rochetta, diminutive of ruca "a kind of cabbage," from Latin eruca "colewort," perhaps so called for its downy stems and related to ericus "hedgehog," also "a beam set with spikes" (from PIE *ghers- "to bristle;" see horror).ETD rocket (n.1).2

    rocket (v.)

    "fly straight up, spring like a rocket," 1860, from rocket (n.2). Earlier "to attack with rockets" (1799). Meaning "send up by a rocket" is from 1837. Related: Rocketed; rocketing.ETD rocket (v.).2

    rocket (n.2)

    [self-propelling projectile] 1610s, "projectile consisting of a cylindrical tube of pasteboard filled with flammable or explosive matter," from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko "distaff," Middle Dutch rokke, Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon- (from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn").ETD rocket (n.2).2

    Originally of fireworks rockets, the meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" is recorded by 1919 (Goddard); rocket-ship in the space-travel sense is attested from February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985; rocket scientist is from 1952.ETD rocket (n.2).3

    rocketry (n.)

    "science or use of rockets and rocket propulsion," 1930, from rocket (n.2) + -ry.ETD rocketry (n.).2

    rock-face (n.)

    "vertical expanse of natural rock," 1847, from rock (n.1) + face (n.).ETD rock-face (n.).2

    rock-garden (n.)

    "garden consisting of rocks and rock-plants," 1819, from rock (n.1) + garden (n.).ETD rock-garden (n.).2

    rock-hound (n.)

    1921, from rock (n.1) + hound (n.). Used of geologists in roughneck slang, also used colloquially of amateur collectors.ETD rock-hound (n.).2

    rocky (adj.)

    "full of rocks," late 15c., rokki, from rock (n.1) + -y (2). Earlier in Middle English as rochi (c. 1300), from French roche. The sense of "unsteady, unstable, tottering" is by 1737, from rock (v.1). The meaning "difficult, hard" is recorded from 1873, and may represent a bit of both.ETD rocky (adj.).2

    The Rocky Mountains were so called by 1802, translating French Montagnes Rocheuses, first applied to the Canadian Rockies. "The name is not directly self-descriptive but is an approximate translation of the name of the former Native American people here known as the Assiniboin .... The mountains are in fact not noticeably rocky" [Room]. Bright notes that "These Indians were called /assiniipwaan/, lit. 'stone Sioux', by their Cree (Algonkian) neighbors".ETD rocky (adj.).3

    Rockies (n.)

    "the Rocky Mountains," 1827; see rocky.ETD Rockies (n.).2

    rockpile (n.)

    also rock-pile, "heap of stones," originally and especially one in a prison yard that convicts are tasked with breaking into smaller stones, 1888, from rock (n.1) + pile (n.1).ETD rockpile (n.).2

    rock-ribbed (adj.)

    1776, originally of land, "having rocky rib-like ridges;" figurative sense of "resolute" is recorded by 1887; see rock (n.) + rib (n.).ETD rock-ribbed (adj.).2

    rock-salt (n.)

    "salt existing in nature in the solid form" (opposed to sea-salt, etc.) and capable of being extracted by chunks, 1707, from rock (n.1) + salt (n.).ETD rock-salt (n.).2

    rococo (adj.)

    1836, "old-fashioned," from French rococo (19c.), apparently a humorous alteration of rocaille "shellwork, pebble-work" from roche "rock," from Vulgar Latin *rocca "stone." Specifically of furniture or architecture of the time of Louis Quatorze and Louis Quinze, from 1841. If this etymology is correct, the reference likely is to the excessive use of shell designs in this lavish style. For differentiation, see baroque. The general sense of "tastelessly florid or ornate" is from 1844. As a noun, "rococo ornamentation or style," by 1840.ETD rococo (adj.).2

    rod (n.)

    Middle English rod, rodde, "a stick of wood," especially a straight cutting from a woody plant, stripped of twigs, and having a particular purpose" (walking stick, wand of office, instrument of punishment), from Old English rodd "a rod, pole," which is probably cognate with Old Norse rudda "club," from Proto-Germanic *rudd- "stick, club," from PIE *reudh- "to clear land." Other sources formerly consider it to correspond to the continental words under rood.ETD rod (n.).2

    As a long, tapering elastic pole for fishing, from mid-15c. Figurative sense of "offshoot" (mid-15c.) led to Biblical meaning "scion, tribe." As an instrument of punishment, attested from mid-12c.; also used figuratively for "any sort of correction or punishment" (14c.). In mechanics, "any bar slender in proportion to its length" (1728).ETD rod (n.).3

    As a unit of linear measure (5½ yards or 16½ feet, also called perch or pole) attested from late 14c., from the pole used to mark it off. As a measure of land area, "a square perch," from late 14c., the usual measure in brickwork. Meaning "light-sensitive cell in a retina" is by 1837, so-called for their shape. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1902; that of "handgun, pistol, revolver" is by 1903.ETD rod (n.).4


    past tense of ride (q.v.).ETD rode.2

    rodent (n.)

    "a rodent mammal" 1835 (as an adjective 1833), from Modern Latin Rodentia, the order name, from Latin rodentem (nominative rodens), "the gnawers," present participle of rodere "to gnaw, eat away," which is of uncertain etymology, possibly is from an extended form of PIE root *red- "to scrape, scratch, gnaw." Uncertain connection to Old English rætt (see rat (n.)). They are characterized by having no canine teeth and strong incisors.ETD rodent (n.).2

    rodeo (n.)

    "public entertainment show of horse-riding skill," 1914, from the earlier meaning "cattle round-up" (1834), from Spanish rodeo, "pen for cattle at a fair or market," literally "a going round," from rodear "go round, surround," related to rodare "revolve, roll," from Latin rotare "go around" (see rotary).ETD rodeo (n.).2


    also Roderic, masc. proper name, from Old High German Hroderich, literally "ruling in fame," from hruod- "fame, glory" + Proto-Germanic *rikja "rule" (see rich). Italian and Spanish Rodrigo, Russian Rurik are from German.ETD Roderick.2

    rodomontade (n.)

    1610s (earlier rodomontado, 1590s), "vain boasting like that of Rodomonte," a character in Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso" (earlier in Boiardo's "Orlando Innamorato," Century Dictionary describes him as "a brave but somewhat boastful leader of the Saracens against Charlemagne." In dialectal Italian the name means literally "one who rolls (away) the mountain." As a verb, "boast, brag, talk big," by 1680s. Related: Rodomont "braggart" (1590s); Rodomontador.ETD rodomontade (n.).2

    roe (n.2)

    "species of small deer of the Old World," Middle English ro, from Old English ra, raha, from Proto-Germanic *raikhaz (source also of Old Norse ra, Old Saxon reho, Middle Dutch and Dutch ree, Old High German reh, German Reh "roe"), a word of uncertain origin; perhaps from PIE root *rei- "streaked, spotted, striped in various colors." Improperly used of the adult female of the hart.ETD roe (n.2).2

    roe (n.1)

    "mass of fish eggs," mid-15c., roughe, probably from an unrecorded Old English *hrogn, from Proto-Germanic *khrugnaz (source also of Old Norse hrogn, Danish rogn, Swedish rom, Flemish rog, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch roge, Old High German rogo, German Rogen "roe"), from PIE *krek- "frog spawn, fish eggs" (source also of Lithuanian kurklė, Russian krjak "spawn of frogs"). The exact relation of the Germanic words to each other is unclear, and the Middle English word might be rather from Middle Dutch.ETD roe (n.1).2

    roebuck (n.)

    "male of the roe deer," c. 1200, from roe (n.2) + buck (n.1). Similar formation in Dutch reebok, German Rehbock, Danish raabuck.ETD roebuck (n.).2


    in physics, 1896, in Roentgen rays "X-rays," in recognition of German physicist Wilhem Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923), who discovered X-rays in 1895. As a unit of exposure to radiation, it is attested from 1922, proposed in French in 1921.ETD roentgen.2

    rofl (interj.)

    by 1993, online chat abbreviation for rolling on the floor laughing.ETD rofl (interj.).2

    rogation (n.)

    late 14c., rogacioun, in Church use, "a solemn supplication" (especially as said in a procession, a reference to Rogation days), from Old French rogacion and directly from Latin rogationem (nominative rogatio) "an asking, prayer, entreaty," also a specific term in Roman jurisprudence, noun of action from past-participle stem of rogare "to ask, inquire, question," also "to propose (a law, a candidate)," via the notion of "ask" the people; also especially "ask a favor, entreat, request." Apparently this is a figurative use of a PIE verb meaning literally "to stretch out (the hand)," from *rog-, variant of the root *reg- "move in a straight line." Related: Rogations.ETD rogation (n.).2

    Rogation days were the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Ascension Day, a time for processions round fields blessing crops and praying for good harvest, also blessing the boundary markers of each parish. Discouraged by Protestants as superstition, they were continued or revived in modified form as beating the bounds.ETD rogation (n.).3


    masc. proper name, from Old French Rogier, from Old High German Hrotger, literally "famous with the spear," from hruod- "fame, glory" + ger "spear" (see gar (n.)). "The name was introduced from Norman where OG Rodger was reinforced by the cognate ON Hroðgeirr" [Dictionary of English Surnames]. Pet forms include Hodge and Dodge. As a generic name for "a person," attested from 1630s. In 16c.-17c. cant, "a goose." Slang meaning "penis" was popular c. 1650-c. 1870; hence the slang verb sense of "to copulate with (a woman)," which is attested from 1711.ETD Roger.2

    The use of the word in radio communication to mean "yes, I understand" is attested from 1941, from the U.S. military phonetic alphabet word for the letter -R-, in this case an abbreviation for "received." It is said to have been used likewise by the R.A.F. since 1938. Roger de Coverley, once a favorite English country dance, is said to have been so called from 1685. Addison took him early 18c. as the name of a recurring character in the "Spectator."ETD Roger.3


    also Rodgers, surname; see Roger.ETD Rogers.2


    a reference to the "Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases" published 1852 by English philologist Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869). The surname is a diminutive of Roger. Related: Roget's.ETD Roget.2

    rogue (n.)

    1560s, "idle vagrant, sturdy beggar, one of the vagabond class," a word of shadowy origin, perhaps a shortened form of roger (with a hard -g-), thieves' slang for a begging vagabond who pretends to be a poor scholar from Oxford or Cambridge, which is perhaps an agent noun in English from Latin rogare "to ask." Another theory [Klein] traces it to Celtic (compare Breton rog "haughty"); OED says, "There is no evidence of connexion with F. rogue 'arrogant' " (the theory supported in Century Dictionary).ETD rogue (n.).2

    By 1570s, generally, as "dishonest, unprincipled person, rascal." In slight playful or affectionate use, "one who is mischievous," 1590s. Meaning "large wild beast living apart from the herd" is by 1859, originally of elephants. As an adjective, in reference to something uncontrolled, irresponsible, or undisciplined, by 1964. Also common in 17c. as a verb. Rogue's gallery "police collection of mug shots of notorious law-breakers" is attested from 1859.ETD rogue (n.).3

    roguery (n.)

    1590s, "behavior or practices characteristic of rogues; the life of a vagrant," from rogue (n.) + -ery. From 1610s as "knavish tricks, dishonest practices, rascally acts."ETD roguery (n.).2

    roguish (adj.)

    1570s, "pertaining to or appropriate to rogues," from rogue + -ish. From 1580s as "playfully mischievous." Related: Roguishly; roguishness.ETD roguish (adj.).2

    Rohypnol (n.)

    1995, trade name for a powerful insomnia drug.ETD Rohypnol (n.).2

    roil (v.)

    1580s, "render (liquid) turbid or muddy by stirring up dregs or sediment," also figurative, "excite to some degree of anger, perturb," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps it is from French rouiller "to rust, make muddy," from Old French roil "mud, muck, rust" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *robicula, from Latin robigo "rust" (see robust). Or perhaps from Old French ruiler "to mix mortar," from late Latin regulare "to regulate" (see regulate). Or perhaps somehow imitative. An earlier borrowing of the French verb is Middle English roil "to roam or rove about" (early 14c.); also compare rile (v.), formerly the common colloquial form in the U.S. Related: Roiled; roiling.ETD roil (v.).2

    roister (v.)

    "bluster, swagger, be bold, noisy, vaunting, or turbulent," 1580s, from an obsolete noun roister "noisy, uncontrollable bully" (1550s, displaced or lost when roisterer began to be used, by 1745; Johnson still has roister as the main form of the noun), from French ruistre "ruffian," from Old French ruiste "boorish, gross, uncouth," from Latin rusticus "rough, coarse, awkward," literally "of the country" (see rustic (adj.)). Ralph Royster-Doyster is the title and lead character of what is or was sometimes called the first English comedy (Nicholas Udall, 1555). Related: Roistered; roistering; riosterous; roisterously.ETD roister (v.).2


    masc. proper name, from French, from Old High German Hrodland, literally "(having a) famous land," from hrod- "fame, glory" (from Proto-Germanic *hrothi-) + land (see land (n.)). The name of the legendary nephew of Charlemagne, celebrated in "Chanson de Roland" (c. 1300) and suchlike romances. His comrade was Oliver, hence a Roland for an Oliver (1610s) in expressions meaning "to give as good as one gets, tit for tat."ETD Roland.2

    role (n.)

    c. 1600, "part or character one takes," from French rôle "part played by a person in life," literally "roll" (of paper) on which an actor's part is written, from Old French rolle (see roll (n.)). Not originally in English with direct reference to actors and the stage, but figurative of them. The meaning "any conspicuous function performed characteristically by someone" is by 1875. In the social psychology sense is from 1913. Role model, one taken by others as a model in performance of some role, is attested by 1957.ETD role (n.).2

    roleplay (n.)

    also role-play, "act or condition of behaving as another would behave in a certain situation," 1958, from the verbal phrase, "to act out the role of" (by 1949); see role (n.) + play (v.). Related: Role-playingETD roleplay (n.).2

    Rolex (n.)

    proprietary name of a make of watches, registered 1908 by German businessman Hans Wilsdorf, with Wilsdorf & Davis, London. Invented name. The company moved out of Britain 1912 for tax purposes and thence was headquartered in Geneva.ETD Rolex (n.).2


    masc. proper name, introduced in England by the Normans, from Old Norse Hrolfr, related to Old High German Hrodulf, literally "wolf of fame" (see Rudolph). Rolfing (1972) as a deep massage technique is named for U.S. physiotherapist Ida P. Rolf (1897-1979), and is attested from 1958 (as Rolf Technique).ETD Rolf.2


    14c. as a present-participle adjective from roll (v.), "that turns over and over, moving by means of rolling." The meaning "moving on wheels or as if on wheels" is by 1560s. Of thunder, etc., "making continuous noise," 1650s. The sense of "waving, undulating," of prairie land, etc., is from 1819. The meaning "staggered, rotating," of strikes, blackouts, etc., is by 1961.ETD rolling.2

    From mid-15c. as a verbal noun. Rolling-pin "cylindrical piece of wood, etc., with a handle at each end, with which dough, etc. are reduced to proper thickness," is recorded from late 15c. Rolling-paper for cigarettes, etc., is by 1969. Rolling stock "wheeled vehicles on a railroad" (locomotives, carriages, etc.) is by 1853.ETD rolling.3

    Hence figurative use of rolling stone, of persons, "a rambler, a wanderer" (1610s).ETD rolling.4

    roll (n.2)

    1743, "act of rolling," from roll (v.). By 1836 as "a rolling gait or motion." From 1680s as "a rapid, uniform beating" (on a drum). The slang meaning "act of sexual intercourse" is attested from 1942 (compare roll in the hay). By 1862 as "an act of rotation." The sense of "a throw" (at dice) is attested by 1926. The colloquial expression on a roll for "enjoying a run of success" is by 1976.ETD roll (n.2).2

    roll (v.)

    early 14c., rollen, "turn over and over, move by rotating" (intransitive); late 14c. in the transitive sense of "move (something) by turning it over and over;" from Old French roeller "roll, wheel round" (Modern French rouler), from Medieval Latin rotulare, from Latin rotula, diminutive of rota "wheel" (see rotary). Related: Rolled; rolling.ETD roll (v.).2

    From c. 1400 as "wrap or cover by rolling or enclosing" in something, also "wrap round and round an axis;" early 15c. as "press or level with a roller." From 1510s as "to move or travel on wheels or by means of rolling." Of sounds (such as thunder) somehow suggestive of a rolling ball, 1590s; of a drum from 1680s.ETD roll (v.).3

    Of spoken sounds, "to utter with vibrations of the tongue," by 1846. Of eyes, from late 14c. (rolle his eyne), originally suggestive of ferocity or madness. Of a movie camera, "to start filming," from 1938. Sense of "rob a stuporous drunk" is by 1873, from the action required to get to his pockets. To roll up "gather, congregate" is from 1861, originally Australian. To roll with the punches is a metaphor from boxing (1940). To roll them bones was old slang for "play at dice" (1929). Heads will roll is a Hitlerism:ETD roll (v.).4

    roll (n.1)

    c. 1200, rolle, "rolled-up piece of parchment or paper, scroll" (especially one inscribed with an official record), from Old French rolle "document, parchment scroll, decree" (12c.), Medieval Latin rotulus "a roll of paper" (source also of Spanish rollo, Italian rullo), from Latin rotula "small wheel," diminutive of rota "wheel" (see rotary). Dutch rol, German Rolle, Danish rulle, etc. are from French.ETD roll (n.1).2

    The meaning "a register, a list, a catalogue" is from late 14c., common from c. 1800. The general sense of "quantity of material rolled up" also is from late 14c. Specific cookery meaning "small quantity of dough which is rolled before baking" is recorded from mid-15c. The meaning "quantity of paper money" is from 1846; the sense of "quantity of (rolled) film" is from 1890.ETD roll (n.1).3

    rollback (n.)

    also roll-back; 1937 as "action of rolling backward;" 1942, American English, as "a reduction" in prices, etc., a journalist's and advertiser's word, from the verbal phrase; see roll (v.) + back (adv.).ETD rollback (n.).2

    roll-call (n.)

    also roll call, rollcall, "act of calling over a list of names," 1775, probably from the verbal phrase (to call (over) the roll is attested by 1680s); see roll (n.1) "list of names used to determine who is present" (a sense attested from 1590s) + call (v.).ETD roll-call (n.).2

    roller (n.)

    late 13c., "thing that rolls, roller for moving heavy objects;" late 14c., "a rolling pin," agent noun from roll (v.). The sense of "heavy cylinder for smoothing the ground is from 1520s.ETD roller (n.).2

    Meaning "hair-curler" is attested from 1795; as a printer's tool, by 1790; as a device for applying paint, etc. to a flat surface, by 1955. The meaning "long, heavy, swelling wave" is by 1829. In combinations, it often means "done on or by means of roller-skates," for example roller derby (by 1936; see derby); roller hockey (1926); roller-disco (1978). Disparaging religious term holy roller is attested from 1842, American English, from the alleged rolling in the church aisles done by those in the Spirit.ETD roller (n.).3

    Rollerblade (n.)

    1985, a registered proprietary name in U.S., from roller, perhaps abstracted from roller-skate, + blade (n.). As a verb by 1988. Related: Rollerblading.ETD Rollerblade (n.).2

    roller-coaster (n.)

    also rollercoaster, and originally roller coaster, by 1884, from roller + coaster. As a verb by 1959.ETD roller-coaster (n.).2

    roller-skate (n.)

    also rollerskate, "a skate mounted on small wheels instead of iron or steel runners," 1861, American English, from roller + skate (n.2). The verb is from 1885. Related: Roller-skated; roller-skater; roller-skating.ETD roller-skate (n.).2

    rollicking (adj.)

    "moving in a careless, swaggering manner; with a frolicsome air," 1811, present-participle adjective from rollick "be jovial in behavior" (though this does not seem to appear in print before 1826), which perhaps is a blend of roll (v.) and frolic (v.).ETD rollicking (adj.).2

    rollout (n.)

    also roll-out, 1957, "action of wheeling out," originally of airplanes, from the verbal phrase; see roll (v.) + out (adv.). As a type of U.S. football play by 1959.ETD rollout (n.).2

    rollover (n.)

    also roll-over "an overturning," 1945, from the verbal phrase; see roll (v.) + over (adv.).ETD rollover (n.).2

    Rolls-Royce (n.)

    registered 1908 as trademark, named for designers C.S. Rolls (1877-1910) and Sir Henry Royce (1863-1933). Figurative use is attested from 1916 for any product deemed to be of high quality. Shortened form Rolls is attested by 1928.ETD Rolls-Royce (n.).2

    roll-top (adj.)

    by 1884, of desks, "having a roll-top;" see roll (v.) + top (n.1).ETD roll-top (adj.).2

    Rolodex (n.)

    1958, said to be from rolling + index.ETD Rolodex (n.).2

    roly-poly (adj.)

    "short and stout," 1820, probably a varied reduplication of roll (v.). As a noun, it was used as the name of various bowling ball games from 1713, and it was used as early as 1610s in the sense of "rascal." As an appellation of a short, stout person, by 1836.ETD roly-poly (adj.).2


    "male Gypsy," 1841, see Romany.ETD Rom.2

    romaine (adj.)

    type of lettuce, 1876, from French romaine (in laitue romaine, literally "Roman lettuce"), from fem. of Old French romain "Roman," from Latin Romanus (see Roman). Ayto ["Diner's Dictionary," 1990] defines it as "The American term for the long-leaved lettuce usually known to British-speakers as the cos lettuce," and writes that the name probably arose because it was imported into Western Europe from the eastern Mediterranean at first via the port of Rome. He compares Italian lattuga romana and notes that "the earliest English term for it, dating from the beginning of the seventeenth century, was Roman lettuce."ETD romaine (adj.).2


    noun and adjective, Old English, "of or pertaining to ancient Rome; an inhabitant or native of ancient Rome," from Latin Romanus "of Rome, Roman," from Roma "Rome" (see Rome). The adjective is c. 1300, from Old French Romain. The Old English adjective was romanisc, which yielded Middle English Romanisshe.ETD Roman.2

    In reference to a type of numeral (usually contrasted to Arabic) it is attested from 1728; as a type of lettering (based on the upright style typical of Roman inscriptions, contrasted to Gothic, or black letter, and italic) it is recorded from 1510s. The Roman nose, having a prominent upper part, is so called by 1620s. The Roman candle as a type of fireworks is recorded from 1834. Roman Catholic is attested from c. 1600, a conciliatory formation from the time of the Spanish Match, replacing Romanist, Romish which by that time had the taint of insult in Protestant England.ETD Roman.3

    Romanic (adj.)

    "pertaining to Rome or the Roman people," 1708, originally and usually in reference to languages or dialects descended from Latin, from Latin Romanicus, from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman; also compare romance (n.)).ETD Romanic (adj.).2

    roman (n.)

    "a novel," 1765, from French roman, from Old French romanz (see romance (n.)). Roman à clef, novel in which characters represent real persons, literally "novel with a key" (French), is attested in English by 1893. And, in the days when a tec was popular reading, roman policier "a story of police detection" (1928).ETD roman (n.).2

    Romanism (n.)

    "Roman Catholicism" (usually, if not always, with a disparaging savor; in some contexts suggesting political allegiance to the Vatican), 1670s, from Roman + -ism. Other words in the same sense from about the same time were Romanish (Old English, but 1590s specifically of Catholics); Romanist (1520s); Romanistic.ETD Romanism (n.).2

    Romanize (v.)

    c. 1600, "make Roman in character," from Roman + -ize. Intransitive sense of "follow Roman customs" is by 1620s; that of "become a Roman Catholic" is by 1630s. Related: Romanized; Romanizing; Romanization.ETD Romanize (v.).2

    romancer (n.)

    mid-14c., "chronicler writing in French," from Anglo-French romancour, Old French romanceour, from romanz (see romance (n.)). From 1660s as "one who writes extravagant fictions;" later, "one inclined to romantic imagination" (the main 19c. sense); modern use for "seducer, wooer having a romantic quality" appears to be a new formation c. 1967 from romance (v.).ETD romancer (n.).2

    romance (n.)

    c. 1300, romaunce, "a story, written or recited, in verse, telling of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc.," often one designed principally for entertainment, from Old French romanz "verse narrative" (Modern French roman), also "the vulgar language." It was originally an adverb, "in the vernacular language," from the Vulgar Latin verbal phrase *romanice scribere "to write in a Romance language" (one developed from Latin instead of Frankish), from Latin Romanicus "of or in the Roman style," from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).ETD romance (n.).2

    The sense evolution is because medieval vernacular tales (as opposed to Latin texts) typically told chivalric adventures full of marvelous incidents and heroic deeds. "The spelling with -aunce, -ance was very early adopted in English, probably on the analogy of abstract sbs." [OED].ETD romance (n.).3

    In reference to literary works, in Middle English often meaning ones written in French but also applied to native compositions. The literary sense was extended by 1660s to "a love story, the class of literature consisting of love stories and romantic fiction."ETD romance (n.).4

    The meaning "imaginative, adventurous quality" is recorded by 1801; that of "love affair" is by 1916. Romance novel is attested by 1820. Compare Romance (adj.).ETD romance (n.).5

    romance (v.)

    late 14c., romauncen, "recite a narrative poem," from romance (n.) and also from Old French romancier "narrate in French; translate into French," from romanz (n.). Later "invent fictitious stories" (1670s), then "be romantically enthusiastic" (1849); meaning "court as a lover" is from 1938, probably from romance (n.). Related: Romanced; romancing.ETD romance (v.).2


    mid-14c., "French; in the vernacular language of France" (contrasted to Latin), from Old French romanz "French; vernacular," from Late Latin Romanice, from Latin Romanicus (see Roman). Extended 1610s to other modern tongues in the south and west of Europe derived from Latin (Spanish, Italian, etc.); thus, collectively, "pertaining to the modern languages which arose out of the Latin of the provinces of Rome." Compare romance (n.).ETD Romance.2

    Romanesque (adj.)

    1715, "descended from Latin" (compare romance (n.)), later "architectural style in Western Europe between the Roman and Gothic periods" (1819), from Roman + -esque. Influenced by French romanesque, from Late Latin Romanice "in Vulgar Latin." As a noun, "the early medieval style in architecture," by 1830.ETD Romanesque (adj.).2

    Roman holiday (n.)

    "occasion on which entertainment or profit is derived from injury or death of another," 1860, originally in reference to holidays for gladiatorial combat; the expression seems to be entirely traceable to an oft-quoted passage on a dying barbarian gladiator from the fourth canto (1818) of Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":ETD Roman holiday (n.).2

    Romany (n.)

    "a Gypsy; the Gypsy language," 1812, romani, fem. of romano (adj.) "Gypsy," from rom, the Romany word for "man, husband, male, Gypsy" (plural roma), from Sanskrit domba-s ("with initial cerebral d, which confuses with r" [Klein]) "male member of a low caste of musicians."ETD Romany (n.).2


    Eastern European nation, the name taken officially in 1861 at the union of the old lands of Wallachia and Moldavia, from Latin Romani "people from Rome," which was used to describe the descendants of colonists there from Roman times; see Roman + -ia. In late 19c., early 20c. often Rumania, or, from French, Roumania. Related: Romanian; Rumanian; Roumanian. In Middle English, Romanie was "the Roman Empire," from Latin Romania. Romanian in the sense of "of or pertaining to Gypsies" is by 1841 (see Romany).ETD Romania.2


    strong-tasting hard cheese, 1908, from Italian, literally "Roman" (see Roman).ETD Romano.2


    word-forming element meaning "pertaining to Rome or Romans or their language," from combining form of Latin Romanus (see Roman).ETD Romano-.2


    "Rhaeto-Romanic," the Latin-derived language spoken in the Grisons region of eastern Switzerland, 1660s, from Grisons Rumansch, from Late Latin Romanice "in Vulgar Latin" (see romance (n.)).ETD Romansh.2

    romantic (adj.)

    1650s, "of the nature of a literary romance, partaking of the heroic or marvelous," from French romantique "pertaining to romance," from romant "a romance," an oblique case or variant of Old French romanz "verse narrative" (see romance (n.)).ETD romantic (adj.).2

    Of places, "characterized by poetic or inspiring scenery," by 1705. As a literary style, opposed to classical (q.v.) since before 1812; it was used of schools of poetry in Germany (late 18c.) and later France. In music, "characterized by expression of feeling more than formal methods of composition," from 1885. Meaning "characteristic of an ideal love affair" (such as usually formed the subject of literary romances) is from 1660s. Meaning "having a love affair as a theme" is from 1960. Related: Romantical (1670s); romantically; romanticality. Compare romanticism.ETD romantic (adj.).3

    romantic (n.)

    1827 as "an adherent of romantic virtues in literature," from romantic (adj.). Earlier "a feature suggestive of romance" (1670s).ETD romantic (n.).2

    romanticism (n.)

    1803, "a romantic idea," from romantic + -ism. In literature, 1823, in a French context, in reference to a movement toward medieval forms (especially in reaction to classical ones), an association now more often confined to Romanesque. The movement began in German and spread to England and France. Generalized sense of "a tendency toward romantic ideas" is recorded by 1840.ETD romanticism (n.).2

    romanticize (v.)

    "render romantic in character," 1818, from romantic + -ize. Related: Romanticized; romanticizing; romanticization.ETD romanticize (v.).2

    romanticist (n.)

    "one imbued with romanticism" in literature, arts, etc., 1821; see romantic + -ist.ETD romanticist (n.).2

    rom com (n.)

    also rom-com, used in print by 1937. Short for romantic comedy, originally from the abbreviation for romance + comedy.ETD rom com (n.).2


    capital of Italy; seat of an ancient republic and empire; city of the Papacy, Old English, from Old French Rome, from Latin Roma, a word of uncertain origin. "The original Roma quadrata was the fortified enclosure on the Palatine hill," according to Tucker, who finds "no probability" in derivation from *sreu- "flow," and suggests the name is "most probably" from *urobsma (urbs, robur) and otherwise, "but less likely" from *urosma "hill" (compare Sanskrit varsman- "height, point," Lithuanian viršus "upper"). Another suggestion [Klein] is that it is from Etruscan (compare Rumon, former name of Tiber River).ETD Rome.2

    Common in proverbs, such as Rome was not buylt in one daye (1540s); for when a man doth to Rome come, he must do as there is done (1590s); All roads lead to Rome (1795).ETD Rome.3

    Romeo (n.)

    "a lover, passionate admirer, seducer of women," 1766, from the name of the hero in Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" (1590s).ETD Romeo (n.).2

    Romish (adj.)

    "Roman-Catholic," 1530s, "commonly used in a slightly invidious sense" [Century Dictionary], from Rome + -ish.ETD Romish (adj.).2

    romp (n.)

    1734, "a piece of lively play," from romp (v.). From 1706 as "a wanton, merry, rude girl," in this sense perhaps a variant of ramp (n.2) suggested by the notion of "girl who indulges in boisterous play."ETD romp (n.).2

    romp (v.)

    1709, "to play rudely and boisterously, sport, frolic," perhaps a variant of ramp (v.); but also see romp (n.). Meaning "to win (a contest) with great ease" is attested by 1888, in early use often in horse-racing. Related: Romped; romping.ETD romp (v.).2

    romper (n.)

    1842, "one who romps," agent noun from romp (v.). Rompers "small children's overalls" is attested by 1909, with ending perhaps on the model of trousers.ETD romper (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from Old Norse Rögnvaldr "Having the Gods' Power," from rögn "gods," literally "decreeing powers" (plural of regin "decree") + valdr "ruler" (from Proto-Germanic *waldan, from PIE root *wal- "to be strong").ETD Ronald.2

    rondeau (n.)

    "a short poem in fixed form; a metrical form of 10 or 13 lines with but two rhymes," 1520s, from French rondeau, from Old French rondel "short poem" (see rondel). "In Flanders Fields" and "Jenny Kiss'd Me" are notable English examples.ETD rondeau (n.).2

    rondel (n.)

    late 14c., rondeal, a short poem in a fixed form consisting of thirteen or fourteen lines on two rhymes, with regular repetitions, from Old French rondel "short poem," literally "small circle" (13c.), diminutive of roont (fem. roonde) "circular" (see round (adj.)). So called because the initial couplet is repeated at the end.ETD rondel (n.).2

    rondo (n.)

    "musical composition of one principal theme, which is repeated at least once," 1797, from Italian rondo, from French rondeau, rondel, from Old French rondel "little round" (see rondel).ETD rondo (n.).2

    ronin (n.)

    "masterless man, outcast, outlaw," 1865, from Japanese, ronin "a samurai who has renounced his clan or been dismissed from service and dispossessed for some offense," said to be from ro "wave" + nin "man," on the notion of "floating man."ETD ronin (n.).2

    roo (n.)

    Australian colloquial shortening of kangaroo, attested from 1904.ETD roo (n.).2

    rood (n.)

    Middle English rode, "a cross; a crucifix," especially a large one, from Old English rod "cross," especially that upon which Christ suffered, from Proto-Germanic *rod- (source also of Old Saxon ruoda "stake, pile, cross," Old Norse roða, Old Frisian rode, Middle Dutch roede, Old High German ruota, German Rute "rod, pole"), which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps it shares a PIE root with Latin ratis "raft," retae "trees standing on the bank of a stream;" Old Church Slavonic ratiste "spear, staff;" Lithuanian reklės "scaffolding," but de Vaan is doubtful. Probably not connected with rod.ETD rood (n.).2

    Also in Old English "a pole;" and in Middle English also a local measure varying from 6 to 8 yards and a square measure of land.ETD rood (n.).3

    roof (n.)

    "outer upper covering of a house or other building," Middle English rof, from Old English hrof "roof," also "ceiling," hence figuratively "highest point, top, summit" also "heaven, the sky;" from Proto-Germanic *khrofam (source also of Old Frisian rhoof "roof," Middle Dutch roof, rouf "cover, roof," Dutch roef "deckhouse, cabin, coffin-lid," Middle High German rof "penthouse," Old Norse hrof "boat shed").ETD roof (n.).2

    No apparent connections outside Germanic. "English alone has retained the word in a general sense, for which the other languages use forms corresponding to OE. þæc thatch" [OED]. Meaning "top of a carriage, etc." is by 1706. The meaning "upper part of the mouth, the hard palate" was in late Old English (hrof ðæs muðes). To raise the roof "create an uproar" is attested from 1860, originally in U.S. Southern dialect.ETD roof (n.).3

    roof (v.)

    "provide a roof for, cover with a roof," early 15c., rofen, from roof (n.). Related: Roofed; roofing.ETD roof (v.).2

    roofer (n.)

    "one who makes or repairs roofs," 1835, agent noun from roof (v.).ETD roofer (n.).2

    roofline (n.)

    also roof-line, "the outline or silhouette of a roof or range of roofs," by 1829, from roof (n.) + line (n.).ETD roofline (n.).2

    rooftop (n.)

    also roof-top, "the top of a roof," 1610s, from roof (n.) + top (n.1). As an adjective by 1935 in reference to anything situated on top of a building.ETD rooftop (n.).2

    rooibos (n.)

    1911, from Afrikaans rooibos, literally "red bush," from rooi "red," from Dutch roi (see red (adj.1)) + bos "bush" (see bush (n.1)).ETD rooibos (n.).2

    rook (v.)

    "to defraud by cheating" (originally especially in a game), 1580s, probably from rook (n.1) in the "cheat" sense. Related: Rooked; rooking.ETD rook (v.).2

    rook (n.1)

    [European crow], Middle English roke, from Old English hroc, from Proto-Germanic *khrokaz (source also of Old Norse hrokr, Middle Dutch roec, Dutch roek, Middle Swedish roka, Old High German hruoh "crow"), probably imitative of its raucous voice. Compare crow (n.), also Gaelic roc "croak," Sanskrit kruc "to cry out." Used as a disparaging term for persons at least since c. 1500, and extended by 1570s to mean "a cheat," especially at cards or dice, also, later "a simpleton, a gull, one liable to be cheated" (1590s). For sense, compare gull (n.2).ETD rook (n.1).2

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