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    rook (n.2) — Roundhead (n.)

    rook (n.2)

    [chess piece], c. 1300, roke, in chess, "one of the four pieces placed on the corners of the board," from Old French roc, Medieval Latin rocus, rochus, all from Arabic rukhkh, from Persian rukh, a name of unknown meaning, perhaps somehow related to the Indian name for the piece, rut, from Hindi rath "chariot." It was confused in Middle English with roc.ETD rook (n.2).2

    rookery (n.)

    "a colony of rooks, a place where rooks congregate to breed," 1725, from rook (n.1) + -ery.ETD rookery (n.).2

    rookie (n.)

    "raw recruit," 1868, a word popularized by Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads" (1892) but one of uncertain origin, perhaps from recruit and influenced by rook (n.1) in its secondary sense, suggesting "easy to cheat." Barrère ["A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant," 1890] has "Rookey (army), a recruit; from the black coat some of them wear," which suggests it is from rook (n.1). The word came into general use in American English during the Spanish-American War.ETD rookie (n.).2

    room (n.)

    Middle English roum, from Old English rum "space, extent; sufficient space, fit occasion (to do something)," from Proto-Germanic *ruman (source also of Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic rum, German Raum "space," Dutch ruim "hold of a ship, nave"), nouns formed from Germanic adjective *ruma- "roomy, spacious," from PIE root *reue- (1) "to open; space" (source also of Avestan ravah- "space," Latin rus "open country," Old Irish roi, roe "plain field," Old Church Slavonic ravinu "level," Russian ravnina "a plain").ETD room (n.).2

    Old English also had a frequent adjective rum "roomy, wide, long, spacious," also an adverb, rumlice "bigly, corpulently" (Middle English roumli).ETD room (n.).3

    The meaning "chamber, cabin" is recorded by early 14c. as a nautical term; applied by mid-15c. to interior division of a building separated by walls or partitions; the Old English word for this was cofa, ancestor of cove. The sense of "persons assembled in a room" is by 1712.ETD room (n.).4

    Make room "open a passage, make way" is from mid-15c. Room-service is attested from 1913; room-temperature, comfortable for the occupants of a room, is so called from 1879. Roomth "sufficient space" (1530s, with -th (2)) now is obsolete.ETD room (n.).5

    room (v.)

    "to occupy a room or rooms" (especially with another) as a lodger," by 1825 (implied in roomed), from room (n.). Related: Rooming. Rooming-house, "house which lets furnished apartments," is by 1889, according to OED "chiefly U.S." In Old English (rumian) and Middle English the verb meant "become clear of obstacles; make clear of, evict."ETD room (v.).2

    roomer (n.)

    "one who hires a room, a lodger," 1871, agent noun from room (v.).ETD roomer (n.).2

    roomy (adj.)

    "having ample room, spacious, capacious," 1620s, from room (n.) + -y (2). Related: Roominess. Also used in this sense was roomsome (1580s); the earlier adjective simply was room (Middle English roum, Old English rum) "wide, broad, large, spacious."ETD roomy (adj.).2

    roommate (n.)

    also room-mate, "one who shares a room with another or others," 1789, American English, from room (n.) + mate (n.). Short form roomie is by 1918.ETD roommate (n.).2

    roose (v.)

    c. 1200, "to boast;" c. 1300, "to praise, commend highly," a word that survived in Scottish dialect and Sir Walter, from Middle English rosen "to brag, boast" (late 12c.), from Old Norse hrosa "to boast of, to praise." Related: Roosed; roosing. Also as a noun from c. 1200, "a boasting, bragging, vainglory."ETD roose (v.).2


    the presidential family in America originally bore the name Van Roosevelt, "of the field of roses," descriptive of their estates in Holland. Claes Martenszen Van Rosenvelt, emigrated to New Amsterdam 1649. His son (1653) and all his descendants dropped the "Van." Related: Rooseveltian.ETD Roosevelt.2

    roost (v.)

    1520s, "occupy a roost, perch as a bird," from roost (n.). Related: Roosted; roosting. Chickens come home to roost in reference to eventual consequences of bad actions attested from 1824; the original proverb seems to have been curses, like chickens, come home to roost.ETD roost (v.).2

    roost (n.)

    Middle English roste, "a chicken's perch," from late Old English hrost "wooden framework of a roof; pole or perch upon which domestic fowl perch or rest for the night," from Proto-Germanic *hro(d)-st- (source also of Old Saxon hrost "framework of a roof, attic," Middle Dutch, Flemish, Dutch roest "roost," Old Norse hrot, Gothic hrot "roof"), a word of unknown origin. Extended sense "hen-house" is from 1580s; that of "fowls which occupy the roost collectively" is by 1827.ETD roost (n.).2

    To rule the roost is recorded from 1769, according to OED apparently an alteration of earlier rule the roast "be the master, have authority " (c. 1500), which, OED reports, was "In very common use from c 1530 onwards." However, Fowler (1926) has doubts: "most unliterary persons say roost & not roast ; I have just inquired of three such, & been informed that they never heard of rule the roast, & that the reference is to a cock keeping his hens in order. Against this tempting piece of popular etymology the OED offers us nothing more succulent than "None of the early examples throw any light on the precise origin of the expression'." The spelling in the earliest example is reule the roste.ETD roost (n.).3

    rooster (n.)

    "cock, male of the domestic hen," 1772, agent noun from roost (v.); earlier roost cock, c. 1600, in sense of "the roosting bird." Said to have become favored in the U.S. (it was noted by 1836 as a Yankeeism) and said to have been originally a puritan alternative to cock (n.) after that word had acquired the secondary sense "penis" (and compare roach).ETD rooster (n.).2

    root (n.)

    "underground, downward-growing part of a plant," late Old English rōt and in part from a Scandinavian cognate akin to Old Norse rot "root," figuratively "cause, origin," from Proto-Germanic *wrot (source also of Old English wyrt "root, herb, plant," Old High German wurz, German Wurz "a plant," Gothic waurts "a root," with characteristic Scandinavian loss of -w- before -r-), from PIE root *wrād- "branch, root" (source of wort and radical). The usual Old English words for "root" were wyrttruma and wyrtwala.ETD root (n.).2

    Figurative use, "source of a quality or condition," is from late 12c. Of the base parts of teeth, hair, etc., from early 13c. Mathematical sense is from 1550s. Philological sense from 1520s. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1846. In African-American vernacular use, "a spell effected by magical properties of roots," by 1935. The sense of "person considered as the source or offspring of a family or clan" is by early 14c., chiefly biblical.ETD root (n.).3

    To take root is from mid-15c. as "settle in the ground," hence figurative use (by 1530s). Root beer, made from the extracts of various roots (sarsaparilla, sassafras, etc.), is recorded by 1841, American English; root doctor is from 1821. Roots "established ties with a locality or region; one's background or cultural origins" is by 1921.ETD root (n.).4

    root (v.3)

    "fix or firmly attach by roots" (often figurative), c. 1200, from root (n.); the sense of "pull up by the root" (now usually uproot) is from late 14c.; that of "put forth roots" is from c. 1400. Related: Rooted; rooting.ETD root (v.3).2

    root (v.1)

    "dig with the snout," 1530s, wroot, of swine, from Middle English wroten "dig with the snout," from Old English wrotan "to root up," from Proto-Germanic *wrot- (source also of Old Norse rota, Swedish rota "to dig out, root," Middle Low German wroten, Middle Dutch wroeten, Old High German ruozian "to plow up"), from PIE root *wrod- "to root, gnaw."ETD root (v.1).2

    Altered by association with root (v.3), as if "to dig up by the roots." Extended sense of "poke about, pry" is recorded by 1831. The picturesque phrase root hog or die "work or fail" first attested 1834, American English (in works of Davy Crockett, who noted it as an "old saying").ETD root (v.1).3

    root (v.2)

    "cheer, support," 1889, American English, originally in a baseball context, probably from root (v.1) via intermediate sense of "study, work hard" (1856). Related: Rooted; rooting.ETD root (v.2).2

    root-cellar (n.)

    "cellar set aside for storage of roots and tubers," 1822, from root (n.) + cellar (n.).ETD root-cellar (n.).2

    rooty (adj.)

    of ground, "abounding in roots," late 15c., from root (n.) + -y (2).ETD rooty (adj.).2

    rootless (adj.)

    late 14c., roteles, "without roots, having no root," from root (n.) + -less. Figurative use by 1650s. Related: Rootlessly; rootlessness.ETD rootless (adj.).2

    rope (n.)

    Middle English rop, from Old English rap "strong, heavy cord of considerable thickness," from Proto-Germanic *raipaz (source also of Old Norse reip, West Frisian reap, Middle Dutch, Dutch reep "rope," Old Frisian silrap "shoe-thong," Gothic skauda-raip "shoe-lace," Old High German, German reif "ring, hoop"). Technically, only cordage above one inch in circumference and below 10 (bigger-around than that is a cable). Nautical use varies. Finnish raippa "hoop, rope, twig" is a Germanic loan-word.ETD rope (n.).2

    It is attested by early 14c. as "a noose, a snare." Rope of sand (1620s) was an old figure for anything lacking coherence or binding power.ETD rope (n.).3

    To know the ropes "understand the way to do something" (1840, Dana) originally was a seaman's term. The phrase on the ropes "about to be defeated" is attested from 1924, a figurative extension from the fight ring, where being in or on the ropes was a figure by 1829.ETD rope (n.).4

    To be at the end of (one's) rope "out of resources and options" is attested by 1680s. An earlier expression was have too long rope "have too much freedom" (late 15c.).ETD rope (n.).5

    Rope formerly also figured in slang and extended-sense expressions related to punishment by hanging, such as John Roper's window "a noose," rope-ripe "deserving to be hanged," both 16c. The figurative phrase give someone (enough) rope (to hang himself) is by 1680s.ETD rope (n.).6

    rope (v.)

    early 14c., ropen, "bind (someone) with a rope," from rope (n.). The meaning "mark off with rope" is from 1738; to rope (someone or something) in "secure for some purpose," frequently with a notion of entanglement, is by 1848. Related: Roped; roping.ETD rope (v.).2

    roper (n.)

    "rope-maker," late 14c. (early 13c. as a surname), from rope (n.) + -er (1). Related: Ropery "place where ropes are made" (also known as a rope-walk, 1670s).ETD roper (n.).2

    ropy (adj.)

    "forming or developing slimy, viscous threads; sticky and stringy," late 15c. (Caxton), from rope (n.) + -y (2). Hence a general term of disapprobation. Related: Ropily; ropiness.ETD ropy (adj.).2


    type of cheese, 1837, from the village in the southwest of France, where it originally was made. Reference to salad dressing made from this kind of cheese is from 1943.ETD Roquefort.2


    1927, in reference to a personality test in which the subject is shown a series of standard ink blots and describes what they suggest or resemble; named for its developer, Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (1885-1922). The name of the town on the Swiss side of Lake Constance is from an early form of German Röhr "reeds" + Schachen "lakeside."ETD Rorschach.2


    fem. proper name, from Latin Rosa, literally "rose" (see rose (n.1)).ETD Rosa.2

    rosaceous (adj.)

    "rose-like; of or pertaining to roses," 1731, from Latin rosaceus "rose-colored," from rosa (see rose (n.1)).ETD rosaceous (adj.).2

    rosacea (n.)

    type of acne, 1876, short for acne rosacea (1833), from fem. of Latin rosaceus "rose-colored," from rosa (see rose (n.1)).ETD rosacea (n.).2

    rosary (n.)

    mid-15c., rosarie, "rose garden, ground set apart for the cultivation of roses," a sense now obsolete, from Latin rosarium "rose garden," in Medieval Latin also "garland; string of beads; series of prayers," from noun use of neuter of rosarius "of roses," from rosa "rose" (see rose (n.1)).ETD rosary (n.).2

    The sense of "series of prayers" is attested by 1540s, from French rosaire, a figurative use of the French word meaning "rose garden," on the notion of a "garden" of prayers. In high medieval times, collections often were compared to bouquets (compare anthology and Medieval Latin hortulus animae "prayerbook," literally "little garden of the soul"). The meaning was transferred by 1590s to the strings of beads carried on the person and used as a memory aid in reciting the rosary.ETD rosary (n.).3

    Roscius (n.)

    as a generic name or designation for a great actor, 1640s, from Quintus Roscius Gallus (d. 62 B.C.E.), the celebrated Roman actor. Since 19c., mostly (if at all), historical and in reference to David Garrick.ETD Roscius (n.).2

    roscoe (n.)

    "revolver," 1914, criminals' slang, from the proper name, for some reason.ETD roscoe (n.).2

    rose (n.1)

    a fragrant shrub noted for its beauty and its thorns, cultivated from remote antiquity, Old English rose, from Latin rosa (source of Italian and Spanish rosa, French rose; also source of Dutch roos, German Rose, Swedish ros, Serbo-Croatian ruža, Polish róża, Russian roza, Lithuanian rožė, Hungarian rózsa, Irish ros, Welsh rhosyn, etc.), probably via Italian and Greek dialects from Greek rhodon "rose" (Aeolic brodon).ETD rose (n.1).2

    Greek rhodon probably is ultimately from or related to the Iranian root *vrda-. Beekes writes that "The word is certainly borrowed from the East, probably like Arm[enian] vard 'rose' from OIran. *urda." Aramaic warda is from Old Persian; the modern Persian cognate, via the usual sound changes, is gul, source of Turkish gül "rose."ETD rose (n.1).3

    The form of the English word was influenced by the French. Used as a color name for a light crimson by 1520s (earlier rose-color, late 14c.; rose-red, early 13c.). As "person of great beauty or virtue," early 15c. A rose-bowl (by 1887) is one designed to hold cut roses.ETD rose (n.1).4

    The Wars of the Roses (by 1823; in 1807 as Wars of the Two Roses) was the English civil wars of 15c., the white rose was the badge of the House of York, the red of its rival Lancaster.ETD rose (n.1).5

    As an adjective, "of a rich red color characteristic of the rose," by 1816. Earlier adjectives were rose-red (c. 1300); rose-colored (1520s).ETD rose (n.1).6

    Roses often are figurative of favorable circumstances, hence bed of roses, attested from 1590s in the figurative sense. (In 15c. to be (or dwell) in flowers meant "be prosperous, flourish.") To come up roses "turn out perfectly" is attested by 1959; the image, though not the wording, is by 1855. To come out smelling like a rose is from 1968.ETD rose (n.1).7

    Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon ii.1) is attested from 1610s, named for the fertile strip of coastal Palestine (see Sharon), but the flower has not been identified. The name has been used in U.S. since 1847 of the Syrian hibiscus.ETD rose (n.1).8

    roseate (adj.)

    mid-15c., "rosy; full of roses," perhaps via Anglo-Latin roseatus, from Latin roseus "of or pertaining to roses," from rosa (see rose (n.1)). By 1580s as "light crimson or pink, of a rose color," hence "blooming."ETD roseate (adj.).2

    rosebud (n.)

    the bud of a rose, the flower of a rose before it blooms," c. 1500, from rose (n.1) + bud (n.). Hence, "young girl in her first bloom, a debutante."ETD rosebud (n.).2

    rose-colored (adj.)

    also rose-coloured, 1520s, "having a pink or light crimson color," from rose (n.1) + colored.ETD rose-colored (adj.).2

    The meaning "characterized by cheerful optimism" is perhaps on the notion of something uncommonly beautiful. In early use it often was applied to the mist or light that superficially brightened circumstances, and perhaps the earliest appearance of it in English is in the figurative phrase rose-colored spectacles, attested by 1830. The noun phrase rose-color meaning "a pleasant outlook" is said to be from or based on French couleur de rose (itself used in English poetry by 1831). Rosy is by 1775 in the secondary sense of "cheerful." There is a nonce use of rose-colourist for a cheerful optimist from 1852.ETD rose-colored (adj.).3

    rosemary (n.)

    evergreen shrub native to southern Europe and widely cultivated for its fragrance, late 14c., rose-marie, earlier rosmarine (c. 1300), from Latin rosmarinus, literally "dew of the sea" (compare French romarin), from ros "dew" + marinus "of the sea, maritime," from mare "sea, the sea, seawater" (from PIE root *mori- "body of water").ETD rosemary (n.).2

    Perhaps it was so called because it grew near coasts. The form was altered in English by influence of unrelated rose and Mary.ETD rosemary (n.).3

    Latin ros is from a PIE noun probably from *ers- "to be wet" (source also of Lithuanian rasa, Old Church Slavonic rosa "dew," Sanskrit rasah "sap, juice, fluid, essence," Hittite arszi "flows," and perhaps also Rha, Scythian name of the River Volga (see rhubarb)).ETD rosemary (n.).4

    rose-red (adj.)

    red like a rose," "c. 1300, from rose (n.1) + red (adj.1). As a noun, "a rose-red color," from c. 1400.ETD rose-red (adj.).2

    rosette (n.)

    "a rose-shaped ornament, any circular ornament having many small parts in concentric circles," especially a bunch or knot of ribbons worn as a decoration, 1790, from French rosette, diminutive of rose "rose" (see rose (n.1)).ETD rosette (n.).2

    Rosetta Stone (n.)

    discovered 1798 at Rosetta, Egypt; now in British Museum. Dating to 2c. B.C.E., its trilingual inscription helped Jean-François Champollion decipher Egyptian demotic and hieroglyphics in 1822, which opened the way to the study of all early Egyptian records. Hence, figurative use of the term to mean "something which provides the key to previously unattainable understanding" (1902). The place name is a Europeanization of Rashid, a name given because it was founded c.800 C.E. by Caliph Harun ar-Rashid.ETD Rosetta Stone (n.).2

    rose-water (n.)

    late 14c., "water tinctured with oil of roses by distillation," from rose (n.1) + water (n.1). Symbolic of affected delicacy or sentimentalism. Similar formation in Middle Dutch rosenwater, Dutch rozenwater, German Rosenwasser.ETD rose-water (n.).2

    rosewood (n.)

    1650s, "close-grained wood of various Brazilian trees," from rose (n.1) + wood (n.). The name is due to the scent of some species when freshly cut. Later applied to similar woods from other sources.ETD rosewood (n.).2

    Rosh Hashanah (n.)

    Jewish new year, 1846, from Hebrew rosh hashshanah, literally "head of the year," from rosh "head of" + hash-shanah "the year."ETD Rosh Hashanah (n.).2

    rosy (adj.)

    c. 1200, "rose-colored, having a pink hue," of a color, from rose (n.1) + -y (2), probably modeled on Old French rose. By 1580s as "resembling a rose" in some sense, especially "fragrant." From 1590s of healthy complexions. The meaning "promising" is by 1887. Similar formation in Middle Dutch rosich, Dutch rozig, German rosig. The Homeric rosy-fingered was in "Faerie Queene" (1590). For figurative senses, see rose-colored.ETD rosy (adj.).2

    Rosicrucian (n.)

    member of a supposed secret society possessing ancient occult wisdom, 1620s, from Modern Latin rosa crucis (DuCange) or crux, in either case a Latinization of German Rosenkreuz, French rosecroix, in either case from the name of the society's reputed founder, Christian Rosenkreuz, said to date from 1484 but not mentioned before 1614. As an adjective from 1660s. Related: Rosicrucianism.ETD Rosicrucian (n.).2

    rosin (n.)

    "distillate of turpentine," especially when in a solid state and employed for ordinary purposes, late 13c., from Old French raisine, rousine, variants of résine (see resin). The verb, "to cover or rub with rosin," is from mid-14c. Related: Rosined; rosining.ETD rosin (n.).2

    Rosinante (n.)

    Don Quixote's horse, from Spanish Rocinante, from rocin "worn-out horse" + antes "before," "so called in allusion to the circumstance that Don Quixote's charger was formerly a wretched hack" [Klein]. Rocin is cognate with Old French rancin, roncin, ronci "draft horse, hack," but the word is of unknown origin. It was in Middle English (via Old French) as rouncy "workhorse" (c. 1300).ETD Rosinante (n.).2

    roster (n.)

    1727, originally in military use, "a list showing the turn or rotation of duty or service of those who relieve or succeed one another," from Dutch rooster "table, list," a transferred use, originally "gridiron," from Middle Dutch roosten "to roast" (see roast (v.)). So called probably from the grid of lines drawn on a paper to make a list. By 1858 in police jargon; the general sense of "list or table of names of persons" without regard to rotation of duty is by 1881.ETD roster (n.).2

    rostral (adj.)

    "of pertaining to or resembling a rostrum," c. 1400, from Late Latin rostralis, from Latin rostrum "beak" (see rostrum).ETD rostral (adj.).2

    rostrum (n.)

    "pulpit or platform from which a speaker addresses an audience," 1540s, originally in an ancient Roman context, from Latin rostrum, the name of the platform stand for public speakers in the Forum in ancient Rome. It was decorated with the beaks of ships taken in the first naval victory of the Roman republic, over Antium, in 338 B.C.E., and the Latin word's older sense is "end of a ship's prow," literally "beak, muzzle, snout," originally "means of gnawing," an instrument noun from rodere "to gnaw" (see rodent).ETD rostrum (n.).2

    The beaks were an ancient form of ram, a beam spiked with pointed iron for the purpose of sinking other vessels. For the form, compare claustrum "lock, bar," from claudere "to shut." The extended sense, in reference to any platform for public speaking, is attested by 1766.ETD rostrum (n.).3

    The classical plural is rostra, though in English this is more common in the original "ship's beak" sense and -rums often is used in the secondary sense.ETD rostrum (n.).4

    rot (n.)

    early 14c., "decay, corruption, putrefaction," from rot (v.) or of Scandinavian origin (compare Icelandic rot, Swedish röta, Danish røde "decay, putrefaction"), or both, in any case from the root of the verb. From c. 1400 as the name of a disease in sheep, also generally, "condition of rottenness in a plant or animal, process or state of being rotten." Slang sense of "rubbish, trash" is from 1848.ETD rot (n.).2

    rot (v.)

    Middle English roten, from Old English rotian, of animal substances, "to decay, putrefy, undergo natural decomposition" (intransitive), also of vegetable matter," from Proto-Germanic *rutjan (source also of Old Saxon roton, Old Norse rotna, Old Frisian rotia, Middle Dutch roten, Dutch rotten, Old High German rozzen "to rot," German rößen "to steep flax"), from stem *rut-. Related: Rotted; rotting.ETD rot (v.).2

    By c. 1200 as "fester or decay morally, become morally corrupt." Transitive sense of "cause decomposition in" is from late 14c. To rot in prison (mid-14c.) suggests wasting disease.ETD rot (v.).3

    rotary (adj.)

    1731, from Medieval Latin rotarius "pertaining to wheels," from Latin rota "a wheel, a potter's wheel; wheel for torture," from PIE root *ret- "to run, to turn, to roll" (source also of Sanskrit rathah "car, chariot;" Avestan ratho; Lithuanian ratas "wheel," ritu "I roll;" Old Irish roth, Welsh rhod "carriage wheel"). The root also forms the common West Germanic word for "wheel" (originally "spoked wheel"): Old High German rad, German Rad, Dutch rad, Old Frisian reth, Old Saxon rath.ETD rotary (adj.).2

    The international service club (founded by Paul P. Harris in Chicago in 1905) is so called from the practice of clubs entertaining in rotation. Hence Rotarian (1911).ETD rotary (adj.).3

    rotate (v.)

    "revolve or move round a center or axis," 1794, intransitive, back-formation from rotation. The transitive sense of "cause to revolve upon an axis or support" is by 1823. Related: Rotated; rotating.ETD rotate (v.).2

    rotation (n.)

    1550s, "act of rotating or turning, action of moving round a center," from Latin rotationem (nominative rotatio) "a turning about in a circle," noun of action from past-participle stem of rotare "turn round, revolve, whirl about, roll," from the same source as rota "wheel" (see rotary).ETD rotation (n.).2

    Sense of "a recurring series or period" is by 1610s. Used earlier in alchemy, "transmutation of the four elements into one another" (late 15c.).ETD rotation (n.).3

    rotational (adj.)

    1852, "acting in rotation," from rotation + -al (1). Sense of "pertaining to or consisting in rotation is by 1891. Rotative is attested from 1778 as "rotating," from French rotatif, from Latin rotativus.ETD rotational (adj.).2

    rotator (n.)

    1670s, "muscle which allows a part to be moved circularly," agent noun from Latin rotare "turn round, revolve" (see rotary). Also compare rotor. General mechanical sense of "one who or that which rotates" is by 1772. Related: Rotatory.ETD rotator (n.).2

    rotavirus (n.)

    wheel-shaped virus causing inflammation of the lining of the intestines, 1974, from Latin rota "wheel" (see rotary) + virus.ETD rotavirus (n.).2


    also ROTC, 1916, American English, initialism (acronym) for Reserve Officers' Training Corps, established as part of the National Defense Act of 1916.ETD R.O.T.C..2

    rote (n.)

    c. 1300, "custom, habit," in phrase bi rote "by heart," a word of unknown origin, sometimes said to be connected with Old French rote "route" (see route (n.)), or from Latin rota "wheel" (see rotary), but OED calls both suggestions groundless. Meaning "a fixed or unchanging round," as in learning or reciting, is by 1580s. As a verb, "repeat, say from memory," 1590s.ETD rote (n.).2

    rotgut (n.)

    also rot-gut, "unwholesome liquor; cheap, adulterated whiskey," 1630s, from rot (v.) + gut (n.).ETD rotgut (n.).2


    "millionaire, rich person," 1833, in reference to the international banking family descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) of Frankfurt. The surname is literally "red shield," a German house-name.ETD Rothschild.2

    Rotifera (n.)

    class of microscopic freshwater organisms, 1830, Modern Latin, from Rotifer, the genus name, (Leeuwenhoek, 1702), from Latin rota "wheel" (see rotary) + -fer "bearing" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry"). The animalcules use rotary organs to swim about. Related: Rotiferal.ETD Rotifera (n.).2

    rotisserie (n.)

    1868, "restaurant where meat is roasted on a spit," from French rôtisserie "shop selling cooked food, restaurant," from present-participle stem of rôtir "to roast," from Old French rostir (see roast (v.)). As an in-home cooking apparatus, attested by 1953. Manufacturers (or their copy writers) back-formed a verb, rotiss (1958). Rotisserie league (1980), a form of fantasy baseball, is based on La Rotisserie, the Manhattan restaurant where it was conceived.ETD rotisserie (n.).2

    rotogravure (n.)

    method of printing by means of a rotary press, 1913, from German Rotogravur (originally, in full, Rotogravur Deutsche Tiefdrück Gesellschaft), said to blend two corporate names, Rotophot and Deutsche Photogravur A.G. Etymologically, the roots are Latin rota "wheel, roller" (see rotary) and French gravure "engraving" (see gravure). The process was used for printing photo sections of newspapers and magazines, so that the word came to be used for these (1914).ETD rotogravure (n.).2

    rotor (n.)

    1873, an irregular shortening of rotator, originally in mathematics. Mechanical sense of "rotating part of a motor" is attested by 1903; specifically of helicopters from 1930.ETD rotor (n.).2

    Rototiller (n.)

    machine with rotating blades to break up soil, 1923, from roto-, perhaps based on the mechanical use of rotor, + tiller.ETD Rototiller (n.).2

    rottenness (n.)

    "state of being decayed or putrid, process of natural decomposition of animal or vegetable matter," mid-14c., from rotten + -ness. From c. 1400 as "decayed or decaying matter."ETD rottenness (n.).2

    rotten (adj.)

    c. 1300, roten, of animal substances, "in a state of decomposition or putrefaction," from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rotinn "decayed," past participle of verb related to rotna "to decay," from Proto-Germanic stem *rut- (see rot (v.)).ETD rotten (adj.).2

    Of vegetable substances from late 14c. Also used in North America of weak, melting ice (1660s). The figurative sense of "morally corrupt, wicked; unsound in character or quality" is from late 14c.; the weakened slang sense of "bad" is recorded by 1880.ETD rotten (adj.).3

    Rotten apple is from a saying traced back to at least 1528: "For one rotten apple lytell and lytell putrifieth an whole heape." The Rotten Row in London and elsewhere probably is from a different word, but one of uncertain origin. Rotten-hearted is attested by late 14c.ETD rotten (adj.).4

    rotter (n.)

    "person deemed objectionable on moral grounds," 1889, slang, from rot (v.) + -er (3).ETD rotter (n.).2

    Rottweiler (n.)

    1907, from Rottweil, town in Württemberg, southern Germany.ETD Rottweiler (n.).2

    rotund (adj.)

    "round, spherical, globular; rounded out, bulbous," 1705, from Latin rotundus "rolling, round, circular, spherical, like a wheel," from rota "wheel" (see rotary). Earlier was rotound (1610s); rotounde (early 15c.); rotundal (1620s), rotundious (1620s). In reference to a full-toned style of oratory by 1830, after Horace's ore rotundo in "Poetics," from the roundness of the mouth in pronouncing.ETD rotund (adj.).2

    rotundity (n.)

    "roundness, globular form, condition of being spherical," 1580s, from Latin rotunditas "roundness," from rotundus "round" (see rotund). Earlier "a round part of a bone" (early 15c.), from Old French rotundite.ETD rotundity (n.).2

    rotunda (n.)

    "round building," especially one with a dome, 1680s, from Italian rotonda, typically in reference to the Pantheon, the most celebrated building of this kind, from noun use of Latin rotunda, fem. of rotundus "round" (see rotund). Meaning "circular hall or room within a building" is from 1780.ETD rotunda (n.).2

    Rotwelsch (n.)

    German word for the jargon of thieves and vagabonds, 1841, from German Rotwelsch, literally "Red Welsh," from rot "red" (see red (adj.1)) + Welsh because (to a German-speaker) it would seem obscure and difficult. The first element rather might be connected with Middle High German rot "beggar."ETD Rotwelsch (n.).2

    roue (n.)

    "debauchee, man devoted to a life of pleasure and sensuality," especially in relation to women, 1800, from French roué "dissipated man, rake," originally the past participle of rouer "to break (someone) on the wheel" (15c.), from Latin rotare "roll" (see rotary).ETD roue (n.).2

    Traditionally said to have been first applied in French c. 1720 to dissolute friends of the Duke of Orleans (regent of France 1715-23), to suggest the punishment they deserved; but it is probably rather from a secondary, figurative sense in French of "jaded, worn out," from the notion of "broken, run-over, beat down."ETD roue (n.).3


    city in northern France, Roman Rotomagus, in which the second element is Gaulish magos "field, market." The first is roto "wheel," perhaps reflecting the Gaulish love of chariot-racing, or else it is a personal name.ETD Rouen.2

    rouge (n.)

    1753, "red cosmetic coloring for the skin, fine red powder used to give artificial color to the face," from French rouge "red coloring matter," noun use of adjective meaning "red" (12c.), from Latin rubeus, related to ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy").ETD rouge (n.).2

    It replaced native paint in this sense. The verb, "to color (the skin, especially the cheeks) with rouge" is attested by 1777. Related: Rouged; rouging. The same French word had been borrowed in Middle English with the sense of "red color" (early 15c.), also "red" (adj.).ETD rouge (n.).3

    rough (adj.)

    Middle English rough (late 14c.), also rouhe, rouwe, roghe, rugh, etc., from Old English ruh, rug- "not smooth to the touch, coarse (of cloth); hairy, shaggy;" of hides, "undressed, untrimmed;" of ground, "uncultivated." This is from West Germanic *rukhwaz "shaggy, hairy, rough" (source also of Middle Dutch ruuch, Dutch ruig, Old High German ruher, German rauh), from Proto-Germanic *rukhaz, which is perhaps related to the source of Sanskrit ruksah "rough;" Latin ruere "to rush, fall violently, collapse," ruina "a collapse;" Lithuanian raukas "wrinkle," rukti "to shrink."ETD rough (adj.).2

    The original -gh- sound was guttural, as in Scottish loch. The form row was a regular variant from early 16c. and lingered in dialects. Of actions, "characterized by harshness or disparity," c. 1300; of land, terrain, late 15c. as "rugged, hard to traverse." Of stormy weather from mid-14c.; by late 14c. of turbulent seas, rude language, discordant sounds.ETD rough (adj.).3

    From mid-14c. as "crudely made;" c. 1600 as "rudely sufficient, not smooth or formed by art." Rough stone "undressed stone mortared together" is from mid-15c. Of writing or literary style, "lacking refinement, unpolished," 1530s. The sense of "approximate" is recorded from c. 1600.ETD rough (adj.).4

    Rough draft (or draught) is from 1690s. Rough-and-ready "rude and disorderly" is by 1832, from an earlier noun (1810), originally military; rough-and-tumble "not elaborately or carefully ordered" is from a style of free-fighting characterized by indiscriminate blows and falls (1810). Rough music "din produced by banging pots, pans, etc. for the purpose of annoying or punishing a neighbor" is by 1708. Rough-snout (c. 1300) was an old term for "a bearded face."ETD rough (adj.).5

    rough (n.)

    c. 1200, "broken ground, a rough surface," from rough (adj.). From 1640s as "the disagreeable side of anything." The meaning "a rowdy" is attested by 1837, but Century Dictionary calls this perhaps rather an abbreviation of ruffian conformed in spelling to rough. The specific sense in golf, in reference to the ground at the edge of the greens, is by 1901.ETD rough (n.).2

    Phrase in the rough "in an unfinished or unprocessed condition" (of timber, etc.) is from 1620s, in rough diamond "diamond in its natural state," which was used figuratively, of persons, by 1700, hence diamond in the rough (by 1874 of persons, in the figurative sense "one whose good character is somewhat masked by rough manners and want of education or style").ETD rough (n.).3

    roughness (n.)

    late 14c., roughnesse, "state or quality of being rough to the touch; hoarseness of voice," from rough (adj.) + -ness.ETD roughness (n.).2

    rough (v.)

    late 15c., "to raise a nap on cloth," from rough (adj.). From 1763 in the general sense of "give a rough condition or appearance to, scrape or rub up the surface of." Related: Roughed; roughing. The phrase rough it "put up with coarse or casual conditions, submit to hardships" (1768) is nautical:ETD rough (v.).2

    To rough out "shape or plan approximately" is by 1770. To rough up "make rough" is from 1763. Rough (v.) in the sense of "deal roughly with" is by 1845, hence to rough (someone) up "beat up, jostle violently" is from 1868. The U.S. football penalty roughing originally was a term from boxing (1866).ETD rough (v.).3

    roughage (n.)

    1883, "rough grass or weeds, refuse of crops suitable for bedding for animals," from rough (adj.) + -age. In nutritional science, the meaning "coarse, bulky food" is attested by 1927.ETD roughage (n.).2

    roughen (v.)

    "make rough, bring into a rough condition," 1580s, from rough (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Roughened; roughening.ETD roughen (v.).2

    rough-hewn (adj.)

    1520s, originally of timber, from verbal phrase rough hew "to hew coarsely without smoothing" (1520s); see rough (adj.) + hew (v.).ETD rough-hewn (adj.).2

    rough-house (n.)

    1887, "uproar, disturbance," from rough (adj.) + house (n.). The verb, "behave or act boisterously or violently," is attested by 1896. Related: Rough-housing.ETD rough-house (n.).2

    roughly (adv.)

    c. 1300, roughlie, "ungently, violently," from rough (adj.) + -ly (2). Hence "without much care or skill, in a rude or imperfect way," c. 1600; the meaning "approximately, without precision or exactness" is from 1841.ETD roughly (adv.).2

    roughneck (n.)

    also rough-neck, 1836, "rugged individual," from rough (adj.) + neck (n.). At first a word of the Texas frontier and more or less approving, it later was applied to labor organization toughs (c. 1900) and others. Specific sense of "oil rig worker" is recorded by 1917. Compare redneck.ETD roughneck (n.).2

    rough-rider (n.)

    1733, "horse-breaker, one who breaks young or wild horses for the saddle;" see rough (adj.) + rider. Of horses, rough (adj.) meaning "not properly broken in" is from 1590s. The meaning "irregular cavalryman" is attested by 1884. Related: Rough-riding.ETD rough-rider (n.).2

    roughshod (adj.)

    also rough-shod, late 15c., "shod with shoes armed with points or calks," from rough (adv.) "in a rough manner" (late 14c.; see rough (adj.)) + shod. Originally of horses shod with the nail-heads projecting from the shoe to prevent slipping on roads. To ride roughshod over something figuratively is by 1861 in that wording.ETD roughshod (adj.).2

    roulette (n.)

    "game of chance involving a revolving disk on a table," 1745; earlier "small wheel" (1734), from French roulette "gambling game played with a revolving wheel," an extended sense; "small wheel," from Old French roelete "little wheel" (12c.), formed on model of Late Latin rotella, diminutive of Latin rota "wheel" (see rotary).ETD roulette (n.).2

    round (v.)

    late 14c., rounden, "to make round, give roundness to," from round (adj.). Sense of "make a circuit round" is from 1590s. Sense of "bring to completeness" is from c. 1600; meaning "to approximate (a number)" is from 1934; with up or down, "to increase (or decrease) a number by adding to its last digit," by 1956. Meaning "turn round and face, turn on and assault" is from 1882. Related: Rounded; rounding.ETD round (v.).2

    Sense of "go past or get round" is by 1743. To round out "fill up" is by 1856. To round off is from 1680s as "make round, finish with a curved or rounded form;" by 1748 as "finish appropriately and neatly." Also compare roundup.ETD round (v.).3

    roundness (n.)

    "state of being round or circular," late 14c., from round (adj.) + -ness.ETD roundness (n.).2

    rounded (adj.)

    "brought to a full or completed state," 1746, past-participle adjective from round (v.).ETD rounded (adj.).2

    round (adj., adv.)

    c. 1300 (early 13c. as a surname), "spherical in shape; circular in outline," of persons or animals, "well-fed;" from Anglo-French rounde, Old French roont (12c., Modern French rond), probably originally *redond, from Vulgar Latin *retundus (source also of Provençal redon, Spanish redondo, Old Italian ritondo), from Latin rotundus "like a wheel, circular, round," related to rota "wheel" (see rotary). The French word is the source of Middle Dutch ront (Dutch rond), Middle High German runt (German rund) and similar words in the Germanic languages.ETD round (adj., adv.).2

    As an adverb from c. 1300. As a preposition from c. 1600, "so as to make a complete circuit" (as in round the world); 1715 as "throughout, all through" (as in round the clock); by 1743 as "so as to make a turn or partial circuit about" (as in round the corner). In many cases it is a shortened form of around (adv.).ETD round (adj., adv.).3

    Of numbers from mid-14c., "entire, full, complete, brought to completion," with the notion of symmetry extended to that of completeness. Round number for one only approximately correct, usually expressed in 10s, 100s, etc., is by 1640s. Compare round (v.). Round trip "an outward and return journey" is by 1844, originally of railways. A round-dance (1520s) is one in which the dancers move in a circle or ring. Round heels attested from 1926, in reference to incompetent boxers, 1927 in reference to loose women, implying in either case a tendency to end up flat on one's back.ETD round (adj., adv.).4

    round (n.)

    early 14c., "a spherical body; that which has roundness," from round (adj.) and Anglo-French rount and Old French reont, roond. Compare Dutch rond, Danish and Swedish rund, German runde, all nouns from adjectives.ETD round (n.).2

    The sense of "dance in which performers move in a circle or ring" is by 1510s. The meaning "large round piece of beef" is recorded from 1650s. The sense of "circuit performed by a sentinel" is from 1590s; hence to go or make one's rounds "pay regular visits" (1680s). The meaning "recurring course of time" is from 1710. Meaning "song sung by two or more, beginning at different times" is from 1520s. Golfing sense attested from 1775; card-playing sense by 1735. Of applause from 1794.ETD round (n.).3

    Meaning "quantity of liquor served to a company at one time" is from 1630s; that of "single bout in a fight or boxing match" is from 1812; "single discharge of a firearm" is from 1725. Sense of "recurring session of meetings or negotiations" is from 1964. Theatrical sense (in phrase in the round) in reference to a stage surrounded by the audience is recorded from 1944. To make the rounds "be passed along by a whole set of persons" is by 1967; the earlier form was go the round (1660s).ETD round (n.).4

    roundabout (adv.)

    mid-14c., roundeaboute, "by a circuitous route," also "on all sides, all about," from round (adv.), for which see round (adj.), + about. As an adjective, "in a ring or circle," by mid-14c. By late 15c. (Caxton) as a preposition. As an adjective from c. 1600. Noun sense of "traffic circle" is attested from 1927. It was used earlier of other things, such as "circular course or object" (1530s), "a plump, rounded figure" (1812), "a detour" (1755), "a merry-go-round" (1763). Related: Roundaboutness.ETD roundabout (adv.).2

    roundel (n.)

    c. 1300, "a circle, anything round;" early 14c., "a round slice;" from Old French rondel, rondeaul "round dance; dance lyric; roundel," from rond "round" (see round (n.)). From late 14c. as "an ornamental ball or knob;" also "a short poem on two rhymes."ETD roundel (n.).2

    roundelay (n.)

    "song in which a line or refrain is continually repeated," 1570s, from French rondelet, diminutive of rondel "short poem with a refrain," literally "small circle," diminutive of Old French rond "circle, sphere," originally an adjective from roont (see round (adj.), and compare rondel). With spelling assimilated to lay (n.1) "poem to be sung."ETD roundelay (n.).2

    rounder (n.)

    1620s, "a sentinel," agent noun from round (n.) in the "circuit performed by a sentinel" sense, on the notion of "one who makes the rounds." Sense of "chronic loafer, drunkard, or criminal" is by 1854, American English, on notion of one who "goes the round" of misdemeanor, arrest, trial, imprisonment, and release. Rounders, a baseball-like game in England played with a small bat, is attested by that name from 1828, from the player "rounding" the bases after the ball is hit.ETD rounder (n.).2

    Roundhead (n.)

    in English, history, "an adherent of the Parliamentary party in the English Civil War," 1641; see round (adj.) + head (n.). So called opprobriously for their custom of wearing the hair close-cropped, in contrast to the flowing curls of the cavaliers. To round (v.) "cut (the hair) short around the head" is attested from mid-15c. The party evolved into the Whigs.ETD Roundhead (n.).2

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