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    Sandy (n.) — sarsen (n.)

    Sandy (n.)

    late 15c. as a nickname for Alexander; it is a diminutive or familiar variant of the nickname Saunder, which is preserved in surnames, as in Clerk Saunders of the old Border ballad. As the typical name for a Scotsman (especially a Lowlander) from 1785; in that use also punning on the hair-color sense of sandy (adj.). Also Sawney.ETD Sandy (n.).2

    sandiness (n.)

    "state or quality of being sandy," 1640s, from sandy + -ness.ETD sandiness (n.).2

    Sandinista (n.)

    member of a Nicaraguan revolutionary group, 1928, from Spanish, from name of Augusto César Sandino (1893-1934), Nicaraguan nationalist leader; the modern organization of this name was founded in 1963. Related: Sandanistas.ETD Sandinista (n.).2

    sand-lot (n.)

    "plot of empty land in a town or suburb," by 1878, from sand (n.) + lot. As an adjective in reference to the kind of sports or games played on sand-lots by amateurs, it is recorded from 1890 in American English. Earlier it had reference to socialism or communism based on the political movement that originated among orators in the sand-lots of San Francisco (by 1867).ETD sand-lot (n.).2

    sandman (n.)

    fabulous person who brings sleep in nursery lore, 1861, from sand (n.), probably in reference to hard grains found in the eyelashes on waking, or the rubbing of tired eyes as if to clear them of grit. First attested in English in a translation from the Norwegian of Andersen (his Ole Lukoie "Ole Shut-eye," based on old Danish lore, about a being who makes children sleepy, came out 1842). The English word also is perhaps partly from German Sandmann. More common in U.S.; dustman with the same sense is attested from 1821.ETD sandman (n.).2

    sandpaper (n.)

    also sand-paper, "stout paper with a fixed layer of sharp sand," 1788, from sand (n.) + paper (n.).ETD sandpaper (n.).2

    sandpaper (v.)

    "rub, smooth, or polish with sandpaper," 1835, from sandpaper (n.). Related: Sandpapered; sandpapering.ETD sandpaper (v.).2

    sandpiper (n.)

    common name of a small wading bird that runs along the sand and utters a piping note, 1670s, from sand (n.) + piper.ETD sandpiper (n.).2


    fem. proper name, originally short for Alexandra. Little used before c. 1920; a top-20 name for girls born in the U.S. 1938-1967.ETD Sandra.2

    sandspit (n.)

    somewhat pleonastic, 1854, from sand (n.) + spit (n.2) "sandy point."ETD sandspit (n.).2

    sandspout (n.)

    also sand-spout, "pillar of sand raised like a waterspout by a whirlwind," 1849; see sand (n.) + spout (n.).ETD sandspout (n.).2

    sandstone (n.)

    "rock formed by consolidation of sand," 1660s, from sand (n.) + stone (n.). So called from its composition. There is an earlier, isolated use from mid-15c. in reference to some type of stone. In Britain sometimes sandrock.ETD sandstone (n.).2

    sand-trap (n.)

    1838, in hydraulics, "device for filtering impurities from water," from sand (n.) + trap (n.). As "golf bunker," by 1906.ETD sand-trap (n.).2

    sandwich (v.)

    "insert between two other things," 1841, from sandwich (n.), on the image of meat pressed between identical pieces of bread. Related: Sandwiched; sandwiching.ETD sandwich (v.).2

    sandwich (n.)

    1762, said to be a reference to John Montagu (1718-1792), 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was said to be an inveterate gambler who ate slices of cold meat between bread at the gaming table during marathon sessions rather than rising for a proper meal (this account of the origin dates to 1770).ETD sandwich (n.).2

    It also was in his honor that Cook named the Hawaiian islands (1778) when Montagu was first lord of the Admiralty (hence the occasional 19c. British Sandwicher for "a Hawaiian"). The family name is from the place in Kent, one of the Cinque Ports, Old English Sandwicæ, literally "sandy harbor (or trading center)." For pronunciation, see cabbage. Sandwich board, one before and one behind the carrier, is from 1864.ETD sandwich (n.).3

    sane (adj.)

    "of sound mind, mentally sound," 1721, a back-formation from insane or sanity or else from Latin sanus "sound, healthy," in its figurative or transferred use, "of sound mind, rational, sane," also, of style, "correct;" a word of uncertain origin.ETD sane (adj.).2

    It is perhaps from PIE *seh-no- from *seh- "to tie." That reconstruction "is purely mechanical," according to de Vaan, the meaning might be "which is in place, in order." Or it could be from a different root meaning "to satisfy" as in Latin satis "enough."ETD sane (adj.).3

    Used earlier, of the body, with a sense of "healthy" (1620s), but this has been rare in English. OED writes, "The almost entire restriction in English to a sense 'mentally sound' is due to the use in antithesis with insane, which (like the Latin insanus, its source) always referred to mental condition." Related: Sanely; saneness.ETD sane (adj.).4

    San Francisco

    city in California, U.S., named in Spanish for St. Francis of Assisi; the name first recorded in reference to this region 1590s, reinforced by long association of the area with the Franciscan order.ETD San Francisco.2


    past tense of sing.ETD sang.2

    sang-froid (n.)

    also sangfroid, "presence of mind, coolness, mental composure," 1712, from French sang froid, literally "cool blood," from sang "blood" (from Latin sanguis; see sanguinary) + froid "cold" (from Latin frigidus; see frigid). "In the 17th c. the expression was in France often written erroneously sens froid, as if it contained sens "sense" instead of the homophonous sang "blood'." [OED].ETD sang-froid (n.).2


    community of monks, 1858, from Hindi sangha, Sanskrit samgha, from sam "together" (from PIE root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with") + han "to come in contact."ETD sangha.2

    sangrail (n.)

    "the Holy Grail," mid-15c., from Old French Saint Graal, literally "Holy Grail" (see saint (n.) + grail).ETD sangrail (n.).2

    sangria (n.)

    cold drink made variously from sweetened and diluted red wine, 1954, from Spanish, literally "a bleeding," from sangre "blood," from Vulgar Latin *sanguem, from Latin sanguis (see sanguinary). The drink so named for its color. Earlier in English as sangre (1736), sangaree.ETD sangria (n.).2

    sanguicolous (adj.)

    "living in the blood" (as a parasite does), by 1889, from Latin sanguis "blood" (see sanguinary) + colere "to inhabit" (see colony). Also, with classical stem, sanguinicolous.ETD sanguicolous (adj.).2

    sanguine (adj.)

    late 14c., "blood-red, of a blood-red color" (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French sanguin (fem. sanguine) and directly from Latin sanguineus "of blood," also "bloody, bloodthirsty," from sanguis (genitive sanguinis) "blood" (see sanguinary).ETD sanguine (adj.).2

    The meaning "cheerful, hopeful, vivacious, confident" is attested by c. 1500, because these qualities were thought in old medicine to spring from an excess or predominance of blood as one of the four humors. The sense of "of or pertaining to blood" (mid-15c.) is rare.ETD sanguine (adj.).3

    Also in Middle English as a noun, a type of red cloth (early 14c.). It sometimes was used in the senses now going with sanguinary.ETD sanguine (adj.).4

    sanguineous (adj.)

    1510s, "of the color of blood, of a deep red color;" 1640s, "of or pertaining to blood," from Latin sanguineus "of blood, bloody," from sanguin-, stem of sanguis (see sanguinary).ETD sanguineous (adj.).2

    sanguinity (n.)

    late 15c., "consanguinity, blood-relation," a sense now obsolete; see sanguine + -ity. Meaning "quality or character of being sanguine" is by 1737.ETD sanguinity (n.).2

    sanguinous (adj.)

    early 15c. (Chauliac), "bloodshot," from Late Latin sanguinosus "full of blood," from Latin sanguis "blood" (see sanguinary). The meaning "pertaining to blood" is from 1813 and is probably a separate borrowing.ETD sanguinous (adj.).2

    sanguinary (adj.)

    1620s, "characterized by slaughter, attended by much bloodshed;" also bloodthirsty, eager to shed blood, delighting in carnage," from French sanguinaire or directly from Latin sanguinarius "of or pertaining to blood," also, rarely, "blood-thirsty," from sanguis (genitive sanguinis) "blood," a word of unknown origin. Latin distinguished sanguis, the generic word, from cruor "blood from a wound" (related to English raw, from PIE root *kreue-). The classical sense of "pertaining to blood" is rare in English.ETD sanguinary (adj.).2

    sanguinivorous (adj.)

    "blood-drinking," 1821, from Latin sanguis "blood" (see sanguinary) + -vorous "eating, devouring." Also sanguivorous, from the Latin genitive stem.ETD sanguinivorous (adj.).2

    sanhedrim (n.)

    supreme council and highest ecclesiastical and judicial tribunal of the ancient Jews, 1580s, from Late Hebrew sanhedrin (gedola) "(great) council," from Greek synedrion "assembly, council," literally "sitting together," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + hedra "seat" (from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit"). Compare cathedral.ETD sanhedrim (n.).2

    Abolished at the destruction of Jerusalem, C.E. 70. The proper form is sanhedrin; the error began as a false correction when the Greek word was taken into Mishanic Hebrew, where -in is a form of the plural suffix of which -im is the more exact form.ETD sanhedrim (n.).3

    sanhedrin (n.)

    see sanhedrim.ETD sanhedrin (n.).2

    sanitation (n.)

    1848, "practical and scientific methods of preservation of health and promotion of sanitary conditions," irregularly formed from sanitary. The somewhat euphemistic use in reference to garbage and domestic waste disposal is (as in sanitation engineer) is by 1916 (sanitation man).ETD sanitation (n.).2

    sanitize (v.)

    1836 (implied in sanitizing, and treating it as a new word), from stem of sanitary + -ize. The figurative use for "render more acceptable by removing objectionable elements" is by 1934, said to be a word from Roosevelt's N.R.A. Related: Sanitized. Also in use was sanify "make healthy, improve in sanitary condition" (1836).ETD sanitize (v.).2

    sanitizer (n.)

    "disinfectant, sanitizing agent," 1950, agent noun from sanitize.ETD sanitizer (n.).2

    sanitary (adj.)

    1823, "pertaining to health or hygiene," from French sanitaire (1812), from Latin sanitas "health," from sanus "healthy; sane" (see sane). In reference to menstrual devices, by 1881 (in sanitary towel). In U.S. history the Sanitary Commission, created by the Secretary of War in 1861, provided relief to soldiers and oversaw military lodging and hospitals. Sanitarian is by 1859 as "promoter of, or one versed in, sanitary measures or reforms;" sanitarist in that sense also is by 1859.ETD sanitary (adj.).2

    sanitarium (n.)

    1829, "an improper form for sanatorium" [Century Dictionary], meant to indicate "place dedicated to health," perhaps based on sanitary or from Latin sanitas "health," from sanus "healthy; sane" (see sane).ETD sanitarium (n.).2

    sanity (n.)

    early 15c., sanite, "healthy condition, health," a sense now obsolete, from Old French sanité "health," from Latin sanitatem (nominative sanitas) "health, soundness of body; sanity, soundness of mind; reason; correctness of speech;" from sanus "healthy; sane" (see sane). Meaning "soundness of mind" is attested from c. 1600.ETD sanity (n.).2

    sanjak (n.)

    Ottoman administrative district, a subdivision of a vilayet, from Turkish sanjaq, literally "flag, banner." "So called because the governor is entitled to carry in war a standard of one horse-tail" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Sanjakate; sanjak-bey.ETD sanjak (n.).2


    past tense of sink (v.).ETD sank.2

    Sanka (n.)

    brand of decaffeinated coffee, by 1913, abstracted from French sans caffeine (see sans + caffeine).ETD Sanka (n.).2

    sansculotte (n.)

    also sans-culotte, "lower-class republican of the French Revolution," 1790, from French, literally "without breeches;" see sans + culottes. This usually is explained as referring to the class whose distinctive costume was pantalons (long trousers) as opposed to the upper classes, which wore culottes (knee-breeches), but this is not certain. Whatever the origin, the name was embraced from the start by the revolutionists of Paris. Related: Sansculottes; sansculotterie; sansculottic; sansculottism. "opinions and principles of the sancullotes."ETD sansculotte (n.).2

    sansei (n.)

    "American born of nisei parents; third-generation Japanese-American," 1945, from Japanese san "three, third" + sei "generation."ETD sansei (n.).2

    Sanskrit (n.)

    also Sanscrit, ancient sacred language of India, 1610s, from Sanskrit samskrtam "put together, well-formed, perfected," neuter of samskrta, from sam "together" (from PIE root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with") + krta- "to make, do, perform" (from PIE *kwer- "to make, form;" see terato-). "[S]o called as being the cultivated or literary language, distinguished from the vulgar dialects, or, some say, because regarded as a perfect language, the speech of the gods, formed by infallible rules" [Century Dictionary]. It continued as a learned tongue long after it ceased to exist as a vernacular.ETD Sanskrit (n.).2


    also sanserif, "printing type without finishing cross-lines on the main strokes," 1830, from French sans "without" (see sans) + English serif (1841), earlier ceref (1827). This is perhaps from Dutch and Flemish schreef "a line, a stroke," a noun related to schrijven "to write," a Germanic borrowing from Latin scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut"). OED finds the Dutch and Flemish word "fairly suits the sense and form; but historical evidence is wanting, and the quasi-French form of sans-ceriph is not accounted for." Short form sans is by 1927.ETD sans-serif.2

    Santa (n.1)

    1893 as a shortened form of Santa Claus.ETD Santa (n.1).2

    santa (n.2)

    the Spanish title for a female saint, feminine singular of san, from Latin sanctus (see saint (n.)). As in Santa Lucia, Santa Maria, and in many toponyms in the U.S. West, such as Santa Ana ("Saint Anne"), the California mountain range, also extended to the hot, strong, dry wind that blows from it.ETD santa (n.2).2

    Santa Claus (n.)

    1773 (as St. A Claus, in "New York Gazette"), American English, in reference to the customs of the old Dutch colony of New York, from dialectal Dutch Sante Klaas, from Middle Dutch Sinter Niklaas "Saint Nicholas," bishop of Asia Minor who became a patron saint for children. Now a worldwide phenomenon (Japanese santakurosu). Father Christmas is attested from 1650s.ETD Santa Claus (n.).2

    santeria (n.)

    Afro-Cuban religion, 1950, from Spanish, literally "holiness, sanctity."ETD santeria (n.).2

    sap (n.1)

    "juice or fluid which circulates in plants, the blood of plant life," Middle English sap, from Old English sæp, from Proto-Germanic *sapam (source also of Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Dutch sap, Old High German saf, and, with unetymological -t, German Saft "juice"). This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *sab- "juice, fluid" (source also of Sanskrit sabar- "sap, milk, nectar," Irish sug, Russian soku "sap," Lithuanian sakas "tree-gum"). As a verb meaning "to drain the sap from," by 1725.ETD sap (n.1).2

    sap (n.2)

    "simpleton," 1815 (Scott), a word appearing at first especially in Scottish English and in English schoolboy slang, probably shortened from earlier words in related senses, such as sappy, sapskull (1735), saphead (1798). The notion perhaps is from sap (n.1) as suggestive of freshness or "greenness" (sapling in the extended sense of "young or inexperienced person" is attested from 1580s). Or perhaps it is a shortening of sapwood "soft wood between the inner bark and the heartwood" (so called because it conducts the sap), which was considered inferior material in carpentry.ETD sap (n.2).2

    Also as a verb, "to act like a sap."ETD sap (n.2).3

    sap (v.1)

    1590s, intransitive, "dig a covered trench toward the enemy's position," from French saper, from sappe "spade," from Late Latin sappa "spade, mattock" (source also of Italian zappa, Spanish zapa "spade"), which is of unknown origin. The transitive sense of "undermine (a wall, etc.), render unstable by digging into or eating away the foundations" is from 1650s.ETD sap (v.1).2

    The extended transitive sense (of health, confidence, etc.), "weaken or destroy insidiously," is by 1755 and perhaps has been influenced or reinforced in sense by the verb form of sap (n.1), on the notion of "draining the vital sap from," and later by sap (v.2) "beat with a club or stick."ETD sap (v.1).3

    It also sometimes is used as a noun, "a narrow, covered ditch or trench by which a fortress or besieged place can be approached under fire" (1640s). Sap (n.) in the "tool for digging" sense also occasionally is met in 16th century English. Related: Sapped; sapping.ETD sap (v.1).4

    sap (v.2)

    "hit with a sap," 1926, from sap (n.3). Hence, in a general sense, "to beat up." Related: Sapped; sapping.ETD sap (v.2).2

    sap (n.3)

    "club or stick for hitting," implied by 1899 in "Tramping With Tramps" (saps), and perhaps originally a word from that subculture; said in earliest references to be a shortening of sapling, which was noted by 1712 as something you could use as a weapon to beat someone with. Also sapstick (1915).ETD sap (n.3).2

    sapid (adj.)

    1630s, "having the power of affecting the organs of taste," from Latin sapidus "savory, having a taste," from sapere (see sapient). Also figurative, "gratifying to the mind or its tastes." Its opposite is insipid. Related: Sapidness; sapidity.ETD sapid (adj.).2

    sapience (n.)

    late 14c., "wisdom, understanding, sageness; the reasonable soul, that which distinguishes humans from beasts," from Old French sapience and directly from Latin sapientia "good taste, good sense, discernment; intelligence, wisdom," from sapiens "sensible; shrewd, knowing, discrete;" also "well-acquainted with the true value of things," like Greek sophos (see sapient). Formerly also sometimes especially "intelligent taste" (1660s). OED calls it "A learned synonym. Now rare in serious use."ETD sapience (n.).2

    sapient (adj.)

    "wise, sage, discerning," late 15c. (early 15c. as a surname), from Old French sapient and directly from Latin sapientem (nominative sapiens) "sensible; shrewd, knowing, discrete;" also "well-acquainted with the true value of things" (like Greek sophos), a specialized use of the present participle of sapere, of things, "to taste, have taste;" of persons, "to have discernment, be wise."ETD sapient (adj.).2

    This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *sep- (1) "to taste, perceive;" source also of Old Saxon ansebban "to perceive, remark," Old High German antseffen, Old English sefa "mind, understanding, insight," Old Norse sefi "thought"). "[N]ow generally used ironically" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Sapiently; sapiential.ETD sapient (adj.).3

    sapling (n.)

    "young tree," early 14c., from sap (n.1) + diminutive suffix -ling. Especially a young forest tree when the trunk is about three or four inches across. This probably is the source of American English slang sap (n.3) "club, short staff" and the verb sap (v.2) "to hit (someone) with a sap." By 1580s as "young or inexperienced person."ETD sapling (n.).2

    sapless (adj.)

    1590s, of plants, "dry, withered," also of persons or characters, "destitute of vital force," from sap (n.1) + -less. Often used rhetorically of male old age.ETD sapless (adj.).2

    saponaceous (adj.)

    "soapy, resembling soap," 1710, from Latin sapo, sapon (see soap (n.)) + -aceous. In mid-19c. jocular use for "slippery, unctuous" in figurative senses (1837). Related: Saponacity.ETD saponaceous (adj.).2

    saponification (n.)

    "conversion into soap," 1801, from French saponification, from saponifier, from Modern Latin saponificare, from sapon "soap" (see soap (n.)) + -ficare, combining form of Latin facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD saponification (n.).2

    saponify (v.)

    in chemistry, "convert into soap" (by combining with an alkali), 1817 (implied in saponified), from French saponifier (see saponification) or else a back-formation from saponification, which is attested earlier. Related: Saponifying.ETD saponify (v.).2

    sapper (n.)

    1620s, in a military sense, "soldier employed in building fortifications, field-works, etc.," agent noun from sap (v.1).ETD sapper (n.).2

    Sapphic (adj.)

    c. 1500, "of or pertaining to Sappho or her poems," especially in reference to her characteristic meter, from French saphique, from Latin Sapphicus, from Greek Sapphikos "of Sappho," in reference to Sapphō, Greek lyric poetess of the isle of Lesbos who flourished c. 600 B.C.E. and was famed for the passion and loveliness of her verse, which survives mostly in fragments. The sense of "pertaining to sexual relations between women" is from 1890s (also see Sapphism, and compare lesbian).ETD Sapphic (adj.).2

    sapphire (n.)

    precious stone, a blue-to-transparent variety of corundum next in hardness to diamond, mid-13c., saphyr, from Old French saphir (12c.) and directly from Latin sapphirus (source also of Spanish zafir, Italian zaffiro), from Greek sappheiros, name of a blue precious stone, from a Semitic source (compare Hebrew sappir "sapphire"), but according to OED probably not ultimately from Semitic.ETD sapphire (n.).2

    Some linguists propose an origin in Sanskrit sanipriya, a dark precious stone (perhaps sapphire or emerald), literally "sacred to Saturn," from Sani "Saturn" + priyah "precious." The gem meant by the Greeks apparently was not the one now so called, but perhaps rather lapis lazuli, the modern sapphire perhaps being signified by Greek hyakinthos. In Renaissance lapidaries, it was said to cure anger and stupidity. As an adjective from early 15c. As a color, a deep brilliant or bright blue, by 1680s. Related: Sapphiric.ETD sapphire (n.).3

    sapphirine (adj.)

    early 15c., "sapphire-colored," later also "made of sapphire, having the qualities of sapphire," from Latin sapphirinus, from Greek sappheirinos, from sappheiros (see sapphire (n.)).ETD sapphirine (adj.).2

    Sapphism (n.)

    "sexual relations between women," 1890 (as something "found in French novels"), from the name of Sappho; see Sapphic + -ism. Sapphist for "female homosexual" is by 1906 in translations from German.ETD Sapphism (n.).2

    sappy (adj.)

    Middle English sapi, of a tree or of wood, "full of sap," from Late Old English sæpig, from sæp "sap of a plant" (see sap (n.1)). The colloquial figurative sense, in reference to persons, etc., "foolish, foolishly sentimental" (1660s) might have developed from an intermediate sense of "too wet, sodden, soggy" (late 15c.), or it might have come from sappy as "containing sapwood" (mid-15c.); compare sap (n.2). Or it might be from the notion of "green, juvenile," like a sapling tree. Earlier, now obsolete, figurative senses were "full of vitality" (1550s) and "immature" (1620s). Related: Sappily; sappiness.ETD sappy (adj.).2


    word-forming element in science indicating "rotten, putrid, decaying," from Greek sapros "rotting, rotten, rancid," also, of wine, "matured," which is related to sēpein "to rot," a word of unknown origin.ETD sapro-.2

    saprophagous (adj.)

    "feeding on putrid matter," 1819, Modern Latin; see sapro- + -phagous.ETD saprophagous (adj.).2

    saprophyte (n.)

    "bacteria or fungus that grows on decaying organic matter," 1867, from French, from Greek sapros "putrid, rotten" (see sapro-) + phyton "plant" (see -phyte). Related: Saprophytism.ETD saprophyte (n.).2

    saprophytic (adj.)

    "pertaining to or of the nature of a saprophyte or saprophytes," 1872; see saprophyte + -ic. Related: Saprophytically.ETD saprophytic (adj.).2

    saprostomous (adj.)

    "having foul breath," 1881; from Greek sapros "putrid" (see sapro-) + stoma "orifice" (see stoma).ETD saprostomous (adj.).2

    saque (n.)

    type of gown with a loose back, 1590s, from a specialized use of French saque "bag" (Old French sac; see sack (n.1)). Also used mid-19c. of coats not shaped to the back, and from 1957 of a type of short, unwaisted dress.ETD saque (n.).2

    SARS (n.)

    by 2003, acronym from severe acute respiratory syndrome.ETD SARS (n.).2


    fem. proper name, alternative spelling of Sarah.ETD Sara.2

    Saracen (n.)

    Middle English Saracene, Sarcene, Sarazyn, Sarasine, "a Turk; an Arab; a Muslim," from Old English (in translations from Latin), from Old French Saracin, Sarrasine or Medieval Latin Saracenus, from Greek sarakenos. This usually is said to be from Arabic sharquiyin, accusative plural of sharqiy "eastern," from sharq "east, sunrise," but this is not certain. In medieval times the name was associated with that of Biblical Sarah (q.v.).ETD Saracen (n.).2

    It was the name Greeks and Romans gave to the nomads of the Syrian and Arabian deserts and the inhabitants of Arabia Felix, in the West it took on a sense of "Middle Eastern Muslim" from the Crusades. It also could be applied to any non-Christian people against whom a crusade was preached (the pagan Lithuanians), and in Middle English it was used generally for "one who is not a Christian or Jew; heathen, pagan" (mid-13c.). From c. 1300 as an adjective. Related: Saracenic; Sarcenism ("Islam"), and compare sarsen. Sarsinrie, "the Saracen people or country," is attested in mid-15c.ETD Saracen (n.).3


    fem. proper name, Biblical wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac, from Hebrew, literally "princess," from sarah, fem. of sar "prince," from sarar "he ruled," which is related to Akkadian sharratu "queen." A popular as a name for girls born in U.S. in 1870s and 1978-2000.ETD Sarah.2


    capital of Bosnia, founded 15c. and named in Turkish as Bosna-Saray, "Palace on the (River) Bosna," from saray (see caravanserai); the modern name is a Slavic adjectival form of saray.ETD Sarajevo.2


    U.S. trademark name for PVC used as a cling-film, 1940, by Dow Chemical Company.ETD Saran.2


    place in New York state, early recorded as saraghtogo and apparently the name is from an Iroquoian language, but it is of unknown meaning.ETD Saratoga.2

    Saratoga trunk, in reference to a kind of large trunk for travel, is by 1857, when they came into vogue; so called because it was much used by ladies traveling to the summer resort of Saratoga. Saratoga travelling trunks were advertised in 1847 in New York newspapers.ETD Saratoga.3

    sarcasm (n.)

    1570s, sarcasmus, "a biting taunt or gibe, a satirical remark or expression," from Late Latin sarcasmus, from late Greek sarkasmos "a sneer, jest, taunt, mockery," from sarkazein "to speak bitterly, sneer," literally "to strip off the flesh" (like dogs), from sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh," properly "piece of meat" (see sarco-). The modern form of the English word is from 1610s. "Now usually in a generalized sense: sarcastic language; sarcastic meaning or purpose" [OED]. Also see humor (n.).ETD sarcasm (n.).2

    sarcastic (adj.)

    "characterized by sarcasm, bitterly cutting, scornfully severe," 1690s, from sarcasm, perhaps on the model of enthusiastic. Earlier adjectives were sarcastical (1640s); sarcasmous (1660s); sarcasmical (c. 1600). Related: Sarcastically.ETD sarcastic (adj.).2


    before vowels sarc-, word-forming element in science meaning "flesh, fleshy, of the flesh;" from Latinized form of Greek sark-, combining form of sarx "flesh," traditionally derived from a PIE root *twerk-, *tuerk- "to cut" (source also of Avestan thwares "to cut"), but Beekes is dubious.ETD sarco-.2

    sarcoid (adj.)

    "resembling flesh, fleshy," 1841, from sarco- + -oid. As a noun by 1875. The chronic disease name sarcoidosis is attested by 1936.ETD sarcoid (adj.).2

    sarcoma (n.)

    1650s, "fleshy excrescence," Medical Latin, from Latinized form of Greek sarkoma "fleshy substance" (Galen), from sarkoun "to produce flesh, grow fleshy," from sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh" (see sarcasm) + -oma. Meaning "harmful tumor of the connective tissue," more or less malignant, is from 1804 (Abernethy). Related: Sarcomatous.ETD sarcoma (n.).2

    sarcomere (n.)

    "structural unit of a muscle," 1891, from sarco-, Latinized combining form of Greek sarx "flesh" (see sarcasm) + -mere, from Greek meros "part," from PIE root *(s)mer- (2) "to get a share of something."ETD sarcomere (n.).2

    sarcophagi (n.)

    plural of sarcophagus (q.v.).ETD sarcophagi (n.).2

    sarcophagy (n.)

    "practice of eating meat," 1640s, from sarco- "flesh" + -phagy "eating" (see -phagous).ETD sarcophagy (n.).2

    sarcophagus (n.)

    c. 1600, "type of stone used by the ancients for making coffins," from Latin sarcophagus, from Greek sarkophagos (lithos) "limestone used for coffins;" the adjective means "flesh-eating," a reference to the supposed action of this type of limestone (quarried near Assos in Troas, hence the Latin lapis Assius) in quickly decomposing bodies.ETD sarcophagus (n.).2

    It is a compound of sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh" (see sarcasm) + phagein "to eat" (from PIE root *bhag- "to share out, apportion; to get a share"). Related: Sarcophagal.ETD sarcophagus (n.).3

    The "stone" sense was the earliest in English; the meaning "stone coffin," often one with inscriptions or decorative carvings is by 1705. The Latin word, shortened in Vulgar Latin to *sarcus, is the source of French cercueil, German Sarg "coffin," Dutch zerk "tombstone."ETD sarcophagus (n.).4

    sardine (n.)

    "pilchard, type of small oily fish," migratory and highly esteemed as a food, early 15c., from Latin sardina, sarda, from late Greek sardinē, sardinos, earlier sardē, which is often said to be from or related to Sardō "Sardinia" (see Sardinia), the Mediterranean island, near which the fish probably were caught and from which they were exported.ETD sardine (n.).2

    But Klein writes, "It is hardly probable that the Greeks would have obtained fish from so far as Sardinia at a time relatively so early as that of Aristotle, from whom Athenaios quotes a passage in which the fish sardinos is mentioned." There were other place names in Sard- in the region. D'Arcy Thompson ("A Glossary of Greek Fishes") writes that "The pilchard does not reach Palestine, and the various Clupeids to be found in Greece are not well identified," and also notes that Greek sarda, whatever its origin, "became a very general name, not only for pickled Tunny and Pelamyd, but for a great variety of other potted fish."ETD sardine (n.).3

    Hence, as a verb, "to pack closely" (by 1895); the colloquial phrase packed like sardines (in a tin, etc.) is recorded by 1845. As the name of a hide-and-seek party game where each person who finds the hider then joins in hiding, by 1924.ETD sardine (n.).4


    large island west of Italy, Latin, from Greek Sardō, Sardōn; perhaps named for the local Iberian people who had settled there; the original form and meaning of the name is lost. A Punic (Phoenician) stelle from 7c. B.C.E. refers to it as Shardan.ETD Sardinia.2

    The oblique cases in Greek are sometimes Sardonos, etc. Related: Sardinian, which in 19c. sometimes was shortened to Sard. The historical Kingdom of Sardinia was formed in 1720 from the island and parts of Piedmont and Savoy; it became the nucleus of the modern nation of Italy.ETD Sardinia.3

    sardonic (adj.)

    "apparently but not really proceeding from gaiety," especially of laughter, a grin, etc., 1630s, from French sardonique (16c.), from Latin sardonius (but as if from *sardonicus) as used in the phrase Sardonius risus, a loan-translation of Greek sardonios gelōs "of bitter or scornful laughter."ETD sardonic (adj.).2

    The Greek word was altered from Homeric sardanios (which is of uncertain origin) apparently by influence of Sardonios "Sardinian" (see Sardinia) because the Greeks believed that eating a certain plant they called sardonion ("plant from Sardinia") caused facial convulsions resembling those of sardonic laughter (usually followed by death). The etymology has been confused since ancient times and is much debated.ETD sardonic (adj.).3

    For nuances, see humor (n.). Earlier in same sense sardonian (1580s), from Latin sardonius. Of persons, "bitterly ironical, sarcastic," by 1833. Related: Sardonically.ETD sardonic (adj.).4

    sarge (n.)

    representing the pronunciation of the familiar shortening of sergeant, by 1867.ETD sarge (n.).2

    sargasso (n.)

    "seaweed," 1590s, from Portuguese sargasso "seaweed," which is perhaps from sarga, a type of grape (on this theory, the sea plant was so called from its berry-like air sacs; it also is known as grapeweed), or from Latin sargus, a kind of fish found in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, from Greek sargos, name of a sea-fish that appears in schools, a word of uncertain origin.ETD sargasso (n.).2

    The name Sargasso Sea is attested by 1819 for the large section of the Atlantic in the interior of the great loop of the Gulf Stream, where this sort of weed abounds and could impede sailing ships. Hence figurative for any sort of stagnant mass.ETD sargasso (n.).3

    sari (n.)

    also saree, the long, wrapping garment of silk or cotton worn by Hindu women, 1785, from Hindi sari, from Prakrit sadi, from Sanskrit sati "garment, petticoat."ETD sari (n.).2

    Sarin (n.)

    type of odorless nerve gas, 1945, from German, but the name is of unknown origin. Other phosphorous compounds known in Germany by the end of World War II were called Tabun, soman, Diglykol.ETD Sarin (n.).2

    sark (n.)

    "shirt, chemise, body garment of linen or cotton for either sex," Middle English serk, late Old English serc "shirt, corselet, coat of mail," surviving as a Scottish and northern dialect word. It is either the Old English word influenced in pronunciation and spelling by its Old Norse cognate serkr, or that word in place of the native one. A general Germanic word (see shirt and also compare berserk.ETD sark (n.).2


    name of an ancient region extending vaguely westward from the River Volga, Latin Sarmatia, from Greek Sarmatēs, their name for an ancient tribe which wandered the plains of easternmost Europe until it merged with other peoples (their language apparently was an Iranian tongue); later poetically identified with Poland. Related: Sarmatian.ETD Sarmatia.2

    sarong (n.)

    skirt-like garment worn over the lower body by both sexes, the Malay national garment, 1834, from Malay (Austronesian) sarung "sheath, covering." OED traces it to "some mod. form of Skr. saranga 'variegated.' "ETD sarong (n.).2

    sarsaparilla (n.)

    tropical American plant, also its root used as a medicinal preparation, 1570s, from Spanish zarzaparrilla, from zarza "bramble" (from Arabic sharas "thorny plant" or Basque sartzia "bramble") + parrilla, diminutive of parra "vine," which is of unknown origin.ETD sarsaparilla (n.).2

    In 16c.-17c. the dried roots were held to be efficient in treatment of syphilis. From mid-19c. applied to a sweet soft drink made with the root extract (originally with suggestion of medicinal benefit).ETD sarsaparilla (n.).3

    sarsen (n.)

    a name given in the southwest of England to a large sandstone boulder, by 1743, properly sarsen stone, that is, "Saracen stone," from Saracen in the old, broad sense of "pagan, heathen" and thus used generally in the popular mind for the former (pre-Christian) inhabitants of the region.ETD sarsen (n.).2

    The same word was applied to the ancient leavings outside Cornish tin mines, also known as Jews' pits, those being the other people formerly credited in Western Europe with any ancient structure of forgotten origin, based vaguely on Biblical chronologies.ETD sarsen (n.).3

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