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    sitcom (n.) — ski-lift (n.)

    sitcom (n.)

    by 1959, from the first elements of situation comedy, a phrase attested from 1952 in reference to television shows, earlier (1943) of radio programs that depend on the conjunction of characters and circumstances; see situation and comedy. Situation since 1779 also has had a specific theatrical sense of "crisis or critical point in the action of a play."ETD sitcom (n.).2

    sit-down (adj.)

    "that is done or which involves sitting down," 1836 in reference to meals; 1936 in reference to strikes where the workplace is occupied; from the verbal phrase meaning "take a seat, seat oneself" (c. 1200), from sit (v.) + down (adv.). Sit down (v.) meaning "put up (with)" is attested from c. 1600, hence to (not) take something sitting down. As a noun, sit-down "act of sitting down" is from 1861, especially a sitting down together for friendly or social intercourse.ETD sit-down (adj.).2

    site (n.)

    "place or position occupied by something," especially with reference to environment, also "land on which a building stands, location of a village," late 14c., from Anglo-French site, Old French site "place, site; position," and directly from Latin situs "a place, position, situation, location, station; idleness, sloth, inactivity; forgetfulness; the effects of neglect," from past participle of sinere "let, leave alone, permit" (from PIE *si-tu-, from root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home").ETD site (n.).2

    site (v.)

    "to give a location to, place," 1590s, from site (n.). Sited "situated, having a (certain) site" is attested from mid-15c. Related: Siting.ETD site (v.).2

    sith (adv., conj., prep.)

    a once-common, now obsolete word for "since," Middle English sitthen (conj.), sitthe (prep., adv.), reduced from Old English siððan (Mercian seoððan, Northubrian seoðan) "then, thereupon; continuously, during which; seeing that," a comparative adverb from *sið þon "subsequent to that," from sið "after," from Proto-Germanic *sith- "later, after" (source also of Old Saxon sith "after that, since, later," German seit "since," Gothic seiþus "late"), from PIE *se- (2) "long, late" (see soiree). For second element, see then. Compare since and also German seit dem.ETD sith (adv., conj., prep.).2

    sit-in (n.)

    "act of sitting in," 1937, from the verbal phrase, "take part, have a place" as a player in a game (1590s); see sit (v.) + in (adv.). The verbal phrase is attested by 1936 in reference to session musicians, "join in" with a band or orchestra.ETD sit-in (n.).2

    As "occupy a building," it is attested by 1937 in reference to union action (sit-in strike is attested from 1938), by 1941 in reference to student protests. To sit in is attested from 1868 in the sense of "attend, be present;" sit-in as a noun meaning "a large crowd" (in a restaurant or taproom) is by 1869. To sit in is from 1919 specifically as "attend as an observer."ETD sit-in (n.).3

    sitology (n.)

    "department of medicine which relates to the regulation of diet," 1854, from sito- used as a modern scientific word-forming element to mean "food," from Greek sitos "wheat, corn, meal; food," which is of unknown origin, + -logy.ETD sitology (n.).2

    sitophobia (n.)

    "morbid or insane aversion to food" (or certain foods), 1882, from sito- used as a modern scientific word-forming element to mean "food," from Greek sitos "wheat, corn, meal; food," which is of unknown origin, + -phobia. Related: Sitophobe; sitophobic.ETD sitophobia (n.).2

    sitter (n.)

    c. 1300, "one who or that which sits, one who occupies a seat," agent noun from sit (v.). By 1640s as "one who poses to an artist for a portrait, bust, etc." As short for babysitter, by 1937.ETD sitter (n.).2

    situs (n.)

    Latin, "situation, position" (see site (n.)), used in English in certain technical writings (botany, archaeology, etc.) to indicate "proper or original position and location of something" (compare in situ).ETD situs (n.).2


    see in situ.ETD situ.2

    situate (v.)

    early 15c., situaten, "to place in a particular state or condition, give a site or position to," from Medieval Latin situatus, past participle of situare "to place, locate," from Latin situs "a place, position" (from PIE root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home"). Related: Situated; situating.ETD situate (v.).2

    situate (adj.)

    "placed, located," with reference to surroundings, 1520s, now obsolete (replaced by situated), adjective from Late Latin situatus, past participle of situare "to place, locate" (see situate (v.)).ETD situate (adj.).2

    situational (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to a situation or situations," 1903, from situation + -al. Related: Situationally. In situational ethics (attested from 1969; situation ethics is by 1955) the notion is "determined by or in relation to circumstances." Situational irony is attested by 1963.ETD situational (adj.).2

    situation (n.)

    early 15c., situacioun, "place, position, or location," from Old French situacion or directly from Medieval Latin situationem (nominative situatio) "a position, situation," noun of action from past-participle stem of situare "to place, locate," from Latin situs "a place, position" (from PIE root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home").ETD situation (n.).2

    The meaning "state of affairs, position with reference to circumstances" is from 1710; the meaning "employment, post, office" is by 1803. For situation comedy, see sitcom.ETD situation (n.).3

    sit-up (n.)

    also situp, kind of physical exercise, 1955, from the verbal phrase, "lift the body from a recumbent position to a sitting posture" (attested from early 13c.); see sit (v.) + up (adv.). Related: Sit-ups. To sit up as "stay up late" is from 1550s.ETD sit-up (n.).2

    sitz-bath (n.)

    "hip-bath," also a tub adapted for such a bath, 1849, a hybrid from German Sitzbad, literally "bath in a sitting position," from German sitzen (see sit (v.)) with English bath for cognate German Bad.ETD sitz-bath (n.).2

    sitzkrieg (n.)

    1940, "static warfare" (such as prevailed in Europe in the winter of 1939-40), R.A.F. coinage on analogy of blitzkrieg (q.v.), from German sitz "a sitting," from sitzen "to sit" (see sit (v.)).ETD sitzkrieg (n.).2

    Siva (n.)

    also Shiva, one of the three supreme gods of Hinduism, lord of destruction and reproduction, 1788, from Hindi Shiva, from Sanskrit Sivah, literally "propitious, gracious" (a euphemism), from PIE *ki-wo-, suffixed form of root *kei- (1) "to lie," also forming words for "bed, couch," and with a secondary sense of "beloved, dear." But by some this name is said to be a euphemism. Related: Sivaism; Sivaistic.ETD Siva (n.).2

    six (num.)

    one more than five; twice three; the number which is one more than five; a symbol representing this number;" Old English siex, six, seox, sex, from Proto-Germanic *seks (source also of Old Saxon and Danish seks, Old Norse, Swedish, and Old Frisian sex, Middle Dutch sesse, Dutch zes, Old High German sehs, German sechs, Gothic saihs), from PIE *s(w)eks (source also of Sanskrit sas, Avestan kshvash, Persian shash, Greek hex, Latin sex, Old Church Slavonic sesti, Polish sześć, Russian shesti, Lithuanian šeši, Old Irish se, Welsh chwech).ETD six (num.).2

    As "playing card with six spots or pips" by 1590s. Six-footer "person measuring six feet or more" is by 1828. Six-shooter, usually a revolver with six chambers (firing six shots in succession), is attested from 1842; six-pack of beverage containers is from 1952, of abdominal muscles by 1995.ETD six (num.).3

    Six of one and half-a-dozen of the other "little difference" is recorded from 1833. Six-figure (adj.) in reference to hundreds of thousands (of dollars, etc.) is from 1840. Six feet under "dead" is from 1942.ETD six (num.).4

    The phrase at sixes and sevens originally was "hazarding all one's chances," first in Chaucer, perhaps from dicing (the original form was on six and seven); it could be a corruption of at cinque and sice "exposed to great risk" (1530s), literally "at five and six," using the French names (which were common in Middle English) for the highest numbers on the dice. The meaning "at odds, in disagreement or confusion" in the exact phrase is from 1785; in Middle English the phrase set at (or on) six and seven meant "play havoc, create an uproar."ETD six (num.).5

    sixain (n.)

    in prosody, "a stanza of six lines," from French sixain, from Old French sisain, from Medieval Latin sexenus, from Latin sex (See six).ETD sixain (n.).2

    sixer (n.)

    "anything associated with the number six," by 1849, from six.ETD sixer (n.).2

    sixfold (adj.)

    "having six aspects or parts, six times repeated, six times as many or much," Old English sixfeald; see six + -fold. Also as an adverb, "in six ways." Similar formations in Danish sexfold, Dutch zes-voudig; German sechsfältig, Swedish sexfaldig.ETD sixfold (adj.).2

    sixpence (n.)

    late 14c., "sum of six pennies," from six + pence. By 1590s as the name of a specific British silver coin with a value of six pence. Sixpenny (adj.) "worth or costing six pennies" (early 15c.) had a figurative sense of "paltry, cheap, petty, worthless" by 1560s; sixpenny nails (early 15c.) cost so much per hundred.ETD sixpence (n.).2

    sixteen (adj., n.)

    "one more than fifteen, twice eight, four times four; the number which is one more than fifteen; a symbol representing this number;" Middle English sixtene, from Old English sixtyne, from siex (see six) + -teen. Similar formation in Old Frisian sextine, Middle Dutch sestien, Dutch zestien, German sechzehn, Old Norse sextan.ETD sixteen (adj., n.).2

    From Latin contracted form sexdecim, sedecim come Italian sedici, French seize.ETD sixteen (adj., n.).3

    sixteenmo (n.)

    "book printed on sheets of 16 leaves," 1847, from an English reading of the printers' Latin abbreviation 16-mo, representing sexto decimo "sixteen."ETD sixteenmo (n.).2

    sixteenth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the fifteenth; an ordinal numeral; being one of sixteen equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" c. 1200, sixtenthe, from sixteen + -th (1); replacing sixtethe, sixteothe, forms based on Old English sixteoþa. Compare Old Frisian sextinda, Middle Dutch sestiende, German sechzehnte, Old Norse sextandi.ETD sixteenth (adj., n.).2

    As a noun, "one of sixteen equal parts," by 1610s. The musical sixteenth note, equivalent in time-value to one half of an eighth note, is so called from 1861.ETD sixteenth (adj., n.).3

    sixth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the fifth; an ordinal numeral; being one of six equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" late 14c., replacing by 16c. Middle English sixte (c. 1200), from Old English syxte, from siex (see six). Compare Old Frisian sexta, Middle Dutch seste, Old High German sehsto, German sechste, Gothic saihsta. With ending conformed to -th (1). Related: Sixthly.ETD sixth (adj., n.).2

    The noun meaning "a sixth part" is from 1550s. As a music tone a sixth degree above or below a given tone," especially the sixth tone from the bottom of a scale, by 1590s.ETD sixth (adj., n.).3

    Sixth sense "supernatural perception of objects" is attested from 1712:ETD sixth (adj., n.).4

    Earlier it meant "titillation, the sense that apprehends sexual pleasure" (1690s, from Scaliger).ETD sixth (adj., n.).5

    sixties (n.)

    1848 as the years of a person's life between 60 and 69; by 1827 as the seventh decade of years in a given century. See sixty.ETD sixties (n.).2

    sixty (adj., n.)

    "one more than fifty-nine, twice thirty, six times ten; the number which is one more than fifty-nine; a symbol representing this number;" Middle English sixti, from Old English sixtig, from siex (see six) + -tig (see -ty (1)). Similar formation in Old Norse sextugr, sextögr, sextigir, Old Frisian sextich, Middle Dutch sestig, Dutch zestig, Old High German sehszug, German sechzig.ETD sixty (adj., n.).2

    To do something like sixty "with great force or vigor" is by 1833, American English, but the signification of the sixty is unclear.ETD sixty (adj., n.).3

    The variant like sixty-six is more recent (by 1853 in North Carolina newspapers) and thus might be a mere embiggening of it.ETD sixty (adj., n.).4

    sixtieth (adj., n.)

    "next in order after the fifty-ninth; an ordinal numeral; being one of sixty equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" Old English sixteogoða "sixtieth;" see sixty + -th (1).ETD sixtieth (adj., n.).2


    also sixty-fold, "sixty times as much," Middle English sixtifold, from Old English sixtigfeald; see sixty + -fold.ETD sixtyfold.2

    sixty-four (n., adj.)

    "eight times eight; one more than sixty-three; a numeral representing this;" see sixty + four.ETD sixty-four (n., adj.).2

    The phrase sixty-four dollar question "crucial question, most difficult question" is attested in general use from 1942, from the popular radio quiz show "Take It or Leave It" (debuted 1940), in which contestants answered questions of ascending difficulty and with ascending prizes for right answers, from $1 for the first to $64 for the seventh and last, and the option to take the winnings or take the next question. The show renamed itself "The $64 Question" in 1950. The amount of money offered advanced over time, and by 1955 it was "The $64,000 Question."ETD sixty-four (n., adj.).3

    sixty-nine (adj., n.)

    "one more than sixty-eight; the number which is one more than sixty-eight; a symbol representing this number;" see sixty + nine. In the sexual sense, 1888, as a translation of French faire soixante neuf, literally "to do 69." So called from the resemblance of the persons fitted together to the arrangement of the two numerals.ETD sixty-nine (adj., n.).2

    size (n.)

    c. 1300, "quantity, length, stature; manner, method, custom; a decision, a stipulated reward," from Old French sise, shortened form of assise "session, assessment, regulation, manner," noun use of fem. past participle of asseoir "to cause to sit," from Latin assidere/adsidere "to sit beside" (and thus to assist in the office of a judge), "sit with in counsel or office," from ad "to" (see ad-) + sedere "to sit," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit." The French word is probably a misdivision of l'assise as la sise.ETD size (n.).2

    The sense of "extent, amount, volume, magnitude" is from the notion of regulation (of weights, food portions, etc.) by fixing the amount of it. The specific sense of "one of a set of regularly increasing dimensions of a manufactured article for sale" is attested from 1590s (in reference to shoes). Figurative use of the sales clerk's try (something) on for size (to see if it "fits") is by 1956.ETD size (n.).3

    size (v.)

    c. 1400, "regulate, arrange, dispose" (a sense now obsolete), from size (n.) or shortened from a verb form of assize (n.). The meaning "make of a certain size" is from c. 1600; that of "classify according to size" is attested from 1630s. The verbal phrase size up "estimate, assess, take the measure of" is from 1847 and retains the "assessment" sense of size (n.). Related: Sized; sizing.ETD size (v.).2

    specter (n.)

    also spectre, c. 1600, "frightening ghost, apparition of the dead as they were in life," from French spectre "an image, figure, ghost" (16c.), from Latin spectrum "appearance, vision, apparition" (see spectrum). The figurative sense of "object of dread" is from 1774.ETD specter (n.).2

    spectre (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of specter (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.ETD spectre (n.).2

    spectral (adj.)

    1718, "capable of seeing specters;" 1815, "ghostly;" from spectre + -al (1). The meaning "pertaining to a spectrum" is 1832, from stem of spectrum + -al (1). Spectrous in the sense of "ghostly" is attested from 1650s, marked obsolete but Blake used it and Swinburne after him. Related: Spectrally; spectrality.ETD spectral (adj.).2


    word-forming element used since c. 1880 and meaning "of or by a spectroscope," also "of radiant energy," from combining form of spectrum (q.v.).ETD spectro-.2

    spectrogram (n.)

    "photograph of a spectrum," 1890, from spectro- + -gram.ETD spectrogram (n.).2

    spectrograph (n.)

    "apparatus for giving a photographic representation of a spectrum," 1876, from spectro- + -graph "instrument for recording; something written." Related: Spectrographic; spectrography.ETD spectrograph (n.).2

    spectrometer (n.)

    "instrument used to measure angular deviation of light rays passing through a prism," 1863, from German Spectrometer (Moritz Meyerstein, 1863); see spectro- + -meter.ETD spectrometer (n.).2

    spectroscope (n.)

    "instrument used to produce a spectrum of light," 1861, from spectro- + -scope. A Greek-Latin hybrid, both elements from the same PIE root. Related: Spectroscopic; spectroscopy.ETD spectroscope (n.).2

    spectrum (n.)

    1610s, "apparition, phantom, specter," a sense now obsolete, from Latin spectrum (plural spectra) "an appearance, image, apparition, specter," from specere "to look at, view" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").ETD spectrum (n.).2

    The meaning "visible band showing the successive colors, formed from a beam of light passed through a prism" is recorded from 1670s. The word was extended to the entire range of radiation wavelengths (including visible light) by 1888. The figurative sense of "entire range" of any thing is from 1936.ETD spectrum (n.).3

    speculation (n.)

    late 14c., speculacioun, "intelligent contemplation, consideration; act of looking," from Old French speculacion "close observation, rapt attention," and directly from Late Latin speculationem (nominative speculatio) "contemplation, observation, a spying out," noun of action from speculatus, past participle of Latin speculari "observe," from specere "to look at, view" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").ETD speculation (n.).2

    The meaning "pursuit of the truth by means of thinking" is from mid-15c. The disparaging sense of "mere conjecture" is recorded from 1570s. (In Middle English it also could mean "theory as opposed to practice.") The meaning "buying and selling in search of profit from rise and fall of market value" is recorded from 1774; the short form spec in this sense is attested from 1794.ETD speculation (n.).3

    skag (n.)

    "heroin," 1967, American English, earlier "cigarette" (1915), of unknown origin.ETD skag (n.).2

    skald (n.)

    "Scandinavian poet and singer of medieval times," 1763, from Old Norse skald "skald, poet" (9c.), a word of unknown origin, perhaps (Watkins) from PIE root *sekw- (3) "to say, utter." The modern word is an antiquarian revival. "Usually applied to Norwegian and Icelandic poets of the Viking period and down to c 1250, but often without any clear idea as to their function and the character of their work" [OED]. Related: Scaldic.ETD skald (n.).2

    skank (n.)

    "unattractive woman," 1965, perhaps from skag in this sense (1920s), which is of unknown origin.ETD skank (n.).2

    The verb meaning "dance to reggae music" is from 1976, probably not the same word but also of unknown origin. Related: Skanking.ETD skank (n.).3

    skanky (adj.)

    "ugly, unattractive" (originally of women), by 1965, African-American vernacular; see skank + -y (1).ETD skanky (adj.).2

    skat (n.)

    card game, 1864, from German Skat (by 1838), from earlier scart (said to have been a term used in the old card game taroc, which was of Italian origin), from Italian scarto "cards laid aside," which is said to be a back-formation from scartare, from Latin ex- "off, away" + Late Latin carta (see card (n.1)). The German game is perhaps so called because it is played with a rump deck, or because two cards are laid aside at the start of the game, or because discarding is an important part of the game. Compare the French card game écarté, literally "cards removed."ETD skat (n.).2

    skate (n.2)

    "an ice-skate, a contrivance for enabling a person to glide swiftly on ice," 1660s, skeates (plural), from Dutch schaats (plural schaatsen), a singular mistaken in English for plural, from Middle Dutch schaetse. The word and the custom were brought to England after the Restoration by exiled followers of Charles II who had taken refuge in Holland.ETD skate (n.2).2

    The Dutch word is perhaps from Old North French escache "a stilt, trestle," related to Old French eschace "stilt" (French échasse), from Frankish *skakkja "stilt" or a similar Germanic source (compare Frisian skatja "stilt"), perhaps literally "thing that shakes or moves fast" and related to root of Old English sceacan "to vibrate" (see shake (v.)). Or perhaps [Klein] the Dutch word is connected to Middle Low German schenke, Old English scanca "leg" (see shank). If the former, the sense alteration in Dutch from "stilt" to "skate" is not clearly traced. The latter theory perhaps is supported by evidence that the original ice skates, up to medieval times, were leg bones of horse, ox, or deer, strapped to the feet with leather strips.ETD skate (n.2).3

    The sense in English was extended to roller-skates by 1876. The meaning "an act of skating" is from 1853. A slightly older word for an ice skate was scrick-shoe (1650s), from Middle Dutch scricschoe, from schricken "to slide."ETD skate (n.2).4

    skate (n.1)

    "type of flat, cartilaginous fish, a kind of ray," mid-14c., scate, in reference to the common European skate, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skata "skate," Danish skade, Faeroese skøta, a word of unknown origin.ETD skate (n.1).2

    skate (v.)

    1690s, "to ice-skate, glide over the ice on skates," from skate (n.2). U.S. slang sense of "to get away with something" is attested from 1945. Related: Skated; skating.ETD skate (v.).2


    1964, noun and verb, from skate (v.) on model of surfboard. The phenomenon began c. 1963 in southern California and was nationwide the following summer.ETD skateboard.2

    skater (n.)

    1700, "one who ice-skates," agent noun from skate (v.). Extended to skateboarders by 1977.ETD skater (n.).2

    sked (n.)

    colloquial shortening of schedule (n.), U.S. student slang from 1929.ETD sked (n.).2

    skedaddle (v.)

    "run away, betake oneself hastily to flight," American Civil War military slang noted and popularized in newspapers from the summer of 1861, originally often skadaddle, a word of unknown origin. There is an earlier use in a piece reprinted in Northern newspapers in 1859, representing Hoosier speech. Perhaps it is connected to earlier use in northern England dialect with a meaning "to spill, scatter." Liberman says it "has no connection with any word of Greek, Irish, or Swedish, and it is not a blend" [contra De Vere]. He calls it instead an "enlargement of dial. scaddle 'scare, frighten.'" Related: Skedaddled; skedaddling. As a noun from 1862, "a hasty flight."ETD skedaddle (v.).2

    Skee-Ball (n.)

    1909, proprietary name (Skee-Ball Alley Company, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.), the first element said to represent the old alternative spelling of ski (v.).ETD Skee-Ball (n.).2

    skeet (n.)

    form of trap-shooting involving varying angles, 1926, a name chosen from public submissions to National Sportsman as "a very old form of our present word 'shoot.' " Perhaps the word intended was something akin to dialectal skite (n.) "a sudden stroke, or blow," ultimately from Old Norse skjota "to shoot" (compare skit, and see shoot (v.)).ETD skeet (n.).2

    In a list of "Some Peculiarities of Speech in Mississippi," [H.A. Shands, 1893] is an entry for skeet: "Illiterate whites use this word to mean to move swiftly to flee to run and also to skate and from this last it is probably derived."ETD skeet (n.).3

    skeeter (n.)

    colloquial shortening of mosquito, 1839, American English.ETD skeeter (n.).2

    skeevy (adj.)

    "causing a feeling of disgust or revulsion," physical or moral, teen slang, by 1980, perhaps 1976, of uncertain origin; perhaps in part for the suggestive sound (compare skank, sleazy, etc.).ETD skeevy (adj.).2

    skeezicks (n.)

    also skeezix, 1850, skeesicks, American English, "rascal, rogue; mean, contemptible fellow," a word of unknown origin, perhaps a fanciful formation. By early 20c. it often was used affectionately or playfully of children.ETD skeezicks (n.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut, split," extension of root *sek- "to cut."ETD *skei-.2

    It forms all or part of: abscissa; conscience; conscious; ecu; escudo; escutcheon; esquire; nescience; nescient; nice; omniscience; omniscient; plebiscite; prescience; prescient; rescind; rescission; science; scienter; scilicet; sciolist; scission; schism; schist; schizo-; schizophrenia; scudo; sheath; sheathe; sheave (n.) "grooved wheel to receive a cord, pulley;" shed (v.) "cast off;" shin (n.) "fore part of the lower leg;" shingle (n.1) "thin piece of wood;" shit (v.); shive; shiver (n.1) "small piece, splinter, fragment, chip;" shoddy; shyster; skene; ski; skive (v.1) "split or cut into strips, pare off, grind away;" squire.ETD *skei-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit chindhi, chinatti "to break, split up;" Avestan a-sista- "unsplit, unharmed," Greek skhizein "to split, cleave, part, separate;" Latin scindere "to cut, rend, tear asunder, split;" Armenian c'tim "to tear, scratch;" Lithuanian skiesti "to separate, divide;" Old Church Slavonic cediti "to strain;" Old English scitan, Old Norse skita "to defecate;" Old English sceað, Old High German sceida "sheath;" Old Irish sceid "to vomit, spit;" Welsh chwydu "to break open."ETD *skei-.4

    skein (n.)

    "quantity of thread wound on a reel, fixed quantity of yarn doubled over and over and knotted," early 14c., skaine, from Old French escaigne, escagne (mid-14c., Modern French écagne), a word of uncertain origin. Compare Medieval Latin scagna "a skein," Irish sgainne "a skein, clue."ETD skein (n.).2

    *skel- (1)

    also *kel-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."ETD *skel- (1).2

    It forms all or part of: coulter; cutlass; half; halve; scale (n.1) "skin plates on fish or snakes;" scale (n.2) "weighing instrument;" scalene; scallop; scalp; scalpel; school (n.2) "group of fish;" sculpture; shale; sheldrake; shelf; shell; shield; shoal (n.2) "large number;" skoal; skill.ETD *skel- (1).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin culter "knife," scalpere "to cut, scrape;" Old Church Slavonic skolika "mussel, shell," Russian skala "rind, bark," Lithuanian skelti "split," Old English scell "shell," scalu "drinking cup, bowl, scale of a balance."ETD *skel- (1).4

    skeletal (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to a skeleton," 1849, from skeleton + -al (1). Related: Skeletally.ETD skeletal (adj.).2

    skeleton (n.)

    "the dry bones of a body taken together," 1570s, from Modern Latin sceleton "bones, bony framework of the body," from Greek skeleton soma "dried-up body, mummy, skeleton," from neuter of skeletos "dried-up" (also, as a noun, "dried body, mummy"), from skellein "dry up, make dry, parch" (from PIE root *skele- "to parch, wither;" see sclero-).ETD skeleton (n.).2

    Skelton was an early variant form. The noun use of Greek skeletos passed into Late Latin (sceletus), hence French squelette and rare English skelet (1560s), Spanish esqueleto, Italian scheletro.ETD skeleton (n.).3

    The sense of "lean, emaciated person" is by 1620s. The meaning "bare or mere outline, rough draft" is recorded by c. 1600; that of "supporting framework" of anything is by 1650s, hence skeleton key (by 1810). The meaning "of the minimum size for getting work done" is by 1778, originally military; hence skeleton crew (1891), Phrase skeleton in the closet "source of secret shame to a person or family" is from 1812 (the image is perhaps from the Bluebeard fable).ETD skeleton (n.).4

    skelm (n.)

    also skellum, "a rascal, scamp, scoundrel," 1610s, from Dutch schelm, from German schelm "rascal, devil, pestilence, etc.," from Old High German scelmo. Used by Dryden, but "Now arch. (except in S.Africa)" [OED]. Century Dictionary (1895) says it is provincial and Scottish.ETD skelm (n.).2

    skene (n.)

    ancient type of dagger found in Ireland, double-edged and leaf-like, 1520s, from Irish Gaelic scian (genitive sceine) "knife," cognate with Gaelic sgian "knife," Welsh ysgien "a slicer" (from PIE *skiy-ena-, from root *skei- "to cut, split"). OED writes that "The word was also loosely applied by writers of the 16th and 17th centuries to a dagger or small sword of any kind."ETD skene (n.).2

    skep (n.)

    "quantity measure for grain, etc.; basket for coal, grain, alms, etc.; grain receptacle," c. 1100, skeppe, from Old Norse skeppa "basket, bushel." Related: Skepful; skepper "basket-weaver, basket-maker," also a surname.ETD skep (n.).2

    skeptic (n.)

    also sceptic, 1580s, "member of an ancient Greek school that doubted the possibility of real knowledge," from French sceptique and directly from Latin scepticus "the sect of the Skeptics," from Greek skeptikos (plural Skeptikoi "the Skeptics, followers of Pyrrho"), noun use of adjective meaning "inquiring, reflective." This is related to skeptesthai "to reflect, look, view" (from a metathesized form of PIE root *spek- "to observe"). The name was taken by the disciples of Greek philosopher Pyrrho, who lived c. 360-c. 270 B.C.E.ETD skeptic (n.).2

    The extended sense of "one with a doubting attitude, one who suspends judgment and holds that the known facts do not warrant a conclusion" is recorded by 1610s. It is attested by 1630s as "one who doubts or disbelieves the Christian religion," short of absolutely denying it. The sk- spelling is an early 17c. Greek revival and is preferred in U.S.ETD skeptic (n.).3

    The adjective in the sense of "skeptical" is attested from 1570s. As a verb, scepticize (1690s) failed to catch on.ETD skeptic (n.).4

    skeptical (adj.)

    also sceptical, 1630s, "disbelieving, mistrustful, doubting;" see skeptic + -al (1). Earlier skeptic was used as an adjective (1570s). Related: Skeptically.ETD skeptical (adj.).2

    skepticism (n.)

    also scepticism, "the entertaining of mistrust, doubt, or disbelief," 1640s, from skeptic + -ism. Specifically from 1800 as "doubt or disbelief in the fundamental principles of the Christian religion." Earlier skepsis (from Greek skepsis) had been used in English for "philosophic doubt, skeptical philosophy" (1650s). Fuller's "Sermon of Assurances" (1630s) has scepticalness "doubt."ETD skepticism (n.).2

    *sker- (1)

    also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."ETD *sker- (1).2

    It forms all or part of: bias; carnage; carnal; carnation; carnival; carnivorous; carrion; cenacle; charcuterie; charnel; corium; cortex; crone; cuirass; currier; curt; decorticate; excoriate; incarnadine; incarnate; incarnation; kirtle; scabbard; scar (n.2) "bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or mountain;" scaramouche; scarf (n.2) "connecting joint;" scarp; score; scrabble; scrap (n.1) "small piece;" scrape; screen; screw; scrimmage; scrofula; scrub (n.1) "low, stunted tree;" scurf; shard; share (n.1) "portion;" share (n.2) "iron blade of a plow;" sharp; shear; shears; sheer (adj.) "absolute, utter;" shirt; shore (n.) "land bordering a large body of water;" short; shrub; skerry; skirmish; skirt.ETD *sker- (1).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit krnati "hurts, wounds, kills," krntati "cuts;" Hittite karsh- "to cut off;" Greek keirein "to cut, shear;" Latin curtus "short," caro (genitive carnis) "flesh" (originally "piece of flesh"); Lithuanian skiriu, skirti "to separate;" Old English sceran, scieran "to cleave, hew, cut with a sharp instrument;" Old Irish scaraim "I separate;" Welsh ysgar "to separate," ysgyr "fragment."ETD *sker- (1).4

    *sker- (2)

    also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to turn, bend."ETD *sker- (2).2

    It forms all or part of: arrange; circa; circadian; circle; circuit; circum-; circumcision; circumflex; circumnavigate; circumscribe; circumspect; circumstance; circus; cirque; corona; crepe; crest; crinoline; crisp; crown; curb; curvature; curve; derange; flounce (n.) "deep ruffle on the skirt of a dress;" krone; ring (n.1) "circular band;" ranch; range; ranger; rank (n.) "row, line series;" research; recherche; ridge; rink; rucksack; search; shrink.ETD *sker- (2).3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin curvus "bent, curved," crispus "curly;" Old Church Slavonic kragu "circle;" perhaps Greek kirkos "ring," koronos "curved;" Old English hring "ring, small circlet."ETD *sker- (2).4

    skerry (n.)

    "isolated rock in the sea," 1610s, in a Scottish context, from Old Norse sker, from Proto-Germanic *skarjam, suffixed form of PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut," on the notion of "something cut off."ETD skerry (n.).2

    sketch (n.)

    1660s, scetch, "rough drawing intended to serve as the basis for a finished picture," from Dutch schets or Low German skizze, both apparently being 17c. artists' borrowings from Italian schizzo "sketch, drawing."ETD sketch (n.).2

    This is commonly said to be from Latin *schedius (OED compares schedia "raft," schedium "an extemporaneous poem"), which is from or related to Greek skhedios "temporary, extemporaneous, done or made off-hand," related to skhema "form, shape, appearance" (see scheme (n.)). But according to Barnhart Italian schizzo is a special use of schizzo "a splash, squirt," from schizzare "to splash or squirt," a word of uncertain origin. German Skizze, French esquisse, Spanish esquicio are said to be likewise from Italian schizzo.ETD sketch (n.).3

    The extended sense of "brief account" is from 1660s. The meaning "short and slightly constructed play or performance, usually comic" is from 1789; in music, "short composition of a single movement," 1840. Sketch-book "book with blank leaves of drawing paper" is recorded from 1820; it also was used of printed books composed of literary sketches.ETD sketch (n.).4

    In old slang, a hot sketch (simple sketch for short) was "amusing, ridiculous person" (1909). It turns up first in descriptions of stage entertainment, and a theatrical help-wanted ad from 1906 seeks "a good hot sketch team" for "all circus and vaudeville lines."ETD sketch (n.).5

    sketch (v.)

    1690s (Dryden), "present briefly the essential facts of, omitting detail," from sketch (n.). The pictorial peaning "draw, portray in outline and partial shading" is from 1725. The intransitive sense of "make a sketch" is by 1874. Related: Sketched; sketcher; sketching.ETD sketch (v.).2

    sketchy (adj.)

    1805, "having the form or character of a sketch, giving only a slight or rough outline," from sketch (n.) + -y (2). The colloquial sense of "unsubstantial, imperfect, flimsy" is from 1878, perhaps via the notion of "unfinished." Related: Sketchily; sketchiness.ETD sketchy (adj.).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cover, conceal."ETD *(s)keu-.2

    It forms all or part of: chiaroscuro; cunnilingus; custody; cutaneous; cuticle; -cyte; cyto-; hide (v.1) "to conceal;" hide (n.1) "skin of a large animal;" hoard; hose; huddle; hut; kishke; lederhosen; meerschaum; obscure; scum; skewbald; skim; sky.ETD *(s)keu-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kostha "enclosing wall," skunati "covers;" Greek kytos "a hollow, vessel," keutho "to cover, to hide," skynia "eyebrows;" Latin cutis "skin," ob-scurus "dark;" Lithuanian kiautas "husk," kūtis "stall;" Armenian ciw "roof;" Russian kishka "gut," literally "sheath;" Old English hyd "a hide, a skin," hydan "to hide, conceal; Old Norse sky "cloud;" Old English sceo "cloud;" Middle High German hode "scrotum;" Old High German scura, German Scheuer "barn;" Welsh cuddio "to hide."ETD *(s)keu-.4


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to shoot, chase, throw."ETD *skeud-.2

    It forms all or part of: scot-free; scout (v.2) "to reject with scorn;" sheet (n.1) "cloth, covering;" sheet (n.2) "rope that controls a sail;" shoot; shot; shout; shut; shuttle; skeet; wainscot.ETD *skeud-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit skundate "hastens, makes haste;" Old Church Slavonic iskydati "to throw out;" Lithuanian skudrus "quick, nimble;" Old English sceotan "to hurl missiles," Old Norse skjota "to shoot with (a weapon)."ETD *skeud-.4

    skewed (adj.2)

    "skewbald, of mixed colors," early 15c., skued, skeued, a word of uncertain origin. It is said to be not from skew (v.), but Klein's sources say it is and Middle English Compendium offers that as a possibility; OED suggests it is perhaps from Old French escu "shield," but also notes a close resemblance in form and sense with Icelandic skjottr, "the history of which is equally obscure." Watkins says it is Scandinavian and akin to Old Norse sky "cloud" on the resemblance of the markings to cloud cover.ETD skewed (adj.2).2

    skewed (adj.1)

    1610s, "set obliquely or aslant," past-participle adjective from skew (v.). In the sense of "distorted, shifted, turned aside" it is by 1895.ETD skewed (adj.1).2

    skew (v.)

    c. 1400, "turn aside, take an oblique course, run obliquely or at an angle," also "escape," intransitive senses now archaic or obsolete, from Old North French eskiuer "shy away from, avoid," Old French eschiver (see eschew; also compare shy (adj.)).ETD skew (v.).2

    The transitive sense of "turn (something) aside, give oblique direction to" is attested from 1570s. The meaning "depict unfairly" is recorded by 1872, on notion of being "give oblique direction to," hence "to distort, to make slant"(compare bias, also an image of obliqueness). The statistical sense dates from 1929. Related: Skewed; skewing.ETD skew (v.).3

    The adjectival meaning "slanting, turned to one side" is recorded from c. 1600, from the verb; the noun meaning "a slant, a deviation" is attested by 1680s.ETD skew (v.).4

    skewness (n.)

    "quality of being skew," 1877, from skew (adj.) + -ness.ETD skewness (n.).2

    skewbald (adj.)

    also skew-bald, 1650s, "having white and brown (or some other color) patches, spotted in an irregular manner" (used especially of horses), from skued, skeued "skewbald, of mixed colors" (early 15c.) + bald "having white patches" (see bald).ETD skewbald (adj.).2

    The first element is said to be unconnected with skew (v.), but Klein's sources say it is and Middle English Compendium offers that as a possibility; OED suggests it is perhaps from Old French escu "shield," but also notes a close resemblance in form and sense with Icelandic skjottr, "the history of which is equally obscure." Watkins says it is Scandinavian and akin to Old Norse sky "cloud" on the resemblance of the markings to cloud cover.ETD skewbald (adj.).3

    As a noun meaning "skewbald horse" or other animal from 1863.ETD skewbald (adj.).4

    skewer (n.)

    1670s, "long pin of wood or iron for fastening meat to a spit while roasting," a variant of dialectal skiver (1660s), which is perhaps from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse skifa "a cut, slice" (of bread, etc.), Swedish skifer "a slate," which are related to shiver (n.1) "small piece."ETD skewer (n.).2

    skewer (v.)

    "fasten or pierce with skewers," 1701, from the noun. Figurative use by 1850. Related: Skewered; skewering.ETD skewer (v.).2

    ski (v.)

    "to go or travel on skis," 1885, from ski (n.). Related: Skied; skiing.ETD ski (v.).2

    skiing (n.)

    "action of going on skis, especially as a sport," 1885, originally also skeeing, verbal noun from ski (v.).ETD skiing (n.).2

    ski (n.)

    in early use often skee, "one of a pair of long, slender boards or slats fastened to the feet and used to glide over snow," 1883 (there is an isolated instance from 1755), from Norwegian ski, related to Old Norse skið "long snowshoe," literally "stick of wood, firewood," cognate with Old English scid "stick of wood," obsolete English shide "piece of wood split off from timber;" Old High German skit, German Scheit "log," from Proto-Germanic *skid- "to divide, split," from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split."ETD ski (n.).2

    Ski-jumper is attested from 1894; ski bum, a skiing enthusiast who works casual jobs at resorts for the opportunity to ski, is attested by 1960; ski-mask, originally to protect the face while skiing, is from 1963; noted as part of criminal disguises by 1968.ETD ski (n.).3

    skid (v.)

    1670s, "apply a skid to (a wheel, to keep it from turning)," from skid (n.). In reference to a wheel, "slide along without rotating," by 1838; the extended sense of "slip sideways" (on a wet road, etc.) is by 1884. The original notion is of a block of wood for stopping a wheel; the modern senses are from the notion of a wheel slipping when blocked from revolving.ETD skid (v.).2

    skid (n.)

    c. 1600, "beam, log, or plank on which something rests," especially on which something heavy can be rolled from place to place (1782), of uncertain origin, probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse skið "stick of wood" (see ski (n.)). As "a sliding along" from 1890; specifically of motor vehicles from 1903. Skid-mark is from 1914.ETD skid (n.).2

    In the timber regions of the American West, skids laid down one after another to form a road were "a poor thing for pleasure walks, but admirably adapted for hauling logs on the ground with a minimum of friction" ["Out West" magazine, October 1903]. A skid as something used to facilitate downhill motion led to figurative phrases such as hit the skids "go into rapid decline" (1909), and see skid row.ETD skid (n.).3

    skidoo (v.)

    a vogue word of 1905, "to leave in a hurry," perhaps a variant of skedaddle (q.v.). The association with twenty-three is as old as the word, but the exact connection was obscure when it emerged and none of the guesses seem to hold much water.ETD skidoo (v.).2

    Ski-doo as the proprietary name of a type of snowmobile, 1961, from ski.ETD skidoo (v.).3

    Ski-doo (n.)

    proprietary name of a type of snowmobile, 1961, from ski.ETD Ski-doo (n.).2

    skid row (n.)

    place where vagabonds, low-lifes, and out-of-work men gather in a town, 1921, with reference to Seattle, a variant of skid road "track of skids along which logs are rolled" (1851); see skid (n.). The sense was extended to "part of town inhabited by loggers" (1906), then, in the jargon of hobos, to "disreputable district" (1915), perhaps also suggested by the notion of going downhill.ETD skid row (n.).2

    skier (n.)

    "one who skis or travels on skis," 1895, agent noun from ski (v.). Skister (1898) also was tried.ETD skier (n.).2

    skiff (n.)

    "small boat," c. 1500, from Old French esquif (15c.), from Italian schifo "little boat," from a Germanic source (such as Old High German scif "boat;" see ship (n.)). Originally the small boat of a ship.ETD skiff (n.).2

    skiffle (n.)

    style of U.K. pop music, 1957, from U.S. slang meaning "type of jazz played on improvised instruments" (1926), which is of uncertain origin.ETD skiffle (n.).2

    ski-lift (n.)

    by 1949, "mechanical system used to carry skiers up a slope to the top of a run," from ski + lift (n.) in the "hoisting machinery" sense.ETD ski-lift (n.).2

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