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    soberly (adv.) — sole (n.1)

    soberly (adv.)

    mid-14c., "temperately;" late 14c., "gravely," from sober (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD soberly (adv.).2

    sobriety (n.)

    mid-15c., sobriete, "moderation in desires; temperate in indulgence," from Old French sobriete "sobriety, moderation" (Modern French sobrieté) or directly from Latin sobrietatem (nominative sobrietas) "moderation, temperance," from sobrius "not drunk, temperate, moderate, sensible" (see sober (adj.)). The meaning "steadiness, gravity" is recorded from 1540s. Soberness is older. Also earlier in Middle English was sobrete (c. 1300, from Old French) in the same sense, also "unintoxicated condition."ETD sobriety (n.).2

    sobriquet (n.)

    "nickname," 1640s, from French sobriquet "nickname," from French soubriquet (15c.), which also meant "a jest, quip," and is said to have meant literally "a chuck under the chin" [Gamillscheg]; a word of unknown origin (the first element perhaps from Latin sub "under").ETD sobriquet (n.).2

    so-called (adj.)

    "commonly called, called by that name," mid-15c. (Middle English zuo ycleped is from mid-14c.), from so (adv.) + past participle of call (v.). As a "sneer word" by 1837 (Carlyle).ETD so-called (adj.).2

    soccer (n.)

    1889, socca, later socker (1891), soccer (1895), originally university slang (with jocular formation -er (3)), from a shortened form of Assoc., abbreviation of association in Football Association (as distinguished from Rugby football). An unusual formation, but those who did it perhaps shied away from making a name out of the first three letters of Assoc. Compare rugger (under rugby) also 1890s English schoolboy slang leccer, from lecture (n.).ETD soccer (n.).2


    Black Sea resort in Russia, ultimately from the name of the Cherkess (Circassian) people who live in the region, whose name is of uncertain origin.ETD Sochi.2

    sociable (adj.)

    1550s, "enjoying the company of others, disposed to be friendly and agreeable;" 1570s, "inclined to seek the company of others," from French sociable (16c.) and directly from Latin sociabilis "close, intimate, easily united," from sociare "to join, unite," from socius "companion, ally," from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) "to follow." Related: Sociably.ETD sociable (adj.).2

    As a noun, the name of a type of open four-wheel carriage with two seats facing each other (1780), an informal gathering for social purposes (1826, American English), and a couch with a curved, S-shaped back (1851).ETD sociable (adj.).3

    sociability (n.)

    late 15c., "sociable disposition or tendency," from French sociabilite, from Medieval Latin sociabilitatem (nominative sociabilitas), noun of state or quality from Latin sociabilis "close, intimate, easily united" (see sociable). Sociableness is attested from 1590s.ETD sociability (n.).2

    sociality (n.)

    "state or character of being social; the impulses which cause people to form into societies," 1640s, from French socialité or directly from Latin socialitas "fellowship, sociableness," from socialis (see social (adj.)).ETD sociality (n.).2

    socialize (v.)

    1828 (implied in socializing), "to render social," from social (adj.). Meaning "to be sociable, to mingle" is recorded from 1895. Meaning "to make socialistic" is from 1846. Related: Socialized; socializer; one undergoing it is a socializee. The phrasing in socialized medicine is by 1912.ETD socialize (v.).2

    socialism (n.)

    in reference to theories or systems that substitute cooperative action and community possession of means of production in place of competition based on individual effort, 1837, from French socialisme (1832) or formed in English (based on socialist) from social (adj.) + -ism. Perhaps first in reference to Robert Owen's communes. "Pierre Leroux (1797-1871), idealistic social reformer and Saint-Simonian publicist, expressly claims to be the originator of the word socialisme" [Klein, also see OED discussion]. The French word began to be used in this sense c. 1835.ETD socialism (n.).2

    social (adj.)

    early 15c., "devoted to or relating to home life;" 1560s as "living with others," from French social (14c.) and directly from Latin socialis "of companionship, of allies; united, living with others; of marriage, conjugal," from socius "companion, ally," probably originally "follower," from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) "to follow." Compare Old English secg, Old Norse seggr "companion," which seem to have been formed in Germanic on the same notion. Related: Socially.ETD social (adj.).2

    It is attested by 1660s as "marked by mutual intercourse, enjoyed in the company of others," especially those of similar inclinations. Of a club, etc., "comprised of persons coming together for friendly intercourse," by 1792.ETD social (adj.).3

    The broader sense of "living or liking to live with others; companionable, disposed to live in companies or communities" is from 1722. Social drinking "consumption of alcohol in a social context" is attested by 1807; social butterfly (1867) is a figurative reference to "flitting" from one social event to another. Social network is attested by 1971; social networking by 1984; social media by 2008.ETD social (adj.).4

    The meaning "of or pertaining to society as a natural human state," and to its ranks and conditions, is attested by 1695 in Locke. Social contract (1763), the mutual agreement supposed to form the basis of human society, is from translations of Rousseau.ETD social (adj.).5

    Hence also social science (1785). Social studies as an inclusive term for history, geography, economics, etc., is attested from 1916. Social security "system of state support for needy citizens" is attested from 1907 (the Social Security Act was passed by U.S. Congress in 1935).ETD social (adj.).6

    And in reference to problems rooted in social conditions, social work (1890); social worker (1886). In late 19c. newspapers, social evil is "prostitution." Social justice is attested by 1718. Specifically of activities, especially by governments, meant to improve the condition of society overall, by 1964.ETD social (adj.).7

    Social Darwinism "application of the theory of evolution to social situations" is attested from 1887. Social engineering, "application of sociology theory to specific problems" is attested by 1899.ETD social (adj.).8

    The sense of "of or concerned with fashionable society and the leisured class" is from 1873. Hence social register "published list of those who are socially prominent," attested by 1889, American English; social climber, "one who seeks to advance socially" (1893).ETD social (adj.).9

    Social distance was originally in a psychological sense in reference to societies (1924); it was used in reference to "physical distance acceptable in social situations" by 1955.ETD social (adj.).10

    A social war (1660s) is one between allies, especially (with capitals) in reference to the Roman war 90-88 B.C.E. in which the Roman allies (socii) fought for citizenship rights.ETD social (adj.).11

    social (n.)

    "friendly informal gathering, a gathering for social purposes," 1870, from social (adj.). In late 17c. it meant "a companion, associate."ETD social (n.).2

    socialization (n.)

    1839, "act of socializing," in reference to personal associations, noun of action from socialize. It is attested from 1884 as "act of placing something on the basis of socialism."ETD socialization (n.).2

    socialisation (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of socialization; for spelling, see -ize.ETD socialisation (n.).2

    socialist (n.)

    "one who advocates socialism," 1827, from French socialiste, or else a native formation based on it, in reference to the teachings of Comte de Saint-Simon, founder of French socialism. The word begins to be used in French in the modern sense c. 1835. Socialista, with a different sense, was applied 18c. to followers and pupils of Dutch jurist Grotius (1583-1645), from his use of socialistus. Socialist realism, the Soviet Union's official theory of art and literature (in which all reality was development toward socialism), is attested from 1934.ETD socialist (n.).2

    Compare socialism.ETD socialist (n.).3

    socialistic (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or characteristic of socialism; in accordance with the theories of socialism," 1839, from socialist + -ic. Related: Socialistically.ETD socialistic (adj.).2

    socialite (n.)

    "person prominent in fashionable society," 1928, first in "Time" magazine, from social (adj.) in the "pertaining to high society" sense, perhaps as a play on social light and in imitation of words in -ite (1).ETD socialite (n.).2

    societal (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to society or social conditions," 1873, from society (adj.) + -al (1). Related: Societally. The earlier adjective was societarian (1822) "of or pertaining to society."ETD societal (adj.).2

    society (n.)

    1530s, "companionship, friendly association with others," from Old French societe "company" (12c., Modern French société), from Latin societatem (nominative societas) "fellowship, association, alliance, union, community," from socius "companion, ally," from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) "to follow."ETD society (n.).2

    The meaning "group, club" is from 1540s, originally of associations of persons for some specific purpose. The meaning "people bound by neighborhood and intercourse aware of living together in an ordered community" is from 1630s. The sense of "the more cultivated part of any community" is recorded by 1823, hence "fashionable people and their doings."ETD society (n.).3

    The Society Islands were named 1769 by Cook on his third Pacific voyage in honor of the Royal Society, which financed his travels across the world to observe the transit of Venus.ETD society (n.).4


    1640s (n.); 1690s (adj.), in reference to followers or doctrines of Faustus Socinus, Latinized name of Fausto Sozzini (1539-1604), Italian anti-trinitarian theologian who held Christ to be human, if divinely endowed, and the Holy Spirit to be divine energy, not a person. He broke with the Church and organized the Polish Brethren.ETD Socinian.2


    word-forming element meaning "social, of society; social and," also "having to do with sociology," from combining form of Latin socius "companion, ally, associate, fellow, sharer," from PIE *sokw-yo-, suffixed form of root *sekw- (1) "to follow." Common in compounds since c. 1880.ETD socio-.2

    sociobiology (n.)

    "study of the biological basis of social behavior," 1946, from socio- + biology. Related: Sociobiological.ETD sociobiology (n.).2

    socio-economic (adj.)

    also socioeconomic, "involving both social and economic factors or aspects," 1875; see socio- + economic.ETD socio-economic (adj.).2

    sociology (n.)

    "the science of social phenomena; the study of the structure and development of human societies," 1842, from French sociologie, a hybrid coined 1830 by French philosopher Isidore Auguste Comte (1798-1857), from Latin socius "associate" (see social (adj.)) + Greek-derived suffix -logie (see -logy).ETD sociology (n.).2

    sociological (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to sociology," 1843; see sociology + -ical. Related: Sociologically.ETD sociological (adj.).2

    sociologist (n.)

    "a student of sociology; one devoted to the study of sociology," 1843 (J.S. Mill), from sociology + -ist.ETD sociologist (n.).2

    sociopath (n.)

    "one having a violent anti-social pattern of behavior or mental attitude," 1930, coined or popularized by psychologist George E. Partridge (1870-1953) from socio- on model of psychopath (q.v.) .ETD sociopath (n.).2

    socio-political (adj.)

    also sociopolitical, "involving both social and political factors or aspects," 1842, from socio- + political.ETD socio-political (adj.).2

    sock (n.1)

    "knitted or woven covering for the foot, short stocking," Middle English sok, from Old English socc "slipper, light shoe," from Latin soccus "slipper, light low-heeled shoe," probably a variant of Greek sykkhos, word for a kind of shoe, perhaps from Phrygian or another Asiatic language. Beekes pointes to a source that "supposes a loan from the Caucasus, which may also be found in Av[estan] haxa- [n.] 'sole of the foot' ...." The Latin word was borrowed generally in West Germanic (Middle Dutch socke, Dutch sok, Old High German soc, German Socke).ETD sock (n.1).2

    Also in reference to the kind of light shoe worn by ancient actors in comedy, hence, in phrases, sock as "comedy" as distinct from "tragedy" (represented by buskin). To knock the socks off (someone) "beat thoroughly" is recorded from 1845, American English colloquial. Colloquial put a sock in it "stop speaking" is by 1919. Teen slang sock hop is c. 1950, from dancing shoeless.ETD sock (n.1).3

    sock (v.1)

    1700, "to beat, hit hard, pitch into," of uncertain origin, perhaps imitative (compare bop, smack, slog, etc.). To sock it to (someone) "strike hard," literally or figuratively, is by 1877.ETD sock (v.1).2

    sock (n.2)

    "a blow, a hit with the fist," 1700, from or related to sock (v.1). Extended form socko is by 1924; further extended form sockeroo is by 1942.ETD sock (n.2).2

    sock (v.2)

    "to stash (money) as savings," 1942, American English, often with away, from the notion of hiding one's money in a sock (see sock (n.1)). A sock as a receptacle for storing money is alluded to by 1930.ETD sock (v.2).2

    sockdolager (n.)

    1830, with many spelling variants, "a decisive blow" (also, figuratively "a conclusive argument"), American English, a fanciful formation from sock (v.1) "hit hard," perhaps via a comical mangling of doxology, on a notion of "finality." The meaning "something exceptional" is attested from 1838.ETD sockdolager (n.).2

    Sockdologizing likely was one of the last words President Abraham Lincoln heard. During the performance of Tom Taylor's "Our American Cousin," assassin John Wilkes Booth (who knew the play well) waited for the laugh-line:ETD sockdolager (n.).3

    Amid the noise as the audience responded, Booth fired the fatal shot.ETD sockdolager (n.).4

    socket (n.)

    c. 1300, soket, "spearhead" (originally one shaped like a plowshare), from Anglo-French soket "spearhead, plowshare" (mid-13c.), diminutive of Old French soc "plowshare," from Vulgar Latin *soccus, which is perhaps from Gaulish, from Celtic *sukko- (source also of Welsh swch "plowshare," Middle Irish soc "plowshare"), properly "hog's snout," from PIE *su- "pig" (source also of Latin sus "swine;" see sow (n.)).ETD socket (n.).2

    The meaning "hollow part or piece for receiving and holding something," especially a candle, is recorded from early 15c.; the anatomical sense of "hollow of one part which receives another" is from c. 1600. The domestic electrical outlet sense is recorded by 1885.ETD socket (n.).3

    Socket wrench is attested from 1837. Socket-pipe is by 1858. The verb, "provide with or place in a socket," is by 1530s, from the noun. Related: Socketed; socketing.ETD socket (n.).4

    Socratic (adj.)

    1630s (Socratical is from 1580s), "of or pertaining to Greek philosopher Socrates" (469-399 B.C.E.), especially in reference to his method of eliciting truth by question and answer, from Latin Socraticus, from Greek Sokratikos "pertaining to Socrates or his school." His name is Greek Sokratēs, literally "having safe might." Related: Socratically.ETD Socratic (adj.).2

    sod (n.1)

    "turf, slice of earth with grass on it," mid-15c., sodde, apparently from Middle Dutch sode "turf," or Middle Low German sode, both related to Old Frisian satha "sod" and all of uncertain origin. Perhaps the notion is water saturation and the group is related to sog. Colloquial the (old) sod "one's native country," especially if it is Ireland, is from 1812.ETD sod (n.1).2

    sod (n.2)

    term of abuse, 1818, short for sodomite (also see sodomy). British colloquial sod-all "nothing" is attested from 1958.ETD sod (n.2).2

    sod (v.2)

    "go, depart," in sod off (1960), British slang term of dismissal; see sod (n.2).ETD sod (v.2).2

    sod (v.1)

    c. 1400, sodden, "to cover with sod," especially "put in a grave," from sod (n.). Related: Sodded; sodding.ETD sod (v.1).2

    soda (n.)

    late 15c., sode, "sodium carbonate, an alkaline substance extracted from certain ashes" (now made artificially), from Italian sida (or Medieval Latin soda), in reference to a kind of saltwort from which soda was obtained, a word of uncertain origin.ETD soda (n.).2

    Perhaps it is from a Catalan sosa, attested from late 13c., also a word of uncertain origin. An Arabic name for a variety of saltwort has been proposed as the source, but this word has not been attested and that theory is no longer considered valid. Another theory, considered far-fetched in some quarters, traces it to Medieval Latin sodanum "a headache remedy," ultimately from Arabic suda "splitting headache."ETD soda (n.).3

    Soda is found naturally in alkaline lakes, in deposits where such lakes have dried, and in ash produced by burning various seaside plants. It was a major trading commodity in the medieval Mediterranean, but since commercial manufacture of it commenced in France late 18c., natural sources have been abandoned. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is commonly distinguished from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). A soda-cracker (1863) has baking soda as an ingredient, as does soda bread (1850).ETD soda (n.).4

    The meaning "carbonated water" is first recorded 1834, a shortening of soda water (1802) "water into which carbonic acid has been forced under pressure." "It rarely contains soda in any form; but the name originally applied when sodium carbonate was contained in it has been retained" [Century Dictionary, 1902]. Since 19c. they are typically flavored and sweetened with syrups.ETD soda (n.).5

    The first record of soda pop is by 1863, and the most frequent modern use of the word is as a shortening of this or other terms for "flavored, sweetened soda water." Compare pop (n.1). Soda fountain is from 1824 for a metal structure that can dispense carbonated water; soda jerk for the operator of one is attested by 1915, so called for the action involved in drawing it (soda-jerker is from 1883; soda-fountain boy is from 1876). Colloquial pronunciation "sody" is represented in print from 1900 (U.S. Midwestern).ETD soda (n.).6

    sodality (n.)

    "companionship, fellowship, association with others," c. 1600, from French sodalité or directly from Latin sodalitatem (nominative sodalitas) "companionship, a brotherhood, association, fellowship," from sodalis "companion," perhaps literally "one's own, relative," related to suescere "to accustom," from PIE *swedh-, extended form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (see idiom). Also "a fraternity or sorority," especially of religious guilds in the Catholic Church.ETD sodality (n.).2

    sodbuster (n.)

    "pioneer farmer in a cattle-grazing region," originally in the U.S. West, 1897, from sod (n.1) + agent noun from bust (v.).ETD sodbuster (n.).2

    sodden (adj.)

    "soaked or softened in water, having the appearance of having been boiled for a while," 1820, earlier "resembling something that has been boiled a long time" (1590s), originally "boiled" (c. 1300), from Old English soden "boiled," the strong past participle of seoþan "to cook, boil" (see seethe). For sense evolution from "heat in water" to "immerse in water" compare bath.ETD sodden (adj.).2

    sodium (n.)

    metallic alkaline element, 1807, coined by English chemist Humphry Davy from soda + -ium. So called because the element was isolated from caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). The chemical symbol Na is from natrium, the name for the element that had been proposed by Berzelius and coined from natron, a name of a type of soda.ETD sodium (n.).2

    Sodom (n.)

    "wicked or corrupt place," mid-14c., from the sinful city in ancient Palestine, said to have been destroyed, with neighboring Gomorrah, by fire from heaven (Genesis xviii-xix). From Old French Sodome, Latin Sodoma, ultimately from Hebrew s'dom, which is of unknown origin.ETD Sodom (n.).2

    sodomize (v.)

    1859, "to demoralize;" see sodomy + -ize. By 1895 in a specific sexual sense (translating Greek paiderastein). Related: Sodomized; sodomizing. In Dutch slang, besodemieteren means "to deceive," and perhaps is built from the traditional notion of "corruption" in Sodom.ETD sodomize (v.).2

    sodomy (n.)

    c. 1300, sodomie, "unnatural sexual relations," such as those customs imputed to the inhabitants of Biblical Sodom, especially between men but also with beasts, from Old French sodomie. Compare Late Latin peccatum Sodomiticum "anal sex," literally "the sin of Sodom," from Latin Sodoma. In Middle English also synne Sodomyke (early 14c.).ETD sodomy (n.).2

    sodomise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of sodomize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Sodomised; sodomising.ETD sodomise (v.).2

    sodomite (n.)

    late 14c., "one who practices sodomy," also "resident of biblical Sodom," from Old French Sodomite "inhabitant of Sodom; sodomite," also a general term of abuse, or directly from Late Latin Sodomita, from Greek Sodomitēs "inhabitant of Sodom" (see Sodom, also sodomy).ETD sodomite (n.).2

    Related: Sodomitical (1540s), sodometrous (1540s), sodomike (Middle English). Old English had adjective sodomitisc (Coverdale has sodomitish). The alternative noun form sodomist is by 1891; sodomiter is attested 1520s. The King James Bible (1611) has fem. form sodomitesse in a marginal note to "whore" in Deuteronomy xxiii.17.ETD sodomite (n.).3

    soever (adv.)

    1550s, from a running together of so + ever. "A word generally used in composition to extend or render indefinite the sense of such words as who, what, where, when, how, etc. ...." [Century Dictionary].ETD soever (adv.).2

    sofa (n.)

    1620s, "raised section of a floor, covered with carpets and cushions," as a feature of Eastern interiors, from Turkish sofa, from Arabic suffah "bench of stone or wood; a couch." The meaning "long stuffed seat for reclining" is recorded from 1717.ETD sofa (n.).2

    sofa-bed (n.)

    "piece of furniture forming a sofa but capable of being opened or altered into a bed," 1805, from sofa + bed (n.).ETD sofa-bed (n.).2

    soffit (n.)

    architectural term referring to under-faces, 1610s, from Italian soffita, fem. of soffitto "ceiling," noun use of adjective meaning "fixed beneath," from Vulgar Latin *suffictus "fastened below," from Latin suffixus (see suffix (n.)).ETD soffit (n.).2


    Bulgarian capital, Roman Serdica, from the Thracian Serdi people who lived thereabouts. Conquered by the Bulgarians 9c. who altered the name by folk-etymology to Sredeti, which in their tongue meant "center, middle." It got its current name 14c. when the Turks conquered it and converted the 6c. church of St. Sophia to a mosque; the name thence was extended to the whole city.ETD Sofia.2

    soft (n.)

    mid-13c., "that which is agreeable," from soft (adj.). By 1590s as "the soft part" of anything. In politics it has occasionally since c. 1847 referred to the less extreme faction. The sense of "a fool" is by 1854.ETD soft (n.).2

    softness (n.)

    "quality or state of being soft," in any sense, Middle English softnesse, from, Old English softnes "ease, comfort; state of being soft to the touch; luxury;" see soft (adj.) + -ness. The meaning "gentleness, tenderness" is from c. 1300, that of "weakness of character, effeminacy" is from c. 1600.ETD softness (n.).2

    soft (adj.)

    Old English softe, earlier sefte, "gentle, mild-natured; easeful, comfortable, calm, undisturbed; luxurious," from West Germanic *samfti, from Proto-Germanic *samftijaz "level, even, smooth, gentle, soft" (source also of Old Saxon safti, Old High German semfti, German sanft; and from a variant form with -ch- for -f-, Middle Dutch sachte, Dutch zacht, German sacht), from PIE root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with" (the source of seem and same). The etymological sense would be "smooth and agreeable," to the touch, senses, or mind.ETD soft (adj.).2

    From c. 1200 of persons, hearts, etc., "tender, yielding to emotions," also "easily moved or swayed; soft-hearted, sympathetic; docile." It is attested from late 14c. as "indulgent," also "physically feeble; effeminate, easily overcome, lacking manly courage." The meaning "foolish, simple, silly" is attested from 1620s.ETD soft (adj.).3

    It is attested from mid-13c. of material things, "not stiff, not coarse, fine; yielding readily to pressure." Of sounds or voices, "quiet, not loud or harsh," from early 13c. Of words, "mild, restrained; courteous" mid-14c. From late 14c. of wind, rain, etc.ETD soft (adj.).4

    From 1755 of water ("relatively free from mineral salts"), from 1789 of coal (generally meaning bituminous as opposed to anthractic). In reference to drinks, "non-alcoholic" by 1880. Of letters (-c-, -g-, etc.) when pronounced with more sibilance and less plosiveness, 1630s.ETD soft (adj.).5

    In reference to technology, "using natural resources," by 1974, perhaps 1970. Of a science or methods or data, "not subject to experimental verification, not mathematical," c. 1960.ETD soft (adj.).6

    Many phrases simply are contrasts to earlier ones in hard: Soft landing is from 1958 and the U.S. space program; soft rock as a music style is attested from 1969. Soft spot "weak or vulnerable place," literal and figurative, is by 1933, colloquial. The soft sell sales pitch that relies on gentle persuasions is so called by 1955. Soft-shoe as a dancing style is attested from 1927. The photographic soft-focus (adj.), in reference to camera lenses or shots, is from 1917; figurative use of it is by 1961. The softer sex "women collectively" is from 1640s.ETD soft (adj.).7

    soft (adv.)

    Old English softe "gently," from the adjective (see soft (adj.)). It is attested from late 13c. as "quietly." As an interjection, "go softly, not so fast," from 1540s.ETD soft (adv.).2

    softball (n.)

    baseball of larger-than-usual size, used in a scaled-down version of the game, 1914, American English, from soft (adj.) + ball (n.1). The game itself is so called from 1916, also known as playground baseball. The word earlier was a term in sugar candy making (1894). Softball question, one that is easy to answer, especially addressed to a politician, is attested by 1974, American English.ETD softball (n.).2

    soft-boiled (adj.)

    1757, of eggs boiled in the shell but removed from water while the yolk is still soft, see soft (adj.) + boil (v.). Of persons, ideas, etc., by 1930 (compare half-baked).ETD soft-boiled (adj.).2

    softcore (adj.)

    also soft-core, 1966, in reference to pornography, from soft (adj.) + core (n.), and compare hardcore.ETD softcore (adj.).2

    softener (n.)

    "one who or that which softens," in any sense, c. 1600, agent noun from soften.ETD softener (n.).2

    soften (v.)

    late 14c., softenen, transitive, "mitigate, diminish" sorrow, etc., from soft (adj.) + -en (1). The meaning "make physically soft" is from c. 1400; the intransitive sense of "to become (physically) soft or softer" is attested from early 15c. The earlier verb was soft (v.) "make soft," attested from early 13c. but now obsolete, perhaps last used in Spenser. To soften up (transitive) in the military sense of "weaken defenses" is from 1940. Related: Softened; softening.ETD soften (v.).2

    soft-headed (adj.)

    "silly, stupid," 1660s; see soft (adj.) + -headed. Related: Soft-headedly; soft-headedness.ETD soft-headed (adj.).2

    soft-hearted (adj.)

    also softhearted, "emotionally tender, sympathetic," 1590s, from soft (adj.) "tender" + -hearted. Related: Soft-heartedly; soft-heartedness.ETD soft-hearted (adj.).2

    softy (n.)

    also softie, 1863, "silly person," from soft (adj.), as in soft in the head, + -y (3). The meaning "soft-hearted person" is from 1886; that of "weak, unmanly or effeminate man" is from 1895. Compare earlier softling "effeminate, unmanly person" (1540s). The Mister Softee soft ice-cream operation began in Philadelphia in 1956.ETD softy (n.).2

    softly (adv.)

    c. 1200, softli, "pleasantly, agreeably; courteously;" see soft (adj.) + -ly (2). The sense of "quietly, in a low voice" is from late 14c.; of rain, etc., "little by little," late 14c.ETD softly (adv.).2

    soft-pedal (v.)

    "to tone down," 1915, figurative use from the noun soft pedal (1856) in reference to the left foot-lever of a piano, which among other effects makes it quieter; from soft (adj.) + pedal (n.).ETD soft-pedal (v.).2

    soft-shelled (adj.)

    "having a soft carapace" (of crabs, clams, tortoises), 1610s; see soft (adj.) + shell (n.).ETD soft-shelled (adj.).2

    soft-soap (n.)

    "potash soap, liquid soap made with potash as a base," early 15c., from soft (adj.) + soap (n.). So called because it does not harden into cakes. The figurative sense of "flattery" is recorded from 1830.ETD soft-soap (n.).2

    soft-spoken (adj.)

    "having a mild or gentle voice," c. 1600, from soft (adj.) + -spoken.ETD soft-spoken (adj.).2

    software (n.)

    by 1851, soft-wares, "woolen or cotton fabrics," also, "relatively perishable consumer goods," from soft + ware (n.). The use in reference to computers is a separate coinage, attested by 1960, based on hardware in the computing sense.ETD software (n.).2

    sog (n.)

    "soft or marshy place, bog, quagmire," 1530s, a word of unknown origin. It is attested earlier as a verb, "to become soaked; to soak" (mid-15c.), and is perhaps related to soak (v.) or from or related to similar words in Scandinavian. Related: Sogged.ETD sog (n.).2

    soggy (adj.)

    "horoughly wet, damp and heavy from being soaked," 1722, perhaps with -y (2) + dialectal sog "bog, swamp" (q.v.) or its verb sog "become soaked" (15c.), both of which are of unknown origin. Related: Soggily; sogginess.ETD soggy (adj.).2


    fashionable London neighborhood, also famous for vice by early 19c., so called at least since 1630s; this is from "So Ho!" a hunting cry (attested from c. 1300) used in calling from a distant place to alert hounds and other hunters. The West End district sometimes is said to have been so called because it was built up on an area that had been a royal park and was thus associated with hunting.ETD Soho.2

    The district of the same name in New York City is so called by 1969, a contraction of South of Houston Street but probably deliberately echoing the London name.ETD Soho.3

    soy (n.)

    1670s, saio "soybean-based Asian fish sauce," from Dutch soya, from Japanese soyu, variant of shoyu "soy," from Chinese shi-yu, from shi "fermented soy beans" + yu "oil." The etymology reflects Dutch presence in Japan before English and American merchants began to trade there. Soy sauce is attested from 1795.ETD soy (n.).2

    soi-disant (adj.)

    in reference to persons, "calling-oneself, self-named, so-called, would-be," 1752 (in Chesterfield), a French qword in English, from reflexive pronoun soi "oneself" (from Latin se, see se-) + disant, present participle of dire "to say," from Latin dicere "speak, tell, say" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly"). Sometimes also in reference to things (1845).ETD soi-disant (adj.).2

    soigne (adj.)

    "prepared with great attention to detail," 1821, a French word in English, from French soigné (fem. soignée), from past participle of soigner "to take care of," from soin "care," which is of unknown origin.ETD soigne (adj.).2

    soil (n.1)

    c. 1300, "land, area, place," from Anglo-French soil "piece of ground, place" (13c.). It is attested from late 14c. as "the earth, the ground," and mid-15c. as "mould, earth, dirt," especially that in which plants grow. The meaning "one's land, place of one's nativity" is from c. 1400.ETD soil (n.1).2

    The word seems to be a merger or confusion of three words in Old French: 1. sol "bottom, ground, soil" (12c., from Latin solum "soil, ground;" see sole (n.1)); 2. soeul, sueil "threshold, area, place" (from Latin solium "seat," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit"); 3. soil, soille "a miry place," from soillier "splatter with mud" (see soil (v.)).ETD soil (n.1).3

    soil (n.2)

    "filth, dirt, refuse matter, sewage, liquid likely to contain excrement," c. 1600, a sense extended from Middle English soile "miry or muddy place, bog," especially as a wallow for a hog or a refuge for a hunted deer (early 15c.), from Old French soille "miry place," from soillier (v.) "to make dirty," and in part a native formation from soil (v.). In form and senses also much influenced by soil (n.1). This is the word in the plumber's soil pipe (by 1833) and archaic night-soil.ETD soil (n.2).2

    soil (v.)

    early 13c., "to defile or pollute with sin," from Old French soillier "to splatter with mud, to foul or make dirty," originally "to wallow" (12c., Modern French souillier), from souil "tub, wild boar's wallow, pigsty," which is from Latin solium "tub for bathing; seat" (from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit") or else from Latin suculus "little pig," from sus "pig." The literal meaning "to make dirty on the surface, begrime" is attested from c. 1300 in English. Related: Soiled; soiling.ETD soil (v.).2

    soiree (n.)

    "evening party," 1793, a French word in English, from French soirée, from soir "evening," Old French soir "evening, night" (10c.), from Latin sero (adv.) "late, at a late hour," from serum "late hour," neuter of serus "late," from PIE *se-ro-, suffixed form of root *se- (2) "long, late" (source also of Sanskrit sayam "in the evening," Lithuanian sietuva "deep place in a river," Old English sið "after," German seit "since," Gothic seiþus "late," Middle Irish sith, Middle Breton hir "long").ETD soiree (n.).2

    The French fem, suffix -ée, from Latin -ata, was joined to nouns in French to make nouns expressing the quantity contained in the original noun, and thus also relations of times (journée, matinée, année) or objects produced. Sometimes jocularly in 19c. swarry, a spelling representing English pronunciation.ETD soiree (n.).3

    sojourner (n.)

    "temporary resident, guest, visitor," early 15c. (early 14c. as a surname), agent noun from sojourn (v.). In Middle English sojournant also was used for "a visitor, guest, lodger, border" (mid-14c. as a surname), from Old French past participle of sojorner.ETD sojourner (n.).2

    sojourn (n.)

    "a temporary stay in a place, a visit," mid-13c., sojourne, from Anglo-French sojorn, sujurn, variants of Old French sejorn, from sejorner "stay or dwell for a time" (see sojourn (v.)). In Middle English and Old French sometimes also sojour. Figurative use is by 1804, often in the language of faith, in reference to the soul's time on earth.ETD sojourn (n.).2

    sojourn (v.)

    c. 1300, sojournen, "stay temporarily, dwell for a time; visit as a temporary resident;" also "reside permanently, dwell;" from Old French sojorner "stay or dwell for a time," from Vulgar Latin *subdiurnare "to spend the day" (source also of Italian soggiornare). This is a compound of Latin sub- "under, until" (see sub-) + diurnare "to last long," from diurnus "of a day," from diurnum "day" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine"). Modern French séjourner shows vowel dissimilation. Related: Sojourned; sojourning.ETD sojourn (v.).2

    soke (n.)

    "right of jurisdiction," especially a lord's right to hear cases and have jurisdiction in his own court in disputes involving his tenants, Anglo-Latin soca, from Old English socn "jurisdiction, prosecution," literally "seeking," from Proto-Germanic *sokniz, from PIE *sag-ni-, from root *sag- "to seek out" (see seek). Related: Sokeman; sokemanry.ETD soke (n.).2


    also solə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "whole, well-kept."ETD *sol-.2

    It forms all or part of: catholic; consolidate; consolidation; holism; holo-; holocaust; Holocene; hologram; holograph; insouciant; safe; safety; sage (n.1) kind of herb; salubrious; salutary; salute; salvage; salvific; salvo "simultaneous discharge of guns;" save (v.) "deliver from danger;" save (prep.) "except;" solder; soldier; solemn; solicit; solicitous; solid; solidarity; solidity; sou.ETD *sol-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit sarvah "uninjured, intact, whole;" Avestan haurva- "uninjured, intact;" Old Persian haruva-; Greek holos "whole;" Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe," salus "good health," solidus "solid;" Armenian olj "whole, healthy."ETD *sol-.4

    sol (n.)

    the sun personified, late 14c. (it also is attested in Old English), from Old French and Latin sol "the sun, sunlight," from PIE *s(e)wol-, variant of root *sawel- "the sun."ETD sol (n.).2

    French soleil (10c.) is from Vulgar Latin *soliculus, diminutive of sol; in Vulgar Latin diminutives had the full meaning of their principal words and the suffixes seem to have been used sometimes for emphasis. Soli-lunar "relating to both the sun and the moon" is attested from 1680s.ETD sol (n.).3


    initialism (acronym) from shit out of luck (though sometimes euphemised), 1917, World War I military slang. "Applicable to everything from death to being late for mess" [Russell Lord, "Captain Boyd's Battery, A.E.F.," c. 1920]ETD S.O.L..2

    solace (v.)

    "to comfort (someone), console in grief or trouble," late 13c., solasen, also in Middle English "entertain, amuse, please," from Old French solacier, solasser, "to comfort, console" (often with a sexual connotation) and directly from Medieval Latin solatiare "give solace, console" (source also of Spanish solazar, Italian sollazzare), from Latin solacium (see solace (n.)). Related: Solaced; solacer; solacing.ETD solace (v.).2

    solace (n.)

    "comfort in grief; that which brings consolation," c. 1300, solas, from Old French solaz "pleasure, entertainment, enjoyment; solace, comfort," from Latin solacium "a soothing, assuaging; comfort, consolation," from solatus, past participle of solari "to console, soothe," from a suffixed form of PIE root *selh- "to reconcile" (source also of Greek hilaros).ETD solace (n.).2

    Also 14c.-15c. sometimes solaunce, with substitution of -ance suffix. To make solace in Middle English was "enjoy oneself sexually," also "give (a horse) a rest." The adjectival form solacious "pleasantly agreeable, affording comfort" was "common c 1500-1650" [OED].ETD solace (n.).3

    solar (adj.)

    mid-15c., "of, pertaining to, or determined by the sun," from Latin solaris "of the sun," from sol "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"). Meaning "living room on an upper story" (also sollar) is from Old English, from Latin solarium (see solarium). For "of or proceeding from the sun," the earlier word was Old English sunlic, Middle English sonneli. Solific (1550s) also has been used.ETD solar (adj.).2

    The meaning "operated by means of the sun or its heat" is from 1740; solar power is attested from 1915, solar cell as a photovoltaic device from 1955, solar panel, designed to absorb the sun's rays, is from 1964. The astronomical solar system "sun and the bodies revolving round or dependent on it" is attested from c. 1704; solar wind is so called from 1958.ETD solar (adj.).3

    Solar plexus (1771) "complex of nerves in the pit of the stomach," apparently so called from its central position in the body (see plexus).ETD solar (adj.).4

    solarium (n.)

    1891, "part of a house arranged to receive the sun's rays," usually a flat top, earlier, in a classical context, "sundial" (1842), from Latin solarium "sundial," also "a flat housetop," literally "that which is exposed to the sun," from sol "the sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"). Also see -ium.ETD solarium (n.).2


    past tense and past participle of sell (v.); from Old English salde. As an adjective, "disposed of by sale," by 1520s. Sold-out "having no more tickets, merchandise, seats, etc." is by 1903.ETD sold.2

    solder (v.)

    "fix in place or mend by soldering, unite by metallic cement," a re-Latinizing, attested from early 15c. (soulder), of Middle English souden, sowden (mid-14c.), from the noun; see solder (n.). The modern spelling is by 1724. Related: Soldered; soldering.ETD solder (v.).2

    solder (n.)

    "fusible alloy for binding metal surfaces or joints," early 14c., souder, soudur, from Old French soldure, soudre, soudeure, from souder, sauldure, etc., originally solder, "to consolidate, close, fasten together, join with solder" (13c.), from Latin solidare "to make solid," from solidus "solid" (see solid (adj.)). Also in Middle English soude, from Old French soude.ETD solder (n.).2

    The modern form in English is a re-Latinization from early 15c. The disappearance of Latin -l- in that position in Old French is regular, as poudre from pulverem, cou from collum, chaud from calidus. The -l- typically is sounded in British English but not in American, according to OED, but Fowler wrote that solder without the "l" was "The only pronunciation I have ever heard, except from the half-educated to whom spelling is a final court of appeal ..." and was perplexed by the OED's statement that it was American. Also compare sojer, colloquial pronunciation of soldier (n.). Related: Soldered; soldering.ETD solder (n.).3

    soldier (v.)

    1640s, "to serve as a soldier," from soldier (n.). The 19c. senses of "malinger, work poorly or hurriedly" seem to be nautical in origin. Related: Soldiered; soldiering. To soldier on "persist doggedly" is attested from 1954.ETD soldier (v.).2

    soldier (n.)

    c. 1300, souder, soudiour, "fighting man, one engaged in military service," from Old French soudier, soldier and Anglo-French variants, "one who serves in the army for pay," from Medieval Latin soldarius "a soldier" (source also of Spanish soldado, Italian soldato), literally "one having pay," from Late Latin soldum, extended sense of accusative of Latin solidus, name of a Roman gold coin, properly "coin of thick or solid metal," not of thin plate (see solid (adj.)).ETD soldier (n.).2

    The -l- has been regular in English since mid-14c., in imitation of Latin. But the old pronunciation persisted in 16c.-17c. spelling variants sojar, soger, sojour; colloquial sojer appears in print in U.S. Civil War (Willie and Joe always say sojer in the Bill Mauldin World War II cartoons).ETD soldier (n.).3

    Modern French soldat is borrowed from Italian and displaced the older French word; one of many military (and other) terms French picked up during the Italian Wars in early 16c.; such as alert, arsenal, colonel, infantrie, sentinel.ETD soldier (n.).4

    As "one who obeys the commands of and contends in the cause of another," mid-14c., originally especially in the language of faith. Figurative uses 18c.-19c. tended toward notions of "armored," "combative," and, of things and animals, "reddish," for the uniform color. Of ants or termites that take on combat roles, by 1781.ETD soldier (n.).5

    Old slang names for military men circa early 19c. include mud-crusher "infantryman," cat-shooter "volunteer," fly-slicer "cavalryman," jolly gravel-grinder "marine." Soldier boy is attested from 1861. Old soldier "one practiced or experienced" in anything is by 1722.ETD soldier (n.).6

    soldiery (n.)

    1560s, "soldiers collectively;" 1570s, "military service," from French souderie or else a native formation from soldier + -y (1).ETD soldiery (n.).2

    sole (n.1)

    "bottom of the human foot" ("technically, the planta, corresponding to the palm of the hand," Century Dictionary), early 14c., from Old French sole, from Vulgar Latin *sola, from Latin solea "sandal, bottom of a shoe; a flatfish," from solum "bottom, ground, foundation, lowest point of a thing" (hence "sole of the foot"), a word of uncertain origin.ETD sole (n.1).2

    De Vaan has it from a PIE *se/ol-o- "place, habitation, human settlement," with cognates in Lithuanian sala "island, field surrounded by meadows, village;" Old Church Slavonic selo "field, courtyard, village," obsolete Polish siolo, Russian selo "village;" Old High German sal "habitation, room;" Old Norse salr "hall, room, house."ETD sole (n.1).3

    In English, the meaning "bottom of a shoe or boot" is from late 14c.ETD sole (n.1).4

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