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    tangent (n.) — tarragon (n.)

    tangent (n.)

    1580s as one of the three fundamental functions of trigonometry, from tangent (adj.). From 1650s in geometry as "a tangent line, straight line through two consecutive points of a curve or surface." The figurative suggestion of flying off on a tangent is from 1771.ETD tangent (n.).2

    tangential (adj.)

    1620s, "of, pertaining to, or of the nature of, a tangent;" see tangent (adj.) + -ial. The figurative sense of "divergent, erratic" is from 1787; that of "slightly connected" to the subject or matter at hand is by 1825. Related: Tangentially.ETD tangential (adj.).2

    tangerine (n.)

    deep-colored variety of orange, 1842, from tangerine orange (1820) "an orange from Tangier," important seaport in northern Morocco, from which it was imported to Britain originally. As an adjective (with capital T-) meaning "from or relating to Tangier," it is attested from 1710, probably from Spanish tangerino. As a color name, attested from 1899.ETD tangerine (n.).2

    tangy (adj.)

    "having an unpleasant acquired flavor or other characteristic," 1875, from tang + -y (2). Figurative use is by 1948. Related: Tanginess.ETD tangy (adj.).2

    tangible (adj.)

    1580s, "capable of being touched," from French tangible and directly from Late Latin tangibilis "that may be touched," from Latin tangere "to touch" (from PIE root *tag- "to touch, handle").ETD tangible (adj.).2

    The sense of "material, capable of being possessed" (as in tangible reward) is recorded by 1610s; that of "able to be realized or dealt with" is from 1709. Related: Tangibly; tangibleness; tangibility. As a noun, "a tactile sensation or object," by 1890.ETD tangible (adj.).3


    port city of Morocco, Latin Tinge, said to be named for Tingis, daughter of Atlas, but probably that is folk-etymology and the name is from Semitic tigisis "harbor." In English often Tangiers, by influence of Algiers.ETD Tangier.2

    tangle (n.)

    1610s, "a tangled condition, a snarl of threads," from tangle (v.). The older word meaning "large type of seaweed" (Middle English) is from Old Norse; alsoETD tangle (n.).2

    "tall, lank person."ETD tangle (n.).3

    tangle (v.)

    mid-14c., tanglen, "encumber, enmesh, knit together confusedly," a shortening of entangle in some cases, in others probably a nasalized variant of tagilen "to involve in a difficult situation, entangle," from a Scandinavian source (compare dialectal Swedish taggla "to disorder," Old Norse þongull "seaweed"), from Proto-Germanic *thangul- (source also of Frisian tung, Dutch tang, German Tang "seaweed").ETD tangle (v.).2

    If so, the original sense might be "seaweed" as something that entangles (itself, or oars, or fishes, or nets). "The development of such a verb from a noun of limited use like tangle 1 is somewhat remarkable, and needs confirmation" [Century Dictionary].ETD tangle (v.).3

    The transitive sense of "bring others into one's power, entrap" is from mid-15c. In reference to material things, from c. 1500. The meaning "fight with" is American English, recorded by 1928. Related: Tangled; tangling. Tanglefoot (1859) was Western U.S. slang for "strong whiskey." Tanglesome "complicated" is attested from 1823.ETD tangle (v.).4

    tango (n.)

    syncopated ballroom dance, 1913 (the year it became a rage in Britain and America), from Argentine Spanish tango, originally the name of an African-South American drum dance, probably from a Niger-Congo language (compare Ibibio tamgu "to dance"). Phrase it takes two to tango was a song title from 1952. As a verb from 1913. Related: Tangoed.ETD tango (n.).2

    tangram (n.)

    Chinese geometric puzzle, 1864, said to be an arbitrary formation based on anagram, etc.ETD tangram (n.).2

    The first element perhaps is Chinese t'an "to extend," or t'ang, said to be commonly used in Cantonese for "Chinese." Some suggest it is the name of the inventor, "but no such person is known to Chinese scholars" [OED]. Another theory involves the Tanka, an outcast aboriginal people of southern China, and Western sailors who discovered the puzzle from their Tanka girlfriends. Perhaps from an obscure sense of tram. The Chinese name is Ch'i ch'iao t'u "seven ingenious plan."ETD tangram (n.).3

    tanist (n.)

    "elected heir of a Celtic chief," 1530s, from Gaelic tanaiste "presumptive or apparent heir to a lord," said to mean literally "parallel, second," from Old Irish tanaise "designated successor," from Celtic *tani-hessio- "one who is waited for."ETD tanist (n.).2

    tank (n.1)

    1610s, "pool or lake for irrigation or drinking water," a word originally brought by the Portuguese from India, from a Hindi source, such as Gujarati tankh "cistern, underground reservoir for water," Marathi tanken, or tanka "reservoir of water, tank." Perhaps it is ultimately from Sanskrit tadaga-m "pond, lake pool."ETD tank (n.1).2

    The meaning "large artificial container for liquid" (in English by 1680s) might have been reinforced by Portuguese tanque "reservoir," from estancar "hold back a current of water," from Vulgar Latin *stanticare (see stanch). But Century Dictionary and other sources say the Portuguese word is the source of the English one and the resemblance to the Indian words is coincidental.ETD tank (n.1).3

    The meaning "fuel container of a motor vehicle" is recorded from 1902. The slang meaning "detention cell" is from 1912. The railroad tank-car, for bulk transport of liquids, is from 1874.ETD tank (n.1).4

    tankful (n.)

    "as much liquid or gas as a tank will hold," 1887, from tank (n.1) + -ful.ETD tankful (n.).2

    tank (n.2)

    "armored, gun-mounted vehicle moving on continuous articulated tracks," late 1915; a special use of tank (n.1).ETD tank (n.2).2

    In "Tanks in the Great War" [1920], Brevet Col. J.F.C. Fuller quotes a memorandum of the Committee of Imperial Defence dated Dec. 24, 1915, recommending the proposed "caterpillar machine-gun destroyer" machines be entrusted to an organization "which, for secrecy, shall be called the 'Tank Supply Committee,' ..."ETD tank (n.2).3

    In a footnote, Fuller writes, "This is the first appearance of the word 'tank' in the history of the machine." He writes that "cistern" and "reservoir" also were put forth as possible cover names, "all of which were applicable to the steel-like structure of the machines in the early stages of manufacture. Because it was less clumsy and monosyllabic, the name 'tank' was decided on."ETD tank (n.2).4

    They first saw action at Pozieres ridge on the Western Front, Sept. 15, 1916, and the name quickly was picked up by the soldiers. Tank-trap attested from 1920.ETD tank (n.2).5

    tank (v.)

    1863, "plunge (someone or something) into a tank;" 1886, "throw or cause (liquid) to flow into a tank;" from tank (n.1).ETD tank (v.).2

    The meaning "to lose or fail" attested from 1976 in a general sense, apparently originally in tennis jargon, specifically in an interview with Billie Jean King in Life magazine, Sept. 22, 1967:ETD tank (v.).3

    It is sometimes said to be from boxing, in some sense, perhaps from the notion of "taking a dive," but evidence for this is wanting. Related: Tanked; tanking. Adjective tanked "drunk" is from 1893.ETD tank (v.).4

    tanka (n.)

    type of Japanese poem, 1877, from Japanese tanka, from tan "short" + ka "song."ETD tanka (n.).2

    tankard (n.)

    early 14c., "tub, cask," wooden vessel hooped with iron (late 13c. in surnames), corresponding to Middle Dutch tanckaert, meaning the same thing, but both words are of unknown origin. A guess hazarded in OED (1989) is that it is a transposition of *kantard, from Latin cantharus. Klein suggests French tant quart "as much as a quarter." "The notion that the word is from tank 1 + -ard is wholly untenable" [Century Dictionary]. Meaning "drinking vessel" is attested from late 15c.ETD tankard (n.).2

    tanker (n.)

    "ship for carrying oil or other liquid cargo," 1900, from tank (n.1). As a type of railroad car, 1927.ETD tanker (n.).2

    tank top (n.)

    "sleeveless upper garment," similar to the top of a swimsuit, 1968, from tank suit "one-piece bathing costume" (1920s), so called because it was worn in a swimming tank (n.1), i.e. pool.ETD tank top (n.).2

    tanling (n.)

    "one scorched or tanned by the sun," 1610s, from tan (v.) + -ling.ETD tanling (n.).2

    tanner (n.2)

    "sixpence," slang, attested by 1811, of unknown origin. Century Dictionary calls proposed origins in Gypsy words "doubtful." J.C. Hotten, lexicographer of Victorian slang, thinks it may be from tanner and skin, rhyming slang for "thin," presumably in reference to the smallness of the coin. Not to be confused with tenner, slang for "ten-pound note," which dates from 1861.ETD tanner (n.2).2

    tanner (n.1)

    "one who tans hides to make leather," late Old English tannere, agent noun from tannian (see tan (v.)), and in part from Old French taneor, tanere. By mid-12c. as a surname.ETD tanner (n.1).2

    tannery (n.)

    c. 1400, tanri, "process of tanning; trade of leather-working," from Old French tannerie (13c.) and Medieval Latin tannaria, or a native formation from tan (v.) + -ery.ETD tannery (n.).2

    The meaning "place where tanning is done" is attested by 1736, perhaps from tanner (n.1) + -y (2). An earlier name for this was tanhouse (mid-14c.).ETD tannery (n.).3

    tannic (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to. or derived from tannin," 1836, in tannic acid; see tannin + -ic,ETD tannic (adj.).2

    tannin (n.)

    "tannic acid, vegetable substance capable of converting animal hide to leather," 1802, from French tannin (1798), from tan "crushed oak bark containing tannin" (see tan (v.)). Tannic acid is from 1836, from French acide tannique, which was introduced 1834 by French chemist Théophile-Jules Pelouze (1807-1867).ETD tannin (n.).2

    tansy (n.)

    perennial herb native to northern Eurasia, used medicinally or in cooking, mid-13c., tansei, from Old French tanesie (13c., Modern French tanaisie), from Vulgar Latin *tanaceta (neuter plural mistaken for fem. singular), from Late Latin tanacetum "wormwood," from shortened form of Greek athanasia "immortality," from athanatos "immortal," from a- "not," privative prefix, + thanatos "death" (see thanatology).ETD tansy (n.).2

    Said to be so called probably for its persistence. English folklore associates it with pregnancy, either as an aid to contraception or to provoke miscarriage. As "pudding flavored with the juice of tansy," mid-15c.ETD tansy (n.).3

    tantalize (v.)

    "to tease or torment by presenting something desirable to the view and frustrating expectation by keeping it out of reach," 1590s, with -ize + Latin Tantalus, from Greek Tantalos, name of a mythical king of Phrygia in Asia Minor.ETD tantalize (v.).2

    Son of Zeus, father of Pelops and Niobe, famous for his riches, he was punished in the afterlife (for an offense variously given) by being made to stand in a river up to his chin, under branches laden with fruit, all of which withdrew from his reach whenever he tried to eat or drink. His story was known to Chaucer (c. 1369). Related: Tantalized; tantalism; tantalization.ETD tantalize (v.).3

    tantalizing (adj.)

    "teasing or tormenting by offering something desirable but withholding it," by 1650s, present-participle adjective from tantalize. Tantalean in the same sense is from 1610s. Related: Tantalizingly.ETD tantalizing (adj.).2

    tantalise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of tantalize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Tantalised; tantalising; tantalisingly; tantalisation.ETD tantalise (v.).2


    Greek Tantalos, ancient mythical king of Phrygia, a name of uncertain origin, perhaps literally "the Bearer" or "the Sufferer," by dissimilation from *tal-talos, a reduplication of PIE root *tele- "to bear, carry, support" (see extol), in reference to his long endurance, but Watkins finds this "unlikely" and Beekes writes that "An IE interpretation is most improbable." Compare tantalize.ETD Tantalus.2

    tantalum (n.)

    metallic element, 1809, Modern Latin, named 1802 by its discoverer, Swedish chemist Anders Ekberg (1767-1813), for Tantalus, according to Ekberg partly because of its inability to absorb acid recalled Tantalus' punishment in the afterlife (see tantalize). Sometimes it is said to be so called from the difficulty scientists faced in obtaining a pure specimen.ETD tantalum (n.).2

    tantamount (adj.)

    "equivalent as in value, force, signification, etc.," 1640s, from verbal phrase tant amount "be equivalent" (1620s), from Anglo-French tant amunter "amount to as much" (late 13c.), from Old French tant "as much" (11c., from Latin tantus, from tam "so;" see tandem) + amonter "amount to, go up" (see amount (v.)).ETD tantamount (adj.).2

    Compare the Middle English adverbial phrase tant-ne-quant, tauntnequant "in any way" (c. 1300), from Old French ne tant ne quant.ETD tantamount (adj.).3

    tantara (n.)

    "a blast on a trumpet," 1530s, imitative.ETD tantara (n.).2

    tantivy (adv.)

    "at full speed," 1640s, said to be imitative of a hunting horn.ETD tantivy (adv.).2

    Tantra (n.)

    type of Hindu religious book, 1799, from Sanskrit tantram, literally "loom, warp," hence, figuratively, "groundwork, system, doctrine," from tan "to stretch, extend" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").ETD Tantra (n.).2

    tantric (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the Tantras," 1905, from Tantra + -ic; used loosely in the West to denote erotic spiritualism.ETD tantric (adj.).2

    tantrum (n.)

    "burst of ill humor," 1714, tanterum, colloquial, of unknown origin.ETD tantrum (n.).2

    tan-yard (n.)

    also tanyard, 1712, "place where tanning is done;" see tan (v.) + yard (n.1).ETD tan-yard (n.).2


    east African nation, formed 1964 by union of Tanganyika (named for the lake, the name of which is of unknown origin) and Zanzibar. With country-name word-forming element -ia. Related: Tanzanian.ETD Tanzania.2

    tanzanite (n.)

    violet-blue gemstone, 1968, said to have been named by Henry B. Platt, vice president of Tiffany & Co., because the stone was discovered in the African nation of Tanzania. With -ite (1).ETD tanzanite (n.).2

    tao (n.)

    1736, the absolute entity in Taoism, from Chinese tao "way, path, right way (of life), reason." By 1934 as "the way in which life should be ordered" in modern Western conceptions of Confucianism.ETD tao (n.).2

    Taoism (n.)

    religious system founded by Lao Tzu (b. 604 B.C.E.), 1838, from Chinese tao "way, path, right way (of life), reason" + -ism. In 19c. generally reckoned as one of the three religions of China. Related: Taoist.ETD Taoism (n.).2

    tap (v.2)

    c. 1400, tappen, "draw (liquor) from a tap; draw and sell (ale) in small quantities," from tap (n.1)); also compare late Old English tæppian "to supply with a tap," and German zapfen "to tap."ETD tap (v.2).2

    The extended sense "open up in order to make use of" is attested by 1570s. The meaning "listen in secretly" (1869), originally was in reference to telegraph wires, on the notion of "piercing so as to draw something out."ETD tap (v.2).3

    Related: Tapped; tapping. Tapped out "broke" is 1940s slang, perhaps from the notion of already having "tapped" all one's acquaintances for loans (compare British slang on the tap "begging, making requests for loans," 1932). The notion of "tapping" (on the shoulder, to get attention) also might be involved, from tap (v.1).ETD tap (v.2).4

    The meaning "apply a thickness of leather to" (a sole or heel of a boot or shoe), is by 1746.ETD tap (v.2).5

    tap (n.2)

    "a light stroke, as with the fingers; a gentle blow," mid-14c., a noun from tap (v.1) or from Old French tape, from the verb in French.ETD tap (n.2).2

    It is attested from 1680s as "piece of leather or metal plate fastened to the bottom of a shoe or boot in strengthening or repairing it," the sense in tap-dance. Tap (n.) as short for tap-dance is by 1944.ETD tap (n.2).3

    A figurative tap on the shoulder was originally "an arrest" (slang, 1785). The figurative tap on the wrist "mild reprimand" is attested by 1973 (figurative slap on the wrist is from 1900).ETD tap (n.2).4

    tap (v.1)

    c. 1200, tappen, "give a tap, strike lightly but audibly," either native or from or in part from Old French taper "tap, rap, strike" (12c.), ultimately imitative of the sound of rapping.ETD tap (v.1).2

    Specifically as "strike one's foot lightly on something" (in time to music, etc.) from mid-15c. The meaning "designate for some duty or for membership" is recorded from 1952, from notion of a tap on the shoulder (see tap (n.2)). Related: Tapped; tapping.ETD tap (v.1).3

    taps (n.)

    U.S. military signal for lights out in soldiers' quarters (played 15 minutes after tattoo), by 1824, from plural of tap (n.2), on the notion of drum taps (the call originally was played on a drum, later on a bugle).ETD taps (n.).2

    As a soldier's last farewell, played over the grave, it may date to the American Civil War. The tune was revised several times in mid-19c.ETD taps (n.).3

    tap (n.3)

    "device to listen in secretly on telephone calls," 1923, from tap (v.2) in the "listen secretly" sense. Also see wire-tapping.ETD tap (n.3).2

    tap (n.1)

    [stopper] Middle English tappe "faucet through which liquid can be drawn, hollow or tubular plug for controlling the flow of liquid from a vent or hole," from Old English tæppa, from Proto-Germanic *tappon (source also of Middle Dutch tappe, Dutch tap, Old High German zapfo, German Zapfe). Boutkan gives it no IE etymology.ETD tap (n.1).2

    Perhaps originally a tapering cylindrical peg for a cask, then a hollowed one to draw from it; compare the sense evolution of spigot.ETD tap (n.1).3

    The phrase on tap "ready for use, ready to be drawn and served" is recorded from late 15c. Tap-wrench, used in turning the tool that drives a tap, is attested from 1815.ETD tap (n.1).4

    tap-dance (n.)

    1918, from tap (n.2) in the sense of "metal plate over the heel of a shoe" (1680s) + dance (v.). As a verb by 1927. Tap-dancing is by 1919; tap-dancer by 1923. Tap-shoe, as used in the dance, is attested by 1932.ETD tap-dance (n.).2

    An earlier name was hard-shoe dancing (by 1891). Earlier a tap dance was a social dance in which a non-dancer could cut in with another's partner by stepping up and tapping the person gently on the shoulder (by 1908).ETD tap-dance (n.).3

    tape (v.)

    c. 1600, "furnish with tape or tapes, attach strips of cloth to," from tape (n.). The meaning "attach with adhesive tape" is from 1932; the meaning "make a tape recording" is by 1950. Related: Taped; taping.ETD tape (v.).2

    tape (n.)

    Old English tæppe "narrow strip of cloth used for tying, measuring, etc.," a word of uncertain origin; perhaps [Klein] a back-formation from Latin tapete "cloth, carpet." Middle English Compendium compares Old Frisian tapia, Middle Low German tapen "to pull, pluck, tear," and points to tabbe "strap or string" (mid-15c.), Norwegian dialectal tave "piece of cloth, rag."ETD tape (n.).2

    The original short vowel became long in Middle English. Tape stretched taut as a mark of the goal line or finish line in a game or race is attested by 1867.ETD tape (n.).3

    Adhesive tape is from 1885; also in early use it was sometimes friction tape. Tape-measure "piece of tape marked in feet, inches, etc.," especially as used by tailors and dress-makers, is attested by 1873.ETD tape (n.).4

    tapenade (n.)

    Provençal dish made of black olives, etc., 1952, from French tapénade, from Provençal tapéno "capers."ETD tapenade (n.).2

    taper (v.)

    1580s, "shoot up like a flame or spire," via an obsolete adjective taper (late 15c.) from taper (n.), on the notion of the converging form of the flame of a candle or (less likely) the candle itself. Also compare taper-wise (adv.) "conically" (mid-15c.).ETD taper (v.).2

    The sense of "become slender, diminish" is attested by c. 1600. By 1789 as "gradually grow less in amount, force, etc." The transitive sense of "make gradually smaller" is from 1670s. To taper off "stop steadily or by degrees" is by 1848. Related: Tapered; tapering. Middle English agent noun taperer (n.) was ecclesiastical and meant "a candle-bearer, acolyte."ETD taper (v.).3

    taper (n.)

    Old English tapur, taper "candle, lamp-wick," not found outside English, possibly a specialized borrowing and dissimilation of Latin papyrus (see papyrus), which was used in Medieval Latin and some Romance languages for "wick of a candle" (such as Old Italian dialectal (Tuscany) papijo, papeio "wick"), because these often were made from the pith of papyrus. Compare also German kerze "candle," from Old High German charza, from Latin charta, from Greek khartēs "papyrus, roll made from papyrus, wick made from pith of papyrus."ETD taper (n.).2

    Later especially a slender candle, usually of wax. The general sense of "a tapering form, gradual diminishing of thickness" is by 1793, from the verb.ETD taper (n.).3

    tape-recorder (n.)

    "device for recording sound on magnetic tape," by 1932, from tape (n.) + recorder (n.1) "measuring apparatus." Earlier it meant "device for recording data on ticker tape" (1892), perhaps suggested by tape (n.) in an earlier mechanical sense in printing machines (by 1884).ETD tape-recorder (n.).2

    Tape-record (v.) is attested from 1950. Tape-delay "interval between recording and playback" is attested by 1968. Tape deck (n.) is by 1949.ETD tape-recorder (n.).3

    tapestry (n.)

    late 14c., tapiestre, "a fabric on which colored threads of wool, silk, gold, or silver are fixed to produce a pattern," with unetymological -t-, from Old French tapisserie "tapestry" (14c.), from tapisser "to cover with heavy fabric," from tapis "heavy fabric, carpet," from tapiz "carpet, floor covering" (12c.).ETD tapestry (n.).2

    This is from Vulgar Latin *tappetium, from Byzantine Greek tapētion, from classical Greek, diminutive of tapēs (genitive tapētos) "heavy fabric, carpet, rug," a word of debated origin. According to Watkins, etc., it is from an Iranian source (compare Persian taftan "to turn, twist"), from a PIE *temp- "to stretch." Beekes says the variant forms prove a Pre-Greek origin.ETD tapestry (n.).3

    The unetymological -t- is perhaps euphonious between -s- and -r- or on model of words in -istry. The figurative use is recorded by 1580s.ETD tapestry (n.).4

    An earlier Middle English word for "piece of decorative fabric as a wall-hanging, bed-cover, etc." is tapete (early 14c.), from Old French tapit, a variant of tapiz, and directly from Latin tapete, Medieval Latin tapitum. Hence the verb tapeten "to cover with tapestry or decorative embroidery" (early 15c.), from the noun. Tapeter, "one who makes or sells tapestries or hangings," is attested from late 13c. as a surname. The agent noun tapener "cloth-maker, weaver" (mid-13c. as a surname), of obscure origin, also might be related.ETD tapestry (n.).5

    Middle English also took Old French tapis directly for "tapestry" (late 15c.) and had as well tapiserie (late 14c.), from Old French tapisserie and Anglo-Latin tapeceria. Hence also tapserer "painter or designer of tapestries" (c. 1400), also tapeci work "figured cloth, tapestry" (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin tapecium, Anglo-Latin tapesium); and tapicer "maker or seller of tapestries" (late 13c. as a surname).ETD tapestry (n.).6

    tapetum (n.)

    "pigmentary layer of the retina of the eye," 1713, from Medieval Latin tapetum, from Latin tapete, collateral form of tapes "carpet, heavy cloth with inwrought figures" (see tapestry). Related: Tapetal.ETD tapetum (n.).2

    tapeworm (n.)

    "entozoic parasitic worm," 1705, from tape (n.) + worm (n.); so called for its ribbon-like shape and indeterminate length.ETD tapeworm (n.).2

    taphonomy (n.)

    "study of the means by which the remains of living beings become fossils," 1940, with -nomy + Greek taphos "tomb, burial, funeral," which is of uncertain origin. It is traditionally derived (along with Armenian damban "tomb") from a PIE root *dhembh- "to dig, bury," but there are doubts, and Beekes writes, "Armenian and Greek could well be borrowings; IE origin is uncertain." Related: Taphonomic.ETD taphonomy (n.).2

    taphouse (n.)

    also tap-house, "drinking-house, tavern,." c. 1500, from tap (n.1) + house (n.). Middle English in this sense had tapstri (c. 1400, from tappester; see tapster), also tapperi (late 15c.), from tapper (n.1).ETD taphouse (n.).2

    tapinage (n.)

    "disguise, place of concealment, act of lurking" (obsolete), c. 1300, from Old French tapinage, from tapir "hide, skulk," a word of unknown origin. English also had tappish (v.) "to hide, take cover, lurk in a covert place," early 14c. (tapisen), from the present-participle stem of Old French tapir, which is said by the earlier French etymologists (Diez, Littré) to be from the same Germanic source as taper.ETD tapinage (n.).2

    tapioca (n.)

    "farinaceous substance that forms a viscous jelly-like mass when boiled in water," 1640s, tipiaca, from Portuguese or Spanish tapioca, from Tupi (Brazil) tipioca "juice of a pressed cassava," from tipi "residue, dregs" + og, ok "to squeeze out" (from roots of the cassava plant).ETD tapioca (n.).2

    tapir (n.)

    hoofed mammal of Brazil, 1774, perhaps via French tapir (16c.), ultimately from Tupi (Brazil) tapira.ETD tapir (n.).2

    tapper (n.2)

    "one who or that which makes a tapping sound or strikes lightly with an audible sound," 1810, agent noun from tap (v.1).ETD tapper (n.2).2

    tapper (n.1)

    "tavern-keeper," Old English tæppere, from the source of tap (n.1). From late 13c. as a surname.ETD tapper (n.1).2

    tappet (n.)

    machine part, 1745, apparently from tap (v.1) + -et, "but the use of the suffix is abnormal" [OED, 1989]. A cam, lever, arm, etc. for imparting intermittent motion to some other part.ETD tappet (n.).2

    taproom (n.)

    also tap-room, "room (in a tavern, etc.) in which liquor is kept on tap or sold for consumption on the spot," 1807, from tap (n.1) + room (n.).ETD taproom (n.).2

    taproot (n.)

    "main root of a plant," c. 1600, from tap (n.1) + root (n.). So called for resemblance of the conical shape.ETD taproot (n.).2

    tapster (n.)

    "person employed to tap liquors, one who draws and sells ale, tavernkeeper," Middle English tappester, which especially meant "woman tapster, barmaid, tavern hostess," from Old English tæppestre "female tavern-keeper, hostess at an inn, woman employed to tap liquors," fem of tæppere, from tæppa "tap" (see tap (n.1)) + fem. ending -ster.ETD tapster (n.).2

    The distinction of gender in the word was lost by 15c., and by 1630s a re-feminized tapstress is attested. Nashe (1590s) has tapsterly (adj.) in reference to coarse language.ETD tapster (n.).3

    tar (n.2)

    also Jack Tar, "sailor," 1670s, probably a special use of tar (n.1), which stuff was a staple for waterproofing aboard old ships (knights of the tarbrush being a jocular phrase for "sailors"); or possibly a shortened form of tarpaulin, which was recorded as a nickname for a sailor in 1640s, from the tarpaulin garments they wore.ETD tar (n.2).2

    tar (v.)

    Middle English terren, from late Old English tirwan, "to smear with tar," from tar (n.1).ETD tar (v.).2

    To tar and feather (1769) was famously a mob action in America in Revolutionary times (used by both sides) and for several decades thereafter. The punishment is prescribed in an ordinance of Richard I (1189), but the exact verbal phrase is not attested until 18c. Related: Tarred; tarring.ETD tar (v.).3

    tar (n.1)

    type of thick, viscous, dark-colored liquid used as a salve (for sheep), caulking agent (for ships), and incendiary material, Middle English tēr, from Old English teoru, teru "tar, bitumen, resin, gum," literally "the pitch of (certain kinds of) trees," from Proto-Germanic *terw- (source also of Old Norse tjara, Old Frisian tera, Middle Dutch tar, Dutch teer, German Teer).ETD tar (n.1).2

    According to Watkins this is probably a derivation of *trewo-, from PIE *derw-, a variant of the root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast," with specialized senses "wood, tree" and derivatives referring to objects made of wood.ETD tar (n.1).3

    Tar baby "a sticky problem" (American English) was popularized by a Joel Chandler Harris "Uncle Remus" story (1881), but the story and the idea are older in Black folklore (the dialect story was printed earlier as part of "Bushy and Jack" in Harper's Monthly Magazine, May, 1867, attributed to Mary Hose). It is attested by 1948 as a derogatory term for "Black person."ETD tar (n.1).4

    To beat (or knock) the tar out of someone is attested by 1884; the tar is perhaps euphemistic.ETD tar (n.1).5

    tarantella (n.)

    1782, "peasant dance popular in Italy," a rapid, whirling dance for one couple; earlier "hysterical malady characterized by an extreme impulse to dance" (1630s). It was epidemic 15c.-17c. in Apulia and adjacent parts of southern Italy and was popularly attributed to (or believed to be a cure for) the bite of the tarantula.ETD tarantella (n.).2

    This is likely folk-etymology, however, and the names of the dance and the spider more probably share an origin in Taranto, the name of a city in southern Italy (see tarantula). The word was used in English by 1833 for the style of music that accompanies the peasant dance; it is usually in 6/8 time with whirling triplets and abrupt major-minor modulations. Related: Tarantism. The dance-bitten are tarantati (fem. tarantate).ETD tarantella (n.).3

    tarantula (n.)

    1560s, "wolf spider," (Lycos tarantula), from Medieval Latin tarantula, from Italian tarantola, from Taranto "Taranto," seaport city in southern Italy in the region where the spiders are frequently found, from Latin Tarentum, from Greek Taras (genitive Tarantos; perhaps from Illyrian darandos "oak").ETD tarantula (n.).2

    Its bite is only slightly venomous. The English, not knowing the spiders at first-hand, sometimes in 17c. took the word to mean a type of lizard or other reptile. The name also was popularly applied to other great hairy spiders, especially the genus Mygale (by 1794), native to the warmer regions of the Americas. Also compare tarantella. Cowley ("Puritan and Papist") rhymes "tarantula" with "as much as they."ETD tarantula (n.).3

    tar-brush (n.)

    also tarbrush, "brush with which tar is applied," 1711, from tar (n.1) + brush (n.1). To have a touch of the tar-brush "have a dash of African ancestry visible in the skin tone" (1796, Grose) was "a term of contempt from the West Indies" [Century Dictionary]. To be tarred with the same brush "stained with the same or similar faults," hence "possessing the same peculiarities; marked by the same qualities" (1816, in an account of a public political meeting in Kent) seems not to have had originally a notion of race in it.ETD tar-brush (n.).2

    tardation (n.)

    "act of retarding or delaying; a slowing down," c. 1500, tardatioun, from Late Latin tardationem (nominative tardatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of tardare "to slow," which is related to tardus "slow, sluggish" (see tardy). Related: Tardative.ETD tardation (n.).2

    tardy (adj.)

    late 15c., "slow, moving with a slow pace or motion," from Old French tardif "slow, late" (12c.), also the name of the snail character in the Roman de Renart, from Vulgar Latin *tardivus, from Latin tardus "slow, sluggish; late; dull, stupid," a word of unknown origin; de Vaan gives it "no etymology."ETD tardy (adj.).2

    The meaning "late, not acting or happening until after the proper or expected time" in English is from 1660s.ETD tardy (adj.).3

    Related: Tardily; tardiness. Earlier forms of the word in English were tardif, tardyve (late 15c.). Modern tardive "characterized by laxness; tending to be late," 1905, is said to be a new borrowing from French. Seventeenth-century English lexicons (Blount. Coles, Cockeram) have tardiloquent "speaking slowly, drawling."ETD tardy (adj.).4

    tardigrade (adj.)

    "slow-going, slow-moving, having a slow pace or motion," 1620s, from French tardigrade (17c.), from Latin tardigradus "slow-paced," from tardus "slow" (see tardy) + gradi "to walk, go, step" (from PIE root *ghredh- "to walk, go"). In zoology, in reference to sloths, by 1799. Related: Tardigradous.ETD tardigrade (adj.).2

    tardity (n.)

    "slowness of movement or action," early 15c., tardite, from Old French tardete and directly from Latin tarditas, noun from tardus "slow, sluggish" (see tardy). The meaning "lateness, fact of being late" is from 1590s. Coleridge (1794) uses tarditude.ETD tardity (n.).2

    tare (n.1)

    "kind of fodder plant, vetch," c. 1300, a word of doubtful origin and history, perhaps [Middle English Compendium] cognate with or from Middle Dutch tarwe "wheat," from a Germanic source perhaps related to Breton draok, Welsh drewg "darnel," Sanskrit durva "a kind of millet grass," Greek darata, daratos "bread," Lithuanian dirva "a wheat-field."ETD tare (n.1).2

    In Middle English symbolic of something small or worthless. Used in 2nd Wycliffe version (1388) of Matthew xiii.25 to render Greek zizania as the word for the weed among the corn (earlier in English darnel and cockle (n.2) had been used); hence the later figurative meaning "something noxious sown among something good" (1711).ETD tare (n.1).3

    tare (n.2)

    in commerce, "allowable difference between gross and net weight, deduction made from gross weight of goods to account for approximate weight of packaging or container holding them," late 15c., from Anglo-French tare "wastage in goods, deficiency, imperfection" (late 14c.), from Italian tara, Medieval Latin tara, from Arabic tarah, literally "thing deducted or rejected, that which is thrown away," from taraha "to reject."ETD tare (n.2).2

    targe (n.)

    "shield, buckler," typically small and round, late Old English, from Old French targe, perhaps via Frankish *targa or Medieval Latin targa, from Germanic (see target (n.)). Old English had a native form targe, but the soft -g- in the later word suggests it was borrowed from French.ETD targe (n.).2

    target (n.)

    c. 1300, "light shield," typically small and round, diminutive of late Old English targe and directly from Old French targete "light shield" (12c.), from Frankish or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *targ- (source also of Old High German zarga "edging, border," German zarge "border, edge, frame," Old English targe, Old Norse targa "shield, buckler"), perhaps originally "edge of a shield."ETD target (n.).2

    The meaning "round object to be aimed at in shooting" is recorded by 1757, originally in archery, perhaps suggested by the shape and the concentric circles in both. Figuratively, "that at which observation is aimed."ETD target (n.).3

    Target-practice is attested from 1801. Target audience is by 1951; early reference is to Cold War psychological warfare.ETD target (n.).4

    target (v.)

    "to use as a target," 1837, from target (n.). Earlier it meant "protect with or as with a shield" (1610s), but this is obsolete. The earlier verb was targen "to shield, protect with a targe" (mid-15c.), from Old French targier.ETD target (v.).2

    Targeter "guard armed with a shield" is attested from late 14c., from the noun. Targeted is attested from 1650s as "furnished or armed with a defensive shield;" by 1965 as "designated or chosen as a target;" by 1969 as "given a target." Related: Targeting.ETD target (v.).3

    Tarheel (n.)

    "North Carolina resident," by 1864, American English, probably from the gummy resin of the pine barrens in the lowland part of the state; see tar (n.1) + heel (n.1).ETD Tarheel (n.).2

    tariff (n.)

    1590s, "arithmetical table," also "official list or table of customs duties on goods for import or export;" also "a law regulating import duties," from Italian tariffa "tariff, price, assessment," Medieval Latin tarifa "list of prices, book of rates," ultimately from Arabic ta'rif "information, notification, a making known; inventory of fees to be paid," verbal noun from arafa "he made known, he taught." A word passed to English from the commercial jargon of the medieval Mediterranean (compare garble, jar (n.), average (perhaps), orange, tabby, etc.ETD tariff (n.).2

    tarmac (n.)

    1903, Tarmac, a trademark name, short for tar-macadam (1882) "pavement created by spraying tar over crushed stone," from tar (n.1) + the surname of John L. McAdam (see macadam). By 1919, tarmac was being used generally in Great Britain for "runway."ETD tarmac (n.).2

    tarmacadam (n.)

    also tar-macadam, "pavement created by spraying tar over crushed stone;" see tarmac, which is a shortening of it.ETD tarmacadam (n.).2

    tarn (n.)

    "small lake, pool, pond," late 14c., terne; by late 12c. in place-names (Cumberland); from Old Norse tjörn "small mountain lake with no visible feeders," from a Proto-Germanic *terno, perhaps originally "water hole" [Barnhart]. A dialect word from the North, popularized by the Lake poets and also picked up by the geologists.ETD tarn (n.).2

    tarnal (adj.)

    a minced oath, a mild epithet of reprobation, by 1790, an American English colloquial drawled snip of eternal, used as a mild profanity, clipped from phrase by the Eternal (God). Compare tarnation; also see aphetic. Ternal as "everlasting" is attested from mid-15c.ETD tarnal (adj.).2

    tarnation (n.)

    1784, a colloquial American English alteration of darnation (itself a minced oath in place of damnation), influenced by tarnal (1790), a mild profanity, clipped from phrase by the Eternal (God), for which see eternal.ETD tarnation (n.).2

    tarnish (n.)

    1713, "condition of being dulled or stained," from tarnish (v.).ETD tarnish (n.).2

    tarnish (v.)

    mid-15c. ternishen, "lose luster, become discolored by exposure to air, dust, etc.," especially of metals, "become green" (through oxidation); from Old French terniss-, present-participle stem of ternir "dull the luster or brightness of, make dim" (15c.), which is probably from terne (adj.) "dull, dark." According to Diez this is from a Germanic source cognate with Old High German tarnjan "to conceal, hide," Old English dyrnan "to hide, darken," from Proto-Germanic *darnjaz (see dern), but there are difficulties of form, sense, and date.ETD tarnish (v.).2

    The transitive sense of "diminish or destroy the luster of, damage the natural color of" is by 1670s. The figurative transitive sense of "take away the purity of, taint" is from 1690s. Related: Tarnished; tarnishing.ETD tarnish (v.).3

    taro (n.)

    stemless tropical food plant widely cultivated in tropical regions, 1769, from Polynesian (Tahitian or Maori) taro. Compare Hawaiian kalo.ETD taro (n.).2

    taroc (n.)

    1610s in reference to the deck of cards; 1739 as the name of an old card game played with them in Italy, Austria, etc.; from Old Italian tarocchi (plural); see tarot. A 78-card deck that includes four suits, four face-cards each, plus the tarot cards as trumpsETD taroc (n.).2

    tarot (n.)

    1590s, from French tarot (16c.), from Old Italian tarocchi (singular tarocco), a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Arabic taraha "he rejected, put aside." Originally an everyday game deck in much of Europe (though not in Britain), their occult and fortune-telling use seems to date from late 18c. and became popular in England 20c. Tarot games seem to have originated among aristocrats in northern Italy in early 15c. By early 16c. tarocchi had emerged in Italian as the name of the special cards, and by extension the whole pack; whence the French word, German Tarock, etc. The tarots are thus, strictly speaking, the 22 figured cards added to the 56-card suits pack.ETD tarot (n.).2

    tarp (n.)

    "waterproof sheet" (originally of canvas coated with tar), by 1906, American English, an informal shortening (and misdivision) of tarpaulin.ETD tarp (n.).2

    tarpaulin (n.)

    "waterproof canvas," c. 1600, evidently a hybrid from tar (n.1) + palling, from pall "heavy cloth covering" (see pall (n.)); probably so called because the canvas sometimes is coated in tar to make it waterproof, but this is conjecture. Originally tarpawlin, tarpawling, etc., the spelling settled down early 18c.ETD tarpaulin (n.).2

    Tarpeian rock (n.)

    rock face on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, from which persons convicted of treason were thrown headlong, from Latin (mons) Tarpeius "(rock) of Tarpeia," said to have been a Vestal virgin who betrayed the capitol to the Sabines and was buried at the foot of the rock. Her name probably is of Etruscan-Tyrrhenian origin.ETD Tarpeian rock (n.).2

    tarpon (n.)

    large fish (Megalops atlanticus) common along U.S. Southeast coast, a big-eyed herring, 1680s, tarpom (spelling tarpon is by 1796), a name of uncertain origin, probably from a Native American word. Also formerly called jew-fish.ETD tarpon (n.).2

    tarragon (n.)

    Artemisia Dracunculus, Eastern European composite plant of the wormwood genus, native to Russia and temperate Asia, 1530s, from Medieval Latin tragonia, from Byzantine Greek tarchon, from Arabic tarkhon, which is said to be (OED, 1989) from a non-Arabic source, perhaps Greek drakon "serpent, dragon" (via drakontion "dragonwort"); see dragon. From the same source come Spanish taragona, Italian targone, French estragon (with unetymological prefix). Its aromatic leaves long have been used for flavoring (especially vinegar).ETD tarragon (n.).2

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