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    tea (n.) — teetotal (adj.)

    tea (n.)

    1650s, tay, "prepared leaves of the tea plant," also "an infusion of prepared tea leaves used as a beverage," also in early spellings thea, tey, tee and at first pronounced so as to rhyme with obey (Pope); pay (Gay). The modern pronunciation predominates from mid-18c.ETD tea (n.).2

    The word is earliest in English as chaa (1590s), also cha, tcha, chia, cia (compare cha, chai). The two forms reflect two paths of transmission: chaa, etc. are from Portuguese cha, via Macao, from Mandarin (Chinese) ch'a. The later form, which became Modern English tea, is via Dutch thee, from Malay teh and directly from Chinese (Amoy dialect) t'e, which corresponds to Mandarin ch'a.ETD tea (n.).3

    The modern English form (along with French thé, Spanish te, German Tee, etc.) reflects the role of the Dutch as chief importers of the leaves in that part of Europe (through the Dutch East India Company, from 1610). Meanwhile, Russian chai, Persian cha, Greek tsai, Arabic shay, and Turkish çay all came by overland trade routes from the Mandarin form.ETD tea (n.).4

    Tea was known in Paris by 1635; the practice of drinking it was introduced in England by 1644. The word was extended by 1660s to the tea plant itself, also to similar infusions of the parts of other plants. The slang meaning "marijuana" (which sometimes was brewed in hot water) is attested by 1935, felt as obsolete by late 1960s.ETD tea (n.).5

    The meaning "late afternoon meal at which tea is served" is by 1738. Tea-bottle as English slang for "old maid" is attested by 1909. To not do something for all the tea in China "not for anything" is colloquial, attested by 1947 in Australian English, said to date from 1890s.ETD tea (n.).6

    teabag (n.)

    also tea-bag 1857, a small permeable paper packet for holding loose tea, from tea + bag (n.). In reference to a sex act, by 2000.ETD teabag (n.).2

    tea-ball (n.)

    "wire ball in which loose tea is placed for infusion," 1895, from tea (n.) + ball (n.1).ETD tea-ball (n.).2

    teaberry (n.)

    also tea-berry, American wintergreen, 1818, from tea + berry; so called because the dried berries were used as a substitute for tea or to flavor it.ETD teaberry (n.).2

    teaching (n.)

    late Old English tecunge "act of providing guidance or training to another, imparting of instruction or knowledge," verbal noun from the source of teach (v.). Gradually passing into modern sense "business of instructing." As "that which is taught, knowledge or understanding imparted," it is attested from c. 1300. Middle English also had teachingless (adj.) "deprived of instruction, untaught" (mid-14c.).ETD teaching (n.).2

    teach (v.)

    Middle English tēchen, from Old English tæcan (past tense tæhte, past participle tæht) "to show (transitive), point out, declare; demonstrate," also "give instruction, train, assign, direct; warn; persuade."ETD teach (v.).2

    This is reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *taikijan "to show" (source also of Old High German zihan, German zeihen "to accuse," Gothic ga-teihan "to announce"), from PIE root *deik- "to show, point out." It is related to Old English tacen, tacn "sign, mark" (see token). The notion is "to show how to do something by way of information or instruction." Related: Taught; teaching.ETD teach (v.).3

    By mid-14c. as "disseminate" a system of belief. By c. 1200 as "indicate" how something is to happen; used by 1560s in threats, "make known to one at a cost."ETD teach (v.).4

    The usual sense of Old English tæcan was "show, declare, warn, persuade" (compare German zeigen "to show," from the same root); while the Old English word for "to teach, instruct, guide" was more commonly læran, source of modern learn and lore.ETD teach (v.).5

    teachable (adj.)

    mid-15c., techeable, of a fact or idea, "capable of being taught," from teach (v.) + -able. In reference to persons, "able to receive instruction," late 15c., also "able to teach" (a sense now obsolete).ETD teachable (adj.).2

    In reference to subjects, "appropriate for instruction," from 1660s. Related: Teachably; teachableness; teachability. An Old English word for it was leorningende. Teachable moment, attested from 1917, is not common until after c. 1960.ETD teachable (adj.).3

    teacher (n.)

    mid-14c., techer, "one who provides moral guidance to another;" late 14c., "one who gives instruction in a field or craft;" agent noun from teach (v.).ETD teacher (n.).2

    It was used earlier in a sense of "index finger" (early 14c.). By c. 1400 as "animal trainer" Fem. form teacheress is attested from late 14c. (in reference to Wisdom, translating Latin doctrix). Teacher's pet "student aspiring to be favored by a teacher" is attested from 1856; teacher's aide is by 1956. Related: Teacherly.ETD teacher (n.).3

    teacherage (n.)

    "housing provided for teachers by a school," 1916, from teacher (n.) probably on model of parsonage.ETD teacherage (n.).2

    teachership (n.)

    "office, function, or position of a teacher," 1846, from teacher (n.) + -ship.ETD teachership (n.).2

    tea-cosy (n.)

    "covering for a teapot to keep it hot," by 1871, from tea (n.) + cosy (n.), for which see cozy (adj.).ETD tea-cosy (n.).2

    tea-cup (n.)

    also teacup, "cup in which tea is served," 1700, from tea + cup (n.). The metaphoric storm in a tea-cup is attested by 1775 (compare tea-pot).ETD tea-cup (n.).2

    tea-garden (n.)

    "open-air enclosure attached to a house of entertainment, where tea is served," 1802, from tea + garden (n.). They were places of fashionable resort in 18c. England.ETD tea-garden (n.).2

    tea-gown (n.)

    "loose easy gown in which to take afternoon tea at home," 1878, from tea + gown.ETD tea-gown (n.).2

    Teague (n.)

    old humorous or contemptuous name for an Irishman, 1660s, from the prevalence of Teague as an Irish surname. It began to be displaced in this use late 18c. by Paddy (n.2); also compare Mick. Related: Teagueland.ETD Teague (n.).2

    tea-house (n.)

    "house of entertainment in China or Japan where tea and light refreshments are served," 1763, from tea + house (n.).ETD tea-house (n.).2

    teak (n.)

    type of large East Indian tree yielding dark, heavy, durable wood, 1690s, from Portuguese teca, from Malayalam (Dravidian) tekka, cognate with Tamil tekku, Telugu teku, Kanarese tegu "the teak tree." The Hindi name is sagwan, sagun.ETD teak (n.).2

    tea-kettle (n.)

    also teakettle, "portable kettle with a spout and handle in which to boil water, especially for making tea," 1705, from tea (n.) + kettle (n.).ETD tea-kettle (n.).2

    teal (n.)

    c. 1300, tele, "small freshwater duck," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English word cognate with Middle Dutch teling "teal," Middle Low German telink, from West Germanic *taili.ETD teal (n.).2

    As the name of a shade of dark greenish-blue resembling the color patterns on the fowl's head and wings, it is attested from 1923 in clothing advertisements.ETD teal (n.).3

    tea-leaf (n.)

    "leaf of a tea plant," 1756, from tea + leaf (n.). Related: Tea-leaves. In reference to their use in fortune-telling, by 1883.ETD tea-leaf (n.).2

    team (n.)

    Middle English teme "a family, tribe, native stock" (senses now obsolete), from Old English team "descendant, family, race, line; child-bearing, brood;" also "company, band;" from Proto-Germanic *tau(h)maz (source also of Old Norse taumr, Old Frisian tam "bridle; progeny, line of descent," Dutch toom, Old High German zoum, German Zaum "bridle"), probably literally "that which draws" (Watkins), from PIE *douk-mo-, from root *deuk- "to lead."ETD team (n.).2

    It was applied in Old English to groups working together for some purpose, such as "set of draft animals yoked together," in early Middle English especially as a legal term, "group of people acting together to bring suit."ETD team (n.).3

    The modern general sense of "persons associated in some joint action" is from 1520s. Especially "one of the parties or sides in a contest or match" (1846, in cricket). Team spirit is recorded from 1928. Team player attested from 1886, originally in baseball. Team sport is by 1964.ETD team (n.).4

    The older senses relating to offspring or capacity for childbearing are more evident in teem (v.1).ETD team (n.).5

    team (v.)

    1550s, "harness beasts in a team," from team (n.). It is attested from 1841 as "drive a team." The meaning "come together as a team" (usually with up) is attested from 1932. The transitive sense "use (something) in conjunction" (with something else) is from 1948. Related: Teamed; teaming. The Old English verb, teaman, tieman, is attested only in the sense "bring forth, beget, engender, propagate" (compare teem (v.1)).ETD team (v.).2

    team-mate (n.)

    also teammate, "fellow player or competitor on a team," 1901, from team (n.) + mate (n.).ETD team-mate (n.).2

    teamster (n.)

    "person who drives a team" of horses, etc., especially in hauling freight, 1776, from team (n.) in the "set of draft animals" sense + -ster. Transferred to motor truck drivers by 1907.ETD teamster (n.).2

    teamwork (n.)

    also team-work, 1828, "work done by a team of horses, oxen, etc." (as distinguished from manual labor), from team (n.) + work (n.). Attested by 1889 in extended sense of "work done by the combined action of a team of players," originally U.S. colloquial, in baseball.ETD teamwork (n.).2

    tea party (n.)

    also tea-party, 1772, "social event at which tea and other refreshments are served," from tea + party (n.). Jocular colloquial alternative tea-fight is attested by 1849.ETD tea party (n.).2

    Political references to tea party all trace to the Boston Tea Party of Dec. 16, 1773 (that jocular name for it is attested by 1824), in which radicals in Massachusetts colony boarded British ships carrying tea and threw the product into Boston Harbor in protest against the home government's taxation policies.ETD tea party (n.).3

    It since has been a model for libertarian political actions in the U.S. (generally symbolic), including citizen gatherings begun in early 2009 to protest government spending.ETD tea party (n.).4

    tea-pot (n.)

    also teapot, "vessel in which tea is made or from which it is poured," 1660s, from tea + pot (n.1). The children's song beginning "I'm a little tea-pot" is attested by 1943. The figurative tempest in a teapot is attested by 1818 (see tempest; metaphoric storm in a tea-cup is attested by 1775). The U.S. Teapot Dome scandal erupted in 1922.ETD tea-pot (n.).2

    tear (n.1)

    [fluid drop from the eye] Middle English ter, tere, from Old English tear, teor "tear, drop, nectar, what is distilled in drops," from earlier teahor, tæhher, from Proto-Germanic *tahr-, *tagr- (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian tar, Old High German zahar, German Zähre, Gothic tagr "tear"), from PIE *dakru- (source also of Latin lacrima, Old Latin dacrima, Irish der, Welsh deigr, Greek dakryma).ETD tear (n.1).2

    Plural tears in the figurative sense of "grief, sorrow" is from mid-14c. To be in tears "weeping" is from 1550s. Figurative tears of blood "heartfelt tears of compassion" is by c. 1300. Tear gas is so called by 1917. Tear-stained "marked with tears" is from 1590s.ETD tear (n.1).3

    tear (n.2)

    1610s, "torn part or place, damage caused by tearing;" 1660s, "act of ripping or rending;" nouns from from tear (v.1). Old English had ter (n.) "tearing, laceration, thing torn."ETD tear (n.2).2

    tear (v.1)

    [rend, pull apart by force] Middle English tēran "destroy by reducing to fragments; tear apart (an animal); rend to pieces (a book, garment)," from Old English teran "pull apart by force; lacerate" (class IV strong verb; past tense tær, past participle toren), from Proto-Germanic *teran (source also of Old Saxon terian, Middle Dutch teren "to consume," Old High German zeran "to destroy," German zehren, Gothic ga-tairan "to tear, destroy"), from PIE root *der- "to split, flay, peel."ETD tear (v.1).2

    The Old English past tense survived long enough to get into Bible translations as tare before giving place 17c. to tore, which is from the old past participle toren. The sense of "pull by force" (away from some situation or attachment) is by early 14c. (in tear down), hence to be torn between two alternatives (desires, loyalties, lovers, etc.), by 1871; tear (oneself) away "go unwillingly" (1797). The intransitive sense of "part, divide, or separate readily" is from 1520s.ETD tear (v.1).3

    To tear one's hair (out) in grief or frenzy was in Old English. For tear into, see tear (v.3). The print media tear-sheet "page featuring an ad, clipped from the publication and sent to the advertiser as proof," is by 1930.ETD tear (v.1).4

    tearful (adj.)

    "shedding tears, weeping, mourning, lachrymose," 1580s, from tear (n.1) + -ful. Related: Tearfully; tearfulness.ETD tearful (adj.).2

    tear (v.3)

    colloquial, "move noisily and with vigorous haste and turbulence," 1590s, a special use of tear (v.1), perhaps on the notion of ripping through barriers or obstacles. Hence "to rant, rage, bluster" (c. 1600), in many Elizabethan dramatists; Shakespeare has emphatic tear a cat (1590). Hence probably also colloquial tear into "make a vigorous start" (by 1901), also tearer (1620s) "something big, raging, and violent."ETD tear (v.3).2

    tear (v.2)

    [weep, cry] late Old English teren, "shed tears;" from tear (n.2). From 1650s as "fill with tears" mainly in American English. Related: Teared; tearing. The Old English verb tæherian, tearian "to weep" apparently did not survive into Middle English.ETD tear (v.2).2

    tearable (adj.)

    "capable of being torn," 1895, from tear (v.1) + -able. Untearable is attested by 1859.ETD tearable (adj.).2

    tear-down (n.)

    "a complete dismantling" (of machinery, etc.), by 1976, from the verbal phrase; see tear (v.1) + down (adv.). The verbal phrase is attested from early 14c. as "pull (someone) off (a horse);" late 14c. as "raze a wall, gate, etc., by pulling it to pieces by force." The sense of "criticize harshly" is by 1938. Tearer-downer "one who dismantles" is by 1942.ETD tear-down (n.).2

    tear-drop (n.)

    also teardrop, "a tear," 1799, from tear (n.1) + drop (n.).ETD tear-drop (n.).2

    teary (adj.)

    "full of or wet with tears," Middle English teri, from the noun and from Old English tearig; see tear (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Tearily; teariness.ETD teary (adj.).2

    tear-jerker (n.)

    "something calculated to evoke sadness or sympathy," 1911, in reference to newspaper stories about tragic situations, perhaps formed on model of soda-jerker and perhaps especially beer-jerker, from tear (n.1) + jerk (n.2).ETD tear-jerker (n.).2

    tearless (adj.)

    "not weeping," c. 1600, from tear (n.1) + -less.ETD tearless (adj.).2

    tea-room (n.)

    "room in which tea is served," 1702, from tea + room (n.).ETD tea-room (n.).2

    tea-rose (n.)

    variety of rose having pale yellow flowers, 1825, from tea + rose (n.1); so called for its scent, supposed to resemble that of tea.ETD tea-rose (n.).2

    tease (n.)

    1690s, "an act of teasing, state of being teased," from tease (v.). The colloquial meaning "one who or that which habitually teases" is from 1852. As short for strip-tease by 1927. Compare teaser.ETD tease (n.).2

    tease (v.)

    formerly also teaze, Middle English tesen "pull apart and clean" adhering fibers of raw flax, wool, etc., from Old English tæsan "pluck, pull, tear; pull apart, comb" (fibers of wool, flax, etc.), from Proto-Germanic *taisijan (source also of Danish tæse, Middle Dutch tesen, Dutch tezen "to draw, pull, scratch," Old High German zeisan "to tease, pick wool"). Compare teasel.ETD tease (v.).2

    The original action is running thorns through wool or flax to separate, shred, or card the fibers. The figurative meaning "vex, worry, annoy" someone by petty requests or silly trifling (sometimes done in good humor) is attested by 1610s. For similar sense development, compare heckle. The hair-dressing sense in reference to back-combing is recorded from 1957 (teasing in this sense is by 1923). Related: Teased; teasing; teasingly.ETD tease (v.).3

    teasel (n.)

    also teazel, teazle, type of thistle-plant, native to temperate Europe and Asia, cultivated for use in fulling cloth and for medicinal purposes, Middle English tesel, Old English tæsel "large thistle used in teasing cloth," from Proto-Germanic *taisilo (source also of Old High German zeisala), which is related to the source of tease (v.), which is from Old English tæsan "to pluck."ETD teasel (n.).2

    As a verb from 1540s, "raise (the nap of cloth) with teasels." Related: Teaseled; teaseler (14c.); teaseling.ETD teasel (n.).3

    teaser (n.)

    late 15c. (late 13c. as a surname), teser, "one who teases" (wool, flax, etc.), agent noun from tease (v.). By 1759 as "anything which causes trouble or annoyance." By 1895 as "woman who arouses but evades amorous advances" (OED, 1989). From 1934 as "short sample, introductory advertisement."ETD teaser (n.).2

    tea-spoon (n.)

    also teaspoon, "small spoon, usually silver, for stirring tea in a cup," 1680s, from tea + spoon (n.). Related: teaspoonful.ETD tea-spoon (n.).2

    teat (n.)

    c. 1200, perhaps late Old English, tete, "a nipple; a breast, human female mammary gland," from Old French tete "teat" (12c., Modern French tette), from Proto-Germanic *titta (source of Old English titt, see tit). Spanish teta, Italian tetta are from the same source. Applied to the nipples of human males by mid-14c. Middle English had teatly "shaped like a nipple" (early 15c.).ETD teat (n.).2

    tea-table (n.)

    "table at which tea is taken," 1680s, from tea + table (n.). By 1700 in figurative use with reference to small social gatherings and their conversation.ETD tea-table (n.).2

    tea-time (n.)

    "time of afternoon or evening when tea is served," by 1741, from tea (n.) + time (n.).ETD tea-time (n.).2

    tea-tray (n.)

    "tray on which tea things are placed," 1773, from tea (n.) + tray (n.).ETD tea-tray (n.).2

    tec (n.)

    1879 in thieves' slang as short for detective (n.); 1934 as short for detective story.ETD tec (n.).2

    tech (n.)

    1906 as short for technical college (or institute, etc.), American English. Earliest reference is to MIT. By 1942 in military jargon as short for technician. By 1956 as short for technology (in reference to computer code, etc.).ETD tech (n.).2

    techie (n.)

    "one well-versed in the latest technology," by 1984, from tech (q,v,) + -ie.ETD techie (n.).2

    technetium (n.)

    radioactive metallic element, 1947, coined in Modern Latin from Latinized form of Greek tekhnetos "artificial," from tekhnē "art, skill, craft" (see techno-) + metallic element ending -ium.ETD technetium (n.).2

    technic (adj.)

    1610s, "technical, pertaining to an art," from Latin technicus, from Greek tekhnikos "of or pertaining to art, experienced in art, made by art," from tekhnē "art, skill, craft" (see techno-).ETD technic (adj.).2

    As a noun, "performance method of an art," by 1855, a nativization of technique. Specifically in music denoting all that applies to the purely mechanical part of performance (as distinguished from emotion, interpretation).ETD technic (adj.).3

    technicality (n.)

    1814, "that which is peculiar to any science, art, etc.," from technical + -ity. The meaning "technical character or quality" is from 1828. Related: Technicalities.ETD technicality (n.).2

    technically (adv.)

    "in a technical manner," especially "according to the signification of the terms of the art or profession," from technical + -ly (2).ETD technically (adv.).2

    technics (n.)

    1850, "the doctrine of the arts;" 1855 in a general sense of "technical terms, methods, etc.;" from technic; also see -ics. Technicist "one who has technical knowledge" is attested from 1876.ETD technics (n.).2

    technical (adj.)

    1610s, of persons, "skilled in a particular art or subject," formed in English from technic + -al (1), or in part from Latinized form of Greek tekhnikos "of art; systematic," in reference to persons "skillful, artistic," from tekhnē "art, skill, craft" (see techno-). Related: Technicalness.ETD technical (adj.).2

    Of words, terms, etc. from 1650s. The narrower sense of "of or pertaining to the mechanical and professional arts; appropriate to a science, profession, or trade" is by 1727.ETD technical (adj.).3

    The basketball technical foul (one which does not involve contact between opponents) is recorded from 1934. The boxing technical knock-out (in which the defeated fighter remains conscious) is recorded from 1921; its abbreviation TKO is from 1940s. Technical difficulty is attested from 1805, in reference to legal procedure.ETD technical (adj.).4

    technician (n.)

    1833, "person expert in the technicalities of some question or the mechanical parts of a subject," from technic + -ian. The meaning "person skilled in practical or mechanical arts" is recorded by 1939.ETD technician (n.).2

    technicolor (n.)

    "vivid color," 1946, earlier as a trademark name (Technicolor, registered in U.S. 1917) for a process of making color movies, from technical + color (n.). As an adjective from 1940.ETD technicolor (n.).2

    technique (n.)

    "performance method of an art," 1817, from French technique "formal practical details in artistic expression" (18c.), noun use of technique (adj.) "of art, technical," which is from a Latinized form of Greek tekhnikos "pertaining to art," from tekhnē "art, skill, craft in work" (see techno-). At first it was used especially in criticism of art and music.ETD technique (n.).2


    word-forming element active from mid-19c. and meaning "art, craft, skill," later "technical, technology," from Latinized form of Greek tekhno-, combining form of tekhnē "art, skill, craftsmanship, craft in work; method, system, an art, a system or method of making or doing," from PIE *teks-na- "craft" (of weaving or fabricating), from suffixed form of root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate."ETD techno-.2

    technocracy (n.)

    "control of society or the economy by technical experts," 1919, coined by W.H. Smyth as a name for a new system of government by technical experts, from techno- + -cracy.ETD technocracy (n.).2

    There is an earlier use from 1895 in reference to the medical profession.ETD technocracy (n.).3

    technocrat (n.)

    1932, back-formation from technocracy (q.v.). Related: Technocratic.ETD technocrat (n.).2

    technology (n.)

    1610s, "a discourse or treatise on an art or the arts," from Latinized form of Greek tekhnologia "systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique," originally referring to grammar, from tekhno-, combining form of tekhnē "art, skill, craft in work; method, system, an art, a system or method of making or doing," from PIE *teks-na- "craft" (of weaving or fabricating), from suffixed form of root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate." For ending, see -logy.ETD technology (n.).2

    The meaning "study of mechanical and industrial arts" as a branch of knowledge (Century Dictionary, 1895, gives as examples "spinning, metal-working, or brewing") is recorded by 1859. High technology is attested by 1964; short form high-tech by 1972.ETD technology (n.).3

    technological (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to technology" in any sense, 1620s, in reference to terminology, from technology + -ical. The meaning "of or relating to the industrial arts" is from 1800. As "pertaining to or characterized by technology," by 1930. Related: Technologically.ETD technological (adj.).2

    technologist (n.)

    1803, "one versed in mechanical technology," from technology + -ist.ETD technologist (n.).2

    technonomy (n.)

    "laws or principles of technology," 1881; see techno- + -nomy.ETD technonomy (n.).2

    technophile (n.)

    "technology enthusiast; one who favors technology," 1968, from techno- + -phile.ETD technophile (n.).2

    technophobe (n.)

    "person who fears technology," by 1952, perhaps by 1946, from techno- + -phobe. Related: Technophobia; technophobic.ETD technophobe (n.).2

    tectonics (n.)

    1899 in the geological sense, "structural arrangement of the rocks of the planet's crust," from tectonic (also see -ics); earlier it meant "building or constructive arts in general" (1850).ETD tectonics (n.).2

    tectonic (adj.)

    1650s, "of or relating to building or construction," from Late Latin tectonicus, from Greek tektonikos "pertaining to building," from tekton (genitive tektonos) "builder, carpenter, woodworker; master in any art (sculpture, metal-work, writing)," from PIE root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate." The geological sense, "pertaining to the structure of the earth's crust," is recorded from 1887.ETD tectonic (adj.).2


    Native American leader (1768-1813), his name is Shawnee (Algonquian), perhaps literally "flies across;" compare Menominee /takhamehse:w/ "flies straight across."ETD Tecumseh.2

    ted (v.)

    "to spread, turn and spread" (new-mown grass for drying in the air), c. 1300, tedden, from an unrecorded Old English *teddan or from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse teðja "to spread manure." It is also related to German verzetteln "to scatter, squander," German dialect zelten "spread out, scatter." Related: Tedding; tedder.ETD ted (v.).2


    pet form of masc. proper names Edward, Edmund, and Theodore, with -y (3). Meaning "women's undergarment" (with lower-case t-) is recorded from 1924, of unknown origin, perhaps from some fancied resemblance to a teddy bear (q.v.), a theory that dates to 1929.ETD Teddy.2

    In British slang phrase teddy boy (1954) "young street rowdy" it is short for Edward, from the preference of such youths for Edwardian styles (1901-10). Teddies was said to have been one of the names given to U.S. troops in France in 1917, probably from Teddy Roosevelt even though Wilson was president at the time.ETD Teddy.3

    teddy bear (n.)

    1906, named for U.S. president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858-1919), a noted big-game hunter, whose conservationist fervor inspired a comic illustrated poem in the New York Times of Jan. 7, 1906, about two bears named Teddy B. and Teddy G., whose names were transferred to two bears presented to the Bronx Zoo that year. The name was picked up by toy dealers in 1907 for a line of "Roosevelt bears" imported from Germany. The meaning "big, lovable person" is attested by 1957 from the song popularized by Elvis Presley.ETD teddy bear (n.).2

    tedesco (n.)

    "Teutonic influence in the arts," 1874 in this form (Byron, 1814, has Tedeschi), from Italian, literally "German," from Medieval Latin theodiscus (see Dutch). Compare Old French tiois "a German," tiesche (adj.) "German."ETD tedesco (n.).2

    Te Deum

    ancient Latin hymn sung at matins and in services of thanksgiving, early 12c., from Late Latin Te Deum laudamus "Thee God we praise," the first words of it. From te "thee," accusative singular personal pronoun, + accusative singular of deus "god" (see Zeus).ETD Te Deum.2

    tedious (adj.)

    "exhausting, wearisome, irksomely boring," early 15c., from Old French tedieus, from Late Latin taediosus "wearisome, irksome, tedious," from Latin taedium "weariness, disgust" (see tedium).ETD tedious (adj.).2

    Originally especially of time, a task, a journey, a speech, etc. Also in Middle English "wearied, exhausted" (c. 1400), senses now obsolete. The sense of "slow, slow-going" is by late 15c. Related: Tediously; tediousness.ETD tedious (adj.).3

    tedium (n.)

    "tediousness, weariness," 1660s, from Latin taedium "weariness, irksomeness, disgust" (mostly post-classical), which is related to taedet "it is wearisome, it excites loathing" (in Late Latin "be disgusted with, be weary of") and to taedere "to weary," but the whole group is of uncertain etymology. Possible cognates that have been suggested are Old Church Slavonic težo, Lithuanian tingiu, tingėti "to be dull, be listless."ETD tedium (n.).2

    Caxton (late 15c.) has tedeation "act of wearying, condition of being wearied." A verb tedify "to bore, affect with tedium" is attested by 1610s (hence tedification), as is the noun tediosity.ETD tedium (n.).3

    tee (n.)

    1610s, "the name of the letter T."ETD tee (n.).2

    In golf (by 1721) it is back-formation from teaz (1673), taken as a plural; a Scottish word of uncertain origin. The original form was a little heap of sand. The tee that means "mark toward which balls, stones, etc. are aimed" in various games is attested by 1789, sometimes said to be ultimately from Old Norse but OED (1989) finds the connection "untenable."ETD tee (n.).3

    The verb meaning "place a ball on a golf tee" is recorded from 1670s; figurative sense of "make ready" (usually with up (adv.)) is recorded from 1938. Tee-off (n.) "start of play in golf" is attested by 1952. Teed off in the figurative sense of "angry, annoyed" is first recorded 1953, probably more or less a euphemism for p(iss)ed off.ETD tee (n.).4


    imitative of derisive tittering laughter at least since Chaucer ("Miller's Tale"). Teheing (n.) "foolish laughter, giggling" is attested from c. 1300.ETD tee-hee.2

    teeming (adj.)

    "swarming," 1715, earlier "prolific, abundantly productive, fertile" (1590s), present-participle adjective from teem (v.1).ETD teeming (adj.).2

    teem (v.1)

    [abound, swarm] Middle English tēmen "produce offspring, breed," from Old English teman (Mercian), tieman (West Saxon) "beget, give birth to, bring forth, produce, propagate," from Proto-Germanic *tau(h)mjan (denominative), from PIE root *deuk- "to lead."ETD teem (v.1).2

    It is the corresponding verb to team (n.) in that word's now-obsolete sense of "family, brood of young animals." The meaning "abound, swarm" is attested by 1590s, on the notion of "be full of as if ready to give birth," and in this sense it is probably influenced by or confused with teem (v.2). Related: Teemed; teeming.ETD teem (v.1).3

    teem (v.2)

    [flow copiously] early 14c., temen, "empty out" a body of water (transitive), from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse toema "to empty," from tomr "empty," cognate with Old English tom (adj.) "empty, free from." The original notion is "empty a vessel," thus "pour out, spill" (early 15c.). The intransitive sense of "to pour, flow, stream" is attested by 1828. Related: Teemed; teeming.ETD teem (v.2).2

    teens (n.)

    1670s, "teen-age years of a person," from -teen taken as a separate word. As "numbers whose names end in -teen" by 1885, especially in reference to years of age; as "decade of years comprising numbers ending in -teen," by 1889.ETD teens (n.).2


    word-forming element making cardinal numbers from 13 to 19, meaning "ten more than," from Old English -tene, -tiene, from Proto-Germanic *tekhuniz (cognates: Old Saxon -tein, Dutch -tien, Old High German -zehan, German -zehn, Gothic -taihun), an inflected form of the root of ten; cognate with Latin -decim (source of Italian -dici, Spanish -ce, French -ze).ETD -teen.2

    teen (n.1)

    "teen-aged person," 1818 (but rare before 20c.), from -teen. Probably later felt as short for teenager, which is a later word. As an adjective meaning "of or for teenagers," from 1947.ETD teen (n.1).2

    teen (n.2)

    "grief, sorrow, trouble, harm inflicted," now obsolete, Middle English tene, from Old English teona. Also "irritation, vexation." As a verb, "to afflict," from Old English teonian.ETD teen (n.2).2

    teenage (adj.)

    also teen age, teen-age; "in or including the teen years," 1911, from teen (n.1) + age (n.). Originally in reference to Sunday School classes. The form teen-aged (adj.) is from 1922.ETD teenage (adj.).2

    teenager (n.)

    also teen ager, teen-ager; 1922, derived noun from teenage (adj.). The earlier word for this was teener, attested in American English from 1894, and teen (n.1) had been used as a noun to mean "teen-aged person" in 1818, though this was not common before 20c.ETD teenager (n.).2

    teeny (adj.)

    "very small," 1825, an alteration of tiny (adj.); expanded form teeny-tiny is attested from 1867. Alternative form teensy is attested from 1856 (teensy-weensy is from 1872). Also teenty (1844).ETD teeny (adj.).2


    word-forming element making ordinal numbers from 13 to 19, from -teen + -th (1), displacing Old English -teoða, -teoðe (West Saxon), related to teogoða (Anglian) "tenth."ETD -teenth.2

    teeny-bopper (n.)

    also teenybopper, "teenage or pre-teen girl," especially as a fan of pop music, 1966, from teen (n.) but also felt as influenced by teeny. For second element, see bop (v.).ETD teeny-bopper (n.).2

    teeter (v.)

    1843, "move up and down in see-saw fashion;" 1844, "move unsteadily, sway from side to side, be on the edge of imbalance;" an alteration of titter "move unsteadily," which is probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse titra "to shake, shiver, totter, tremble," from Proto-Germanic *ti-tra- (source also of German zittern "to tremble"). Related: Teetered; teetering. Used with brink (n.) from 1937. Teeter-tail (1889) was an old name for the sandpiper.ETD teeter (v.).2

    teeter-totter (n.)

    "a see-saw," 1871, from teeter (v.); earlier simply teeter (1855), and titter-totter in same sense is attested from 1520s. The modern word is perhaps a reduplication, but totter (n.) "board swing" is recorded from late 14c.; see totter (v.). Also compare see-saw.ETD teeter-totter (n.).2

    teeth (n.)

    plural of tooth (n.). In reference to laws, contracts, etc., "power of enforcement," from 1925. To be armed to the teeth is from late 14c.ETD teeth (n.).2

    teethe (v.)

    "cut teeth, grow teeth," early 15c., tethen, probably from an unrecorded Old English verb *teþan, from toþ "tooth" (from PIE root *dent- "tooth"). Related: Teethed; teething.ETD teethe (v.).2

    teething (n.)

    "dentition, the growth of teeth," 1724, verbal noun from teethe (v.). Teething-ring is attested from 1853.ETD teething (n.).2

    teetotal (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or involving total abstinence from intoxicating drink," 1834, a colloquial word, perhaps from total (adj.) with a reduplication of the initial T- for emphasis ("trouble with a capital T"). T-totally as an emphatic form of "totally," though not in an abstinence sense, is recorded in 1832 in a representation of U.S. Western big talk (Kentucky), and it may be older in representations of Irish English (teetotaciously, 1832). Also compare teetotum.ETD teetotal (adj.).2

    The use in temperance jargon was noted by September 1833 in reports of a speech advocating total abstinence (from beer as well as wine and liquor) by Richard "Dicky" Turner, a working-man from Preston, England. The term is also said to have been introduced in 1827 in a New York temperance society which recorded a T after the signature of those who had pledged total abstinence, but contemporary evidence for this is wanting. Century Dictionary allows that "the word may have originated independently in the two countries," OED (1989) favors the British origin and notes that Webster (1847) calls teetotaler "a cant word formed in England."ETD teetotal (adj.).3

    As a verb, "practice or advocate total abstinence from intoxicating drink," by 1839. Related: Teetotalism (1834); teetotalish (1838).ETD teetotal (adj.).4

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