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    thrust (n.) — tile (n.)

    thrust (n.)

    1510s, "act of pressing," from thrust (v.). Meaning "act of thrusting" (in the modern sense) is from 1580s. Meaning "propulsive force" is from 1708. Figurative sense of "principal theme, aim, point, purpose" is recorded from 1968.ETD thrust (n.).2

    thrust (v.)

    late 12c., from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse þrysta "to thrust, force, press," from Proto-Germanic *thrustijanan, perhaps from PIE *treud- "push, press" (see threat), but OED finds this derivation doubtful. Related: Thrusting.ETD thrust (v.).2

    thruster (n.)

    type of rocket engine, 1962, agent noun; see thrust (n.).ETD thruster (n.).2

    thus (adv.)

    Old English þus "in this way, as follows," related to þæt "that" and this; from Proto-Germanic *thus- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian thus, Middle Dutch and Dutch dus), from PIE *to-.ETD thus (adv.).2

    thud (v.)

    Old English þyddan "to strike, stab, thrust, press," of imitative origin. Sense of "hit with a dull sound" first recorded 1796. Related: Thudded; thudding. The noun is attested from 1510s as "blast of wind;" 1530s as "loud sound."ETD thud (v.).2

    thug (n.)

    1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover."ETD thug (n.).2

    The more correct Indian name is phanseegur (from phansi "noose"), and the activity was described in English as far back as c. 1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence by century's end. Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat, violent lowbrow" is from 1839.ETD thug (n.).3

    thuggery (n.)

    1839, from thug + -ery. Also thugee, from the native Hindi name for the system of religious assassination practiced by the thugs.ETD thuggery (n.).2

    thuggish (adj.)

    "ruffianly, brutal and forceful," 1870, from thug + -ish. Related: Thuggishly; thuggishness.ETD thuggish (adj.).2


    region or island at northernmost part of the world, Old English, from Latin, from Greek Thyle "land six days' sail north of Britain" (Strabo, quoting a lost portion of a work by Polybius, itself based on a lost account of a voyage to the north by 4c. B.C.E. geographer Pytheas). The identity of the place and the source of the name have sparked much speculation; Polybius doubted the whole thing, and since Roman times the name has been used in a transferred sense of "extreme limits of travel" (Ultima Thule).ETD Thule.2

    The name was given to a trading post in Greenland in 1910, site of a U.S. air base in World War II.ETD Thule.3

    thulium (n.)

    1879, Modern Latin, from thulia (thulite), name of an earth found in Scandinavia, from which the element was identified in 1879 by Swedish geologist Per Tedor Cleve (1840-1905), from Thule, which sometimes was identified as Scandinavia. With metallic element ending -ium.ETD thulium (n.).2

    thumb (n.)

    Old English þuma, from Proto-Germanic *thūman- (source also of Old Frisian thuma, Old Saxon, Old High German thumo, German Daumen, Dutch duim "thumb," Old Norse þumall "thumb of a glove"), literally "the stout or thick (finger)," from PIE *tum- "swell," from root *teue- "to swell." Unetymological spelling with -b (attested from late 13c.) is perhaps by influence of dumb; also compare limb (n.1).ETD thumb (n.).2

    Compare Greek megas daktylos "thumb," but Greek also had antikheir, literally "what is opposite the fingers." Italian pollice, French pouce are from Latin pollex, perhaps formed (on analogy of index) from pollere "to be strong."ETD thumb (n.).3

    Phrase rule of thumb attested by 1680s (the thumb as a rough measure of an inch is attested from c. 1500). To be under (someone's) thumb "be totally controlled by that person" is recorded from 1580s.ETD thumb (n.).4

    Thumbs up (1887) and thumbs down (1906) were said to be from expressions of approval or the opposite in ancient amphitheaters, especially gladiator shows, where the gesture decided whether a defeated combatant was spared or slain. But the Roman gesture was merely one of hiding the thumb in the hand or extending it. Perhaps the modern gesture is from the usual coachmen's way of greeting while the hands are occupied with the reins.ETD thumb (n.).5

    thumb (v.)

    "to go through" (especially of printed material), 1930, from thumb (n.), though the related sense of "soil or wear by handling" dates from 1640s. Earlier as a verb it meant "to play (a musical instrument) with the thumb" (1590s). Meaning "to hitchhike" is 1939; originally the thumb pointed in the direction one wished to travel. Related: Thumbed; thumbing. To thumb (one's) nose as an expression of derision is recorded from 1903.ETD thumb (v.).2

    thumbnail (n.)

    c. 1600, from thumb (n.) + nail (n.). Meaning "drawing or sketch of a small size" (though usually not literally the size of a thumbnail) is from 1852.ETD thumbnail (n.).2

    thumbtack (n.)

    tack with a broad, flat head which may be driven by pressure from the thumb, 1884, from thumb (n.) + tack (n.1).ETD thumbtack (n.).2

    thump (v.)

    1530s, "to strike hard," probably imitative of the sound made by hitting with a heavy object (compare East Frisian dump "a knock," Swedish dialectal dumpa "to make a noise"). Related: Thumped; thumping.ETD thump (v.).2

    thump (n.)

    1550s, "dull, heavy sound," from thump (v.). As "a hard blow" from 1620s.ETD thump (n.).2

    thumping (adj.)

    "exceptionally large," colloquial, 1570s, present-participle adjective from thump (v.).ETD thumping (adj.).2

    thunderous (adj.)

    1580s, from thunder (n.) + -ous. Related: Thunderously.ETD thunderous (adj.).2

    thunder (v.)

    13c., from Old English þunrian, from the source of thunder (n.). Figurative sense of "to speak loudly, threateningly, or bombastically" is recorded from mid-14c. Related: Thundered; thundering. Compare Dutch donderen, German donnern.ETD thunder (v.).2

    thunder (n.)

    mid-13c., from Old English þunor "thunder, thunderclap; the god Thor," from Proto-Germanic *thunraz (source also of Old Norse þorr, Old Frisian thuner, Middle Dutch donre, Dutch donder, Old High German donar, German Donner "thunder"), from PIE *(s)tene- "to resound, thunder" (source also of Sanskrit tanayitnuh "thundering," Persian tundar "thunder," Latin tonare "to thunder"). Swedish tordön is literally "Thor's din." The unetymological -d- also is found in Dutch and Icelandic versions of the word (see D). Thunder-stick, imagined word used by primitive peoples for "gun," attested from 1904.ETD thunder (n.).2

    thunderbird (n.)

    legendary cause of thunder in many Native American cultures, 1848, a translation of native words, such as Ojibwa (Algonquian) aninikii, Lakotah (Siouan) wakiya, Klamath /lmelmnis/. See thunder (n.) + bird (n.1). In Lakhota, "the thunderbirds call" is "the usual expression for thunder" [Bright].ETD thunderbird (n.).2

    thunderbolt (n.)

    mid-15c., from thunder (n.) + bolt (n.) "arrow, projectile."ETD thunderbolt (n.).2

    thunderclap (n.)

    also thunder-clap, late 14c., from thunder (n.) + clap (n.1).ETD thunderclap (n.).2

    thunderhead (n.)

    "high-piled cumulus cloud," one likely to develop into a thunderstorm, 1861, from thunder (n.) + head (n.).ETD thunderhead (n.).2

    thunderstorm (n.)

    also thunder-storm, 1560s, from thunder (n.) + storm (n.).ETD thunderstorm (n.).2

    thunderstruck (adj.)

    1610s, from thunder (n.) + struck. Originally figurative; the literal sense (1630s) always has been rare. Thunder-strike (v.), is a back-formation.ETD thunderstruck (adj.).2

    thunk (n.)

    sound of impact, attested from 1952, echoic.ETD thunk (n.).2

    thunk (v.)

    dialectal or jocular past tense or past participle of think, by 1876. Not historical, but by analogy of drink/drunk, sink/sunk, etc.ETD thunk (v.).2


    region in Germany, German Thüringen, named for the ancient Thoringi people.ETD Thuringia.2

    Thursday (n.)

    fifth day of the week, Old English þurresdæg, a contraction (perhaps influenced by Old Norse þorsdagr) of þunresdæg, literally "Thor's day," from Þunre, genitive of Þunor "Thor" (see thunder (n.)); from Proto-Germanic *thonaras daga (source also of Old Frisian thunresdei, Middle Dutch donresdach, Dutch donderdag, Old High German Donares tag, German Donnerstag, Danish and Swedish Torsdag "Thursday"), a loan-translation of Latin Jovis dies "day of Jupiter."ETD Thursday (n.).2

    Roman Jupiter was identified with the Germanic Thor. The Latin word is the source of Italian giovedi, Old French juesdi, French jeudi, Spanish jueves, and is itself a loan-translation of Greek dios hēmera "the day of Zeus."ETD Thursday (n.).3

    thusly (adv.)

    1865 (in an Artemus Ward dialect humor piece), from thus + -ly (2). A double adverb. Perhaps originally a humorous or mocking over-correction of thus; it has gained some currency but earns frowns for the user.ETD thusly (adv.).2

    thwack (v.)

    "to hit hard with a stick," 1520s, of echoic origin. Related: Thwacked; thwacking. The noun is recorded from 1580s.ETD thwack (v.).2

    thwaite (n.)

    "cleared land," 1620s, from Old Norse or Old Danish þveit "a clearing, meadow, paddock," literally "a cutting, cut-piece" (related to Old English þwitan "to cut, cut off;" see whittle). Always a rare word and now obsolete, but frequently encountered in place names, but "It is unclear whether the base meaning was 'something cut off, detached piece of land,' or 'something cut down, felled tree' ..." [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names].ETD thwaite (n.).2

    thwart (adv.)

    c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source, probably Old Norse þvert "across," originally neuter of thverr (adj.) "transverse, across," cognate with Old English þweorh "transverse, perverse, angry, cross," from Proto-Germanic *thwerh- "twisted, oblique" (source also of Middle Dutch dwers, Dutch dwars "cross-grained, contrary," Old High German twerh, German quer, Gothic þwairhs "angry"), altered (by influence of *thwer- "to turn") from *therkh-, from PIE root *terkw- "to twist." From mid-13c. as an adjective.ETD thwart (adv.).2

    thwart (v.)

    "oppose, hinder," mid-13c., from thwart (adv.). Related: Thwarted; thwarting.ETD thwart (v.).2

    thy (pron.)

    possessive pronoun of 2nd person singular, late 12c., reduced form of þin (see thine), until 15c. used only before consonants except -h-. Compare my/mine, a/an.ETD thy (pron.).2

    thyme (n.)

    plant of the mint family, late 14c., from Old French thym, tym (13c.) and directly from Latin thymum, from Greek thymon, which had been derived from PIE root *dheu- (1), base of words meaning "smoke," for its scent or from being burned as a sacrifice, but Beekes finds this "doubtful" and suggests that "As a local plant name, the word is liable to be of Pre-Greek origin." Related: Thymic.ETD thyme (n.).2

    thymine (n.)

    nitrogenous base, 1894, from German (Kossel and Neumann, 1893), from thymic acid, from which it was isolated, the acid so called because obtained from the thymus gland. With chemical suffix -ine (2).ETD thymine (n.).2

    thymus (n.)

    gland near the base of the neck, 1690s, Modern Latin, from Greek thymos "a warty excrescence," used of the gland by Galen, literally "thyme," probably so called because of a fancied resemblance to a bud of thyme (see thyme). Related: Thymic.ETD thymus (n.).2

    thyroid (adj.)

    1690s (in reference to both the cartilage and the gland), from Greek thyreoeides "shield-shaped" (in khondros thyreoeides "shield-shaped cartilage," used by Galen to describe the "Adam's apple" in the throat), from thyreos "oblong, door-shaped shield" (from thyra "door," from PIE root *dhwer- "door, doorway") + -eides "form, shape" (see -oid). The noun, short for thyroid gland, is recorded from 1849.ETD thyroid (adj.).2

    thyroxine (n.)

    active principle of the thyroid gland, 1915, from thyro-, combining form of thyroid, + oxy- (apparently a reference to the oxygen atom present in it, but OED has it as a shortening of oxy-indol) + chemical suffix -ine (2), denoting an amino acid.ETD thyroxine (n.).2

    thyrsus (n.)

    1590s, from Latinized form of Greek thyrsos, literally "stalk or stem of a plant," a non-Greek word of unknown origin. The staff or spear, tipped with an ornament like a pine cone and sometimes wreathed in ivy and vine branches, borne by Dionysus and his votaries.ETD thyrsus (n.).2

    thyself (pron.)

    Middle English þi-self, from Old English þe self; see thy + self. One word from 16c. A pronoun used reflexively for emphasis after (or in place of) thou.ETD thyself (pron.).2


    seventh note of the musical scale, 1842, earlier te (1839), replacing si to avoid confusion with so, sol (see gamut).ETD ti.2


    mid-15c., contraction of it is.ETD 'tis.2

    Tia Maria (n.)

    coffee-flavored, rum-based liqueur, originally made in the West Indies, 1948, Spanish, literally "Aunt Mary."ETD Tia Maria (n.).2

    tiara (n.)

    1550s, "headdress of the Persian kings" (also worn by men of rank), from Latin tiara, from Greek tiara, of unknown origin. Earlier in Englished form tiar (1510s). As a richly jeweled headband in Western wear, 1650s (tiar; 1718 as tiara). Related: Tiaraed.ETD tiara (n.).2


    1530s, typical name for an English woman of the lower class, hence "girl, lass, sweetheart," sometimes also "strumpet," from the pet form of Isabel. Often paired with Tom, as Jill was with Jack. Colloquial St. Tibb's Eve (1785) was the evening of the last day, the Day of Judgment, hence "never."ETD Tib.2


    river through Rome, likely from Celtic dubro "river" (compare Dover). Related: Tiburtine.ETD Tiber.2


    name of the cat in "Reynard the Fox" (late 15c.), hence used as a proper name for any cat, from Flemish and Dutch Tybert, Old French Tibert. Identified with masc. proper name Tibalt, which is from Old French Thibauld, from Germanic *Theobald (see Theobald).ETD Tibert.2


    said to be a corruption in Chinese or Arabic of Bod, indigenous name, of unknown origin. As an adjective in English, Tibetian is older (1747) but Tibetan (1822) is now the usual word. With combining form Tibeto-.ETD Tibet.2

    tibia (n.)

    lower leg bone, 1726, from Latin tibia "shinbone," also "pipe, flute" (originally one of bone), in which sense it originally came into English (1540s). Of unknown origin. The Latin plural is tibiæ. Related: Tibial.ETD tibia (n.).2

    tic (n.)

    twitching of a facial muscle, 1822, often a shortening of tic douloureux "severe facial neuralgia," literally "painful twitch" (1798), from French tic "a twitching disease of horses" (17c.), of unknown origin. Klein suggests an imitative origin; Diez compare it to Italian ticchio "whim, caprice, ridiculous habit," itself of unknown origin.ETD tic (n.).2

    tic douloureux (n.)

    1798, French, literally "painful twitching;" see tic.ETD tic douloureux (n.).2

    tick (n.3)

    "credit," 1640s, shortening of ticket (n.).ETD tick (n.3).2

    tick (n.1)

    parasitic blood-sucking arachnid animal, Old English ticia, from West Germanic *tik- (source also of Middle Dutch teke, Dutch teek, Old High German zecho, German Zecke "tick"), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE *deigh- "insect." French tique (mid-15c.), Italian zecca are Germanic loan-words.ETD tick (n.1).2

    ticking (n.)

    "cloth covering (usually of strong cotton or linen) for mattresses or pillows," 1640s, from tyke (modern tick) with the same meaning (mid-14c.), probably from Middle Dutch tike, from a West Germanic borrowing of Latin theca "case," from Greek thēkē "a case, box, cover, sheath," from suffixed form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put."ETD ticking (n.).2

    tick (v.)

    early 13c., "to touch or pat," perhaps from an Old English verb corresponding to tick (n.2), and perhaps ultimately echoic. Compare Old High German zeckon "to pluck," Dutch tikken "to pat," Norwegian tikke "touch lightly." Meaning "make a ticking sound" is from 1721. Related: Ticked; ticking.ETD tick (v.).2

    To tick (someone) off is from 1915, originally "to reprimand, scold." The verbal phrase tick off was in use in several senses at the time: as what a telegraph instrument does when it types out a message (1873), as what a clock does in marking the passage of time (1777), to enumerate on one's fingers (1899), and in accountancy, etc., "make a mark beside an item on a sheet with a pencil, etc.," often indicating a sale (by 1881, from tick (n.2) in sense "small mark or dot"). This last might be the direct source of the phrase, perhaps via World War I military bureaucratic sense of being marked off from a list as "dismissed" or "ineligible." Meaning "to annoy" is recorded by 1971.ETD tick (v.).3

    tick (n.2)

    by mid-15c., "light touch or tap," probably from tick (v.); compare Dutch tik, Middle High German zic; all are perhaps echoic. The meaning "sound made by a clock" is probably attested by 1540s; tick-tock as the sound of a clock is recorded from 1845.ETD tick (n.2).2

    ticker (n.)

    1821, "something that ticks," agent noun from tick (v.); slang meaning "heart" first recorded 1930. Ticker tape (1891) is from ticker "telegraphic device for recording stock market quotations, etc." (1883).ETD ticker (n.).2

    ticket (v.)

    1610s, "attach a ticket to, put a label on," from ticket (n.). Meaning "issue a (parking) ticket to" is from 1955. Related: Ticketed; ticketing.ETD ticket (v.).2

    ticket (n.)

    1520s, "short note or document," from a shortened form of French etiquet "label, note," from Old French estiquette "a little note" (late 14c.), especially one affixed to a gate or wall as a public notice, literally "something stuck (up or on)," from estiquer "to affix, stick on, attach," from Frankish *stikkan, cognate with Old English stician "to pierce," from Proto-Germanic *stikken "to be stuck," stative form from PIE *steig- "to stick; pointed" (see stick (v.)).ETD ticket (n.).2

    Meaning "card or piece of paper that gives its holder a right or privilege" is first recorded 1670s, probably developing from the sense of "certificate, licence, permit." The political sense of "list of candidates put forward by a faction" has been used in American English since 1711. Meaning "official notification of offense" is from 1930. Big ticket item is from 1953. Slang the ticket "just the thing, what is expected" is recorded from 1838, perhaps with notion of a winning lottery ticket.ETD ticket (n.).3

    tickle (v.)

    c. 1300 (implied in tickling) "to touch lightly so as to cause a peculiar and uneasy or thrilling sensation in the nerves," of uncertain origin, possibly a frequentative form of tick (v.) in its older sense of "to touch." Some suggest a metathesis of Middle English kittle, which is from a shared Germanic word for "to tickle," but tickle is attested earlier. The Old English form was tinclian.ETD tickle (v.).2

    Meaning "to excite agreeably" (late 14c.) is a translation of Latin titillare. Meaning "to poke or touch so as to excite laughter" is from early 15c.; figurative sense of "to excite, amuse" is attested from 1680s. The noun is recorded from 1801. To tickle (one's) fancy is from 1640s. Related: Tickler.ETD tickle (v.).3

    tickled (adj.)

    "pleased, happy," 1580s, past-participle adjective from tickle (v.). To be tickled pink is from 1909.ETD tickled (adj.).2

    ticklish (adj.)

    1580s, "easy to upset," 1580s, a figurative use, from tickle + -ish. The literal sense of "easily tickled" is from 1590s, as is the other figurative sense, "difficult to do, dubious, requiring great care." An earlier word was tickly (1520s). Related: Ticklishly; ticklishness.ETD ticklish (adj.).2

    tick-tack-toe (n.)

    children's three-in-a-row game with Xs and Os, so called by 1892, earlier tit-tat-toe (by 1852, in reminiscences of earlier years), also called noughts and crosses (1852), also oughts and crosses. Probably from the sound of the pencil on the slate with which it originally was played by schoolboys.ETD tick-tack-toe (n.).2

    Also the name of a children's counting rhyme played on slate (also originally tit-tat-toe, by 1842), and compare tick-tack (1580s), a form of backgammon, possibly from French trictrac, perhaps imitative of the sound of tiles on the board.ETD tick-tack-toe (n.).3

    ticky-tacky (n.)

    "inferior, cheap material," 1962 (in song "Little Boxes" by U.S. political folk-singer Malvina Reynolds, 1900-1978), reduplication of tacky. As an adjective by 1967.ETD ticky-tacky (n.).2


    place in New York state, from Mohawk (Iroquoian) tekotaro:ke "branching (or confluence) of waters," with -otar- "large river, lake."ETD Ticonderoga.2

    tidal (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or cause by tides or a tide," 1807, a hybrid formation from tide (n.) + Latin-derived suffix -al (1). A tidal wave (1819) properly is high water caused by movements of the tides; its use for "great ocean inundation caused by an earthquake, etc." is recorded by 1868. This now tends to be called a tsunami.ETD tidal (adj.).2

    tidbit (n.)

    1630s, probably from dialectal tid "fond, solicitous, tender" (perhaps by influence of tit (n.2)) + bit (n.1) "morsel."ETD tidbit (n.).2

    tiddlywinks (n.)

    children's tile-flipping game, 1857, probably an arbitrary formation from baby talk, but perhaps from slang tiddly-wink "unlicensed drink shop" (1844), from slang tiddly "a drink, drunk."ETD tiddlywinks (n.).2

    tidings (n.)

    "announcement of an event," c. 1200, from late Old English tidung "event, occurrence, piece of news," verbal noun from Old English tidan "to happen," or in part from Old Norse tiðendi (plural) "events, news," from tiðr (adj.) "occurring," both from Proto-Germanic tīdōjanan, from PIE *di-ti- "division, division of time," suffixed form of root *da- "to divide." Similar formation in Norwegian tidende "tidings, news," Dutch tijding, German Zeitung "newspaper."ETD tidings (n.).2

    tide (v.)

    "to carry (as the tide does)," 1620s, from tide (n.). Usually with over. Earlier it meant "to happen" (Old English; see tidings). Related: Tided; tiding.ETD tide (v.).2

    tide (n.)

    Old English tīd "point or portion of time, due time, period, season; feast-day, canonical hour," from Proto-Germanic *tīdi- "division of time" (source also of Old Saxon tid, Dutch tijd, Old High German zit, German Zeit "time"), from PIE *di-ti- "division, division of time," suffixed form of root *da- "to divide."ETD tide (n.).2

    Meaning "rise and fall of the sea" (mid-14c.) probably is via notion of "fixed time," specifically "time of high water;" either a native evolution or from Middle Low German getide (compare Middle Dutch tijd, Dutch tij, German Gezeiten "flood tide, tide of the sea"). Old English seems to have had no specific word for this, using flod and ebba to refer to the rise and fall. Old English heahtid "high tide" meant "festival, high day."ETD tide (n.).3

    tidewater (n.)

    also tide-water, 1772, "water affected by the normal ebb and flow of the tide," from tide (n.) + water (n.1). In reference to the lowland regions of the Virginia shore of the western Chesapeake Bay, 1832.ETD tidewater (n.).2

    tidy (adj.)

    mid-13c., "in good condition, healthy," probably originally "in season, timely, opportune, excellent" (though this sense is not attested until mid-14c.), from tide (n.) in the sense of "season, time" + -y (2). Of persons, "of neat and orderly habits," from 1706. Similar formation in Old High German zitig, German zeitig, Dutch tijdig, Danish tidig "timely," Old English tidlic "temporal," also "timely, seasonable."ETD tidy (adj.).2

    tidy (v.)

    "to make neat, set in order," 1821, from tidy (adj.). Related: Tidied; tidying.ETD tidy (v.).2

    tie (v.)

    Old English tigan, tiegan "to tie, bind, join, connect," from the source of tie (n.). Meaning "to finish equal to a competitor" is from 1888. Related: Tied; tying. To tie the knot in the figurative sense "form a union" is from 1707. Tie one on "get drunk" is recorded from 1944.ETD tie (v.).2

    tie (n.)

    Old English teag, "cord, band, thong, fetter," literally "that with which anything is tied," from Proto-Germanic *taugo (source also of Old Norse taug "tie," tygill "string"), from PIE root *deuk- "to lead" (source also of Old English teon "to draw, pull, drag").ETD tie (n.).2

    Figurative sense is recorded from 1550s. Sense of "cravat, necktie" (usually a simple one knotted in front) first recorded 1761. The railway sense of "cross-beam between and beneath rails to keep them in place" is from 1857, American English. Meaning "equality between competitors" is first found 1670s, from notion of a connecting link. Tie-breaker is recorded from 1938. The figurative old school tie (1938) in its literal sense was a necktie of a characteristic pattern worn by former students of a particular English school.ETD tie (n.).3

    tie-dye (v.)

    1904, from tie (v.) + dye (v.) in reference to the method. Related: Tie-dyed.ETD tie-dye (v.).2

    tie-in (n.)

    "connection," 1934, from verbal phrase (attested by 1793), from tie (v.) + in (adv.).ETD tie-in (n.).2

    tier (n.)

    "row, rank, range," mid-15c., from Old French tire (13c.) "rank, sequence, order, kind," also "likeness, image; state, condition," probably from tirer "to draw, draw out" (see tirade).ETD tier (n.).2

    tierce (n.)

    old unit of liquid measure equal to one-third of a pipe (42 gallons), 1530s, from Anglo-French ters, Old French tierce (11c.). used in the sense "one-third" in various ways, from Latin tertia, fem. of tertius "a third," from PIE *tri-tyo-, from root *trei- (see three).ETD tierce (n.).2

    Terce, tierce also was used in Middle English for "a third part" (late 15c.); "the third hour of the canonical day" (ending at 9 a.m.), late 14c.; and, in astronomy and geometry, "sixtieth part of a second of an arc."ETD tierce (n.).3

    tiff (n.)

    1727, "outburst of temper," later "petty quarrel" (1754), of uncertain origin; OED suggests imitative, "from the sound of a slight puff of air or gas."ETD tiff (n.).2

    tiffany (n.)

    "type of thin, transparent fabric," c. 1600; earlier a common name for the festival of the Epiphany (early 14c.; in Anglo-French from late 13c.), from Old French Tifinie, Tiphanie "Epiphany" (c. 1200), from Late Latin Theophania "Theophany," another name for the Epiphany, from Greek theophania "the manifestation of a god" (see theophany).ETD tiffany (n.).2

    Also popular in Old French and Middle English as a name given to girls born on Epiphany Day. The fabric sense is found only in English and is of obscure origin and uncertain relation to the other meanings, unless "holiday silk" or as a fanciful or playful allusion to "manifestation:"ETD tiffany (n.).3

    The fashionable N.Y. jewelry firm Tiffany & Co. (1895) is named for its founder, goldsmith Charles L. Tiffany (1812-1902) and his son, Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933), who was the art nouveau decorator noted for his glassware. The surname is attested in English from 1206.ETD tiffany (n.).4

    tig (n.)

    child's game, 1816, earlier tick (1620s), variant of tag (n.2).ETD tig (n.).2

    tiger (n.)

    Old English tigras (plural), also in part from Old French tigre "tiger" (mid-12c.), both from Latin tigris "tiger," from Greek tigris, possibly from an Iranian source akin to Old Persian tigra- "sharp, pointed," Avestan tighri- "arrow," in reference to its springing on its prey, "but no application of either word, or any derivative, to the tiger is known in Zend." [OED]. Of tiger-like persons from c. 1500. The meaning "shriek or howl at the end of a cheer" is recorded from 1845, American English, and is variously explained. Tiger's-eye "yellowish-brown quartz" is recorded from 1886.ETD tiger (n.).2

    tight (adj.)

    c. 1400, tyght "dense, close, compact," from Middle English thight, from Old Norse þettr "watertight, close in texture, solid," and also from Old English -þiht (compare second element in meteþiht "stout from eating"), both from Proto-Germanic *thinhta- (source also of Middle High German dihte "dense, thick," German dicht "dense, tight," Old High German gidigan, German gediegen "genuine, solid, worthy"), from PIE root *tenk- (2) "to become firm, curdle, thicken" (source also of Irish techt "curdled, coagulated," Lithuanian tankus "close, tight," Persian tang "tight," Sanskrit tanakti "draws together, contracts").ETD tight (adj.).2

    Sense of "drawn, stretched" is from 1570s; meaning "fitting closely" (as of garments) is from 1779; that of "evenly matched" (of a contest, bargain, etc.) is from 1828, American English; that of "drunk" is from 1830. Of persons, "close, intimate, sympathetic" from 1956. From 1670s as an adverb; to sit tight is from 1738; sleep tight as a farewell in sending someone off to bed is by 1871. Related: Tightly; tightness. Tight-assed "unwilling to relax" is attested from 1903. Tight-laced is recorded from 1741 in both the literal and figurative senses. Tight-lipped is first attested 1872.ETD tight (adj.).3

    tights (n.)

    1827, "tight-fitting breeches," from tight. Meaning "skin-tights worn by dancers, acrobats, etc." is attested from 1836.ETD tights (n.).2

    tighten (v.)

    "to make tight," 1727; the earlier verb was simply tight, from Old English tyhtan, from the root of tight. Related: Tightened; tightening.ETD tighten (v.).2

    tightrope (n.)

    1801, from tight (adj.) + rope (n.). So called for being tensely stretched.ETD tightrope (n.).2

    tightwad (n.)

    "parsimonious person," 1900, from tight in the figurative sense of "close-fisted" (1805) + wad (n.). The notions of stringency and avarice also combine in Modern Greek sphiktos "greedy," literally "tight."ETD tightwad (n.).2

    tigress (n.)

    1610s, from tiger + -ess.ETD tigress (n.).2


    river in Turkey and Iraq, from an Iranian source akin to words for "arrow," probably in reference to the swiftness of its current. Compare Old Persian tigra- "sharp, pointed," Avestan tighri- "arrow."ETD Tigris.2


    from the name of a Diegueño (Yuman) village, written Tiajuan in 1829; deformed by folk-etymology association with Spanish Tia Juana "Aunt Jane."ETD Tijuana.2

    Tiki (n.)

    "large wooden image of the creator-ancestor of Maoris and Polynesians," 1777, from Eastern Polynesian tiki "image." Tiki torch is first recorded 1973.ETD Tiki (n.).2


    variant of till (prep.) or short for until.ETD til.2

    tilapia (n.)

    1849, formed in Modern Latin, perhaps from Greek tilon, name of a fish in Aristotle, + apios "distant."ETD tilapia (n.).2

    tilde (n.)

    1864, from Spanish, metathesis of Catalan title, from vernacular form of Medieval Latin titulus "stroke over an abridged word to indicate missing letters," a specialized sense of Latin titulus, literally "inscription, heading" (see title (n.)). The mark itself represents an -n- and was used in Medieval Latin manuscripts in an abridged word over a preceding letter to indicate a missing -n- and save space.ETD tilde (n.).2

    tile (v.)

    "to cover with tiles," late 14c., from tile (n.). Related: Tiled; tiling.ETD tile (v.).2

    tile (n.)

    early 14c., from Old English tigele "roofing shingle," from Proto-Germanic *tegala (Old Saxon tiegla, Old High German ziagal, German ziegel, Dutch tegel, Old Norse tigl), a borrowing from Latin tegula "roof-tile" (source also of Italian tegola, French tuile), from tegere "to roof, to cover," from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover." Also used in Old English and early Middle English for "brick," before that word came into use.ETD tile (n.).2

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