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    tollbooth (n.) — topos (n.)

    tollbooth (n.)

    early 14c., originally a tax collector's booth, from toll (n.) + booth.ETD tollbooth (n.).2

    Toltec (adj.)

    1787, in reference to an ancient people of Mexico, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) tolteca, literally "people of the tules" (cat-tail reeds).ETD Toltec (adj.).2

    toluene (n.)

    colorless liquid hydrocarbon, 1855, from German toluin (Berzelius, 1842), from Tolu, place in Colombia (now Santiago de Tolu) from which "balsam of Tolu" was obtained from the bark of certain trees, which were known in Europe by the name of the port. The chemical so called because it was first distilled (1841) from balsam of Tolu. The place name is of unknown origin.ETD toluene (n.).2


    familiar shortening of masc. proper name Thomas, used by late 14c. as a type of a nickname for a common man (as in Tom, Dick, and Harry, 1734). Applied 17c. as a nickname for several exceptionally large bells. Short for Uncle Tom in the sense of "black man regarded as too servile to whites" is recorded from 1959.ETD Tom.2

    Tom Walker, U.S. Southern colloquial for "the devil" is recorded from 1833. Tom and Jerry is first attested 1828 and later used in many extended senses, originally were the names of the two chief characters (Corinthian Tom and Jerry Hawthorn) in Pierce Egan's "Life in London" (1821); the U.S. cat and mouse cartoon characters debuted 1940 in "Puss Gets the Boot." Tom Thumb (1570s) was a miniature man in popular tradition before P.T. Barnum took the name for a dwarf he exhibited. Tom-tit "titmouse" is from 1709. Compare tomcat.ETD Tom.3

    tomahawk (n.)

    1610s, tamahaac, from Virginia Algonquian (probably Powhatan) tamahaac "a hatchet, what is used in cutting," from tamaham "he cuts." Cognate with Mohegan tummahegan, Delaware tamoihecan, Micmac tumeegun.ETD tomahawk (n.).2

    tomato (n.)

    1753, earlier tomate (c. 1600), from Spanish tomate (mid-16c.) from Nahuatl (Aztecan) tomatl "a tomato," said to mean literally "the swelling fruit," from tomana "to swell." Spelling probably influenced by potato (1565). Slang meaning "an attractive girl" is recorded from 1929, on notion of juicy plumpness.ETD tomato (n.).2

    A member of the nightshade family, all of which contain poisonous alkaloids. Introduced in Europe from the New World, by 1550 they regularly were consumed in Italy but grown only as ornamental plants in England and not eaten there or in the U.S. at first. An encyclopedia of 1753 describes it as "a fruit eaten either stewed or raw by the Spaniards and Italians and by the Jew families of England." Introduced in U.S. 1789 as part of a program by then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, but not commonly eaten until after c. 1830.ETD tomato (n.).3

    The older English name for it, and the usual one before mid-18c., was love-apple.ETD tomato (n.).4

    tomb (n.)

    c. 1200, tumbe, early 14c. tomb, from Anglo-French tumbe and directly from Old French tombe "tomb, monument, tombstone" (12c.), from Late Latin tumba (also source of Italian tomba, Spanish tumba), from Greek tymbos "mound, burial mound," generally "grave, tomb."ETD tomb (n.).2

    Watkins suggests it is perhaps from PIE root *teue- "to swell," but Beekes writes that it is probably a Pre-Greek (non-IE) word. He writes that Latin tumulus "earth-hill" and Armenian t'umb "landfill, earthen wall" "may contain the same Pre-Greek/Mediterranean word," and suggests further connections to Middle Irish tomm "small hill," Middle Welsh tom "dung, mound."ETD tomb (n.).3

    The final -b began to be silent about the time of the spelling shift (compare lamb, dumb). Modern French tombeau is from Vulgar Latin diminutive *tumbellus. The Tombs, slang for "New York City prison" is recorded from 1840.ETD tomb (n.).4

    tomboy (n.)

    1550s, "rude, boisterous boy," from Tom + boy; the meaning "wild, romping girl, girl who acts like a spirited boy" is attested from 1590s. It also could mean "strumpet, bold or immodest woman" (1570s). Compare tomrig "rude, wild girl." Related: Tomboyish.ETD tomboy (n.).2

    tombola (n.)

    Italian lotto-style lottery, 1880, from Italian tombola, apparently from tombolare "to tumble, fall upside down," from a Germanic source (see tumble (v.)).ETD tombola (n.).2

    tombolo (n.)

    sand-bar joining an island to the mainland, 1899, from Italian tombolo "sand dune," from Latin tumulus "hillock, mound, heap of earth" (see tomb).ETD tombolo (n.).2

    tombstone (n.)

    1560s, originally the flat stone atop a grave (or the lid of a stone coffin); from tomb + stone (n.). Meaning "gravestone, headstone" is attested from 1711. The city in Arizona, U.S., said to have been named by prospector Ed Schieffelin, who found silver there in 1877 after being told all he would find there was his tombstone.ETD tombstone (n.).2

    tomcat (n.)

    also tom-cat, 1809, from Tom + cat (n.); probably influenced by Tom the Cat in the popular children's book "The Life and Adventures of a Cat" (1760). It replaced earlier Gib-cat (see Gib), from the familiar shortening of Gilbert, though Tom was applied to male kittens c. 1300. The name also has been used of the males of other beasts and birds since at least 1791 (such as tom-turkey, by 1846). Also see Tibert. The verb meaning "to pursue women promiscuously for sexual gratification" is recorded from 1927. Related: Tom-catting.ETD tomcat (n.).2

    tome (n.)

    1510s, "a single volume of a multi-volume work," from French tome (16c.) or directly from Latin tomus "section of a book, tome," from Greek tomos "volume, section of a book," originally "a section, piece cut off," from temnein "to cut," from PIE root *tem- "to cut." Sense of "a large book" is attested from 1570s.ETD tome (n.).2

    tom-fool (n.)

    also tom-fool, "buffoon, clown," 1640s, from Middle English Thom Foole, personification of a mentally deficient man (mid-14c.), see Tom + fool (n.).ETD tom-fool (n.).2

    tomfoolery (n.)

    "foolish trifling," 1812, from tom-fool + -ery.ETD tomfoolery (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "a cutting" (especially a surgical incision or removal), from Greek -tomia "a cutting of," from tome "a cutting, section" (from PIE root *tem- "to cut").ETD -tomy.2


    "British soldier," 1884, from Thomas Atkins, since 1815 the typical sample name for filling in army forms. Tommy gun (1929) is short for Thompson gun (see Thompson). Soon extended to other types of sub-machine gun, especially those favored by the mob.ETD Tommy.2


    1884, from tommy in sense of "a simpleton" (1829), diminutive of Tom (as in tom-fool) + rot (n.).ETD tommyrot.2

    tomography (n.)

    1935, from Greek tomos "slice, section" (see tome) + -graphy.ETD tomography (n.).2

    tomorrow (adv.)

    mid-13c., to morewe, from Old English to morgenne "on (the) morrow," from to "at, on" (see to) + morgenne, dative of morgen "morning" (see morn, also morrow). As a noun from late 14c. Written as two words until 16c., then as to-morrow until early 20c.ETD tomorrow (adv.).2

    tom-tom (n.)

    1690s, "drum" (originally used in India), from Hindi tam-tam, probably of imitative origin (compare Sinhalese tamat tama and Malay tong-tong). Related: Tom-toms.ETD tom-tom (n.).2

    ton (n.2)

    "prevailing mode, style, fashionable ways," 1769, from French ton (see tone (n.)).ETD ton (n.2).2

    ton (n.1)

    "measure of weight," late 14c. The quantity necessary to fill a tun or cask of wine, thus identical to tun (q.v.). The spelling difference became firmly established 18c. Ton of bricks in the colloquial figurative sense of what you come down on someone like is from 1884.ETD ton (n.1).2

    tonal (adj.)

    1776; from tone (n.) in the musical sense + -al (1), or from Medieval Latin tonalis.ETD tonal (adj.).2

    tonality (n.)

    1824, from tonal + -ity.ETD tonality (n.).2

    tone (n.)

    mid-14c., "musical sound or note," from Old French ton "musical sound, speech, words" (13c.) and directly from Latin tonus "a sound, tone, accent," literally "stretching" (in Medieval Latin, a term peculiar to music), from Greek tonos "vocal pitch, raising of voice, accent, key in music," originally "a stretching, tightening, taut string," which is related to teinein "to stretch" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").ETD tone (n.).2

    The sense of "manner of speaking" is from c. 1600. In reference to firmness of body, from 1660s. As "prevailing state of manners" from 1735; as "style in speaking or writing which reveals attitude" from 1765. Tone-deaf is by 1880; tone-poem by 1845.ETD tone (n.).3

    tone (v.)

    "to impart tone to," 1811, from tone (n.). Related: Toned; toning. To tone (something) down originally was in painting (1831); general sense of "reduce, moderate" is by 1847.ETD tone (v.).2

    toner (n.)

    1888, agent noun from tone (v.). As a photography chemical, from 1920; in xerography, from 1954.ETD toner (n.).2

    Tong (n.)

    "Chinese secret society," 1883, from Cantonese t'ong "assembly hall."ETD Tong (n.).2

    tongs (n.)

    Old English tange, tang "tongs, pincers, forceps, instrument for holding and lifting," from Proto-Germanic *tango (source also of Old Saxon tanga, Old Norse töng, Swedish tång, Old Frisian tange, Middle Dutch tanghe, Dutch tang, Old High German zanga, German Zange "tongs"), literally "that which bites," from PIE root *denk- "to bite" (source also of Sanskrit dasati "biter;" Greek daknein "to bite," dax "biting"). For sense evolution, compare French mordache "tongs," from mordre "to bite."ETD tongs (n.).2

    tongued (adj.)

    "speaking (in a certain manner)," late 14c., in compounds and combinations, from tongue (n.).ETD tongued (adj.).2

    tongue (n.)

    Old English tunge "tongue, organ of speech; speech, a people's language," from Proto-Germanic *tungō (source also of Old Saxon and Old Norse tunga, Old Frisian tunge, Middle Dutch tonghe, Dutch tong, Old High German zunga, German Zunge, Gothic tuggo), from PIE root *dnghu- "tongue."ETD tongue (n.).2

    For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. The spelling of the ending of the word apparently is a 14c. attempt to indicate proper pronunciation, but the result is "neither etymological nor phonetic, and is only in a very small degree historical" [OED]. In the "knowledge of a foreign language" sense in the Pentecostal miracle, from 1520s. Tongue-tied is first recorded 1520s. To hold (one's) tongue "refrain from speaking" was in Old English. Johnson has tonguepad "A great talker."ETD tongue (n.).3

    tongue (v.)

    "to touch with the tongue, lick," 1680s, from tongue (n.). Earlier as a verb it meant "drive out by order or reproach" (late 14c.). Related: Tongued; tonguing.ETD tongue (v.).2

    tongue-in-cheek (adv.)

    1856, from phrase to speak with one's tongue in one's cheek "to speak insincerely" (1748), suggestive of sly irony or humorous insincerity, perhaps a stage trick to convey irony to the audience.ETD tongue-in-cheek (adv.).2

    tongue-lash (v.)

    "scold, abuse with words," 1857, from tongue (n.) + lash (v.). Related: Tongue-lashing.ETD tongue-lash (v.).2

    tongueless (adj.)

    late 14c., "having no tongue;" early 15c. as "speechless, silent," from tongue (n.) + -less. Related: Tonguelessly; tonguelessness.ETD tongueless (adj.).2

    tongue-twister (n.)

    1875, in reference to an awkward sentence, 1892 of a deliberately difficult-to-say phrase, from tongue (n.) + agent noun from twist (v.). The first one called by the name is "Miss Smith's fish-sauce shop."ETD tongue-twister (n.).2

    tony (adj.)

    "of a high tone, affecting social elegance," 1877, American English slang, from tone (n.) + -y (2). It was the name of a reddish-brown fashion color in the 1920s.ETD tony (adj.).2


    1947, awards given by American Theatre Wing (New York), from nickname of U.S. actress, manager, and producer Antoinette Perry (1888-1946).ETD Tony.2

    Tony (1)

    masc. proper name, short for Anthony. Tony Curtis, style of men's haircut (usually with a D.A. at the back), is from 1956, from screen name of U.S. film star Bernard Schwarz (1925-2010).ETD Tony (1).2

    tonic (n.1)

    "a tonic medicine," 1799, from tonic (adj.). From 1873 (in gin and tonic) as short for tonic water (1861 as a commercial product, water infused with quinine), so called because held to aid digestion and stimulate appetite.ETD tonic (n.1).2

    tonic (n.2)

    in the musical sense, 1760, short for tonic note, from tone (n.) in the musical sense + -ic. Related: Tonicity.ETD tonic (n.2).2

    tonic (adj.)

    1640s, "relating to or characterized by muscular tension," from Greek tonikos "of stretching," from tonos "a stretching," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." The meaning "maintaining the healthy firmness of tissues" is recorded from 1680s, first extended 1756 to "having the property of restoring to health." Related: Tonical (1580s).ETD tonic (adj.).2

    tonify (v.)

    1786, from ton (n.2) + -ify. Related: Tonified; tonifying.ETD tonify (v.).2

    tonight (adv.)

    Old English toniht "in the coming night," from to "at, on" (see to) + niht (see night). As a noun, "in the night after the present day," early 14c. Written as two words until 18c., after which it was to-night until early 20c.ETD tonight (adv.).2

    tonite (n.)

    explosive used in blasting, 1881, from Latin tonare "to thunder" (see thunder (n.)) + -ite (2).ETD tonite (n.).2

    tonite (adv.)

    colloquial shortening of tonight, attested by 1918.ETD tonite (adv.).2

    tonne (n.)

    1877, French form of ton (n.1), adopted for English use to denote a metric ton (1,000 kg.).ETD tonne (n.).2

    tonnage (n.)

    early 15c., "tax or duty on wine imported in tuns," from ton (n.1) + -age, and from Old French tonnage "duty levied on wine in casks" (c. 1300). Meaning "carrying capacity of a ship" is from 1718.ETD tonnage (n.).2

    tonneau (n.)

    1901, rear part of an automobile, from French tonneau, literally "cask, tun" (see tun).ETD tonneau (n.).2

    tonsillitis (n.)

    also tonsilitis, "inflammation of the tonsils," 1801, from combining form of tonsil + -itis "inflammation."ETD tonsillitis (n.).2

    tonsil (n.)

    c. 1600, from Latin tonsillae, tosillae (plural) "tonsils," diminutive of toles "goiter," which is perhaps of Gaulish origin. Related: Tonsils.ETD tonsil (n.).2

    tonsillectomy (n.)

    1899, from combining form of tonsil + -ectomy "a cutting, surgical removal." A hybrid with a Latin front end and a Greek ending. A correct formation all from Greek would be amygdalectomy.ETD tonsillectomy (n.).2

    tonsillolith (n.)

    1894, from tonsillo-, combining form of tonsil + -lith "stone."ETD tonsillolith (n.).2

    tonsorial (adj.)

    "pertaining to barbers," 1765, from -al (1) + Latin tonsorius "of or pertaining to shearing or shaving," from tonsor "a shaver, barber, shearer, clipper," from tonsus, past participle of tondere "to shear, shave, clip, crop," from PIE *tend-, from root *tem- "to cut." Generally used in an attempt at humor. Tonsorious in the same sense is attested from 1650s.ETD tonsorial (adj.).2

    tonsure (n.)

    late 14c., "shaving of the head or part of it," especially as a religious rite, from Anglo-French tonsure (mid-14c.), Old French tonsure "ecclesiastical tonsure; sheep-shearing" (14c.), from Latin tonsura "a shearing, clipping," from tonsus, past participle of tondere "to shear, shave, clip, crop," from PIE *tend-, from root *tem- "to cut." The verb is attested from 1706 (implied in tonsured). Related: Tonsuring.ETD tonsure (n.).2

    tontine (n.)

    1765, from French tontine, named for Lorenzo Tonti, Neapolitan banker in Paris who in 1653 first proposed this method of raising money in France.ETD tontine (n.).2


    former term for the Western Apaches, from Spanish, literally "foolish;" probably a translation of a name given to the people by other branches of the Apache, such as Chiricahua Apache /bini:'édiné/, Mescalero Apache /bini:'édinendé/, both literally "people without minds," and used to designate the Western Apaches. Spanish tonto is said to be originally a nursery word, used for its sound [Buck], but in some sources it is given as perhaps literally "thunderstruck," from Latin attonius, whence also Spanish atonar "to stupefy."ETD Tonto.2

    too (adv.)

    "in addition; in excess," a variant of to (prep.) originally used when the word was stressed in pronunciation. In Old English, the preposition (go to town) leveled with the adverb (the door slammed to). Most of the adverbial uses of to since have become obsolete or archaic except the senses "in addition, besides" (Old English), "more than enough" (c. 1300). As this often fell at the end of a phrase (tired and hungry too), it retained stress and the spelling -oo became regular from 16c.ETD too (adv.).2

    Use after a verb, for emphasis (as in did, too!) is attested from 1914. Slang too-too "excessive in social elegance" first recorded 1881. Too much is from 1530s as "more than can be endured;" sense of "excellent" first recorded 1937 in jazz slang. German zu unites the senses of English to and too.ETD too (adv.).3


    colloquial "good-bye" word, 1904, said in early uses to be "cockney," of unknown origin; variant tooraloo is recorded from c. 1921.ETD toodle-oo.2


    past tense of take (v.), from late Old English toc, past tense of tacan.ETD took.2

    tool (v.)

    "to drive a vehicle," 1812, probably from tool (n.) as if "to manage skillfully." The meaning "to work or shape with a tool" is recorded from 1815; that of "equip (a factory) with machine tools" is from 1927. Related: Tooled; tooling.ETD tool (v.).2

    tool (n.)

    Old English tol "instrument, implement used by a craftsman or laborer, weapon," from Proto-Germanic *tōwalan "implement" (source also of Old Norse tol), from a verb stem represented by Old English tawian "prepare" (see taw). The ending is the instrumental suffix -el (1). The figurative sense of "person used by another for his own ends" is recorded from 1660s. Slang meaning "penis" is by 1550s.ETD tool (n.).2

    toolbar (n.)

    1960 as a frame fitted to a tractor to hold tools; from tool (n.) + bar (n.1). Computer sense is attested from 1991.ETD toolbar (n.).2

    toolbox (n.)

    also tool-box, 1801, from tool (n.) + box (n.1).ETD toolbox (n.).2

    toolkit (n.)

    also tool-kit, 1908, from tool (n.) + kit (n.1).ETD toolkit (n.).2

    toon (n.)

    colloquial shortening of cartoon (n.), attested by 1985.ETD toon (n.).2

    toot (n.)

    1640s, from toot (v.); meaning "cocaine" is attested by 1977.ETD toot (n.).2

    toots (n.)

    slang familiar form of address to a woman or girl, 1936, American English, short for tootsie, tootsy, from tootsy-wootsy (1895), a familiar form of address to a sweetheart, originally a playful or nursery name for a small foot, from childish pronunciation of foot (n.); compare tootsy.ETD toots (n.).2

    toot (v.)

    c. 1500, of horns, ultimately imitative, also found in Middle Low German and Low German tuten "blow a horn." Related: Tooted; tooting. Tooting as a strong affirmative (as in you're damned tootin') is attested from 1932, American English. Reduplicated form rootin' tootin' "noisy, rambunctious" is recorded by 1924.ETD toot (v.).2

    tooth (n.)

    Old English toð (plural teð), from Proto-Germanic *tanthu- (source also of Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Dutch tand, Old Norse tönn, Old Frisian toth, Old High German zand, German Zahn, Gothic tunþus), from PIE root *dent- "tooth." Plural teeth is an instance of i-mutation.ETD tooth (n.).2

    The loss of -n- before spirants is regular in Old English, Old Frisian, and Old Saxon: compare goose (n.), five, mouth (n.). Also thought, from stem of think; couth from the stem of can (v.1); us from *uns.ETD tooth (n.).3

    Application to tooth-like parts of other objects (saws, combs, etc.) first recorded 1520s. Tooth and nail as weapons is from 1530s. The tooth-fairy is attested from 1964.ETD tooth (n.).4

    tooth-ache (n.)

    also toothache, Old English toðece; see tooth + ache (n.).ETD tooth-ache (n.).2

    toothbrush (n.)

    also tooth-brush, 1650s, from tooth + brush (n.1).ETD toothbrush (n.).2

    toothless (adj.)

    Old English toðleas, in the literal sense; see tooth + -less. Figurative sense of "dull" is recorded from 1590s; that of "lacking enforcement powers" is first recorded 1961. Related: Toothlessly; toothlessness.ETD toothless (adj.).2

    toothpaste (n.)

    also tooth-paste, 1832, from tooth + paste (n.). Earlier substances were tooth-powder (1540s); tooth-soap (c. 1600).ETD toothpaste (n.).2

    toothpick (n.)

    also tooth-pick, late 15c., from tooth + pick (n.). Old English had toðsticca, and pick-tooth is attested from 1540s.ETD toothpick (n.).2

    toothsome (adj.)

    "pleasant to the taste," 1560s, from -some (1) + tooth in a figurative sense of "appetite, taste, liking" attested from late 14c. (compare sweet tooth, also figurative use of palate). The extended sense of "attractive" (1550s) is attested earlier. Related: Toothsomely; toothsomeness.ETD toothsome (adj.).2

    tootle (v.)

    1820, frequentative of toot (v.). Related: Tootled; tootling.ETD tootle (v.).2

    tootsy (n.)

    also tootsie, 1854, baby-talk substitution for foot (n.). Candy bar Tootsie Roll patent claims use from 1908.ETD tootsy (n.).2

    toot sweet (adv.)

    "right away, promptly," 1917, American English, representing U.S. soldiers' mangled adaptation of French tout de suite.ETD toot sweet (adv.).2

    top (n.1)

    "highest point," Old English top "summit, crest, tuft," from Proto-Germanic *toppa- (source also of Old Norse toppr "tuft of hair," Old Frisian top "tuft," Old Dutch topp, Dutch top, Old High German zopf "end, tip, tuft of hair," German Zopf "tuft of hair"); no certain connections outside Germanic except a few Romanic words probably borrowed from Germanic.ETD top (n.1).2

    Few Indo-European languages have a word so generic, which can be used of the upper part or surface of just about anything. More typical is German, which has Spitze for sharp peaks (mountains), oberfläche for the upper surface of flat things (such as a table). The meaning "highest position" is from 1620s; the meaning "best part" is from 1660s. The sense of "dominant sexual partner" is by 1961.ETD top (n.1).3

    To go over the top is World War I slang for "start an attack," in reference to the top of the trenches; as "beyond reasonable limits, too far" it is recorded from 1968. Top of the world as "position of greatest eminence" is from 1670s. Top-of-the-line (adj.) is by 1950.ETD top (n.1).4

    top (n.2)

    "toy that spins on a point," late Old English top, probably a special use of top (n.1), but the modern word is perhaps via Old French topet, which is from or influenced by a Germanic source akin to the root of English top (n.1). As a type of seashell, first recorded 1680s. Another old word for a child's top-like toy was scopperil, Middle English scopperel (early 15c., in use through 17c.), which is probably from Scandinavian or Dutch.ETD top (n.2).2

    top (v.)

    "put a top on," 1580s, perhaps mid-15c., from top (n.1). Earlier "cut the top off, shave the head" (c. 1300). The meaning "be higher or greater than" also is first recorded 1580s. Meaning "strike (a ball) towards its top" is from 1881. Related: Topped; topping. To top off "to finish" is colloquial from 1836; in sense "fill up, add more to to bring to fullness" it is from 1917.ETD top (v.).2

    top (adj.)

    "being at the top," 1590s, from top (n.1). Top dollar "high price" is from 1942. Top-drawer (1920) is from British expression out of the top drawer "upper-class." Top ten in popular music is from 1945 ("Billboard"). The top dog is the one uppermost in a fight, from 1868 in figurative use, opposed to the underdog.ETD top (adj.).2

    topping (n.)

    "an act of putting a top on," c. 1500, verbal noun from top (v.). Meaning "an act of cutting the top off" is from 1510s. Meaning "top layer of a food" is from 1839,ETD topping (n.).2

    tops (n.)

    "the best," 1935, American English colloquial, from top (n.1).ETD tops (n.).2

    topaz (n.)

    colored crystalline gem, late 13c., from Old French topace (11c.), from Latin topazus (source also of Spanish topacio, Italian topazio), from Greek topazos, topazion, of obscure origin. Pliny says it was named for a remote island in the Red or Arabian Sea, where it was mined, the island so named for being hard to find (from Greek topazein "to divine, to try to locate"); but this might be folk etymology, and instead the word might be from the root of Sanskrit tapas "heat, fire." In the Middle Ages used for almost any yellow stone. To the Greeks and Romans, possibly yellow olivine or yellow sapphire. In modern science, fluo-silicate of aluminum. As a color name from 1908.ETD topaz (n.).2

    tope (v.)

    "to drink heavily," 1650s, of unknown origin, perhaps ultimately from Italian toppa "done!" a word signifying acceptance of a bet.ETD tope (v.).2


    city in Kansas, U.S.A., from Kansa (Siouan), literally "a good place to dig potatoes;" from /do/ "wild potato" + /ppi/ "good" + /ke/ "to dig."ETD Topeka.2

    toper (n.)

    "heavy drinker," 1670s, agent noun from tope (v.).ETD toper (n.).2

    top-hamper (n.)

    1791, originally the upper masts, sails, and rigging of a sailing ship, from top (n.1) + hamper (n.) in the nautical sense of "things necessary but often in the way."ETD top-hamper (n.).2

    top-hat (n.)

    also tophat, 1875, from top (n.1) + hat.ETD top-hat (n.).2

    top-heavy (adj.)

    1530s, from top (n.1) + heavy (adj.).ETD top-heavy (adj.).2


    place near Jerusalem, where, according to the Old Testament, idolatrous Jews made human sacrifice to strange gods; later symbolic of the torments of Hell.ETD Tophet.2

    topiary (adj.)

    1590s, from Latin topiarius "of or pertaining to ornamental gardening," as a noun, "ornamental gardening, landscape gardening," also "an ornamental gardener," from topia "ornamental gardening," from Greek topia, plural of topion, originally "a field," diminutive of topos "place" (see topos). The noun is by 1906, from the adjective.ETD topiary (adj.).2

    topical (adj.)

    1580s, "pertaining to a place;" see topic + -al (1). Medical sense "applied to a particular part of the body" is from c. 1600. Meaning "of or pertaining to topics of the day" is from 1873. Related: Topically.ETD topical (adj.).2

    topic (n.)

    1630s, "a class of considerations from which probable arguments can be drawn," singular form of "Topics" (1560s), the name of a work by Aristotle on logical and rhetorical generalities, from Latin Topica, from Greek Ta Topika, literally "matters concerning topoi," "commonplaces," neuter plural of noun use of topikos "pertaining to a common place, of a place, local," from topos "place" (see topos). The meaning "matter treated in speech or writing, subject, theme" is first recorded 1720.ETD topic (n.).2

    topknot (n.)

    1680s, "a bow;" 1700, "tuft of hair on the head," from top (adj.) + knot (n.).ETD topknot (n.).2

    topless (adj.)

    of women, "bare-breasted," 1966, from top (n.1) + -less. Earlier it was used of men's bathing suits (1937) and women's (1964). Earliest sense is "without a visible summit; immeasurably high" (1580s).ETD topless (adj.).2

    top-notch (adj.)

    also top notch, "best quality, most stylish," 1840, something of a vogue phrase about 1841, from top (adj.) + notch (n.). Figurative of the "highest point" of something, but the exact mechanical image is uncertain and never seems to be mentioned. At the time it was the name of a part in umbrella patents.ETD top-notch (adj.).2

    topos (n.)

    "literary theme," 1948, from Greek topos, literally "place, region, space," also "subject of a speech," a word of uncertain origin. "The broad semantic range renders etymologizing difficult" [Beekes].ETD topos (n.).2

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