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    waste (v.) — weasel (n.)

    waste (v.)

    c. 1200, "devastate, ravage, ruin," from Anglo-French and Old North French waster "to waste, squander, spoil, ruin" (Old French gaster; Modern French gâter), altered (by influence of Frankish *wostjan) from Latin vastare "lay waste," from vastus "empty, desolate," from PIE *wasto-, extended suffixed form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out." Related: wasted; wasting.ETD waste (v.).2

    The Germanic word also existed in Old English as westan "to lay waste, ravage." Spanish gastar, Italian guastare also are from Germanic. Meaning "to lose strength or health; pine; weaken" is attested from c. 1300; the sense of "squander, spend or consume uselessly" is first recorded mid-14c.; meaning "to kill" is from 1964. Waste not, want not attested from 1778.ETD waste (v.).3

    wastage (n.)

    1673, a hybrid from waste (v.) + -age.ETD wastage (n.).2

    wasteland (n.)

    1825 as one word, from waste (adj.) + land (n.). Compare French terrain vague "waste ground" (used in English by 1920). Figurative sense is attested from 1868. Eliot's poem is from 1922.ETD wasteland (n.).2

    wastewater (n.)

    also waste-water, mid-15c., from waste (adj.) + water (n.1).ETD wastewater (n.).2

    wastrel (n.)

    "spendthrift, idler," 1847, from waste (v.) + pejorative suffix -rel. Earlier "something useless or imperfect" (1790).ETD wastrel (n.).2

    wat (n.)

    Thai Buddhist temple, said to be from Sanskrit vata "enclosure, grove," from PIE root *wer- (4) "to cover."ETD wat (n.).2

    watchful (adj.)

    c. 1500, waccheful, from watch (v.) + -ful. Related: Watchfulness.ETD watchful (adj.).2

    watch (n.)

    Old English wæcce "a watching, state of being or remaining awake, wakefulness;" also "act or practice of refraining from sleep for devotional or penitential purposes;" from wæccan "keep watch, be awake," from Proto-Germanic *wakjan, from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively."ETD watch (n.).2

    From c. 1200 as "one of the periods into which the night is divided," in reference to ancient times translating Latin vigilia, Greek phylake, Hebrew ashmoreth. From mid-13c. as "a shift of guard duty; an assignment as municipal watchman;" late 13c. as "person or group obligated to patrol a town (especially at night) to keep order, etc."ETD watch (n.).3

    Also in Middle English, "the practice of remaining awake at night for purposes of debauchery and dissipation;" hence wacches of wodnesse "late-night revels and debauchery." The alliterative combination watch and ward preserves the old distinction of watch for night-time municipal patrols and ward for guarding by day; in combination, they meant "continuous vigilance."ETD watch (n.).4

    Military sense of "military guard, sentinel" is from late 14c. General sense of "careful observation, watchfulness, vigilance" is from late 14c.; to keep watch is from late 14c. Meaning "period of time in which a division of a ship's crew remains on deck" is from 1580s. The meaning "small timepiece" is from 1580s, developing from that of "a clock to wake up sleepers" (mid-15c.).ETD watch (n.).5

    watch (v.)

    Old English wæccan "keep watch, be awake," from Proto-Germanic *wakjan, from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively." Essentially the same word as Old English wacian "be or remain awake" (see wake (v.)); perhaps a Northumbrian form of it. Meaning "be vigilant" is from c. 1200. That of "to guard (someone or some place), stand guard" is late 14c. Sense of "to observe, keep under observance" is mid-15c. Related: Watched; watching.ETD watch (v.).2

    watch-chain (n.)

    1739, from watch (n.) in the "timepiece" sense + chain (n.).ETD watch-chain (n.).2

    watchdog (n.)

    also watch-dog, c. 1600, from watch (v.) + dog (n.). Figurative sense is attested by 1845.ETD watchdog (n.).2

    watcher (n.)

    late 14c. (early 13c. as a surname), agent noun from watch (v.).ETD watcher (n.).2

    watchmaker (n.)

    1620s, from watch (n.) in the "timepiece" sense + maker.ETD watchmaker (n.).2

    watchman (n.)

    also watch-man, c. 1400, "guard, sentinel, lookout" (late 12c. as a surname), figuratively "guardian, protector" (mid-15c.), from watch (n.) + man (n.). Also "person characterized by wakefulness" (mid-15c.).ETD watchman (n.).2

    watchtower (n.)

    also watch-tower, 1540s, from watch (v.) + tower (n.).ETD watchtower (n.).2

    watchword (n.)

    also watch-word, c. 1400, "password," from watch (n.) in the military sense of "period of standing guard duty" + word (n.). In the sense of "motto, slogan" it dates from 1738.ETD watchword (n.).2

    watch-work (n.)

    1660s, from watch (n.) in the "timepiece" sense + work (n.).ETD watch-work (n.).2

    watering (n.)

    Old English wæterunge "a carrying water," verbal noun from water (v.). From late 14c. as "a soaking with water;" mid-15c. as "a giving water to (an animal);" c. 1600 as "salivation." Watering-can is from 1690s (earlier water-can, late 14c.); watering-hole is from 1882 (earlier water-hole, 1670s, watering-place, mid-15c.); by 1965 in the figurative sense "place where people meet and socialize over drinks."ETD watering (n.).2

    water (n.1)

    Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watr- (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet."ETD water (n.1).2

    To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah as well as Punjab and julep) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).ETD water (n.1).3

    water (v.)

    Old English wæterian "moisten, irrigate, supply water to; lead (cattle) to water;" from water (n.1). Meaning "to dilute" is attested from late 14c.; now usually as water down (1850). To make water "urinate" is recorded from early 15c. Related: Watered; watering.ETD water (v.).2

    water (n.2)

    measure of quality of a diamond, c. 1600, from water (n.1), perhaps as a translation of Arabic ma' "water," which also is used in the sense "luster, splendor."ETD water (n.2).2

    waterbed (n.)

    also water-bed, 1610s, "a bed on board a ship," from water (n.1) + bed (n.). As a water-tight mattress filled with water, it is recorded from 1844, originally for invalids to prevent bedsores. Reinvented c. 1970 as a stylish furnishing.ETD waterbed (n.).2

    waterboard (n.)

    1610s (n.), "gutter," from water (n.1) + board (n.1). Waterboarding as the name of a type of torture is from 2005, but the practice is older.ETD waterboard (n.).2

    water-closet (n.)

    "privy with a waste-pipe and means to carry off the discharge by a flush of water," 1755, from water (n.1) + closet (n.).ETD water-closet (n.).2

    watercolor (n.)

    also water-color, 1590s, "pigment that dissolves in water," from water (n.1) + color (n.). Meaning "picture painted in watercolors" is attested from 1854.ETD watercolor (n.).2

    watercourse (n.)

    also water-course, c. 1500, from water (n.1) + course (n.).ETD watercourse (n.).2

    watercress (n.)

    also water-cress, c. 1300, from water (n.1) + cress. Compare Middle Low German, Middle Dutch waterkerse, German wasserkresse. It grows in or near streams.ETD watercress (n.).2

    waterfall (n.)

    Old English wætergefeall; see water (n.1) + fall (n.). The modern English word is perhaps a re-formation from c. 1500. Similar formation in German wasserfall, Old Norse vatnfall.ETD waterfall (n.).2


    city in southeastern Ireland; 1783 in reference to a type of glassware manufactured there.ETD Waterford.2

    waterfowl (n.)

    early 14c., from water (n.1) + fowl (n.). Similar formation in Old High German wazzarvogel, Dutch watervogel.ETD waterfowl (n.).2

    waterfront (n.)

    also water-front, 1834, American English, from water (n.1) + front (n.). To cover the waterfront "deal with thoroughly" is attested from 1913; I Cover the Waterfront was a 1932 best-seller by San Diego newspaperman Max Miller.ETD waterfront (n.).2

    watergate (n.)

    mid-14c., "channel for water;" late 14c., "flood-gate;" from water (n.1) + gate (n.). The name of a building in Washington, D.C., that housed the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the 1972 presidential election, it was burglarized June 17, 1972, which led to the resignation of President Nixon.ETD watergate (n.).2

    watery (adj.)

    Old English wæterig; see water (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Wateriness.ETD watery (adj.).2

    water-ice (n.)

    "sugared water, flavored and frozen," 1818, from water (n.1) + ice (n.).ETD water-ice (n.).2

    water-lily (n.)

    1540s, from water (n.1) + lily (n.).ETD water-lily (n.).2

    waterline (n.)

    also water-line, 1620s, line where the water rises to on the hull of a ship afloat. As a makeup term for the inner rim of the eyelid, by 2011. From water (n.1) + line (n.).ETD waterline (n.).2

    waterlogged (adj.)

    1759 (in an account of the Battle of Lagos in "Universal Magazine," September), from water (n.1) + log (n.1); the notion apparently is of "reduce to a log-like condition." Compare logged.ETD waterlogged (adj.).2

    The verb waterlog (1779) appears to be a back-formation.ETD waterlogged (adj.).3

    Waterloo (n.)

    village near Brussels; the great battle there took place June 18, 1815; extended sense of "a final, crushing defeat" is first attested 1816 in letter of Lord Byron. The second element in the place name is from Flemish loo "sacred wood" (see lea (n.)).ETD Waterloo (n.).2

    watermark (n.)

    also water-mark, 1708, "distinctive mark on paper," from water (n.1) + mark (n.1). Similar formation in German wassermarke. Not produced by water, but probably so called because it looks like a wet spot. The verb is recorded from 1866. Related: Watermarked.ETD watermark (n.).2

    watermelon (n.)

    1610s, from water (n.1) + melon. So called for being full of thin juice. Compare French melon d'eau.ETD watermelon (n.).2

    water-moccasin (n.)

    type of snake in the U.S. South, 1821, from water (n.1) + moccasin (q.v.).ETD water-moccasin (n.).2

    water-pipe (n.)

    c. 1400, "conduit for water," from water (n.1) + pipe (n.1). The smoking sense is attested by 1824.ETD water-pipe (n.).2

    waterproof (adj.)

    also water-proof, 1725, from water (n.1) + proof (n.). Noun meaning "garment of waterproof material" is from 1799. The verb is first recorded 1843. Related: Waterproofed; waterproofing.ETD waterproof (adj.).2

    watershed (n.)

    "line separating waters flowing into different rivers," 1803, from water (n.1) + shed in a topographical sense of "ridge of high ground between two valleys or lower ground, a divide," for which see shed (n.2). Perhaps a loan-translation of German Wasser-scheide. Figurative sense is attested from 1878. Meaning "ground of a river system" is from 1878.ETD watershed (n.).2

    water-ski (n.)

    1931, from water (n.1) + ski (n.). As a verb from 1953.ETD water-ski (n.).2

    waterspout (n.)

    late 14c., "drainpipe," from water (n.1) + spout (n.). Meaning "whirlwind on open water" is recorded from 1738.ETD waterspout (n.).2

    water-table (n.)

    "level of saturated ground," 1879, from water (n.1) + table (n.).ETD water-table (n.).2

    watertight (adj.)

    also water-tight, late 14c., from water (n.1) + tight (adj.). Figurative use from 1640s.ETD watertight (adj.).2

    waterway (n.)

    Old English wæterweg; see water (n.1) + way (n.).ETD waterway (n.).2

    water-wheel (n.)

    c. 1400, from water (n.1) + wheel (n.).ETD water-wheel (n.).2

    waterworks (n.)

    mid-15c., from water (n.1) + work (n.).ETD waterworks (n.).2

    watt (n.)

    unit of electrical power, 1882, in honor of James Watt (1736-1819), Scottish engineer and inventor. The surname is from an old pet form of Walter and also is in Watson.ETD watt (n.).2

    wattage (n.)

    1897, from watt + -age.ETD wattage (n.).2

    wattle (n.1)

    "stakes interlaced with twigs and forming the framework of the wall of a building," Old English watol "hurdle," in plural "twigs, thatching, tiles," related to weðel "bandage," from Proto-Germanic *wadlaz, from PIE *au- (3) "to weave" (see weeds). Surviving in wattle-and-daub "building material for huts, etc." (1808).ETD wattle (n.1).2

    wattle (n.2)

    "fleshy appendage below the neck of certain birds," 1510s (in jocular use extended to human beings, 1560s), of uncertain origin and of doubtful relationship to wattle (n.1). Related: Wattled.ETD wattle (n.2).2

    Watusi (n.)

    ethnic group in Rwanda and Burundi (also called Tutsi), 1899. As the name of a popular dance, attested from 1964.ETD Watusi (n.).2

    wave (v.)

    "move back and forth," Old English wafian "to wave, fluctuate" (related to wæfre "wavering, restless, unstable"), from Proto-Germanic *wab- (source also of Old Norse vafra "to hover about," Middle High German waben "to wave, undulate"), possibly from PIE root *(h)uebh- "to move to and fro; to weave" (see weave (v.)). Transitive sense is from mid-15c.; meaning "to make a sign by a wave of the hand" is from 1510s. Related: Waved; waving.ETD wave (v.).2

    wave (n.)

    "moving billow of water," 1520s, alteration (by influence of wave (v.)) of Middle English waw, which is from Old English wagian "to move to and fro," from Proto-Germanic *wag- (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German wag, Old Frisian weg, Old Norse vagr "water in motion, wave, billow," Gothic wegs "tempest"), probably from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move." The usual Old English word for "moving billow of water" was .ETD wave (n.).2

    The "hand motion" meaning is recorded from 1680s; meaning "undulating line" is recorded from 1660s. Of people in masses, first recorded 1852; in physics, from 1832. Sense in heat wave is from 1843. The crowd stunt in stadiums is attested under this name from 1984, the thing itself said to have been done first Oct. 15, 1981, at the Yankees-A's AL championship series game in the Oakland Coliseum; soon picked up and popularized at University of Washington. To make waves "cause trouble" is attested from 1962.ETD wave (n.).3

    wavelength (n.)

    also wave-length, 1850, "distance between peaks of a wave," from wave (n.) + length. Originally of spectra; radio sense is attested by 1925. Figurative sense of "mental harmony" is recorded from 1927, on analogy of radio waves.ETD wavelength (n.).2

    waveless (adj.)

    1590s, from wave (n.) + -less.ETD waveless (adj.).2

    wavelet (n.)

    1808, mainly in poetry, from wave (n.) + diminutive suffix -let.ETD wavelet (n.).2

    waver (v.)

    late 13c., weyveren, "to show indecision," probably related to Old English wæfre "restless, wavering," from Proto-Germanic *wæbraz (source also of Middle High German wabern "to waver," Old Norse vafra "to hover about"), a frequentative form from the root of wave (v.), with Germanic verbal suffix indicating repeated or diminutive action (see -er (4)). Related: Wavered; wavering.ETD waver (v.).2

    wavy (adj.)

    1580s, from wave (n.) + -y (2). Related: Waviness.ETD wavy (adj.).2

    wax (v.1)

    "grow bigger or greater," Old English weaxan "to increase, grow" (class VII strong verb; past tense weox, past participle weaxen), from Proto-Germanic *wahsan (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German wahsan, Old Norse vaxa, Old Frisian waxa, Dutch wassen, German wachsen, Gothic wahsjan "to grow, increase"), from PIE *weg- (source also of Sanskrit vaksayati "cause to grow," Greek auxein "to increase"), extended form of root *aug- (1) "to increase." Strong conjugation archaic after 14c. Related: Waxed; waxing.ETD wax (v.1).2

    wax (v.2)

    "to coat or cover with wax," late 14c., from wax (n.). Related: Waxed; waxing.ETD wax (v.2).2

    wax (n.)

    Old English weax "substance made by bees," from Proto-Germanic *wahsam (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German wahs, Old Norse vax, Dutch was, German Wachs), from PIE root *wokso- "wax" (source also of Old Church Slavonic voskŭ, Lithuanian vaškas, Polish wosk, Russian vosk "wax" (but these may be from Germanic).ETD wax (n.).2

    Used of other similar substances from 18c. Slang for "gramophone record" is from 1932, American English (until the early 1940s, most original records were made by needle-etching onto a waxy disk which was then metal-plated to make a master). Waxworks "exhibition of wax figures representing famous or notorious persons" first recorded 1796.ETD wax (n.).3

    waxen (adj.)

    Old English wexen; see wax (n.) + -en (2).ETD waxen (adj.).2

    waxy (adj.)

    early 15c., "made of wax," from wax (n.) + -y (2). Figurative use from 1590s. Meaning "like wax" is from 1799. Related: Waxiness.ETD waxy (adj.).2

    wax-paper (n.)

    1812, from wax (n.) + paper (n.).ETD wax-paper (n.).2

    waxwing (n.)

    1817, from wax (n.) + wing (n.). So called for appendages at the tips of its feathers which look like red sealing-wax.ETD waxwing (n.).2

    wayfarer (n.)

    mid-15c., agent noun from way (n.) + fare (v.). Earlier was wayferer (late 14c.). The brand of sunglasses (manufactured by Ray-Ban) dates to 1952.ETD wayfarer (n.).2

    wayfaring (n.)

    14c., modification of Old English wegfarende "wayfaring;" see way (n.) + fare (v.).ETD wayfaring (n.).2

    waylay (v.)

    "to ambush," 1510s, from way (n.) + lay (v.), on model of Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wegelagen "besetting of ways, lying in wait with evil or hostile intent along public ways." Related: Waylaid; waylaying.ETD waylay (v.).2


    surname, by 1319, variant of Wain, representing wainwright, wainer (see wain) or perhaps "one who dwells by the tavern with the sign of the wain."ETD Wayne.2

    way-out (adj.)

    1868, "far off," from way (adv.), short for away, + out. Sense of "original, bold," is jazz slang from 1940s, probably suggesting "far off" from what is conventional or expected.ETD way-out (adj.).2

    wayside (n.)

    "the side of the road," c. 1400, from way (n.) + side (n.). To fall by the wayside is from Luke viii.5.ETD wayside (n.).2

    wayward (adj.)

    late 14c., shortening of aweiward "turned away," from way (adv.), shortening of away + -ward. Related: Waywardly; waywardness.ETD wayward (adj.).2

    W.C. (n.)

    "lavatory," by 1871, abbreviation of water-closet.ETD W.C. (n.).2

    we (pron.)

    Old English we, first person plural pronoun, "I and another or others," from Proto-Germanic *wejes (source also of Old Saxon wi, Old Norse ver, Danish vi, Old Frisian wi, Dutch wij, Old High German and German wir, Gothic weis "we"), from PIE *we- (source also of Sanskrit vayam, Old Persian vayam, Hittite wesh "we," Old Church Slavonic ve "we two," Lithuanian vedu "we two").ETD we (pron.).2

    The "royal we" (use of plural pronoun to denote oneself) is at least as old as "Beowulf" (c.725); use by writers to establish an impersonal style is also from Old English; it was especially common 19c. in unsigned editorials, to suggest staff consensus, and was lampooned as such at least since 1853 (see wegotism).ETD we (pron.).3


    wē-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to blow."ETD *we-.2

    It forms all or part of: Nirvana; vent; ventilate; weather; wind (n.1) "air in motion;" window; wing.ETD *we-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit va-, Greek aemi-, Gothic waian, Old English wawan, Old High German wajan, German wehen, Old Church Slavonic vejati "to blow;" Sanskrit vatah, Avestan vata-, Hittite huwantis, Latin ventus, Old English wind, German Wind, Gothic winds, Old Church Slavonic vetru, Lithuanian vėjas "wind;" Lithuanian vėtra "tempest, storm;" Old Irish feth "air;" Welsh gwynt, Breton gwent "wind."ETD *we-.4

    weakness (n.)

    c. 1300, "quality of being weak," from weak + -ness. Meaning "a disadvantage, vulnerability" is from 1590s. That of "self-indulgent fondness" is from 1712; meaning "thing for which one has an indulgent fondness" is from 1822.ETD weakness (n.).2

    weak (adj.)

    c. 1300, from Old Norse veikr "weak," cognate with Old English wac "weak, pliant, soft," from Proto-Germanic *waika- "yield" (source also of Old Saxon wek, Swedish vek, Middle Dutch weec, Dutch week "weak, soft, tender," Old High German weih "yielding, soft," German weich "soft"), from PIE root *weik- (2) "to bend, to wind."ETD weak (adj.).2

    Sense of "lacking authority" is first recorded early 15c.; that of "lacking moral strength" late 14c. In grammar, denoting a verb inflected by regular syllabic addition rather than by change of the radical vowel, from 1833. Related: Weakly. Weak-kneed "wanting in resolve" is by 1856; older in a literal sense.ETD weak (adj.).3

    weaken (v.)

    late 14c., "to become feeble," from weak + -en (1). Transitive sense from 1560s. Related: Weakened; weakening.ETD weaken (v.).2

    weakfish (n.)

    1838, from Dutch weekvisch, from week "soft" (see weak). So called because it does not pull hard when hooked.ETD weakfish (n.).2

    weakling (n.)

    1520s, coined by Tyndale from weak (adj.) + -ling as a loan-translation of Luther's Weichling "effeminate man" (from German weich "soft") in I Corinthians vi.9, where the Greek is malakoi, from malakos "soft, soft to the touch," "Like the Lat. mollis, metaph. and in a bad sense: effeminate, of a catamite, a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness" ["Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament"].ETD weakling (n.).2

    weal (n.1)

    "well-being," Old English wela "wealth," in late Old English also "welfare, well-being," from West Germanic *welon-, from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (see will (v.)). Related to well (adv.).ETD weal (n.1).2

    weal (n.2)

    "raised mark on skin," 1821, alteration of wale (q.v.).ETD weal (n.2).2

    weald (n.)

    Old English (West Saxon) weald "forest, woodland," specifically the forest between the North and South Downs in Sussex, Kent, and Surrey; a West Saxon variant of Anglian wald (see wold). Related: Wealden.ETD weald (n.).2

    wealth (n.)

    mid-13c., "happiness," also "prosperity in abundance of possessions or riches," from Middle English wele "well-being" (see weal (n.1)) on analogy of health.ETD wealth (n.).2

    wealthy (adj.)

    late 14c., "happy, prosperous," from wealth + -y (2). Meaning "rich, opulent" is from early 15c. Noun meaning "wealthy persons collectively" is from late 14c.ETD wealthy (adj.).2

    wean (v.)

    "train (an infant or animal) to forego suckling," c. 1200, from Old English wenian "to accustom, habituate," from Proto-Germanic *wanjan (source also of Old Norse venja, Dutch wennen, Old High German giwennan, German gewöhnen "to accustom"), from PIE *won-eyo-, causative form of root *wen- (1) "to desire, strive for."ETD wean (v.).2

    The sense of "accustom a child to not suckling from the breast" in Old English generally was expressed by gewenian or awenian, which has a sense of "unaccustom" (compare German abgewöhnen, entwöhnen "to wean," literally "to unaccustom"). The modern word might be one of these with the prefix worn off, or it might be wenian in a specialized sense of "accustom to a new diet." Figurative extension to any pursuit or habit is from 1520s.ETD wean (v.).3

    weanling (n.)

    1530s, from wean + -ling.ETD weanling (n.).2

    weapon (n.)

    Old English wæpen "instrument of fighting and defense, sword," also "penis," from Proto-Germanic *wēipna- (source also of Old Saxon wapan, Old Norse vapn, Danish vaaben, Old Frisian wepin, Middle Dutch wapen, Old High German wafan, German Waffe "weapon"), a word of unknown origin with no cognates outside Germanic; possibly a substratum word.ETD weapon (n.).2

    weaponry (n.)

    1812, from weapon + -ry.ETD weaponry (n.).2

    weapons of mass destruction (n.)

    "nuclear, biological and chemical weapons" attested by 1946, apparently first used (in Russian) by the Soviets.ETD weapons of mass destruction (n.).2

    wear (v.)

    Old English werian "to clothe, put on, cover up," from Proto-Germanic *wasīn- (source also of Old Norse verja, Old High German werian, Gothic gawasjan "to clothe"), from PIE *wos-eyo-, suffixed form of *wes- (2) "to clothe," extended form of root *eu- "to dress."ETD wear (v.).2

    The Germanic forms "were homonyms of the vb. for 'prevent, ward off, protect' (Goth. warjan, O.E. werian, etc.), and this was prob. a factor in their early displacement in most of the Gmc. languages" [Buck]. It shifted from a weak verb (past tense and past participle wered) to a strong one (past tense wore, past participle worn) in 14c. on analogy of rhyming strong verbs such as bear and tear. Secondary sense of "use up, gradually damage" (late 13c.) is from effect of continued use on clothes. To wear down (transitive) "overcome by steady force" is from 1843. To wear off "diminish by attrition or use" is from 1690s.ETD wear (v.).3

    wear (n.)

    "action of wearing" (clothes), mid-15c., from wear (v.). Meaning "what one wears" is 1560s. To be the worse for wear is attested from 1782; noun phrase wear and tear is first recorded 1660s, implying the sense "process of being degraded by use."ETD wear (n.).2

    weary (v.)

    Old English wergian "to be or become tired" (intransitive), gewergian "to exhaust, to make tired" (transitive), from the source of weary (adj.). Related: Wearied; wearying.ETD weary (v.).2

    weary (adj.)

    Old English werig "tired, exhausted; miserable, sad," related to worian "to wander, totter," from Proto-Germanic *worigaz (source also of Old Saxon worig "weary," Old High German wuorag "intoxicated"), of unknown origin.ETD weary (adj.).2

    wearisome (adj.)

    mid-15c., "weary," also "causing weariness," from weary + -some (1).ETD wearisome (adj.).2

    weasel (n.)

    Old English weosule, wesle "weasel," from Proto-Germanic *wisulon (source also of Old Norse visla, Middle Dutch wesel, Dutch wezel, Old High German wisula, German Wiesel), probably related to Proto-Germanic *wisand- "bison" (see bison), with a base sense of "stinking animal," because both animals have a foul, musky smell (compare Latin vissio "stench"). A John Wesilheued ("John Weaselhead") turns up on the Lincolnshire Assize Rolls for 1384, but the name seems not to have endured, for some reason. Related: Weaselly.ETD weasel (n.).2

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