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    -s (2) — saga (n.)

    -s (2)

    third person singular present indicative suffix of verbs, it represents Old English -es, -as, which began to replace -eð in Northumbrian 10c., and gradually spread south until by Shakespeare's time it had emerged from colloquialism and -eth began to be limited to more dignified speeches.ETD -s (2).2


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to sow."ETD *sē-.2

    It forms all or part of: disseminate; inseminate; seed; seme (adj.); semen; seminal; seminar; seminary; semination; sinsemilla; sow (v.); season.ETD *sē-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin serere "to sow;" Old Church Slavonic sejo, sejati; Lithuanian sju, sti "to sow;" Old English sawan "to sow;" Old Prussian semen "seed," Lithuanian smenys "seed of flax," Old Church Slavonic seme, Old High German samo, German Same; Old English sed, sd "that which may be sown; an individual grain of seed."ETD *sē-.4


    suffix forming the genitive or possessive singular case of most Modern English nouns; its use gradually was extended in Middle English from Old English -es, the most common genitive inflection of masculine and neuter nouns (such as dæg "day," genitive dæges "day's"). The "-es" pronunciation is retained after a sibilant.ETD 's.2

    Old English also had genitives in -e, -re, -an, as well as "mutation-genitives" (boc "book," plural bec), and the -es form never was used in plural (where -a, -ra, -na prevailed), thus avoiding the verbal ambiguity of words like kings'.ETD 's.3

    As a suffix forming some adverbs, it represents the genitive singular ending of Old English masculine and neuter nouns and some adjectives.ETD 's.4

    -s (1)

    suffix forming almost all Modern English plural forms of nouns, gradually extended in Middle English as -es from Old English -as, the nominative plural and accusative plural ending of certain "strong" masculine nouns (such as dæg "day," nominative/accusative plural dagas "days"). The commonest Germanic declension, traceable back to the original PIE inflection system, it is also the source of the Dutch -s plurals and (by rhotacism) Scandinavian -r plurals (such as Swedish dagar).ETD -s (1).2

    Much more uniform today than originally; Old English also had a numerous category of "weak" nouns that formed their plurals in -an, and other strong nouns that formed plurals with -u. Quirk and Wrenn, in their Old English grammar, estimate that 45 percent of the nouns a student will encounter will be masculine, nearly four-fifths of them with genitive singular -es and nominative/accusative plural in -as. Less than half, but still the largest chunk.ETD -s (1).3

    The triumphs of -'s possessives and -s plurals represent common patterns in language: using only a handful of suffixes to do many jobs (such as -ing), and the most common variant squeezing out the competition. To further muddy the waters, it's been extended in slang since 1936 to singulars (such as ducks, sweets, babes) as an affectionate or diminutive suffix.ETD -s (1).4

    Old English single-syllable collectives (sheep, folk) as well as weights, measures, and units of time did not use -s. The use of it in these cases began in Middle English, but the older custom is preserved in many traditional dialects (ten pound of butter; more than seven year ago; etc.).ETD -s (1).5


    reflexive suffix in words of Danish origin (such as bask, literally "to bathe oneself"), contracted from Old Norse sik, reflexive pronoun corresponding to Gothic sik, Old High German sih, German sich "himself, herself, itself," from PIE root *s(w)e- (source of Latin se "himself;" see idiom).ETD -sk.2


    *sā-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to satisfy."ETD *sa-.2

    It forms all or part of: assets; hadron; sad; sate; satiate; satiety; satisfy; satire; saturate; saturation.ETD *sa-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit a-sinvan "insatiable;" Greek hadros "thick, bulky;" Latin satis "enough, sufficient;" Old Church Slavonic sytu, Lithuanian sotus "satiated;" Old Irish saith "satiety," sathach "sated;" Old English sæd "sated, full, having had one's fill, weary of."ETD *sa-.4


    "without date," an abbreviation of Latin sine anno "without a year," from sine "without" (see sans) + ablative of annus "year" (see annual (adj.)).ETD s.a..2


    river in western Germany, perhaps ultimately from PIE verbal stem *ser- "to run, flow" (see serum). Related: Saarland, Saarlander.ETD Saar.2

    Sabal (n.)

    a genus of fan-palms of tropical Americas, 1763, said to be from a South American or Mexican name.ETD Sabal (n.).2

    Sabaoth (n.)

    "armies, hosts," only in Scripture, "the heavenly hosts," used as part of a title of God (Lord of Sabaoth), early 14c., from Late Latin Sabaoth (pl.), from Greek Sabaoth, transliterating Hebrew tzebhaoth "hosts, armies," plural of tzabha "army," from tzaba "he waged war, he served."ETD Sabaoth (n.).2

    The word was translated in English in the Old Testament by the phrase "Lord of Hosts," but left untranslated in the New Testament (and in the "Te Deum") in Lord of Sabaoth. It sometimes is confused with unrelated Sabbath.ETD Sabaoth (n.).3

    sabaton (n.)

    also sabbaton, mid-14c., sabatoun, a type of armored foot-covering, in 15c. also the name of a shoe or half-shoe worn by persons of wealth, from Old French sabot "wooden shoe" made of one piece hollowed out by boring tools and scrapers, worn by the peasants (13c.), altered (by association with Old French bot "boot") from earlier savate "old shoe," ultimately from the same source (perhaps Persian ciabat) that also produced similar words in Old Provençal (sabato), Portuguese, Spanish (zapata), Italian (ciabatta), Arabic (sabbat), and Basque (zapata). French sabot has been borrowed directly into English from c. 1600.ETD sabaton (n.).2

    sabbat (n.)

    "witches' sabbath," a midnight meeting supposed to have been held annually by demons, sorcerers, and witches under the leadership of Satan, to celebrate their orgies, 1650s, a special application of the French form of Sabbath (q.v.).ETD sabbat (n.).2

    sabbatical (adj.)

    1590s, "recurring in sevens or on every seventh;" 1640s, "of or suitable for the Sabbath," from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos "of the Sabbath," from sabbaton (see Sabbath). By 1836 as "characterized by rest or cessation from labor or tillage." Other adjectives from Sabbath include Sabbatary, Sabbatine.ETD sabbatical (adj.).2

    The noun meaning "a year's absence granted to researchers" (originally one year in seven, to university professors) is from 1934, short for sabbatical year, etc., which was recorded by 1886 (the thing itself is attested from 1880, at Harvard), a term perhaps suggested by the sabbatical year (1590s) in Mosaic law, the seventh year, in which land was to remain untilled and non-foreign debtors and slaves released.ETD sabbatical (adj.).3

    Sabbatarian (adj.)

    "pertaining to the Sabbath or its observance," 1630s, from Latin sabbatarius (adj.), from sabbatum (see Sabbath).ETD Sabbatarian (adj.).2

    Sabbatarian (n.)

    also sometimes Sabbatharian, 1610s, "a Christian or Jew unusually strict about Sabbath observation," from Latin sabbatarius (adj.), from sabbatum (see Sabbath). Especially of members of Christian sects which maintained the Sabbath should be observed on the seventh day of the week (and not the first) is from 1640s; earlier sabbatary (1590s). It took on tones of reproach when used of Puritans deemed overzealous to interdict worldly pastimes and recreations on the Sabbath.ETD Sabbatarian (n.).2

    Not to be confused with Sabbatian (n.) "member of a sect founded by Sabbatus, a convert from Judaism "who seceded from the Novatianists before 380, having adopted Quartodeciman views" [OED]. Related: Sabbatartianism. Sabbatism is used in the general sense of "observance of the Sabbath or a sabbath as a day of rest from labor" (from Late Latin sabbatismus, from Greek sabbatismos).ETD Sabbatarian (n.).3

    Sabbath (n.)

    Middle English sabat, from Old English sabat "seventh day of the week in the Jewish calendar; Saturday" as observed by the Jews as a day of rest from secular employment and of religious observance, from Old French sabat and directly from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbath, properly "day of rest," from shabath "he rested" (from labor). The spelling with -th is attested from late 14c. but was not widespread until 16c.ETD Sabbath (n.).2

    The Babylonians regarded seventh days as unlucky, and avoided certain activities on them; the Jewish observance might have begun as a similar custom. Among European Christians, the time of "Sabbath" shifted from the seventh day to the first (Sunday) via the Christians' celebration of the Lord's resurrection on the first day of the week (a Christian Sabbath) "though no definite law, either divine or ecclesiastical, directed the change" [Century Dictionary], but elaborate justifications have been made. In English Sabbath as "Sunday" is evident by early 15c. The sense change was completed among the English people generally during the Reformation.ETD Sabbath (n.).3

    The original use of the word is preserved in Spanish Sabado, Italian Sabato, and other languages' names for "Saturday." Hungarian szombat, Rumanian simbata, French samedi, German Samstag "Saturday" are from Vulgar Latin *sambatum, from Greek *sambaton, a vulgar nasalized variant of sabbaton. Gothic Sabbato, Sabbatus probably are directly from Greek.ETD Sabbath (n.).4

    The meaning "any day (or month or year) in which religious rest is enjoined" is by late 14c.; the word also was used in Medieval Latin of any feast day, the solstice, etc. Sabbath-breaking "act of profaning the Sabbath" is attested from 1650s (to break the Sabbath is from late 14c.), formerly a legal violation in parts of the old U.S., "immoral, disturbing, or unnecessary labors or practices" [Century Dictionary]. Sabbath-school is by 1798.ETD Sabbath (n.).5

    Sabean (n.)

    also Sabaean, an inhabitant of the region of Arabia now known as Yemen, from Latin Sabaeus, from Greek Sabaios "the people of Saba" (which the ancients believed to be a city), from Arabic Saba', a name variously explained in Biblical literature. The tribes are mentioned obscurely in the Bible (Hebrew Sheba). In ancient times it was an important transit route to Europe for spices, perfumes, and precious stones from India.ETD Sabean (n.).2

    saber (n.)

    type of heavy, single-edged sword, usually slightly curved, 1670s, from French sabre "heavy, curved sword" (17c.), alteration of sable (1630s), from German Sabel, Säbel, which probably is ultimately from Hungarian szablya "saber," literally "tool to cut with," from szabni "to cut." The Balto-Slavic words (Russian sablya, Polish szabla "sword, saber," Lithuanian šoblė) perhaps also are via German, but Italian sciabla seems to be directly from Hungarian. Saber-rattling "militarism" is attested from 1922. Saber-toothed cat (originally tiger) is attested from 1849, so named for the long upper canine teeth.ETD saber (n.).2

    Sabian (n.)

    an adherent of a religious sect mentioned thrice in the Qu'ran (in which they are classified with Christians and Jews as monotheistic "true believers" tolerated by Muslims), 1610s, from Arabic, but a word of uncertain origin. As an adjective from 1748.ETD Sabian (n.).2

    Perhaps the reference in the word is to a Gnostic sect akin to the later Mandæans (if the word derives, as some linguists think it does, from Arabic ch'bae "to baptize," Aramaic tzebha "he dipped, dyed"); but it has the appearance of derivation from the Semitic root of Hebrew tzabha "host, army" (see Sabaoth), and as the Sabians were thought to have been star-worshippers, the word was interpreted as referring to the "host of heaven." Related: Sabaism "star-worship" (Century Dictionary says Sabeanism is incorrect).ETD Sabian (n.).3

    Sabine (adj.)

    "pertaining to the Sabines," a people dwelling in the central Apennines of ancient Italy, late 14c., from Latin Sabinus (in poetic Latin often Sabellus), perhaps literally "of its own kind" and connected to root of Sanskrit sabha "gathering of village community," Russian sebr "neighbor, friend," Gothic sibja, Old High German sippa "blood-relationship, peace, alliance," Old English sibb "relationship; peace;" see sibling). The Roman colonists traditionally took their wives by force from the Sabines (Rape of the Sabine Women).ETD Sabine (adj.).2


    in reference to the polio vaccine, 1955, from name of Russian-born U.S. microbiologist Albert B. Sabin (1906-1993), who developed it. As a unit of sound absorption by 1934, for U.S. physicist Wallace C. Sabine (1868-1919), founder of architectural acoustics.ETD Sabin.2

    sable (n.2)

    early 14c., "black" as a heraldic color, commonly identified with sable (n.1) and in many dictionaries they form one entry, but the animal's fur is brown (though generally darker than the fur of other animals) and this might be a different word of unknown origin, or it might reflect a medieval custom (unattested) of dyeing sable black. As an adjective from late 14c. Emblematic of mourning or grief from late 14c.; by c. 1800 as "black" with reference to Africans and their descendants, often in mock dignity.ETD sable (n.2).2

    sable (n.1)

    early 15c., "fur or pelt of the European sable" (Martes zibellina), from Old French sable (also martre sable "sable martin"), in reference to the carnivorous arctic mammal or its highly prized fur, borrowed in French from Germanic (compare Middle Dutch sabel, Middle Low German sabel, Middle High German zobel), ultimately from a Slavic source (compare Russian, Czech sobol, Polish soból, the name of the animal), "which itself is borrowed from an East-Asiatic language" [Klein], but Russian sources (such as Vasmer) find none of the proposed candidates satisfactory.ETD sable (n.1).2

    In reference to the animal itself in English from mid-15c. The earlier word for the fur was sabeline (c. 1200), from Old French sabeline and directly from Medieval Latin sabelinum.ETD sable (n.1).3

    sabotage (v.)

    "to ruin or disable deliberately and maliciously," 1912, from sabotage (n.). Related: Sabotaged; sabotaging.ETD sabotage (v.).2

    sabotage (n.)

    1907 (from 1903 as a French word in English), "malicious damaging or destruction of an employer's property by workmen," from French sabotage, from saboter "to sabotage, bungle," literally "walk noisily," from sabot "wooden shoe" (see sabaton).ETD sabotage (n.).2

    In French, and at first in English, the sense of "deliberately and maliciously destroying property" was in reference to labor disputes, but the oft-repeated story (as old as the record of the word in English) that the modern meaning derives from strikers' supposed tactic of throwing shoes into machinery is not supported by the etymology. Likely it was not meant as a literal image; the word was used in French in a variety of "bungling" senses, such as "to play a piece of music badly."ETD sabotage (n.).3

    This, too, was the explanation given in some early usages:ETD sabotage (n.).4

    The military extension to damage inflicted (especially clandestinely) to disrupt an enemy is from World War I.ETD sabotage (n.).5

    saboteur (n.)

    "one who commits sabotage," 1912 (from 1909 as a French word in English), a borrowing of the French agent noun from saboter (see sabotage (n.)). The French fem. form is saboteuse.ETD saboteur (n.).2

    sabre (n.)

    see saber.ETD sabre (n.).2

    Sabra (n.)

    "Jew born in Palestine" (or, after 1948, Israel), 1945, from Modern Hebrew sabrah, literally "prickly pear."ETD Sabra (n.).2


    fem. proper name, personified as a nymph by Milton in "Comus" (1634). The name is from a Welsh tale of a maiden drowned in the river Severn by her stepmother; the legend is found in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Giraldus Cambrensis. It appears to be the Romanized form of the name of the River Severn (Welsh Hafren, Habren), which is Celtic and of unknown origin; it perhaps means "boundary." Sabrina neckline is from the 1954 film "Sabrina" starring Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina-work (1871) was a millinery term for a variety of application embroidery.ETD Sabrina.2

    sabulous (adj.)

    "sandy, gritty," 1630s, from Latin sabulosus "sandy," from sabulum "coarse sand" (see sand (n.)). Related: Sabulosity.ETD sabulous (adj.).2


    central Algonquian people who lived near the upper Mississippi before the 1832 Black Hawk War, from French Canadian Saki, probably a shortened borrowing of Ojibwa (Algonquian) /osa:ki:/, literally "person of the outlet" (of the Saginaw River, which itself contains their name, and means literally "in the Sac country").ETD Sac.2

    sac (n.)

    "biological pocket or receptacle," 1741, from French sac, from Latin saccus "bag" (see sack (n.1)). English sack for "a sack-like part of the body" is from mid-14c.ETD sac (n.).2


    also Sacajawea, name of the Shoshoni woman who accompanied and aided the Lewis & Clark expedition.ETD Sacagawea.2

    Her image appeared on U.S. dollar coins from 2000.ETD Sacagawea.3

    saccade (n.)

    "a violent check of a horse by giving a sudden pull on the reins," 1705, from French saccade "a jerk," from obsolete saquer "to shake, pull," a dialectal variant of Old French sachier, which is perhaps ultimately from Latin saccus "sack" (see sack (n.1)). Related: Saccadic.ETD saccade (n.).2

    saccharin (n.)

    white crystalline compound, odorless but intensely sweet, used as a sugar substitute, 1885, from German, coined 1879 by Russian-born chemist Constantin Fahlberg (1850-1910), who discovered it by accident, from Latin saccharon (see saccharine); for ending see -in (2). Marketed from 1887 as saccharine.ETD saccharin (n.).2

    saccharine (adj.)

    1670s, "of or like sugar, having the qualities of sugar," from Medieval Latin saccharum "sugar," from Latin saccharon "sugar," from Greek sakkharon, from Pali sakkhara, from Sanskrit sarkara "gravel, grit" (see sugar). The metaphoric sense of "overly sweet" is recorded by 1841. For the sugar substitute, see saccharin. Related: Saccharinity.ETD saccharine (adj.).2

    sacerdotal (adj.)

    "of or belonging to priests or the priesthood," c. 1400, from Old French sacerdotal and directly from Latin sacerdotalis "of or pertaining to a priest," from sacerdos (genitive sacerdotis) "priest," literally "offerer of sacrifices or sacred gifts," from sacer "holy" (see sacred) + stem of dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give"). Related: Sacerdotalism "methods of priests; devotion to the interests of priests," in 19c. often in a bad sense, "priestcraft."ETD sacerdotal (adj.).2

    sachem (n.)

    chief of a Native American tribe, 1620s, from Narragansett (Algonquian) sachim "chief, ruler," cognate with Abenaki sangman, Delaware sakima, Micmac sakumow, Penobscot sagumo. Applied in jocular use to a prominent member of any society from 1680s; specific political use in U.S. is by 1890, from its use in New York City as the title of the 12 high officials of the Tammany Society.ETD sachem (n.).2

    sachet (n.)

    1838, "small bag, usually embroidered or otherwise ornamented, containing perfume powder, etc., placed among articles of dress," from French sachet, literally "little sack" (12c.), a diminutive of sac (see sac). A reborrowing of a word that Middle English had used in the sense "small bag, wallet" (15c., saket).ETD sachet (n.).2

    sack (n.4)

    "sherry," 1530s, an alteration of French (vin) sec "dry (wine)," from Latin siccus "dry" (see siccative). Originally of strong, light-colored wine from Spain and the Canaries. OED notes that the vowel is "not a normal development from the original 'seck.' "ETD sack (n.4).2

    sack (n.3)

    "plunder; act of plundering, the plundering of a city or town after storming and capture," 1540s, from French sac "pillage, plunder," from or identical with Italian sacco (see sack (v.1)).ETD sack (n.3).2

    sack (v.2)

    "put into a bag, pack in a sack" for preservation or transport, hence also generally "to lay up, hoard;" c. 1300, from sack (n.1). Related: Sacked; sacking. The sacked friars (c. 1400, sakked freres) were a mendicant order noted for wearing sackcloth; they appeared in England mid-13c.ETD sack (v.2).2

    sack (n.1)

    "large oblong bag," Middle English sak, from Old English sacc (West Saxon), sec (Mercian), sæc (Old Kentish) "large cloth bag," also "sackcloth," from Proto-Germanic *sakkiz (source also of Middle Dutch sak, Old High German sac, Old Norse sekkr, but Gothic sakkus probably is directly from Greek), an early borrowing from Latin saccus (also source of Old French sac, Spanish saco, Italian sacco), from Greek sakkos "bag (made of goat hair); sieve; burlap, large burlap cloak," which is from Semitic (compare Hebrew, Phoenician saq "sack, cloth of hair, bag, mourning-dress").ETD sack (n.1).2

    The wide spread of this word for "a bag" probably is due to the incident in the Biblical story of Joseph in which a sack of corn figures (Genesis xliv). In English, the meaning "a sack or sack material used as an article of clothing" as a token of penitence or mourning is from c. 1200. The baseball slang sense of "a base" is attested from 1913.ETD sack (n.1).3

    The slang meaning "bunk, bed" is by 1825, originally nautical, hence many slang phrases, originally nautical, such as sack duty "sleep;" the verb meaning "go to bed" is recorded from 1946. Sack-race (n.) is attested from 1805.ETD sack (n.1).4

    sack (n.2)

    "a dismissal from work," 1825, apparently from sack (n.1), perhaps from the notion of the worker going off with his tools in a bag. The original formula seems to have been give (someone) the sack. In early use sometimes also of a rejected suitor. It is attested earlier in French (on luy a donné son sac, 17c.) and Dutch (iemand de zak geven). English was using bag (v.) in the same sense colloquially by 1848, and compare 20c. slang verbal phrase bag work "skip one's job" which puts the bag to different use. The verb sack "dismiss from office, employment, etc., 'give the sack,' " is attested by 1841 (in sacked).ETD sack (n.2).2

    sack (v.1)

    1540s, "to plunder, (a place) after storming and taking," from French sac (n.) "bag," in the phrase mettre à sac "put it in a bag," a military leader's command to his troops to plunder a city (from or cognate with Italian sacco, which had the same meanings), from Vulgar Latin *saccare "to plunder," originally "to put plundered things into a sack," from Latin saccus "bag" (see sack (n.1)). The notion beneath the verb probably is "fill your bags with booty."ETD sack (v.1).2

    The U.S. football sense of "tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage" (by 1969) probably is extended from the notion of "to plunder," though a felt sense of "put in a bag" might be involved. As a noun, "an act of tackling the quarterback for a loss," by 1972.ETD sack (v.1).3

    sackage (n.)

    "act of taking by storm and pillaging," 1570s, from French saccage "pillaging," from sac "bag" (see sack (v.1)).ETD sackage (n.).2

    sackbut (n.)

    medieval wind instrument, c. 1500, from French saquebute, a kind of bass trumpet with a slide like a trombone. The word is "presumably is identical with" [OED] Old North French saqueboute (14c.), "a lance with an iron hook for pulling down mounted men," based on resemblance, perhaps. That word is from Old North French saquier "to pull, draw" + second element perhaps bouter "to thrust" (from Proto-Germanic *buttan, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike").ETD sackbut (n.).2

    Originally in English it had many variant spellings, including sagbutt, shakbott, shagbush. In Daniel iii.5, it is used wrongly to translate Aramaic (Semitic) sabbekha, the name of a stringed instrument (translated correctly in Septuagint as sambuke, and in Vulgate as sambuca, names of stringed instruments in those languages, and probably ultimately cognate with the Aramaic word). The error began with Coverdale (1535), who evidently thought it was a wind instrument and rendered it with shawm; the Geneva translators, evidently following Coverdale, chose sackbut because it sounded like the original Aramaic word, and this was followed in KJV and Revised.ETD sackbut (n.).3

    sackcloth (n.)

    "coarse textile fabric worn as penitential or grieving garb," late 13c., literally "cloth of which sacks are made," from sack (n.1) + cloth. In the Bible it was of goats' or camels' hair, the coarsest used for clothing.ETD sackcloth (n.).2

    sacred (adj.)

    late 14c., "hallowed, consecrated, or made holy by association with divinity or divine things or by religious ceremony or sanction," past-participle adjective from a now-obsolete verb sacren "to make holy" (c. 1200), from Old French sacrer "consecrate, anoint, dedicate" (12c.) or directly from Latin sacrare "to make sacred, consecrate; hold sacred; immortalize; set apart, dedicate," from sacer (genitive sacri) "sacred, dedicated, holy, accursed." OED writes that, in sacred, "the original ppl. notion (as pronunciation indicates) disappeared from the use of the word, which is now nearly synonymous with L. sacer."ETD sacred (adj.).2

    This is from Old Latin saceres, from PIE root *sak- "to sanctify." Buck groups it with Oscan sakrim, Umbrian sacra and calls it "a distinctive Italic group, without any clear outside connections." De Vaan has it from a PIE root *shnk- "to make sacred, sanctify," and finds cognates in Hittite šaklai "custom, rites," zankila "to fine, punish." Related: Sacredness. The Latin nasalized form is sancire "make sacred, confirm, ratify, ordain" (as in saint, sanction). An Old English word for "sacred" was godcund.ETD sacred (adj.).3

    The meaning "of or pertaining to religion or divine things" (opposed to secular or profane) is by c. 1600. The transferred sense of "entitled to respect or reverence" is from 1550s. Sacred cow as an object of Hindu veneration is by 1793; its figurative sense of "one who or that which must not be criticized" is in use by 1910 in U.S. journalism, reflecting Western views of Hinduism. Sacred Heart "the heart of Jesus as an object of religious veneration" is by 1823, short for Sacred Heart of Jesus or Mary.ETD sacred (adj.).4

    sacral (adj.)

    1767, in anatomy, "of or pertaining to the sacrum," the bone at the base of the spine (see sacrum), from Modern Latin sacralis. In anthropology, "pertaining to religious rites," 1882, from Latin sacrum "sacred thing, rite," neuter of sacer "sacred" (see sacred). Related: sacralization; sacrality.ETD sacral (adj.).2

    sacrament (n.)

    late Old English, in Christian use, "an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace," especially "a sacrament of the Church, one of the religious ceremonies enjoined by Christ or the Church," and later specifically "the sacrament of the Eucharist" (c. 1300), from Old French sacrament "consecration; mystery" (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum, "a solemn oath" (source also of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare "to consecrate" (see sacred).ETD sacrament (n.).2

    A Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery). The Latin word sacramentum in its secular aspect was used of any engagement or ceremony that binds or imposes obligation, specifically "oath of obedience and fidelity taken by Roman soldiers on enlistment; sum which two parties to a suit first deposit," hence also, "a cause, a civil suit," thus either "a result of consecration" or "a means of consecration." By 3c. it was used in Church Latin for "a mystery, a sacrament, something to be kept sacred; the gospel revelation; a Church sacrament." In theology, particularly, "a solemn religious ceremony enjoined by Christ, or by the church, for the spiritual benefit of the church or of individual Christians, by which their special relation to him is created or recognized or their obligations to him are renewed and ratified."ETD sacrament (n.).3

    The meaning "arcane knowledge; a secret; a mystery; a divine mystery" in English is from late 14c. (Wycliffe); from mid-14c. as "a solemn oath, pledge, covenant; a ceremony accompanying the taking of an oath or the making of a pledge." The seven sacraments in the West were baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction); the Reformation loosened the sense in England.ETD sacrament (n.).4

    sacramental (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or constituting a sacrament," late 14c., from Old French sacramental and directly from Late Latin sacramentalis, from sacramentum (see sacrament). As a noun, "religious practice or object," mid-15c.ETD sacramental (adj.).2


    California city, settled 1839, named for its river (1808), from Spanish sacramento, in honor of the Holy Sacrament (see sacrament).ETD Sacramento.2

    sacre bleu (interj.)

    an English notion of a stereotypical French oath, 1869, from French sacré bleu, literally "holy blue," a euphemism for sacré Dieu (1768), "holy God." From Old French sacrer, from Latin sacrare "to make or declare sacred" (see sacred). Such things are never idiomatic. In an old French-language comic set in the U.S. Wild West, the angry cowboys say "Bloody Hell!"ETD sacre bleu (interj.).2

    sacrificant (n.)

    "one who offers a sacrifice," 1660s, from Latin sacrificantem (nominative sacrificans), from Late Latin sacrificium (see sacrifice (n.)). Other agent nouns in English were sacrificer (16c.), sacrificator (16c., from the classical Latin agent noun), sacrificulist (17c.).ETD sacrificant (n.).2

    sacrifice (n.)

    late 13c., "the offering of something (especially a life) to a deity as an act of propitiation, homage, etc.;" mid-14c., "that which is offered (to a deity) in sacrifice," from Old French sacrifise "sacrifice, offering" (12c.), from Latin sacrificium, from sacrificus "performing priestly functions or sacrifices," etymologically "a making sacred," from sacra "sacred rites" (properly neuter plural of sacer "sacred;" see sacred) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD sacrifice (n.).2

    Originally especially of Christ's propitiatory offering of himself for the world. Latin sacrificium is glossed in Old English by ansegdniss. The general sense of "act of giving up a desirable thing for a higher object or to a more pressing claim," also "something given up for the sake of another" is recorded from 1590s. Baseball sense of "hit made by the batter not to get himself to base but to enable another player to advance" is by 1880.ETD sacrifice (n.).3

    sacrifice (v.)

    c. 1300, "to offer (something, to a deity) as an expression of thanks, devotion, penitence, etc., from sacrifice (n.). The meaning "surrender, give up, suffer to be lost for the sake of something else" is from 1706. The intransitive sense of "offer a sacrifice, make offerings to a deity" is from late 13c. Related: Sacrificed; sacrificing.ETD sacrifice (v.).2

    It has driven out sacrify "offer a sacrifice to a deity, perform sacrificial rites" (Middle English sacrifien, c. 1300), from Old French sacrefier, sacrifier. Ruskin, meeting sacrify in Philip Sidney, called this form "the right one, and to be restored to pure English, as we say magnify, glorify, and not magnifice, glorifice."ETD sacrifice (v.).3

    sacrificial (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or used in sacrifice," c. 1600, from Latin sacrificium "a sacrifice" (see sacrifice (n.)) + -al (1). Related: Sacrificially.ETD sacrificial (adj.).2

    sacrilege (n.)

    c. 1300, "the crime or sin of stealing what is consecrated to God," from Old French sacrilege (12c.), from Latin sacrilegium "temple robbery, a stealing of sacred things," from sacrilegus "temple-robber, stealer of sacred things," noun use of adjective, from phrase sacrum legere "to steal sacred things," from sacrum "sacred object" (from neuter singular of sacer "sacred;" see sacred) + legere "take, pick up" (from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather").ETD sacrilege (n.).2

    The second element is not from religion, and the two words might not be related etymologically. From early 14c. as "improper or impious behavior." The transferred sense of "profanation of anything held sacred" is attested from late 14c.ETD sacrilege (n.).3

    sacrilegious (adj.)

    mid-15c., sacrilegiose, "committing sacrilege, guilty of sacrilege," from Latin sacrilegiosum, from sacrilegium (see sacrilege). The sense of "profane, impious, involving sacrilege" is by 1620s. Earlier as a noun, "one who commits a sacrilege" (early 14c.). Related: Sacrilegiously; sacrilegiousness.ETD sacrilegious (adj.).2

    sacristan (n.)

    "officer charged with looking after the vessels, vestments, and valuables, of a church or religious house," early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Medieval Latin sacristanus, from Latin sacrista, from sacer (genitive sacri) "sacred" (see sacred). Compare sexton, which is a corrupted doublet. Sometimes also sacrist.ETD sacristan (n.).2

    sacristy (n.)

    "repository for sacred things," especially an apartment in a church or monastery in which sacred utensils and ceremonial vestments are kept, mid-15c., from Anglo-French sacrestie, from Medieval Latin sacrista, from Latin sacer "sacred" (see sacred). Vulgarly contracted as sextry. Earlier was sacrarie (late 14c.) from Old French sacrarie and directly from Latin sacrarium.ETD sacristy (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "of or involving the sacrum," the bone at the base of the spine. As in sacro-iliac "pertaining to the sacrum and the ilium."ETD sacro-.2

    sacrosanct (adj.)

    "superlatively sacred or inviolable," c. 1600, from Latin sacrosanctus "inviolable, protected by religious sanction, consecrated with religious ceremonies," from sacro, ablative of sacrum "religious sanction, religious rite" (from neuter singular of sacer "sacred") + sanctus, past participle of sancire "make sacred" (for both, see sacred). Earlier in partially Englished form sacro-seint (c. 1500).ETD sacrosanct (adj.).2

    sacrum (n.)

    compound bone at the base of the spine, 1753, from Late Latin os sacrum "sacred bone," from Latin sacrum, neuter of sacer "sacred" (see sacred). Said to be so called because the bone was the part of animals that was offered in sacrifices. The Late Latin phrase is a translation of Greek hieron osteon. Greek hieros also can mean "strong" (see ire), and some sources suggest the Latin is a mistranslation of Galen, who was calling it "the strong bone."ETD sacrum (n.).2

    sadness (n.)

    early 14c., sadnesse, "seriousness," from sad + -ness. Meaning "sorrowfulness, dejection of mind" is by c. 1500, perhaps c. 1400, but throughout Middle English the word usually referred to "solidness, firmness, thickness, toughness; permanence, continuance; maturity; sanity."ETD sadness (n.).2

    sad (adj.)

    Old English sæd "sated, full, having had one's fill (of food, drink, fighting, etc.), weary of," from Proto-Germanic *sathaz (source also of Old Norse saðr, Middle Dutch sat, Dutch zad, Old High German sat, German satt, Gothic saþs "satiated, sated, full"), from PIE *seto-, from root *sa- "to satisfy." Related: Sadder; saddest.ETD sad (adj.).2

    In Middle English and into early Modern English the prevailing senses were "firmly established, set; hard, rigid, firm; sober, serious; orderly and regular," but these are obsolete except in dialect. The sense development seems to have been via the notion of "heavy, ponderous" (i.e. "full" mentally or physically), thus "weary, tired of." By c. 1300 the main modern sense of "unhappy, sorrowful, melancholy, mournful" is evident. An alternative course would be through the common Middle English sense of "steadfast, firmly established, fixed" (as in sad-ware "tough pewter vessels") and "serious" to "grave." In the main modern sense, it replaced Old English unrot, negative of rot "cheerful, glad."ETD sad (adj.).3

    By mid-14c. as "expressing or marked by sorrow or melancholy." The meaning "very bad, wicked" is from 1690s, sometimes in jocular use. Slang sense of "inferior, pathetic" is from 1899; sad sack is 1920s, popularized by World War II armed forces (specifically by cartoon character invented by Sgt. George Baker, 1942, and published in U.S. Armed Forces magazine "Yank"), probably a euphemistic shortening of the common military slang phrase sad sack of shit.ETD sad (adj.).4

    sadden (v.)

    "to make sorrowful," 1620s, from sad (adj.) + -en (1); earlier "to make solid or firm" (c. 1600). The earlier verb was simply sad, from Middle English saden "become weary or indifferent," also "make (something) hard or stiff," from Old English sadian, which also could be the source of the modern verb. The intransitive meaning "to become sorrowful" is from 1718. Related: Saddened; saddening.ETD sadden (v.).2

    sadder (adj.)

    "more sad," Middle English saddere, comparative of sad (adj.).ETD sadder (adj.).2

    saddle (v.)

    Old English sadolian "to put a riding saddle on;" see saddle (n.). The meaning "to load with or as with a burden" is recorded by 1690s. Related: Saddled; saddling.ETD saddle (v.).2

    saddle (n.)

    Middle English sadel, from Old English sadol "contrivance secured to the back of a horse, etc., as a seat for a rider," from Proto-Germanic *sathulaz (source also of Old Norse söðull, Old Frisian sadel, Dutch zadel, zaal, German Sattel "saddle"), from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit" + Germanic suffix *-þra, used to form neutral names of tools.ETD saddle (n.).2

    Extended to various things resembling or functioning as a saddle. Figurative phrase in the saddle "in an active position of management" is attested from 1650s. Saddle-horse "horse for riding" is from 1660s. Saddle-stitch (n.) is from bookbinding (1887).ETD saddle (n.).3

    saddleback (n.)

    1540s and thereafter in various senses in reference to things (landforms, oysters, etc.) shaped like a saddle, from saddle (n.) + back (n.). Related: Saddle-backed.ETD saddleback (n.).2

    saddlebag (n.)

    also saddle-bag, "large bag, usually one of a pair hung or laid over a saddle," 1773, from saddle (n.) + bag (n.).ETD saddlebag (n.).2

    saddler (n.)

    "maker of saddles," c. 1300 (late 13c. as a surname), agent noun from saddle (v.).ETD saddler (n.).2

    saddlery (n.)

    mid-15c., "occupation or trade of a saddler," from saddler + -y (1). From 1841 as "place where saddles are made or sold," in this sense perhaps from or felt as saddle (n.) + -ery.ETD saddlery (n.).2

    saddletree (n.)

    also saddle-tree, "wooden framework of a saddle," early 15c., from saddle (n.) + tree (n.) in the "wood" sense.ETD saddletree (n.).2

    Sadducee (n.)

    member of a Jewish group in New Testament times, Middle English Saduce, from Old English, from Late Latin Sadducaei (plural), from Greek Zaddoukaios, an inexact transliteration of Hebrew tzedoqi, from the personal name Tzadhoq "Zadok" (II Samuel viii.17), the high priest from whom the priesthood of the captivity claimed descent. According to Josephus the sect denied the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels and spirits, but later historians regard them as the political party of the priestly class more than a sect. The man's name sometimes was said to mean "the just one," but OED finds this "philologically untenable." Related: Sadducean; Sadduceeism; Sadducaic; Saducaical; Saduceeic.ETD Sadducee (n.).2


    fem. proper name, a familiar form of Sarah. Sadie Hawkins Day (1939) is from name of a character in U.S. newspaper cartoon strip "Li'l Abner," by Al Capp (1909-1979); in reference to a day in early November on which women take the lead in romantic matters.ETD Sadie.2

    sadism (n.)

    "love of cruelty," especially as evidence of a subconscious lust that the cruelty satisfies, 1888, from French sadisme, from the name of Count Donatien A.F. de Sade (1740-1815). Not a marquis, though usually now called one, he was notorious for the cruel sexual practices described in his novels.ETD sadism (n.).2

    The family name de Sade is toponymic, from the village now known as Saze in southern France. The village name is of uncertain etymology; one view puts it to be ultimately derived from Latin salix, "willow" while another considers it derived from the Visigothic personal name Sado.ETD sadism (n.).3

    sadist (n.)

    "one who derives satisfaction from inflicting pain on or dominating others," 1892, from sadism + -ist.ETD sadist (n.).2

    sadistic (adj.)

    "characteristic of a sadist," 1892, after German sadistisch; see sadism. Related: Sadistically. For "of or characteristic of de Sade or his writings or philosophy," Sadean has been used.ETD sadistic (adj.).2

    sadly (adv.)

    c. 1300, "heavily," also "solidly," from sad + -ly (2). The main modern meaning "sorrowfully" begins by mid-14c.ETD sadly (adv.).2

    sado-masochism (n.)

    also sadomasochism, "coexistence of sadism and masochism in the same person," 1916, from combining form of sadism + masochism. The abbreviation S & M is attested by 1965. An earlier word for sexualities that focused on violence (not quite the same thing) was algolagnia.ETD sado-masochism (n.).2

    sado-masochist (n.)

    also sadomasochist, "one afflicted with sado-masochism," 1919; from combining form of sadist + masochist. Attested in German from 1913. Related: Sadomasochistic; sado-masochistic. Earlier was sadistic-masochistic (1892).ETD sado-masochist (n.).2

    saeva indignatio

    Latin phrase from Swift's epitaph; "savage indignation;" an intense feeling of contemptuous anger at human folly.ETD saeva indignatio.2

    safari (n.)

    1890 (attested from 1860 as a foreign word), "an expedition over country in East Africa lasting days or weeks," especially for hunting, from Swahili, "journey, expedition," from Arabic, literally "referring to a journey," from safar "journey" (which itself is attested in English as a foreign word from 1858). Used from 1920s of various articles of clothing suitable for safaris.ETD safari (n.).2

    safe (adj.)

    c. 1300, sauf, "unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;" from Old French sauf "protected, watched-over; assured of salvation," from Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe," which is related to salus "good health," saluber "healthful" (all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- "whole, well-kept"). For the phonological development of safe from sauf, OED compares gage from Old North French gauge.ETD safe (adj.).2

    From late 14c. as "rescued, delivered; protected; left alive, unkilled." The meaning "not exposed to danger" (of places, later of valuables) is attested from late 14c.; in reference to actions, etc., the meaning "free from risk," is recorded by 1580s. The sense of "sure, reliable, not a danger" is from c. 1600. The sense of "conservative, cautious" is from 1823. It has been paired alliteratively with sound (adj.) from c. 1300. In Middle English it also meant "in good health," also "delivered from sin or damnation." Related: Safeness.ETD safe (adj.).3

    safely (adv.)

    late 13c., "without risk; without harm;" mid-14c., "without risk of error," from safe (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD safely (adv.).2

    safe (n.)

    "chest for keeping food or valuables" safe from risk of theft or fire, early 15c., save, from French en sauf "in safety," from sauf (see safe (adj.)). Spelling with -f- is by 1680s, from influence of safe (adj.).ETD safe (n.).2

    safe-conduct (n.)

    "privilege of safe passage" granted by an authority, late 13c., from Old French sauf-conduit (13c.); see safe (adj.) + conduct (n.).ETD safe-conduct (n.).2

    safe-cracker (n.)

    also safecracker, 1897, from safe (n.) + agent noun from crack (v.). Originally in reference to thieves who used dynamite.ETD safe-cracker (n.).2

    safe-deposit (adj.)

    "providing safe storage for valuables of any kind," by 1864; see safe (adj.) + deposit (n.).ETD safe-deposit (adj.).2

    safeguard (n.)

    late 14c., sauf-gard, "protection, security, defense," from Old French sauve garde "safekeeping, safeguard" (13c.), from salve, sauve (fem. of sauf; see safe (adj.)) + garde "a keeping" (see guard (n.)). Meaning "one who protects, something that offers security from danger" is recorded from late 15c.ETD safeguard (n.).2

    safeguard (v.)

    "to guard, protect, keep secure from danger," mid-15c., from safeguard (n.). Related: Safeguarded; safeguarding.ETD safeguard (v.).2

    safekeeping (n.)

    also safe-keeping, "act of preserving in safety or keeping from injury or escape," early 15c., from safe (adj.) + verbal noun from keep (v.). The verb safekeep is a back-formation (by 1966).ETD safekeeping (n.).2

    safety (n.)

    early 14c., savete, "freedom or immunity from harm or danger; an unharmed or uninjured state or condition," from Old French sauvete, salvete "safety, safeguard; salvation; security, surety," earlier salvetet (11c., Modern French sauveté), from Medieval Latin salvitatem (nominative salvitas) "safety," from Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe" (from PIE root *sol- "whole, well-kept"). From late 14c. as "means or instrument of safety, a safeguard."ETD safety (n.).2

    The meaning "trigger-lock on a gun" is attested by 1881, perhaps short for safety-lock (1877), etc. As a North American football defensive position, by 1908; as a type of score against one's own team, 1881.ETD safety (n.).3

    Safety-valve, which diminishes the risk of explosion, is from 1797; figurative sense recorded from 1818. Safety-net in literal sense (in machinery) is by 1916, later of aerial circus performances (1920s); figurative use is by 1950. Safety-bicycle as a name for the modern type, with low, equal-sized wheels and a driving mechanism, is by 1866. Safety-razor is by 1877. A safety-belt (1840) was at first for window washers and firefighters; it was used of restraining straps for airplane pilots by 1911, extended to automobiles by 1948. Safety first as an accident-prevention slogan first recorded 1873.ETD safety (n.).4

    safety-pin (n.)

    a pin bent back on itself so as to form a spring and having a little sheath to fit over the point, 1857, from safety (adj.) + pin (n.).ETD safety-pin (n.).2

    saffron (n.)

    c. 1200, safroun, "product made from the dried stigmas of flowers of the autumn crocus," from Old French safran (12c.), from Medieval Latin safranum (cognate with Italian zafferano, Spanish azafran), ultimately from Arabic az-za'faran, which is of unknown origin. The substance is noted for its sweet aroma and deep orange color. As a color word for deep yellow-orange, and an adjective, by late 14c. In reference to the crocus plant itself from early 15c. German Safran is from French; Russian shafran' is from Arabic. Related: Saffrony (adj.).ETD saffron (n.).2

    sag (v.)

    late 14c., saggen, "hang down unevenly," also in Middle English "sink, be mired, sink down," possibly from a Scandinavian source related to Old Norse sokkva "to sink," or from Middle Low German sacken "to settle, sink" (as dregs in wine), from denasalized derivative of Proto-Germanic base *senkwanan "to sink" (see sink (v.)). A general North Sea Germanic word (compare Dutch zakken, Swedish sacka, Danish sakke). Of body parts by 1560s; of clothes by 1590s. Of other objects, "to droop, especially in the middle, as from weight or pressure" is by 1777. Related: Sagged; sagging.ETD sag (v.).2

    sag (n.)

    "a bending or drooping," 1580s, in nautical use, "movement to leeward," from sag (v.). From 1727 in American English in reference to landforms having a sunken look. By 1861 in reference to droop from slackness in wires, cables, etc.ETD sag (n.).2

    saga (n.)

    1709, "ancient Scandinavian legend of considerable length," an antiquarians' revival to describe the medieval prose narratives of Iceland and Norway, from Old Norse saga "saga, story," cognate with Old English sagu "a saying" (see saw (n.2)).ETD saga (n.).2

    Properly a long narrative composition of Iceland or Norway in the Middle Ages featuring heroic adventure and fantastic journeys, or one that has their characteristics. The extended meaning "long, convoluted story" is by 1857.ETD saga (n.).3

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