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dearborn — light four-wheeled wagon, 1841, Amer.Eng., from the inventor’s name. dearth — c.1250, derthe “scarcity,” abstract n.

Formed from root of O.E.

Deore “precious, costly” (see dear).

Originally used of famines, when food was costly because scarce. death — O.E.

Deað, from P.Gmc. *dauthaz, from verbal stem *dau- “die” + *-thuz suffix indicating “act, process, condition.” Death’s-head, a symbol of mortality, is from 1596.

Death row first recorded 1940s.

Slang be death on “be very good at” is from 1839.

Deathbed in O.E.

Was “the grave;” meaning “bed on which someone dies” is from c.1400.

Death wish first recorded 1896.

The death-watch beetle (1668) inhabits houses, makes a ticking noise like a watch, and is superstitiously supposed to portend death. debacle — disaster, 1848, fig.

Use of Fr.

Débâcle “breaking up of ice on a river,” extended to the violent flood that follows when the river ice melts in spring, from débâcler “to free,” from M.Fr.

Desbacler “to unbar,” from des- “off” + bacler “to bar,” from V.L. *bacculare, from L.

Baculum “stick.” Sense of “disaster” was present in Fr.

Before Eng.

Borrowed the word. debase — 1568, from base “low,” on analogy of abase. debate — c.1300, from Fr.

Debattre (13c.), orig. “to fight,” from de- “down, completely” + batre “to beat.” debauch — 1595, from M.Fr.

Debaucher “entice from work or duty,” from O.Fr.

Desbaucher “to lead astray,” supposedly lit. “to trim (wood) to make a beam” (from bauch “beam,” from Frank.

Balk; from the same Gmc.

Source that yielded Eng.

Balk, q.v.).

A sense of “shaving” something away, perhaps, but the root is also said to be a word meaning “workshop,” which gets toward the notion of “to lure someone off the job;” either way the sense evolution is unclear. “Debauchee, n.

One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to overtake it.” [Ambrose Bierce, “Devil’s Dictionary,” 1911] debenture — c.1455, from L.

Debentur “there are due,” said to have been the first word in formal certificates of indebtedness. debility — 1474, from M.Fr.

Debilite, from L.

Debilitatem (nom.

Debilitas), from debilis “weak,” from de- “from, away” + -bilis “strength,” from PIE base *bel- (see Bolshevik). debit — c.1450, from M.Fr.

Debet, from L.

Debilitum “thing owed,” neut.


Of debere “to owe” (see debt). debonair — c.1225, from O.Fr., from de bon’ aire “of good race,” originally used of hawks, hence, “thoroughbred” (opposite of Fr.


Used in M.E.

To mean “docile, courteous,” it became obsolete and was revived with an altered sense of “pleasant, affable” (1685). Deborah — prophetess and judge in the O.T., in Heb., lit. “bee” (thus the name is the same as Melissa). deboshed — 1599, Anglicized spelling of Fr.

Pronunciation of debauched “dissolute” (see debauch).

Obsolete in England after mid-17c., retained in Scotland, and given a revival of sorts by Scott (1826), so that it turns up in 19c.

Literary works. debrief — obtain information (from someone) at the end of a mission, 1945, from de- + brief (v.). debris — 1708, from Fr.

Debriser “break down, crush,” from O.Fr.

Briser “to break,” from L.L.

Brisare, possibly of Gaulish origin. debt — c.1290, from O.Fr.

Dete, from L.

Debitam “thing owed,” neut.


Of debere “to owe,” originally, “keep something away from someone,” from de- “away” + habere “to have” (see habit).

Restored spelling after c.1400 from M.E.


The KJV has detter three times, debter three times, debtor twice and debtour once. debunk — 1923, first used by U.S.

Novelist William Woodward (1874-1950), the notion being “to take the bunk out of things” (see bunk). debut (n.) — 1751, fig.

Sense from Fr.

Débuter “make the first stroke at billiards,” also “to lead off at bowls” (a game akin to bowling), from but “mark, goal,” from O.Fr.

Bot “end.” The verb is first attested 1830.

Debutante is 1801, from fem.


Of Fr.

Débuter; slang shortening deb dates from 1920. decade — c.1451, “ten parts” (of anything; originally in ref.

To the books of Livy), from M.Fr.

Decade, from L.L.

Decadem (nom.

Decas), from Gk.

Dekas (acc.

Dekada) “group of ten.” Meaning “ten years” is 1594 in Eng. decadence — 1549, from M.Fr.

Decadence (1413), from M.L.

Decadentia “decay,” from decadentem (nom.

Decadens) “decaying,” prp.

Of decadere “to decay,” from L.

De- “apart, down” + cadere “to fall” (see case (1)).

Used of periods in art since 1852, on Fr.


Decadent is from 1837. decal — 1937 shortening of decalcomania, from Fr.

Decalcomanie, from decalquer, “transferring of a tracing from specially prepared paper to glass, porcelain, etc.” (in vogue in France 1840s, England 1862-64), from de- “off” + calquer “to press,” from It.

Calcare, from L.

Calcare “to tread on, press.” Decalogue — 1382, from M.Fr.

Decalogue, from L.

Decalogus, from Gk., from the phrase hoi deka logoi used to translate “Ten Commandments” in Septuagint. Decameron — 1609, from Boccaccio’s 14c.

Collection of 100 tales supposedly told over 10 days, from Gk.

Deka “ten” + hemera “day.” decant — 1633, “pour off the clear liquid from a solution by gently tipping the vessel,” originally an alchemical term, from Fr.

Decanter, from M.L.

Decanthare, from canthus “corner, lip of a jug,” from Gk.

Kanthos “corner of the eye,” on a perceived resemblance between the beaked lip of a jug and the corner of the eye.

Decanter is 1712. decapitate — 1611, from Fr.

Decapiter, from L.L.

Decapitatus pp.

Of decapitare, from L.

De- “off” + caput (gen.

Capitis) “head” (see head). decathlon — 1912, from deca “ten” + Gk.

Athlon “contest, prize.” A modern Olympic event consisting of 10 challenges. — thole (v.) — to be subjected to or exposed to, to endure without complaint, now Scottish and Northern Eng.

Dial., from O.E. þolian, from P.Gmc.

Stem *thul- (cf.


Tholon, O.H.G.

Dolon, Ger.

Geduld, O.N. þola, Goth. þulan), cognate with L.

Tolerare (see toleration). Thomas — from Gk.

Thomas, of Aramaic origin and said to mean “a twin” (John’s gospel refers to Thomas as ho legomenos didymos “called the twin;” cf.

Syriac toma “twin,” Arabic tau’am “twin”).

Before the Conquest, found only as the name of a priest.

After 1066, one of the most common given names.

Doubting Thomas is from John xx:25; A Thomist (1533, from M.L.

Thomista, 1359) is a follower of 13c.

Scholastic theologian St.

Thomas Aquinas. (Also see Tom, Tommy). Thompson — type of sub-machine gun, 1919, named for U.S.


John T.

Thompson (1860-1940), who conceived it and whose company financed it. thong — O.E. þwong “thong, narrow strip of leather (used as a cord, band, strip, etc.),” from P.Gmc. *thwangaz (cf.

O.N. þvengr), from PIE base *twengh- “to press in on, to restrain.” As a kind of sandal, first attested 1965; as a kind of bikini briefs, 1990. Thor — Odin’s eldest son, strongest of the gods though not the wisest, c.1020, from O.N. Þorr, lit. “thunder,” from *þunroz, related to O.E. þunor (see thunder). thorax — chest, c.1400, from L.

Thorax, from Gk.

Thorax (gen.

Thorakos) “breastplate, chest,” of unknown origin. Thorazine — central nervous system depressant, 1954, proprietary name (Smith, Kline & French) formed from a rearrangement of various elements in the full chemical name. thorium — rare metallic element, 1832, from Mod.L., named 1828-9 by its discoverer, Swed.

Chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius (1779-1848) in honor of the Scand.

God Thor (q.v.). thorn — O.E. þorn “sharp point on a stem or branch,” earlier “thorny tree or plant,” from P.Gmc. *thurnuz (cf.


Thorn, Du.

Doorn, O.H.G.

Dorn, Ger.

Dorn, O.N. þorn, Goth. þaurnus), from PIE *trnus (cf.


Trunu “thorn,” Skt.

Trnam “blade of grass,” Gk.

Ternax “stalk of the cactus,” Ir.

Trainin “blade of grass”), from *(s)ter-n- “thorny plant,” from base *ster- “stiff.” Fig.

Sense of “anything which causes pain” is recorded from c.1230 (thorn in the flesh is from II Cor.


Also an O.E.

And Icelandic runic letter (þ), named for the word of which it was the initial.

Thorny is O.E. þornig; fig.

Sense is attested from c.1340. thorough — c.1489, adj.

Use of O.E. þuruh (adv.) “from end to end, from side to side,” stressed variant of þurh (adv., prep.), see through.

Thoroughfare is recorded from c.1386, “passage or way through.” thoroughbred (adj.) — 1701, of persons, “thoroughly accomplished,” from thorough + past tense of breed.

In the horse sense of “of pure breed or stock” it dates from 1796; the noun is first recorded 1842. thorp — O.E. ðorp “village, hamlet, farm, estate,” reinforced by O.N. ðorp, both from P.Gmc. *thurpa- (cf.


Thorp, Fris.

Terp, M.Du., Du.

Dorp, Ger.

Dorf “village,” Goth. þaurp “estate, land, field”), probably from PIE base *treb- “dwelling.” Preserved in place names ending in -thorp, -thrup. those — Midlands and southern variant of O.E. þas, nominative and accusative plural of þes, þeos “this” (see this). Thoth — ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and magic, from L., from Gk.

Thoth, from Egyptian Tehuti. thou — 2nd nominative singular personal pronoun, O.E. þu, from P.Gmc. *thu (cf.


Thu, M.Du., M.L.G.

Du, O.H.G., Ger.

Du, O.N. þu, Goth. þu), from PIE *tu-, second person singular pronoun (cf.


Tu, Ir.

Tu, Welsh ti, Gk.

Su, Lith.

Tu, O.C.S.

Ty, Skt.


Superseded in M.E.

By plural form you (from a different root), but retained in certain dialects (eg Philadelphia Quakers).

The plural at first was used in addressing superior individuals, later also (to err on the side of propriety) strangers, and ultimately all equals.

By c.1450 the use of thou to address inferiors gave it a tinge of insult unless addressed by parents to children, or intimates to one another.

Hence the verb meaning “to use ‘thou’ to a person” (c.1440). though — c.1200, from O.E. þeah, and in part from O.N. þo “though,” both from P.Gmc. *thaukh (cf.

Goth. þauh, O.Fris.

Thach, M.Du., Du.

Doch, O.H.G.

Doh, Ger.

Doch), from PIE demonstrative pronoun *to- (see that).

The evolution of the terminal sound did not follow laugh, tough, etc., though a tendency to end the word in “f” existed c.1300-1750 and persists in dialects. thought (n.) — O.E. þoht, geþoht, from stem of þencan “to conceive of in the mind, consider” (see think).

Cognate with the second element in Ger.

Gedächtnis “memory,” Andacht “attention, devotion,” Bedacht “consideration, deliberation.” Thoughtful “given to thinking, meditative” is attested from c.1200; sense of “considerate of others” is first recorded 1851 (thoughtless “inconsiderate” is attested from 1794).

Second thought “later consideration” is recorded from 1642.

Thought-crime is from “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949); thought police is attested from 1946, originally in ref.

To pre-war Japanese Special Higher Police (Tokubetsu Koto Keisatsu). thousand — O.E. þusend, from P.Gmc. *thusundi (cf.


Thusend, Du.

Duizend, O.H.G.

Dusunt, Ger.

Tausend, O.N. þusund, Goth. þusundi); related to words in Balto-Slavic (cf.


Tukstantis, O.C.S.

Tysashta, Pol.

Tysiac, Czech tisic), and probably ultimately a compound with indefinite meaning “several hundred” or “a great multitude” (with first element perhaps related to Skt.

Tawas “strong, force”).

Used to translate Gk.

Khilias, L.

Mille, hence the refinement into the precise modern meaning.

There was no general IE word for “thousand.” Slang shortening thou first recorded 1867.

Thousand island dressing (1916) is presumably named for the region of New York on the St.

Lawrence River. thrall — O.E. þræl “bondsman, serf, slave,” from O.N. þræll “slave, servant,” probably from P.Gmc. *thrakhilaz, lit. “runner,” from root *threh- “to run” (cf.


Dregil “servant,” prop. “runner;” O.E. þrægan, Goth. þragjan “to run”). thrash — 1588, “to separate grains from wheat, etc., by beating,” dial.

Variant of threshen (see thresh).

Sense of “beat (someone) with (or as if with) a flail” is first recorded 1606.

Meaning “to make wild movements like those of a flail or whip” is attested from 1846.

Type of fast heavy metal music first called by this name 1982. thread (n.) — O.E. þræd “fine cord, especially when twisted” (related to þrawan “to twist”), from P.Gmc. *thrædus (cf.


Draet, Du.

Draad, O.H.G.

Drat, Ger.

Draht, O.N. þraðr), from suffixed form of base *thræ- “twist” (see throw).

Meaning “spiral ridge of a screw” is from 1674.

The verb meaning “to put thread through a needle” is recorded from c.1366; in ref.

To film cameras from 1913.

The dancing move called thread the needle is attested from 1844.

Threads, slang for “clothes” is 1926, Amer.Eng.

Threadbare is recorded from 1362, from the notion of “having the nap worn off,” leaving bare the threads. threat — O.E. þreat “crowd, troop,” also “oppression, menace,” related to þreotan “to trouble, weary,” from P.Gmc. *threutanan (cf.


Verdrießen “to vex”), from PIE *trud- “push, press” (cf.


Trudere “to press, thrust,” O.C.S.

Trudu “oppression,” M.Ir.

Trott “quarrel, conflict,” M.Welsh cythrud “torture, torment, afflict”).

Sense of “conditional declaration of hostile intention” was in O.E.

The verb threaten is O.E. þreatnian; threatening in the sense of “portending no good” is recorded from 1530. three — O.E. þreo, fem.

And neut. (masc. þri, þrie), from P.Gmc. *thrijiz (cf.


Thre, M.Du., Du.

Drie, O.H.G.

Dri, Ger.

Drei, O.N. þrir, Dan.

Tre), from PIE *trejes (cf.


Trayas, Avestan thri, Gk.

Treis, L.

Tres, Lith.

Trys, O.C.S.

Trye, Ir., Welsh tri “three”). 3-D first attested 1952, abbreviation of three-dimensional (1878).

Three-piece suit is recorded from 1909.

Three cheers for ______ is recorded from 1751.

Three-martini lunch is attested from 1972.

Three-ring circus first recorded 1898.

Three-sixty “complete turnaround” is from 1927, originally among aviators, in ref.

To the number of degrees in a full circle.

Three musketeers translates Fr.

Les trois mousquetaires, title of an 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas père. threnody — song of lamentation, 1634, from Gk.

Threnodia, from threnos “dirge, lament,” + oide “ode.” Gk.

Threnos probably is from a PIE imitative base meaning “to murmur, hum;” cf.


Dran “drone,” Goth.

Drunjus “sound,” Gk.

Tenthrene “a kind of wasp.” thresh — O.E. þrescan, þerscan “to beat, sift grain by trampling or beating,” from P.Gmc. *threskanan “to thresh,” originally “to tread, to stamp noisily” (cf.


Derschen, Du.

Dorschen, O.H.G.

Dreskan, Ger.

Dreschen, O.N. þreskja, Goth. þriskan), from PIE base *tere- “to rub, turn” (see throw).

The basic notion is of treading out wheat under foot of men or oxen, later, with the advent of the flail, the word acquired its modern extended sense of “to knock, beat, strike.” The original Gmc.

Sense is suggested by the use of the word in Romanic languages that borrowed it, eg It.

Trescare “to prance,” O.Fr.

Treschier “to dance,” Sp.

Triscar “to stamp the feet.” The thresher shark (1609) so called for its long upper tail shape. threshold — O.E. þrescold, þærscwold, þerxold “doorsill, point of entering,” first element related to O.E. þrescan (see thresh), with its original sense of “tread, trample.” Second element of unknown origin and much transformed in all the Gmc.

Languages; in Eng.

It probably has been altered to conform to hold, but the oft-repeated story that the threshold was a barrier placed at the doorway to hold the chaff flooring in the room is mere folk etymology.

Cognates include O.N. þreskjoldr, Swed.

Tröskel, O.H.G.

Driscufli, Ger.



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