abasement (n.) Look up abasement at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "embarrassment, dread, fear," from abase + -ment. Sense of "action of lowering in price" is mid-15c.; "action of lowering in rank" is 1560s; "condition of being abased" is from 1610s.
abash (v.) Look up abash at Dictionary.com
"perplex or embarrass by suddenly exciting the conscience, discomfit, make ashamed," late 14c., earlier "lose one's composure, be upset" (early 14c.), from Old French esbaiss-, present stem of esbaer "lose one's composure, be startled, be stunned."

The first element is es "out" (from Latin ex-; see ex-). The second may be ba(y)er "to be open, gape" (if the notion is "gaping with astonishment"), possibly ultimately imitative of yawning. Middle English Dictionary also compares Old French abaissier "bow, diminish, lower oneself" (source of abase). Related: Abashed; abashing. Bashful is a 16c. derivative.
abate (v.) Look up abate at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "put an end to" (transitive); early 14c., "to grow less, diminish in power or influence" (intransitive); from Old French abatre "beat down, cast down, strike down; fell, destroy; abolish; reduce, lower" (Modern French abattre), from Vulgar Latin *abbatere, from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + battuere "to beat" (see batter (v.)). The French literal sense of "to fell, slaughter" is in abatis and abattoir. Related: Abated; abating.
abatement (n.) Look up abatement at Dictionary.com
"act or state of being decreased or mitigated" in some way, mid-14c., from Old French abatement "overthrowing; reduction," from abatre "strike down; reduce" (see abate). Now mostly in the legal sense "destruction or removal of a nuisance, etc." (1520s).
abatis (n.) Look up abatis at Dictionary.com
"barricade defense made of felled trees with the branches angled outward," 1766, from French abatis, literally "things thrown down," from Old French abateiz "a casting down; slaughter, carnage" (12c.), from abatre "to beat down, throw down" (see abate).
abattoir (n.) Look up abattoir at Dictionary.com
"slaughterhouse for cows," 1820, from French abattre in its literal sense "to beat down, knock down, slaughter" (see abate) + suffix -oir, corresponding to Latin -orium, indicating "place where" (see -ory).
ABBA Look up ABBA at Dictionary.com
Swedish pop music group formed 1972, the name dates from 1973 and is an acronym from the first names of the four band members: Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog.
Abba Look up Abba at Dictionary.com
Biblical title of honor, literally "father," used as an invocation of God, from Latin abba, from Greek abba, from Aramaic (Semitic) abba "the father, my father," emphatic state of abh "father." Also a title in the Syriac and Coptic churches.
Abbassid Look up Abbassid at Dictionary.com
dynasty of caliphs of Baghdad (C.E. 750-1258) claiming descent from Abbas (566-652), uncle of the Prophet. His name is from the same Semitic source as abbot. With patronymic suffix.
abbe (n.) Look up abbe at Dictionary.com
1520s, title given in France to "every one who wears an ecclesiastical dress" [Littré, quoted in OED], especially one having no assigned ecclesiastical duty but acting as a private tutor, etc., from French abbé (12c.), from Late Latin abbatem, accusative of abbas (see abbot). See Century Dictionary for distinctions.
abbess (n.) Look up abbess at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, abbese, "female superior of a convent of nuns," from Old French abbesse (12c.), from Late Latin abbatissa (6c.), fem. of abbas (see abbot). Replaced earlier abbotess, from Old English abbodesse.
abbey (n.) Look up abbey at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., "monastery or convent devoted to religion and celibacy, headed by an abbot or abbess," from Anglo-French abbeie, Old French abaïe (Modern French abbaye), from Late Latin abbatia, from abbas (genitive abbatis); see abbot. At the dissolution of the monasteries, the name often was kept by abbey churches (as in Westminster Abbey) or estate houses that formerly were abbey residences.
abbot (n.) Look up abbot at Dictionary.com
Old English abbod "abbot," from Latin abbatem (nominative abbas), from Greek abbas, from Aramaic (Semitic) abba, title of honor, literally "the father, my father," emphatic state of abh "father." Spelling with -t is a Middle English Latinization. Originally a title given to any monk, later limited to the head of a monastery. The Latin fem. abbatissa is root of abbess. Related: Abbacy; abbatial; abbotship.
abbr. Look up abbr. at Dictionary.com
common abbreviation of abbreviation.
abbreviate (v.) Look up abbreviate at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "to make shorter," from Latin abbreviatus, past participle of abbreviare "to shorten" (see abbreviation). Also sometimes 15c. abbrevy, from Middle French abrevier (14c.), from Latin abbreviare. Specifically of words by 1580s. Related: Abbreviated; abbreviating.
abbreviation (n.) Look up abbreviation at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "act of shortening; a shortened thing," from Middle French abréviation (15c.), from Late Latin abbreviationem (nominative abbreviatio), noun of action from past participle stem of abbreviare "shorten, make brief," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + breviare "shorten," from brevis "short, low, little, shallow" (see brief (adj.)).

From 1580s specifically of words. Technically a part of a word, usually the initial letter or syllable, used for the whole word but with no indication of the rest of the word (as abbr. for abbreviation or abbreviate). A contraction is made by elision of certain letters or syllables from the body of a word but still indicates its full form (as fwd. for forward; rec'd. for received).
ABC (n.) Look up ABC at Dictionary.com
also a-b-c, late 13c. (spelled abece) from the first three letters of it taken as a word (compare alphabet, abecedary, Old French abecé, abecedé "alphabet," 13c.). Sense "rudiments or fundamentals (of a subject)" is from late 14c. As a shortening of American Broadcasting Company from 1944 (in a "Billboard" headline), earlier of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1931). Related: ABCs.
Abd Look up Abd at Dictionary.com
element in many Arabic names, from Arabic (Semitic) abd "slave, servant," as in Abdallah "servant of God."
Abderian (n.) Look up Abderian at Dictionary.com
from Abdera, in Thrace, whose citizens were proverbial as provincials who would laugh at anything or anyone they didn't understand (Abderian laughter), making their town the Hellenic equivalent of Gotham (q.v.). Especially as it was the birthplace of Democritus the atomist, the "Laughing Philosopher" (born c. 460 B.C.E.) who observed human follies.
abdicate (v.) Look up abdicate at Dictionary.com
1540s, "to disown, disinherit (children)," from Latin abdicatus, past participle of abdicare "to disown, disavow, reject" (specifically abdicare magistratu "renounce office"), literally "proclaim as not belonging to one," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + dicare "proclaim" (see diction). Meaning "divest oneself of office, privilege, etc., before the term expires" first recorded 1610s in English (it was in classical Latin). Related: Abdicated; abdicating.
abdication (n.) Look up abdication at Dictionary.com
1550s, "a disowning," from Latin abdicationem (nominative abdicatio) "voluntary renunciation, abdication," noun of action from past participle stem of abdicare "disown, disavow, reject" (see abdicate). Sense of "resignation of inherent sovereignty" is from 1680s.
abdomen (n.) Look up abdomen at Dictionary.com
1540s, "flesh or meat of the belly" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin abdomen "the belly," a word of unknown origin. Perhaps [OED, Watkins] from abdere "conceal" (from ab- "off, away" + PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"), with a sense of "concealment of the viscera," or else "what is concealed" by proper dress. De Vaan, however, finds this derivation "unfounded." Anatomical sense "part of the mammalian body between the diaphragm and the pelvis" is from 1610s. Zoological sense of "posterior division of the bodies of arthropods" first recorded 1788.
abdominal (adj.) Look up abdominal at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to the abdomen, ventral," 1550s, from medical Latin abdominalis, from abdomen (genitive abdominis); see abdomen. As a noun, in modern use, "abdominal muscle;" earlier as a fish of the order including carp, salmon, herring (1835), so called for their ventral fins. Related: Abdominally. English in 17c. had abdominous "big-bellied."
abdominals (n.) Look up abdominals at Dictionary.com
short for "abdominal muscles," attested by 1980; see abdominal.
abduce (v.) Look up abduce at Dictionary.com
"to draw away" by persuasion or argument, 1530s, from Latin abductus, past participle of abducere "to lead away, take away," also in figurative senses (see abduction). Related: Abduced; abducing.
abducent (adj.) Look up abducent at Dictionary.com
"drawing away, pulling aside," 1713, from Latin abducentem (nominative abducens), present participle of abducere "to lead away" (see abduction).
abduct (v.) Look up abduct at Dictionary.com
"to kidnap," 1834, probably a back-formation from abduction; also compare abduce, the earlier verb, which has a more abstract sense. Related: Abducted; abducting.
abduction (n.) Look up abduction at Dictionary.com
1620s, "a leading away," from Latin abductionem (nominative abductio), noun of action from past participle stem of abducere "to lead away, take away, arrest" (often by force), from ab- "away" (see ab-) + ducere "to lead" (see duke (n.)). As "criminal act of forcibly taking (someone)" by 1768; before that the word also was a term in surgery and logic. In the Mercian hymns, Latin abductione is glossed by Old English wiðlaednisse.
abductor (n.) Look up abductor at Dictionary.com
1610s, in physiology, a muscle that moves (a limb) away from the axis of the body, from Latin abductor, agent noun from abducere "to lead away" (see abduct).
abeam (adv.) Look up abeam at Dictionary.com
"at right angles to the keel" of a ship, hence in line with its beam, 1826, nautical, literally "on beam;" see a- (1) + beam (n.) in the nautical sense.
abecedary (n.) Look up abecedary at Dictionary.com
"primer, alphabet table," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin abecedarium "an ABC book," neuter of adjective abecedarius, used as a noun, from the first four letters of the Latin alphabet. Abecedarian (adj.) is attested from 1660s.
abed (adv.) Look up abed at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, contraction of Old English on bedde "in bed," from a- (1) + dative of bed (n.).
Abel Look up Abel at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, in the Old Testament the second son of Adam and Eve, from Hebrew Hebhel, literally "breath," also "vanity;" "so called from his short life and sudden death" [Thayer].
Abenaki Look up Abenaki at Dictionary.com
also Abnaki, Algonquian people and language of northern New England and eastern Canada, 1721, from French abenaqui, from the people's name, East Abenaki wapanahki, literally "person of the dawn-land," hence "easterners." [Bright]
Aberdeen Look up Aberdeen at Dictionary.com
city in eastern Scotland, literally "mouth of the (River) Don," which enters the North Sea there, from Gaelic aber "(river) mouth," from Celtic *ad-ber-o-, from *ad- "to" (see ad-) + *ber- "to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry" (see infer). Compare Inverness. Related: Aberdonian.
aberrant (adj.) Look up aberrant at Dictionary.com
"wandering from the usual course," 1798, originally in natural history, "differing somewhat from a group in which it is placed," from Latin aberrantem (nominative aberrans), present participle of aberrare "to wander away, go astray" (see aberration). Related: Aberrance; aberrancy (1660s). The verb aberrate is rare.
aberration (n.) Look up aberration at Dictionary.com
1590s, "a wandering, act of straying," from Latin aberrationem (nominative aberratio) "a wandering," noun of action from past participle stem of aberrare "to wander out of the way, lose the way, go astray," literally and figuratively, from ab- "away" (see ab-) + errare "to wander, stray, roam, rove" (see err). Meaning "deviation from the normal type" first attested 1846.
abet (v.) Look up abet at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "urge on, incite" (implied in abetting), from Old French abeter "to bait, to harass with dogs," literally "to cause to bite," from a- "to" (see ad-) + beter "to bait." This verb is probably from Frankish or some other Germanic source (perhaps Low Franconian betan "incite," or Old Norse beita "cause to bite"); ultimately from Proto-Germanic *baitjan, from PIE root *bheid- "to split" (see fissure (n.)). Sense of "encourage by aid or approval" is from 1779. Related: Abetted; abetting.
abeyance (n.) Look up abeyance at Dictionary.com
1520s, "state of expectation," from Anglo-French abeiance "suspension," also "expectation (especially in a lawsuit)," from Old French abeance "aspiration, powerful desire," noun of condition from abeer "aspire after, gape, open wide," from à "at" (see ad-) + ba(y)er "be open," from Latin *batare "to yawn, gape" (see abash).

Originally in French a legal term, "condition of a person in expectation or hope of receiving property;" it turned around in English law to mean "condition of property temporarily without an owner" (1650s). Hence "state of suspended action or existence." The French verb baer is also the source of English bay (n.2) "recessed space," as in bay window.
abhor (v.) Look up abhor at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Latin abhorrere "shrink back from, have an aversion for, shudder at," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + horrere "tremble at, shudder," literally "to bristle, be shaggy," from PIE *ghers- "start out, stand out, rise to a point, bristle" (see horror).

The notion is "shrink back" with horror or dread, hence "regard with repugnance, loathe." Formerly also "fill (someone) with horror or loathing" (16c.). In Latin it was less intense: "be remote from, vary from, differ from, be out of harmony with." Related: Abhorred; abhorring.
abhorrence (n.) Look up abhorrence at Dictionary.com
1650s; see abhorrent + -ence. OED recommends this form for "act or fact of abhorring," abhorrency (c. 1600) for "quality of being abhorrent."
abhorrent (adj.) Look up abhorrent at Dictionary.com
1610s, "recoiling (from), strongly opposed to," from Latin abhorentem (nominative abhorrens) "incongruous, inappropriate," present participle of abhorrere "shrink back from, be remote from, be out of harmony with" (see abhor). Meaning "repugnant, loathesome" is from 1650s. Earlier was abhorrable (late 15c.).
abidance (n.) Look up abidance at Dictionary.com
1640s, from abide + -ance.
abide (v.) Look up abide at Dictionary.com
Old English abidan, gebidan "remain, wait, wait for, delay, remain behind," from ge- completive prefix (denoting onward motion; see a- (1)) + bidan "bide, remain, wait, dwell" (see bide).

Originally intransitive (with genitive of the object: we abidon his "we waited for him"); transitive sense "endure, sustain, stay firm under," also "tolerate, bear, put up with" (now usually with a negative) is from c. 1200. Related: Abided; abiding. The historical conjugation was abide, abode, abidden, but in Modern English the formation generally is weak. Abide with "stay with (someone); live with; remain in the service of" is from c. 1300.
abiding (adj.) Look up abiding at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "enduring, steadfast," present participle adjective from abide (v.). Related: Abidingly.
Abigail Look up Abigail at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from Hebrew Abhigayil, literally "my father is rejoicing," from abh "father" + gil "to rejoice." In the Old Testament Abigail the Carmelitess was a wife of David. Used in general sense of "lady's maid" (1660s) from character of that name in Beaumont & Fletcher's "The Scornful Lady." Her traditional male counterpart was Andrew. The waiting maid association perhaps begins with I Samuel xxv, where David's wife often calls herself a "handmaid."
ability (n.) Look up ability at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "state or condition of being able; capacity to do or act," from Old French ableté "ability (to inherit)`," from Latin habilitatem (nominative habilitas, in Medieval Latin abilitas) "aptitude, ability," noun of quality from habilis "easy to manage, handy" (see able). One case where a Latin silent -h- failed to make a return in English (despite efforts of 16c.-17c. scholars); see H. Also in Middle English, "suitableness, fitness." Abilities "one's talents or mental endowments" is from 1580s.
abiogenesis (n.) Look up abiogenesis at Dictionary.com
"spontaneous generation" (of life, without parent organisms), 1870, coined in Modern Latin by T.H. Huxley; see a- (3) + bio- + genesis.
abiotic (adj.) Look up abiotic at Dictionary.com
"without life," 1870, from a- (3) + biotic.
Abitur (n.) Look up Abitur at Dictionary.com
German final secondary school exam, 1863, short for abiturium, from Modern Latin abitorire "to wish to leave," desiderative of Latin abire (neuter plural abitum) "to go away," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + ire "to go" (see ion).