- abject (adj.)
- c. 1400, "humble, lowly, poor; of low quality; menial," from Latin abiectus "low, crouching; common, mean, contemptible; cast down, dispirited," past participle of abicere "to throw away, cast off; degrade, humble, lower," from ab- "away, off" (see ab-) + iacere "to throw" (past participle iactus; see jet (v.)).
Figurative sense of "downcast, brought low, hopeless," is by 1510s. Also in Middle English "cast off, rejected, expelled, outcast," a sense now obsolete. Abject formerly also was a verb in English, "to cast out, expel; to degrade, humiliate" (15c.-17c.). As a noun, "base or servile person," 1530s. Related: Abjectly; abjectness.
- abjection (n.)
- c. 1400, "humbleness, low state, meanness of spirit, abject situation, groveling humility," from Old French abjection (14c.), from Latin abjectionem (nominative abjectio) "dejection, despondency," literally "a throwing away, a casting off," noun of action from past participle stem of abicere "to throw away, cast off" (see abject).
- abjuration (n.)
- "solemn renunciation," mid-15c., originally of heresy or idolatry, later of renunciations of oaths generally, from Latin abiurationem (nominative abiuratio) "a denying on oath," noun of action from past participle stem of abiurare "deny on oath" (see abjure). Related: Abjuratory. The oath of abjuration is "the negative part of the oath of allegiance" [Century Dictionary].
- abjure (v.)
- early 15c., "renounce on oath, repudiate, forswear," originally especially "renounce or recant (a heresy) on oath," from Middle French abjurer or directly from Latin abiurare "deny on oath," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + iurare "to swear," from ius (genitive iuris) "law" (see jurist). Related: Abjured; abjuring.
- land on the northeast coast of the Black Sea, named for its people. Related: Abkhasian.
- ablactation (n.)
- "weaning of a child," 1650s, from Latin ablactationem (nominative ablactatio) "weaning," noun of action from past participle stem of ablactare "to wean," from ab- "off, away from" (see ab-) + lactare "to suckle," from lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (see lacto-).
- ablation (n.)
- early 15c., "a carrying or taking away," in medicine, "mechanical removal of something harmful from the body," from Latin ablationem (nominative ablatio), "a taking away," noun of action from past participle stem of auferre "to carry away," from ab- "off" (see ab-) + the irregular verb ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) "to bear, carry."
- ablative (n.)
- "grammatical case denoting removal or separation," late 14c. as an adjective; mid-15c. as a noun (short for ablative case, originally of Latin), from Old French ablatif and directly from Latin (casus) ablativus "(case) of removal," expressing direction from a place or time, coined by Julius Caesar from ablatus "taken away," past participle of auferre "carrying away," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + the irregular verb ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) "to carry, to bear" (see infer). The "from" case, the Latin case of adverbial relation, typically expressing removal or separation, also "source or place of an action." Related: Ablatival.
- ablaut (n.)
- "systematic vowel alteration in the root of a word to indicate shades of meaning or tense," a characteristic of Indo-European languages, 1849, from German Ablaut, literally "off-sound" ("off" here denoting substitution), coined by J.P. Zweigel in 1568 from ab "off" (from Old High German aba "off, away from," from PIE root *apo- "off, away;" see apo-) + Laut "sound, tone" (from Old High German hlut; see listen (v.)). The word was popularized by Jacob Grimm. The process is what makes strong verbs in Germanic. An example is bind/band/bond/bound + (German) Bund.
- ablaze (adv.)
- late 14c., "on fire," from a "on" (see a- (1)) + blaze (n.).
- able (adj.)
- "having sufficient power or means," early 14c., from Old French (h)able "capable; fitting, suitable; agile, nimble" (14c.), from Latin habilem, habilis "easily handled, apt," verbal adjective from habere "to hold" (see habit (n.)). "Easy to be held," hence "fit for a purpose." The silent h- was dropped in English and resisted academic attempts to restore it 16c.-17c. (see H), but some derivatives (such as habiliment, habilitate) acquired it via French. Able seaman, one able to do any sort of work required on a ship, may be the origin of this:
Able-whackets - A popular sea-game with cards, in which the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors. [Smyth, "Sailor's Word-Book," 1867]
- able-bodied (adj.)
- "healthy and sufficiently strong," 1620s; see able + body.
- ablegation (n.)
- "act of sending abroad or away," 1610s, from Latin ablegationem (nominative ablegatio), noun of action from past participle stem of ablegare "send away on a commission," from ab- "off, away" (see ab-) + legare "send with a commission, send as an ambassador" (see legate).
- ableism (n.)
- by 1990 in feminist and lesbian literature, from able (adj.) + -ism. Defined in 1991 as "bias against the physically challenged and differently abled (formerly the disabled or handicapped) by the temporarily abled. The phrase 'blind to the truth' would be an example of ableist language." [U.S. News & World Report, vol. 110] Related: Ableist.
- abloom (adj.)
- 1855, from a- (1) + bloom (v.).
- ablution (n.)
- "ritual washing," late 14c., from Latin ablutionem (nominative ablutio), noun of action from past participle stem of abluere "to wash off, wash away, cleanse by washing," from ab- "off, away" (see ab-) + luere "to wash" (related to lavere; see lave).
- ABM (n.)
- 1963, initialism (acronym) for anti-ballistic missile.
- see Abenaki.
- abnegate (v.)
- "deny (something) to oneself," 1650s, from Latin abnegatus, past participle of abnegare "to refuse, deny" (see abnegation). Related: Abnegated; abnegating.
- abnegation (n.)
- late 14c., "a negative assertion," c. 1500 as "self-denial, renunciation," from Latin abnegationem (nominative abnegatio) "refusal, denial," noun of action from past participle stem of abnegare "to refuse, deny," from ab- "off, away from" (see ab-) + negare "to deny," from PIE root *ne "not" (see deny).
- masc. proper name, name of Saul's commander in the Old Testament, from Hebrew Abhner, literally "my father is light," from abh "father" + ner "light."
- abnormal (adj.)
- 1835, a refashioning of anormal (1835) under influence of Latin abnormalis "deviating from a fixed rule, irregular," from ab- "off, away from" (see ab-) + norma "rule" (see norm).
The older form was from French anormal (13c.), from Medieval Latin anormalus, an altered (by association with norma) borrowing of Greek anomalos "uneven, irregular," from an-, privative prefix, "not" (see an- (1)) + homalos "even," from homos "same" (see same). Compare anomaly. "Few words show such a series of pseudo-etymological perversions." Another adjective was abnormous (1742) "irregular, misshapen," from Latin abnormis. Related: Abnormally.
- abnormality (n.)
- 1846, "an instance of abnormality, irregularity, deformity;" 1853 as "fact or quality of being abnormal," from abnormal (q.v.) + -ity. Earlier was abnormity (1731), but according to OED this word has more "depreciatory force" than the later one. Abnormalism "tendency to be abnormal" is from 1847. As a verb, abnormalize (1855) seem to be rare.
- aboard (adv., prep.)
- late 14c., "at the side of a ship;" mid-15c., "onto or aboard a ship," probably in most cases from the Old French phrase à bord (compare Old French aborder "to board (a ship)"), from à "on" + bord "board," from Frankish *bord or a similar Germanic source (see board (n.2)). The word for the "boarding" or sides of a vessel being extended to the ship itself. The usual Middle English expression was within borde. The call all aboard! as a warning to passengers (on ships or railway cars) is attested from 1838 (compare French aller à bord "go aboard").
- abode (n.)
- mid-13c., "action of waiting," verbal noun from abiden "to abide" (see abide). It is formally identical with the old, strong past participle of abide (Old English abad), but the modern conjugation is weak and abided is used. The present-to-preterite vowel change is consistent with an Old English class I strong verb (ride/rode, etc.). Meaning "habitual residence" is first attested 1570s.
- aboil (adj.)
- "boiling, on the boil," 1858, from a- + boil (v.).
- abolish (v.)
- "put an end to, do away with," mid-15c., from Old French aboliss-, present participle stem of abolir "to abolish" (15c.), from Latin abolere "destroy, efface, annihilate; cause to die out, retard the growth of," which is perhaps from ab- "from" (see ab-) + adolere "to grow," from PIE *ol-eye-, causative of root *al- (3) "to grow, nourish" (see old), and perhaps formed as an antonym to adolere.
But the Latin word rather could be from a root in common with Greek ollymi, apollymi "destroy." Tucker writes that there has been a confusion of forms in Latin, based on similar roots, one meaning "to grow," the other "to destroy." Now generally used of institutions, customs, etc.; application to persons and concrete objects has long been obsolete. Related: Abolished; abolishing.
Abolish is a strong word, and signifies a complete removal, generally but not always by a summary act. It is the word specially used in connection with things that have been long established or deeply rooted, as an institution or a custom : as to abolish slavery or polygamy. [Century Dictionary, 1900]
- abolition (n.)
- 1520s, "act of abolishing; state of being abolished," from Middle French abolition or directly from Latin abolitionem (nominative abolitio) "an abolition, an annulling," noun of action from past participle stem of abolere "destroy" (see abolish). Related: Abolitionary ("destructive"); abolitional ("pertaining to abolition").
Specific application to "opposition to the trans-Atlantic African slave trade" as a political question is first attested 1788. By 1823 abolition was being used in regard to proposals or arguments to end American slavery itself, and after 1832 this was the usual sense of the word until the effort was accomplished by the 13th Amendment (1865). The alternative noun abolishment (1540s) seems not to have acquired a special use in reference to slavery issues.
- abolitionism (n.)
- "belief in the principle of abolishing (something)," 1790, in a purely anti-slavery sense (distinguished from opposition to the slave trade); from abolition + -ism.
- abolitionist (n.)
- person who favors doing away with some law, custom, or institution, 1792, originally in reference to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, from abolition + -ist. By 1825 (in Britain) in reference to abolition of slavery as an institution. In Britain, applied 20c. to advocates of ending capital punishment. In a general sense, abolisher has been used at least since 1742.
- abominable (adj.)
- mid-14c., "exciting disgust or loathing, morally detestable," from Old French abominable (12c.) and directly from Late Latin abominabilis "deserving abhorrence," from stem of Latin abominari "deplore (as an evil omen)," hence, generally, "detest, execrate, deprecate" (see abomination).
The more common Middle English form was abhominable, which persisted into 17c.; it is a folk-etymology, as if from Latin ab homine "away from man" (thus "beastly"). In early Modern English sometimes misdivided as a bominable. Related: Abominably; abominableness. Abominable snowman (1921) translates Tibetan meetaoh kangmi.
- abominate (v.)
- "abhor, loathe," 1640s, a back-formation from abomination or else from Latin abominatus, past participle of abominari "shun as an ill omen." Related: Abominated; abominating. Middle English had noun, adjective, and adverb but seems to have lacked the verb. The Old French verb, abominer "to loathe" is said to have fallen out of use since 16c.
- abomination (n.)
- early 14c., "abominable thing or action;" late 14c., "feeling of disgust, hatred, loathing," from Old French abominacion "abomination, horror, repugnance, disgust" (13c.), from Latin abominationem (nominative abominatio) "abomination," noun of action from past participle stem of abominari "shun as an ill omen," from ab- "off, away from" (see ab-) + omin-, stem of omen (see omen).
In biblical use, often "that which is ceremonially impure." The meaning was intensified by folk etymology derivation from Latin ab homine "away from man" (thus "beastly"); Wyclif and Chaucer both have abhominacioun, and abhominable was mocked by Shakespeare in "Love's Labour's Lost."
- aboriginal (adj.)
- 1660s, "first, earliest, existing from the beginning," especially in reference to inhabitants of lands colonized by Europeans, from aborigines (see aborigine) + -al (1). The specific Australian sense is attested from 1820. The noun meaning "an original inhabitant, an autochthon" is attested from 1767, in a Massachusetts context. Related: Aboriginally; aboriginality; aboriginalism.
- aborigine (n.)
- 1858, mistaken singular of aborigines (1540s; aboriginal is considered the correct singular in English), from Latin aborigines "the first inhabitants," especially of Latium, hence "the first ancestors of the Romans;" possibly a tribal name, or from or made to conform to the Latin phrase ab origine, which means literally "from the beginning."
This is from ab "from" (see ab-) + ablative of origo "a rise, commencement, beginning, source; descent, lineage, birth," from stem of oriri "arise, rise; be born, be descended, receive life," from PIE root *ergh- "to rise, mount" (see orchestra). Extended 1789 to natives of other countries which Europeans have colonized. Australian slang shortening Abo attested from 1922 (n.), 1906 (adj.).
- aborning (adv.)
- "while being born," 1893, American English; see a- (1) + born + -ing (2).
- abort (v.)
- 1570s, "to miscarry in giving birth," from Latin abortus, past participle of aboriri "to miscarry, be aborted, fail, disappear, pass away," a compound word used in Latin for deaths, miscarriages, sunsets, etc., which according to OED is from ab-, here as "amiss" (see ab-), + stem of oriri "appear, be born, arise," from PIE root *ergh- "to rise, mount" (see orchestra). [Watkins, contra de Vaan, etc., derives the second element from a suffixed form of PIE root *er- (1) "move, set in motion."]
From 1610s as "to deliberately terminate" anything, but especially a pregnancy. Intransitive use in aeronautics and space-flight is by 1946. Transitive meaning "to cause (a woman) to miscarry" is recorded from 1933; with the fetus or pregnancy as the object of the action by 1974. Related: Aborted; aborting. The Latin verb for "produce an abortion" was abigo, literally "to drive away."
- abortifacient (n.)
- 1875, noun ("that which causes miscarriage") and adjective ("producing abortion"), from Latin abortus (see abort) + facientem "making," related to facere "to make, do" (see factitious). An earlier noun for this was abortive (1640s), also a special use of an adjective.
- abortion (n.)
- 1540s, "the expulsion of the fetus before it is viable," originally of deliberate as well as unintended miscarriages; from Latin abortionem (nominative abortio) "miscarriage; abortion, procuring of an untimely birth," noun of action from past participle stem of aboriri "to miscarry" (see abort).
Meaning "product of an untimely birth" is from 1630s; earlier in this sense was abortive (early 14c.). Another earlier noun in English for "miscarriage" was abort (early 15c.). In the Middle English translation of Guy de Chauliac's "Grande Chirurgie" (early 15c.) Latin aborsum is used for "stillbirth, forced abortion." Abortment is attested from c. 1600; aborsement from 1530s, both archaic. Aborticide (1875) is illogical. Compare miscarriage.
In 19c. some effort was made to distinguish abortion "expulsion of the fetus between 6 weeks and 6 months" from miscarriage (the same within 6 weeks of conception) and premature labor (delivery after 6 months but before due time). The deliberate miscarriage was criminal abortion. This broke down late 19c. as abortion came to be used principally for intentional miscarriages, probably via phrases such as procure an abortion.
Criminal abortion is premeditated or intentional abortion procured, at any of pregnancy, by artificial means, and solely for the purpose of preventing the birth of a living child : feticide. At common law the criminality depended on the abortion being caused after quickening. [Century Dictionary, 1899]
Foeticide (n.) appears 1823 as a forensic medical term for deliberate premature fatal expulsion of the fetus; also compare prolicide. Another 19c. medical term for it was embryoctony, with second element from a Latinized form of Greek kteinein "to destroy." Abortion was a taboo word for much of early 20c., disguised in print as criminal operation (U.S.) or illegal operation (U.K.), and replaced by miscarriage in film versions of novels. Abortium "hospital specializing in abortions," is from 1934, in a Soviet Union context.
- abortionist (n.)
- "one who produces an abortion," 1872, from abortion + -ist.
- abortive (adj.)
- late 14c., "born prematurely or dead," from Latin abortivus "prematurely born; pertaining to miscarriage; causing abortion," from abort-, past participle stem of aboriri "disappear, miscarry, fail" (see abort). From 14c.-18c. stillborn children or domestic animals were said to be abortive. Transferred meaning "not brought to completion or successful issue" is from 1590s. Also see abortion. Related: Abortiveness.
- abound (v.)
- "be in great plenty," early 14c., from Old French abonder "to abound, be abundant, come together in great numbers" (12c.), from Latin abundare "overflow, run over," from Latin ab- "off" (see ab-) + undare "rise in a wave," from unda "a wave," from PIE *unda-, nasalized form of root *wed- (1) "water, wet" (see water (n.1)). Related: Abounded; abounding; abounder "one who has plenty or is wealthy" (1755).
English seems to always have used in the -ou- spelling, though in Middle English an unetymological h- sometimes was added. The vowel in Old French abonder, abondance is a continuation of a Merovingian Latin scribal use of -o- for classical Latin -u- to attempt to identify a sound that had evolved since classical times. In French eventually this sound came to be represented by -ou-. Compare French tour "tower," from Old French tor, from Latin turris; court (n.), from Old French cort, from Latin curtus; French outre from Latin ultra, etc. However -o- remained before a nasal (as nombre from numerus, monde from mundum, etc.).
- abounding (adj.)
- 1630s, "affluent," present participle adjective from abound. Literal sense of "overflowing" is recorded by 1680s. Related: Aboundingly. Compare abundant.
- about (adv., prep.)
- Middle English aboute, from Old English abutan (adv., prep.), earlier onbutan "on the outside of; around the circumference of, enveloping; in the vicinity of, near; hither and thither, from place to place," also "with a rotating or spinning motion," in late Old English "near in time, number, degree, etc., approximately;" a compound or contraction of on (see on; also see a- (1)) + be "by" (see by) + utan "outside," from ut (see out (adv.)).
By c. 1300 it had developed senses of "around, in a circular course, round and round; on every side, so as to surround; in every direction;" also "engaged in" (Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?), and gradually it forced out Old English ymbe, ymbutan (see ambi-) in the sense "round about, in the neighborhood of."
From mid-13c. as "in the matter, in connection with." From early 14c. as "in partial rotation, so as to face in a different direction." From late 14c. as "near at hand, about one's person." "In a circuitous course," hence "on the move" (late 13c.), and in Middle English "be about to do, be busy in preparation for," hence its use as a future participle in (to be) about to "in readiness, intending." Abouts (late 14c.), with adverbial genitive, still found in hereabouts, etc., probably is a northern dialectal form.
To bring about "cause or affect" and to come about "happen" are from late 14c. About face as a military command (short for right about face) is first attested 1861, American English.
- above (adv., prep.)
- Middle English above, aboven (also aboun in northern dialects, abow in southwestern dialects), from Old English abufan (adv., prep.), earlier onbufan "above, in or to a higher place, on the upper side; directly over, in or to a higher place than," a contraction or compound of on (also see a- (1)) + bufan "over."
The second element is itself a compound of be "by" (see by) + ufan "over/high" (from Proto-Germanic *ufan-, source also of Old Saxon, Old High German oban, German oben; from PIE root *upo; see up (adv.)).
From c. 1200 as "of higher rank or position, superior in authority or power; of higher rank than, superior to." This sense in Middle English perhaps was reinforced by a literal use of above in the sense "higher at the table than," thus "in a place of greater honor than, taking precedence over" (mid-14c.) From mid-14c. as "in addition to;" also "superior to, out of reach of, not condescending to." From late 14c. as "more" (in number, linear measurement, weight, value); "older; better than, more desirable than, superior to."
Phrase above all "before other considerations" is from late 14c. To be above (someone's) head in the figurative sense "out of range of his or her intellect" is from 1914 (above in the sense "not to be grasped or understood by" is from mid-14c.). In Middle English to be above erthe was "above ground, unburied," hence "living, among the living."
- aboveboard (adj.)
- "in open sight, without trickery or disguise," 1610s, from above and board (n.1). "A figurative expression borrowed from gamesters, who, when they put their hands under the table, are changing their cards." [Johnson]
- abovementioned (adj.)
- 1707, from above (here in the sense "higher up on the written page, at a point closer to the beginning of a document," attested from mid-14c.) + past tense of mention. Above-named is recorded from c. 1600; above-written from early 15c.; above-said from mid-14c.
- magical formula, 1690s, from Latin (Q. Severus Sammonicus, 2c.), from Late Greek Abraxas, cabalistic or gnostic name for the supreme god, and thus a word of power. It was written out in a triangle shape and worn around the neck to ward off sickness, etc. Another magical word, from a mid-15c. writing, was ananizapta.
- abrade (v.)
- 1670s, from Latin abradere "to scrape off, shave away," from ab- "off" (see ab-) + radere "to scrape" (see raze). Abrase, from the stem of the Latin verb, is attested from 1590s. Related: Abraded; abrading.
- masc. proper name, name of the first of the Patriarchs in the Old Testament, from Hebrew Abraham "father of a multitude," from abh "father" + *raham (cognate with Arabic ruham "multitude"); the name he altered from Abram "high father," from second element ram "high, exalted." Related: Abrahamic; Abrahamite.
Abraham-man was an old term for mendicant lunatics, or, more commonly, frauds who wandered England shamming madness so as to collect alms (1560s). According to the old explanation of the name (at least from 1640s), they originally were from Bethlehem Hospital, where in early times there was an Abraham ward or room for such persons, but the ward might have been named for the beggars.