amity (n.) Look up amity at
mid-15c., "friendly relations," from Old French amitie (13c.); earlier amistie (11c.), from Vulgar Latin *amicitatem (nominative *amicitas) "friendship," corresponding to Latin amicitia, from amicus (adj.) "friendly;" related to amare "to love" (see Amy).
ammeter (n.) Look up ammeter at
instrument for measuring the strength of electric currents, 1882, from ampere + -meter.
ammo (n.) Look up ammo at
1917, shortened form of ammunition.
ammonia (n.) Look up ammonia at
1799, Modern Latin, coined 1782 by Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman (1735-1784) for gas obtained from sal ammoniac, salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon (from Egyptian God Amun) in Libya, from Greek ammoniakos "belonging to Ammon." The shrine was ancient already in Augustus' day, and the salts were prepared "from the sands where the camels waited while their masters prayed for good omens" [Shipley].

There also was a gum form of sal ammoniac, from a wild plant that grew near the shrine, and across North Africa and Asia. A less likely theory traces the name to Greek Armeniakon "Armenian," because the substance also was found in Armenia. Also known as spirit of hartshorn and volatile or animal alkali.
ammonite (n.) Look up ammonite at
"cephalopod mollusk," 1758, from French (Breyn, 1732), "better established" [Century Dictionary] by French zoologist Jean Guillaume Bruguière (c. 1750-1798) in 1789, from Medieval Latin (cornu) Ammonis "horn of Ammon," the Egyptian god of life and reproduction, who was depicted with ram's horns, which the fossils resemble. The resemblance also was noted in ancient times.
ammunition (n.) Look up ammunition at
1620s, from French soldiers' faulty separation of Middle French la munition into l'ammunition; from Latin munitionem (nominative munitio) "a fortifying" (see munition), and at first meaning all military supplies in general. The mistake in the word perhaps was by influence of French a(d)monition "warning." The error was corrected in French (Modern French munition), but retained in English.
amnesia (n.) Look up amnesia at
"loss of memory," 1786 (as a Greek word in English from 1670s), Modern Latin, coined from Greek amnesia "forgetfulness," from a-, privative prefix, "not" (see a- (3)) + stem from mnasthai "to recall, remember," related to mnemnon "mindful," mneme "memory;" from PIE root *men- "to think, remember" (see mind (n.)).
amnesiac (n.) Look up amnesiac at
"one affected by amnesia," 1913, from amnesia (q.v.).
amnesic (adj.) Look up amnesic at
"pertaining to amnesia," 1863; see amnesia + -ic.
amnestic (adj.) Look up amnestic at
"causing loss of memory," 1879, from Greek amnestia "oblivion, forgetfulness;" see amnesia.
amnesty (n.) Look up amnesty at
"pardon of past offenses," 1570s, from French amnestie "intentional overlooking," from Latin amnestia, from Greek amnestia "forgetfulness (of wrong); an amnesty," from a-, privative prefix, "not" (see a- (3)), + mnestis "remembrance," related to mnaomai "I remember" (see mind (n.)). As a verb, from 1809. Amnesty International founded 1961 as Appeal for Amnesty. The name was changed 1963.
amniocentesis (n.) Look up amniocentesis at
1958, Modern Latin, from amnion (see amniotic) + centesis "surgical puncture," from Greek kentesis "a pricking," from kentein "to prick," related to kontos "pole" (see center (n.)).
amnion (n.) Look up amnion at
1660s, Modern Latin, from Greek amnion "membrane around a fetus," said to be originally "bowl in which the blood of victims was caught" [Liddell & Scott], which is variously said to be of unknown origin, from ame "bucket," or a diminutive of amnos "lamb."
amniotic (adj.) Look up amniotic at
1822, from Modern Latin amnion (see amnion) + -ic.
amoeba (n.) Look up amoeba at
1855, from Modern Latin Amoeba, genus name (1841), from Greek amoibe "change," related to ameibein "to change, exchange," from PIE *e-meigw-, extended form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move" (see mutable). So called for its constantly changing shape. Related: Amoebaean; amoebic.
amoebae Look up amoebae at
classically correct plural form of amoeba; see -ae.
amok (adv.) Look up amok at
in verbal phrase run amok first recorded 1670s, from Malay amuk "attacking furiously." Earlier the word was used as a noun or adjective meaning "a frenzied Malay," originally in the Portuguese form amouco or amuco.
There are some of them [the Javanese] who ... go out into the streets, and kill as many persons as they meet. ... These are called Amuco. ["The Book of Duarte Barbosa: An Account of the Countries Bordering on the Indian Ocean and Their Inhabitants," c. 1516, English translation]
Compare amuck.
amole (n.) Look up amole at
1831, from Mexican Spanish amole, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) amolli "soap-root."
among (prep.) Look up among at
early 12c., from Old English onmang, from phrase on gemang "in a crowd," from gemengan "to mingle" (see mingle). Collective prefix ge- dropped 12c. leaving onmong, amang, among. Compare Old Saxon angimang "among, amid;" Old Frisian mong "among."
amongst (prep.) Look up amongst at
mid-13c., amonges, from among with adverbial genitive. Parasitic -t first attested 16c. (see amidst). It is well established in the south of England, but not much heard in the north. By similar evolutions, alongst also existed in Middle English.
amontillado (n.) Look up amontillado at
a variety of sherry wine, 1825, from Spanish amontillado, from a "from" (from Latin ad; see ad-) + Montilla, name of a town in the province of Cordova. Formerly the name of a regional wine, now of a type of sherry.
amoral (adj.) Look up amoral at
"ethically indifferent," 1882, a hybrid formed from Greek privative prefix a- "not" (see a- (3)) + moral, which is derived from Latin. First used by Robert Louis Stephenson (1850-1894) as a differentiation from immoral.
amoretto (n.) Look up amoretto at
1590s, from Italian, literally "little love," a diminutive of amore "love" (see Amy). This word was variously applied to love sonnets, cupids, etc. Also compare Amaretto.
amorous (adj.) Look up amorous at
c. 1300, from Old French amorous (Modern French amoureux), from Late Latin amorosum, from amor "love," from amare "to love" (see Amy). Related: Amorously; amorousness.
amorphous (adj.) Look up amorphous at
"shapeless," 1731, from Modern Latin amorphus, from Greek amorphos "without form, shapeless, deformed," from a- "without" (see a- (3)) + morphe "form" (see Morpheus). Related: Amorphously; amorphousness.
amortisation (n.) Look up amortisation at
chiefly British English spelling of amortization; see -ize.
amortise (v.) Look up amortise at
chiefly British English spelling of amortize; for suffix, see -ize. Related: Amortised; amortising.
amortization (n.) Look up amortization at
1670s, in reference to lands given to religious orders, from Medieval Latin amortizationem (nominative amortizatio), noun of action from past participle stem of amortizare (see amortize). Of debts, from 1824.
amortize (v.) Look up amortize at
late 14c., from Old French amortiss-, present participle stem of amortir "deaden," from Vulgar Latin *admortire "to extinguish," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + mortus "dead," from Latin mors "death" (see mortal (adj.)). Originally a legal term for an act of alienating lands. Meaning "extinguish a debt" (in form amortization) is attested from 1824. Related: Amortized; amortizing.
Amos Look up Amos at
masc. proper name; third of the prophets in the Old Testament; from Greek, from Hebrew Amos, literally "borne (by God)."
amount (v.) Look up amount at
late 13c., "to go up, rise, mount (a horse)," from Old French amonter, from a mont "upward," literally "to the mountain," from Latin ad- "to" (see ad-) + montem (nominative mons) "mountain" (see mount (n.1)). Meaning "to rise in number or quality (so as to reach)" is from c. 1300. Related: Amounted; amounting.
amount (n.) Look up amount at
1710, from amount (v.).
amour (n.) Look up amour at
c. 1300, "love," from Old French amour, from Latin amorem (nominative amor) "love, affection, strong friendly feeling" (it could be used of sons or brothers, but especially of sexual love), from amare "to love" (see Amy). The accent shifted 15c.-17c. to the first syllable as the word became nativized, then shifted back as the naughty or intriguing sense became primary and the word was felt to be a euphemism.
A common ME word for love, later accented ámour (cf. enamour). Now with suggestion of intrigue and treated as a F[rench] word. [Weekley]
amour-propre (n.) Look up amour-propre at
1775, French, "sensitive self-love, self-esteem;" see amour and proper.
Vanity usually gives the meaning as well, &, if as well, then better. [Fowler]
The term was in Middle English as proper love "self-love."
amoxycillin (n.) Look up amoxycillin at
1971, contracted from amino- + oxy- + ending from penicillin.
Amoy Look up Amoy at
old name for the island of southeastern China, now known as Xiamen. From 1851 as the name of a dialect of Chinese.
amp (n.) Look up amp at
1886 as an abbreviation of ampere; 1967 as an abbreviation of amplifier.
amperage (n.) Look up amperage at
strength of an electric current, 1889, from ampere on model of voltage.
ampere (n.) Look up ampere at
1881, "the current that one volt can send through one ohm," from French ampère, named for French physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836). Shortened form amp is attested from 1886.
ampersand (n.) Look up ampersand at
1837, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). The distinction is to avoid confusion of & in such formations as &c., a once common way of writing etc. (remembering that the et in it is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as a word.

The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures), attested in Pompeiian graffiti, but not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, which was a different form of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro, which used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et.

This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, who sprinkled their works with a symbol like a numeral 7 to indicate the word and. In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."
amphetamine (n.) Look up amphetamine at
1938, contracted from alphamethyl-phenethylamine.
amphi- Look up amphi- at
before a vowel amph-, word-forming element from Greek amphi- "both, of both kinds, on both sides, around," from amphi "round about, around;" cognate with Latin ambi- (see ambi-).
amphibian (adj.) Look up amphibian at
1630s, "having two modes of existence, of doubtful nature," from Greek amphibia, neuter plural of amphibios "living a double life," from amphi- "of both kinds" (see amphi-) + bios "life" (see bio-).

Formerly used by zoologists to describe all sorts of combined natures (including otters and seals), the biological sense "class of animals between fishes and reptiles that live both on land and in water" and the noun derivative both are first recorded 1835. Amphibia was used in this sense from c. 1600 and has been a zoological classification since c. 1819.
amphibious (adj.) Look up amphibious at
1640s, from Latinized form of Greek amphibios "having a double life" (see amphibian). Of motor vehicles, from 1915.
amphibrach (n.) Look up amphibrach at
1580s, from Latin amphibrachus, from Greek amphibrakhys, name for a foot consisting of a long syllable between two short, literally "short at both ends," from amphi- "on both sides" (see amphi-) + brakhys "short" (see brief (adj.)).
Amphictyonic League Look up Amphictyonic League at
1753, one of several ancient Greek confederations of neighboring states, from Greek amphiktionikos, from amphiktiones "neighbors," literally "they that dwell round about," from amphi- "on both sides" (see amphi-) + second element related to ktizein "to create, found," ktoina "habitation, township," from PIE root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home" (see home (n.)).
amphigory (n.) Look up amphigory at
"burlesque nonsense writing or verse," 1809, from French amphigouri, which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Greek amphi- (see amphi-) + gyros "circle," thus "circle on both sides," or second element may be from Greek -agoria "speech" (compare allegory, category). Related: Amphigoric.
Amphiscians (n.) Look up Amphiscians at
1620s, from Medieval Latin Amphiscii, from Greek amphiskioi "inhabitants of the tropics," literally "throwing a shadow both ways," from amphi- "on both sides" (see amphi-) + skia "shadow" (see shine (v.)). Inhabitants of torrid zones, so called because they are "people whose shadow is sometimes to the North, and sometimes to the South" [Cockerham, 1623].
amphitheater (n.) Look up amphitheater at
late 14c., from Latin amphitheatrum, from Greek amphitheatron "double theater, amphitheater," neuter of amphitheatros "with spectators all around," from amphi- "on both sides" (see amphi-) + theatron "theater" (see theater). Classical theaters were semi-circles, thus two together made an amphi-theater.
amphitheatre (n.) Look up amphitheatre at
chiefly British English spelling of amphitheater. See -er.