attitudinize (v.) Look up attitudinize at
1784, from attitudinal + -ize. Related: Attitudinized; attitudinizing.
atto- Look up atto- at
word-forming element meaning "one quintillionth," 1962, from Danish atten "eighteen" (a quintillion is 10 to the 18th power), related to Old English eahtatene (see eighteen).
attorn (v.) Look up attorn at
late 13c., Anglo-French, "to turn over to another," from Old French atorner "to turn, turn to, assign, attribute, dispose," from a- "to" (see ad-) + tourner "to turn" (see turn (v.)). In feudal law, "to transfer homage or allegiance to another lord."
attorney (n.) Look up attorney at
early 14c. (mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin), from Old French atorné "(one) appointed," past participle of aturner "to decree, assign, appoint," from atorner (see attorn). The legal Latin form attornare influenced the spelling in Anglo-French. The sense is of "one appointed to represent another's interests."

In English law, a private attorney was one appointed to act for another in business or legal affairs (usually for pay); an attorney at law or public attorney was a qualified legal agent in the courts of Common Law who prepared the cases for a barrister, who pleaded them (the equivalent of a solicitor in Chancery). So much a term of contempt in England that it was abolished by the Judicature Act of 1873 and merged with solicitor.
Johnson observed that "he did not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but he believed the gentleman was an attorney." [Boswell]
The double -t- is a mistaken 15c. attempt to restore a non-existent Latin original. Attorney general first recorded 1530s in sense of "legal officer of the state" (late 13c. in Anglo-French), from French, hence the odd plural (subject first, adjective second).
attract (v.) Look up attract at
early 15c., from Latin attractus, past participle of attrahere "to draw, pull; to attract," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + trahere "draw" (see tract (n.1)).

Originally a medical term for the body's tendency to absorb fluids, nourishment, etc., or for a poultice treatment to "draw out" diseased matter (1560s). Of the ability of people or animals to draw others to them, it is attested from 1560s; of physical forces (magnetism, etc.), from c. 1600 (implied in attraction). Related: Attracted; attracting.
attraction (n.) Look up attraction at
late 14c., from French attraction, from Latin attractionem (nominative attractio) "a drawing together," noun of action from past participle stem of attrahere (see attract). Originally a medical word, "absorption by the body;" meaning "action of drawing to" is from 1540s (again medical); extended to magnetic, then figuratively to personal (c. 1600) qualities. Meaning "a thing which draws a crowd, interesting or amusing exhibition" is from 1829, a sense that developed in English and soon transferred to the French equivalent of the word.
attractive (adj.) Look up attractive at
late 14c., "absorptive," from Middle French attractif (14c.), from attract-, past participle stem of attrahere (see attract). Meaning "having the quality of drawing people's eye or interest" is from 1580s; sense of "pleasing, alluring" is from c. 1600. Related: Attractively; attractiveness.
attrahent (n.) Look up attrahent at
"that which attracts," 1660s, from Latin attrahentem (nominative attrahens), present participle of attrahere (see attract).
attributable (adj.) Look up attributable at
1660s, from attribute (v.) + -able.
attribute (v.) Look up attribute at
late 14c., "assign, bestow," from Latin attributus, past participle of attribuere "assign to, add, bestow;" figuratively "to attribute, ascribe, impute," from ad- "to" + tribuere "assign, give, bestow" (see tribute). Related: Attributed; attributing.
attribute (n.) Look up attribute at
"quality ascribed to someone," late 14c., from Latin attributum "anything attributed," noun use of neuter of attributus (see attribute (v.)). Distinguished from the verb by pronunciation.
attributes (n.) Look up attributes at
"qualities belonging to someone or something," c. 1600; see attribute (n.).
attribution (n.) Look up attribution at
late 15c., "action of bestowing or assigning," from Middle French attribution (14c.), from Latin attributionem (nominative attributio) "an assignment, attribution," noun of action from past participle stem of attribuere (see attribute). Meaning "thing attributed" is recorded from 1580s.
attributive (adj.) Look up attributive at
c. 1600, from French attributif, from stem of Latin attributus (see attribute (v.)). As a noun, in grammar, from 1750. Related: Attributively; attributiveness.
attrit (v.) Look up attrit at
1956, U.S. Air Force back-formation from attrition which attained currency during the Vietnam War. (A 17c. attempt at a verb produced attrite). Related: Attrited; attriting.
attrite (adj.) Look up attrite at
"worn down," 1620s, from Latin attritus, past participle of atterere (see attrition).
attrition (n.) Look up attrition at
1540s, "abrasion, a scraping," from Latin attritionem (nominative attritio), literally "a rubbing against," noun of action from past participle stem of atterere "to wear, rub away," figuratively "to destroy, waste," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + terere "to rub" (see throw (v.)). The earliest sense in English is from Scholastic theology (late 14c.), "sorrow for sin merely out of fear of punishment," a minor irritation, and thus less than contrition. The sense of "wearing down of military strength" is a World War I coinage (1914). Figurative use by 1930.
attune (v.) Look up attune at
1590s, from tune (v.), "probably suggested by ATONE" [OED]. Related: Attuned; attuning.
attunement (n.) Look up attunement at
"a bringing into harmony," 1820, from attune + -ment.
ATV (n.) Look up ATV at
acronym of all-terrain vehicle, 1969.
atween (adv.) Look up atween at
c. 1400, from a- (1) + tween.
atwitter (adv.) Look up atwitter at
1833, from a- (1) + twitter.
atypical (adj.) Look up atypical at
1847, from a- (2) "not" + typical. Related: Atypically.
Au Look up Au at
chemical symbol for "gold," from Latin aurum "gold" (see aureate).
au Look up au at
French, "at the, to the," from Old French al, contraction of a le, with -l- softened to -u-, as also poudre from pulverem, chaud from calidus, etc. Used in many expressions in cookery, etc., which have crossed the Channel since 18c., such as au contraire, literally "on the contrary;" au gratin, literally "with scrapings;" au jus, literally "with the juice."
au courant (adj.) Look up au courant at
"aware of current events," 1762, French, literally "with the current" (see current (n.)).
au fait (adj.) Look up au fait at
1743, French, "to the point, to the matter under discussion," literally "to the fact," from fait "fact" (see feat). Used in French with sense of "acquainted with the facts."
au naturel (adj.) Look up au naturel at
1817, French, literally "in the natural state;" originally meaning "uncooked," but used euphemistically for "undressed." See natural (adj.).
au pair (n.) Look up au pair at
1897 of the arrangement, 1960 of the girl; French, literally "on an equal footing" (see pair (n.)).
au revoir Look up au revoir at
1690s, French, literally "to the seeing again." From revoir (12c.), from Latin revidere.
aubade (n.) Look up aubade at
"musical announcement of dawn," from French aubade (15c.), from Provençal aubada, from auba "dawn," from Latin alba, fem. of albus "white" (see alb).
aubain (n.) Look up aubain at
1727, from French aubaine (12c.), which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin Albanus, but the sense is obscure. Klein suggests Frankish *alibanus, literally "belonging to another ban." A right of French kings, whereby they claimed the property of every non-naturalized stranger who died in their realm. Abolished 1819.
aubergine (n.) Look up aubergine at
"eggplant," 1794, from French aubergine, "fruit of the eggplant" (Solanum esculentum), diminutive of auberge "a kind of peach," variant of alberge, from Spanish alberchigo "apricot" [OED]. Klein derives the French word from Catalan alberginera, from Arabic al-badinjan "the eggplant," from Persian badin-gan, from Sanskrit vatigagama. As a color like that of the eggplant fruit, it is attested from 1895.
Aubrey Look up Aubrey at
masc. personal name, from Old French Auberi, from Old High German Alberich "ruler of elves," or *Alb(e)rada "elf-counsel" (fem.). In U.S., it began to be used as a girl's name c. 1973 and was among the top 100 given names for girls born 2006-2008, eclipsing its use for boys, which faded in proportion.
auburn (n.) Look up auburn at
early 15c., from Old French auborne, from Medieval Latin alburnus "off-white, whitish," from Latin albus "white" (see alb). It came to English meaning "yellowish-white, flaxen," but shifted 16c. to "reddish-brown" under influence of Middle English brun "brown," which also changed the spelling.
auction (n.) Look up auction at
"a sale by increase of bids," 1590s, from Latin auctionem (nominative auctio) "an increasing sale, auction, public sale," noun of action from past participle stem of augere "to increase," from PIE root *aug- (1) "to increase" (see augment). In northern England and Scotland, called a roup. In the U.S., something is sold at auction; in England, by auction.
auction (v.) Look up auction at
1807, from auction (n.). Related: Auctioned; auctioning.
auctioneer Look up auctioneer at
1708 as a noun; 1733 as a verb; see auction + -eer.
audacious (adj.) Look up audacious at
1540s, "confident, intrepid," from Middle French audacieux, from audace "boldness," from Latin audacia "daring, boldness, courage," from audax "brave, bold, daring," but more often "bold" in a bad sense, "audacious, rash, foolhardy," from audere "to dare, be bold." Bad sense of "shameless" is attested from 1590s in English. Related: Audaciously.
audacity (n.) Look up audacity at
mid-15c., from Medieval Latin audacitas "boldness," from Latin audacis genitive of audax (see audacious).
audible (adj.) Look up audible at
1520s, from Middle French audible and directly from Late Latin audibilis, from Latin audire "to hear" (see audience). Related: Audibly.
audience (n.) Look up audience at
late 14c., "the action of hearing," from Old French audience, from Latin audentia "a hearing, listening," from audientum (nominative audiens), present participle of audire "to hear," from PIE compound *au-dh- "to perceive physically, grasp," from root *au- "to perceive" (source also of Greek aisthanesthai "to feel;" Sanskrit avih, Avestan avish "openly, evidently;" Old Church Slavonic javiti "to reveal"). Meaning "formal hearing or reception" is from late 14c.; that of "persons within hearing range, assembly of listeners" is from early 15c. (French audience retains only the older senses). Sense transferred 1855 to "readers of a book." Audience-participation (adj.) first recorded 1940.
audio (n.) Look up audio at
"sound," especially recorded or transmitted, 1934, abstracted from prefix audio- (in audio-frequency, 1919, etc.), from Latin audire "hear" (see audience).
audio- Look up audio- at
word-forming element meaning "sound, hearing," from comb. form of Latin audire "to hear" (see audience); first used in English as a word-formation element 1913.
audiology (n.) Look up audiology at
science of hearing and treatment of deafness, 1946, from audio- + -ology. Related: Audiologist.
audiophile (n.) Look up audiophile at
1951, originally in "High Fidelity" magazine, from audio- + -phile.
audiotape (n.) Look up audiotape at
1957, from audio- + tape (n.).
audiovisual (adj.) Look up audiovisual at
also audio-visual, 1937, from audio- + visual.
audit (n.) Look up audit at
early 15c., from Latin auditus "a hearing," past participle of audire "hear" (see audience). Official examination of accounts, which originally was an oral procedure.
audit (v.) Look up audit at
mid-15c., from audit (n.). Related: Audited; auditing.