autumn (n.) Look up autumn at
late 14c., autumpne (modern form from 16c.), from Old French autumpne, automne (13c.), from Latin autumnus (also auctumnus, perhaps influenced by auctus "increase"), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Etruscan, but Tucker suggests a meaning "drying-up season" and a root in *auq- (which would suggest the form in -c- was the original) and compares archaic English sere-month "August."

Harvest was the English name for the season until autumn began to displace it 16c. In Britain, the season is popularly August through October; in U.S., September through November. Compare Italian autunno, Spanish otoño, Portuguese outono, all from the Latin word. Unlike the other three seasons, its names across the Indo-European languages leave no evidence that there ever was a common word for it.

Many "autumn" words mean "end, end of summer," or "harvest." Compare also Lithuanian ruduo "autumn," from rudas "reddish," in reference to leaves; Old Irish fogamar, literally "under-winter."
autumnal (adj.) Look up autumnal at
1570s, from Latin autumnalis "pertaining to autumn," from autumnus (see autumn).
auxiliary (adj.) Look up auxiliary at
c. 1600, from Latin auxiliaris "helpful," from auxilium "aid, help, support," related to auctus, past participle of augere "to increase" (see augment).
auxiliary (n.) Look up auxiliary at
"foreign troops in service of a nation at war," c. 1600, from auxiliary (adj.). Related: Auxiliaries.
auxin (n.) Look up auxin at
plant growth hormone, 1934, from German (1931), from Greek auxein "to increase" (see augment) + chemical suffix -in (2).
avail (v.) Look up avail at
c. 1300, availen, apparently a French compound formed in English from Old French a- "to" (see ad-) + vailen "to avail," from vaill-, present stem of valoir "be worth," from Latin valere (see valiant). Related: Availed; availing. As a noun, from c. 1400.
availability (n.) Look up availability at
1803, from available + -ity.
available (adj.) Look up available at
mid-15c., "beneficial," also "valid, effective, capable of producing the desired effect," from avail + -able. Meaning "at one's disposal, capable of being made use of" is recorded from 1827.
availing (adj.) Look up availing at
"advantageous," early 15c., present participle adjective from avail (v.).
availment (n.) Look up availment at
1690s, from avail + -ment.
avalanche (n.) Look up avalanche at
1763, from French avalanche (17c.), from Romansch (Swiss) avalantze "descent," altered (by metathesis of -l- and -v-, probably influenced by Old French avaler "to descend, go down") from Savoy dialect lavantse, from Provençal lavanca "avalanche," perhaps from a pre-Latin Alpine language (the suffix -anca suggests Ligurian). As a verb, from 1872.
avant Look up avant at
French, literally "before," in various terms borrowed into English, corresponding to Italian avanti, both from Latin abante, a compound of ab "from" (see ab-) and ante "before, in front of" (see ante), which first meant "from in front of," but in Vulgar Latin came to mean simply "before."
avant-garde (n.) Look up avant-garde at
(also avant garde, avantgarde); French, literally "advance guard" (see avant + guard (n.)). Used in English 15c.-18c. in a literal, military sense; borrowed again 1910 as an artistic term for "pioneers or innovators of a particular period." Also used around the same time in communist and anarchist publications. As an adjective, by 1925.
The avant-garde générale, avant-garde stratégique, or avant-garde d'armée is a strong force (one, two, or three army corps) pushed out a day's march to the front, immediately behind the cavalry screen. Its mission is, vigorously to engage the enemy wherever he is found, and, by binding him, to ensure liberty of action in time and space for the main army. ["Sadowa," Gen. Henri Bonnal, transl. C.F. Atkinson, 1907]
avarice (n.) Look up avarice at
c. 1300, from Old French avarice "greed, covetousness" (12c.), from Latin avaritia "greed," from avarus "greedy," adjectival form of avere "crave, long for."
avaricious (adj.) Look up avaricious at
late 15c., from Old French avaricios "greedy, covetous" (Modern French avaricieux), from avarice (see avarice). An Old English word for it was feoh-georn. Related: Avariciously; avariciousness.
avast Look up avast at
1680s, a nautical interjection, "hold! stop!" probably worn down from Dutch houd vast "hold fast."
AVAST. -- The order to stop, or pause, in any exercise or operation; as Avast heaving -- that is to say, desist, or stop, from drawing in the cable or hawser, by means of the capstan &c. [George Biddlecombe, "The Art of Rigging," 1848]
avatar (n.) Look up avatar at
1784, "descent of a Hindu deity," from Sanskrit avatarana "descent" (of a deity to the earth in incarnate form), from ava- "off, down" (from PIE *au- (2) "off, away") + base of tarati "(he) crosses over," from PIE root *tere- (2) "to cross over" (see through). In computer use, it seems to trace to the novel "Snowcrash" (1992) by Neal Stephenson.
avaunt Look up avaunt at
interjection, late 15c., "begone," literally "move on," from Middle French avant "forward!" (see avant).
ave Look up ave at
"hail," also "farewell," early 13c. (in reference to the Ave Maria), from Latin ave, second person singular imperative of avere "to be or fare well."
Ave Maria Look up Ave Maria at
modified form of the angelic salutation to the Virgin (Luke i:28) used as a devotional recitation, early 13c., from the opening words ("Ave [Maria] gratia plena").
avenge (v.) Look up avenge at
late 14c., from Anglo-French avenger, Old French avengier, from a- "to" (see ad-) + vengier "take revenge" (Modern French venger), from Latin vindicare "to claim, avenge, punish" (see vindicate). Related: Avenged; avenging.
avenger (n.) Look up avenger at
1530s, agent noun from avenge (v.). Spenser (1596) has avengeress but no mention of Mrs. Peel.
avenue (n.) Look up avenue at
c. 1600, "a way of approach" (originally a military word), from Middle French avenue "way of access," from Old French avenue "act of approaching, arrival," noun use of fem. of avenu, past participle of avenir "to come to, arrive," from Latin advenire "to come to," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + venire "to come" (see venue). Meaning shifted to "a way of approach to a country-house," usually bordered by trees, hence, "a broad, tree-lined roadway" (1650s), then to "wide, main street" (by 1846, especially in U.S.).
aver (v.) Look up aver at
late 14c., from Old French averer "verify," from Vulgar Latin *adverare "make true, prove to be true," from Latin ad- "to" (see ad-) + verus "true" (see very). Related: Averred; averring.
average (n.) Look up average at
late 15c., "financial loss incurred through damage to goods in transit," from French avarie "damage to ship," and Italian avaria; a word from 12c. Mediterranean maritime trade (compare Spanish averia; other Germanic forms, Dutch avarij, German haferei, etc., also are from Romanic languages), which is of uncertain origin. Sometimes traced to Arabic 'arwariya "damaged merchandise." Meaning shifted to "equal sharing of such loss by the interested parties." Transferred sense of "statement of a medial estimate" is first recorded 1735. The mathematical extension is from 1755.
average (adj.) Look up average at
1770; see average (n.).
average (v.) Look up average at
1769, from average (n.). Related: Averaged; averaging.
Averroes Look up Averroes at
Latinization of name of Ibn Rushd (1126-1198) Arab philosopher and physician of Spain and Morocco.
averse (adj.) Look up averse at
mid-15c., "turned away in mind or feeling," from Old French avers and directly from Latin aversus "turned away, turned back," past participle of avertere (see avert). Originally and usually in English in the mental sense, while avert is used in a physical sense.
Averse applies to feeling, adverse to action: as, I was very averse to his going: an adverse vote: adverse fortune. [Century Dictionary, 1906]
aversion (n.) Look up aversion at
"a turning away from," 1590s; figurative sense of "mental attitude of repugnance" is from 1650s, from Middle French aversion and directly from Latin aversionem (nominative aversio), noun of action from past participle stem of aversus "turned away, backwards, behind, hostile," itself past participle of avertere (see avert). Earlier in the literal sense of "a turning away from" (1590s). Aversion therapy in psychology is from 1950.
avert (v.) Look up avert at
c. 1400, from Old French avertir (12c.), "turn, direct; avert; make aware," from Vulgar Latin *advertire, from Latin avertere "to turn away, to drive away," from ab- "from, away" (see ab-) + vertere "to turn" (see versus). Related: Averted; averting.
Avestan Look up Avestan at
Eastern Iranian language that survived in sacred texts centuries after it went extinct, from Persian Avesta "sacred books of the Parsees," earlier Avistak, literally "books."
avian (adj.) Look up avian at
"pertaining to birds," 1870, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + -an.
aviary (n.) Look up aviary at
1570s, from Latin aviarium "place in which birds are kept," neuter of aviarius "of birds," from avis "bird," from PIE *awi- "bird" (cognates: Sanskrit vih, Avestan vish "bird," Greek aietos "eagle").
aviation (n.) Look up aviation at
1866, from French aviation, noun of action from stem of Latin avis "bird" (see aviary). Coined 1863 by French aviation pioneer Guillaume Joseph Gabriel de La Landelle (1812-1886) in "Aviation ou Navigation aérienne."
aviator (n.) Look up aviator at
"aircraft pilot," 1887, from French aviateur, from Latin avis (see aviary) + -ateur. Also used c. 1891 in a sense of "aircraft." Feminine form aviatrix is from 1927; earlier aviatrice (1910), aviatress (1911).
Avicenna Look up Avicenna at
Latinization of name of Ibn Sina (980-1037), Persian philosopher and physician. Full name Abū ‘Alī al-Husayn ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā al-Balkhī.
aviculture (n.) Look up aviculture at
1876, from French aviculture, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + Latin cultura "cultivation" (see culture).
avid (adj.) Look up avid at
1769, from French avide (15c.), from Latin avidus "longing eagerly, desirous, greedy," from avere "to desire eagerly." Also in part a back-formation from avidity. Related: Avidly.
avidity (n.) Look up avidity at
mid-15c., "eagerness, zeal," from Old French avidite "avidity, greed," from Latin aviditatem (nominative aviditas) "eagerness, avidity," noun of quality from avidus (see avid).
avionics (n.) Look up avionics at
1949, from aviation + electronics.
Avis Look up Avis at
U.S. car rental company, according to company history, founded 1946 at Willow Run Airport in Detroit by Warren Avis.
avocado (n.) Look up avocado at
1763, from Spanish avocado, altered (by folk etymology influence of earlier Spanish avocado "lawyer," from same Latin source as advocate (n.)) from earlier aguacate, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) ahuakatl "avocado" (with a secondary meaning "testicle" probably based on resemblance), from proto-Nahuan *pawa "avocado." As a color-name, first attested 1945. The English corruption alligator (pear) is 1763, from Mexican Spanish alvacata, alligato.
avocation (n.) Look up avocation at
1520s, "a calling away from one's occupation," from Latin avocationem (nominative avocatio) "a calling away, distraction, diversion," noun of action from past participle stem of avocare, from ab- "off, away from" (see ab-) + vocare "to call" (see voice (n.)).
avoid (v.) Look up avoid at
c. 1300, from Anglo-French avoider "to clear out, withdraw (oneself)," partially anglicized from Old French esvuidier "to empty out," from es- "out" (see ex-) + vuidier "to be empty," from voide "empty, vast, wide, hollow, waste" (see void (adj.)). Originally a law term; modern sense of "have nothing to do with" also was in Middle English and corresponds to Old French eviter with which it was perhaps confused. Meaning "escape, evade" first attested 1520s. Related: Avoided; avoiding.
avoidable (adj.) Look up avoidable at
1630s, from avoid + -able. Related: Avoidably.
avoidance (n.) Look up avoidance at
late 14c., "action of emptying," from avoid + -ance. Sense of "action of dodging or shunning" is recorded from early 15c.; it also meant "action of making legally invalid," 1620s; "becoming vacant" (of an office, etc.), mid-15c.
avoirdupois (n.) Look up avoirdupois at
1650s, misspelling of Middle English avoir-de-peise (c. 1300), from Old French avoir de pois "goods of weight," from aveir "property, goods" (noun use of aveir "have") + peis "weight," from Latin pensum, neuter of pendere "to weigh" (see pendant (n.)). After late 15c., the standard system of weights used in England for all goods except precious metals, precious stones, and medicine.
Avon Look up Avon at
river in southwestern England, from Celtic abona "river," from *ab- "water" (see afanc).
avouch (v.) Look up avouch at
late 15c., from Middle French avochier "call upon as authority," in Old French "call (to court), advocate, plead (a case)," from Latin advocare "call to" as a witness (see advocate).
Avouch, which is no longer in common use, means guarantee, solemnly aver, prove by assertion, maintain the truth or existence of, vouch for .... Avow means own publicly to, make no secret of, not shrink from admitting, acknowledge one's responsibility for .... Vouch is now common only in the phrase vouch for, which has taken the place of avouch in ordinary use, & means pledge one's word for .... [Fowler]
Related: Avouched; avouching.