billiard Look up billiard at
singular of billiards, used only in combinations.
billiards (n.) Look up billiards at
1590s, from French billiard, originally the word for the wooden cue stick, a diminutive from Old French bille "stick of wood," from Medieval Latin billia "tree, trunk," possibly from Gaulish (compare Irish bile "tree trunk").
billing (n.) Look up billing at
1875, "announcement on a bill or poster," verbal noun from bill (v.); hence top billing (1928). Meaning "act of sending out a bill" is recorded from 1908.
billingsgate (n.) Look up billingsgate at
1670s, the kind of coarse, abusive language once used by women in the Billingsgate market on the River Thames below London Bridge.
Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand. ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]
The place name is Old English Billingesgate, "gate of (a man called) Billing;" the "gate" probably being a gap in the Roman river wall. The market is mid-13c., not exclusively a fish market until late 17c.
billion (n.) Look up billion at
1680s, from French billion (originally byllion in Chuquet's unpublished "Le Triparty en la Science des Nombres," 1484; copied by De la Roche, 1520); see bi- "two" + million. A million million in Britain and Germany (numeration by groups of sixes), which was the original sense; subsequently altered in French to "a thousand million" (numeration by groups of threes) and picked up in that form in U.S., "due in part to French influence after the Revolutionary War" [David E. Smith, "History of Mathematics," 1925]. France then reverted to the original meaning in 1948. British usage is truer to the etymology, but U.S. sense is said to be increasingly common there in technical writing.
In Italian arithmetics from the last quarter of the fifteenth century the words bilione or duilione, trilione, quadrilione or quattrilione, quintilione, cinquilione, or quinquilione, sestione or sestilione, settilione, ottilione, noeilione and decilione occur as common abbreviations of due volte millioni, tre volte millione, etc. In other countries these words came into use much later, although one French writer, Nicolas Chuquet, mentions them as early as 1484, in a book not printed until 1881. The Italians had, besides, another system of numeration, proceeding by powers of a thousand. The French, who like other northern peoples, took most if not all their knowledge of modern or Arabic arithmetic from the Italians, early confounded the two systems of Italian numeration, counting in powers of a thousand, but adopting the names which properly belong to powers of a million.
For a time in Britain gillion (1961), based on giga-, was tried as "a thousand million" to avoid ambiguity.
billionaire (n.) Look up billionaire at
1844, American English, from billion on model of millionaire. The first in the U.S. likely was John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), some time after World War I.
billionth Look up billionth at
1778, from billion + -th (2).
billow (n.) Look up billow at
1550s, perhaps older in dialectal use, from Old Norse bylgja "a wave, a billow," from Proto-Germanic *bulgjan (cognates: Middle High German bulge "billow, bag"), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell" (see belly (n.)).
billow (v.) Look up billow at
1590s, from billow (n.). Related: Billowed; billowing.
billowy (adj.) Look up billowy at
1610s, from billow (n.) + -y (2). Related: Billowiness.
billy (n.) Look up billy at
"club," 1848, American English, originally burglars' slang for "crowbar;" meaning "policeman's club" first recorded 1856, probably from nickname of William, applied to various objects (compare jack, jimmy, jenny).
bimbo (n.) Look up bimbo at
1919, "fellow, chap," from variant of Italian bambino "baby;" first attested in Italian-accented theater dialogue. Originally especially "stupid, inconsequential man, contemptible person;" by 1920 the sense of "floozie" had developed (popularized by "Variety" staffer Jack Conway, d.1928). Resurrection during 1980s U.S. political sex scandals led to derivatives including diminutive bimbette (1990) and male form himbo (1988).
bimetallic (adj.) Look up bimetallic at
also bi-metallic, "composed of two metals," 1864, from bi- + metallic. In economics, 1876, from French bimétalique (Cornuschi).
bimodal (adj.) Look up bimodal at
also bi-modal, 1891, from bi- + modal. Related: Bimodality.
bimonthly (adj.) Look up bimonthly at
also bi-monthly, 1846, "happening once in two months, every two months," also "occurring twice a month," a hybrid from bi- + monthly.
bin (n.) Look up bin at
"receptacle," Old English binne "basket, manger, crib," probably from Gaulish, from Old Celtic *benna, akin to Welsh benn "a cart," especially one with a woven wicker body. The same Celtic word seems to be preserved in Italian benna "dung cart," French benne "grape-gatherer's creel," Dutch benne "large basket," all from Late Latin benna "cart," Medieval Latin benna "basket." Some linguists think there was a Germanic form parallel to the Celtic one.
binary (adj.) Look up binary at
"dual," mid-15c., from Late Latin binarius "consisting of two," from bini "twofold, two apiece, two-by-two" (used especially of matched things), from bis "double" (see bis-). Binary code in computer terminology was in use by 1952, though the idea itself is ancient. Binary star in astronomy is from 1802.
binate (adj.) Look up binate at
"double," 1807, from Latin bini "two by two, twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + -ate (2).
binaural (adj.) Look up binaural at
"pertaining to both ears," 1861, from Latin bini "twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + aural. In reference to electronic recordings, from 1933.
bind (v.) Look up bind at
Old English bindan "to tie up with bonds" (literally and figuratively), also "to make captive; to cover with dressings and bandages" (class III strong verb; past tense band, past participle bunden), from Proto-Germanic *bindan (cognates: Old Saxon bindan, Old Norse and Old Frisian binda, Old High German binten "to bind," German binden, Gothic bindan), from PIE root *bhendh- "to bind" (see bend (v.)). Intransitive sense of "stick together" is from 1670s. Of books, from c. 1400.
bind (n.) Look up bind at
"anything that binds," in various senses, late Old English, from bind (v.). Meaning "tight or awkward situation" is from 1851.
binder (n.) Look up binder at
Old English bindere "one who binds" (see bind (v.)). Of various objects or products that bind, from early 16c.
bindery (n.) Look up bindery at
1810, American English; see bind (v.) + -ery.
binding (n.) Look up binding at
mid-13c., verbal noun from bind (v.). Meaning "thing that binds" is from c. 1300; "state of being bound" is from late 14c. Meaning "covering of a book" is recorded from 1640s.
bindle (n.) Look up bindle at
"tramp's bundle," c. 1900, perhaps from bundle (n.) or Scottish dialectal bindle "cord or rope to bind things." Related: Bindlestiff.
bine (n.) Look up bine at
"climbing stem, flexible shoot of a shrub," 1727, from a dialectal form of bind (n.).
bing (n.) Look up bing at
"heap or pile," 1510s, from Old Norse bingr "heap." Also used from early 14c. as a word for bin, perhaps from notion of "place where things are piled."
binge (n.) Look up binge at
1854, "drinking bout," also (v.) "drink heavily, soak up alcohol;" dialectal use of binge "soak" (a wooden vessel). Noted originally as a Northampton dialect word. Sense extended c. World War I to include eating as well as drinking. Related: Binged; binging.
bingo (n.) Look up bingo at
lotto-like game of chance, 1936; many theories about its origin, none satisfying; the most likely is bingo! as an exclamation of sudden realization or surprise (attested from 1923). Uncertain connection to the slang word for "brandy" (1690s); attested as "liquor" in American English, 1861. Thomas Chandler Haliburton ("Sam Slick") in "The Americans at Home" (1854) recounts a story of a drinking game in which the children's song about the farmer's dog was sung and when it came time to spell out the name, every participant had to take a letter in turn, and anyone who missed or flubbed had to drink.
binnacle (n.) Look up binnacle at
"wooden box for a ship's compass," c. 1750, corruption of bittacle (1620s), which is probably from Spanish bitacula or Portuguese bitacola, both from Latin habitaculum "little dwelling place," from habitare "to inhabit" (see habit).
binocle (n.) Look up binocle at
1690s, from French binocle (17c.), from Latin bini- "two by two, twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + oculus "eye" (see eye (n.)).
binocular (adj.) Look up binocular at
1738, "involving both eyes," earlier "having two eyes" (1713), from French binoculaire, from Latin bini "two by two, twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + ocularis "of the eye," from oculus "eye" (see eye (n.)). The double-tubed telescopic instrument (1871, short for binocular glass) earlier was called a binocle. Related: Binocularity.
binoculars (n.) Look up binoculars at
1866; see binocular. Earlier binocle (1690s).
binomial Look up binomial at
1550s (n.); 1560s (adj.), from Late Latin binomius "having two personal names," a hybrid from bi- (see bi-) + nomius, from nomen (see name (n.)). Taken up 16c. in the algebraic sense "consisting of two terms."
bint (n.) Look up bint at
"girlfriend," 1855, British English, from Arabic bint "daughter;" adopted by British servicemen in the Middle East.
bio (n.) Look up bio at
short for biography, attested from 1961.
bio- Look up bio- at
word-forming element, from Greek bio-, comb. form of bios "one's life, course or way of living, lifetime" (as opposed to zoe "animal life, organic life"), from PIE root *gweie- (1) "to live" (cognates: Sanskrit jivah "alive, living;" Old Persian *jivaka- "alive," Middle Persian zhiwak "alive;" Old English cwic, cwicu "living, alive;" Latin vivus "living, alive," vita "life;" Old Church Slavonic zivo "to live;" Lithuanian gyvas "living, alive," gyvata "(eternal) life;" Old Irish bethu "life," bith "age;" Welsh byd "world"). The correct usage is that in biography, but in modern science it has been extended to mean "organic life."
biocentric (adj.) Look up biocentric at
also bio-centric, 1889, from bio- + -centric. Anti-biocentric attested from 1882.
biochemical (adj.) Look up biochemical at
also bio-chemical, 1851, after German biochemisch, from bio- + chemical. Related: Biochemically.
biochemist (n.) Look up biochemist at
also bio-chemist, 1897; see bio- + chemist.
biochemistry (n.) Look up biochemistry at
also bio-chemistry, 1857, from bio- + chemistry.
biocide (n.) Look up biocide at
"destruction of living tissue or living species," 1947, from bio- + -cide.
biodegradable (adj.) Look up biodegradable at
also bio-degradable, 1960, from bio- + degrade + -able.
biodiesel (n.) Look up biodiesel at
also bio-diesel, 1992, from bio- + diesel.
biodiversity (n.) Look up biodiversity at
also bio-diversity, by 1988, from bio- + diversity.
bioethics (n.) Look up bioethics at
also bio-ethics, coined 1970 by U.S. biochemist Van Rensselaer Potter II (1911-2001), who defined it as "Biology combined with diverse humanistic knowledge forging a science that sets a system of medical and environmental priorities for acceptable survival." From bio- + ethics.
biofeedback (n.) Look up biofeedback at
also bio-feedback, 1969, from bio- + feedback. Said to have been coined by U.S. psychologist and parapsychologist Gardner Murphy (1890-1975).
biofuel (n.) Look up biofuel at
also bio-fuel, by 1984, from bio- + fuel (n.).
biogenesis (n.) Look up biogenesis at
also bio-genesis, 1870, "theory that living organisms arise only from pre-existing living matter," coined by English biologist T.H. Huxley (1825-1895) from Greek bios "life" (see bio-) + -genesis "birth, origin, creation." Related: Biogenetic; biogenetical.
biogenic (adj.) Look up biogenic at
1904, with reference to Haeckel's recapitulation theory; 1913 as "produced by living organisms," from bio- + genic "produced by" (see genus).