bait (v.1) Look up bait at Dictionary.com
"to torment or goad (someone unable to escape, and to take pleasure in it)," c.1300, beyten, a figurative use from the literal sense of "to set dogs on," from the medieval entertainment of setting dogs on some ferocious animal to bite and worry it (the literal use is attested from c.1300); from Old Norse beita "to cause to bite," from Proto-Germanic *baitan (cognates: Old English bætan "to cause to bite," Old High German beizzen "to bait," Middle High German beiz "hunting," German beizen "to hawk, to cauterize, etch"), causative of *bitan (see bite (v.)); the causative word forked into the two meanings of "harass" and "food offered." Related: Baited; baiting.
bait (v.2) Look up bait at Dictionary.com
"to put food on a hook or in a trap," c.1300, probably from bait (n.). Related: Baited; baiting.
baited (adj.) Look up baited at Dictionary.com
c.1600, "furnished with bait," past participle adjective from bait (v.2). Hence, in a figurative sense, "exciting, alluring" (1650s). For bated breath see bate (v.1).
baize (n.) Look up baize at Dictionary.com
coarse woolen fabric, 1570s, bayse, from French baies, fem. plural of adjective bai "bay-colored," from Latin badius "chestnut-colored" (see bay (n.4)). Thus probably so called for its original color. French plural taken as a singular in English.
Baja Look up Baja at Dictionary.com
in place names (such as Baja California), Spanish baja, literally "lower," either in elevation or geography.
bake (v.) Look up bake at Dictionary.com
Old English bacan "to bake," from Proto-Germanic *bakan "to bake" (cognates: Old Norse baka, Middle Dutch backen, Old High German bahhan, German backen), from PIE *bheg- (source also of Greek phogein "to roast"), extended form of root *bhe- "to warm" (see bath). Related: Baked (Middle English had baken); baking. Baked beans attested by 1803.
bake (n.) Look up bake at Dictionary.com
"social gathering at which baked food is served," 1846, American English, from bake (v.).
bakelite (n.) Look up bakelite at Dictionary.com
type of plastic widely used early 20c., 1909, from German Bakelit, named for Belgian-born U.S. physicist Leo Baekeland (1863-1944), who invented it. Originally a proprietary name, it is formed by the condensation of a phenol with an aldehyde.
baker (n.) Look up baker at Dictionary.com
Old English bæcere "baker," agent noun from bacan "to bake" (see bake (v.)). In the Middle Ages, the craft had two divisions, braun-bakeres and whit-bakeres.
White bakers shall bake no hors brede..broune bakers shall bake whete brede as it comyth grounde fro the mylle withoute ony bultyng of the same. Also the seid broune bakers shall bake hors brede of clene benys and pesyn, And also brede that is called housholdersbrede. [Letterbook in the City of London Records Office, Guildhall, 1441]
Baker's dozen "thirteen" is from 1590s.
These dealers [hucksters] ... on purchasing their bread from the bakers, were privileged by law to receive thirteen batches for twelve, and this would seem to have been the extent of their profits. Hence the expression, still in use, "A baker's dozen." [H.T. Riley, "Liber Albus," 1859]
bakery (n.) Look up bakery at Dictionary.com
c.1820, "place for making bread;" see bake (v.) + -ery. Replaced earlier bakehouse (c.1400). As "shop where baked goods are sold" it was noted as an Americanism by British travelers from c.1830.
baklava (n.) Look up baklava at Dictionary.com
1650s, from Turkish.
baksheesh (n.) Look up baksheesh at Dictionary.com
1620s, in India, Egypt, etc., "a tip," from Persian bakhshish, literally "gift," from verb bakhshidan "to give" (also "to forgive"), from PIE root *bhag- "to share out, apportion, distribute" (see -phagous).
balaclava (n.) Look up balaclava at Dictionary.com
"woolen head covering," especially worn by soldiers, evidently named for village near Sebastopol, Russia, site of a battle Oct. 25, 1854, in the Crimean War. But the term (originally Balaclava helmet) does not appear before 1881 and seems to have come into widespread use in the Boer War. The British troops suffered from the cold in the Crimean War, and the usage might be a remembrance of that conflict. The town name (Balaklava) often is said to be from Turkish, but is perhaps folk-etymologized from a Greek original Palakion.
balalaika (n.) Look up balalaika at Dictionary.com
stringed instrument with a triangular body, 1788, from Russian balalaika, said to be related to balabolit' "to chatter, babble," an imitative word.
balance (n.) Look up balance at Dictionary.com
early 13c., "apparatus for weighing," from Old French balance (12c.) "balance, scales for weighing," also in the figurative sense; from Medieval Latin bilancia, from Late Latin bilanx, from Latin (libra) bilanx "(scale) having two pans," possibly from Latin bis "twice" + lanx "dish, plate, scale of a balance." The accounting sense is from 1580s; the meaning "general harmony between parts" is from 1732; sense of "physical equipoise" is from 1660s. Balance of power in the geopolitical sense is from 1701. Many figurative uses (such as hang in the balance, late 14c.), are from Middle English image of the scales in the hands of personified Justice, Fortune, Fate, etc.
balance (v.) Look up balance at Dictionary.com
1570s, "be equal with," from balance (n.). Meaning "bring or keep in equilibrium" is from 1630s; that of "keep oneself in equilibrium" is from 1833. Of accounts, from 1580s. Related: Balanced; balancing. Balanced meal, diet, etc. is from 1908.
balcony (n.) Look up balcony at Dictionary.com
1610s, from Italian balcone, from balco "scaffold," from a Germanic source (perhaps Langobardic *balko- "beam," cognate with Old English balca "beam, ridge;" see balk (n.)) + Italian augmentative suffix -one. Till c.1825, regularly accented on the second syllable.
bald (adj.) Look up bald at Dictionary.com
c.1300, ballede, probably, with Middle English -ede adjectival suffix + Celtic bal "white patch, blaze" especially on the head of a horse or other animal (from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, gleam;" see bleach (v.)). Compare, from the same root, Sanskrit bhalam "brightness, forehead," Greek phalos "white," Latin fulcia "coot" (so called for the white patch on its head), Albanian bale "forehead." But connection with ball (n.1), on notion of "smooth, round" also has been suggested. Bald eagle first attested 1680s; so called for its white head.
balderdash (n.) Look up balderdash at Dictionary.com
1590s, of unknown origin; originally a jumbled mix of liquors (milk and beer, beer and wine, etc.), transferred 1670s to "senseless jumble of words." From dash; first element perhaps cognate with Danish balder "noise, clatter" (see boulder).
baldness (n.) Look up baldness at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from bald + -ness.
baldric (n.) Look up baldric at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "belt worn over the shoulder," from Old French baldre (Modern French baudrier "shoulder-belt"), which probably is from Latin balteus "belt," said by Varro to be of Etruscan origin. The English word perhaps influenced by Middle High German balderich (which itself is from the Old French).
Baldwin Look up Baldwin at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, from Old French Baldoin (Modern French Baudouin), from a Germanic source similar to Old High German Baldawin, literally "bold friend," from bald "bold" (see bold) + wini "friend" (see win). A popular Flemish name, common in England before and after the Conquest.
baldy (n.) Look up baldy at Dictionary.com
"bald-headed person," 1850, from bald + -y (3).
bale (n.) Look up bale at Dictionary.com
"large bundle or package," early 14c., from Old French bale "rolled-up bundle," from a Germanic source (such as Old High German balla "ball"), from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole).
baleen (n.) Look up baleen at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "whalebone," from Old French balaine (12c.) "whale, whalebone," from Latin ballaena, from Greek phallaina "whale" (apparently related to phallos "swollen penis," probably because of a whale's shape), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole). Klein writes that the Greek to Latin transition was "through the medium of the Illyrian language, a fact which explains the transition of Gk. -ph- into Latin -b- (instead of -p-)."
baleful (adj.) Look up baleful at Dictionary.com
Old English bealu-full "dire, wicked, cruel," from bealu "harm, injury, ruin, evil, mischief, wickedness, a noxious thing," from Proto-Germanic *balwom (cognates: Old Saxon balu, Old Frisian balu "evil," Old High German balo "destruction," Old Norse bol, Gothic balwjan "to torment"), from PIE root *bhelu- "to harm." During Anglo-Saxon times, the noun was in poetic use only (in compounds such as bealubenn "mortal wound," bealuðonc "evil thought"), and for long baleful has belonged exclusively to poets. Related: Balefully.
baler (n.) Look up baler at Dictionary.com
machine that makes bales, 1888, agent noun from bale (v.).
balk (n.) Look up balk at Dictionary.com
Old English balca "ridge, bank," from or influenced by Old Norse balkr "ridge of land," especially between two plowed furrows, both from Proto-Germanic *balkon- (cognates: Old Saxon balko, Danish bjelke, Old Frisian balka, Old High German balcho, German Balken "beam, rafter"), from PIE *bhelg- "beam, plank" (cognates: Latin fulcire "to prop up, support," fulcrum "bedpost;" Lithuanian balziena "cross-bar;" and possibly Greek phalanx "trunk, log, line of battle"). Modern senses are figurative, representing the balk as a hindrance or obstruction (see balk (v.)). Baseball sense is first attested 1845.
balk (v.) Look up balk at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "to leave an unplowed ridge when plowing," from balk (n.). Extended meaning "to omit, intentionally neglect" is mid-15c. Most modern senses are figurative, from the notion of a balk in the fields as a hindrance or obstruction: sense of "stop short" (as a horse confronted with an obstacle) is late 15c.; that of "to refuse" is 1580s. Related: Balked; balking.
Balkanize (v.) Look up Balkanize at Dictionary.com
1920, first used in reference to the Baltic states, on the model of what had happened in the Balkans; said to have been coined by English editor James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), but A.J. Toynbee (1922) credited it to "German Socialists" describing the results of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Either way, the reference is to the political situation in the Balkans c.1878-1913, when the European section of the Ottoman Empire split up into small, warring nations. Balkanized and Balkanization both also are from 1920.
Balkans Look up Balkans at Dictionary.com
probably from Turkic balkan "mountain."
balky (adj.) Look up balky at Dictionary.com
1847, from balk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Balkily; balkiness.
ball (n.1) Look up ball at Dictionary.com
"round object," Old English *beal, from or corresponding to Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (cognates: Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole).

Meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. A ball as an object in a sports game is recorded from c.1200; To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c.1400. To be on the ball is 1912, from sports. Ball-point pen first recorded 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is c.1900.
ball (n.2) Look up ball at Dictionary.com
"dancing party," 1630s, from French, from Old French baller "to dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance," from Greek ballizein "to dance, jump about" (see ballistics). Hence, "very enjoyable time," 1945, American English slang, perhaps back to 1930s in black slang.
ball (v.) Look up ball at Dictionary.com
1650s, "make into a ball," from ball (n.1). Sense of "to become like a ball" is 1713; that of "to copulate" is first recorded 1940s in jazz slang, either from the noun sense of "testicle" or "enjoyable time" (from ball (n.2)). Related: Balled; balling.
ball and chain (n.) Look up ball and chain at Dictionary.com
a type of prisoner's restraint, 1818; as "one's wife," 1920.
ballad (n.) Look up ballad at Dictionary.com
late 15c., from French ballade "dancing song" (13c.), from Old Provençal ballada "(poem for a) dance," from balar "to dance," from Late Latin ballare "to dance" (see ball (n.2)).
ballade (n.) Look up ballade at Dictionary.com
late 14c., an earlier borrowing of ballad (q.v.) with a specific metrical sense. Technically, a poem consisting of one or more triplets of seven- (later eight-) lined stanzas, each ending with the same line as the refrain, usually with an envoy. Popularized 19c. as a type of musical composition by Frédéric Chopin. Ballade royal is recorded from late 15c.
Ballard Look up Ballard at Dictionary.com
surname, attested from late 12c., probably meaning "bald head;" see Wyclif's "Stye up, ballard," where Coverdale translates "Come vp here thou balde heade" [2 Kg.2:23-24, where God kills 42 children for making fun of Elijah's lack of hair.]
ballast (n.) Look up ballast at Dictionary.com
"heavy material used to steady a ship," 1520s, from Middle English bar "bare" (see bare; in this case "mere") + last "a load, burden," or borrowed from identical terms in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian (compare Old Danish barlast, 14c.). "Mere" because not carried for commercial purposes. Dutch balg-last "ballast," literally "belly-load," is a folk-etymology corruption.
ballerina (n.) Look up ballerina at Dictionary.com
1792, from Italian ballerina, literally "dancing girl," fem. of ballerino "dancer," from ballo "a dance" (see ball (n.2)). The Italian plural form ballerine formerly sometimes was used in English.
ballet (n.) Look up ballet at Dictionary.com
1660s, from French ballette from Italian balletto, diminutive of ballo "a dance" (see ball (n.2)). Balletomane attested by 1930.
ballista (n.) Look up ballista at Dictionary.com
ancient war engine, late 14c., from Latin ballista, literally "a throwing machine," from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics).
ballistic (adj.) Look up ballistic at Dictionary.com
1775, "pertaining to thrown objects," ultimately from Greek ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). Of rockets or missiles (ones that are guided while under propulsion, but fall freely), from 1949. Ballistic missile first attested 1954; they attain extreme heights, hence figurative expression go ballistic (1981) "become irrationally angry."
ballistics (n.) Look up ballistics at Dictionary.com
1753, "art of throwing; science of projectiles," with -ics + Latin ballista "ancient military machine for hurling stones," from Greek ballistes, from ballein "to throw, to throw so as to hit," also in a looser sense, "to put, place, lay;" from PIE root *gwele- (1) "to throw, reach," in extended senses "to pierce" (cognates: Sanskrit apa-gurya "swinging," balbaliti "whirls, twirls;" Greek bole "a throw, beam, ray," belemnon "dart, javelin," belone "needle"). Here, too, probably belongs Greek ballizein "to dance," literally "to throw one's body," ancient Greek dancing being highly athletic.
ballocks (n.) Look up ballocks at Dictionary.com
"testicles," from Old English beallucas, plural diminutive of balle (see ball (n.1)).
ballon (n.) Look up ballon at Dictionary.com
"smoothness in dancing, lightness of step," 1830, from French ballon, literally "balloon" (see balloon (n.)).
balloon (n.) Look up balloon at Dictionary.com
1570s, "a game played with a large inflated leather ball," from Italian pallone "large ball," from palla "ball," from a Germanic source akin to Langobardic palla (from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell;" see bole) + -one, suffix indicating great size.

Perhaps also borrowed in part from French ballon (16c.), altered (after balle) from Italian pallone. It also meant the ball itself (1590s), which was batted back and forth by means of large wooden paddles strapped to the forearms. In 17c., it also meant "a type of fireworks housed in a pasteboard ball" (1630s) and "round ball used as an architectural ornament" (1650s). Acquired modern meaning after Montgolfier brothers' flights, 1783. As a child's toy, it is attested from 1848; as "outline containing words in a comic engraving" it dates from 1844. Also see -oon.
balloon (v.) Look up balloon at Dictionary.com
"to go up in a balloon," 1792; "to swell, puff up," 1841, from balloon (n.). Related: Ballooned; ballooning.
ballot (n.) Look up ballot at Dictionary.com
1540s, "small ball used in voting," also "secret vote taken by ballots," from Italian pallotte, diminutive of palla "ball," for small balls used as counters in secret voting (see balloon). Earliest references are to Venice. Ballot box attested from 1670s.