bolero (n.) Look up bolero at
kind of Spanish dance, 1787, from Spanish, probably from bola "ball" (and perhaps with reference to "whirling motion"), from Latin bulla (see bull (n.2)). In reference to a type of short jacket, it is recorded by 1864.
Bolivia Look up Bolivia at
South American republic, founded 1825, named for Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), statesman and soldier.
boll (n.) Look up boll at
Old English bolla "bowl, cup, pot," merged with Middle Dutch bolle "round object," borrowed 13c., both from Proto-Germanic *bul-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole). Influenced in meaning by Latin bulla "bubble, ball," ultimately from the same PIE root. Extended c. 1500 to "round seed pod of flax or cotton." Boll weevil is 1895, American English.
In south Texas, among Spanish-speaking people, the insect is generally known as the 'picudo,' a descriptive name which refers to the snout or beak of the insect. English-speaking planters generally referred to the insect at first as 'the sharpshooter,' a term which for many years has been applied to any insect which causes through its punctures the shedding of the squares or the rotting of the bolls. As there are several native insects that are commonly called sharpshooters and which, though injurious, are by no means to be compared with this insect, it becomes necessary to discourage in every way the use of the word sharpshooter as applied to this weevil. The adoption of the term 'Mexican cotton-boll weevil' for the new pest is recommended. [New Mexico College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 19, April 1896]
A case of entomology meddling in etymology.
bollard (n.) Look up bollard at
1844, originally a post for fixing mooring ropes; since 1948, usually a traffic control device; probably from bole + suffix -ard.
bollix (v.) Look up bollix at
"bungle," respelling (perhaps euphemistic) of bollocks, plural of bollock "testicle," from Old English beallucas "testicles," from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE *bhel- (2) "to inflate, swell" (see bole). Related: Bollixed; bollixing.
bollock (n.) Look up bollock at
singular of bollocks (q.v.).
bollocks (n.) Look up bollocks at
"testicles," 1744, see bollix. In British slang, as an ejaculation meaning "nonsense," recorded from 1919.
Bollywood Look up Bollywood at
"film industry based in Mumbai, India," 1977, from Bombay (old name of Mumbai) + Hollywood.
Bolo (n.) Look up Bolo at
"traitor," 1917, from Paul Bolo, French adventurer shot for treason April 17, 1918; used in World War I with reference to pacifist propagandists; later somewhat assimilated to Bolshevik (q.v.).
bologna (n.) Look up bologna at
1850, variant of bologna sausage (1590s), named for the city in Italy, whose name is from Latin Bononia, which either represents Gaulish bona "foundation, fortress," or Boii, the name of the Gaulish people who occupied the region 4c. B.C.E. Also see baloney.
Bolognese (adj.) Look up Bolognese at
1756, pertaining to Bologna (q.v.).
boloney (n.) Look up boloney at
see baloney.
Bolshevik (n.) Look up Bolshevik at
1917, from Russian bol'shiy "greater," comparative of adjective bol'shoy "big, great" (as in Bolshoi Ballet), from Old Church Slavonic boljiji "larger," from PIE root *bel- "strong" (cognates: Sanskrit balam "strength, force," Greek beltion "better," Phrygian balaios "big, fast," Old Irish odbal "strong," Welsh balch "proud;" Middle Dutch, Low German, Frisian pal "strong, firm").

It was the faction of the Russian Social Democratic Worker's Party after a split in 1903 that was either larger or more extreme (or both) than the Mensheviks (from Russian men'shij "less"); after they seized power in 1917, applied generally to Russian communists. Bolshevism is recorded from 1917.
bolster (v.) Look up bolster at
mid-15c. (implied in bolstered), "propped up, made to bulge" (originally of a woman's breasts), from bolster (n.). Figurative sense is from c. 1500, on the notion of "to support with a bolster, prop up." Related: Bolstering.
bolster (n.) Look up bolster at
Old English bolster "bolster, cushion, something stuffed so that it swells up," especially "long, stuffed pillow," from Proto-Germanic *bolkhstraz (cognates: Old Norse bolstr, Danish, Swedish, Dutch bolster, German polster), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell" (see belly (n.)).
bolt (n.) Look up bolt at
Old English bolt "short, stout arrow with a heavy head;" also "crossbow for throwing bolts," from Proto-Germanic *bultas (cognates: Old Norse bolti, Danish bolt, Dutch bout, German Bolzen), perhaps from PIE root *bheld- "to knock, strike" (cognates: Lithuanian beldu "I knock," baldas "pole for striking").

Applied since Middle English to other short metal rods (especially those with knobbed ends). From the notion of an arrow's flight comes the lightning bolt (1530s). A bolt of canvas (c. 1400) was so called for its shape. Adverbial phrase bolt upright is from late 14c.
bolt (v.) Look up bolt at
from bolt (n.) in its various senses; from a crossbow arrow's quick flight comes the meaning "to spring, to make a quick start" (early 13c.). Via the notion of runaway horses, this came to mean "to leave suddenly" (early 19c.). Meaning "to gulp down food" is from 1794. The meaning "to secure by means of a bolt" is from 1580s. Related: Bolted; bolting.
bomb (n.) Look up bomb at
1580s, from French bombe, from Italian bomba, probably from Latin bombus "a deep, hollow noise; a buzzing or booming sound," from Greek bombos "deep and hollow sound," echoic. Originally of mortar shells, etc.; modern sense of "explosive device placed by hand or dropped from airplane" is 1909. Meaning "old car" is from 1953. Meaning "success" is from 1954 (late 1990s slang the bomb "the best" is probably a fresh formation); opposite sense of "a failure" is from 1963. The bomb "atomic bomb" is from 1945.
bomb (v.) Look up bomb at
1680s, from bomb (n.). Meaning "to fail" attested from 1963. Related: Bombed; bombing. Slang bombed "drunk" is attested by 1956.
bombard (n.) Look up bombard at
early 15c., "catapult, military engine for throwing large stones," from Middle French bombarde "mortar, catapult" (14c.), from bombe (see bomb (n.)). The same word, from the same source, was used in English and French late 14c. in reference to the bass shawm, a bassoon-like musical instrument, preserving the "buzzing" sense in the Latin.
bombard (v.) Look up bombard at
1590s, from French bombarder, from bombarde "mortar, catapult" (see bombard (n.)). Figurative sense by 1765. Related: Bombarded; bombarding.
bombardier (n.) Look up bombardier at
1550s, soldier with a bombard, from French bombardier, from bombard (see bombard (n.)). In 17c.-18c. of soldiers who manned artillery (especially mortars and howitzers); meaning "one who aims the bombs in an aircraft" is attested 1932, American English.
bombast (n.) Look up bombast at
1560s, "cotton padding," corrupted from earlier bombace (1550s), from Old French bombace "cotton, cotton wadding," from Late Latin bombacem, accusative of bombax "cotton, 'linteorum aut aliae quaevis quisquiliae,' " a corruption and transferred use of Latin bombyx "silk," from Greek bombyx "silk, silkworm" (which also came to mean "cotton" in Medieval Greek), from some oriental word, perhaps related to Iranian pambak (modern panba) or Armenian bambok, perhaps ultimately from a PIE root meaning "to twist, wind." From stuffing and padding for clothes or upholstery, meaning extended to "pompous, empty speech" (1580s).

Also from the same source are Swedish bomull, Danish bomuld "cotton," and, via Turkish forms, Modern Greek mpampaki, Rumanian bumbac, Serbo-Croatian pamuk. German baumwolle "cotton" is probably from the Latin word but altered by folk-etymology to look like "tree wool." Polish bawełna, Lithuanian bovelna are partial translations from German.
bombastic (adj.) Look up bombastic at
1704, "inflated," from bombast + -ic. Meaning "given to bombastic language" is from 1727.
Bombay Look up Bombay at
city in western India, from Portuguese, and popularly explained as Portuguese bom bahia "good bay," but that seems folk etymology (for one, the adjective is masculine and the noun is feminine), and the more likely candidate is the local Mumbadevi "Goddess Mumba," a Hindu deity worshipped there. The city's name officially changed to Mumbai in 1995.
bombazine (n.) Look up bombazine at
(also bombasine, bambazine), 1550s, from French bombasin (14c.) "cotton cloth," from Medieval Latin bombacinium "silk texture," from Late Latin bombycinium, neuter of bombycinius "silken," from bombyx "silk, silkworm," from Greek bombyx. The post-classical transfer of the word from "silk" to "cotton" may reflect the perceived "silk-like" nature of the fabric, or a waning of familiarity with genuine silk in the European Dark Ages, but compare bombast.
bomber (n.) Look up bomber at
"one who throws bombs," 1915, agent noun from bomb (v.). As a type of military aircraft, from 1917.
bombinate (v.) Look up bombinate at
"make a buzzing noise," 1865, from Latin bombinare, corrupted from bombitare "to hum, buzz," from bombus "a deep, hollow sound; hum, buzz," echoic. Related: Bombinated; bombinating.
bombination (n.) Look up bombination at
1816; see bombinate + -ion.
bombshell (n.) Look up bombshell at
1708, from bomb (n.) + shell (n.). The figurative sense of "shattering or devastating thing or event" attested from 1860. In reference to a pretty woman (especially a blonde) it is attested from 1942 ("Bombshell" as title of a movie starring blond U.S. actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) is from 1933).
bon (adj.) Look up bon at
French, literally "good" (adj.), from Latin bonus "good" (see bene-). It has crossed the Channel in phrases such as bon apétit (1860), literally "good appetite;" bon-ton (1744) "good style;" bon mot.
bon mot (n.) Look up bon mot at
1735, French, "good saying, " literally "good word," from bon "good" + mot (12c.), from Vulgar Latin muttum, from Latin muttire "to mutter, mumble, murmur" (see mutter).
bon vivant (n.) Look up bon vivant at
also bon-vivant, "one fond of good living," 1690s, French (see bon); the fem. is bonne vivante.
bon voyage Look up bon voyage at
1670s, French, "pleasant journey," from bon "good," (see bon) + voyage (see voyage (n.)).
bona fide Look up bona fide at
1540s, Latin, literally "in good faith," ablative of bona fides "good faith" (see faith). Originally used as an adverb, later (18c.) also as an adjective. The opposite is mala fide.
bona fides (n.) Look up bona fides at
by 1838, English pluralization of bona fide, as though it were a noun meaning "guarantee of good faith."
bonafide Look up bonafide at
see bona fide.
bonanza (n.) Look up bonanza at
1844, American English, from Spanish bonanza "a rich lode," originally "fair weather at sea, prosperity," from Vulgar Latin *bonacia, from Latin bonus "good" (see bene-).
bonbon (n.) Look up bonbon at
1796, from French bonbon (17c.), childish reduplication of bon "good." Hence, bonbonniere (1818) "a box for sweets."
bond (n.) Look up bond at
early 13c., "anything that binds," phonetic variant of band (n.1). For vowel change, see long (adj.); also influenced by Old English bonda "householder," literally "dweller" (see bondage). Legalistic sense first recorded 1590s.
bond (v.) Look up bond at
1670s (transitive), from bond (n.). Intransitive sense from 1836. Originally of things; of persons by 1969. Related: Bonded; bonding. Male bonding attested by 1969.
bondage (n.) Look up bondage at
c. 1300, "condition of a serf or slave," from Anglo-Latin bondagium, from Middle English bond "a serf, tenant farmer," from Old English bonda "householder," from Old Norse boandi "free-born farmer," noun use of present participle of boa "dwell, prepare, inhabit," from PIE *bhow-, from root *bheue- "to be, exist, dwell" (see be). Meaning in English changed by influence of bond. The sexual sado-masochism sense is recorded by 1966.
bonded (adj.) Look up bonded at
"legally confirmed by bond," 1590s, from bond (v.).
bondman (n.) Look up bondman at
mid-13c., "husband, husbandman," from Middle English bond (see bondage) + man (n.). Later, "man in bondage, slave" (mid-14c.).
bondsman (n.) Look up bondsman at
"one who stands surety by bond," 1754, from bond (n.) + man (n.), with genitive -s- added probably in part to avoid confusion with bondman.
bone (n.) Look up bone at
Old English ban "bone, tusk," from Proto-Germanic *bainam (cognates: Old Frisian ben, Old Norse bein, Danish ben, German Bein). No cognates outside Germanic (the common PIE root is *os-; see osseous); the Norse, Dutch, and German cognates also mean "shank of the leg," and this is the main meaning in Modern German, but English never seems to have had this sense.
bone (v.) Look up bone at
especially in bone up "study," 1880s student slang, probably from "Bohn's Classical Library," a popular series in higher education published by German-born English publisher Henry George Bohn (1796-1884) as part of a broad series of "libraries" he issued from 1846, totaling 766 volumes, continued after 1864 by G. Bell & Sons.
bonehead (n.) Look up bonehead at
"stupid person," 1908, from bone (n.) + head (n.). Compare blockhead, meathead.
boner (n.) Look up boner at
"blunder," 1912, baseball slang, probably from bonehead. Meaning "erect penis" is 1950s, from earlier bone-on (1940s), probably a variation (with connecting notion of "hardness") of hard-on (1893).
bones (n.) Look up bones at
plural of bone (n.). As a colloquial way to say "dice," it is attested from late 14c. As a nickname for a surgeon, it dates to 1887, short for sawbones. To make bones about something (mid-15c.) refers to bones found in soup, etc., as an obstacle to being swallowed. To feel something in one's bones "have a presentiment" is 1867, American English.