- chamois (n.)
- 1550s, "Alpine antelope;" 1570s, "soft leather," originally "skin of the chamois," from Middle French chamois "Alpine antelope" (14c.), from Late Latin camox (genitive camocis), perhaps from a pre-Latin Alpine language that also produced Italian camoscio, Spanish camuza, Old High German gamiza, German Gemse (though some of these might be from Latin camox). As a verb, "to polish with chamois," from 1934.
- chamomile (n.)
- obsolete form of camomile.
- indigenous people of Guam and the Marianas Islands, from Spanish Chamorro, literally "shorn, shaven, bald." Supposedly because the men shaved their heads, but the name also has been connected to native Chamoru, said to mean "noble," so perhaps Chamorro is a Spanish folk etymology.
- champ (n.)
- 1868, American English abbreviation of champion (n.).
- champ (v.)
- "to chew noisily," 1520s, probably echoic; OED suggests a connection with jam (v.). Earlier also cham, chamb, etc. To champ on (or at) the bit, as an eager horse will, is attested in figurative sense by 1640s. Related: Champed; champing. As a noun in this sense, attested from c.1600.
- champagne (n.)
- 1660s, from French, short for vin de Champagne
"wine made in Champagne," former province in northwest France, literally "open country" (see campaign (n.)). Originally any wine from this region, focused to the modern meaning late 18c.
- champaign (n.)
- "open country, plain," c.1400, from Old French champagne "country, countryside," from Latin campania "plain, level country," especially that near Rome (see campaign (n.)).
- champertous (adj.)
- 1640s, from champart, from French champart "portion of produce received by a feudal lord from land held in lease from him" (13c.), from Old North French campart-, probably from Latin campi pars "part of the field" (see campus + part (n.)). In later use often with reference to champerty (early 14c.), the illegal act whereby a person makes a bargain to maintain a litigant in return for a share of the gains if the case succeeds.
- champignon (n.)
- "mushroom," 1570s, from Middle French champignon (14c.), with change of suffix, from Old French champegnuel, from Vulgar Latin *campaniolus "that which grows in the field," from Late Latin campaneus "pertaining to the fields," from campania "level country" (see campaign (n.)).
- champion (n.)
- early 13c., "doughty fighting man, valorous combatant," also (c.1300) "one who fights on behalf of another or others," from Old French champion "combatant, champion in single combat" (12c.), from Late Latin campionem (nominative campio) "gladiator, fighter, combatant in the field," from Latin campus "field (of combat);" see campus. Had been borrowed earlier by Old English as cempa. Sports sense in reference to "first-place performer in some field" is recorded from 1730.
- champion (v.)
- "to fight for, defend, protect," 1820 (Scott) in a literal sense, from champion (n.). Figurative use by 1830. Earlier it meant "to challenge" (c.1600). Related: Championed; championing.
- championship (n.)
- 1812, "position of a champion," from champion (n.) + -ship. Meaning "competition to determine a champion" is recorded from 1893.
- chance (v.)
- late 14c., "to come about, to happen," from chance (n.). Meaning "to risk" attested from 1859. Related: Chanced; chancing.
- chance (n.)
- c.1300, "something that takes place, what happens, an occurrence" (good or bad, but more often bad), from Old French cheance "accident, chance, fortune, luck, situation, the falling of dice" (12c., Modern French chance), from Vulgar Latin *cadentia "that which falls out," a term used in dice, from neuter plural of Latin cadens, present participle of cadere "to fall" (see case (n.1)).
In English frequently in plural, chances. The word's notions of "opportunity" and "randomness" are as old as the record of it in English and now all but crowd out the word's original notion of "mere occurrence." Main chance "thing of most importance" is from 1570s, bearing the older sense. The mathematical (and hence odds-making) sense is attested from 1778. To stand a chance (or not) is from 1796.
To take (one's) chances "accept what happens" (early 14c.) is from the old, neutral sense; to take a chance/take chances is originally (by 1814) "participate in a raffle or lottery or game;" extended sense of "take a risk" is by 1826.
- chancel (n.)
- c.1300, "part of the church around the altar," from Old French chancel, from Late Latin cancellus "lattice," from Latin cancelli (plural) "grating, bars" (see cancel); sense extended in Late Latin from the lattice-work that separated the choir from the nave in a church to the space itself.
- chancellery (n.)
- see chancery.
- chancellor (n.)
- early 12c., from Old French chancelier (12c.), from Late Latin cancellarius "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court," so called because he worked behind a lattice (Latin cancellus) at a basilica or law court (see chancel). In the Roman Empire, a sort of court usher; the post gradually gained importance in the Western kingdoms. A variant form, canceler, existed in Old English, from Old North French, but was replaced by this central French form.
- chancery (n.)
- late 14c., "court of the Lord Chancellor of England," contracted from chancellery (c.1300), from Old French chancelerie (12c.), from Medieval Latin cancellaria (see chancellor).
- chancre (n.)
- also chanker, "venereal ulcer," c.1600, from French chancre (15c.), literally "cancer," from Latin cancer (see cancer).
- chancy (adj.)
- 1510s, "lucky, foreboding good fortune," from chance (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "uncertain, subject to risk" is recorded from 1860. The possible sense "full of opportunity" seems to have been used regularly only in cricket (1875).
- chandelier (n.)
- late 14c., chaundeler "candlestick, chandelier," from Old French chandelier (n.1), 12c., earlier chandelabre "candlestick, candelabrum" (10c.), from Latin candelabrum, from candela "candle" (see candle). Re-spelled mid-18c. in French fashion; during 17c. the French spelling referred to a military device.
- chandler (n.)
- "maker or seller of candles," late 14c., attested as a surname from late 13c. (also, from early 14c. "candle-holder;" see chandelier), from Old French chandelier (n.2) "candle-maker, candle-seller; person in charge of lighting a household, monastery, etc.," from Latin candelarius, from candela "candle" (see candle). Native candleman is attested from mid-13c.
- chandlery (n.)
- c.1600, from Middle French chandelerie, from chandelier (see chandler).
- Paris fashion house, founded by Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel (1883-1971), French fashion designer and perfumier, who opened her first shop in 1909. The perfume Chanel No. 5 debuted in 1921.
- change (v.)
- early 13c., "to substitute one for another; to make (something) other than what it was" (transitive); from late 13c. as "to become different" (intransitive), from Old French changier "to change, alter; exchange, switch," from Late Latin cambiare "to barter, exchange," from Latin cambire "to exchange, barter," of Celtic origin, from PIE root *kemb- "to bend, crook" (with a sense evolution perhaps from "to turn" to "to change," to "to barter"); cf. Old Irish camm "crooked, curved;" Middle Irish cimb "tribute," cimbid "prisoner;" see cant (n.2). Meaning "to take off clothes and put on other ones" is from late 15c. Related: Changed; changing. To change (one's) mind is from 1610s.
- change (n.)
- c.1200, "act or fact of changing," from Anglo-French chaunge, Old French change "exchange, recompense, reciprocation," from changier (see change (v.)).
Meaning "a different situation" is from 1680s. Meaning "something substituted for something else" is from 1590s. The financial sense of "balance returned when something is paid for" is first recorded 1620s; hence to make change (1865). Bell-ringing sense is from 1610s. Related: changes. Figurative phrase change of heart is from 1828.
- changeable (adj.)
- mid-13c., "unstable, inconstant, unreliable," from Old French changeable "inconstant," from changier (see change (v.)) + -able (see -able). Meaning "subject to variation" is from late 14c. Related: Changeably.
- changeling (n.)
- 1550s, "one given to change," from change (n.) + diminutive suffix -ling. Meaning "person or thing left in place of one secretly taken" is from 1560s; specific reference to an infant or young child (usually stupid or ugly) supposedly left by the faeries in place of one they took is from 1580s. An earlier word for it was oaf or auf.
- changer (n.)
- early 14c., agent noun from change (v.), or else from Old French changeour "money-changer, barterer," from changier.
- channel (v.)
- 1590s, "to wear channels in," from channel (n.). Meaning "convey in a channel" is from 1640s. Related: Channeled; channeling.
- channel (n.)
- early 14c., "bed of running water," from Old French chanel "bed of a waterway; tube, pipe, gutter," from Latin canalis "groove, channel, waterpipe" (see canal). Given a broader, figurative sense 1530s (of information, commerce, etc.); meaning "circuit for telegraph communication" (1848) probably led to that of "band of frequency for radio or TV signals" (1928). The Channel Islands are the French Îles Anglo-Normandes.
- chanson (n.)
- c.1600, from French chanson, from Old French chançon "song, epic poem" (12c.), from Latin cantionem (nominative cantio) "song," from past participle stem of canere (see chant (v.)).
- chant (v.)
- late 14c., from Old French chanter "to sing, celebrate" (12c.), from Latin cantare "to sing," originally frequentative of canere "sing" (which it replaced), from PIE root *kan- "to sing" (cf. Greek eikanos "cock," Old English hana "cock," both literally "bird who sings for sunrise;" Old Irish caniaid "sings," Welsh canu "sing"). The frequentative quality of the word was no longer felt in Latin, and by the time French emerged the word had entirely displaced canere. Related: Chanted; chanting.
- chant (n.)
- 1670s, from chant (v.), or else from French chant (12c.), from Latin cantus "song, a singing; bird-song," from past participle stem of canere.
- chanter (n.)
- "singer, composer," late 14c., from Old French chanteor (Modern French chanteur), from Latin cantorem "singer," from cantare "to sing" (see chant (v.)).
- chanteuse (n.)
- "female singer of popular songs," 1888, from French chanteuse (16c.), fem. agent noun of chanter "to sing" (see chant (v.)). In Old French, the word was chanteresse.
- chanticleer (n.)
- "a cock," c.1300, from Old French Chantecler "sing-loud" (Modern French Chanteclair), name of the cock in medieval stories of Reynard the Fox; from chanter "to sing" (see chant (v.)) + cler (see clear (adj.)).
- town in France near Paris; as a kind of porcelain made there, 1774; in reference to a delicate lace originally made there, 1831. The place name is Medieval Latin Chantileium, from the Gallo-Roman personal name Cantilius.
- chanty (n.)
- 1856, also shanty, chantey; probably an alteration of French chanter "to sing" (see chant (v.)); perhaps from French chantez, imperative of chanter.
- also Chanukkah, 1891, from Hebrew hanukkah "consecration."
- chaos (n.)
- late 14c., "gaping void," from Old French chaos (14c.) or directly from Latin chaos, from Greek khaos "abyss, that which gapes wide open, is vast and empty," from *khnwos, from PIE root *gheu- "to gape, yawn" (cf. Greek khaino "I yawn," Old English ginian, Old Norse ginnunga-gap; see yawn (v.)).
Meaning "utter confusion" (c.1600) is extended from theological use of chaos for "the void at the beginning of creation" in Vulgate version of Genesis (1530s in English). The Greek for "disorder" was tarakhe, however the use of chaos here was rooted in Hesiod ("Theogony"), who describes khaos as the primeval emptiness of the Universe, begetter of Erebus and Nyx ("Night"), and in Ovid ("Metamorphoses"), who opposes Khaos to Kosmos, "the ordered Universe." Meaning "orderless confusion" in human affairs is from c.1600. Chaos theory in the modern mathematical sense is attested from c.1977.
- chaotic (adj.)
- 1713, "in a state of primordial chaos," irregularly formed in English from chaos + -ic, probably on model of eros/erotic, demos/demotic, hypnos/hypnotic, etc. Transferred or figurative meaning "confused, disordered" is from 1747.
- chap (n.)
- 1570s, "customer," short for obsolete chapman "purchaser, trader" (see cheap). Colloquial sense of "lad, fellow" is first attested 1716 (cf. slang tough customer).
- chap (v.)
- "to crack," mid-15c., chappen (intransitive) "to split, burst open;" "cause to crack" (transitive); perhaps a variant of choppen (see chop (v.), and cf. strap/strop), or related to Middle Dutch kappen "to chop, cut," Danish kappe, Swedish kappa "to cut." Related: Chapped; chapping. The noun meaning "fissure in the skin" is from late 14c.
- chaparral (n.)
- "shrub thicket," 1850, American English, from Spanish chaparro "evergreen oak," perhaps from Basque txapar "little thicket," diminutive of sapar "heath, thicket."
In Spain, a chaparral
is a bush of a species of oak. The termination al signifies a place abounding in; as, chaparral, a place of oak-bushes, almendral, an almond orchard; parral, a vineyard; cafetal, a coffee plantation, etc., etc.
This word, chaparral, has been introduced into the language since our acquisition of Texas and New Mexico, where these bushes abound. It is a series of thickets, of various sizes, from one hundred yards to a mile through, with bushes and briars, all covered with thorns, and so closely entwined together as almost to prevent the passage of any thing larger than a wolf or hare. [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1859]
- chapbook (n.)
- also chap-book, 1824, shortened from chap(man) book, so called because chapmen (see cheap) once sold such books on the street. A modern word for a type of old book.
- chapeau (n.)
- 1520s, from Middle French chapeau (Old French capel, 12c.) "hat," from Vulgar Latin *cappellus, from Late Latin capellum (also source of Italian cappello, Spanish capelo, Portuguese chapeo), diminutive of cappa (see cap (n.)).
- chapel (n.)
- early 13c., from Old French chapele (12c., Modern French chapelle), from Medieval Latin cappella "chapel, sanctuary for relics," literally "little cape," diminutive of Late Latin cappa "cape" (see cap (n.)); by tradition, originally in reference to the sanctuary in France in which the miraculous cape of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of France, was preserved; meaning extended in most European languages to "any sanctuary." (While serving Rome as a soldier deployed in Gaul, Martin cut his military coat in half to share it with a ragged beggar. That night, Martin dreamed Christ wearing the half-cloak; the half Martin kept was the relic.)
- chaperon (n.)
- 1720, "woman accompanying a younger, unmarried lady in public," from French chaperon "protector," especially "female companion to a young woman," earlier "head covering, hood" (c.1400), from Old French chaperon "hood, cowl" (12c.), diminutive of chape "cape" (see cap (n.)). "... English writers often erroneously spell it chaperone, app. under the supposition that it requires a fem. termination" [OED]. The notion is of "covering" the socially vulnerable one.
"May I ask what is a chaperon?"
The word had been used in Middle English in the literal sense "hooded cloak."
"A married lady; without whom no unmarried one can be seen in public. If the damsel be five and forty, she cannot appear without the matron; and if the matron be fifteen, it will do."
[Catharine Hutton, "The Welsh Mountaineer," London, 1817]
- chaperon (v.)
- "act as a chaperon," 1792, also chaperone, from chaperon (n.), or from French chaperonner, from chaperon (n.). Related: Chaperoned; chaperoning.