- fetch (v.)
- Middle English fecchen, from Old English feccan "to bring, bring to; seek, gain, take," apparently a variant of fetian, fatian "bring near, bring back, obtain; induce; marry," which is probably from Proto-Germanic *fetan (cognates: Old Frisian fatia "to grasp, seize, contain," Old Norse feta "to find one's way," Middle Dutch vatten, Old High German sih faggon "to mount, climb," German fassen "to grasp, contain").
This would connect it to the PIE verbal root *ped- "to walk," from *ped- (1) "foot" (see foot (n.)). With widespread sense development: to "reach," "deliver," "effect," "make (butter), churn" (19c.), "restore to consciousness" (1620s), also various nautical senses from 16c.-17c.; meaning "to bring in as equivalent or price" is from c. 1600. In 17c. writers on language didn't derive a word's etymology; they fetched it. As what a dog does, c. 1600, originally fetch-and-carry. Variant form fet, a derivation of the original Old English version of the word, survived as a competitor until 17c. Related: Fetched; fetching.
- fetch (n.1)
- "apparition of a living person, specter, a double," 1787, an English dialect word of unknown origin (see OED for discussion).
A peculiarly weird type of apparition is the wraith (q.v.) or double, of which the Irish fetch is a variant. The wraith is an exact facsimile of a living person, who may himself see it. Goethe, Shelley, and other famous men are said to have seen their own wraiths. The fetch makes its appearance shortly before the death of the person it represents, either to himself or his friends, or both. [Lewis Spence, "An Encyclopedia of Occultism," 1920]
- fetch (n.2)
- "act of fetching," 1540s, from fetch (v.).
- fetching (adj.)
- 1580s, "crafty, scheming," present participle adjective from fetch (v.), in one of its extended senses, here "bring or draw into a desired relation or condition." The sense of "alluring, fascinating" is by 1880, from the verb in the sense "allure, attract, fascinate" (c. 1600). Related: Fetchingly.
- fete (n.)
- 1754, from French fête "festival, feast," from Old French feste "feast, celebration" (see feast (n.)). If the date is right, first used in English by Horace Walpole (1717-1797).
- fete (v.)
- 1819, from fete (n.). Related: Feted; fetes; feting.
- fetial (adj.)
- 1530s, "pertaining to the Fetiales," the Roman diplomatic corps, a college of 20 priests whose duty was to act as heralds and maintain the laws of war, from Latin fetiales "speaking, negotiating, diplomatic," which is of unknown origin.
- feticide (n.)
- also foeticide, 1842; see fetus + -cide. Related: Feticidal.
- fetid (adj.)
- early 15c., from Latin fetidus (commonly, but incorrectly, foetidus) "stinking," from fetere "have a bad smell, stink." This is perhaps connected with fimus "dung," or with fumus "smoke."
- fetish (n.)
- "material object regarded with awe as having mysterious powers or being the representative of a deity that may be worshipped through it," 1610s, fatisso, from Portuguese feitiço "charm, sorcery, allurement," noun use of an adjective meaning "artificial."
The Portuguese adjective is from Latin facticius "made by art, artificial," from facere "to make, do, produce, etc." (see factitious, and compare French factice "artificial," restored from Old French faitise, from Latin facticius). Via the French word, Middle English had fetis, fetice (adj.) "cleverly made, neat, elegant" (of things), "handsome, pretty, neat" (of persons). But in the Middle Ages the Romanic derivatives of the word took on magical senses; compare Portuguese feiticeria "sorcery, witchcraft," feiticeiro "sorcerer, wizard." Latin facticius in Spanish has become hechizo "artificial, imitated," also "bewitchment, fascination."
The specific Portuguese use of the word that brought it to English probably began among Portuguese sailors and traders who used the word as a name for charms and talismans worshipped by the inhabitants of the Guinea coast of Africa. It was picked up and popularized in anthropology by Charles de Brosses' "Du culte des dieux fétiches" (1760), which influenced the word's spelling in English (French fétiche also is borrowed 18c. from the Portuguese word).
Any material image of a religious idea is an idol; a material object in which force is supposed to be concentrated is a Fetish; a material object, or a class of material objects, plants, or animals, which is regarded by man with superstitious respect, and between whom and man there is supposed to exist an invisible but effective force, is a Totem. [J. Fitzgerald Lee, "The Greater Exodus," London, 1903]
Figurative sense of "something irrationally revered, object of blind devotion" appears to be an extension made by the New England Transcendentalists (1837). For sexual sense (1897), see fetishism.
- fetishism (n.)
- 1801, "worship of fetishes," from fetish + -ism. Expanded in use by Comte taking it to denote a general type of primitive religion (animism). In the purely psycho-sexual sense, first recorded 1897 in writings of Henry Havelock Ellis (1859-1939).
In certain perversions of the sexual instinct, the person, part of the body, or particular object belonging to the person by whom the impulse is excited, is called the fetish of the patient. [E. Morselli in "Baldwin Dictionary of Philosophy," 1901]
Related: Fetishist (1845; psycho-sexual sense from 1897); fetishistic.
- fetlock (n.)
- "tuft of hair behind the pastern-joint of a horse," early 14c., fetlak, from a Germanic source (cognates: Dutch vetlock, Middle High German fizlach, German Fiszloch), perhaps from Proto-Germanic *fetel- (source of German fessel "pastern"), from PIE *ped-el-, from root *ped- (1) "foot" (see foot (n.)). The Middle English diminutive suffix -ok (from Old English -oc) was misread and the word taken in folk etymology as a compound of feet and lock (of hair).
- fetor (n.)
- "offensive smell," mid-15c., from Latin fetor, foetor "stink, stench, bad smell," from fetere "have a bad smell" (see fetid).
- fetta (n.)
- 1956, from Modern Greek (tyri) pheta, from tyri "cheese" + pheta, from Italian fetta "a slice," from Latin offa "a morsel, piece."
- fetter (n.)
- Old English fetor "chain or shackle by which a person or animal is bound by the feet," figuratively "check, restraint," from Proto-Germanic *fetero (cognates: Old Saxon feteros (plural), Middle Dutch veter "fetter," in modern Dutch "lace, string," Old High German fezzera, Old Norse fiöturr, Swedish fjätter "fetter"), from PIE root *ped- (1) "foot" (see foot (n.)). The generalized sense of "anything that shackles" had evolved in Old English. Related Fetters.
- fetter (v.)
- c. 1300, from Old English gefetrian, from the noun (see fetter (n.)). Related: Fettered; fettering.
- fettle (n.)
- "condition, state, trim," c. 1750, in a glossary of Lancashire dialect, from northern Middle English fettle (v.) "to make ready, fix, prepare, arrange" (late 14c.), which is of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to Old English fetian "to fetch" (see fetch (v.)); perhaps from Old English fetel "a girdle, belt," from Proto-Germanic *fatilaz (cognates: German fessel "fetter, chain," Old Norse fetill "strap, brace"), from PIE *ped- (2) "container" (see vat). Related: Fettler; fettling.
- fettuccine (n.)
- 1922, from Italian fettuccine, plural of fettuccina, literally "little ribbon," diminutive of fetta "slice, ribbon" (see fetta).
- fettuccini (n.)
- see fettuccine.
- fetus (n.)
- late 14c., "the young while in the womb or egg" (tending to mean vaguely the embryo in the later stage of development), from Latin fetus (often, incorrectly, foetus) "the bearing or hatching of young, a bringing forth," from Latin base *fe- "to generate, bear," also "to suck, suckle" (see fecund).
In Latin, fetus sometimes was transferred figuratively to the newborn creature itself, or used in a sense of "offspring, brood" (as in Horace's "Germania quos horrida parturit Fetus"), but this was not the basic meaning. It also was used of plants, in the sense of "fruit, produce, shoot," and figuratively as "growth, production." The spelling foetus is sometimes attempted as a learned Latinism, but it is not historic.
- feu de joie (n.)
- public bonfire, French, literally "fire of joy."
- feud (n.)
- c. 1300, fede "enmity, hatred, hostility," northern English and Scottish, ultimately (via an unrecorded Old English word or Old French fede, faide "war, raid, hostility, hatred, enmity, feud, (legal) vengeance," which is from Germanic) from Proto-Germanic *faihitho (compare Old High German fehida "contention, quarrel, feud"), noun of state from adjective *faiho- (cognates: Old English fæhð "enmity," fah "hostile;" German Fehde "feud;" Old Frisian feithe "enmity").
This is from PIE root *peig- (2), also *peik- "evil-minded, hostile" (see foe). Sense of "vendetta" is early 15c. Alteration of spelling in 16c. is unexplained. Meaning "state of hostility between families or clans" is from 1580s.
- feud (v.)
- 1670s, from feud (n.). Related: Feuded; feuding.
- feudal (adj.)
- 1610s, "pertaining to feuds," estates of land granted by a superior on condition of services to be rendered to the grantor, from Medieval Latin feudalis, from feudum "feudal estate, land granted to be held as a benefice," of Germanic origin (cognates: Gothic faihu "property," Old High German fihu "cattle;" see fee). Related to Middle English feodary "one who holds lands of an overlord in exchange for service" (late 14c.). Not related to feud.
- feudalism (n.)
- a coinage of historians, attested from 1773; see feudal + -ism. Feudal system attested from 1736.
- feuillemorte (adj.)
- "of the color of a dead leaf," 1640s, fieulamort, from French feuille morte, literally "dead leaf" (see folio + mortal (adj.)). A word of loose spelling, variants include phyllamort, filemot, philomot.
- feuilleton (n.)
- part of a French newspaper devoted to light literature and criticism (usually at the bottom of a page and separated by a rule), 1845, from French feuilleton (18c.), literally "a leaflet (added to a newspaper)," diminutive of feuille "leaf," from Latin folium (see folio).
Esp. applied in F. to the short story or serial with which newspapers filled up after the fall of Napoleon left them short of war news. This was the beginning of Dumas' and Eugène Sue's long novels. [Weekley]
In reference to writing style, suggestive of showiness and superficiality.
- fever (n.)
- earlier also feaver, late Old English fefor, fefer "fever, temperature of the body higher than normal," from Latin febris "fever," related to fovere "to warm, heat," probably from PIE root *dhegh- "burn" (cognates: Gothic dags, Old English dæg "day," originally "the heat;" Greek tephra "ashes"); but some suggest a reduplication of a root represented by Sanskrit *bhur- "to be restless."
The Latin word was adopted into most Germanic languages (German Fieber, Swedish feber, Danish feber), but not in Dutch. English spelling influenced by Old French fievre. Alternative to Old English hrið, hriðing (cognate with Old High German hritto, Irish crith, Welsh cryd, Lithuanian skriečiù). Extended sense of "intense nervous excitement" is from 1580s. Also as a verb in Old English, feferian.
- feverfew (n.)
- Old English feferfuge, from Late Latin febrifugia, from Latin febris "fever" + fugare "put to flight" (see febrifuge). So called for its medical usage. The modern English word probably is reborrowed from an Anglo-French source.
- feverish (adj.)
- late 14c., "causing fever;" 1630s, "excited, unduly ardent;" 1640s, "having symptoms of fever, having a slight fever," from fever + -ish. Earlier in same sense was feverous (late 14c.). Old English had feferig, feferseoc. Related: Feverishly; feverishness.
- feverous (adj.)
- late 14c., "having a fever; characteristic of fever," from fever + -ous or from Old French fievrous. Meaning "apt to cause fever" is from 1620s. Related: Feverously.
- few (adj.)
- Old English feawe (plural; contracted to fea) "not many, a small number; seldom, even a little," from Proto-Germanic *faw- (cognates: Old Saxon fa, Old Frisian fe, Old High German fao, Old Norse far, Danish faa).
This is from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little" (cognates: Latin paucus "few, little," paullus "little," parvus "little, small," pauper "poor;" Greek pauros "few, little," pais (genitive paidos) "child;" Latin puer "child, boy," pullus "young animal;" Oscan puklu "child;" Sanskrit potah "a young animal," putrah "son;" Old English fola "young horse;" Old Norse fylja "young female horse;" Old Church Slavonic puta "bird;" Lithuanian putytis "young animal, young bird").
Always plural in Old English, according to OED "on the analogy of the adverbial fela," meaning "many." Phrase few and far between attested from 1660s. Unusual ironic use in quite a few "many" (1854), earlier a good few (1803).
There is likewise another dialectical use of the word few among them [i.e. "the Northern Counties"], seemingly tending to its total overthrow; for they are bold enough to say--"a good few," meaning a good many. [Samuel Pegge, "Anecdotes of the English Language," London, 1803]
- few (n.)
- "a small number of persons" (distinguished from the many), c. 1300, fewe, from few (adj.).
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. [Winston Churchill, 1940]
- fewmet (n.)
- also fumet, "excrement, dung of a game animal" (especially a hart), early 15c., fumes, from Old French fumees; the modern ending apparently is a formation in Anglo-French, from fumer, from Latin fumare "to smoke, steam," from fumus "smoke, steam, fume" (see fume (n.)). Related: Fewmets.
- fewness (n.)
- Old English; see few (adj.) + -ness.
- fey (adj.)
- "of excitement that presages death," from Old English fæge "doomed to die, fated, destines," also "timid, feeble;" and/or from Old Norse feigr, both from Proto-Germanic *faigjo- (cognates: Old Saxon fegi, Old Frisian fai, Middle Dutch vege, Middle High German veige "doomed," also "timid," German feige "cowardly"), from PIE *peig- (2) "evil-minded, hostile" (see foe). Preserved in Scottish. Sense of "displaying unearthly qualities" and "disordered in the mind (like one about to die)" led to modern ironic sense of "affected."
- feyness (n.)
- 1869, from fey + -ness.
- fez (n.)
- 1802, from French fez, from Turkish fes, probably ultimately from Fez, the city in Morocco, where this type of tasseled cap was principally made. Made part of the Turkish official dress by sultan Mahmud II.
- fiance (n.)
- "man to whom one is betrothed," 1864 (by 1826 as a French word in English), from French fiancé, past participle of fiancer "to betroth" (see fiancee). Borrowed earlier in Middle English as "confidence, trust; word of honor."
- fiancee (n.)
- "woman to whom one is betrothed," 1844 (1837 as a French word in English), from French fiancée, fem. of fiancé, past participle of fiancer "to betroth," from fiance "a promise, trust," from fier "to trust," from Vulgar Latin *fidare "to trust," from Latin fidus "faithful" from the same root as fides "faith" (see faith). It has all but expelled native betrothed. The English verb fiance, now obsolete, was used c. 1450-1600 for "to engage to be married."
- fianchetto (n.)
- chess move, 1847, Italian, diminutive of fianco "flank (attack)," from Old French flanc "hip, side" (see flank (n.)).
- fiasco (n.)
- 1855, theater slang for "a failure in performance;" by 1862 it had acquired the general sense of "any ignominious failure or dismal flop," on or off the stage. It comes via the French phrase fiare fiasco "turn out a failure" (19c.), from Italian far fiasco "suffer a complete breakdown in performance," literally "make a bottle," from fiasco "bottle," from Late Latin flasco "bottle" (see flask).
The literal sense of the image (if it is one) is obscure today, but "the usual range of fanciful theories has been advanced" [Ayto]. Century Dictionary says "perhaps in allusion to the bursting of a bottle," Weekley pronounces it impenetrable and compares French ramasser un pelle "to come a cropper (in bicycling), literally to pick up a shovel." OED keeps its distance and lets nameless "Italian etymologists" make nebulous reference to "alleged incidents in Italian theatrical history." Klein suggests Venetian glass-crafters tossing aside imperfect pieces to be made later into common flasks. But according to an Italian dictionary, fare il fiasco used to mean "to play a game so that the one that loses will pay the fiasco," in other words, he will buy the next bottle (of wine). If the dates are not objectionable, that plausibly connects the literal sense of the word with the notion of "a costly mistake."
- fiat (n.)
- 1630s, "authoritative sanction," from Latin fiat "let it be done" (used in the opening of Medieval Latin proclamations and commands), third person singular present subjunctive of fieri "be done, become, come into existence," used as passive of facere "to make, do" (see factitious). Meaning "a decree, command, order" is from 1750. In English the word also sometimes is a reference to fiat lux "let there be light" in Gen. i:3.
Dixitque Deus: Fiat lux. Et facta est lux. [Vulgate]
- fib (n.)
- "a lie," especially a little one, "a white lie," 1610s, of uncertain origin, perhaps from fibble-fable "nonsense" (1580s), a reduplication of fable (n.).
- fib (v.)
- "tell trifling lies," 1680s, from fib (n.). Seldom, if ever, transitive. Related: Fibbed; fibbing; fibbery.
- fibber (n.)
- 1723, agent noun from fib (v.).
- fiber (n.)
- late 14c., fibre "a lobe of the liver," also "entrails," from Medieval Latin fibre, from Latin fibra "a fiber, filament; entrails," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Latin filum "a thread, string" (see file (n.1)) or from root of findere "to split" (see fissure).
Meaning "thread-like structure in animal bodies" is from c. 1600 (in plants, 1660s); hence figurative use in reference to force or toughness (1630s). As "textile material," 1827. Fiberboard is from 1897; Fiberglas is attested from 1937, U.S. registered trademark name; in generic use, with lower-case f- and double -s, by 1941. Fiber optics is from 1956.
- Fibonacci (adj.)
- 1891 in reference to a series of numbers in which each is equal to the sum of the preceding two, from name of Leonardo Fibonacci (fl. c. 1200) Tuscan mathematician.
- fibre (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of fiber (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.
- fibril (n.)
- 1680s, Anglicization of Modern Latin fibrilla "a little fiber, a filament," especially in botany, diminutive of Latin fibra "a fiber, filament" (see fiber). Latin fibra and fibrilla were used in 17c. physiology in English alongside nativized fibre and fibril. From 1931 as "thread-like molecular formation."