- folly (n.)
- early 13c., "mental weakness; foolish behavior or character; unwise conduct" (in Middle English including wickedness, lewdness, madness), from Old French folie "folly, madness, stupidity" (12c.), from fol (see fool (n.)). From c. 1300 as "an example of foolishness;" sense of "costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder" is attested from 1650s. But used much earlier, since Middle English, in place names, especially country estates, probably as a form of Old French folie in its meaning "delight." Related: Follies.
- bright star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus, 1594, from Arabic Fum al Hut "the Fish's Mouth," which describes its position in the imaginary star-picture.
- foment (v.)
- early 15c., "apply hot liquids," from Old French fomenter "apply hot compress (to a wound)" (13c.), from Late Latin fomentare, from Latin fomentum "warm application, poultice," contraction of *fovimentum, from fovere "to warm; cherish, encourage" (see fever). Extended sense of "stimulate, instigate" (1620s), on the notion of "encourage the growth of," as if by heat, probably was taken from French. Related: Fomented; fomenting.
- fomentation (n.)
- c. 1400, from Late Latin fomentationem (nominative fomentatio), noun of action from past participle stem of fomentare "to foment," from Latin fomentum (see foment).
- Fomorian (adj.)
- pertaining to the monstrous race in Irish mythology, 1876, from Irish fomor "pirate, monster," from fo "under" + mor "sea." Cognate with Gaelic famhair.
- fond (adj.)
- late 14c., "deranged, insane;" also "foolish, silly, unwise," from fonned, past participle adjective from obsolete verb fon, fonne (Middle English fonnen) "be foolish, be simple," from Middle English fonne "a fool, stupid person" (early 14c.), which is of uncertain origin but perhaps from Scandinavian. Related: Fonder; fondest.
Meaning evolved via "foolishly tender" to "having strong affections for" (by 1570s). Another sense of the verb fon was "to lose savor" (late 14c. in Middle English past participle fonnyd), which may be the original meaning of the word:
Gif þe salt be fonnyd it is not worþi [Wyclif, Matt. v:13, c.1380]
- fondant (n.)
- 1877, from French fondant, noun use of present participle of fondre "to melt" (see found (v.2)).
- fondle (v.)
- 1690s, "treat with indulgence and affection" (now obsolete), from fond (adj.) + frequentative ending. Or possibly from the obsolete verb fond "be fond, be in love, dote" (1520s), from the adjective or altered from earlier fon. Sense of "caress" first recorded 1796. As a noun from 1833. Related: Fondled; fondling (1670s as a past participle adjective); fondlesome.
- fondly (adj.)
- mid-14c., "foolishly," from fond + -ly (2). Formerly sometimes in a bad sense, "with indiscreet or excessive affection" (1762). Meaning "affectionately" is from 1590s.
- fondness (n.)
- late 14c., "foolishness," from fond + -ness.
- fondue (n.)
- 1878, from French cooking term fondue "a cheese-pudding," literally "melted" (15c.), noun use of fem. of fondu, past participle adjective from fondre "to melt" (see found (v.2)).
- font (n.1)
- "water basin," especially used in baptism, late Old English, from Latin fons (genitive fontis) "fountain" (see fountain), especially in Medieval Latin fons baptismalis "baptismal font." The word is sometimes used poetically for "a fountain; a source."
- font (n.2)
- "complete set of characters of a particular face and size of type," 1680s (also fount), earlier "a casting" (1570s), from Middle French fonte "a casting," noun use of fem. past participle of fondre "to melt" (see found (v.2)). So called because all the letters in a given set were cast at the same time.
- fontanelle (n.)
- also fontanel, 1540s, "hollow between two muscles," from French fontanelle (16c.), from Old French fontenele "small source, fountain, spring; fontanelle," diminutive of fontaine "spring" (see fountain), on analogy of the dent in the earth where a spring arises. In reference to the "hollow" in a baby's skull, it is first recorded 1741.
- food (n.)
- Middle English foode, fode, from Old English foda "food, nourishment; fuel," also figurative, from Proto-Germanic *fodon (cognates: Swedish föda, Danish föde, Gothic fodeins), from Germanic *fod- "food," from PIE *pat-, extended form of root *pa- "to tend, keep, pasture, to protect, to guard, to feed" (cognates: Greek pateisthai "to feed;" Latin pabulum "food, fodder," panis "bread," pasci "to feed," pascare "to graze, pasture, feed," pastor "shepherd," literally "feeder;" Avestan pitu- "food;" Old Church Slavonic pasti "feed cattle, pasture;" Russian pishcha "food").
Food-chain is from 1917. Food-poisoning attested by 1864; food-processor in the kitchen appliance sense from 1973; food-stamp (n.) is from 1962.
- foodie (n.)
- "gourmet," 1982, from food + -ie.
- foodoholic (n.)
- 1965, formed irregularly from food + -aholic.
- foodstuff (n.)
- "substance or material suitable for food," 1870, from food + stuff (n.). Related: Foodstuffs.
- fool (n.1)
- early 13c., "silly, stupid, or ignorant person," from Old French fol "madman, insane person; idiot; rogue; jester," also "blacksmith's bellows," also an adjective meaning "mad, insane" (12c., Modern French fou), from Medieval Latin follus (adj.) "foolish," from Latin follis "bellows, leather bag" (see follicle).
The sense evolution probably is from Vulgar Latin use of follis in a sense of "windbag, empty-headed person." Compare also Sanskrit vatula- "insane," literally "windy, inflated with wind." But some sources suggest evolution from Latin folles "puffed cheeks" (of a buffoon), a secondary sense from plural of follis. One makes the "idiot" sense original, the other the "jester" sense.
The word has in mod.Eng. a much stronger sense than it had at an earlier period; it has now an implication of insulting contempt which does not in the same degree belong to any of its synonyms, or to the derivative foolish. [OED]
Also used in Middle English for "sinner, rascal, impious person" (late 13c.). Meaning "jester, court clown" in English is attested c. 1300, though it is not always possible to tell whether the reference is to a professional entertainer counterfeiting mental weakness or an amusing lunatic, and the notion of the fool sage whose sayings are ironically wise is also in English from c. 1300. The French word probably also got into English via its borrowing in the Scandinavian languages of the vikings (Old Norse fol, Old Danish fool, fol).
There is no foole to the olde foole ["Proverbs of John Heywood," 1546]
To make a fool of (someone) "cause to appear ridiculous" is from 1620s (make fool "to deceive, make (someone) appear a fool" is from early 15c.). Feast of Fools (early 14c., from Medieval Latin festum stultorum) was the burlesque festival celebrated in some churches on New Year's Day in medieval times. Fool's gold "iron pyrite" is from 1829. Fool's paradise "illusory state of happiness" is from mid-15c. Fool-trap is from 1690s. Foolosopher, a useful insult, is in a 1549 translation of Erasmus. Fool's ballocks is described in OED as "an old name" for the green-winged orchid. Fool-killer "imaginary personage invested with authority to put to death anybody notoriously guilty of great folly" is from 1851, American English.
Fool killer, a great American myth imagined by editors, who feign that his or its services are greatly needed, and frequently alluded to as being "around" or "in town" when some special act of folly calls for castigation. Whether the fool-killer be an individual or an instrument cannot always be gathered from the dark phraseology in which he or it is alluded to; but the weight of authority would sanction the impersonal interpretation. [Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," 1892]
- fool (v.)
- mid-14c., "to be foolish, act the fool," from fool (n.1). The transitive meaning "make a fool of" is recorded from 1590s. Sense of "beguile, cheat" is from 1640s. Also as a verb 16c.-17c. was foolify. Related: Fooled; fooling. Fool around is 1875 in the sense of "pass time idly," 1970s in sense of "have sexual adventures."
- fool (adj.)
- c. 1200, "sinful, wicked; lecherous" (a fool woman (c. 1300) was "a prostitute"), from fool (n.1). Meaning "foolish, silly" is mid-13c. In modern use considered U.S. colloquial.
- fool (n.2)
- type of custard dish, 1590s, of uncertain origin. The food also was called trifle, which may be the source of the name (via verb and noun senses of fool). OED utterly rejects derivation from Old French fole "a pressing."
- fool-proof (adj.)
- also foolproof, 1902, American English, "safe against the incompetence of a fool," from fool (n.1) + adjectival sense from proof (n.).
- foolery (n.)
- 1550s, from fool (n.1) + -ery.
- foolhardy (adj.)
- also fool-hardy, mid-13c., folhardi, from fol "fool" (see fool (n.1) + hardi "bold" (see hardy) hence "foolishly brave, bold without judgement or moderation." Compare Old French fol hardi. Related: foolhardiness (mid-13c.); Middle English also had as a noun foolhardiment (mid-15c.).
- fooling (n.)
- c. 1600, verbal noun from fool (v.).
- foolish (adj.)
- early 14c., from fool (n.1) + -ish. Older adjectives in Middle English were fool (c. 1200); folly (c. 1300). Old English words for this were dysig, stunt, dol. Related: Foolishly; foolishness.
- foolishness (n.)
- late 15c., "quality of being foolish," from foolish + -ness. From 1530s as "a foolish practice."
- foolocracy (n.)
- 1832, from fool (n.) + -ocracy.
- foolscap (n.)
- also fool's-cap, 1630s, "type of cap worn by a jester;" see fool (n.1) + cap (n.). From c. 1700 as a type of writing paper, so called because it originally was watermarked with a jester's cap.
- foosball (n.)
- debuted in U.S. 1963 and was a craze on some college campuses for a few years thereafter. Said to have been designed c. 1930s in Switzerland. The name is presumably from the pronunciation of Fußball, the German form of (Association) football.
- foot (n.)
- "terminal part of the leg of a vertebrate animal," Old English fot "foot," from Proto-Germanic *fot (cognates: Old Frisian fot, Old Saxon fot, Old Norse fotr, Danish fod, Swedish fot, Dutch voet, Old High German fuoz, German Fuß, Gothic fotus "foot"), from PIE root *ped- (1) "a foot" (cognates: Avestan pad-; Sanskrit pad-, accusative padam "foot;" Greek pos, Attic pous, genitive podos; Latin pes, genitive pedis "foot;" Lithuanian padas "sole," peda "footstep"). Plural form feet is an instance of i-mutation.
The linear measure was in Old English (the exact length has varied over time), this being considered the length of a man's foot; a unit of measure used widely and anciently. In this sense the plural is often foot. The current inch and foot are implied from measurements in 12c. English churches (Flinders Petrie, "Inductive Metrology"), but the most usual length of a "foot" in medieval England was the foot of 13.2 inches common throughout the ancient Mediterranean. The Anglo-Saxon foot apparently was between the two. All three correspond to units used by the Romans, and possibly all three lengths were picked up by the Anglo-Saxons from the Romano-Britons. "That the Saxon units should descend to mediæval times is most probable, as the Normans were a ruling, and not a working, class." [Flinders Petrie, 1877]. The medieval Paul's Foot (late 14c.) was a measuring standard cut into the base of a column at the old St. Paul's cathedral in London. The metrical foot (late Old English, translating Latin pes, Greek pous in the same sense) is commonly taken to represent one rise and one fall of a foot: keeping time according to some, dancing according to others.
In Middle English also "a person" (c. 1200), hence non-foot "nobody." Meaning "bottom or lowest part of anything eminent or upright" is from c. 1200. Of a bed, grave, etc., from c. 1300. On foot "by walking" is from c. 1300. To get off on the wrong foot is from 1905 (the right foot is by 1907); to put one's best foot foremost first recorded 1849 (Shakespeare has the better foot before, 1596); Middle English had evil-foot (adv.) "through mischance, unluckily." To put one's foot in (one's) mouth "say something stupid" is attested by 1942; the expression put (one's) foot in something "make a mess of it" is from 1823. To have one foot in the grave "be near death" is from 1844. Colloquial exclamation my foot! expressing "contemptuous contradiction" [OED] is attested by 1923, probably euphemistic for my ass in the same sense, which dates to 1796 (also see eyewash).
- foot (v.)
- c. 1400, "to dance," also "to move or travel on foot," from foot (n.). From mid-15c. as "make a footing or foundation." To foot a bill "pay the entirety of" is attested from 1848, from the process of tallying the expenses and writing the figure at the bottom ("foot") of the sheet; foot (v.) as "add up and set the sum at the foot of" is from late 15c. (compare footnote (n.)). The Old English verb gefotian meant "to hasten up." Related: Footed; footing.
- foot-board (n.)
- 1766, from foot (n.) + board (n.1).
- foot-bridge (n.)
- c. 1500, from foot (n.) + bridge (n.1).
- foot-dragging (n.)
- "deliberate slowness," 1966, from foot (n.) + present participle adjective from drag (v.).
- foot-hill (n.)
- also foot-hill, "a hill that leads up to a mountain," 1850, American English, from foot (n.) + hill.
- foot-hills (n.)
- also foothills; see foothill.
- foot-locker (n.)
- 1905, U.S. military, from foot (n.) + locker.
- foot-path (n.)
- also footpath 1520s, from foot (n.) + path.
- foot-race (n.)
- 1660s, from foot (n.) + race (n.1).
- foot-rail (n.)
- 1861, from foot (n.) + rail (n.1).
- foot-rest (n.)
- 1844, from foot (n.) + rest (n.).
- foot-soldier (n.)
- 1620s, from foot (n.) + soldier (n.).
- foot-sore (adj.)
- also footsore, 1719, from foot (n.) + sore (adj.).
- footage (n.)
- "the length of film used in a scene, etc.," 1916, from foot (n.) as a measure of length + -age. Earlier used to describe a piece-work system to pay miners.
- football (n.)
- open-air game involving kicking a ball, c. 1400; in reference to the inflated ball used in the game, mid-14c. ("Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe," Octavian I manuscript, c. 1350), from foot (n.) + ball (n.1). Forbidden in a Scottish statute of 1424. One of Shakespeare's insults is "you base foot-ball player" [Lear I.iv]. Ball-kicking games date back to the Roman legions, at least, but the sport seems first to have risen to a national obsession in England, c.1630. Figurative sense of "something idly kicked around, something subject to hard use and many vicissitudes" is by 1530s.
Rules of the game first regularized at Cambridge, 1848; soccer (q.v.) split off in 1863. The U.S. style (known to some in England as "stop-start rugby with padding") evolved gradually 19c.; the first true collegiate game is considered to have been played Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers, at Rutgers, but the rules there were more like soccer. A rematch at Princeton Nov. 13, with the home team's rules, was true U.S. football. Both were described as foot-ball at Princeton.
Then twenty-five of the best players in college were sent up to Brunswick to combat with the Rutgers boys. Their peculiar way of playing this game proved to Princeton an insurmountable difficulty; .... Two weeks later Rutgers sent down the same twenty-five, and on the Princeton grounds, November 13th, Nassau played her game; the result was joyous, and entirely obliterated the stigma of the previous defeat. ["Typical Forms of '71" by the Princeton University Class of '72, 1869]
- footer (n.)
- c. 1600, "a pedestrian;" 1781, "a kick at football;" 1863, British student slang, "the game of football;" see foot (n.), football, -er.
- footfall (n.)
- c. 1600, "the tread of the foot;" see foot (n.) + fall (n). Perhaps first in Shakespeare.
- foothold (n.)
- 1620s, from foot (n.) + hold (n.). Figurative use by 1650s; "that which sustains the feet firmly," hence "stable ground from which to act."