- Fourierism (n.)
- 1841, in reference to ideas of French socialist François-Marie-Charles Fourier (1772-1837), whose plan also was called phalansterianism. Related: Fourierist. In scientific use, Fourier refers to French mathematician Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830).
- fourscore (n.)
- "eighty, four times twenty," mid-13c., "formerly current as an ordinary numeral" [OED], from four + score (n.). Archaic by the time Lincoln used it at Gettysburg in 1863. Related: Fourscorth "eightieth."
- foursome (n.)
- "four in company," early 14c., from four + -some (1). Specific golf sense is from 1858.
- fourteen (n.)
- c.1300, from Old English feowertyne; see four + -teen. Compare Old Saxon fiertein, Old Frisian fiuwertine, Dutch veertien, Old High German fiorzehan, German vierzehn, Danish fjorten, Gothic fidwortaihun.
- fourteenth (adj.)
- c.1300, fourtenethe; see fourteen + -th (1). By influence of fourteen, replacing or modifying fourtende, fowrtethe, from Old English feowerteoða, Old Norse *feowertandi "fourteenth." Compare Dutch veertiende, German vierzehnte.
- fourth (adj.)
- mid-15c., alteration (by influence of four), of ferthe, from Old English feorða "fourth," from Proto-Germanic *fe(d)worthon- (cognates: Old Saxon fiortho, Old Norse fiorðe, Dutch vierde, Old High German fiordo, German vierte); see four + -th (1). As a noun from 1590s, both of fractions and in music.
Among the old Quakers, who rejected the pagan weekday names, fourth day was Wednesday, often a secondary day of meeting for worship. Fourth-dimension attested from 1844. The theatrical fourth wall is from 1807. The celebration of the Fourth of July as the epoch of American independence is attested from 1777.
That there is due to Daniel Smith, of the city tavern, for his bill of expences of Congress, on the 4 of July last, including a balance of an old account, the sum of 729 68/90 dollars; also a bill for materials, workmanship, &c furnished for the fire works on the 4 July, the sum of 102 69/90 dollars .... [Auditor General's report, Aug. 8, 1777, "Journals of Congress," vol. VII]
- fourth estate (n.)
- "the press," by 1824, and especially from 1831, British English. For the other three, see estate. Earlier the term had been applied in various senses that did not stick, including "the mob" (1752), "the lawyers" (1825). The extension to the press is perhaps an outgrowth of the former.
Hence, through the light of letters and the liberty of the press, public opinion has risen to the rank of a fourth estate in our constitution; in times of quiet and order, silent and still, but in the collisions of the different branches of our government, deciding as an umpire with unbounded authority. ["Memoir of James Currie, M.D.," 1831]
[Newspapers] began to assume some degree of political importance, during the civil wars of the seventeenth century, in England; but it is not until within the last fifty years that they have become, -- as they are now justly styled, -- a Fourth Estate, exercising a more powerful influence on the public affairs of the countries in which they are permitted to circulate freely, than the other three put together. [Alexander H. Everett, "Address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Bowdoin College," 1834]
- fovea (n.)
- "depression or shallow pit in a surface," 1849, Latin, literally "small pit," related to favissae "underground reservoirs;" which is of unknown origin, perhaps from Etruscan. Related: Foveal; foveated.
- fowl (n.)
- Old English fugel "bird, feathered vertebrate," from Proto-Germanic *fuglaz, the general Germanic word for "bird" (cognates: Old Saxon fugal, Old Frisian fugel, Old Norse fugl, Middle Dutch voghel, Dutch vogel, German vogel, Gothic fugls "a fowl, a bird"), perhaps a dissimilated form meaning literally "flyer," from PIE *pleuk- (see fly (v.1)).
Displaced in its original sense by bird (n.); narrower sense of "barnyard hen or rooster" (the main modern meaning) is first recorded 1570s; in U.S. this was extended to domestic ducks and geese.
- fowl (v.)
- Old English fuglian "to catch birds," from the source of fowl (n.). Related: Fowled; fowling. Fowling-piece "gun used for shooting wildfowl" is from 1590s.
- fowler (n.)
- Old English fugelere, agent noun from fuglian "to hunt fowl" (see fowl (v.)). The German equivalent is Vogler.
- fox (n.)
- Old English fox "a fox," from Proto-Germanic *fuhsaz "fox" (cognates Old Saxon vohs, Middle Dutch and Dutch vos, Old High German fuhs, German Fuchs, Old Norse foa, Gothic fauho), from Proto-Germanic *fuh-, from PIE *puk- "tail" (source also of Sanskrit puccha- "tail").
The bushy tail also inspired words for "fox" in Welsh (llwynog, from llwyn "bush"); Spanish (raposa, from rabo "tail"); and Lithuanian (uodegis, from uodega "tail"). Metaphoric extension to "clever person" was in late Old English. Meaning "sexually attractive woman" is from 1940s; but foxy in this sense is recorded from 1895. A fox-tail was anciently one of the badges of a fool (late 14c.).
A late Old English translation of the Medicina de Quadrupedibus of Sextus Placitus advises, for women "who suffer troubles in their inward places, work for them into a salve a foxes limbs and his grease, with old oil and with tar; apply to the womens places; quickly it healeth the troubles." It also recommends, for sexual intercourse without irritation, "the extremest end of a foxes tail hung upon the arm." Rubbing a fox's testicles on warts was supposed a means to get rid of them.
- name of an Algonquian people (confederated with the Sac after 1760), translating French renards, which itself may be a translation of an Iroquoian term meaning "red fox people." Their name for themselves is /meškwahki:-haki/ "red earths." French renard "fox" is from Reginhard, the name of the fox in old Northern European fables (as in Low German Reinke de Vos, but Chaucer in The Nun's Priest's Tale calls him Daun Russell); it is Germanic and means literally "strong in council, wily."
- fox (v.)
- 1660s, "to delude" (perhaps implied in Old English foxung "fox-like wile, craftiness"), from fox (n.). The same notion is implied in Old English verbal noun foxung "fox-like wile, craftiness;" and Middle English had foxerie "wiliness, trickery, deceit." Foxed in booksellers' catalogues (1847) means "stained with fox-colored marks" (rusty red-brown). In other contexts the past-participle adjective typically meant "drunk" (1610s).
- fox-fire (n.)
- also foxfire, "phosphorescent light given off by decayed timber" (which was called foxwood), late 15c., from fox (n.) + fire (n.).
- fox-hole (n.)
- also foxhole, Old English fox-hol "a fox's den," from fox (n.) + hole (n.). Military sense of "slit trench" is from late in World War I (1918).
The term "fox-hole" is used by the German soldier, as determined from the examination Of large numbers of prisoners, to describe a hole in the ground sufficient to give shelter from splinters and perhaps from the weather also, to one or two soldiers. [U.S. First Army summary report, Oct. 31, 1918]
- fox-hunting (n.)
- 1670s, from fox (n.) + hunting (n.). Fox-hunt (n.) is by 1807; it also is known as a fox-chase. Related: Fox-hunter.
- fox-trot (n.)
- also foxtrot, 1872, "a slow trot or jog trot, a pace with short steps," such as a fox's, especially of horses, from fox (n.) + trot (n.). As a type of popular dance to ragtime music, from late 1914, a fad in 1915. The early writing on the dance often seems unaware of the equestrian pace of the same name, and instead associated it with the turkey trot one-step dance that was popular a few years before.
As a variation of the one-step, as a legitimate successor to all the objectionable trots, the fox trot has attained a form which is in a fair way to become permanent. ... It has the charm of being an absolute fit for many of the most alluring transient tunes; and it can be danced, without self-consciousness, by hundreds of people who never pretended to be graceful or dancefully talented. [Maurice Mouvet, "Maurice's Art of Dancing," 1915]
- foxglove (n.)
- Old English foxes glofa, literally "fox's glove." The flower shape is that of the finger of a glove (compare German Fingerhut "foxglove," literally "thimble," the source of digitalis). The reason for fox is lost in the mute past of English herb-lore. Compare Old English plant names foxesfot ("fox's foot") "xiphion;" foxesclate ("fox's bur") "burdock."
- foxhound (n.)
- "hound for chasing foxes," 1763, from fox (n.) + hound (n.).
- foxy (adj.)
- 1520s, "crafty, cunning," as foxes are, from fox (n.) + -y (2). Middle English had foxish in this sense (late 14c.). Of colors, stains, tints, etc. from 18c. Meaning "attractive" (of a woman) is from 1895, American English slang. Related: Foxiness.
The compiler of the "Brut" chronicle, complaining of English fashions in the time of Edward III, notes that þe wemmen ... were so strete cloþed þat þey lete hange fox tailes sawyd beneþe with-inforþ hire cloþis forto hele and heyde hire ars. That is, the women's clothing was so tight/scanty "that they let hang fox tails sewn inside their clothes at the back to ... hide their arses," the which behavior, he writes, perauenture afterward brougte forþe & encausid many mys-happis & mischeuys in þe reaume of Engelond.
- foy (n.)
- "entertainment given by one about to make a journey," Scottish and dialectal, late 15c., of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from French voie "way, journey" (see voyage (n.)).
- foyer (n.)
- "lobby of a theater or opera house," 1859, from French foyer "green room, room for actors when not on stage," literally "fireplace," from Old French foier "furnace, stove, hearth, fireplace" (12c.), from Latin focarium, noun use of neuter of adjective focarius "having to do with the hearth," from focus "hearth, fireplace" (see focus (n.)).
- fra (adv.)
- Scottish and Northern English survival of Old Norse fra "from" (see from, which is its cognate).
- fracas (n.)
- 1727, from French fracas "crash, sudden noise; tumult, bustle, fuss" (15c.), from Italian fracasso "uproar, crash," back-formation from fracassare "to smash, crash, break in pieces," from fra-, a shortening of Latin infra "below" (see infra-) + Italian cassare "to break," from Latin quassare "to shake" (see quash).
- fracking (n.)
- along with frack (v.), by 2000 in engineering jargon, short for hydraulic fracturing and with a -k- to keep the -c- hard.
- fractal (n.)
- "never-ending pattern," 1975, from French fractal, from Latin fractus "interrupted, irregular," literally "broken," past participle of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Coined by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010) in "Les Objets Fractals."
Many important spatial patterns of Nature are either irregular or fragmented to such an extreme degree that ... classical geometry ... is hardly of any help in describing their form. ... I hope to show that it is possible in many cases to remedy this absence of geometric representation by using a family of shapes I propose to call fractals -- or fractal sets. [Mandelbrot, "Fractals," 1977]
- fraction (n.)
- late 14c., originally in the mathematical sense, from Anglo-French fraccioun (Old French fraccion, "a breaking," 12c., Modern French fraction) and directly from Late Latin fractionem (nominative fractio) "a breaking," especially into pieces, in Medieval Latin "a fragment, portion," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin frangere "to break (something) in pieces, shatter, fracture," from Proto-Italic *frang-, from a nasalized variant of PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (cognates: Sanskrit (giri)-bhraj "breaking-forth (out of the mountains);" Gothic brikan, Old English brecan "to break;" Lithuanian brasketi "crash, crack;" Old Irish braigim "break wind"). Meaning "a breaking or dividing" in English is from early 15c.; sense of "broken off piece, fragment," is from c.1600.
- fractional (adj.)
- 1670s, from fraction + -al (1). Related: Fractionally.
- fractious (adj.)
- "apt to quarrel," 1725, from fraction in an obsolete sense of "a brawling, discord" (c.1500) + -ous; probably on model of captious. Related: Fractiously; fractiousness.
- fracture (n.)
- early 15c., "a breaking of a bone," from Middle French fracture (14c.), from Latin fractura "a breach, break, cleft," from fractus, past participle of frangere "to break" (see fraction). As "a broken surface" from 1794.
- fracture (v.)
- "cause a fracture in" (transitive), 1610s (implied in fractured), from fracture (n.). Intransitive meaning "become fractured" is from 1830. Related: Fracturing.
- frag (v.)
- by 1970, U.S. military slang, back-formed verb from slang noun shortening of fragmentation grenade (1918), which was said to have been the weapon of choice over a firearm because the evidence is destroyed in the act. Related: Fragged; fragging.
- fragile (adj.)
- 1510s, "liable to sin, morally weak;" c.1600, "liable to break;" a back-formation from fragility, or else from Middle French fragile (Old French fragele, 14c.), from Latin fragilis "easily broken," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Transferred sense of "of frail constitution" (of persons) is from 1858.
- fragility (n.)
- late 14c., "moral weakness," from Old French fragilité "debility, frailty" (12c.), from Latin fragilitatem (nominative fragilitas) "brittleness, weakness," from fragilis "brittle, easily broken," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Meaning "quality of being easily broken" is from late 15c.
- fragment (n.)
- early 15c., "small piece or part," from Latin fragmentum "a fragment, remnant," literally "a piece broken off," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction).
- fragment (v.)
- by 1788 (implied in fragmented), from fragment (n.). Intransitive use from 1961. Related: Fragmenting.
- fragmentary (adj.)
- 1610s, but mainly a dictionary word until early 19c., from fragment (n.) + -ary. Fragmental was used from 1798.
- fragmentation (n.)
- "a breaking up into parts," 1842, noun of action from fragment (v.). Fragmentation grenade attested from 1918.
- fragrance (n.)
- 1660s, from French fragrance or directly from Late Latin fragrantia, from stem of Latin fragrans "sweet-smelling" (see fragrant). Related: Fragrancy (1570s).
- fragrant (adj.)
- mid-15c., from Latin fragrantem (nominative fragrans) "sweet-smelling," present participle of fragrare "smell strongly, emit (a sweet) odor," from Proto-Italic *fragro-, from PIE root *bhrag- "to smell" (cognates: Old Irish broimm "break wind," Middle High German bræhen "to smell," Middle Dutch bracke, Old High German braccho "hound, setter;" see brach). Usually of pleasing or agreeable smells, but sometimes ironic. Related: Fragrantly.
- fraidy-cat (n.)
- "coward," by 1871, American English slang, from 'fraid (by 1816), childish or dialectal (African, West Indies) pronunciation of afraid, + cat (n.), perhaps in reference to the animals' instinct to scatter when startled.
- frail (adj.)
- mid-14c., "morally weak," from Old French fraile, frele "weak, frail, sickly, infirm" (12c., Modern French frêle), from Latin fragilis "easily broken" (see fragility). It is the Frenchified form of fragile. Sense of "easily destroyed, liable to break" in English is from late 14c. The U.S. slang noun meaning "a woman" is attested from 1908; perhaps with awareness of Shakespeare's "Frailty, thy name is woman."
- frailty (n.)
- mid-14c., freylte, from Old French fraileté "frailty, weakness," from Latin fragilitatem (nominative fragilitas) "weakness, frailty," from fragilis "fragile" (see fragility). Related: Frailties.
- fraktur (n.)
- 1886, Fractur, "German black-lettering," from German Fraktur "black-letter, Gothic type," also "a fracture, a break," from Latin fractura (see fracture (n.)). So called from its angular, "broken" letters. The style was common in German printing from c.1540 and thence was transferred to Pennsylvania German arts that incorporate the lettering.
- framboise (n.)
- 1570s, from French framboise "raspberry" (12c.), usually explained as a corruption (by influence of French fraise "strawberry") of Dutch braambezie (cognate with German brombeere "blackberry," literally "bramble-berry"). "But some French scholars doubt this" [OED].
- frame (v.)
- Old English framian "to profit, be helpful, avail, benefit," from fram (adj., adv.) "active, vigorous, bold," originally "going forward," from fram (prep.) "forward; from" (see from). Influenced by related Old English fremman "help forward, promote; do, perform, make, accomplish," and Old Norse fremja "to further, execute." Compare German frommen "avail, profit, benefit, be of use."
Sense focused in Middle English from "make ready" (mid-13c.) to "prepare timber for building" (late 14c.). Meaning "compose, devise" is first attested 1540s. The criminal slang sense of "blame an innocent person" (1920s) is probably from earlier sense of "plot in secret" (1900), perhaps ultimately from meaning "fabricate a story with evil intent," which is first attested 1510s. Related: Framed; framing.
- frame (n.)
- c.1200, "profit, benefit, advancement;" mid-13c. "a structure composed according to a plan," from frame (v.) and in part from Scandinavian cognates (Old Norse frami "advancement"). In late 14c. it also meant "the rack."
Meaning "sustaining parts of a structure fitted together" is from c.1400. Meaning "enclosing border" of any kind is from c.1600; specifically "border or case for a picture or pane of glass" from 1660s. The meaning "human body" is from 1590s. Of bicycles, from 1871; of motor cars, from 1900. Meaning "separate picture in a series from a film" is from 1916. From 1660s in the meaning "particular state" (as in Frame of mind, 1711). Frame of reference is 1897, from mechanics and graphing; the figurative sense is attested from 1924.
- frame (adj.)
- (of buildings), "made of wood," 1790, American English, from frame (n.).
- framework (n.)
- 1640s, "structure for enclosing or supporting," from frame (n.) + work (n.). Figurative sense "adjusted arrangement" is from 1816.