- fecund (adj.)
- a 16c. Latinizing revision of the spelling of Middle English fecond (early 15c.), from Middle French fecond (Old French fecont "fruitful"), from Latin fecundus "fruitful, fertile, productive; rich, abundant," from *fe-kwondo-, suffixed form (adjectival) of Latin root *fe-, corresponding to PIE *dhe(i)- "to suck, suckle," also "produce, yield."
Cognates include: Sanskrit dhayati "sucks," dhayah "nourishing;" Greek thele "mother's breast, nipple," thelys "female, fruitful;" Old Church Slavonic dojiti "to suckle," dojilica "nurse," deti "child;" Lithuanian dele "leech;" Old Prussian dadan "milk;" Gothic daddjan "to suckle;" Old Swedish dia "suckle;" Old High German tila "female breast;" Old Irish denaim "I suck," dinu "lamb."
Also from the same Latin root come felare "to suck;" femina "woman" (*fe-mna-, literally "she who suckles"); felix "happy, auspicious, fruitful;" fetus "offspring, pregnancy;" fenum "hay" (probably literally "produce"); and probably filia/filius "daughter/son," assimilated from *felios, originally "a suckling."
- fecundity (n.)
- early 15c., from Latin fecunditatem (nominative fecunditas) "fruitfulness, fertility," from fecundus "fruitful, fertile" (see fecund).
- fed (n.)
- 1788, short for Federalist; as colloquial for "official of the federal government," from 1916; especially, since 1930s, of FBI agents.
- fed (adj.)
- past participle adjective from feed (v.). Fed up "surfeited, disgusted, bored," is British slang first recorded 1900, extended to U.S. by World War I; probably from earlier phrases like fed up to the back teeth.
- fedayeen (n.)
- partisans or irregulars in the Middle East, from Arabic plural of fedai "devotee, zealot, one who risks life for a cause," from Persian fidai.
- federal (adj.)
- 1640s, as a theological term (in reference to "covenants" between God and man), from French fédéral, an adjective formed from Latin foedus (genitive foederis) "covenant, league, treaty, alliance," from PIE *bhoid-es-, from root *bheidh- "to trust" (which also is the source of Latin fides "faith;" see faith).
Secular meaning "pertaining to a covenant or treaty" (1650s) led to political sense of "formed by agreement among independent states" (1707), from use of the word in federal union "union based on a treaty" (popularized during formation of U.S.A. 1776-1787) and like phrases. Also from this period in U.S. history comes the sense "favoring the central government" (1788) and the especial use of the word (as opposed to confederate) to mean a state in which the federal authority is independent of the component parts within its legitimate sphere of action. Used from 1861 in reference to the Northern forces in the American Civil War.
- federalism (n.)
- 1793, "doctrine of federal union in government," American English, from French fédéralisme, from fédéral (see federal). Also, from about the same time and place, "doctrines of the Federalist Party in American politics."
- federalist (n.)
- 1787, American English, "member or supporter of the Federal party in U.S. politics" (originally of supporters of the Philadelphia constitution), from federal + -ist. General sense of "one who supports federal union" is from 1792. The party expired c.1824. As an adjective by 1801.
- federate (v.)
- 1814 (implied in federated), a back-formation from federation, or else from Latin foederatus "leagued, federated, combined; having a treaty, bound by treaty," past participle of foederare "to establish by treaty," from foedus "covenant, treaty, alliance" (see federal). Related: Federating. As an adjective, by 1710.
- federation (n.)
- 1721, "union by agreement," from French fédération, from Late Latin foederationem (nominative foederatio), noun of action from Latin foederare "league together," from foedus "covenant, league" (see federal).
- fedora (n.)
- type of hat, 1887, American English, from "Fédora," a popular play by Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) that opened 1882, in which the heroine, a Russian princess named Fédora Romanoff, originally was performed by Sarah Bernhardt. During the play, Bernhardt, a notorious cross-dresser, wore a center-creased, soft brimmed hat. Women's-rights activists adopted the fashion. The proper name is Russian fem. of Fedor, from Greek Theodoros, literally "gift of god," from theos "god" (see theo-) + doron "gift" (see date (n.1)).
- fee (n.)
- Middle English, representing the merger or mutual influence of two words, one from Old English, one from an Old French form of the same Germanic word, and both ultimately from a PIE root meaning "cattle."
The Old English word is feoh "livestock, cattle; movable property; possessions in livestock, goods, or money; riches, treasure, wealth; money as a medium of exchange or payment," from Proto-Germanic *fehu- (cognates: Old Saxon fehu, Old High German fihu, German Vieh "cattle," Gothic faihu "money, fortune"). This is from PIE *peku- "cattle" (cognates: Sanskrit pasu, Lithuanian pekus "cattle;" Latin pecu "cattle," pecunia "money, property").
The other word is Anglo-French fee, from Old French fieu, a variant of fief "possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment" (see fief), which apparently is a Germanic compound in which the first element is cognate with Old English feoh.
Via Anglo-French come the legal senses "estate in land or tenements held on condition of feudal homage; land, property, possession" (c.1300). Hence fee-simple (late 14c.) "absolute ownership," as opposed to fee-tail (early 15c.) "entailed ownership," inheritance limited to some particular class of heirs (second element from Old French taillir "to cut, to limit").
The feudal sense was extended from landholdings to inheritable offices of service to a feudal lord (late 14c.; in Anglo-French late 13c.), for example forester of fe "a forester by heritable right." As these often were offices of profit, the word came to be used for "remuneration for service in office" (late 14c.), hence, "payment for (any kind of) work or services" (late 14c.). From late 14c. as "a sum paid for a privilege" (originally admission to a guild); early 15c. as "money payment or charge exacted for a license, etc."
- fee-faw-fum (interj.)
- exclamation of the giant in "Jack the Giant-Killer," c.1600.
- feeb (n.)
- slang for "feeble-minded person," by 1914, American English, from feeble. Other words used in the same sense were feeble (n.), mid-14c.; feebling (1887).
- feeble (adj.)
- late 12c., "lacking strength or vigor" (physical, moral, or intellectual), from Old French feble "weak, feeble" (12c., Modern French faible), from Latin flebilis "lamentable," literally "that is to be wept over," from flere "weep, cry, shed tears, lament," from PIE *bhle- "to howl" (see bleat (v.)). The first -l- was lost in Old French. The noun meaning "feeble person" is recorded from mid-14c.
- feeble-minded (adj.)
- also feebleminded, 1530s; see feeble + minded. Related: Feeble-mindedness.
- feebleness (n.)
- c.1300, from feeble + -ness.
- feebly (adv.)
- late 13c., from feeble + -ly (2).
- feed (v.)
- Old English fedan "nourish, give food to, sustain, foster" (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *fodjan (cognates: Old Saxon fodjan, Old Frisian feda, Dutch voeden, Old High German fuotan, Old Norse foeða, Gothic fodjan "to feed"), from PIE root *pa- "to protect, feed" (see food). Intransitive sense "take food, eat" is from late 14c. Meaning "to supply to as food" is from 1818.
- feed (n.)
- "action of feeding," 1570s, from feed (v.). Meaning "food for animals" is first attested 1580s. Meaning "a sumptuous meal" is from 1808. Of machinery, "action of or system for providing raw material" from 1892.
- feedback (n.)
- 1920, in the electronics sense, "the return of a fraction of an output signal to the input of an earlier stage," from verbal phrase, from feed (v.) + back (adv.). Transferred use, "information about the results of a process" is attested by 1955.
- feeder (n.)
- early 15c., "one who feeds (an animal);" 1560s, "one who eats;" agent noun from feed (v.). As a mechanical apparatus for conveying materials, from 1660s. Of cattle and streams, by 1790s; of roads and railroads, by 1850s.
- feeding (n.)
- "act of taking food," Old English feding, verbal noun from feed (v.). Feeding frenzy is from 1989, metaphoric extension of a phrase that had been used of sharks since 1950s.
- feel (v.)
- Old English felan "to touch or have a sensory experience of; perceive, sense (something)," in late Old English "have a mental perception," from Proto-Germanic *foljan (cognates: Old Saxon gifolian, Old Frisian fela, Dutch voelen, Old High German vuolen, German fühlen "to feel," Old Norse falma "to grope"), from PIE root *pal- "to touch, feel, shake, strike softly" (cognates: Greek psallein "to pluck (the harp)," Latin palpare "to touch softly, stroke," palpitare "to move quickly"), perhaps ultimately imitative.
The meaning in Old English was "to perceive through senses which are not referred to any special organ." Sense of "be conscious of a tactile sensation, sense pain, pleasure, illness, etc.; have an emotional experience or reaction," developed by c.1200, also "have an opinion or conviction;" that of "to react with sympathy or compassion" is from mid-14c. Meaning "to try by touch" is from early 14c. From late 14c. as "know (something) beforehand, to have foreknowledge of." To feel like "want to" attested from 1829.
- feel (n.)
- early 13c., "sensation, understanding," from feel (v.). Meaning "action of feeling" is from mid-15c. That of "sensation produced (by an object, surface, etc.)" is from 1739. Slang sense of "a sexual grope" is from 1932; from verbal phrase to feel (someone) up (1930).
- feeler (n.)
- early 15c., "one who feels," agent noun from feel (v.). Of animal organs, 1660s. Transferred sense of "proposal put forth to observe the reaction it gets" is from 1830. Related: Feelers.
- feeling (n.)
- late 12c., "act of touching, sense of touch," verbal noun from feel (v.). Meaning "a conscious emotion" is mid-14c. Meaning "what one feels (about something), opinion" is from mid-15c. Meaning "capacity to feel" is from 1580s.
- feeling (adj.)
- c.1400, "pertaining to the physical senses, sensory," present participle adjective from feel (v.). Related: Feelingly.
- feelings (n.)
- "tender or sensitive side of one's nature," 1771, from plural of feeling.
- feet (n.)
- plural of foot (n.).
- feign (v.)
- A 17c. respelling of fain, fein, from Middle English feinen, feynen "disguise or conceal (deceit, falsehood, one's real meaning); dissemble, make false pretenses, lie; pretend to be" (c.1300), from Old French feindre "pretend, represent, imitate, shirk" (12c.), from Latin fingere "to touch, handle; devise; fabricate, alter, change" (see fiction).
From late 14c. as "simulate (an action, an emotion, etc.)." Related: Feigned; feigning. The older spelling is that of faint, feint, but this word acquired a -g- in imitation of the French present participle stem feign- and the Latin verb.
- feint (n.)
- 1670s, "a false show, assumed appearance;" 1680s as "a pretended blow, movement made to deceive an opponent as to the object of an attack," from French feinte "a feint, sham, pretense," abstract noun from Old French feint "false, deceitful" (13c.), originally fem. past participle of feindre "pretend, shirk" (see feign).
Borrowed c.1300 as adjective ("deceitful," also "enfeebled; lacking in courage;" see feint (v.)), but long obsolete in that sense except as a trade spelling of faint among stationers and paper-makers. Also as a noun in Middle English with senses "false-heartedness" (early 14c.), "bodily weakness" (c.1400).
- feint (v.)
- c.1300, feinten, "to deceive, pretend" (obsolete), also "become feeble or exhausted; to lack spirit or courage," from Middle English feint (adj.) "feigned, false, counterfeit," from Old French feint, past participle of feindre (see feign (v.)). Sense of "make a sham attack, make a pretended blow" is attested by 1833, from the noun. Related: Feinted; feinting.
- feist (n.)
- also fist, "a breaking wind, foul smell, fart," mid-15c. (Old English had present participle fisting, glossing Latin festiculatio), a general West Germanic word with cognates in Middle Dutch veest, Dutch vijst; see feisty.
- feisty (adj.)
- 1896, "aggressive, exuberant, touchy," American English, with -y (2) + feist "small dog," earlier fice, fist (American English, 1805); short for fysting curre "stinking cur," attested from 1520s, with present participle of now-obsolete Middle English fysten, fisten "break wind" (mid-15c.), from Proto-Germanic *fistiz- "a fart," said to be from PIE *pezd- (see fart), but there are difficulties.
The 1811 slang dictionary defines fice as "a small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies charged on their lap-dogs." Compare also Danish fise "to blow, to fart," and obsolete English aske-fise, "fire-tender," literally "ash-blower" (early 15c.), from an unrecorded Norse source, used in Middle English for a kind of bellows, but originally "a term of reproach among northern nations for an unwarlike fellow who stayed at home in the chimney corner" [OED].
- feldspar (n.)
- type of mineral common in crystalline rocks, 1785, earlier feldspath (1757), from older German Feldspath (Modern German Feldspat), from Feld "field" (see field (n.)) + spath "spar, non-metallic mineral, gypsum" (see spar (n.2)); spelling influenced by English spar "mineral." Related: Feldspathic.
- fele (adv.)
- Old English feola, fela (West Saxon), feolo, feolu (Mercian, Northumbrian), "much, many, in large amounts, very," from a common Germanic adjective from Proto-Germanic *felu- (cognates: Old Saxon filo, Dutch veel, German viel, Old Norse fiol, Gothic filu), from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill" (see poly-). Obsolete; OED's last entry for it is Hakluyt (1598).
Hence felefold "manifold," from late Old English felefeald.
It was fouler bi felefold þan it firste semed. ["Piers Plowman," c.1378]
- fem. proper name, from Latin felix (genitive felicis) "happy" (see felicity).
- felicide (n.)
- "killing of a cat," 1832, from Latin feles "cat" (see feline) + -cide.
- felicitate (v.)
- 1620s, "to render happy" (obsolete); 1630s, "to reckon happy;" from Late Latin felicitatus, past participle of felicitare "to make happy," from Latin felicitas "fruitfulness, happiness," from felix "fruitful, fertile; lucky, happy" (see felicity). Meaning "congratulate, compliment upon a happy event" is from 1630s. Related: Felicitated; felicitating. Little-used alternative verb form felicify (1680s) yielded adjective felicific (1865).
- felicitation (n.)
- "expression of joy for another's happiness or good fortune," 1709, noun of action from felicitate. Related: Felicitations.
- felicitous (adj.)
- 1726, "blissful, very happy," from felicity + -ous. There is an isolated use of felicitously from 1530s.
- felicity (n.)
- late 14c., "happiness; that which is a source of happiness," from Old French felicite "happiness" (14c.), from Latin felicitatem (nominative felicitas) "happiness, fertility," from felix (genitive felicis) "happy, fortunate, fruitful, fertile," from Latin root *fe-, equivalent of PIE *dhe(i)- "to suck, suckle, produce, yield" (see fecund). Meaning "skillful adroitness, admirable propriety" is from c.1600.
- feline (adj.)
- "cat-like," 1680s, from Late Latin felinus "of or belonging to a cat," from Latin feles (genitive felis) "cat, wild cat, marten," of uncertain origin. Hence Modern Latin Felis, the cat genus. As a noun, "a feline animal" (popularly "a domestic cat") from 1861.
- felinity (n.)
- "quality of being cat-like," 1848; see feline + -ity.
- masc. proper name, from Latin felix "happy" (see felicity).
- fell (v.1)
- Old English fællan (Mercian), fyllan (West Saxon) "make fall, cause to fall," also "strike down, demolish, kill," from Proto-Germanic *falljan "strike down, cause to fall" (cognates: Old Frisian falla, Old Saxon fellian, Dutch fellen, Old High German fellen, German fällen, Old Norse fella, Danish fælde), causative of *fallan (source of Old English feallan; see fall (v.)), showing i-mutation. Related: Felled; feller; felling.
- fell (adj.)
- "cruel," late 13c., possibly late Old English, perhaps from Old French fel "cruel, fierce, vicious," from Medieval Latin fello "villain" (see felon). Phrase at one fell swoop is from "Macbeth." Related: Fellness.
- fell (n.1)
- "rocky hill," c.1300, from Old Norse fiall "mountain," from Proto-Germanic *felzam- "rock" (cognates: Old High German felisa, German Fels "stone, rock"), from PIE root *pel(i)s- "rock, cliff." Old High German felisa "a rock" is the source of French falaise (formerly falize) "cliff." Now mostly in place-names, such as Scafell Pike, highest mountain in England.
- fell (v.2)
- past tense of fall (v.), Old English feoll.