great-grandmother (n.) Look up great-grandmother at
1520s, from great- + grandmother.
great-hearted (adj.) Look up great-hearted at
"of noble courage," late 14c., from great (adj.) + hearted.
great-uncle (n.) Look up great-uncle at
mid-15c., from great- + uncle.
greatcoat (n.) Look up greatcoat at
"large, heavy overcoat," 1660s, from great (adj.) + coat (n.).
greater Look up greater at
Old English gryttra, Anglian *gretra; comparative of great.
greatest (adj.) Look up greatest at
early 13c., superlative of great.
greatly (adv.) Look up greatly at
c. 1200, from great + -ly (2). Similar formation in Middle Dutch grotelike, Dutch grootelijks.
greatness (n.) Look up greatness at
late Old English gretnys "thickness, coarseness, stoutness;" see great + -ness. Meaning "eminence" is early 14c.
greave (n.) Look up greave at
"metal armor to protect the front of the leg below the knee," c. 1300, from Old French greve "shin, armor for the leg" (12c.), of unknown origin. [Klein suggests it ultimately is from Egyptian Arabic gaurab "stocking, apparel for the leg."]
greaves (n.) Look up greaves at
mid-14c., plural of greave.
grebe (n.) Look up grebe at
diving bird, 1766, from French grèbe (16c.), of unknown origin, possibly from Breton krib "a comb," since some species are crested.
Grecian (adj.) Look up Grecian at
c. 1400, from Old French Grecien, from Latin Graecia "Greece" (see Greek (n.)) + people ending -ian. The noun meaning "a Greek" is from early 15c.
Greco- Look up Greco- at
see Graeco-.
Greco-Roman (adj.) Look up Greco-Roman at
"of or pertaining to both Greek and Roman," by 1811; see Greco- + Roman (adj.).
Greece Look up Greece at
c. 1300, from Latin Graecia; named for its inhabitants; see Greek. Earlier in English was Greklond (c. 1200). The Turkish name for the country, via Persian, is Yunanistan, literally "Land of the Ionians." Ionia also yielded the name for the country in Arabic and Hindi (Yunan).
greed (n.) Look up greed at
"excessively eager desire to possess," c. 1600, a back-formation from greedy.
greedily (adv.) Look up greedily at
Old English grædiglice; see greedy + -ly (2).
greediness (n.) Look up greediness at
Old English grædignes; see greedy + -ness.
greedy (adj.) Look up greedy at
Old English grædig (West Saxon), gredig (Anglian) "voracious, hungry," also "covetous, eager to obtain," from Proto-Germanic *grædagaz (cognates: Old Saxon gradag "greedy," Old Norse graðr "greed, hunger," Danish graadig, Dutch gretig, Old High German gratag "greedy," Gothic gredags "hungry"), from *græduz (cognates: Gothic gredus "hunger," Old English grædum "eagerly"), possibly from PIE root *gher- (5) "to like, want" (source of Sanskrit grdh "to be greedy").

In Greek, the word was philargyros, literally "money-loving." A German word for it is habsüchtig, from haben "to have" + sucht "sickness, disease," with sense tending toward "passion for."
Greek (n.) Look up Greek at
Old English Grecas, Crecas (plural) "Greeks, inhabitants of Greece," early Germanic borrowing from Latin Graeci "the Hellenes," apparently from Greek Graikoi. Aristotle, who was the first to use Graikhos as equivalent to Hellenes ("Meteorologica" I.xiv), wrote that it was the name originally used by Illyrians for the Dorians in Epirus, from Graii, native name of the people of Epirus.

But a modern theory (put forth by German classical historian Georg Busolt, 1850-1920), derives it from Graikhos "inhabitant of Graia" (literally "gray," also "old, withered"), a town on the coast of Boeotia, which was the name given by the Romans to all Greeks, originally to the Greek colonists from Graia who helped found Cumae (9c. B.C.E.), the important city in southern Italy where the Latins first encountered Greeks. Under this theory, it was reborrowed in this general sense by the Greeks.

The Germanic languages originally borrowed the word with an initial "-k-" sound (compare Old High German Chrech, Gothic Kreks), which probably was their initial sound closest to the Latin "-g-" at the time; the word was later refashioned. From late 14c. as "the Greek language." Meaning "unintelligible speech, gibberish, any language of which one is ignorant" is from c. 1600. Meaning "member of a Greek-letter fraternity" is student slang, 1884.
It was subtle of God to learn Greek when he wished to become an author -- and not to learn it better. [Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil," 1886]
Greek (adj.) Look up Greek at
late 14c., "of Greece or its people," from Greek (n.). Earlier Gregeis (c. 1200), from Old French Gregois; also Greekish (Old English Grecisc). From 1540s as "of the Greek language;" 1550s as "of the Eastern Church." From 1888 as "of Greek-letter fraternities." In venery, "anal," by 1970. Greek fire "inflammable substance invented 7c. by Callinicus of Heliopolis and used by the Byzantines (who in the Middle Ages were known as 'Greeks')" is from c. 1400, earlier Grickisce fure (c. 1200). Greek gift is from "Æneid," II.49: "timeo Danaos et dona ferentes."
green (adj.) Look up green at
Old English grene, Northumbrian groene "green, of the color of living plants," in reference to plants, "growing, living, vigorous," also figurative, of a plant, "freshly cut," of wood, "unseasoned" earlier groeni, from Proto-Germanic *gronja- (cognates: Old Saxon grani, Old Frisian grene, Old Norse grænn, Danish grøn, Dutch groen, Old High German gruoni, German grün), from PIE root *ghre- "grow" (see grass), through sense of "color of growing plants."

From c. 1200 as "covered with grass or foliage." From early 14c. of fruit or vegetables, "unripe, immature;" and of persons, "of tender age, youthful, immature, inexperienced;" hence "gullible, immature with regard to judgment" (c. 1600). From mid-13c. in reference to the skin or complexion of one sick.

Green cheese originally was that which is new or fresh (late 14c.), later with reference to coloring; for the story told to children that the moon is made of it, see cheese (n.1). Green light in figurative sense of "permission" is from 1937 (Green and red as signals on railways first attested 1883, as nighttime substitutes for semaphore flags). Green thumb for "natural for gardening" is by 1938. Green beret originally "British commando" is from 1949. Greenroom "room for actors when not on stage" is from 1701; presumably a once-well-known one was painted green. The color of environmentalism since 1971.
green (v.) Look up green at
Old English grenian "to become green, flourish" (see green (adj.)). Compare Dutch groenen, German grünen, Old Norse grona. Meaning "to make green" is 1560s. Related: Greened; greening.
green (n.) Look up green at
late Old English, "green color or pigment, spectral color between blue and yellow;" also "a field, grassy place; green garments; green foliage," from green (adj.). Specific sense "piece of grassland in a village belonging to the community" is by late 15c. In golf, "the putting portion of the links" by 1849. Symbolic of inconstancy since late 14c., perhaps because in nature it changes or fades. Also symbolic of envy and jealousy since Middle English. Shakespeare's green-eyed monster of "Othello" sees all through eyes tinged with jealousy. "Greensleeves," ballad of an inconstant lady-love, is from 1570s. The color of the cloth in royal counting houses from late 14c., later the color of the cloth on gambling tables.
greenback (n.) Look up greenback at
"U.S. dollar bill," 1862, so called from the time of their introduction, from green (adj.) + back (n.); bank paper money printed in green ink had been called this since 1778 (as opposed to redbacks, etc.).
greenery (n.) Look up greenery at
"mass of green plants or foliage," 1797, from green (n.) + -ery. From 1836 as "place where plants are reared."
greengage (n.) Look up greengage at
type of plum, from green (adj.) + name of English botanist Sir William Gage (1657-1727) who first cultivated it in England c. 1725. In early 20c., rhyming slang for "stage."
greengrocer (n.) Look up greengrocer at
1723, from green (n.) "vegetable" + grocer.
greenhead (n.) Look up greenhead at
1580s, "young, untrained intellect," from green (adj.) + head (n.). As a type of biting fly with a green-colored head, by 1837.
greenhorn (n.) Look up greenhorn at
mid-15c., "horn of an animal recently killed," also "young horned animal," from green (adj.) in sense of "new, fresh, recent" + horn (n.). Applied to new soldiers from c. 1650; extended to any inexperienced person by 1680s.
greenhouse (n.) Look up greenhouse at
also green-house, 1660s, from green (n.) + house (n.). Greenhouse effect attested from 1937.
greenish (adj.) Look up greenish at
late 14c., from green (adj.) + -ish.
Greenland Look up Greenland at
translating Old Norse Groenland, so named by its discoverer (986 C.E.) because "it would induce settlers to go there, if the land had a good name":
Hann gaf nafn landinu ok kallaði Groenland, ok kvað menn þat myndu fysa þangat farar, at landit ætti nafn gott. [Islendingabok, 1122-1133]
See green (adj.) + land (n.). Related: Greenlander; Greenlandish.
greenness (n.) Look up greenness at
Old English grennes "green color; quality of being green," in plural, "green things, plants;" see green (adj.) + -ness. Meaning "immaturity" is from early 15c. Walpole coined greenth (1753) in the same sense.
greens (n.) Look up greens at
c. 1400, "vegetables;" 1690s, "freshly cut branches used for decoration," from green (n.). Meaning "ecology political party" first recorded 1978, from German die Grünen (West Germany), an outgrowth of Grüne Aktion Zukunft "Green Campaign for the Future," a mainly anti-nuclear power movement, and/or grüne Listen "green lists" (of environmental candidates). Green (adj.) in the sense of "environmental" is attested in English from 1971; Greenpeace, the international conservation and environmental protection group, is from 1971.
Greenwich Look up Greenwich at
town on the south bank of the Thames adjoining London, Old English Gronewic (918), Grenewic (964), literally "green harbor" or "green trading place." The Royal Observatory there was founded June 22, 1675, by King Charles II specifically to solve the problem of finding longitude while at sea. In October 1884, 41 delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, D.C., for the International Meridian Conference. They decided to adopt a single world meridian, passing through the principal Transit Instrument at the observatory at Greenwich, as the basis of calculation for all longitude and a worldwide 24-hour clock. The Greenwich motion passed 22-1; San Domingo voted against it; France and Brazil abstained. The Greenwich Village quarter of New York City has been symbolic of "American bohemia" at least since 1903.
greet (v.) Look up greet at
Old English gretan "to come in contact with" in any sense ("attack, accost" as well as "salute, welcome," and "touch, take hold of, handle," as in hearpan gretan "to play the harp"), "seek out, approach," from West Germanic *grotjan (cognates: Old Saxon grotian, Old Frisian greta, Dutch groeten, Old High German gruozen, German grüßen "to salute, greet"), of uncertain origin.

In English, German, and Dutch, the primary sense has become "to salute," but the word once had much broader meaning. Perhaps originally "to resound" (via notion of "cause to speak"), causative of Proto-Germanic *grætanan, root of Old English grætan (Anglian gretan) "weep, bewail," from PIE *gher- (2) "to call out." Greet still can mean "cry, weep" in Scottish & northern England dialect, though this might be from a different root. Grætan probably also is the source of the second element in regret. Related: Greeted; greeting.
greeter (n.) Look up greeter at
late 14c., agent noun from greet.
greeting (n.) Look up greeting at
Old English greting "salutation," verbal noun from gretan (see greet). Related: Greetings. First record of greeting card is from 1876.
gregarious (adj.) Look up gregarious at
1660s, "disposed to live in flocks" (of animals), from Latin gregarius "pertaining to a flock; of the herd, of the common sort, common," from grex (genitive gregis) "flock, herd," from PIE *gre-g-, reduplicated form of root *ger- (1) "to gather together, assemble" (cognates: Sanskrit gramah "heap, troop;" Greek ageirein "to assemble," agora "assembly;" Latin gremium "bosom, lap;" Old Church Slavonic grusti "handful," gramota "heap;" Lithuanian gurgulys "chaos, confusion," gurguole "crowd, mass"). Of persons, "sociable" first recorded 1789. Related: Gregariously; gregariousness.
Gregorian (adj.) Look up Gregorian at
"pertaining to Gregory," from Late Latin Gregorianus, from Gregorius (see Gregory). From c. 1600 of church music, in reference to Gregory I the Great (pope from 590-604), who traditionally codified it; 1640s in reference to new calendar (introduced 1582) from Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585); due to Protestant resistance, the calendar was not introduced in England and the American colonies until 1752.
Gregory Look up Gregory at
masc. proper name, popular in England and Scotland by mid-12c. (Pope Gregory I sent the men who converted the English to Christianity), nativization of Late Latin Gregorius, literally "wakeful" (equivalent to Latin Vigilantius), from Greek gregorios, a derivative of gregoros "to be watchful," from PIE root *ger- "to be awake" (cognates: Sanskrit jagarti "he is awake," Avestan agarayeiti "wakes up, rouses"). At times confused with Latin gregarius (see gregarious).
gremlin (n.) Look up gremlin at
"small imaginary creature blamed for mechanical failures," oral use in R.A.F. aviators' slang from Malta, the Middle East and India is said to date to 1923. First printed use perhaps in poem in journal "Aeroplane" April 10, 1929; certainly in use by 1941, and popularized in World War II and picked up by Americans (for example "New York Times" Magazine April 11, 1943). Of unknown origin. OED says "probably formed by analogy with GOBLIN." Speculations in Barnhart are a possible dialectal survival of Old English gremman "to anger, vex" + the -lin of goblin; or Irish gruaimin "bad-tempered little fellow." Surfer slang for "young surfer, beach trouble-maker" is from 1961 (short form gremmie by 1962).
Grenada Look up Grenada at
West Indies island, discovered by Columbus Aug, 15, 1498, and named by him Concepción, the place later was renamed for the old Spanish kingdom or city of Granada. Related: Grenadian.
grenade (n.) Look up grenade at
"small explosive shell," thrown rather than discharged from a cannon, 1590s, earlier "pomegranate" (1520s), from Middle French grenade "pomegranate" (16c.), earlier grenate (12c.), from Old French pomegrenate (see pomegranate). Form influenced by Spanish granada. So called because the many-seeded fruit suggested the powder-filled, fragmenting bomb, or from similarities of shape. See pomegranate. Much used late 17c., they went out of use 18c. but were revived 20c.
grenadier (n.) Look up grenadier at
1670s, originally a word for soldiers "who were dexterous in flinging hand-granados" [Evelyn], from French grenadier (15c.), from Middle French grenade "grenade" (see grenade); later "the tallest and finest men in the regiment" [OED]. Grenades went out of use in 18c., but the name was retained by certain companies of regiments.
grenadine (n.) Look up grenadine at
"syrup made from pomegranates," 1896, from French sirop de grenadin from Middle French grenade "pomegranate" (see pomegranate). The type of thin silk fabric, so called from 1851, probably is from Grenada.
Grenoble Look up Grenoble at
city in southeastern France, from Roman Gratianopolis, named for 4c. roman emperor Flavius Gratianus. During the French Revolution the city was briefly renamed Grelibre, as if from noble.
Grepo (n.) Look up Grepo at
East Berlin border guard during the Cold War, by 1964, from German, contraction of Grenzpolizei "border police."
Greta Look up Greta at
fem. proper name; see Gretchen.