Geechee (n.) Look up Geechee at
patois of coastal black communities in the southeastern U.S., from the Ogeechee River in Georgia. The name is perhaps from Muskogee and could mean "River of the Uchees," referring to a neighboring people.
geek (n.) Look up geek at
"sideshow freak," 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck "a fool, dupe, simpleton" (1510s), apparently from Dutch gek or Low German geck, from an imitative verb found in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian meaning "to croak, cackle," and also "to mock, cheat" (Dutch gekken, German gecken, Danish gjække, Swedish gäcka). The modern form and the popular use with reference to circus sideshow "wild men" is from 1946, in William Lindsay Gresham's novel "Nightmare Alley" (made into a film in 1947 starring Tyrone Power).
"An ordinary geek doesn't actually eat snakes, just bites off chunks of 'em, chicken heads and rats." [Arthur H. Lewis, "Carnival," 1970]
By c. 1983, used in teenager slang in reference to peers who lacked social graces but were obsessed with new technology and computers (such as the Anthony Michael Hall character in 1984's "Sixteen Candles").
geek out vi. To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, for example at parties held near computer equipment. [Eric S. Raymond, "The New Hacker's Dictionary," 1996]
geeky (adj.) Look up geeky at
by 1985, from geek (n.) in teen slang sense + -y (2).
geese (n.) Look up geese at
plural of goose (n.).
geezer (n.) Look up geezer at
derisive word for an old man, 1885, according to OED a variant of obsolete Cockney guiser "mummer" (late 15c.; see guise).
gefilte fish (n.) Look up gefilte fish at
1892, gefüllte Fisch, not a species but a loaf made from various kinds of ground fish and other ingredients; the first word is Yiddish, from German gefüllte "stuffed," from füllen "to fill" (see full (v.)).
gehenna (n.) Look up gehenna at
"hell," 1620s (earlier "a place of torture," 1590s), from Church Latin gehenna (Tertullian), from Greek geenna, from post-biblical Hebrew gehinnom "Hell, place of fiery torment for the dead," figurative use of the place name Ge Hinnom "the Valley of Hinnom," southwest of Jerusalem, where, according to Jer. xix:5, children were sacrificed to Moloch. Middle English had gehenne (late 15c.) from Middle French gehenne.
Geiger counter (n.) Look up Geiger counter at
1924, named for German physicist Hans Geiger (1882-1945), who invented it with Walther Müller. The surname is literally "fiddler."
geisha (n.) Look up geisha at
1887, "Japanese girl whose profession is to sing and dance to entertain men;" hence, loosely, "prostitute," from Japanese, literally "person accomplished in the social arts," from gei "art, performance" + sha "person." Compare almah, and Athenian auletrides "flute-girls," female musicians who entertained guests at a symposium with music at the start of the party and sex at the end of it.
geist (n.) Look up geist at
1871, "intellectuality," also, variously, after German, "spirit" of a place or time; "spirituality," from German Geist (see ghost (n.), and compare zeitgeist).
gel (n.) Look up gel at
"semi-solid substance," 1899, as a chemical term, short for gelatin and perhaps influenced by jell. The invention of this word is credited to Scottish chemist Thomas Graham (1805-1869). Hair-styling sense is from 1958.
gel (v.) Look up gel at
1902, "to become a gel," from gel (n.). Figurative sense "come together and agree well" is from 1958. Related: Gelled; gelling.
gelatin (n.) Look up gelatin at
see gelatine.
gelatine (n.) Look up gelatine at
1713, from French gélatine (17c.) "clear jelly-like substance from animals; fish broth," from Italian gelatina, from gelata "jelly," from gelare "to jell," from Latin gelare "to freeze, congeal" (see cold (adj.)). With chemical suffix -ine (2). Spelling gelatin is from 1800. "The form without final -e is in scientific (or pseudo-scientific) use only ..." [Fowler].
gelatinous (adj.) Look up gelatinous at
1724, from gelatine + -ous; probably modeled on French gélatineux. Related: Gelatinously; gelatinousness.
gelato (n.) Look up gelato at
by 1970, from Italian gelato, literally "frozen," past participle of gelare "to freeze, congeal" (see cold (adj.)).
geld (n.) Look up geld at
royal tax in medieval England, c. 1600, as a historical term, from Medieval Latin geldum, from Old English gield "payment, tax, tribute, compensation," from Proto-Germanic *geldam "payment" (cognates: Middle High German gelt "payment, contribution," German geld "money," Old Norse gjald "payment," Gothic gild "tribute, tax"), from PIE root *gheldh- "to pay" (see yield (v.)).
geld (v.) Look up geld at
"to castrate," c. 1300, from Old Norse gelda "to castrate," said in Watkins to be from Proto-Germanic *galdjan "to castrate," from PIE *ghel- (3) "to cut." Related to other words which, if the derivation is correct, indicate a general sense of "barren." Compare Old Norse geld-fe "barren sheep" and geldr (adj.) "barren, yielding no milk, dry," which yielded Middle English geld "barren" (of women and female animals); also Old High German galt "barren," said of a cow. Related: Gelded; gelding.
gelding (n.) Look up gelding at
late 14c., "castrated animal" (especially a horse), also "a eunuch" (late 13c. as a surname), from Old Norse geldingr "wether; eunuch," from gelda "castrate" (see geld (v.)).
gelid (adj.) Look up gelid at
"very cold," c. 1600, from Latin gelidus "icy, cold, frosty," from gelum "frost, ice, intense cold" (see cold (adj.)). Related: Gelidity.
geloscopy (n.) Look up geloscopy at
"divination of a person's qualities or character by laughter," 1730s, from Greek gelos "laughter" + -scopy.
gelt (n.) Look up gelt at
"money," 1520s, from German and Dutch gelt "gold, money," from Proto-Germanic *geldam "payment" (see geld (n.)). In some later uses from Yiddish gelt, from Old High German gelt "payment, reward," from the same source.
gelt (adj.) Look up gelt at
past participle of geld (v.); hence, as an adjective, "castrated" (mid-15c.).
gem (n.) Look up gem at
"a precious stone" (especially when cut or polished), c. 1300, probably from Old French gemme (12c.), from Latin gemma "precious stone, jewel," originally "bud," from Proto-Italic *gebma- "bud, sprout," from PIE *geb-m- "sprout, bud" (cognates: Lithuanian žembeti "to germinate, sprout," Old Church Slavonic prozebnoti "to germinate"). The two competing traditional etymologies trace it either to the root *gembh- "tooth, nail; to bite" [Watkins] or *gem- "'to press." De Vaan finds the second "semantically unconvincing" and leans toward the first despite the difficult sense connection. Of persons, "a rare or excellent example (of something)" from late 13c. Alternative forms iemme, gimme persisted into 14c. and might represent a survival of Old English gimm "precious stone, gem, jewel," also "eye," which was borrowed directly from Latin gemma.
gem (v.) Look up gem at
c. 1600, "to adorn with gems;" earlier (mid-12c.) "to bud," from gem (n.). Related: Gemmed; gemming.
gematria (n.) Look up gematria at
1680s, from Hebrew gematriya, a transliteration of Greek geometria (see geometry). "[E]xplanation of the sense of a word by substituting for it another word, so that the numerical value of the letters constituting either word is identical" [Klein].
gemeinschaft (n.) Look up gemeinschaft at
1913, as a German word in English (the article suggests "Parish Brotherhoods" as a translation of German Gemeinschaften), from German Gemeinschaft "social relationship based on affection or kinship" (contrasted with gesellschaft), from gemein "common, general" (see mean (adj.1)) + -schaft (see -ship).
geminate (adj.) Look up geminate at
"duplicated, found in pairs," early 15c., from Latin geminatus "twinned, equal," past participle of geminare "to double, repeat," related to geminus "twin, born together; paired, double," perhaps from PIE *yem- "to pair." As a verb, from 1630s. Related: Geminated; geminating; geminative.
gemination (n.) Look up gemination at
1590s, "a doubling," from Latin geminationem (nominative geminatio) "a doubling," noun of action from past participle stem of geminare "to double, repeat" (see geminate). In rhetoric, repetition of a word or phrase for emphasis.
Gemini (n.) Look up Gemini at
zodiac constellation, late Old English, from Latin gemini (plural of adjective geminus) "twins" (see geminate). Formerly also spelled gemeny, gemony, jeminy, etc. The twins are Castor and Pollux in Latin, which also are the names of the two brightest stars in the constellation; for their Greek name see Dioscuri. Meaning "a person born under the sign of Gemini" is recorded from 1894. As an oath, from 1660s (also found in Dutch and German), perhaps a corruption of Jesu (compare jiminy).
gemmologist (n.) Look up gemmologist at
1931, from gemmology (1811), from Latin gemma (see gem) + -ology.
gemstone (n.) Look up gemstone at
Old English gimstan; see gem + stone (n.).
gendarme (n.) Look up gendarme at
"French military police," 1796, from French (they were first organized in France 1790); earlier "mounted trooper" (1540s), from French contraction (14c.) of gens d'armes "men at arms." Gens is plural of gent "nation, people," from Latin gentem (nominative gens) "race, nation, people" (see genus). For armes see arm (n.2). Related: Gendarmerie, gendarmerygens de (la) robe "lawyers," which was sometimes borrowed in English.
gender (n.) Look up gender at
c. 1300, "kind, sort, class," from Old French gendre, genre "kind, species; character; gender" (12c., Modern French genre), from stem of Latin genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, family; kind, rank, order; species," also "(male or female) sex," from PIE root *gene- (see genus). Also used in Latin to translate Aristotle's Greek grammatical term genos. The grammatical sense is attested in English from late 14c.

The "male-or-female sex" sense is attested in English from early 15c. As sex (n.) took on erotic qualities in 20c., gender came to be the usual English word for "sex of a human being," in which use it was at first regarded as colloquial or humorous. Later often in feminist writing with reference to social attributes as much as biological qualities; this sense first attested 1963. Gender-bender is from 1977, popularized from 1980, with reference to pop star David Bowie.
gender (v.) Look up gender at
"to bring forth," late 14c., from Old French gendrer, genrer "engender, beget, give birth to," from Latin generare "to engender, beget, produce" (see generation). Related: Gendered; gendering.
gene (n.) Look up gene at
1911, from German Gen, coined 1905 by Danish scientist Wilhelm Ludvig Johannsen (1857-1927), from Greek genea "generation, race," from PIE root *gene- (see genus). De Vries had earlier called them pangenes. Gene pool is attested from 1946.
genealogical (adj.) Look up genealogical at
1570s, from French généalogique, from généalogie (see genealogy) + -al (1). Earlier in the same sense was genealogial (mid-15c.). Related: Genealogically.
genealogist (n.) Look up genealogist at
c. 1600, from genealogy + -ist. A verb genealogize also is recorded from c. 1600.
genealogy (n.) Look up genealogy at
early 14c., "line of descent, pedigree, descent," from Old French genealogie (12c.), from Late Latin genealogia "tracing of a family," from Greek genealogia "the making of a pedigree," from genea "generation, descent" (see genus) + -logia (see -logy). An Old English word for it was folctalu, literally "folk tale." Meaning "study of family trees" is from 1768.
genera (n.) Look up genera at
plural of genus.
generable (adj.) Look up generable at
mid-15c., "capable of being begotten, that may be produced," from Latin generabilis, from generare "to bring forth" (see generation).
general (adj.) Look up general at
c. 1200, "of wide application, generic, affecting or involving all" (as opposed to special or specific), from Old French general (12c.) and directly from Latin generalis "relating to all, of a whole class, generic" (contrasted with specialis), from genus (genitive generis) "stock, kind" (see genus).
What is common is of frequent occurrence.
What is general admits of comparatively few exceptions: the general opinion (the opinion of the majority); the general welfare.
[J.H.A. Günther, "English Synonyms Explained & Illustrated," Groningen, Netherlands, 1904]
Used in forming titles from late 14c. with the sense "having general authority or jurisdiction, chief." Phrase in general "without exception, in one body; as a rule, generally, not specifically" is from late 14c. General rule, one applying to an art or science as a whole, is from c. 1400. General store attested by 1810, American English, in reference to the range of goods sold; a general hospital (1737) is one not restricted to one class of persons or type of disease.
general (n.) Look up general at
late 14c., "whole class of things or persons, a broad classification, a general truth," from general (adj.). Meaning "commander of an army" is 1570s, shortening of captain general, from Middle French capitaine général. The English adjective was affixed to civic officer designations by late 14c. to indicate superior rank and extended jurisdiction.
generalisation (n.) Look up generalisation at
chiefly British English spelling of generalization. For spelling, see -ize.
generalissimo (n.) Look up generalissimo at
"supreme military commander," 1620s, from Italian generalissimo, superlative of generale, from a sense development similar to French general (see general (n.)). Parson Weems applied it to George Washington. In 20c. use sometimes from Spanish generalissimo in reference to the military dictator Franco.
generalist (n.) Look up generalist at
1610s, "one who generalizes," from general (adj.) + -ist. From 1894 as "one who engages in general studies" (opposed to specialist).
generality (n.) Look up generality at
late 14c., generalite, generalte, "universality, universal application;" c. 1400 "whole body of persons," from Old French generalité, generaute "sort, type; totality, entirety," from Late Latin generalitatem (nominative generalitas) "generality," from Latin generalis "relating to all" (see general (adj.)). Related: Generalities. Form generalty is attested from late 14c.
generalization (n.) Look up generalization at
1761, "act of generalizing," from generalize + -ation. Meaning "an instance of generalizing, an induction, a general inference" is from 1794.
generalize (v.) Look up generalize at
1751, probably a new formation from general (adj.) + -ize. Middle English had generalisen (early 15c.). Related: Generalizable; generalized; generalizing.
generally (adv.) Look up generally at
"including everyone; in a general way, without reference to particulars," mid-14c., from general (adj.) + -ly (2).