generalship (n.) Look up generalship at
1590s, from general (n.) + -ship.
generate (v.) Look up generate at
c. 1500, "to beget" (offspring), a back-formation from generation or else from Latin generatus, past participle of generare "to beget, produce," from genus "race, kind" (see genus). In reference to natural forces, conditions, substances, etc., from 1560s. Related: Generated; generating.
generation (n.) Look up generation at
early 14c., "body of individuals born about the same period" (historically 30 years but in other uses as few as 17), on the notion of "descendants at the same stage in the line of descent," from Old French generacion "race, people, species; progeny, offspring; act of procreating" (12c., Modern French génération) and directly from Latin generationem (nominative generatio) "generating, generation," noun of action from past participle stem of generare "bring forth, beget, produce," from genus "race, kind" (see genus).

From late 14c. as "act or process of procreation; process of being formed; state of being procreated; reproduction; sexual intercourse;" also "that which is produced, fruit, crop; children; descendants, offspring of the same parent." Generation gap first recorded 1967; generation x is 1991, by author Douglas Coupland (b.1961) in the book of that name; generation y attested by 1994. Adjectival phrase first-generation, second-generation, etc. with reference to U.S. immigrant families is from 1896. Related: Generational.
generative (adj.) Look up generative at
late 14c., "reproductive, pertaining to propagation," from generate + -ive. Use in linguistics is attested by 1959. Related: Generativity.
generator (n.) Look up generator at
1640s, "person who begets, causes, or produces," from Latin generator "a begetter, producer," agent noun from past participle stem of generare "to bring forth" (see generation). Meaning "machine that generates power" first recorded 1794; sense of "machine that generates electric energy" is from 1879. Fem. generatrix attested from 1650s.
generic (adj.) Look up generic at
1670s, "belonging to a large group of objects," formed in English from Latin gener-, stem of genus "race, kind" (see genus) + -ic. Hence "of a general kind, not special. In reference to manufactured products, "not special; not brand-name; in plain, cheap packaging," is from 1953 of drugs; of groceries, etc., from 1977. Related: Generically.
generosity (n.) Look up generosity at
early 15c., "nobility, goodness of race," from Latin generositatem (nominative generositas) "nobility, excellence, magnanimity," from generosus "of noble birth; magnanimous" (see generous). Meaning "munificence, quality of being generous" is recorded from 1670s.
generous (adj.) Look up generous at
1580s, "of noble birth," from Middle French généreux (14c.), from Latin generosus "of noble birth," figuratively "magnanimous, generous," from genus (genitive generis) "race, stock" (see genus). Secondary senses of "unselfish" (1690s) and "plentiful" (1610s) in English were present in French and in Latin. Related: Generously; generousness.
genesis (n.) Look up genesis at
Old English Genesis, first book of the Pentateuch, which tells among other things of the creation of the world, from Latin genesis "generation, nativity," in Late Latin taken as the title of first book of the Old Testament, from Greek genesis "origin, creation, generation," from gignesthai "to be born," related to genos "race, birth, descent" (see genus). Greek translators used the word as the title of the biblical book, rendering Hebrew bereshith, literally "in the beginning," which was the first word of the text, taken as its title. Extended sense of "origin, creation" first recorded in English c. 1600.
genet (n.) Look up genet at
small civet, late 15c., from Old French genete (13c., Modern French genette), from Spanish gineta, from Arabic jarnait.
genetic (adj.) Look up genetic at
1831, "pertaining to origins," coined by Carlyle as if from Greek genetikos from genesis "origin" (see genesis). Darwin used it biologically as "resulting from common origin" (1859); modern sense of "pertaining to genetics or genes" is from 1908 (see gene). Related: Genetically. Genetical is attested from 1650s as "pertaining to origins."
geneticist (adj.) Look up geneticist at
1912, from genetics + -ist.
genetics (n.) Look up genetics at
1872, "laws of origination;" see genetic + -ics. A coinage of English biologist William Bateson (1861-1926). Meaning "study of heredity" is from 1891.
Geneva Look up Geneva at
city in Switzerland, from Latin Genava, perhaps from a PIE root meaning "estuary" or one meaning "bend;" in either case a reference to its situation. From 1920 sometimes in reference to the city as the site of the headquarters of the League of Nations. The original Geneva Convention among Great Britain and the major continental powers to introduce humanitarian conduct in modern warfare (neutrality of hospitals, etc.) dates from 1864; the most recent update was in 1949. The Geneva Protocol is a League of Nations document meant to settle international disputes; it dates from 1924. Earlier the city was associated with Calvinism. Related: Genevan (1841); Genevian (1570s); Genevese (1826); Genevois (1550s).
geneva (n.) Look up geneva at
1706, alteration (by influence of the Swiss city name) of Dutch genevre, French genière (see gin (n.1)).
Genevieve Look up Genevieve at
fem. proper name, from French Geneviève, from Late Latin Genovefa, probably of Celtic origin.
genial (adj.) Look up genial at
1560s, "pertaining to marriage," from Latin genialis "pleasant, festive," literally "pertaining to marriage rites," from genius "guardian spirit" (see genius), with here perhaps a special sense of "tutelary deity of a married couple." Originally used in English in the Latin literal sense; meaning "cheerful, friendly" first recorded 1746. Related: Genially.
geniality (n.) Look up geniality at
c. 1600, "festivity;" 1831, "cheerfulness," from Late Latin genialitas "festivity, pleasantness," from Latin genialis "pleasant, festive" (see genial).
geniculate (adj.) Look up geniculate at
"having knots or joints; bent like a knee," 1660s, from Latin geniculatus "having knots, knotted," from geniculum "little knee, knot on the stalk of a plant," diminutive of genu "knee" (see knee (n.)). Related: Geniculation (1610s).
genie (n.) Look up genie at
1650s, "tutelary spirit," from French génie, from Latin genius (see genius); used in French translation of "Arabian Nights" to render Arabic jinni, singular of jinn, which it accidentally resembled, and attested in English with this sense from 1748.
genii (n.) Look up genii at
Latinate English plural of genius.
genital (adj.) Look up genital at
late 14c., "pertaining to (sexual) reproduction," in membres genytal "the genitals," from Latin genitalis "pertaining to generation or birth; fruitful" (also a by-name of the goddess Diana), from genitus, past participle of gignere "to beget" (see genus). Hence the English word came to mean "pertaining to the organs of generation." As a noun meaning "sex organ" from mid-15c. (plural genitals is from late 14c.).
genitalia (n.) Look up genitalia at
"the genital organs," 1876, Modern Latin, from Latin genitalia (membra), neuter plural of genitalis "genital, pertaining to generation or birth" (see genital). The Latin word also yielded, with change of suffix, French génitoires (12c.), hence Middle English and early Modern English genitors "genitals."
genitals (n.) Look up genitals at
"reproductive organs," especially the external sexual organs, late 14c., from genital (adj.). Compare genitalia.
genitival (adj.) Look up genitival at
1818, from genitive + -al (1). Related: Genitivally.
genitive (adj.) Look up genitive at
late 14c., in reference to the grammatical case, from Old French genitif or directly from Latin (casus) genitivus "case expressing possession, source, or origin," from genitivus "of or belonging to birth," from genitus (past participle of gignere; see genital); misused by Latin grammarians to render Greek genike (ptosis) "the general or generic (case)," expressing race or kind, genikos also meaning "belonging to the family" (see genus). The noun meaning "the genitive case in grammar" is from 1610s.
The Latin genitivus is a mere blunder, for the Greek word genike could never mean genitivus. Genitivus, if it is meant to express the case of origin or birth, would in Greek have been called gennetike, not genike. Nor does the genitive express the relation of son to father. For though we may say, "the son of the father," we may likewise say, "the father of the son." Genike, in Greek, had a much wider, a much more philosophical meaning. It meant casus generalis, the general case, or rather the case which expresses the genus or kind. This is the real power of the genitive. If I say, "a bird of the water," "of the water" defines the genus to which a certain bird belongs; it refers to the genus of water-birds. [Max Müller, "Lectures on the Science of Language," 1861]
genius (n.) Look up genius at
late 14c., "tutelary or moral spirit" who guides and governs an individual through life, from Latin genius "guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation; wit, talent;" also "prophetic skill," originally "generative power" (or "inborn nature"), from PIE *gen(e)-yo-, from root *gene- "to produce, give birth, beget" (see genus). Sense of "characteristic disposition" of a person is from 1580s. Meaning "person of natural intelligence or talent" and that of "exalted natural mental ability" are first recorded 1640s.
Genoa Look up Genoa at
city in Italy, Italian Genova, from Latin Genua, perhaps from a PIE root meaning "curve, bend," which could make it a cognate of Geneva. Other theories hold it to be perhaps from janua "gate," or from the Italic god Janus. Adjective forms in English included Middle English Genoway (also in plural, Janeways), c. 1400, from Old French Genoveis, from Italian Genovese. In later English, Genoese (1550s); Genovese (c. 1600); Genoan (c. 1600); Genovesian (1620s).
genocidal (adj.) Look up genocidal at
1948, from genocide + -al (1). Related: Genocidally.
genocide (n.) Look up genocide at
1944, apparently coined by Polish-born U.S. jurist Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) in his work "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe" [p.19], in reference to Nazi extermination of Jews, literally "killing a tribe," from Greek genos "race, kind" (see genus) + -cide. The proper formation would be *genticide.
Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. [Lemkin]
Earlier in a similar sense was populicide (1799), from French populicide, by 1792, a word from the Revolution. This was taken into German, as in Völkermeuchelnden "genocidal" (Heine), which was Englished 1893 as folk-murdering. Ethnocide is attested from 1974 in English (1970 in French).
genome (n.) Look up genome at
"sum total of genes in a set," 1930, genom, modeled on German genom, coined 1920 by German botanist Hans Winkler, from gen "gene" (see gene) + (chromos)om "chromosome" (see chromosome).
genotype (n.) Look up genotype at
"genetic constitution of an individual," 1910, from German Genotypus (Wilhelm Johannsen, 1909); see gene + type (n.). Earlier the same word was used with a sense of "type-species of a genus" (1897); in this case, the first element is from genus.
genre (n.) Look up genre at
1770, "particular style of art," a French word in English (nativized from c. 1840), from French genre "kind, sort, style" (see gender (n.)). Used especially in French for "independent style." In painting, as an adjective, "depicting scenes of ordinary life" (a domestic interior or village scene, as compared to landscape, historical, etc.) from 1849.
Genro (n.) Look up Genro at
"elder statesman of Japan," 1876, from Japanese, literally "first elders."
gens (n.) Look up gens at
1847, in reference to ancient Rome, "tribe, clan, house (of families having a name and certain religious rites in common and a presumed common origin)," from Latin gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan, nation" (see genus).
gent (n.) Look up gent at
colloquial shortening of gentleman, by 17c. (in early uses it is difficult to distinguish the shortening from the common abbreviation gent.), which is perhaps the origin of this use. "Early in the nineteenth century the word was colloquial and slightly jocular; about 1840 its use came to be regarded as a mark of low breeding" [OED].
genteel (adj.) Look up genteel at
1590s, "fashionably elegant; suitable to polite society, characteristic of a lady or gentleman; decorous in manners or behavior," from Middle French gentil "stylish, fashionable, elegant; nice, graceful, pleasing," from Old French gentil "high-born, noble" (11c.); a reborrowing (with evolved senses) of the French word that had early come into English as gentle (q.v.), with French pronunciation and stress preserved to emphasize the distinction. The Latin source of the French word is the ancestor of English gentile, but the main modern meaning of that word is from a later Scriptural sense in Latin. See also jaunty. OED 2nd ed. reports genteel "is now used, except by the ignorant, only in mockery" (a development it dates from the 1840s).
gentian (n.) Look up gentian at
type of herb, late 14c., genciane, from Old French genciane (13c.) and directly from Latin gentiana, said by Pliny to be named for Gentius, king of ancient Illyria who discovered its properties. This likely is a folk-etymology, but the word may be Illyrian nonetheless, because the suffix -an frequently occurs in Illyrian words.
gentile (n.) Look up gentile at
"one who is not a Jew," c. 1400; earlier "one who is not a Christian, a pagan" (late 14c.), from Late Latin noun use of Latin gentilis "of the same family or clan, of or belonging to a Roman gens," from gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan" (see genus, and compare gentle).

The Latin adjective also meant "of or belonging to the same nation," hence, as a noun, gentiles (plural) might mean "men of family; persons belonging to the same family; fellow countrymen, kinsmen," but also "foreigners, barbarians" (as opposed to Romans), those bound only by the Jus Gentium, the "law of nations," defined as "the law that natural reason establishes among all mankind and is followed by all peoples alike."

The Latin word then was used in the Vulgate to translate Greek ethnikos (see ethnic), from ta ethne "the nations," which translated Hebrew ha goyim "the (non-Jewish) nations" (see goy). Hence in Late Latin, after the Christianization of Rome, gentilis also could mean "pagans, heathens," as opposed to Christians. Based on Scripture, gentile also was used by Mormons (1847) and Shakers (1857) to refer to those not of their profession.
gentility (n.) Look up gentility at
mid-14c., "nobility of birth, gentle birth," from Old French gentilité (14c.), from Latin gentilitatem (nominative gentilitas) "relationship in the same family or clan," from gentilis "of the same family or clan" (see gentle; also compare gentry). From 1640s as "social superiority." Meaning "state of being gentile" is rare.
gentle (adj.) Look up gentle at
early 13c., gentile, gentle "well-born, of noble rank or family," from Old French gentil/jentil "high-born, worthy, noble, of good family; courageous, valiant; fine, good, fair" (11c., in Modern French "nice, graceful, pleasing; fine, pretty") and directly from Latin gentilis "of the same family or clan," in Medieval Latin "of noble or good birth," from gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan," from root of gignere "beget," from PIE root *gene- "to give birth, beget" (see genus).

Sense evolved in English and French to "having the character or manners of one of noble rank or birth," varying according to how those were defined. From mid-13c. in English as "gracious, kind" (now obsolete), manners prescribed for Christian or chivalrous nobility. From late 13c. as "courteous, polite, well-bred, charming;" c. 1300 as "graceful, beautiful." Meaning "mild, tender; easy; not harsh" (of animals, things, persons) is from 1550s. Older sense remains in gentleman, and compare gentile (adj.), an alternative form which tends to keep the Biblical senses of the Latin word (though gentle in Middle English sometimes meant "pagan, heathen"), and genteel, which is the same word borrowed again from French. From 1823 as "pertaining to the fairies."
gentleman (n.) Look up gentleman at
c. 1200, perhaps mid-12c., "well-born man, man of good family or birth," also extended to Roman patricians and ancient Greek aristocrats, from gentle + man (n.); the compound probably is modeled on Old French gentilhomme (the English gentleman itself was borrowed into French in 18c.).

Given specific uses in late Middle English (small gentleman, gentleman-of-arms, gentleman-usher, etc.), hence in England the word often meant any man above the social rank of a yeoman, including the nobility, but it was sometimes restricted to those who bear a coat of arms but not a title; in U.S., "man of property, not engaged in business or a profession" (1789). The English word from the beginning also had a special sense "nobleman whose behavior conforms to the ideals of chivalry and Christianity," and gentleman came to be used loosely for any man of good breeding, courtesy, kindness, honor, strict regard for the feelings of others, etc.
The Gentleman is always truthful and sincere; will not agree for the sake of complaisance or out of weakness ; will not pass over that of which he disapproves. He has a clear soul, and a fearless, straightforward tongue. On the other hand he is not blunt and rude. His truth is courteous; his courtesy, truthful; never a humbug, yet, where he truthfully can, he prefers to say pleasant things. [J.R. Vernon, "Contemporary Review," 1869]
Eventually, in polite use, it came to mean a man in general, regardless of social standing. Related: Gentlemen. Gentleman's agreement is first attested 1929. Gentleman farmer recorded from 1749, "A man of means who farms on a large scale, employs hands, and does little or none of the work himself" [Craigie, "Dictionary of American English"].
gentlemanly (adj.) Look up gentlemanly at
early 15c., "well-behaved, courteous," from gentleman + -ly (1).
gentleness (n.) Look up gentleness at
c. 1300, "inherited nature," from gentle + -ness. Meaning "freedom from harshness or violence" is from 1610s.
gentlewoman (n.) Look up gentlewoman at
early 13c., "woman of good family or breeding," from gentle + woman. It seems never to have developed the looser senses in gentleman; Bret Harte tried gentlewomanliness.
gently (adv.) Look up gently at
early 14c., "befitting one of gentle rank, as of good family," from gentle + -ly (2). Meaning "quietly, softly, without rudeness, gradually" is from 1550s.
gentrification (n.) Look up gentrification at
1973, noun of action from gentrify.
gentrify (v.) Look up gentrify at
"renovate inner-city housing to middle-class standards," by 1972, from gentry + -fy. Related: Gentrified, which was used from early 19c. of persons.
gentry (n.) Look up gentry at
c. 1300, "nobility of rank or birth;" mid-14c., "a fashion or custom of the nobility;" late 14c., "nobility of character," from Old French genterie, genterise, variant of gentelise "noble birth, aristocracy; courage, honor; kindness, gentleness," from gentil "high-born, noble, of good family" (see gentle). Meaning "noble persons, the class of well-born and well-bred people" is from 1520s in English, later often in England referring to the upper middle class, persons of means and leisure but below the nobility. Earlier in both senses was gentrice (c. 1200 as "nobility of character," late 14c. as "noble persons"), and gentry in early use also might have been regarded as a singular of that. In Anglo-Irish, gentry was a name for "the fairies" (1880), and gentle could mean "enchanted" (1823).
genuflect (v.) Look up genuflect at
"to bend the knee" as an act of worship or respect, 1620s, back-formation from genuflection. Related: Genuflected; genuflecting.