hag (n.) Look up hag at Dictionary.com
early 13c., "ugly old woman," probably a shortening of Old English hægtesse "witch, fury" (on assumption that -tesse was a suffix), from Proto-Germanic *hagatusjon, which is of unknown origin. Similar shortening produced Dutch heks, German Hexe "witch" from cognate Middle Dutch haghetisse, Old High German hagzusa.

First element is probably cognate with Old English haga "enclosure, portion of woodland marked off for cutting" (see hedge (n.)). Old Norse had tunriða and Old High German zunritha, both literally "hedge-rider," used of witches and ghosts. Second element in the prehistoric compound may be connected with Norwegian tysja "fairy; crippled woman," Gaulish dusius "demon," Lithuanian dvasia "spirit," from PIE *dhewes- "to fly about, smoke, be scattered, vanish."

One of the magic words for which there is no male form, suggesting its original meaning was close to "diviner, soothsayer," which were always female in northern European paganism, and hægtesse seem at one time to have meant "woman of prophetic and oracular powers" (Ælfric uses it to render the Greek "pythoness," the voice of the Delphic oracle), a figure greatly feared and respected. Later, the word was used of village wise women.

Haga is also the haw- in hawthorn, which is an important tree in northern European pagan religion. There may be several layers of folk etymology here. Confusion or blending with heathenish is suggested by Middle English hæhtis, hægtis "hag, witch, fury, etc.," and haetnesse "goddess," used of Minerva and Diana.

If the hægtesse was once a powerful supernatural woman (in Norse it is an alternative word for Norn, any of the three weird sisters, the equivalent of the Fates), it might originally have carried the hawthorn sense. Later, when the pagan magic was reduced to local scatterings, it might have had the sense of "hedge-rider," or "she who straddles the hedge," because the hedge was the boundary between the "civilized" world of the village and the wild world beyond. The hægtesse would have a foot in each reality. Even later, when it meant the local healer and root collector, living in the open and moving from village to village, it may have had the mildly pejorative sense of hedge- in Middle English (hedge-priest, etc.), suggesting an itinerant sleeping under bushes, perhaps. The same word could have contained all three senses before being reduced to its modern one.
hag-ridden (n.) Look up hag-ridden at Dictionary.com
1680s, "afflicted by nightmares," from hag (n.) + ridden. An old term for sleep paralysis, the sensation of being held immobile in bed, often by a heavy weight, and accompanied by a sense of alien presence. A holed stone hung over the bed was said to prevent it. Hag-ride as a verb is attested from 1660s.
haggadah (n.) Look up haggadah at Dictionary.com
1856, from Rabbinical Hebrew haggadhah, literally "tale," verbal noun from higgidh "to make clear, narrate, expound."
haggaday (n.) Look up haggaday at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "a kind of door latch," and said to be still the name for rings for raising thumb-latches in the north of England, appears to be what it looks like: what you say when you open the door ("have good day," as in the 1414 record of them as hafgooddays).
haggard (adj.) Look up haggard at Dictionary.com
1560s, "wild, unruly" (originally in reference to hawks), from Middle French haggard, probably from Old French faulcon hagard "wild falcon," literally "falcon of the woods," from Middle High German hag "hedge, copse, wood," from Proto-Germanic *hagon, from PIE root *kagh- "to catch, seize;" also "wickerwork, fence" (see hedge (n.)). OED, however, finds this whole derivation "very doubtful." Sense perhaps reinforced by Low German hager "gaunt, haggard." Sense of "with a haunted expression" first recorded 1690s, that of "careworn" first recorded 1853. Sense influenced by association with hag. Related: Haggardly; haggardness.
hagged (adj.) Look up hagged at Dictionary.com
c. 1700, from hag, by influence of haggard. Originally "bewitched," also "lean, gaunt," as bewitched persons and animals were believed to become.
haggis (n.) Look up haggis at Dictionary.com
dish of chopped entrails, c. 1400, now chiefly Scottish, but it was common throughout Middle English, perhaps from Old French agace "magpie," on analogy of the odds and ends the bird collects. The other theory [Klein, Watkins] traces it to Old English haggen "to chop" (see hack (v.1)).
haggle (v.) Look up haggle at Dictionary.com
1570s, "to cut unevenly" (implied in haggler), frequentative of haggen "to chop" (see hack (v.1)). Sense of "argue about price" first recorded c. 1600, probably from notion of chopping away. Related: Haggled; haggling.
hagiarchy (n.) Look up hagiarchy at Dictionary.com
"government by persons in holy orders," 1826; see hagiology + -archy. Not to be confused with hagiocracy "government by persons considered holy" (1846); -cracy.
hagiography (n.) Look up hagiography at Dictionary.com
"writing of saints' lives," 1821, from Greek hagios "holy" (see hagiology) + -graphy. Related: Hagiographic (1819); hagiographical (1580s); hagiographer (1650s).
hagiolatry (n.) Look up hagiolatry at Dictionary.com
worship of saints, from hagio- (see hagiology) + -latry.
hagiology (n.) Look up hagiology at Dictionary.com
"study of saints' lives," 1807, from Greek hagios "holy, devoted to the gods" + -ology. First element perhaps from PIE *yag- "to worship, reverence," and cognate with Greek agnos "chaste," Sanskrit yajati "reveres (a god) with sacrifices, worships," Old Persian ayadana "temple." Related: Hagiologist (1805).
Hague Look up Hague at Dictionary.com
city in Netherlands, from Dutch Den Haag, short for 's Gravenhage, literally "the count's hedge" (i.e. the hedge-enclosed hunting grounds of the counts of Holland); see haw. In French, it is La Haye.
hah Look up hah at Dictionary.com
variant of ha.
haiku (n.) Look up haiku at Dictionary.com
1899, from Japanese, where it is singular of haikai, in haikai no renga "jesting linked-verse;" originally a succession of haiku linked together into one poem. The form developed mid-16c. "Traditionally, there is mention of a season of the year somewhere in a haiku, as a means of establishing the poem's tone, though this may be only the slightest suggestion." [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry," Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1986].
hail (interj.) Look up hail at Dictionary.com
"greetings!" c. 1200, from Old Norse heill "health, prosperity, good luck," or a similar Scandinavian source, and in part from Old English hals, shortening of wæs hæil "be healthy" (see health and also wassail).
hail (n.) Look up hail at Dictionary.com
"frozen rain," Old English hægl, hagol (Mercian hegel) "hail, hailstorm," also the name of the rune for H, from Proto-Germanic *haglaz (cognates: Old Frisian heil, Old Saxon, Old High German hagal, Old Norse hagl, German Hagel "hail"), probably from PIE *kaghlo- "pebble" (cognates: Greek kakhlex "round pebble").
hail (v.1) Look up hail at Dictionary.com
"to call from a distance," 1560s, originally nautical, from hail (interj.). Related: Hailed; hailing. Hail fellow well met is 1580s, from a familiar greeting. Hail Mary (c. 1300) is the angelic salutation (Latin ave Maria) in Luke i:58, used as a devotional recitation. As a desperation play in U.S. football, attested by 1940. To hail from is 1841, originally nautical. "Hail, Columbia," the popular patriotic song, was a euphemism for "hell" in American English slang from c. 1850-1910.
hail (v.2) Look up hail at Dictionary.com
Old English hagolian, from root of hail (n.). Related: Hailed; hailing. Figurative use from mid-15c.
hailstone (n.) Look up hailstone at Dictionary.com
Old English hagolstan; see hail (n.) + stone (n.).
hailstorm (n.) Look up hailstorm at Dictionary.com
1690s, from hail (n.) + storm (n.).
hair (n.) Look up hair at Dictionary.com
Old English hær "hair, a hair," from Proto-Germanic *khæran (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old High German har, Old Frisian her, Dutch and German haar "hair"), perhaps from PIE *ghers- "to stand out, to bristle, rise to a point" (cognates: Lithuanian serys "bristle;" see horror).

Spelling influenced by Old Norse har and Old English haire "haircloth," from Old French haire, from Frankish *harja or some other Germanic source (see above). To let one's hair down "become familiar" is first recorded 1850. Phrase hair of the dog that bit you (1540s), homeopathic remedy, is in Pliny.
hair-raising (adj.) Look up hair-raising at Dictionary.com
"exciting," 1837, from hair + raise (v.). In 19c. works, sometimes as jocular mock-classical tricopherous.
hair-shirt (n.) Look up hair-shirt at Dictionary.com
garment of ascetics and penitents, 1680s, from hair + shirt. Figurative use by 1884. Earlier, such a garment was called simply a hair.
hair-splitting (n.) Look up hair-splitting at Dictionary.com
"making over-nice distinctions," by 1739, from hair + verbal noun from split (v.). To split hairs "make over-fine distinctions" is first recorded 1650s, as to cut the hair. Hair also being 18c. slang for "female pudendum," hair-splitter was noted in 1811 as slang for "penis."
hair-trigger (n.) Look up hair-trigger at Dictionary.com
1830, originally a secondary trigger in a firearm which sprung free a mechanism (hair) which, when set, allowed the main trigger (n.) to be released by very slight force. Figurative use by 1841.
hairball (n.) Look up hairball at Dictionary.com
1712, from hair + ball (n.1).
hairbreadth (n.) Look up hairbreadth at Dictionary.com
also hairsbreadth, hairs-breadth, hair's breadth, mid-15c., said to have been formerly a formal unit of measure equal to one-forty-eighth of an inch. From hair + breadth.
hairbrush (n.) Look up hairbrush at Dictionary.com
1590s, from hair + brush (n.1).
haircloth (n.) Look up haircloth at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, from hair + cloth.
haircut (n.) Look up haircut at Dictionary.com
also hair-cut, 1887, "act of cutting the hair," from hair (n.) + cut (n.). As "style of wearing the hair," by 1890.
The Romans began to cut the hair about A.U.C. 454, when Ticinius Maenas introduced Barbers from Sicily. Then they began to cut, curl, and perfume it. The glass was consulted as now upon rising from the barber's chair. [Rev. Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, "Encyclopædia of Antiquities," London, 1825]
Related: Haircutter; haircutting.
hairdo (n.) Look up hairdo at Dictionary.com
also hair-do, 1932, from hair + do (v.). Phrase do (one's) hair attested from 1875.
hairdresser (n.) Look up hairdresser at Dictionary.com
1770, from hair + dresser. Related: Hairdressing (1771).
hairless (adj.) Look up hairless at Dictionary.com
1550s, from hair + -less. Related: Hairlessness.
hairline (n.) Look up hairline at Dictionary.com
"cord made of hair," 1731, from hair + line. Meaning "a very fine line" is from 1846. As "the outline of the hair on top of the head," by 1903. As an adjective, of cracks, etc., by 1923.
hairpin (n.) Look up hairpin at Dictionary.com
also hair-pin, 1788 (two words), from hair + pin (n.). A hairpin turn, etc., is from 1906. Hairpin (or clothespin) was American English slang for "person" c. 1880-1910, especially in the expression "That's the kind of hairpin I am."
hairstyle (n.) Look up hairstyle at Dictionary.com
also hair-style, "way of wearing the hair," 1913, from hair + style.
hairy (adj.) Look up hairy at Dictionary.com
early 14c., from hair + -y (2). From 1848 in slang sense of "difficult." Farmer calls this "Oxford slang." Perhaps from the notion of "rugged, rough." Related: Hairiness.
Haiti Look up Haiti at Dictionary.com
from Arawak haiti "land of mountains," and probably originally the name of the whole island.
hajj (n.) Look up hajj at Dictionary.com
"pilgrimage to Mecca," from Arabic hajj "pilgrimage," from hajja "he went on a pilgrimage." Related to Hebrew haghagh "he made a pilgrimage, celebrated a feast," hagh "a gathering." One who has made it is a hajji.
hake (n.) Look up hake at Dictionary.com
type of sea fish, c. 1300, probably from Old English haca "a hook, door-fastening" (related to hacod "pike" the fish), or from cognate Old Norse haki "hook;" in either case the fish so called from the shape of its jaw; both from Proto-Germanic *hakan (cognate with Dutch hake "hook"), from PIE root *keg- "hook, tooth" (see hook (n.)).
hakeem Look up hakeem at Dictionary.com
1580s, physician in Arab countries, from Arabic hakim "wise," from stem of hakuma "he was wise;" whence also hakam "judge," hikmah "wisdom, science."
Hakenkreuz (n.) Look up Hakenkreuz at Dictionary.com
1931, proper German name for the Nazi swastika (q.v.), literally "hook-cross," from Old High German hako "hook," from Proto-Germanic *hoka-, from PIE *keg- "hook, tooth" (see hook (n.)).
halal (adj.) Look up halal at Dictionary.com
1855, Arabic, literally "lawful." Halal food has been prepared in a manner prescribed by Islamic law.
halberd (n.) Look up halberd at Dictionary.com
late 15c., from Middle French hallebarde (earlier alabarde, 15c.), from Middle High German halmbarte "broad-axe with handle," from halm "handle" (see helm) + barte "hatchet," possibly from Proto-Germanic *bardoz "beard," also "hatchet, broadax." Alternative etymology [Kluge, Darmesteter] traces first element to helm "helmet," making the weapon an axe for smashing helmets.
halcyon (adj.) Look up halcyon at Dictionary.com
1540s, in halcyon dayes (Latin alcyonei dies, Greek alkyonides hemerai), 14 days of calm weather at the winter solstice, when a mythical bird (identified with the kingfisher) was said to breed in a nest floating on calm seas. From halcyon (n.), late 14c., from Latin halcyon, from Greek halkyon, variant (perhaps a misspelling) of alkyon "kingfisher," from hals "sea, salt" (see halo-) + kyon "conceiving," present participle of kyein "to conceive," literally "to swell," from PIE root *keue- "to swell." Identified in mythology with Halcyone, daughter of Aeolus, who when widowed threw herself into the sea and became a kingfisher.
hale (adj.) Look up hale at Dictionary.com
"healthy," Old English hal "healthy, entire, uninjured" (see health). The Scottish and northern English form of whole; it was given a literary sense of "free from infirmity" (1734). Related: Haleness.
hale (v.) Look up hale at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, "drag; summon," in Middle English used of arrows, bowstrings, reins, anchors, from Old French haler "to pull, haul" (12c.), from a Germanic source, perhaps Frankish *halon or Old Dutch halen; probably also from Old English geholian "obtain" (see haul). Figurative sense of "to draw (someone) from one condition to another" is late 14c. Related: Haled; haling.
half Look up half at Dictionary.com
Old English half, halb (Mercian), healf (W. Saxon) "side, part," not necessarily of equal division (original sense preserved in behalf), noun, adjective, and adverb all in Old English, from Proto-Germanic *halbaz "something divided" (cognates: Old Saxon halba, Old Norse halfr, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch half, German halb, Gothic halbs "half"), perhaps from PIE (s)kel- (1) "to cut."

Used also in Old English phrases, as in modern German, to mean "one half unit less than," for example þridda healf "two and a half," literally "half third." The construction in two and a half, etc., is first recorded c. 1200. Of time, in half past ten, etc., first attested 1750; in Scottish, the half often is prefixed to the following hour (as in German, halb elf = "ten thirty"). To go off half-cocked "speak or act too hastily" (1833) is in allusion to firearms going off prematurely.
half seas over Look up half seas over at Dictionary.com
slang for "drunk," 1736, sometimes said to be from notion of a ship heavy-laden and so low in the water that small waves (half seas) wash over the deck. This suits the sense, but the phrase is not recorded in this alleged literal sense. Half seas over "halfway across the sea" is recorded from 1550s, however, and it was given a figurative extension to "halfway through a matter" by 1690s. What drunkenness is halfway to is not clear.