- hierarchy (n.)
- mid-14c., from Old French ierarchie, from Medieval Latin hierarchia "ranked division of angels" (in the system of Dionysius the Areopagite), from Greek hierarkhia "rule of a high priest," from hierarkhes "high priest, leader of sacred rites," from ta hiera "the sacred rites" (neuter plural of hieros "sacred;" see ire) + arkhein "to lead, rule" (see archon). Sense of "ranked organization of persons or things" first recorded 1610s, initially of clergy, sense probably influenced by higher. Related: Hierarchal; hierarchical.
- hieratic (adj.)
- "pertaining to sacred things," 1650s (implied in hieratical), from Latin hieraticus, from Greek hieratikos "pertaining to a priest or his office, priestly," from hierateia "priesthood," from hiereus "priest," from hieros "sacred, holy, hallowed; superhuman, mighty; divine" (see ire).
- hierocracy (n.)
- "rule or government by priests," 1794; see hierarchy + -cracy. Related: Hierocratic.
- hieroglyph (n.)
- 1590s, shortening of hieroglyphic (n.), 1590s; see hieroglyphic.
- 1580s (adj. and n.), from Late Latin hieroglyphicus, from Greek hieroglyphikos "hieroglyphic; of Egyptian writing," from hieros "sacred" (see ire) + glyphe "carving," from glyphein "to carve" (see glyph). Plutarch began the custom of using the adjective (ta hieroglyphika) as a noun.
- hieroglyphics (n.)
- 1580s, from Greek ta hieroglyphika; see hieroglyphic + -ics.
- hierophant (n.)
- "expounder of sacred mysteries," 1670s, from Late Latin hierophantes, from Greek hierophantes "one who teaches the rites of sacrifice and worship," literally "one who shows sacred things," from hieros "sacred" (see ire) + phainein "to reveal, bring to light" (see phantasm). In modern use, "expounder of esoteric doctrines," from 1822.
- hierophantic (adj.)
- 1775, from Greek herophantikos, from hierophantes (see hierophant).
- "confusedly, hurriedly," 1590s, a "vocal gesture" [OED] probably formed from pig and the animal's suggestions of mess and disorder. Reduplications in the h-/p- pattern are common (as in hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, hinch(y)-pinch(y), an obsolete children's game, attested from c. 1600).
Edward Moor, "Suffolk Words and Phrases" (London, 1823), quotes a list of reduplications from Ray's "Collection of English Words" (1768), all said to "signify any confusion or mixture;" the list has higgledy-piggledy, hurly-burly, hodge-podge, mingle-mangle, arsy-versy, kim-kam, hub-bub, crawly-mauly, and hab-nab. "To which he might have added," Moor writes, crincum-crankum, crinkle-crankle, flim-flam, fiddle-faddle, gibble-gabble, harum-scarum, helter-skelter, hiccup-suickup, hocus-pocus, hotch-potch, hugger-mugger, hum-drum, hum-strum, hurry-scurry, jibber-jabber, prittle-prattle, shilly-shally, tittle-tattle, and topsy-turvy. Many of them seem to date to the 16th century.
- high (adj.)
- Old English heh (Anglian), heah (West Saxon) "of great height, lofty, tall, exalted, high-class," from Proto-Germanic *haukhaz (cognates: Old Saxon hoh, Old Norse har, Danish høi, Swedish hög, Old Frisian hach, Dutch hoog, Old High German hoh, German hoch, Gothic hauhs "high;" also German Hügel "hill," Old Norse haugr "mound"), perhaps related to Lithuanian kaukara "hill." Spelling with -gh represents a final guttural sound in the original word, lost since 14c.
Of sound pitch, late 14c. Of roads, "most frequented or important," c. 1200. Meaning "euphoric or exhilarated from alcohol" is first attested 1620s, of drugs, 1932. Sense of "proud, haughty, arrogant, supercilious" (c. 1200) is reflected in high hand (late 14c.) and high horse. High seas first attested late 14c., with sense (also found in the Latin cognate) of "deep" as well as "tall" (cognates: Old English heahflod "deep water," also Old Persian baršan "height, depth"). Of an evil or a punishment, "grave, serious, severe" (as in high treason), c. 1200 (Old English had heahsynn "deadly sin, crime").
High pressure (adj.) is from 1824, of engines, 1891, of weather systems, 1933, of sales pitches. A child's high chair is from 1848. High school "school for advanced studies" attested from late 15c. in Scotland; by 1824 in U.S. High time "fully time, the fullness of time," is from late 14c. High noon is from early 14c.; the sense is "full, total, complete." High and mighty is c. 1200 (heh i mahhte). High finance (1905) is that concerned with large sums. High and dry of beached things (especially ships) is from 1783. High-water mark is what is left by a flood or highest tide (1550s); figurative use by 1814.
- high (n.1)
- early 14c., "high point, top," from high (adj.). As "area of high barometric pressure," from 1878. As "highest recorded temperature" from 1926. Meaning "state of euphoria" is from 1953.
- high (n.2)
- "thought, understanding," obsolete from 13c. in English and also lost in Modern German, but once an important Germanic word, Old English hyge, cognate with Old Saxon hugi, Old High German hugi, Old Norse hygr, Swedish hög, Danish hu.
- high hat (n.)
- 1889, "tall hat;" also used synechdochically for men who wear such hats; figurative meaning "swelled head" is from 1923. Drum set sense is from 1934.
- high horse (n.)
- originally (late 14c.) "fine, tall horse; war horse, charger" (high steed is from c. 1300), also, like high hall, "status symbol;" figurative sense of "airs, easily wounded dignity" in mount (one's) high horse "affect airs of superiority" is from 1782 (Addison has to ride the great horse in the same sense, 1716). Compare French monter sur ses grands chevaux; "The simile is common to most languages" [Farmer].
- high-class (adj.)
- 1864, from high (adj.) + class (n.).
- also highfalutin, 1848, U.S. slang, possibly from high-flying, or flown, or even flute.
- originally U.S. basketball slang, 1980 as a noun, 1981 as a verb, though the greeting itself seems to be older (Dick Shawn in "The Producers," 1968). In reference to the five fingers of the hand.
- high-minded (adj.)
- c. 1500, "arrogant;" 1550s, "morally lofty," from high (adj.) + minded. Related: High-mindedness.
- high-powered (adj.)
- 1903, originally of automobiles, from high (adj.) + power (v.).
- high-roller (n.)
- "extravagant spender," by 1873, American English, probably originally a reference to a gambler throwing dice.
- high-strung (adj.)
- also high strung, 1848 in the figurative sense, from high (adj.) + strung. Originally a musical term, with reference to stringed instruments, where it is attested from 1748.
- high-tail (v.)
- also hightail "move quickly," attested by 1890, U.S. slang from cattle ranches (animals fleeing with elevated tails); from high (adj.) + tail (n.). Related: Hightailed; hightailing.
- high-toned (adj.)
- 1779 of musical pitch, 1807 of morality, from high (adj.) + tone.
- highball (n.)
- type of alcoholic drink, 1898, probably from ball "drink of whiskey;" high because it is served in a tall glass.
- highborn (adj.)
- also high-born, "of noble birth," c. 1300, from high (adj.) + born.
- highboy (n.)
- "tall chest of drawers," 1891, American English (see tallboy); a hybrid, the second element is from French bois "wood" (see bush).
- highbrow (n.)
- "person of superior intellect and taste," 1902, back-formation from high-browed (adj.), which is attested from 1891, from high (adj.) + brow (see also lowbrow).
- comparative of high (adj.), Old English. Higher education is attested by 1839.
The French distinguish l'instruction secondaire, which includes what we term a liberal education, from l'instruction supérieure, which denotes professional education; but I do not think the corresponding English phrases are used with this distinction. [William Whewell, "Of a Liberal Education in General," 1850]
Higher-up (n.) "one in a superior post" is from 1905, American English.
- superl. of high (adj.), Old English. Biblical in the highest translates Latin in excelsis, Greek en hypsostois.
- highland (n.)
- Old English heohlond; see high (adj.) + land (n.). Highlands "mountainous district of Scotland" first recorded early 15c.
- Highlander (n.)
- 1630s, from Highland + -er (1).
- highlight (n.)
- 1650s, originally of paintings, "the brightest part of a subject," from high (adj.) + light (n.). The figurative sense of "outstanding feature or characteristic" is from 1855. The verb is from 1861. Hairdressing sense is 1941 (n.), 1942 (v.). Related: Highlighted; highlighting.
- highly (adv.)
- Old English healice "nobly, gloriously, honorably;" see high (adj.) + -ly (1). Meaning "very, very much, fully" is mid-14c.
- highness (n.)
- Old English heanes; see high (adj.) + -ness. Meaning "royalty, excellence, nobility" is early 13c.; Your Highness as a form of address to English royalty is attested from c. 1400.
- hight (v.)
- "named, called" (archaic), from levelled past participle of Middle English highte, from Old English hatte "I am called" (passive of hatan "to call, name, command") merged with heht "called," active past tense of the same verb. Hatte was the only survival in Old English of the old Germanic synthetic passive tense. The word is related to Old Norse heita, Dutch heten, German heißen, Gothic haitan "to call, be called, command" (see cite).
- highway (n.)
- Old English heahweg "main road from one town to another;" see high (adj.) in sense of "main" + way (n.). High street (Old English heahstræte) was the word before 17c. applied to highways and main roads, whether in the country or town, especially one of the Roman roads. In more recent usage, it generally is the proper name of the street of a town which is built upon a highway and was the principal street of the place.
- highwayman (n.)
- "one who travels the highways with intent to rob people" (often on horseback and thus contrasted to a footpad), 1640s, from highway + man.
- hijack (v.)
- 1922, American English, perhaps from high(way) + jacker "one who holds up." Originally "to rob (a bootlegger, smuggler, etc.) in transit;" sense of "seizing an aircraft in flight" is 1968 (also in 1961 variant skyjack), extended 1970s to any form of public transportation. Related: Hijacked; hijacking.
- hijinks (n.)
- also hi-jinks, high jinks, "boisterous capers, lively or boisterous sport," 1842, from name of games played at drinking parties (1690s). See jink.
- hijra (n.)
- also hijrah, the more correct form of hegira.
- hike (v.)
- 1809, hyke "to walk vigorously," an English dialectal word of unknown origin. A yike from 1736 answers to the sense.
HIKE, v. to go away. It is generally used in a contemptuous sense. Ex. "Come, hike," i.e. take yourself off; begone. [Rev. Robert Forby, "The Vocabulary of East Anglia," London, 1830]
Sense of "pull up" (as pants) first recorded 1873 in American English, and may be a variant of hitch; extended sense of "raise" (as wages) is 1867. Related: Hiked; hiking. The noun is from 1865.
- hiker (n.)
- 1913, agent noun from hike (v.). Earlier as a type of boat:
The "hiker" or "tuck-up" as it is more generally termed, is a craft peculiar to the Delaware River, and is to the youth residing along the banks of that stream what the racing shell is to the Torontonian .... The origin of the name "hiker" is veiled in mystery. No member of the clubs engaged in sailing these boats can give anything like a satisfactory derivation of the word. The most common explanation is that it is corrupted from the local verb "to hike," which means to run or fly swiftly. ["Harper's Young People," 1885]
- hilarious (adj.)
- 1823, "cheerful," from Latin hilaris "cheerful, of good cheer" (see hilarity) + -ous. Meaning "boisterously joyful" is from 1830s. Related: Hilariously.
- hilarity (n.)
- mid-15c., from Latin hilaritatem (nominative hilaritas) "cheerfulness, gaiety, merriment," from hilaris "cheerful, gay," from Greek hilaros "cheerful, gay, merry, joyous," related to hilaos "graceful, kindly." In ancient Rome, Hilaria (neuter plural of hilaris) were a class of holidays, times of pomp and rejoicing; there were public ones in honor of Cybele at the spring equinoxes as well as private ones on the day of a marriage or a son's birth.
- masc. proper name, from Late Latin Hilarius, literally "cheerful," from Latin hilaris (see hilarity). The name was more popular in France than in England. The woman's name (Middle English Hillaria) seems to be merged with this from Eulalia, name of the patron saint of Barcelona, a Latinization of Greek eulalos "sweetly speaking." The Hilary sessions of British High Court and universities (1577) are from St. Hilarius, Bishop of Poitiers, obit. C.E. 368, whose feast day is Jan. 13.
- fem. proper name, German, literally "battle-maid," from fem. of Old High German hild "war, battle," from Proto-Germanic *hildiz "battle," from PIE *keldh-, from root *kel- (1) "to strike, cut" (see holt).
- masc. proper name, Old High German Hildibrand, literally "battle-sword;" for first element see Hilda; for second element see brand.
- fem. proper name, Old High German Hildegard, literally "protecting battle-maid;" for first element see Hilda; for second element see yard (n.1).
- hill (n.)
- Old English hyll "hill," from Proto-Germanic *hulni- (cognates: Middle Dutch hille, Low German hull "hill," Old Norse hallr "stone," Gothic hallus "rock," Old Norse holmr "islet in a bay," Old English holm "rising land, island"), from PIE root *kel- (4) "to rise, be elevated, be prominent; hill" (cognates: Sanskrit kutam "top, skull;" Latin collis "hill," columna "projecting object," culmen "top, summit," cellere "raise," celsus "high;" Greek kolonos "hill," kolophon "summit;" Lithuanian kalnas "mountain," kalnelis "hill," kelti "raise"). Formerly including mountains, now usually confined to heights under 2,000 feet.
In Great Britain heights under 2,000 feet are generally called hills; 'mountain' being confined to the greater elevations of the Lake District, of North Wales, and of the Scottish Highlands; but, in India, ranges of 5,000 and even 10,000 feet are commonly called 'hills,' in contrast with the Himalaya Mountains, many peaks of which rise beyond 20,000 feet. [OED]
Phrase over the hill "past one's prime" is first recorded 1950.
The term mountain is very loosely used. It commonly means any unusual elevation. In New England and central New York, elevations of from one to two thousand feet are called hills, but on the plains of Texas, a hill of a few hundred feet is called a mountain. [Ralph S. Tarr, "Elementary Geology," Macmillan, 1903]
Despite the differences in defining mountain systems, Penck (1896), Supan (1911) and Obst (1914) agreed that the distinction between hills, mountains, and mountain systems according to areal extent or height is not a suitable classification. ["Geographic Information Science and Mountain Geomorphology," 2004]
- hillbilly (n.)
- "southern Appalachian U.S. resident," by 1892, from hill + masc. proper name Billy/Billie.
Then again, I do not think It will do so well. I would hate to see some old railroad man come here and take my job, and then, I don t think It is right to hire some Hill Billy and give him the same right as I just because he was hired the same time I was. ["The Railroad Trainmen's Journal," vol. IX, July 1892]
In reference to a type of folk music, first attested 1924.
In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires of his revolver as the fancy takes him. ["New York Journal," April 23, 1900]