- humid (adj.)
- early 15c., from Old French humide or directly from Latin humidus "moist, wet," variant (probably by influence of humus "earth") of umidus, from umere "be moist," from PIE *wegw- "wet."
- humidifier (n.)
- 1884, agent noun from humidify.
- humidify (v.)
- 1884; see humid + -fy. Related: Humidified; humidifying. Earlier was humify (1650s).
- humidity (n.)
- late 14c., from Old French humidité, from Latin humiditatem (nominative humiditas), from humidus (see humid).
- humidor (n.)
- 1903, from humid on model of cuspidor.
- humiliate (v.)
- 1530s, perhaps a back-formation from humiliation. Related: Humiliated; humiliating; humiliatingly.
- humiliation (n.)
- late 14c., from Late Latin humiliationem (nominative humiliatio) "humbling, humiliation," noun of action from past participle stem of humiliare "to humble," from humilis "humble" (see humble).
- humility (n.)
- early 14c., from Old French umelite "humility, modesty, sweetness," from Latin humilitatem (nominative humilitas) "lowness, insignificance," in Church Latin "meekness," from humilis "humble" (see humble). In the Mercian hymns, Latin humilitatem is glossed by Old English eaðmodnisse.
- hummer (n.)
- c. 1600, agent noun from hum (v.). Meaning "energetic person or thing" is 1680s; that of "excellent person or thing" is slang from 1907. As short for Humvee, attested from 1983.
- hummock (n.)
- "knoll, hillock," 1550s, originally nautical, "conical small hill on a seacoast," of obscure origin, though second element is diminutive suffix -ock. In Florida, where the local form is hammock, it means a clump of hardwood trees on a knoll in a swamp or on a key.
- hummus (n.)
- 1955, from Turkish humus "mashed chick peas."
- humongous (adj.)
- also humungous, by 1972, American English, apparently a fanciful coinage from huge and monstrous.
- humor (n.)
- mid-14c., "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Old North French humour (Old French humor; Modern French humeur), from Latin umor "body fluid" (also humor, by false association with humus "earth"); related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet," from PIE *wegw- "wet."
In ancient and medieval physiology, "any of the four body fluids" (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black bile) whose relative proportions were thought to determine state of mind. This led to a sense of "mood, temporary state of mind" (first recorded 1520s); the sense of "amusing quality, funniness" is first recorded 1680s, probably via sense of "whim, caprice" (1560s), which also produced the verb sense of "indulge," first attested 1580s. "The pronunciation of the initial h is only of recent date, and is sometimes omitted ...." [OED] For types of humor, see the useful table below, from H.W. Fowler ["Modern English Usage," 1926].
||words & ideas
||morals & manners
||faults & foibles
||statement of facts
||exposure of nakedness
||victim & bystander
||an inner circle
- humor (v.)
- 1580s; see humor (n.). Related: Humored; humoring.
- humoral (adj.)
- "pertaining to the humors of the body," 1520s, from Middle French humoral (14c.), from Latin humor (see humor (n.)).
- humorist (n.)
- 1590s, from humor (n.) + -ist. Perhaps on model of Middle French humoriste.
- humorous (adj.)
- early 15c., "relating to the body humors," a native formation from humor, or else from Middle French humoreux "damp," from Old French humor (see humor (n.)). The meaning "funny" dates from 1705 in English. Related: Humorously; humorousness.
- chiefly British English spelling of humor; see -or. Related: Humourous; humourist.
- hump (n.)
- 1680s (in hump-backed), from Dutch homp "lump," from Middle Low German hump "bump," from Proto-Germanic *hump-, from PIE *kemb- "to bend, turn, change, exchange." Replaced, or perhaps influenced by, crump, from Old English crump. A meaning attested from 1901 is "mound in a railway yard over which cars must be pushed," which may be behind the figurative sense of "critical point of an undertaking" (1914). Humpback whale is from 1725.
- hump (v.)
- "to do the sex act with," attested from 1785, but the source of this indicates it is an older word. Meaning "to raise into a hump" is from 1840. Related: Humped; humping.
- as a grunting sound of disdain, etc., from 1815.
- masc. proper name, from Old English Hunfrið, probably from Proto-Germanic *hun "strength" + Old English frið "peace." To dine with Duke Humphrey (17c.) meant to go without a meal, though the reason for the expression now is obscure.
- from French nursery rhyme hero (the rhyme first attested in English 1810), earlier "a short, clumsy person of either sex" (1785), probably a reduplication of Humpty, a pet form of Humphrey. Originally, humpty-dumpty was a drink (1690s), "ale boiled with brandy," probably from hump and dump, but the connection is obscure and there might not be one.
'It's very provoking,' Humpty Dumpty said, ... 'to be called an egg -- very!' ["Through the Looking-Glass," 1872]
- humus (n.)
- 1796, from Latin humus "earth, soil," probably from humi "on the ground," from PIE *dhghem- "earth" (source also of Latin humilis "low;" see chthonic). Related: Humous (adj.).
- 1983, popularized 1991 in Persian Gulf War military slang, rough acronym for high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle.
- Old English, person from a tribe from central Asia that overran Europe in the 4c. and 5c., from Medieval Latin Hunni, apparently ultimately from Turkic Hun-yü, the name of a tribe (they were known in China as Han or Hiong-nu). Figurative sense of "reckless destroyer of beauty" is from 1806. Applied to the German in World War I by their enemies because of stories of atrocities, but the nickname originally was urged on German soldiers bound for China by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1900, which caused a scandal.
- Chinese province, literally "south of the lake" (Lake Dongting), from hu "lake" + nan "south."
- originally (c. 1500) a verb, "to push, thrust," of unknown origin. Meaning "raise or bend into a hump" is 1670s. Perhaps a variant of bunch. The noun is attested from 1620s, originally "a push, thrust." Figurative sense of "hint, tip" (a "push" toward a solution or answer), first recorded 1849, led to that of "premonition, presentiment" (1904).
- hunchback (n.)
- “person with a hunched back,” 1712, back-formation from hunchbacked (1590s; see hunch).
- hundred (n.)
- Old English hundred "the number of 100, a counting of 100," from Proto-Germanic *hundrath (cognates: Old Norse hundrað, German hundert); first element is Proto-Germanic *hundam "hundred" (cognate with Gothic hund, Old High German hunt), from PIE *km-tom "hundred," reduced from *dkm-tom- (cognates: Sanskrit satam, Avestan satem, Greek hekaton, Latin centum, Lithuanian simtas, Old Church Slavonic suto, Old Irish cet, Breton kant "hundred"), from *dekm- "ten" (see ten).
Second element is Proto-Germanic *rath "reckoning, number" (as in Gothic raþjo "a reckoning, account, number," garaþjan "to count;" see read (v.)). The common word for the number in Old English was simple hund, and Old English also used hund-teontig.
In Old Norse hundrath meant 120, that is the long hundred of six score, and at a later date, when both the six-score hundred and the five-score hundred were in use, the old or long hundred was styled hundrath tolf-roett ... meaning "duodecimal hundred," and the new or short hundred was called hundrath ti-rætt, meaning "decimal hundred." "The Long Hundred and its use in England" was discussed by Mr W.H. Stevenson, in 1889, in the Archcæological Review (iv. 313-27), where he stated that amongst the Teutons, who longest preserved their native customs unimpaired by the influence of Latin Christianity, the hundred was generally the six-score hundred. The short hundred was introduced among the Northmen in the train of Christianity. ["Transactions" of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1907]
Meaning "division of a county or shire with its own court" (still in some British place names and U.S. state of Delaware) was in Old English and probably represents 100 hides of land. The Hundred Years War (which ran intermittently from 1337 to 1453) was first so called in 1874. The original Hundred Days was the period between Napoleon's restoration and his final abdication in 1815.
- c. 1200, from hundred + -fold.
- early 14c., from hundred + -th (1). Old English used hundrað.
- hung (adj.)
- past tense and past participle of hang (v.); meaning "having impressive male genitals" is from 1640s; of a jury, "unable to agree," 1838, American English. Hung-over (also hungover) in the drinking sense is from 1950 (see hangover); hung-up "obsessed" is from 1961.
- c. 1300, from Medieval Latin Hungaria (also source of French Hongrie), probably literally meaning "land of the Huns," who ruled a vast territory from there under Attila in 5c. The people's name for themselves we transliterate as Magyar. Middle English uses the same words for both Attila's people and the Magyars, who appeared in Europe in 9c. From the same source as Medieval Greek Oungroi, German Ungarn, Russian Vengriya, Ukrainian Ugorshchina. The Turkish name for the country, Macaristan, reflects the indigenous name. Related: Hungarian.
- hunger (n.)
- Old English hungor "unease or pain caused by lack of food, craving appetite, debility from lack of food," from Proto-Germanic *hungruz (cognates: Old Frisian hunger, Old Saxon hungar, Old High German hungar, Old Norse hungr, German hunger, Dutch honger, Gothic huhrus), probably from PIE root *kenk- (2) "to suffer hunger or thirst." Hunger strike attested from 1885; earliest references are to prisoners in Russia.
- hunger (v.)
- Old English hyngran (cognates: Old Saxon gihungrjan, Old High German hungaran, German hungern, Gothic huggrjan), from the source of hunger (n.). Related: Hungered; hungering.
- Old English hungrig "hungry, famished;" see hunger + -y (2). Compare Old Frisian hungerig, Dutch hongerig, German hungrig. Figurative use from c. 1200. Related: Hungrily.
- hunk (n.)
- 1813, "large piece cut off," possibly from West Flemish hunke (used of bread and meat), which is perhaps related to Dutch homp "lump, hump." Meaning "attractive, sexually appealing man" is first attested 1945 in jive talk (in Australian slang, it is recorded from 1941).
- hunker (v.)
- "to squat, crouch," 1720, Scottish, of uncertain origin, possibly from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse huka "to crouch," hoka, hokra "to crawl." Hunker down, Southern U.S. dialectal phrase, popularized c. 1965, from northern British hunker "haunch." Related: Hunkered; hunkering.
- hunky-dory (adj.)
- 1866, American English (popularized c. 1870 by a Christy Minstrel song), perhaps a reduplication of hunkey "all right, satisfactory" (1861), from hunk "in a safe position" (1847) New York City slang, from Dutch honk "goal, home," from Middle Dutch honc "place of refuge, hiding place." A theory from 1876, however, traces it to Honcho dori, said to be a street in Yokohama, Japan, where sailors went for diversions of the sort sailors enjoy.
- hunt (v.)
- Old English huntian "chase game," related to hentan "to seize," from Proto-Germanic *huntojan (cognates: Gothic hinþan "to seize, capture," Old High German hunda "booty"), from PIE *kend-.
General sense of "search diligently" (for anything) is first recorded c. 1200. Related: Hunted; hunting. Happy hunting-grounds "Native American afterlife paradise" is from "Last of the Mohicans" (1826).
- hunt (n.)
- early 12c., from hunt (v.). Meaning "body of persons associated for the purpose of hunting with a pack of hounds" is first recorded 1570s.
- mid-13c. (attested in place names from late 12c.), from hunt + -er (1). The Old English word was hunta.
- hunting (n.)
- Old English huntung, verbal noun from hunt (v.). Bartlett (1848) notes it as the word commonly used by sportsmen in the Southern states of the U.S. where in the North they use gunning.
- Old English Huntandun (973) "Hill of the Huntsman" (or of a man called Hunta).
- Huntington's chorea
- also Huntington's disease, 1889, named for U.S. neurologist George Huntington (1851-1916), who described it in 1872.
- late 14c.; see hunter + -ess. Old English had hunticge.
- hurdle (n.)
- Old English hyrdel "frame of intertwined twigs used as a temporary barrier," diminutive of hyrd "door," from Proto-Germanic *hurdiz "wickerwork frame, hurdle" (cognates: Old Saxon hurth "plaiting, netting," Dutch horde "wickerwork," German Hürde "hurdle, fold, pen;" Old Norse hurð, Gothic haurds "door"), from PIE *krtis (cognates: Latin cratis "hurdle, wickerwork," Greek kartalos "a kind of basket," kyrtos "fishing creel"), from root *kert- "to weave, twist together" (cognates: Sanskrit krt "to spin"). Sense of "barrier to jump in a race" is by 1822; figurative sense of "obstacle" is 1924.
- hurdle (v.)
- 1590s, "to build like a hurdle," from hurdle (n.). Sense of "to jump over" dates from 1880 (implied in hurdling). Related: Hurdled; hurdling. Hurdles as a type of race (originally horse race) with hurdles as obstacles is attested by 1836 (hurdle-race is from 1822).
- 1749, perhaps imitative of its sound and influenced by c. 1500 hirdy-girdy "uproar, confusion."