- kirtle (n.)
- Old English cyrtel, "a man's tunic; a woman's skirt," which is related to Old Norse kyrtill "tunic;" both are regarded as being probably from Latin curtus "short" (see curt) + diminutive suffix -el (2). The thing it described varied by time and place. Of garments for both sexes in Old English; but later principally of male attire before c. 1500 and female ("gown," later "outer petticoat") from c. 1650.
- kishke (n.)
- type of sausage, 1936, Yiddish.
- kismet (n.)
- "fate, destiny," 1834, from Turkish qismet, from Arabic qismah, qismat "portion, lot, fate," from root of qasama "he divided."
From a nation of enthusiasts and conquerors, the Osmanlis became a nation of sleepers and smokers. They came into Europe with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other: were they driven out of their encampment, it would be with the Koran in one hand and the pipe in the other, crying: 'Kismet! Kismet! Allah kehrim!' (God hath willed it! God is great!) [Dr. James O. Noyes, "The Ottoman Empire," "The Knickerbocker," October 1858]
Popularized as the title of a novel in 1877.
- kiss (n.)
- Old English coss "a kiss, embrace," noun derived from kiss (v.). It became Middle English cos, cus, but in Modern English this was conformed to the verb.
Meaning "small chocolate or candy piece" is from 1825; compare Shakespeare's kissing comfits (1590s) in reference to little sweets used to freshen breath. Kiss-proof, of lipstick, is from 1937. Kiss of death in figurative sense "thing that signifies impending failure" is from 1944 (Billboard, Oct. 21), ultimately in reference to Judas's kiss in Gethsemane (Matthew xxvi.48-50). The kiss of peace was, in Old English, sibbecoss (for first element, see sibling).
- kiss (v.)
- Old English cyssan "to touch with the lips" (in respect, reverence, etc.), from Proto-Germanic *kussjan (source also of Old Saxon kussian, Old Norse kyssa, Old Frisian kessa, Middle Dutch cussen, Dutch, Old High German kussen, German küssen, Norwegian and Danish kysse, Swedish kyssa), from *kuss-, probably ultimately imitative of the sound. Gothic used kukjan. Of two persons, "to reciprocally kiss, to kiss each other," c. 1300. Related: Kissed; kissing. The vowel was uncertain through Middle English; for vowel evolution, see bury.
Kissing, as an expression of affection or love, is unknown among many races, and in the history of mankind seems to be a late substitute for the more primitive rubbing of noses, sniffing, and licking. [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949, p.1113]
There appears to be no common Indo-European root word for "kiss," though suggestions of a common ku- sound may be found in the Germanic root and Greek kynein "to kiss," Hittite kuwash-anzi "they kiss," Sanskrit cumbati "he kisses." Some languages make a distinction between the kiss of affection and that of erotic love (compare Latin saviari "erotic kiss," vs. osculum, literally "little mouth"). French embrasser "kiss," but literally "embrace," came about in 17c. when the older word baiser (from Latin basiare) acquired an obscene connotation.
To kiss the cup "drink liquor" is early 15c. To kiss the dust "die" is from 1835. To kiss and tell is from 1690s. Figurative (and often ironic) kiss (something) goodbye is from 1935. To kiss (someone) off "dismiss, get rid of" is from 1935, originally of the opposite sex. Insulting invitation kiss my arse (or ass) as an expression of contemptuous rejection is at least from 1705, but probably much older (see "The Miller's Tale").
- kissable (adj.)
- 1783, from kiss (v.) + -able. Related: Kissably; kissability.
- kisser (n.)
- "one who kisses," 1530s, agent noun from kiss (v.). As slang for "the mouth," attested from 1860. Kissee is attested from 1827.
- kissing (n.)
- c. 1300, verbal noun from kiss (v.). Kissage is attested from 1886.
- kissing (adj.)
- 1580s, present participle adjective from kiss (v.). For kissing cousin, see cousin.
- kist (n.)
- "chest," c. 1300, from Old Norse kista "chest," from Latin cista (see chest).
- kit (n.1)
- late 13c., "round wooden tub," perhaps from Middle Dutch kitte "jug, tankard, wooden container," a word of unknown origin. Meaning "collection of personal effects," especially for traveling (originally in reference to a soldier), is from 1785, a transfer of sense from the chest to the articles in it; that of "outfit of tools for a workman" is from 1851. Of drum sets, by 1929. Meaning "article to be assembled by the buyer" is from 1930s. The soldier's stout kit-bag is from 1898.
- kit (n.2)
- "small fiddle used by dancing teachers," 1510s, probably ultimately a shortening of Old English cythere, from Latin cithara, from Greek kithara (see guitar).
- kit and caboodle (n.)
- also kaboodle, 1870, earlier kit and boodle (1855), kit and cargo (1848), according to OED from kit (n.1) in dismissive sense "number of things viewed as a whole" (1785) + boodle "lot, collection," perhaps from Dutch boedel "property." Century Dictionary compares the whole kit, of persons, "every one" (1785).
- club founded by Whig politicians in London (Addison and Steele were members), 1703; so called from Christopher ("Kit") Catling, or a name similar to it, a tavernkeeper or pastry cook in London, in whose property the club first met. Meaning "a size of portrait less than half length in which a hand may be shown" (1754), supposedly is because the dining room in which portraits of club members hung was too low for half-length portraits.
- kit-fox (n.)
- small fox of western North America, 1812 (Lewis and Clark), the first element perhaps kit (1560s) the shortened form of kitten (n.), in reference to smallness.
- kitab (n.)
- in Islam, "a book," especially the Quran but also the Bible and other sacred books of revealed religions, 1885, from Arabic kitab "book," literally "a writing," from Aramaic kethabh "a writing."
- kitch (n.)
- colloquial shortening of kitchen, attested by 1919. Sometimes also an erroneous spelling of kitsch.
- kitchen (n.)
- "room in which food is cooked, part of a building fitted out for cooking," c. 1200, from Old English cycene "kitchen," from Proto-Germanic *kokina (source also of Middle Dutch cökene, Old High German chuhhina, German Küche, Danish kjøkken), probably borrowed from Vulgar Latin *cocina (source also of French cuisine, Spanish cocina), a variant of Latin coquina "kitchen," from fem. of coquinus "of cooks," from coquus "cook," from coquere "to cook" (see cook (n.)).
The Old English word might be directly from Vulgar Latin. Kitchen cabinet "informal but powerful set of advisors" is American English slang, 1832, originally in reference to administration of President Andrew Jackson. Kitchen midden (1863) in archaeology translates Danish kjøkken mødding. Surname Kitchener ("one employed in or supervising a (monastic) kitchen") is from early 14c.
- kitchen sink (n.)
- sink to wash food, dishes, etc., 1824. Phrase everything but (or and) the kitchen sink is attested from 1944, from World War II armed forces slang, in reference to intense bombardment.
Out for blood, our Navy throws everything but the kitchen sink at Jap vessels, warships and transports alike. [Shell fuel advertisement, "Life," Jan. 24, 1944]
Earlier was everything but the kitchen stove (1919).
- kitchendom (n.)
- 1864, from kitchen + -dom.
- kitchenette (n.)
- 1905, American English, a hybrid from kitchen + -ette.
- kitchenry (n.)
- c. 1600, "body of servants in a kitchen," from kitchen + -ery. From 1883 as "utensils for cooking."
- kite (n.)
- European bird of prey, inferior hawk (Milvus ictinus, but applied elsewhere to similar birds), Old English cyta, probably imitative of its cry (compare ciegan "to call," German Kauz "screech owl"). Of persons who prey on others, 1550s.
The toy kite, a light frame covered with paper or cloth, is first so-called 1660s, from its way of hovering in the air like a bird. The dismissive invitation to go fly a kite is attested by 1942, American English, probably tracing to the popular song of the same name (lyrics by Johnny Burke), sung by Bing Crosby in "The Star Maker" (1939):
Go fly a kite and tie your troubles to the tail
They'll be blown away by a merry gale,
Go fly a kite and toss your worries to the wind
And they won't come back, they'll be too chagrined.
- kite (v.)
- in reference to writing a fictitious check, 1839, American English, from 1805 phrase fly a kite "raise money by issuing commercial paper on nonexistent funds;" see kite (n.). Related: Kited; kiting.
- kith (n.)
- Middle English kitthe "people, race, kinsmen, family," also "homeland, native region; kinship, relationship; knowledge, news; propriety, custom," from Old English cyðð "kinship, relationship; kinsfolk, fellow-countrymen, neighbors; native country, home; knowledge, acquaintance, familiarity," from cuð "known," past participle of cunnan "to know" (see can (v.)).
The alliterative phrase kith and kin (late 14c.) originally meant "country and kinsfolk" and is almost the word's only survival in Modern English. Some cognates have evolved different senses, such as Dutch kunde "skill, competence," German Kunde "knowledge, news, tidings."
- kitsch (n.)
- 1926, from German kitsch, literally "gaudy, trash," from dialectal kitschen "to smear." Earlier as a German word in English.
What we English people call ugliness in German art is simply the furious reaction against what Germans call süsses Kitsch, the art of the picture postcard, and of what corresponds to the royalty ballad. It has for years been their constant reproach against us that England is the great country of Kitsch. Many years ago a German who loved England only too well said to me, 'I like your English word plain; it is a word for which we have no equivalent in German, because all German women are plain.' He might well have balanced it by saying that English has no equivalent for the word Kitsch. [Edward J. Dent, "The Music of Arnold Schönberg," "The Living Age," July 9, 1921]
- kitschy (adj.)
- 1965, from kitsch + -y (2). Related: Kitchiness.
- kitten (n.)
- late 14c., kitoun, "the young of a domesticated cat," probably from an Anglo-French variant of Old French chaton, chitoun (Old North French caton) "little cat," a diminutive of chat "cat," from Late Latin cattus (see cat (n.)). Applied playfully to a young girl, a sweetheart, from 1870. As a verb, "bring forth kittens," late 15c. To have kittens "lose one's composure" is from 1908.
- kittenish (adj.)
- 1754, from kitten + -ish. Related: Kittenishly; Kittenishness.
- kittle (v.)
- "to tickle," mid-14c. (implied in kitellynge), from or parallel to Middle Dutch kitelen, Old High German kizzilon, German kitzeln, Old Norse kitla, all apparently somehow felt as suggestive of the action.
- kitty (n.1)
- "young cat, child's pet name for a cat," 1719, variant of kitten, perhaps influenced by kitty "girl, young woman" (c. 1500), which is originally a pet form of fem. proper name Catherine. Kitty Hawk, the place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina where the Wright Brothers first flew, apparently is a mangling of a native Algonquian name; it also has been written as Chicahauk.
- kitty (n.2)
- "pool of money in a card game," 1884, American English, of uncertain origin. OED connects it with kit (n.1) in the 19c. sense of "collection of necessary supplies;" but perhaps it is rather from northern England slang kitty "prison, jail, lock-up" (1825), a word itself of uncertain origin.
By the Widow, or as it is more commonly known as "Kitty," is meant a percentage, taken in chips at certain occasions during the game of Poker. This percentage may be put to the account of the club where the game is being played, and defrays the cost of cards, use of chips, gas, attendance, etc. The Kitty may, however, be introduced when no expenses occur. ["The Standard Hoyle," New York, 1887]
- see catty-cornered.
- businessmen's and professionals' society, formed in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., in 1915, the meaning and etymology of the name is obscure; early accounts of the clubs claim it is an Indian word meaning "barter, trade."
- kiwi (n.)
- type of flightless bird of New Zealand, 1835, from Maori kiwi, said to be of imitative origin. As slang for "a New Zealander" (originally especially a soldier) it is attested from 1918. The kiwi fruit (Actinia chinesis), was so called in U.S. from c. 1966 when it was imported there, but it is known in New Zealand as Chinese gooseberry (1925).
- 1868, abbreviation of ku klux klan.
- native people of the Oregon-California border region, 1826, from Southern Chinookan /tlamatl/, literally "they of the (Klamath) river," from /-matl/ "river."
- Klan (n.)
- 1867, short for ku klux klan.
- klatsch (n.)
- 1953, from German Klatsch "gossip" (17c.), which is said in German sources to be imitative (compare klatschen "clap hands," klatsch "a single clap of the hands"). Also see clap (v.), which in Middle English had a sense of "talk noisily or too much, chatter" (late 14c.).
- klaxon (n.)
- "loud warning horn," 1908, originally on automobiles, said to have been named for the company that sold them (The Klaxon Company; distributor for Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co., Newark, New Jersey), but probably the company was named for the horn, from a made-up word likely based on Greek klazein "to roar," which is cognate with Latin clangere "to resound" (compare clang).
- Kleagle (n.)
- title of an officer in the KKK, 1921, from Klan + eagle.
- Kleenex (n.)
- 1924, proprietary name, registered by Cellucotton Products Company, Neenah, Wisconsin, U.S.; later Kimberly-Clark Corp. An arbitrary alteration of clean + brand-name suffix -ex.
- 1914 (adj.); 1919 (n.); shortened form of kleptomaniac.
- kleptocracy (n.)
- "rule by a class of thieves," 1819, originally in reference to Spain; see kleptomania + -cracy.
- kleptomania (n.)
- also cleptomania, 1830, formed from mania + Greek kleptes "thief, a cheater," from kleptein "to steal, act secretly," from PIE *klep- "to steal," an extention of root *kel- (2) "to cover, conceal" (see cell; cognate with Latin clepere "to steal, listen secretly to," Old Prussian au-klipts "hidden," Old Church Slavonic poklopu "cover, wrapping," Gothic hlifan "to steal," hliftus "thief"). Much-derided 19c. as a fancy term for old-fashioned thievery and an opportunity for the privileged to claim a psychological motive for criminal misbehavior.
There is a popular belief that some of the criminal laws under which the poor are rigorously punished are susceptible of remarkable elasticity when the peccadilloes of the rich are brought under judgment, and that there is some truth in the old adage which declares that "one man may steal a horse where another dare not look over the hedge." This unwholesome distrust is not likely to diminish if, in cases of criminal prosecutions where so-called respectable persons commit theft without sufficiently obvious motive for the act, they have their crime extenuated on the plea of kleptomania, as has recently occurred in several notable instances. ["Kleptomania," "The Lancet," Nov. 16, 1861]
- kleptomaniac (n.)
- 1861; see kleptomania.
- klezmer (n.)
- (plural klezmorim), by 1913, originally, "itinerant East European Jewish professional musician," from Hebrew kley zemer, literally "vessels of song," thus "musical instruments." By 1966 in reference to an old style of Eastern European Jewish music or orchestras that played it.
- kind of arc lamp used as a studio light, 1921, from Bavarian-born U.S. engineers brothers Anton and John Kliegl, who invented it.
- tributary of the Yukon River in northwestern Canada, from Kutchin (Athabaskan) throndiuk, said to mean "hammer-water" and to be a reference to the practice of driving stakes into the riverbed to support fish traps. Scene of a gold rush after 1896. Related: Klondiker.
- a fanciful, humorous coinage by U.S. author Jackson W. Granholm (1921-2007), "ill-assorted collection of poorly-matching parts, forming a distressing whole" (Granholm's definition), 1962, also as a verb. It persisted in the jargon of computer programmers for quick-and-dirty fixes in code. Related: Kludged; kludgy.