meditation (n.) Look up meditation at
c. 1200, "contemplation; devout preoccupation; devotions, prayer," from Old French meditacion "thought, reflection, study," and directly from Latin meditationem (nominative meditatio) "a thinking over, meditation," noun of action from past participle stem of meditari "to meditate, think over, reflect, consider," from a frequentative form of PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Meaning "discourse on a subject" is early 14c.; meaning "act of meditating, continuous calm thought upon some subject" is from late 14c. The Latin verb also had stronger senses: "plan, devise, practice, rehearse, study."
meditative (adj.) Look up meditative at
1650s, from Late Latin meditativus, from meditat-, past participle stem of Latin meditari "to meditate, think over, reflect, consider," frequentative form of PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Related: Meditatively; meditativeness.
Mediterranean Look up Mediterranean at
"the sea between southern Europe and northern Africa," c. 1400, from Late Latin Mediterraneum mare "Mediterranean Sea" (7c.), from Latin mediterraneus "midland;" the original sense being of "sea in the middle of the earth," from medius "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle") + terra "land, earth" (from PIE root *ters- "to dry"). The Old English name was Wendel-sæ, so called for the Vandals, Germanic tribe that settled on the southwest coast of it after the fall of Rome. The noun meaning "a person of Mediterranean race" is from 1888.
medium (adj.) Look up medium at
1660s, "average," from medium (n.). The Latin adjective was medius. Meaning "intermediate" is from 1796. As a size designation from 1711. as a designation of cooked meat, it is attested from 1931, short for medium-rare (1881).
medium (n.) Look up medium at
1580s, "a middle ground, quality, or degree," from Latin medium "the middle, midst, center; interval," noun use of neuter of adjective medius (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle"). Meaning "intermediate agency, channel of communication" is from c. 1600. That of "person who conveys spiritual messages" first recorded 1853, from notion of "substance through which something is conveyed." Artistic sense (oil, watercolors, etc.) is from 1854. Happy medium is the "golden mean," Horace's aurea mediocritas.
medlar (n.) Look up medlar at
"small fruit-bearing tree," mid-14c. (in reference to the fruit itself), from Old French medler, variant of mesple, from Latin mespila "fruit of the medlar," from Greek mespilion, a foreign word of unknown origin. The Old English name was openærs, literally "open-arse."
medley (n.) Look up medley at
c. 1300, "hand-to-hand combat," from Old French medlee, variant of meslee (see meddle). Meaning "combination, mixture" is from mid-15c.; that of "musical combination consisting of diverse parts" is from 1620s.
medulla (n.) Look up medulla at
hindmost segment of the brain, 1650s, from Latin medulla, literally "marrow," also "pith of plants," of unknown origin, perhaps related to or influenced by medius "middle" (but compare also Old Irish smiur, Welsh mer "marrow"). The word was used in the Latin senses in Middle English. Related: Medular; medullary.
medusa (n.) Look up medusa at
"jellyfish," 1758, as genus name, from the name of one of the three Gorgons with snakes for hair, whose glance turned to stone him who looked upon it (attested in English from late 14c.). Her name is from Greek Medousa, literally "guardian," fem. present participle of the verb medein "to protect, rule over" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). The zoological name was chosen by Linnæus, suggested by the creature's long tentacles. Related: Medusoid.
meek (adj.) Look up meek at
c. 1200, "gentle, quiet, unaggressive; benevolent, kind; courteous, humble, unassuming;" of a woman, "modest," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse mjukr "soft, pliant, gentle," from Proto-Germanic *meukaz (source also of Gothic muka-modei "humility," Dutch muik "soft"), of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE *meug- "slippery, slimy." In the Bible, it translates Latin mansuetus from Vulgate (see mansuetude). Sense of "submissive" is from mid-14c.
meek (n.) Look up meek at
"those who are meek," c. 1200, from meek (adj.).
meekly (adv.) Look up meekly at
c. 1200, from meek (adj.) + -ly (2).
meekness (n.) Look up meekness at
c. 1200, meknesse; see meek (adj.) + -ness.
meerkat (n.) Look up meerkat at
late 15c., "monkey," from Dutch meerkat "monkey" (related to Old High German mericazza), apparently from meer "lake" (see mere (n.)) + kat "cat." But compare Hindi markat, Sanskrit markata "ape," which might serve as a source of a Teutonic folk-etymology, even though the word was in Germanic before any known direct contact with India. First applied to the small South African mammals in 1801.
meerschaum (n.) Look up meerschaum at
type of soft white clay, 1784; from 1789 as "tobacco pipe with a bowl made of meerschaum clay," from German Meerschaum, literally "sea-foam," so called from its frothy appearance; from Old High German mari "sea" (see mere (n.)) + scum "scum" (see skim (v.)). A loan-translation of Latin spuma maris, itself said to be a loan translation of Greek halos akhne, from Persian kaf-i-darya.
meet (v.) Look up meet at
Old English metan "to find, find out; fall in with, encounter; obtain," from Proto-Germanic *motjan (source also of Old Norse mæta, Old Frisian meta, Old Saxon motian "to meet," Gothic gamotijan), from PIE root *mod- "to meet, assemble." Related to Old English gemot "meeting." Meaning "to assemble" is from 1520s. Of things, "to come into contact," c. 1300. Related: Met; meeting. To meet (someone) halfway in the figurative sense is from 1620s.
meet (n.) Look up meet at
1831 in the sporting sense, originally of gatherings for hunting, from meet (v.).
meet (adj.) Look up meet at
"proper, fitting," Old English gemæte, Anglian *gemete, "suitable, having the same dimensions," from Proto-Germanic *ga-mætijaz (source also of Old Norse mætr, Old High German gimagi, German gemäß "suitable"), from collective prefix *ga- + PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." The basic formation is thus the same as that of commensurate.
The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deem'd it meeter
To carry off the latter.

[Thomas Love Peacock, "The War-song of Dinas Vawr"]
meeting (n.) Look up meeting at
"action of coming together," Old English gemeting, verbal noun from meet (v.). Meaning "gathering of people for discussion, etc." is from 1510s. In 17c., it was applied generally to worship assemblies of nonconformists, but this now is retained mostly by Quakers.
meeting-house (n.) Look up meeting-house at
also meetinghouse, 1630s, from meeting (n.) + house (n.).
Meg Look up Meg at
fem. proper name; before the late 20c. rise in popularity of Megan it typically was a pet form of Margaret, and was "used dial. to indicate a hoyden, coarse woman, etc." [OED]
mega- Look up mega- at
before vowels meg-, word-forming element often meaning "large, great," but in precise scientific language "one million" (megaton, megawatt, etc.), from Greek megas "great, large, vast, big, high, tall; mighty, important" (fem. megale), from PIE root *meg- "great." Mega began to be used alone as an adjective by 1982.
High-speed computer stores 2.5 megabits [headline in "Electronics" magazine, Oct. 1, 1957]
megabucks (n.) Look up megabucks at
1946, originally "one million dollars," from mega- in the scientific sense + slang buck (n.) "dollar." A jocular coinage of U.S. scientists working on expensive atomic research.
megabyte (n.) Look up megabyte at
1972, from mega- + byte.
The Sussex team has run the Forrester/Meadows models more than 1000 times on the UK's most powerful computer (the giant two-megabyte IBM 370/165 at Harwell). ["New Scientist," May 4, 1972]
megacity (n.) Look up megacity at
also mega-city, 1968, from mega- + city.
megacycle (n.) Look up megacycle at
1928, from mega- + cycle (n.).
megadeath (n.) Look up megadeath at
1953, from mega- in scientific sense (one million) + death (n.). The death of one million persons, as a measure of the effectiveness of nuclear weapons. The resulting pile of dead bodies would be a megacorpse, according to writings on the topic.
megahertz (n.) Look up megahertz at
1941, from mega- + Hertz.
megalith (n.) Look up megalith at
huge prehistoric stone, 1853, back-formation from megalithic.
megalithic (adj.) Look up megalithic at
1836, from mega- "large" + lithos "stone" (see litho-) + -ic.
megalo- Look up megalo- at
word-forming element meaning "large, great, exaggerated," from comb. form of Greek megas "large, great" (stem megal-), from PIE root *meg- "great."
megalocardia (n.) Look up megalocardia at
1893, from megalo- "enlarged, exaggerated" + cardia "heart" (from PIE root *kerd- "heart").
megalomania (n.) Look up megalomania at
"delusions of greatness," 1866, from French mégalomanie; see megalo- + mania "madness."
megalomaniac Look up megalomaniac at
1882 (n.), 1883 (adj.), from megalomania (q.v.).
The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history. [Bertrand Russell, "The Conquest of Happiness"]
megalomaniacal (adj.) Look up megalomaniacal at
1884, from megalomaniac + -al (1).
megalopolis (n.) Look up megalopolis at
1832, from Greek megas (genitive megalou) "great" (see mickle) + polis "city" (see polis). The word was used in classical times as an epithet of great cities (Athens, Syracuse, Alexandria), and it also was the name of a former city in Arcadia.
megaphone (n.) Look up megaphone at
1878, coined (perhaps by Thomas Edison, who invented it) from Greek megas "great" (see mega-) + phone "voice" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"). Related: Megaphonic. In Greek, megalophonia meant "grandiloquence," megalophonos "loud-voiced."
megapixel (n.) Look up megapixel at
by 1977, from mega- + pixel.
megaspore (n.) Look up megaspore at
1857, from mega- + spore.
megaton (n.) Look up megaton at
unit of explosive power equal to one million tons of TNT, 1952, from mega- + ton. Related: Megatonnage.
megavolt (n.) Look up megavolt at
1868, from mega- + volt.
megawatt (v.) Look up megawatt at
1900, from mega- + watt.
megillah (n.) Look up megillah at
"long, tedious, complicated story," 1957, from Yiddish (as in a gantse Megillah "a whole megillah"), literally "roll, scroll," collective name of the five Old Testament books appointed to be read on certain feast days, from Hebrew meghillah, from galal "he rolled, unfolded." The slang use is in reference to the length of the text.
megrim Look up megrim at
see migraine.
meh Look up meh at
expression of apathy or indifference, in print by 2003, said to have been used in media from 1992. A Yiddish origin has been proposed.
Meiji Look up Meiji at
"period of rule of emperor Mutsuhito" (1868-1912), which was marked by modernization and Westernization, 1873, from Japanese, literally "enlightened government."
mein (n.) Look up mein at
"Chinese wheat flour noodles" (in lo mein, chow mein, etc.), 1934, from Chinese, literally "wheat flour."
meiosis (n.) Look up meiosis at
"division of a cell nucleus," 1905, from Greek meiosis "a lessening," from meioun "to lessen," from meion "less," from PIE root *mei- (2) "small."

Earlier (1580s) it was a rhetorical term, a figure of speech "weak or negative expression used for a positive and forcible one, so that it may be made all the more emphatic," as when one says "not bad" meaning "very good" or "don't mind if I do" meaning "I really would like to," or this example from "Mark Twain":
"YOUNG AUTHOR." -- Yes Agassiz does recommend authors to eat fish, because the phosphorus in it makes brains. So far you are correct. But I cannot help you to a decision about the amount you need to eat,--at least, not with certainty. If the specimen composition you send is about your fair usual average, I should judge that perhaps a couple of whales would be all you would want for the present. Not the largest kind, but simply good, middling-sized whales.
Related: meiotic; meiotically.
meistersinger (n.) Look up meistersinger at
1845, from German Meistersinger, literally "master singer;" see master (adj.) + singer.
Mekong Look up Mekong at
river in Southeast Asia, Thai, from me "mother" + khong "river, large stream."