microscopy (n.)
1660s, from microscope + -y (4).
microsecond (n.)
1906, from micro- + second (n.).
Microsoft
computer software company, founded 1975.
microspore (n.)
1856, from micro- + spore.
microsurgery (n.)
1927, from micro- + surgery.
microtia (n.)
"abnormal smallness of the ear," 1881, Medical Latin, from micro- + Greek ous (genitive otos) "ear" (see ear (n.)).
microwavable (adj.)
by 1982, from microwave + -able.
microwave (n.)
type of electromagnetic wave, 1931, coined in English from micro- + wave (n.). First record of microwave oven is from 1961; microwave as short for this is attested from 1974; as a verb, from 1976.
micturate (v.)
"urinate," by 1842, from micturition; malformed and with an erroneous sense; condemned from its birth.
micturition (n.)
1725, "the need very badly to urinate," from Latin micturitum, from past participle of micturire "to desire to urinate," desiderative of mingere "to urinate," from PIE *meigh- "to urinate" (cognates: Sanskrit mehati "urinates;" Avestan maezaiti "urinates;" Greek omeikhein "to urinate;" Armenian mizem "urinate;" Lithuanian minžu "urinate;" Old English migan "to urinate," micga "urine," meox "dung, filth"). As during the final 20 minutes of a 4-hour film after drinking a 32-ounce Mountain Dew from the snack bar and the movie ends with a drawn-out farewell scene while Frodo is standing on the pier and wavelets lap audibly on the dock the whole time as if the director was a sadist set on compounding your torment.
mid (prep., adj.)
Old English mid "with, in conjunction with, in company with, together with, among," from Proto-Germanic *medjaz (cognates: Old Norse miðr, Old Saxon middi, Old Frisian midde, Old High German mitti, Gothic midjis "mid, middle"), from PIE *medhyo- "middle" (see medial (adj.)). Now surviving in English only as a prefix (mid-air, midstream, etc.); as a preposition it often is a shortened form of amid (compare midshipman).
Mid East
"Middle East," attested from 1944. Loosely defined.
mid-air (n.)
also midair, 1660s, from mid + air (n.1). Lit. "the part of the air between the clouds and the air near the ground."
mid-course
1560s, from mid + course (n.).
Midas
king of Phrygia whose touched turned everything to gold (including his food), 1560s. Some usages refer to the unrelated story of the ass's ears given him by Apollo for being dull to the charms of his lyre. The name is of Phrygian origin.
midday (n.)
Old English middæg "midday, noon," contracted from midne dæg; see mid + day. Similar formation in Old High German mittitag, German mittag, Old Norse miðdagr.
midden (n.)
mid-14c., "dung hill," of Scandinavian origin; compare Danish mødding, from møg "muck" (see muck (n.)) + dynge "heap of dung" (see dung). Modern archaeological sense of "kitchen midden" is from Danish excavations.
middle (adj.)
Old English middel, from West Germanic *middila (cognates: Old Frisian middel, Old Saxon middil, Middle Low German, Dutch middel, Old High German mittil, German mittel), from Proto-Germanic *medjaz (see mid). Middle name attested from 1815; as "one's outstanding characteristic," colloquial, from 1911, American English.
According to Mr. H.A. Hamilton, in his "Quarter Sessions from Queen Elizabeth," the practice of giving children two Christian names was unknown in England before the period of the Stuarts, was rarely adopted down to the time of the Revolution, and never became common until after the Hanoverian family was seated on the throne. "In looking through so many volumes of county records," he says, "I have, of course, seen many thousands and tens of thousands of proper names, belonging to men of all ranks and degrees,--to noblemen, justices, jurymen, witnesses, sureties, innkeepers, hawkers, paupers, vagrants, criminals, and others,--and in no single instance, down to the end of the reign of Anne, have I noticed any person bearing more than one Christian name ...." [Walsh]
Middle school attested from 1838, originally "middle-class school, school for middle-class children;" the sense in reference to a school for grades between elementary and high school is from 1960. Middle management is 1957. Middle-of-the-road in the figurative sense is attested from 1894; edges of a dirt road can be washed out and thus less safe. Middle finger so called from c.1000.
middle (n.)
Old English middel, from middle (adj.).
middle age (n.)
"period between youth and old age," late 14c.; middle-aged (adj.) first recorded c.1600.
Middle Ages (n.)
"period between ancient and modern times" (formerly roughly 500-1500 C.E., now more usually 1000-1500), attested from 1610s, translating Latin medium aevum (compare German mittelalter, French moyen âge).
middle class (n.)
1766; as an adjective, "characteristic of the middle class" (depreciative) it dates from 1893.
Middle East (n.)
1899; never defined in a generally accepted way. Early use with reference to British India. Hence Middle-Eastern (1903).
middle passage (n.)
1788, in reference to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
middlebrow
1911 (adj.), 1912 (n.), from middle + brow (compare highbrow, lowbrow).
[T]here is an alarmingly wide chasm, I might almost say a vacuum, between the high-brow, who considers reading either as a trade or as a form of intellectual wrestling, and the low-brow, who is merely seeking for gross thrills. It is to be hoped that culture will soon be democratized through some less conventional system of education, giving rise to a new type that might be called the middle-brow, who will consider books as a source of intellectual enjoyment. ["The Nation," Jan, 25, 1912]
middleman (n.)
in the trading sense, 1795, from middle + man. From mid-15c. as the name of some type of workman in wire-making. From 1741 as "one who takes a middle course."
middlemost (adj.)
early 14c., "middle; the middle one of three," from middle + -most.
Middlesex
literally "(land of the) Middle Saxons" (those between Essex and Wessex); originally a much larger region. See middle + Saxon.
Middletown
"typical U.S. middle class community," 1929. The U.S. Geological Survey lists 40 towns by that name, not counting variant spellings.
middleweight (n.)
also middle weight, 1842, from middle + weight.
middling (adj.)
1540s, from Scottish mydlyn (mid-15c.), from middle + suffix -ing. Used to designate the second of three grades of goods. As an adverb by 1719.
middy (n.)
colloquial abbreviation of midshipman, by 1818. As "loose, long type of women's blouse," 1911, from resemblance to shirts worn by midshipmen.
Midgard
in Germanic cosmology, "world inhabited by men (opposed to Asgard, the abode of the gods), 1882, from Old Norse miðgarðr, from mið "mid" (see mid) + Proto-Germanic *gardoz "enclosure, tract" (see yard (n.1)). The Old English cognate was middangeard, which later was folk-etymologized as middle earth (late 13c.).
midge (n.)
Old English mygg, mycg "gnat," from Proto-Germanic *mugjon (cognates: Swedish mygga, Old Saxon muggia, Middle Dutch mugghe, Dutch mug, Old High German mucka, German Mücke "midge, gnat"). No certain cognates beyond Germanic, unless doubtful Armenian mun "gnat" and Albanian mize "gnat" are counted. But Watkins, Klein and others suggest an imitative root used for various humming insects and a relationship to Latin musca (see mosquito). Meaning "diminutive person" is from 1796.
midget (n.)
as a type of tiny biting insect, 1839, American English, from midge, perhaps with diminutive suffix -et.
Dr. Webster is in error in saying the word "midge" is "not in use" at the present day. In the neighboring Green mountain districts, one or more most annoying species of Simulium that there abound, are daily designated in common conversation as the midges, or, as the name is often corrupted, the midgets. From Dr. Harris' treatise it appears that the same name is in popular use for the same insects in Maine. The term is limited in this country, we believe, exclusively to those minute insects, smaller than the musketoe, which suck the blood of other animals. ["Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society," vol. VI, Albany, 1847]
Transferred sense of "very small person" is attested by 1854. It is also noted mid-19c. as a pet form of Margaret.
Midi
"southern France," 1883, from French midi "south," literally "midday" (12c.), from mi "middle" (from Latin medius "middle;" see medial (adj.)) + di "day" (from Latin dies; see diurnal). Also compare meridian.
MIDI
1983, acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
midland (adj.)
early 15c., mydlonde; mid + land (n.). As a noun from 1550s, first of the Midlands of England.
midlife (n.)
also mid-life, 1837, from mid + life. Midlife crisis attested from 1965.
midmost (adj.)
Old English midmest; see mid + -most.
midnight (n.)
Old English mid-niht, or middre niht (with dative). See mid + night. Midnight oil symbolizing "late night work" is attested from 1630s.
midpoint (n.)
late 14c., from mid + point (n.).
midriff (n.)
Old English midhrif, from mid "mid" (see mid) + hrif "belly," from Proto-Germanic *hrefiz- (cognates: Old High German href, Old Frisian hrif "belly"), from PIE *kwrep- "body, form, appearance" (see corporeal). More or less obsolete after 18c. except in phrase to tickle (one's) midriff "to cause laughter," the word revived 1941 in fashion usage for "portion of a woman's garment that covers the belly," as a euphemistic avoidance of belly; sense inverted and extended 1970 to a belly-baring style of women's top.
midshipman (n.)
c.1600, so called because he was stationed amidships when on duty (see amid).
midst (n.)
c.1400, from Middle English middes (mid-14c.), from mid + adverbial genitive -s. The parasitic -t is perhaps on model of superlatives (compare against).
midstream (n.)
also mid-stream, Old English midstream; see mid + stream (n.).
midsummer (n.)
Old English midsumor, from mid + sumor "summer" (see summer (n.1)). Midsummer Day, as an English quarter-day, was June 24. Astronomically June 21, but traditionally reckoned in Europe on the night of June 23-24.
midway (n.)
Old English mid-weg "the middle of a way or distance;" see mid + way (n.). Meaning "central avenue of a fairground" is first recorded 1893, American English, in reference to the Midway Plaisance of the Worlds Columbian Exposition held that year in Chicago. The Pacific island group so called for being midway between America and Asia. As an adverb from late Old English.
Midwest (n.)
1926, in U.S. geographical sense, from earlier Midwestern (1889) in reference to a group of states originally listed as W.Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas; now generally meaning states somewhat further northwest. Related: Midwesterner.
midwife (n.)
c.1300, "woman assisting," literally "woman who is 'with' " (the mother at birth), from Middle English mid "with" (see mid) + wif "woman" (see wife). Cognate with German Beifrau.