milkweed (n.) Look up milkweed at
1590s, from milk (n.) + weed (n.); used in reference to various plants whose juice resembles milk.
milky (adj.) Look up milky at
late 14c., "milk-like in color or consistency," from milk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Milkily; milkiness.
Milky Way (n.) Look up Milky Way at
late 14c., loan-translation of Latin via lactea; see galaxy. Also in Middle English Milky Cercle. The ancients speculated on what it was; some guessed it was a vast assemblage of stars (Democrates, Pythagoras, even Ovid). Galileo, after inventing the telescope, reported that the whole of it was resolvable into stars. Old native names for it include Jacob's Ladder, the Way to St. James's, and Watling Street.
mill (v.1) Look up mill at
"to grind," 1550s, from mill (n.1). Related: milled; milling.
mill (n.2) Look up mill at
"one-tenth cent," 1786, an original U.S. currency unit but now used only for tax calculation purposes, shortening of Latin millesimum "one-thousandth," from mille "a thousand" (see million). Formed on the analogy of cent, which is short for Latin centesimus "one hundredth" (of a dollar).
mill (v.2) Look up mill at
"to keep moving round and round in a mass," 1874 (implied in milling), originally of cattle, from mill (n.1) on resemblance to the action of a mill wheel. Related: Milled.
mill (n.1) Look up mill at
"building fitted to grind grain," Old English mylen "a mill" (10c.), an early Germanic borrowing from Late Latin molina, molinum "mill" (source of French moulin, Spanish molino), originally fem. and neuter of molinus "pertaining to a mill," from Latin mola "mill, millstone," related to molere "to grind," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind."

Also from Late Latin molina, directly or indirectly, are German Mühle, Old Saxon mulin, Old Norse mylna, Danish mølle, Old Church Slavonic mulinu. Broader sense of "grinding machine" is attested from 1550s. Other types of manufacturing machines driven by wind or water, whether for grinding or not, began to be called mills by early 15c. Sense of "building fitted with industrial machinery" is from c. 1500.
mill-race (n.) Look up mill-race at
late 15c., from mill (n.1) + race (n.1) in the "current" sense.
mill-wheel (n.) Look up mill-wheel at
Old English mylnn-hweol; see mill (n.1) + wheel (n.).
millage (n.) Look up millage at
1871, from mill (n.2) + -age.
millenarian (n.) Look up millenarian at
1550s, "one who believes in the coming of the (Christian) millennium," from Latin millenarius (see millennium) + -ian. As an adjective, "pertaining to the millennium," from 1630s. Related: Millennarianism.
millenary (adj.) Look up millenary at
"consisting of a thousand," 1570s, from Latin millenarius (see millennium).
millennia (n.) Look up millennia at
plural of millennium.
millennial (adj.) Look up millennial at
1660s, "pertaining to the millennium," from stem of millennium + -al (1). Meaning "pertaining to a period of 1,000 years" is from 1807. As a noun from 1896, originally "thousandth anniversary." From 1992 as a generational name for those born in the mid-1980s and thus coming of age around the year 2000.
millennialism (n.) Look up millennialism at
1906, from millennial + -ism.
millennium (n.) Look up millennium at
1630s, from Modern Latin millennium, from Latin mille "thousand" (see million) + annus "year" (see annual); formed on analogy of biennium, triennium, etc. For vowel change, see biennial. First in English in sense of "1,000-year period of Christ's anticipated rule on Earth" (Revelations xx.1-5). Sense of "any 1,000-year period" first recorded 1711. Meaning "the year 2000" attested from 1970.
miller (n.) Look up miller at
mid-14c. (attested as a surname by early 14c.), agent noun from mill (v.1). The Old English word was mylnweard, literally "mill-keeper" (preserved in surname Millward, attested from late 13c.).
millet (n.) Look up millet at
cereal grain, c. 1400, from Middle French millet, diminutive of mil "millet," from Latin milium "millet" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). Cognate with Greek meline, Lithuanian malnus (plural) "millet."
milli- Look up milli- at
word-forming element meaning "thousandth part of a metric unit," from comb. form of Latin mille "thousand" (see million).
milliard (n.) Look up milliard at
"one thousand million," 1793, from French milliard (16c.), from million (see million) with change of suffix. A word made necessary by the double meaning of billion.
milligram (n.) Look up milligram at
also milligramme, 1802, from French milligramme; see milli- + gram.
milliliter (n.) Look up milliliter at
also millilitre, 1802, from French millilitre; see milli- + liter.
millimeter (n.) Look up millimeter at
also millimetre, 1802, from French millimetre; see milli- + meter (n.2).
milliner (n.) Look up milliner at
mid-15c., "vendor of fancy wares, especially those made in Milan," Italian city famous for straw works, fancy goods, ribbons, bonnets, and cutlery. Meaning "one who sells women's hats" may be from 1520s, certainly by 18c. (it is difficult in early references to know whether the word means a type of merchant or "a resident of Milan" who is selling certain wares).
millinery (n.) Look up millinery at
1670s; see milliner + -y (1).
milling (n.) Look up milling at
"act or business of grinding in a mill," mid-15c., verbal noun from mill (v.1).
million (n.) Look up million at
late 14c., from Old French million (late 13c.), from Italian millione (now milione), literally "a great thousand," augmentative of mille "thousand," from Latin mille, which is of uncertain origin. Used mainly by mathematicians until 16c. India, with its love of large numbers, had names before 3c. for numbers well beyond a billion. The ancient Greeks had no name for a number greater than ten thousand, the Romans for none higher than a hundred thousand. "A million" in Latin would have been decies centena milia, literally "ten hundred thousand." Million to one as a type of "long odds" is attested from 1761. Related: Millions.
millionaire (n.) Look up millionaire at
1821, from French millionnaire (1762); see million. The first in America is said to have been John Jacob Astor (1763-1848).
millionfold Look up millionfold at
1721, from million + -fold.
millionth (adj.) Look up millionth at
1670s, from million + -th (1).
millipede (n.) Look up millipede at
also millepede, c. 1600, from Latin millepeda "wood louse," a type of crawling, insect-like arthropod, from mille "thousand" (see million) + pes (genitive pedis) "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot." Probably a loan-translation of Greek khiliopous.
millisecond (n.) Look up millisecond at
"one thousandth of a second," 1922, from milli- + second (n.).
millstone (n.) Look up millstone at
Old English mylenstan, from mill (n.1) + stone (n.). Figurative sense of "a burden" (1720) is from Matthew xviii.6.
millstream (n.) Look up millstream at
Old English mylestream; see mill (n.1) + stream (n.).
millwork (n.) Look up millwork at
1770, from mill (n.1) + work (n.).
millwright (n.) Look up millwright at
late 15c., from mill (n.1) + wright.
milquetoast (n.) Look up milquetoast at
"timid, meek person," 1938, from Caspar Milquetoast, character created by U.S. newspaper cartoonist H.T. Webster (1885-1952) in the strip "The Timid Soul," which ran from 1924 in the "New York World" and later the "Herald Tribune." By 1930 the name was being referenced as a type of the meek man. The form seems to be milktoast with an added French twist; also see milksop.
milt (n.) Look up milt at
Old English milte "spleen," from Proto-Germanic *miltjo- (source also of Old Frisian milte, Middle Dutch milte, Dutch milt "spleen, milt of fish," Old High German milzi, German milz, Old Norse milti), possibly from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft." Meaning "fish sperm" is late 15c.
mime (v.) Look up mime at
1610s, "to act without words," from mime (n.). The transferred sense of "to imitate" is from 1733 (Greek mimeisthai meant "to imitate"). Meaning "to pretend to be singing a pre-recorded song" is from 1965. Related: mimed; miming.
mime (n.) Look up mime at
c. 1600, "a buffoon who practices gesticulations" [Johnson], from French mime (16c.) and directly from Latin mimus, from Greek mimos "imitator, mimic, actor, mime, buffoon," of unknown origin. In reference to a performance, 1640s in a classical context; 1932 as "a pantomime."
mimeograph (n.) Look up mimeograph at
1889, "copying machine" (invented by Edison), from Greek mimeisthai "to mimic, represent, imitate, portray," in art, "to express by means of imitation," from mimos "mime" (see mime (n.)) + -graphos, from graphein "to write" (see -graphy). A proprietary name from 1903 to 1948. The verb meaning "to reproduce by means of a mimeograph" is first attested 1895. Related: Mimeographed; mimeographing.
mimesis (n.) Look up mimesis at
1540s, in rhetoric, from Greek mimesis "imitation, representation, representation by art," from mimeisthai "to imitate" (see mimeograph).
mimetic (adj.) Look up mimetic at
1630s, "having an aptitude for mimicry," from Greek mimetikos "imitative, good at imitating," from mimetos, verbal adjective of mimeisthai "to imitate." Originally of persons, attested of animals or plants from 1851. Related: Mimetical (1610s); mimetically.
mimic (adj.) Look up mimic at
1590s, from Latin mimicus, from Greek mimikos "of or pertaining to mimes," verbal adjective from mimeisthai "to mimic, imitate, portray by means of imitation" (see mimeograph).
mimic (v.) Look up mimic at
1680s, from mimic (n.). Related: Mimicked; mimicking.
mimic (n.) Look up mimic at
1580s, "a mime," from Latin mimicus, from Greek mimikos "of or pertaining to mimes," from mimos "mime."
mimicry (n.) Look up mimicry at
1680s, from mimic + -ry. Zoological sense is from 1861.
mimosa (n.) Look up mimosa at
genus of leguminous shrubs, 1731, coined in Modern Latin (1619) from Latin mimus "mime" (see mime (n.)) + -osa, adjectival suffix (fem. of -osus). So called because some species (including the common Sensitive Plant) fold leaves when touched, seeming to mimic animal behavior. The alcoholic drink (by 1977) is so called from its yellowish color, which resembles that of the mimosa flower.
mina (n.) Look up mina at
talking starling of India, see mynah.
minacious (adj.) Look up minacious at
"threatening," 1650s, from Latin minaci-, stem of minax "threatening, menacing" (from minari; see menace (n.)) + -ous. Related: Minaciously.