- miniskirt (n.)
- also mini-skirt, 1965, from mini- + skirt (n.); reputedly the invention of French fashion designer André Courrèges (b.1923).
"The miniskirt enables young ladies to run faster, and because of it, they may have to." [John V. Lindsay, "New York Times," Jan. 13, 1967]Related: Miniskirted.
- minister (v.)
- early 14c., "to perform religious rites, provide religious services;" mid-14c., "to serve (food or drink);" late 14c. "render service or aid," from Old French menistrer "to serve, be of service, administer, attend, wait on," and directly from Latin ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon" (see minister (n.)). Related: Ministered; ministering.
- minister (n.)
- c. 1300, "one who acts upon the authority of another," from Old French menistre "servant, valet, member of a household staff, administrator, musician, minstrel" (12c.), from Latin minister (genitive ministri) "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (in Medieval Latin, "priest"), from minus, minor "less," hence "subordinate," (see minus) + comparative suffix *-teros. Formed on model of magister. Meaning "priest" is attested in English from early 14c. Political sense of "high officer of the state" is attested from 1620s, from notion of "service to the crown."
- ministerial (adj.)
- 1560s, of religion; 1650s, of state; in some uses from Middle French ministériel and directly from Medieval Latin ministerialis "pertaining to service, of a minister," from Latin ministerium (see ministry); in some cases probably directly from minister or ministry.
- ministerium (n.)
- "ordained ministers of a church district," 1881, from Latin ministerium (see ministry).
- ministration (n.)
- mid-14c., "the action of ministering or serving," from Old French ministration or directly from Latin ministrationem (nominative ministratio), noun of action from past participle stem of ministrare "to serve" (see minister (v.)).
- ministry (n.)
- late 14c., "function of a priest," from Old French menistere "service, ministry; position, post, employment," and directly from Latin ministerium "office, service, attendance, ministry," from minister (see minister (n.)). Began to be used 1916 as name of certain departments in British government.
- miniver (n.)
- fur lining and trimming in a garment, c. 1300, from Old French menu vair "minor fur;" see menu + vair.
- mink (n.)
- early 15c., "skin or fur of the mink," from a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish menk "a stinking animal in Finland"). Applied in English to the animal itself from 1620s.
- minke (n.)
- type of small whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), 1939, supposedly from the Norwegian surname Meincke.
The name minke is said to have derived from one of Svend Foyn's crew by the name of Meincke, who mistook a school of these whales for blue whales. Whalers all over the world considered this incident so amusing that they used his name as a household word to describe this species. [J.N. Tønnessen & A.O. Johnsen, "The History of Modern Whaling" (transl. R.I. Christophersen), 1982]
Also known in English as the lesser rorqual and little piked whale.
- minnesinger (n.)
- one of a class of medieval German poets who imitated the troubadours, 1825, from German minnesinger, from minne "love," especially "sexual love" (from Old High German minna "loving memory," originally "memory;" see mind (n.)) + singer (see singer). German minne by c. 1500 no longer was considered decent, and it became a taboo word until revived 18c. in poetic language.
- originally the name of the river, from Dakota (Siouan) mnisota, literally "cloudy water, milky water," from mni "river, stream" + sota "slightly clouded." As the name of a U.S. territory from 1849 (admitted as a state 1858). Related: Minnesotan.
- minnow (n.)
- small freshwater fish, early 15c., probably related to Old English myne, earlier *mynwe, a name for some kind of fish, from Proto-Germanic *muniwon (cognates: Middle Low German möne, Dutch meun, Old High German muniwa, German Münne), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE *men- "small." Perhaps influenced in Middle English by French menu "small."
- Minoan (adj.)
- 1894, from Minos, famous king of Crete; applied by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans to the civilization that flourished there c. 3000-1400 B.C.E.
- minor (adj.)
- early 13c., menour "Franciscan" (see minor (n.)), from Latin minor "less, lesser, smaller, junior," figuratively "inferior, less important," formed as a masculine/feminine form of minus on the mistaken assumption that minus was a neuter comparative, from PIE root *mei- (2) "small" (see minus).
Some English usages are via Old French menor "less, smaller, lower; underage, younger," from Latin minor. Meaning "underage" is from 1570s. Meaning "lesser" in English is from early 15c.; that of "less important" is from 1620s. The musical sense is from 1690s. In the baseball sense, minor league is from 1884; the figurative extension is first recorded 1926.
- minor (n.)
- early 14c., "a Franciscan," from Latin Fratres Minores "lesser brethren," name chosen by St. Francis, who founded the order, for the sake of humility; see minor (adj.). From c. 1400 as "minor premise of a syllogism." From 1610s as "person under legal age" (Latin used minores (plural) for "the young"). Musical sense is from 1797. Meaning "secondary subject of study, subject of study with fewer credits than a major" is from 1890; as a verb in this sense from 1934.
- minority (n.)
- 1530s, "condition of being smaller," from Middle French minorité (15c.), or directly from Medieval Latin minoritatem (nominative minoritas), from Latin minor (see minor (adj.)). Meaning "state of being under legal age" is from 1540s; that of "smaller number or part" is from 1736. The meaning "group of people separated from the rest of a community by race, religion, language, etc." is from 1919, originally in an Eastern European context.
- Minotaur (n.)
- late 14c., from Greek minotauros, from Minos, king of Crete + tauros "bull" (see Taurus). A flesh-eating monster, half man half bull, son of Pasiphae (wife of Minos) by a bull.
- minster (n.)
- Old English mynster "the church of a monastery" (8c.), from Late Latin monasterium (see monastery). Compare Old French moustier, French moûtier, Old Irish manister.
- minstrel (n.)
- early 13c., from Old French menestrel "entertainer, poet, musician; servant, workman; good-for-nothing, rogue," from Medieval Latin ministralis "servant, jester, singer," from Late Latin ministerialem (nominative ministerialis) "imperial household officer, one having an official duty," from ministerialis (adj.) "ministerial," from Latin ministerium (see ministry). The connecting notion is via the jester, etc., as a court position.
Specific sense of "musician" developed in Old French, but in English until 16c. the word was used of anyone (singers, storytellers, jugglers, buffoons) whose profession was to entertain patrons. Only in 18c. was the word limited, in a historical sense, to "medieval singer of heroic or lyric poetry who accompanied himself on a stringed instrument." Reference to blackface music acts in U.S. is from 1843.
- minstrelsy (n.)
- c. 1300, menstracie, "music as produced on an instrument; action of making music for entertainment; musicians or entertainers generally," from Anglo-French menestralsie, from Old French menestrel (see minstrel).
- mint (v.)
- "to stamp metal to make coins," 1540s, from mint (n.2). Related: Minted; minting. Minter "one who stamps coins to create money" is from early 12c.
- mint (n.1)
- aromatic herb, Old English minte (8c.), from West Germanic *minta (cognates: Old Saxon minta, Middle Dutch mente, Old High German minza, German Minze), a borrowing from Latin menta, mentha "mint," from Greek minthe, personified as a nymph transformed into an herb by Proserpine, probably a loan-word from a lost Mediterranean language.
- mint (n.2)
- place where money is coined, early 15c., from Old English mynet "coin, coinage, money" (8c.), from West Germanic *munita (cognates: Old Saxon munita, Old Frisian menote, Middle Dutch munte, Old High German munizza, German münze), from Latin moneta "mint" (see money). Earlier word for "place where money is coined" was minter (early 12c.). General sense of "a vast sum of money" is from 1650s.
- mint (adj.)
- "perfect" (like a freshly minted coin), 1887 (in mint condition), from mint (n.2).
- minty (adj.)
- 1867, from mint (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Mintiness.
- minuend (n.)
- "number from which another number is to be subtracted," 1706, from Latin minuendus (numerus), gerundive past participle of minuere "to reduce, diminish, make small" (see minus).
- minuet (n.)
- "slow dance in triple measure," 1670s, from French menuet, from Old French menuet (adj.) "small, fine, delicate, narrow," from menu "small," from Latin minutus "small, minute" (see minute (adj.)). So called from the short steps taken in the dance. Spelling influenced in English by Italian minuetto.
- minus (prep.)
- late 15c., "with subtraction of," from Latin minus "less," neuter of minor "smaller," from PIE *mi-nu-, suffixed form of root *mei- (2) "small" (cognates: Latin minuere "to diminish, reduce, lessen," Greek meion "less, smaller," Old English minsian "to diminish," Sanskrit miyate "diminishes, declines," Russian men'she "less").
Mathematical use in expressions of calculation did not exist in the word in classical Latin and is probably from North Sea medieval commercial usage of Latin plus and minus to indicate surplus or deficiency of weight or measure. Origin of the "minus sign" is disputed.
- minus (n.)
- 1650s, from minus (prep.).
- minuscule (n.)
- 1705, "small (not capital) letter;" as an adjective, "small," from 1727 (in printing; general sense of "extremely small" by 1893), from French minuscule (17c.), from Latin minuscula, in minuscula littera "slightly smaller letter," fem. of minusculus "rather less, rather small," diminutive of minus "less" (see minus). Related: Minuscular.
- minute (n.)
- "sixtieth part of an hour or degree," late 14c., from Old French minut (13c.) or directly from Medieval Latin minuta "minute, short note," from Latin minuta, noun use of fem. of minutus "small, minute" (see minute (adj.)). In Medieval Latin, pars minuta prima "first small part" was used by mathematician Ptolemy for one-sixtieth of a circle, later of an hour (next in order was secunda minuta, which became second (n.)). German Minute, Dutch minuut also are from French. Used vaguely for "short time" from late 14c. As a measure expressing distance (travel time) by 1886. Minute hand is attested from 1726.
- minute (adj.)
- early 15c., "chopped small," from Latin minutus "little, small, minute," past participle of minuere "to lessen, diminish" (see minus). Meaning "very small in size or degree" is attested from 1620s. Related: Minutely; minuteness.
- minuteman (n.)
- U.S. history, one of a class of militia available for immediate service (i.e. "ready in a matter of minutes"), 1774. As the name of a type of ICBM, from 1961, so called because they could be launched with very little preparation.
- minutes (n.)
- "record of proceedings," c. 1710, perhaps from Latin minuta scriptura "rough notes," literally "small writing;" see minute (adj.). Minute "rough draft" is attested from c. 1500.
- minutia (n.)
- 1751, plural minutiae, from Latin minutia "smallness" (plural minutiae, in Late Latin "trifles"), from minutus "small" (see minute (adj.)).
- minutiae (n.)
- 1751, plural of Latin minutia "smallness" (see minutia); hence, in plural, "trifles."
- minx (n.)
- 1540s, mynx "pet dog," later "a young, pert, wanton girl" [Johnson] (1590s), of uncertain origin, perhaps a shortening of minikin "girl, woman," from Middle Dutch minnekijn "darling, beloved," from minne "love" (see minnesinger) + -kijn, diminutive suffix. Klein's sources suggest the word is from Low German minsk "a man," also "an impudent woman," related to German Mensch (see mensch), which also has a sense in vulgar use of "wench, hussy, slut."
- Miocene (adj.)
- "pertaining to the geological period between the Oligocene and Pliocene," 1831, irregular formation from Greek meion "less" + -cene.
A typical example of the monstrosities with which scientific men in want of a label for something, and indifferent to all beyond their own province, defile the language. The elements of the word are Greek, but not the way they are put together, nor the meaning demanded of the compound. [Fowler]
- miosis (n.)
- 1819, from Greek myein "to shut (the eyes)" + -osis. Greek myein is perhaps originally "to close the lips," from PIE *meue- "to be silent" (see mute (adj.)). Related: Miotic.
- late 20c. space station, from Russian, literally "peace, world," also "village, community," from Old Church Slavonic miru "peace," from Proto-Slavic *miru "commune, joy, peace" ("possibly borrowed from Iranian" [Watkins]), from PIE root *mei- "to bind" (see mitre). Old Church Slavonic miru was "used in Christian terminology as a collective 'community of peace' " [Buck], translating Greek kosmos. Hence, "the known world, mankind."
- mirabile dictu
- 1831, Latin, literally "wonderful to relate," from neuter of mirabilis (see marvel (n.)) + ablative supine of dicere "to say, speak" (see diction). Found in Virgil.
- miracle (n.)
- mid-12c., "a wondrous work of God," from Old French miracle (11c.) "miracle, story of a miracle, miracle play," from Latin miraculum "object of wonder" (in Church Latin, "marvelous event caused by God"), from mirari "to wonder at, marvel, be astonished," figuratively "to regard, esteem," from mirus "wonderful, astonishing, amazing," earlier *smeiros, from PIE *smei- "to smile, laugh" (cognates: Sanskrit smerah "smiling," Greek meidan "to smile," Old Church Slavonic smejo "to laugh;" see smile (v.)).
From mid-13c. as "extraordinary or remarkable feat," without regard to deity. Replaced Old English wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Greek words rendered as miracle in the English bibles were semeion "sign," teras "wonder," and dynamis "power," in Vulgate translated respectively as signum, prodigium, and virtus. The Latin word is the source of Spanish milagro, Italian miracolo.
- miraculous (adj.)
- mid-15c., from Middle French miraculeux, from Medieval Latin miraculosus, from Latin miraculum "miracle, marvel, wonder" (see miracle). Related: Miraculously (early 15c.); miraculousness.
- mirage (n.)
- "optical illusion of water in sandy deserts," 1812, from French mirage (1753), from se mirer "to be reflected," from Latin mirare (see mirror (n.)). Or the French word is from Latin mirus "wonderful" (see miracle). Similarity to Arabic mi'raj has been noted, but the usual sense of that word is "ladder, stairs; climb, ascent," and the resemblance appears to be coincidental. The standard Arabic for "a desert mirage" is sarāb.
- Miranda (1)
- fem. proper name, fem. of Latin mirandus "worthy to be admired," gerundive of mirari "to admire" (see miracle).
- Miranda (2)
- criminal suspects' arrest rights in U.S., 1967, in reference to Fifth Amendment cases ruled on by U.S. Supreme Court June 13, 1966, under heading Ernesto A. Miranda v. the State of Arizona.
- mire (n.)
- c. 1300, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse myrr "bog, swamp," from Proto-Germanic *miuzja- (source of Old English mos "bog, marsh"), from PIE *meus- "damp" (see moss).
- mire (v.)
- c. 1400, in figurative sense of "to involve in difficulties," from mire (n.). Literal sense is from 1550s. Related: Mired; miring.
- mirepoix (n.)
- in cookery, 1815, from French, evidently named for Charles Pierre Gaston François, duc de Mirepoix (1699-1757), French diplomat. The concoction supposedly created by his head chef and named in his honor during the reign of Louis XV, one of the grand epochs of French cookery, when it was the style of the aristocracy to have dishes named in their honor.
MIREPOIX.--It is probable that one of these days the common sense of mankind will rise in rebellion against this word and abolish it. What is the Duke of Mirepoix to us because his wife was amiable to Louis XV.?
If she be not fair to me,
The Duke of Mirepoix made himself convenient to the king, and his name is now convenient to the people--the convenient name for the faggot of vegetables that flavours a stew or a sauce. ["Kettner's Book of the Table," London, 1877]
What care I how fair she be?