- sagebrush (n.)
- 1850, from sage (n.1), to which it has no biological affinity, + brush (n.2). Said to be so called for resemblance of its appearance or odor.
Sage-brush is very fair fuel, but as a vegetable it is a distinguished failure. Nothing can abide the taste of it but the jackass and his illegitimate child, the mule. ["Mark Twain," "Roughing It"]
- sagely (adv.)
- c. 1400, from sage (adj.) + -ly (2).
- saggy (adj.)
- 1848, from sag (n.) + -y (2). Related: Saggily; sagginess.
- sagittal (adj.)
- "shaped like or resembling an arrow," 1540s, from Modern Latin sagittalis, from Latin sagitta "arrow" (see Sagittarius).
- Sagittarius (n.)
- zodiac constellation, late Old English, from Latin, literally "archer," properly "pertaining to arrows," from sagitta "arrow," which probably is from a pre-Latin Mediterranean language. Meaning "person born under Sagittarius" (properly Sagittarian) is attested from 1940. It represents a centaur drawing a bow, but to modern observers unfamiliar with either it looks vaguely like a teapot.
- sago (n.)
- "starch made of the piths of palms," 1570s, via Portuguese and Dutch from Malay sagu, the name of the palm tree from which it is obtained (attested in English in this sense from 1550s). Also borrowed in French (sagou), Spanish (sagu), German (Sago).
- saguaro (n.)
- type of large branching columnar cactus of the North American desert, 1856, from Mexican Spanish, from a native name of unknown origin, perhaps from Yaqui (Sonoran).
- 1610s, from Arabic çahra "desert" (plural çahara), according to Klein, noun use of fem. of the adjective asharu "yellowish red." Related: Saharan.
- from Arabic sahil "sea coast, shore." Originally in reference to the coastal region. Related: Sahelian.
- sahib (n.)
- respectful address to Europeans in India, 1670s, from Hindi or Urdu sahib "master, lord," from Arabic sahib, originally "friend, companion," from sahiba "he accompanied." Female form ("European lady") is memsahib.
- said (adj.)
- "named or mentioned before," c. 1300, past participle adjective from say (v.).
- southern Vietnamese city, capital of former South Vietnam, named for its river, which bears a name of uncertain origin.
- sail (n.)
- Old English segl "sail, veil, curtain," from Proto-Germanic *seglom (source also of Old Saxon, Swedish segel, Old Norse segl, Old Frisian seil, Dutch zeil, Old High German segal, German Segel), of obscure origin with no known cognates outside Germanic (Irish seol, Welsh hwyl "sail" are Germanic loan-words). In some sources (Klein, OED) referred to PIE root *sek- "to cut," as if meaning "a cut piece of cloth." To take the wind out of (someone's) sails (1888) is to deprive (someone) of the means of progress, especially by sudden and unexpected action, "as by one vessel sailing between the wind and another vessel," ["The Encyclopaedic Dictionary," 1888].
- sail (v.)
- Old English segilan "travel on water in a ship; equip with a sail," from the same Germanic source as sail (n.); cognate with Old Norse sigla, Middle Dutch seghelen, Dutch zeilen, Middle Low German segelen, German segeln. Meaning "to set out on a sea voyage, leave port" is from c. 1200. Related: Sailed; sailing.
- sailboat (n.)
- also sail-boat, 1769, from sail (n.) + boat (n.).
- sailing (n.)
- Old English seglinge, verbal noun from the source of sail (v.).
- sailor (n.)
- c. 1400, sailer, agent noun from sail (v.). Spelling with -o- arose 16c., probably by influence of tailor, etc., and to distinguish the meaning "seaman, mariner" from "thing that sails." It replaced much older seaman and mariner (q.q.v.). Old English also had merefara "sailor." Applied as an adjective from 1870s to clothing styles and items based on a sailor's characteristic attire.
- sain (v.)
- "to cross oneself; to mark with the sign of the cross," Old English segnian, from Latin signare "to sign" (in Church Latin "to make the sign of the Cross"); see sign (n.). A common Germanic borrowing, cognate with Old Saxon segnon, Dutch zegenen, Old High German seganon, German segnen "to bless," Old Norse signa.
- saint (n.)
- early 12c., from Old French saint, seinte "a saint; a holy relic," displacing or altering Old English sanct, both from Latin sanctus "holy, consecrated" (used as a noun in Late Latin; also source of Spanish santo, santa, Italian san, etc.), properly past participle of sancire "consecrate" (see sacred). Adopted into most Germanic languages (Old Frisian sankt, Dutch sint, German Sanct).
Originally an adjective prefixed to the name of a canonized person; by c. 1300 it came to be regarded as a noun. Meaning "person of extraordinary holiness" is recorded from 1560s.
Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. The Duchess of Orleans relates that the irreverent old calumniator, Marshal Villeroi, who in his youth had known St. Francis de Sales, said, on hearing him called saint: 'I am delighted to hear that Monsieur de Sales is a saint. He was fond of saying indelicate things, and used to cheat at cards. In other respects he was a perfect gentleman, though a fool.' [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
Saint Bernard, the breed of mastiff dogs (1839), so called because the monks of the hospice of the pass of St. Bernard (between Italy and Switzerland) sent them to rescue snowbound travelers; St. Elmo's Fire "corposant" (1560s) is from Italian fuoco di Sant'Elmo, named for the patron saint of Mediterranean sailors, a corruption of the name of St. Erasmus, an Italian bishop martyred in 303.
Perhaps you have imagined that this humility in the saints is a pious illusion at which God smiles. That is a most dangerous error. It is theoretically dangerous, because it makes you identify a virtue (i.e., a perfection) with an illusion (i.e., an imperfection), which must be nonsense. It is practically dangerous because it encourages a man to mistake his first insights into his own corruption for the first beginnings of a halo round his own silly head. No, depend upon it; when the saints say that they--even they--are vile, they are recording truth with scientific accuracy. [C.S. Lewis, "The Problem of Pain," 1940]
- saint (v.)
- "to enroll (someone) among the saints," late 14c., from saint (n.). Related: Sainted; sainting.
- sainthood (n.)
- 1540s, from saint (n.) + -hood.
- saintly (adj.)
- 1620s, from saint (n.) + -ly (1). Related: Saintliness.
- sake (n.1)
- "purpose," Old English sacu "a cause at law, crime, dispute, guilt," from Proto-Germanic *sako "affair, thing, charge, accusation" (source also of Old Norse sök "charge, lawsuit, effect, cause," Old Frisian seke "strife, dispute, matter, thing," Dutch zaak "lawsuit, cause, sake, thing," German Sache "thing, matter, affair, cause"), from PIE root *sag- "to investigate, seek out" (source also of Old English secan, Gothic sokjan "to seek;" see seek).
Much of the word's original meaning has been taken over by case (n.1), cause (n.), and it survives largely in phrases for the sake of (early 13c.) and for _______'s sake (c. 1300, originally for God's sake), both probably are from Norse, as these forms have not been found in Old English.
- sake (n.2)
- "Japanese rice liquor," 1680s, from Japanese sake, literally "alcohol."
- saki (n.)
- see sake (n.2).
- 1884, from Japanese.
- sal (n.)
- chemical name for salt, late 14c., from Old French sal, from Latin sal (genitive salis) "salt" (see salt (n.)). For sal ammoniac "ammonium chloride" (early 14c.), see ammonia.
- sal volatile (n.)
- 1650s, Modern Latin, literally "volatile salt" (see salt (n.) + volatile); ammonium carbonate, especially as used in reviving persons who have fainted.
- Muslim greeting, 1610s, from Arabic salam (also in Urdu, Persian), literally "peace" (compare Hebrew shalom); in full, (as)salam 'alaikum "peace be upon you," from base of salima "he was safe" (compare Islam, Muslim).
- salacious (adj.)
- 1660s, from Latin salax (genitive salacis) "lustful," probably originally "fond of leaping," as in a male animal leaping on a female in sexual advances, from salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Earliest form of the word in English is salacity (c. 1600). Related: Salaciously; salaciousness.
- salad (n.)
- late 14c., from Old French salade (14c.), from Vulgar Latin *salata, literally "salted," short for herba salata "salted vegetables" (vegetables seasoned with brine, a popular Roman dish), from fem. past participle of *salare "to salt," from Latin sal (genitive salis) "salt" (see salt (n.)).
Dutch salade, German Salat, Swedish salat, Russian salat are from Romanic languages. Salad days "time of youthful inexperience" (perhaps on notion of "green") is first recorded 1606 in Shakespeare and probably owes its survival, if not its existence, to him. Salad bar first attested 1940, American English.
- Sultan of Egypt and Syria 1174-93, in full Salah-ad-din Yusuf ibn-Ayyub (1137-1193).
- salamander (n.)
- mid-14c., "legendary lizard-like creature that can live in fire," from Old French salamandre "legendary fiery beast," also "cricket" (12c.), from Latin salamandra, from Greek salamandra, probably of eastern origin.
The application in zoology to a tailed amphibian (known natively as an eft or newt) is first recorded 1610s. Aristotle, and especially Pliny, are responsible for the fiction of an animal that thrives in and extinguishes fires. The eft lives in damp logs and secretes a milky substance when threatened, but there is no obvious natural explanation its connection with the myth.
Also used 18c. for "a woman who lives chastely in the midst of temptations" (after Addison), and "a soldier who exposes himself to fire in battle." To rub someone a salamander was a 19c. form of German student drinking toast (einem einen salamander reiben). Related: Salamandrine; salamandroid.
- salami (n.)
- "salted, flavored Italian sausage," 1852, from Italian salami, plural of salame "spiced pork sausage," from Vulgar Latin *salamen, from *salare "to salt," from Latin sal (genitive salis) "salt" (see salt (n.)).
- salary (n.)
- late 13c., "compensation, payment," whether periodical, for regular service or for a specific service; from Anglo-French salarie, Old French salaire "wages, pay, reward," from Latin salarium "salary, stipend, pension," originally "salt-money, soldier's allowance for the purchase of salt," noun use of neuter of adjective salarius "pertaining to salt," from sal (genitive salis) "salt" (see salt (n.)). Japanese sarariman "male salaried worker," literally "salary-man," is from English.
- salary (v.)
- "to pay a regular salary to," late 15c., from salary (n.). Related: Salaried, which as an adjective in reference to positions originally was contrasted with honorary; lately with hourly.
- salat (n.)
- Islamic ritual prayer, from Arabic salah "prayer."
- sale (n.)
- late Old English sala "a sale, act of selling," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse sala "sale," from Proto-Germanic *salo (source also of Old High German sala, Swedish salu, Danish salg), from PIE root *sal- (3) "to grasp, take." Sense of "a selling of shop goods at lower prices than usual" first appeared 1866. Sales tax attested by 1886. Sales associate by 1946. Sales representative is from 1910.
- saleable (adj.)
- also salable, 1520s, from sale + -able. Related: Salability; saleability.
- place mentioned in Genesis xiv.18, from Hebrew Shalem, usually said to be another word for Jerusalem and to mean "peace" (compare Hebrew shalom, Arabic salaam). Common as a Baptist and Methodist meetinghouse name, so much so that by mid-19c. it (along with Bethel and Ebenezer) had come to be used in Britain generically to mean "non-conformist chapel."
- salep (n.)
- 1736, "drug from starch or jelly made from dried tubers of orchid-like plants," from Turkish salep, from dialectal pronunciation of Arabic thaeleb, which usually is taken to be a shortening of khasyu 'th-thaeleb, literally "fox's testicles" (compare native English name dogstones).
- salesman (n.)
- 1520s, from genitive of sale (compare craftsman, tradesman) + man (n.).
- salesmanship (n.)
- 1853, from salesman + -ship.
The modern system of salesmanship has become so much like persecution reduced to a science, that it is quite a luxury to be allowed the use of your own discretion, without being dragooned, by a shopkeeper's deputy, into looking at what you do not care to see, or buying what you would not have. A man in his sane mind, with the usual organs of speech, has a right to be treated as if he knows what he wants, and is able to ask for it. ["The Literary World," Feb. 26, 1853]
- salesperson (n.)
- 1920, from genitive of sale + person.
- saleswoman (n.)
- 1704, from genitive of sale + woman.
- Salic (adj.)
- "based on or contained in the law code of the Salian Franks," 1540s, from French Salique, from Medieval Latin Salicus, from the Salian Franks, a tribe that once lived near the Zuider Zee, the ancestors of the Merovingian kings, literally "those living near the river Sala" (modern Ijssel).
Salic Law, code of law of Germanic tribes, was invoked 1316 by Philip V of France to exclude a woman from succeeding to the throne of France (and later to combat the French claims of Edward III of England), but the precise meaning of the passage is unclear.
- salience (n.)
- 1836, "quality of leaping;" see salient (adj.) + -ence. Meaning "quality of standing out" is from 1849.
- saliency (n.)
- 1660s, "leaping, jumping;" see salient (adj.) + -cy. From 1834 as "salience."
- salient (adj.)
- 1560s, "leaping," a heraldic term, from Latin salientem (nominative saliens), present participle of salire "to leap," from PIE root *sel- (4) "to jump" (source also of Greek hallesthai "to leap," Middle Irish saltraim "I trample," and probably Sanskrit ucchalati "rises quickly").
It was used in Middle English as an adjective meaning "leaping, skipping." The meaning "pointing outward" (preserved in military usage) is from 1680s; that of "prominent, striking" first recorded 1840, from salient point (1670s), which refers to the heart of an embryo, which seems to leap, and translates Latin punctum saliens, going back to Aristotle's writings. Hence, the "starting point" of anything.
- salient (n.)
- 1828, from salient (adj.).