- some (adj.)
- Old English sum "some, a, a certain one, something, a certain quantity; a certain number;" with numerals "out of" (as in sum feowra "one of four"); from Proto-Germanic *suma- (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German sum, Old Norse sumr, Gothic sums), from PIE *smm-o-, suffixed form of root *sem- (1) "one," also "as one" (adv.), "together with" (see same). For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come.
The word has had greater currency in English than in the other Teutonic languages, in some of which it is now restricted to dialect use, or represented only by derivatives or compounds .... [OED]
As a pronoun from c. 1100; as an adverb from late 13c. Meaning "remarkable" is attested from 1808, American English colloquial. A possessive form is attested from 1560s, but always was rare. Many combination forms (somewhat, sometime, somewhere) were in Middle English but often written as two words till 17-19c. Somewhen is rare and since 19c. used almost exclusively in combination with the more common compounds; somewho "someone" is attested from late 14c. but did not endure. Scott (1816) has somegate "somewhere, in some way, somehow," and somekins "some kind of a" is recorded from c. 1200. Get some "have sexual intercourse" is attested 1899 in a quote attributed to Abe Lincoln from c. 1840.
- somebody (n.)
- c. 1300, "indeterminate person," from some + body. Meaning "important person, person of consequence" is from 1560s. Somebody else is from 1640s; meaning "romantic rival" is from 1911.
- someday (adv.)
- "at some indefinite date in the future," 1768, from some + day.
Poor Charley wooed, but wooed in vain,
From Monday until Sunday;
Still Cupid whisper'd to the swain
"You'll conquer Betsey Someday."
["The Port Folio," June 1816]
- somedeal (adv.)
- "to some degree, somewhat," obsolete, but very common in Old English as sume dæle "some portion, somewhat," from some + deal (n.1).
- somehow (adv.)
- 1660s, "in some way not yet known," from some + how. First attested in phrase somehow or other.
- someone (pron.)
- c. 1300, sum on; from some + one. Someone else "romantic rival" is from 1914.
- someplace (adv.)
- 1853, from some + place (n.).
- somersault (n.)
- 1520s, from Middle French sombresault, from Old Provençal sobresaut, from sobre "over" (from Latin supra "over;" see supra-) + saut "a jump," from Latin saltus, from the root of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Sometimes further corrupted to somerset, etc.
- somersault (v.)
- 1845, from somersault (n.). Related: Somersaulted; somersaulting.
- 9c., Sumor sæton, from Old English sumorsæta, short for *sumorton sæte "the people who live at (or depend upon) Somerton," a settlement attested from 8c. (Sumertone), literally "summer settlement." In 12c. it begins to be clearly meant as a place-name (Sumersetescir) not a collective name for a set of people.
- something (pron.)
- Old English sum þinge; see some + thing. Hyphenated from c. 1300; one word from 17c. Formerly common as an adverb (as in something like). Meaning "some liquor, food, etc." is from 1570s. Meaning "a thing worthy of consideration" is from 1580s; emphatic form something else is from 1909. Phrase something for nothing is from 1816. To make something of is from 1778.
- sometime (adv.)
- late 13c., "at one time or another" (adv.); as an adjective, late 15c. Meaning "at some future time" is late 14c. From some + time (n.).
- sometimes (adv.)
- "now and then," 1520s, from sometime + adverbial genitive -s.
- somewhat (adv.)
- c. 1200, "in a certain amount, to a certain degree," from some + what. Replaced Old English sumdæl, sume dæle "somewhat, some portion," literally "some deal."
- somewhere (adv.)
- c. 1200, from some + where.
- somewhile (adv.)
- mid-12c., from some + while (n.).
- somewhither (adv.)
- late 14c., from some + whither.
- sommelier (n.)
- wine waiter, 1889, from French sommelier "a butler," originally an officer who had charge of provisions (13c.), from somme "pack" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *salma, corruption of sagma "a pack-saddle," later the pack on the saddle (Isidore of Seville). Also borrowed in 16c.
- somnambulance (n.)
- 1825; see somnambulant + -ance.
- 1819 (n.); 1832 (adj.); see somnambulism + -ant.
- somnambulate (v.)
- 1821, probably a back-formation from somnambulism. Related: Somnambulated; somnambulating.
- somnambulation (n.)
- 1789, noun of action; see somnambulism.
- somnambulism (n.)
- 1786, "walking in one's sleep or under hypnosis," from French somnambulisme, from Modern Latin somnambulus "sleepwalker," from Latin somnus "sleep" (see Somnus) + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).
Originally brought into use during the excitement over "animal magnetism;" it won out over noctambulation. A stack of related words came into use early 19c., such as somnambule "sleepwalker" (1837, from French somnambule, 1690s), earlier somnambulator (1803); as adjectives, somnambulary (1827), somnambular (1820).
- before vowels somn-, word-forming element meaning "sleep," from comb. form of Latin somnus (see Somnus).
- somniferous (adj.)
- "sleep-producing," c. 1600, from Latin somnifer, from somni- "sleep" + ferre "to bear" (see infer). With -ous.
- somniloquy (n.)
- talking in one's sleep, 1847, from somni-, "sleep" + -loquy, from Latin loqui "to speak" (see locution). Related: Somniloquence (1814); somniloquent (1804, Coleridge); somniloquist; somniloquous; somniloquize.
- somnolence (n.)
- late 14c., from Old French sompnolence (14c.), from Latin somnolentia "sleepiness," from somnolentus, from somnus "sleep" (see somnus). Related: Somnolency.
- somnolent (adj.)
- mid-15c., sompnolent, from Old French sompnolent (Modern French somnolent) or directly from Latin somnolentus "sleepy, drowsy," from somnus "sleep" (see Somnus). Respelled 17c. on Latin model.
- Somnus (n.)
- "sleep personified; the god of sleep in Roman mythology," equivalent of Greek Hypnos, son of Night and brother of Death, 1590s, from Latin somnus "sleep, drowsiness," from PIE *swep-no-, from root *swep- (1) "to sleep" (cognates: Sanskrit svapnah, Avestan kvafna-, Greek hypnos, Lithuanian sapnas, Old Church Slavonic sunu, Old Irish suan, Welsh hun "sleep," Latin sopor "a deep sleep," Old English swefn, Old Norse svefn "a dream").
- son (n.)
- Old English sunu "son, descendant," from Proto-Germanic *sunuz (cognates: Old Saxon and Old Frisian sunu, Old Norse sonr, Danish søn, Swedish son, Middle Dutch sone, Dutch zoon, Old High German sunu, German Sohn, Gothic sunus "son"). The Germanic words are from PIE *su(e)-nu- "son" (cognates: Sanskrit sunus, Greek huios, Avestan hunush, Armenian ustr, Lithuanian sunus, Old Church Slavonic synu, Russian and Polish syn "son"), a derived noun from root *seue- (1) "to give birth" (cognates: Sanskrit sauti "gives birth," Old Irish suth "birth, offspring").
Son of _____ as the title of a sequel to a book or movie is recorded from 1917 ("Son of Tarzan"). Most explanations for son of a gun (1708) are more than a century after its appearance. Henley (1903) describes it as meaning originally "a soldier's bastard;" Smyth's "Sailor's Word-Book" (1867) describes it as "An epithet conveying contempt in a slight degree, and originally applied to boys born afloat, when women were permitted to accompany their husbands to sea ...."
- son of a bitch
- 1707 as a direct phrase, but implied much earlier, and Old Norse had bikkju-sonr. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918; form sumbitch attested in writing by 1969.
Abide þou þef malicious!
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]
Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]
Elsewhere, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, Mencken writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."
It was in 1934 also that the New York Daily News, with commendable frankness, in reporting a hearing in Washington at which Senator Huey P. Long featured, forsook the old-time dashes and abbreviations and printed the complete epithet "son of a bitch." [Stanley Walker, "City Editor," 1934]
- son-in-law (n.)
- late 14c., from son + in-law.
- sonant (adj.)
- 1846, from Latin sonantem (nominative sonans), present participle of sonare "make a noise," (see sonata). As a noun from 1849.
- sonar (n.)
- apparatus for detection underwater, 1946, from first letters of "sound navigation ranging," on pattern of radar.
- sonata (n.)
- 1690s, from Italian sonata "piece of instrumental music," literally "sounded" (i.e. "played on an instrument," as opposed to cantata "sung"), fem. past participle of sonare "to sound," from Latin sonare "to sound," from PIE *swene-, from root *swen- "to sound" (see sound (n.1)). Meaning narrowed by mid-18c. toward application to large-scale works in three or four movements.
- sonatina (n.)
- short or simplified sonata, 1801, a diminutive of sonata (see -ina).
- sone (n.)
- unit of loudness, 1936, from Latin sonus (see sound (n.1)).
- song (n.)
- Old English sang "voice, song, art of singing; metrical composition adapted for singing, psalm, poem," from Proto-Germanic *sangwaz (cognates: Old Norse söngr, Norwegian song, Swedish sång, Old Saxon, Danish, Old Frisian, Old High German, German sang, Middle Dutch sanc, Dutch zang, Gothic saggws), from PIE *songwh-o- "singing, song," from *sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation" (see sing (v.)).
Phrase for a song "for a trifle, for little or nothing" is from "All's Well" III.ii.9 (the identical image, por du son, is in Old French. With a song in (one's) heart "feeling joy" is first attested 1930 in Lorenz Hart's lyric. Song and dance as a form of vaudeville act is attested from 1872; figurative sense of "rigmarole" is from 1895.
- song-bird (n.)
- 1774, from song (n.) + bird (n.1).
- songbook (n.)
- Old English sangboc "church service book;" see song (n.) + book (n.). Meaning "collection of songs bound in a book" is from late 15c.
- songcraft (n.)
- Old English sangcræft "art of singing, composing poetry, or playing an instrument," from song (n.) + craft (n.). Modern use (1855) is a re-formation.
- songster (n.)
- Old English sangystre "female singer;" see song (n.) + -ster. Also of men skilled in singing by mid-14c. Separate fem. form songstress is attested from 1703.
- sonic (adj.)
- 1923, from Latin sonus "sound" (see sound (n.1)) + -ic. Sonic boom is attested from 1952.
- sonless (adj.)
- late 14c., from son + -less.
- sonnet (n.)
- 1557 (in title of Surrey's poems), from Middle French sonnet (1540s) or directly from Italian sonetto, literally "little song," from Old Provençal sonet "song," diminutive of son "song, sound," from Latin sonus "sound" (see sound (n.1)).
Originally in English also "any short lyric poem;" precise meaning is from Italian, where Petrarch (14c.) developed a scheme of an eight-line stanza (rhymed abba abba) followed by a six-line stanza (cdecde, the Italian sestet, or cdcdcd, the Sicilian sestet). Shakespeare developed the English Sonnet for his rhyme-poor native tongue: three Sicilian quatrains followed by a heroic couplet (ababcdcdefefgg). The first stanza sets a situation or problem, and the second comments on it or resolves it.
- sonnetteer (n.)
- minor or unimportant poet, 1660s, from Italian sonettiere, from sonetto (see sonnet). As a verb from 1797 (implied in sonnetteering.
- sonny (n.)
- "small boy," 1833, from son + -y (3). As a familiar form of address to one younger or inferior, from 1852. The song "Sonny Boy" (Jolson) was popular 1928.
- sonogram (n.)
- 1956, from comb. form of Latin sonus (see sound (n.1)) + -gram. Related: Sonograph (1951).
- Mexican state, from Spanish sonora "sonorous" (from Latin sonoros; see sonorous), supposedly so called in reference to marble deposits there which rang when struck.
- sonority (n.)
- 1620s, from French sonorité and directly from Latin sonoritas "fullness of sound," from sonorus (see sonorous).