somnambulance (n.) Look up somnambulance at
1825; see somnambulant + -ance.
somnambulant Look up somnambulant at
1819 (n.); 1832 (adj.); see somnambulism + -ant.
somnambulate (v.) Look up somnambulate at
1821, probably a back-formation from somnambulism, from French somnambulisme, from Modern Latin somnambulus "sleepwalker," from Latin somnus "sleep" (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep") + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)). Related: Somnambulated; somnambulating.
somnambulation (n.) Look up somnambulation at
1789, noun of action; see somnambulism.
somnambulism (n.) Look up somnambulism at
1786, "walking in one's sleep or under hypnosis," from French somnambulisme, from Modern Latin somnambulus "sleepwalker," from Latin somnus "sleep" (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep") + 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).
somni- Look up somni- at
before vowels somn-, word-forming element meaning "sleep," from comb. form of Latin somnus "sleep, slumber," from PIE root *swep- "to sleep."
somniferous (adj.) Look up somniferous at
"sleep-producing," c. 1600, with -ous + Latin somnifer, from somni- "sleep" (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep") + ferre "to bear, carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children."
somniloquy (n.) Look up somniloquy at
talking in one's sleep, 1847, from somni- "sleep" + -loquy, from Latin loqui "to speak" (from PIE root *tolkw- "to speak"). Related: Somniloquence (1814); somniloquent (1804, Coleridge); somniloquist; somniloquous; somniloquize.
somnolence (n.) Look up somnolence at
late 14c., from Old French sompnolence (14c.), from Latin somnolentia "sleepiness," from somnolentus, from somnus "sleep" (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep"). Related: Somnolency.
somnolent (adj.) Look up somnolent at
mid-15c., sompnolent, from Old French sompnolent (Modern French somnolent) or directly from Latin somnolentus "sleepy, drowsy," from somnus "sleep" (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep"). Respelled 17c. on Latin model.
Somnus (n.) Look up Somnus at
"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-, suffixed form of root *swep- "to sleep."
son (n.) Look up son at
Old English sunu "son, descendant," from Proto-Germanic *sunuz (source also of 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" (source also of 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" (source also of 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 Look up son of a bitch at
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!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
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.) Look up son-in-law at
late 14c., from son + in-law.
sonant (adj.) Look up sonant at
1846, from Latin sonantem (nominative sonans), present participle of sonare "make a noise, sound," from PIE *swene-, from root *swen- "to sound" (see sound (n.1)). As a noun from 1849.
sonar (n.) Look up sonar at
apparatus for detection underwater, 1946, from first letters of "sound navigation ranging," on pattern of radar.
sonata (n.) Look up sonata at
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.) Look up sonatina at
short or simplified sonata, 1801, a diminutive of sonata (q.v.); also see -ina.
sone (n.) Look up sone at
unit of loudness, 1936, from Latin sonus (see sound (n.1)).
song (n.) Look up song at
Old English sang "voice, song, art of singing; metrical composition adapted for singing, psalm, poem," from Proto-Germanic *sangwaz (source also of 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.) Look up song-bird at
1774, from song (n.) + bird (n.1).
songbook (n.) Look up songbook at
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.) Look up songcraft at
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.) Look up songster at
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.) Look up sonic at
1923, from Latin sonus "sound" (see sound (n.1)) + -ic. Sonic boom is attested from 1952.
sonless (adj.) Look up sonless at
late 14c., from son + -less.
sonnet (n.) Look up sonnet at
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.) Look up sonnetteer at
minor or unimportant poet, 1660s, from Italian sonettiere, from sonetto (see sonnet). As a verb from 1797 (implied in sonnetteering.
sonny (n.) Look up sonny at
"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.) Look up sonogram at
1956, from comb. form of Latin sonus (see sound (n.1)) + -gram. Related: Sonograph (1951).
Sonora Look up Sonora at
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.) Look up sonority at
1620s, from French sonorité and directly from Latin sonoritas "fullness of sound," from sonorus (see sonorous).
sonorous (adj.) Look up sonorous at
1610s, from Latin sonorus "resounding," from sonor "sound, noise," from sonare "to sound, make a noise," "to sound," from PIE *swene-, from root *swen- "to sound" (see sound (n.1)). Related: Sonorously; sonorousness. Earlier was sonouse (c. 1500), from Medieval Latin sonosus; sonourse "having a pleasing voice" (c. 1400), from sonor + -y (2).
sook (n.) Look up sook at
variant of souk.
soon (adv.) Look up soon at
Old English sona "at once, immediately, directly, forthwith," from Proto-Germanic *sæno (source also of Old Frisian son, Old Saxon sana, Old High German san, Gothic suns "soon"). Sense softened early Middle English to "within a short time" (compare anon, just (adv.)). American English. Sooner for "Oklahoma native" is 1930 (earlier "one who acts prematurely," 1889), from the 1889 opening to whites of what was then part of Indian Territory, when many would-be settlers sneaked onto public land and staked their claims "sooner" than the legal date and time.
soot (n.) Look up soot at
Old English sot "soot," from Proto-Germanic *sotam "soot" (source also of Old Norse sot, Old Dutch soet, North Frisian sutt), literally "what settles," from PIE *sodo- (source also of Old Church Slavonic sažda, Lithuanian suodžiai, Old Irish suide, Breton huzel "soot"), suffixed form of root *sed- (1) "to sit."
sooterkin (n.) Look up sooterkin at
1680s, imaginary rat-like after-birth believed to be gotten by Dutch women by sitting over stoves, 1680s.
sooth (n.) Look up sooth at
Old English soð "truth, justice, righteousness, rectitude; reality, certainty," noun use of soð (adj.) "true, genuine, real; just, righteous," originally *sonð-, from Proto-Germanic *santhaz (source also of Old Norse sannr, Old Saxon soth, Old High German sand "true," Gothic sunja "truth").

The group is related to Old English synn "sin" and Latin sontis "guilty" (truth is related to guilt via "being the one;" see sin (v.)), from PIE *hes-ont- "being, existence," thus "real, true" (from present participle of root *es- "to be"), also preserved in Latin sunt "they are" and German sind.

Archaic in English, it is the root of modern words for "true" in Swedish (sann) and Danish (sand). In common use until mid-17c., then obsolete until revived as an archaism early 19c. by Scott, etc. Used for Latin pro- in translating compounds into Old English, such as soðtacen "prodigy," soðfylgan "prosequi."
soothe (v.) Look up soothe at
Old English soðian "show to be true," from soð "true" (see sooth). Sense of "quiet, comfort, mollify" is first recorded 1690s, via notion of "to assuage one by asserting that what he says is true" (i.e. to be a yes-man), a sense attested from 1560s (and compare Old English gesoð "a parasite, flatterer"). Meaning "reduce the intensity" (of a pain, etc.) is from 1711. Related: Soothed; soothing.
soothfast (adj.) Look up soothfast at
"truthful," Old English soðfæst "true, trustworthy, honest, just righteous;" see sooth (n.) + -fast. Related: Old English soðfæstnes "truthfulness, fairness, fidelity;" soðfæstlic "true, sincere;" soðfæstlice "truly, honestly."
soothing (adj.) Look up soothing at
1590s, "flattering," from present participle of soothe. Sense of "mollifying" is from 1746. Related: Soothingly.
soothsay (v.) Look up soothsay at
c. 1600, back-formation from soothsayer. As a noun from 1540s.
soothsayer (n.) Look up soothsayer at
mid-14c., zoþ ziggere (Kentish), "one who speaks truth,;" late 14c., sothseggere, "fortune-teller;" see sooth + say. Old English had soðsagu "act of speaking the truth."
sooty (adj.) Look up sooty at
mid-13c., from soot + -y (2). Related: Sootily; sootiness.
sop (n.) Look up sop at
Old English sopp- "bread soaked in some liquid," (in soppcuppe "cup into which sops are put"), from Proto-Germanic *supp-, related to Old English verb suppan (see sup (v.2)), probably reinforced by Old French soupe (see soup (n.)). Meaning "something given to appease" is from 1660s, a reference to the sops given by the Sibyl to Cerberus in the "Aeneid."
sop (v.) Look up sop at
Old English soppian, from the source of sop (n.). Related: Sopped; sopping.
sopaipilla (n.) Look up sopaipilla at
also sopapilla, by 1983, from Mexican Spanish, ultimately from Old Spanish sopa "food soaked in liquid," from a Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *sup- (see sup (v.2)).
soph (n.) Look up soph at
shortened form of sophomore, 1778; from 1660s as short for sophister.
Sophia Look up Sophia at
fem. proper name, from Greek sophia "skill, knowledge of, acquaintance with; sound judgement, practical wisdom; cunning, shrewdness; philosophy," also "wisdom personified," abstract noun from sophos "wise" (see sophist). Saint Sophia in ancient church names and place names in the East is not necessarily a reference to a person; the phrase also is the English translation of the Greek for "divine wisdom, holy wisdom," to which churches were dedicated.
Sophie Look up Sophie at
French form of Sophia (q.v.).