- 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, carry" (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).
- sonorous (adj.)
- 1610s, from Latin sonorus "resounding," from sonor "sound, noise," from sonare "to sound" (see sonata). 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.)
- variant of souk.
- soon (adv.)
- 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.)
- Old English sot "soot," from Proto-Germanic *sotam "soot" (cognates: Old Norse sot, Old Dutch soet, North Frisian sutt), literally "what settles," from PIE *sod-o- (cognates: Old Church Slavonic sažda, Lithuanian suodžiai, Old Irish suide, Breton huzel "soot"), suffixed form of root *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary).
- sooterkin (n.)
- 1680s, imaginary rat-like after-birth believed to be gotten by Dutch women by sitting over stoves, 1680s.
- sooth (n.)
- 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 (cognates: 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 *es-ont- "being, existence," thus "real, true," from present participle of root *es-, the s-form of the verb "to be" (see be), 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.)
- 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.)
- "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.)
- 1590s, "flattering," from present participle of soothe. Sense of "mollifying" is from 1746. Related: Soothingly.
- soothsay (v.)
- c. 1600, back-formation from soothsayer. As a noun from 1540s.
- soothsayer (n.)
- 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.)
- mid-13c., from soot + -y (2). Related: Sootily; sootiness.
- sop (n.)
- 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.)
- Old English soppian, from the source of sop (n.). Related: Sopped; sopping.
- sopaipilla (n.)
- 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.)
- shortened form of sophomore, 1778; from 1660s as short for sophister.
- 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.
- French form of Sophia (q.v.).
- sophism (n.)
- early 15c., earlier sophime (mid-14c.), "specious but fallacious argument devised for purposes of deceit or to exercise one's ingenuity," from Old French sophime "a fallacy, false argument" (Modern French sophisme), from Latin sophisma, from Greek sophisma "clever device, skillful act, stage-trick," from stem of sophizesthai "become wise" (see sophist).