sophism (n.) Look up sophism at
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).
sophist (n.) Look up sophist at
"one who makes use of fallacious arguments," mid-15c., earlier sophister (late 14c.), from Latin sophista, sophistes, from Greek sophistes "a master of one's craft; a wise or prudent man, one clever in matters of daily life," from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "skilled in a handicraft, cunning in one's craft; clever in matters of everyday life, shrewd; skilled in the sciences, learned; clever; too clever," of unknown origin. Greek sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and at Athens, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt.
Sophists taught before the development of logic and grammar, when skill in reasoning and in disputation could not be accurately distinguished, and thus they came to attach great value to quibbles, which soon brought them into contempt. [Century Dictionary]
sophistic (adj.) Look up sophistic at
1540s, from Latin sophisticus, from Greek sophistikos "like a sophist, sophistical," from sophistes (see sophist). Related: Sophistical (late 15c.); sophistically (late 14c.).
sophisticate (v.) Look up sophisticate at
c. 1400, "make impure by admixture," from Medieval Latin sophisticatus, past participle of sophisticare (see sophistication). From c. 1600 as "corrupt, delude by sophistry;" from 1796 as "deprive of simplicity." Related: Sophisticated; sophisticating. As a noun meaning "sophisticated person" from 1921.
sophisticated (adj.) Look up sophisticated at
c. 1600, "mixed with a foreign substance, impure; no longer simple or natural," past participle adjective from sophisticate (v.). Of persons, with a positive sense, "worldly-wise, discriminating, cultured," from 1895.
sophistication (n.) Look up sophistication at
early 15c., "use of sophistry; fallacious argument intended to mislead; adulteration; an adulterated or adulterating substance," from Medieval Latin sophisticationem (nominative sophisticatio), noun of action from past participle stem of sophisticare "adulterate, cheat quibble," from Latin sophisticus "of sophists," from Greek sophistikos "of or pertaining to a sophist," from sophistes "a wise man, master, teacher" (see sophist). Meaning "wordly wisdom, refinement, discrimination" is attested from 1850.
sophistry (n.) Look up sophistry at
"specious but fallacious reasoning," mid-14c., from Old French sophistrie (Modern French sophisterie), from Medieval Latin sophistria, from Latin sophista, sophistes (see sophist). "Sophistry applies to reasoning as sophism to a single argument" [Century Dictionary].
Sophocles Look up Sophocles at
Athenian tragic poet (c. 496-406 B.C.E.), the name is Greek Sophokles, literally "famed for wisdom," from sophos "wise" (see sophist) + *-kles "fame" (see Damocles). Related: Sophoclean.
sophomore (n.) Look up sophomore at
1680s, "student in the second year of university study," literally "arguer," altered from sophumer (1650s, from sophume, archaic variant form of sophism), probably by influence of folk etymology derivation from Greek sophos "wise" + moros "foolish, dull." The original reference might be to the dialectic exercises that formed a large part of education in the middle years. At Oxford and Cambridge, a sophister (from sophist with spurious -er as in philosopher) was a second- or third-year student (what Americans would call a "junior" might be a senior sophister).
sophomoric (adj.) Look up sophomoric at
"characteristic of a sophomore" (regarded as self-assured and opinionated but crude and immature), 1806, from sophomore + -ic.
Sophronia Look up Sophronia at
fem. proper name, from Greek sophronia, from sophron (genitive sophronos) "discreet, prudent, sensible, having control over sensual desires, moderate, chaste," literally "of sound mind," from sos "safe, sound, whole" + phren "midriff, heart, mind" (see phreno-).
sophrosyne (n.) Look up sophrosyne at
the quality of wise moderation; Greek, "prudence, moderation in desires, discretion, temperance," from sophron "of sound mind, prudent, temperate" (see Sophronia).
sopor (n.) Look up sopor at
Latin, "deep sleep, lethargy," from PIE *swep-os-, suffixed form of root *swep- (1) "to sleep" (see Somnus).
soporific (adj.) Look up soporific at
"tending to produce sleep," 1680s, from French soporifique (17c.), formed in French from Latin sopor (genitive soporis) "deep sleep" (see sopor). As a noun from 1722. Earlier as an adjective was soporiferous (1580s as "characterized by excessive sleep," c. 1600 as "soporific").
sopping (adj.) Look up sopping at
"very wet," 1877, from sop (v.) "to drench with moisture" (1680s), from sop (n.).
soppy (adj.) Look up soppy at
"very wet," 1823, from sop + -y (2). Meaning "sentimental" first recorded 1918. Related: Soppiness.
soprano (n.) Look up soprano at
1738, "the highest singing voice," ranging easily through the two octaves above middle C, from Italian soprano "the treble in music," literally "high," from sopra "above," from Latin supra, fem. ablative singular of super (see super-). Meaning "a singer having a soprano voice" is from 1738. As an adjective from 1730. Soprano saxophone is attested from 1859.
sora (n.) Look up sora at
small, short-billed North American bird species, the Carolina rail, 1705, probably from a native name.
Sorb (n.) Look up Sorb at
1843, from German Sorbe, from Slavic Serb, the national designation. Slavic people surviving in Lusatia, eastern Saxony, also known as Wends. Related: Sorbian (1836); earlier Sorabian (1788), from Medieval Latin Sorabi.
sorb (n.) Look up sorb at
"fruit of the service tree," 1520s, from French sorbe, from Latin sorbum "service-berry" (small, edible fruit of the European mountain ash), from sorbus, of uncertain origin.
sorbet (n.) Look up sorbet at
1580s, "cooling drink of fruit juice and water," from French sorbet (16c.), probably from Italian sorbetto, from Turkish serbet (see sherbet). Perhaps influenced in form by Italian sorbire "to sip." Meaning "semi-liquid water ice as a dessert" first recorded 1864.
sorbic (adj.) Look up sorbic at
1815, in sorbic acid, so called because it was first isolated from the berries of the mountain ash (see sorb).
Sorbonne Look up Sorbonne at
1560, from Sorbon, place name in the Ardennes. Theological college in Paris founded by Robert de Sorbon (1201-1274), chaplain and confessor of Louis IX. As an academic institution, most influential 16c.-17c., suppressed during the Revolution.
sorcerer (n.) Look up sorcerer at
early 15c., "conjurer of evil spirits," displacing earlier sorcer (late 14c.), from Old French sorcier, from Medieval Latin sortarius "teller of fortunes by lot; sorcerer" (also source of Spanish sortero, Italian sortiere-; see sorcery). With superfluous -er, as in poulterer, upholsterer; perhaps the modern form of the word is back-formed from sorcery. Sorcerer's apprentice translates l'apprenti sorcier, title of a symphonic poem by Paul Dukas (1897) based on a Goethe ballad ("Der Zauberlehrling," 1797), but the common figurative use of the term (1952) comes after Disney's "Fantasia" (1940).
sorceress (n.) Look up sorceress at
late 14c., from Anglo-French sorceresse, from sorcer (see sorcerer).
sorcerous (adj.) Look up sorcerous at
1540s, from sorcery + -ous.
sorcery (n.) Look up sorcery at
c. 1300, "witchcraft, magic, enchantment; act or instance of sorcery; supernatural state of affairs; seemingly magical works," from Old French sorcerie, from sorcier "sorcerer, wizard," from Medieval Latin sortiarius "teller of fortunes by lot; sorcerer," literally "one who influences fate or fortune," from Latin sors (genitive sortis) "lot, fate, fortune" (see sort (n.)).
sord (n.) Look up sord at
"flock of mallards," 15c., perhaps from sord (v.) "to take flight," from Old French sordre "arise, stand up," from Latin surgere "to rise" (see surge (n.)).
sordid (adj.) Look up sordid at
early 15c., "festering," from Latin sordidus "dirty, filthy, foul, vile, mean, base," from sordere "be dirty, be shabby," related to sordes "dirt, filth," from PIE *swrd-e-, from root *swordo- "black, dirty" (source also of Old English sweart "black"). Sense of "foul, low, mean" first recorded 1610s. Related: Sordidly; sordidness.
sore (adj.) Look up sore at
Old English sar "painful, grievous, aching, sad, wounding," influenced in meaning by Old Norse sarr "sore, wounded," from Proto-Germanic *saira- "suffering, sick, ill" (source also of Old Frisian sar "painful," Middle Dutch seer, Dutch zeer "sore, ache," Old High German ser "painful," Gothic sair "pain, sorrow, travail"), from PIE root *sai- (1) "suffering" (source also of Old Irish saeth "pain, sickness").

Adverbial use (as in sore afraid) is from Old English sare but has mostly died out (replaced by sorely), but remains the main meaning of German cognate sehr "very." Slang meaning "angry, irritated" is first recorded 1738.
sore (n.) Look up sore at
Old English sar "bodily pain or injury, wound; sickness, disease; state of pain or suffering," from root of sore (adj.). Now restricted to ulcers, boils, blisters. Compare Old Saxon ser "pain, wound," Middle Dutch seer, Dutch zeer, Old High German ser, Old Norse sar, Gothic sair.
sorehead (n.) Look up sorehead at
"mean, discontented person," 1848, American English, from sore (adj.) + head (n.). Especially in 19c. U.S. political slang, a person who is dissatisfied through lack of recognition or reward for party service (1862).
sorely (adv.) Look up sorely at
Old English sarlice "grievously, mournfully, bitterly, painfully;" see sore (adj.) + -ly (2).
sorghum (n.) Look up sorghum at
"Indian millet," 1590s, from Modern Latin Sorghum, the genus name, from Italian sorgo "a tall cereal grass," probably from Medieval Latin surgum, suricum (12c.), perhaps a variant of Latin syricum "Syrian," as in Syricum (gramen) "(grass) of Syria," from Syria, a possible source of the plant or its grain in ancient times.
Soroptimist Look up Soroptimist at
international society of business women and women executives, first club formed 1921 in Oakland, Calif., U.S., from stem of sorority + optimist, probably after the Optimist Club.
sororal (adj.) Look up sororal at
1650s, from Latin soror "sister" (see sister) + -al (1).
sorority (n.) Look up sorority at
1530s, "a society of women, body of women united for some purpose," from Medieval Latin sororitas "sisterhood, of or pertaining to sisters," from Latin soror "sister" (see sister). Sense of "women's society in a college or university" attested by 1887 (Alpha Delta Pi claims founding in 1851).
sorosis (n.) Look up sorosis at
"consolidated fleshy multiple fruit" (such as a pineapple), 1831, from Modern Latin, from Greek soros "a heap."
sorrel (adj.) Look up sorrel at
"reddish brown," especially of horses, mid-14c., from Old French sorel, from sor "yellowish-brown," probably from Frankish *saur "dry," or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *sauza- (source also of Middle Dutch soor "dry," Old High German soren "to become dry," Old English sear "withered, barren;" see sere). Perhaps a diminutive form in French.
sorrel (n.) Look up sorrel at
small perennial plant, late 14c., from Old French surele (12c., Modern French surelle), from sur "sour," from Frankish *sur or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *sura- "sour" (source also of Old High German, Old English sur "sour;" see sour (adj.)). So called for the taste of its leaves.
sorrow (n.) Look up sorrow at
Old English sorg "grief, regret, trouble, care, pain, anxiety," from Proto-Germanic *sorg- (source also of Old Saxon sorga, Old Norse sorg, Middle Dutch sorghe, Dutch zorg, Old High German soraga, German sorge, Gothic saurga), perhaps from PIE *swergh- "to worry, be sick" (source also of Sanskrit surksati "cares for," Lithuanian sergu "to be sick," Old Church Slavonic sraga "sickness," Old Irish serg "sickness"). Not connected etymologically with sore (adj.) or sorry.
sorrow (v.) Look up sorrow at
Old English sorgian, from sorg (see sorrow (n.)). Related: Sorrowed; sorrowing. Compare Dutch zorgen, German sorgen, Gothic saurgan.
sorrowful (adj.) Look up sorrowful at
Old English sorgful "sad, anxious, careful; distressing, doleful;" see sorrow (n.) + -ful. Related: Sorrowfully; sorowfulness.
sorry (adj.) Look up sorry at
Old English sarig "distressed, grieved, full of sorrow" (not found in the physical sense of "sore"), from Proto-Germanic *sairiga- "painful" (source also of Old Saxon serag, Middle Dutch seerigh "sore; sad, sorry," Dutch zeerig "sore, full of sores," Old High German serag, Swedish sårig "sore, full of sores"), from *sairaz "pain" (physical and mental); related to *saira- "suffering, sick, ill" (see sore (adj.)). Meaning "wretched, worthless, poor" first recorded mid-13c. Spelling shift from -a- to -o- by influence of sorrow. Apologetic sense (short for I'm sorry) is attested from 1834; phrase sorry about that popularized 1960s by U.S. TV show "Get Smart." Related: Sorrily; sorriness.
sort (n.) Look up sort at
late 14c., "group of people, animals, etc.; kind or variety of person or animal," from Old French sorte "class, kind," from Latin sortem (nominative sors) "lot; fate, destiny; share, portion; rank, category; sex, class, oracular response, prophecy," from PIE root *ser- (3) "to line up" (source also of Latin serere "to arrange, attach, join;" see series). The sense evolution in Vulgar Latin is from "what is allotted to one by fate," to "fortune, condition," to "rank, class, order." Later (mid-15c.) "group, class, or category of items; kind or variety of thing; pattern, design." Out of sorts "not in usual good condition" is attested from 1620s, with literal sense of "out of stock."
sort (v.) Look up sort at
mid-14c., "to arrange according to type or quality," from Old French sortir "allot, sort, assort," from Latin sortiri "draw lots, divide, choose," from sors (see sort (n.)). In some senses, the verb is a shortened form of assort.
sortie (n.) Look up sortie at
"attack of the besieged upon the besiegers," 1778, from French sortie (16c.), literally "a going out," noun use of fem. past participle of sortir "go out," from Vulgar Latin *surctire, from Latin surrectus, past participle of surgere "rise up" (see surge (n.)).
SOS Look up SOS at
1910, from International Morse code letters, chosen arbitrarily as being easy to transmit and difficult to mistake. Not an initialism (acronym) for "save our ship" or anything else. Won out over alternative suggestion C.Q.D., which is said to mean "come quickly, distress," or "CQ," general call for alerting other ships that a message follows, and "D" for danger. SOS is the telegraphic distress signal only; the oral equivalent is mayday.
sot (n.) Look up sot at
late Old English sott "stupid person, fool," from Old French sot, from Gallo-Roman *sott- (probably related to Medieval Latin sottus, c.800), of uncertain origin, with cognates from Portugal to Germany. Surviving meaning "one who is stupefied with drink" first recorded 1590s. As a verb, it is attested from c. 1200, but usually besot.
soteriological (adj.) Look up soteriological at
1879, from German soteriologisch; see soteriology.