- thankless (adj.)
- "likely to not be rewarded with thanks," 1540s, from thank + -less. Related: Thanklessly.
- thanks (n.)
- mid-14c., from thank (v.).
- thanksgiving (n.)
- 1530s, "the giving of thanks," from thanks (n.) + present participle of give (v.). In the specific sense of "public celebration acknowledging divine favors" thanksgiving dates from 1630s (the first one in America was held October 1621 by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims in appreciation of assistance from members of the Massasoit tribe and celebration of the first harvest); though Thanksgiving Day itself is not attested until 1670s.
- that (pron.)
- Old English þæt, neuter singular of the demonstrative pronoun and adjective (corresponding to masc. se, fem. seo), from Proto-Germanic *that, from PIE *tod-, extended form of demonstrative pronomial base *to- (cf. Sanskrit ta-, Lithuanian and Old Church Slavonic to, Greek to "the," Latin talis "such"). Cf. the.
Emerged c.1200 as a demonstrative adjective with the breakdown of the Old English grammatical gender system, perhaps by influence of French and Latin, which had demonstrative adjectives (Old English did not). Slang that way "in love" first recorded 1929. That-a-way is recorded from 1839. "Take that!" said while delivering a blow, is recorded from early 15c.
- thatch (v.)
- Old English þeccan "to cover," related to þæc "roof, thatching material," from Proto-Germanic *thakan (cf. Old Saxon thekkian, Old Norse þekja, Old Frisian thekka, Middle Dutch decken, Old High German decchen, German decken "to cover"), from PIE *(s)tog-/*(s)teg- "cover" (see stegosaurus).
- thatch (n.)
- Old English þæc "roof, thatch," from the source of thatch (v.). Cf. Old Norse þak, Old Frisian thek, Middle Dutch dak "roof," Old High German dah, German Dach "roof."
- thatcher (n.)
- early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname); agent noun from thatch (v.).
- thaught (n.)
- "rower's bench," 1620s, alteration of thoft, from Old English þofte, from Proto-Germanic *thufto- (cf. Dutch doft, German ducht), from PIE *tupta-, from root *tup- "to squat."
- thaumaturge (n.)
- 1620s (implied in thaumaturgical), from Modern Latin, from Greek thaumatourgos "wonder-working, conjurer," from thauma (genitive thaumatos) "wonder, wonderous thing," literally "a thing to look at" (from root of theater) + ergon "work" (see urge (v.)).
- thaumaturgy (n.)
- 1727, from Greek thaumatourgia, from thaumatourgos (see thaumaturge).
- thaw (n.)
- c.1400, from thaw (v.). Figurative sense of "relaxation of political harshness or hostility" is recorded from 1950, an image from the "Cold War."
- thaw (v.)
- Old English þawian, from Proto-Germanic *thawojanan (cf. Old Norse þeyja, Middle Low German doien, Dutch dooien, Old High German douwen, German tauen "to thaw"), from PIE root *ta- "to melt, dissolve" (cf. Sanskrit toyam "water," Ossetic thayun "to thaw," Welsh tawadd "molten," Doric Greek takein "to melt, waste, be consumed," Old Irish tam "pestilence," Latin tabes "a melting, wasting away, putrefaction," Old Church Slavonic tajati "to melt"). Related: Thawed; thawing.
- thc (n.)
- active ingredient in marijuana and hashish, 1968, short for tetrahydrocannabinol (1940).
- late Old English þe, nominative masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun and adjective. After c.950, it replaced earlier se (masc.), seo (fem.), þæt (neuter), and probably represents se altered by the þ- form which was used in all the masculine oblique cases (see below).
Old English se is from PIE root *so- "this, that" (cf. Sanskrit sa, Avestan ha, Greek ho, he "the," Irish and Gaelic so "this"). For the þ- forms, see that.
The s- forms were entirely superseded in English by mid-13c., excepting dialectal survival slightly longer in Kent. Old English used 10 different words for "the" (see table, below), but did not distinguish "the" from "that." That survived for a time as a definite article before vowels (cf. that one or that other).
Adverbial use in the more the merrier, the sooner the better, etc. is a relic of Old English þy, originally the instrumentive case of the neuter demonstrative þæt (see that).
- fem. proper name, from Greek thea "goddess," fem. equivalent of theos "god," from PIE root *dhes-, root of words applied to various religious concepts, e.g. Latin feriae "holidays," festus "festive," fanum "temple."
- theater (n.)
- late 14c., "open air place in ancient times for viewing spectacles," from Old French theatre (12c.), from Latin theatrum, from Greek theatron "theater," literally "place for viewing," from theasthai "to behold" (cf. thea "a view," theates "spectator") + -tron, suffix denoting place. Meaning "building where plays are shown" (1570s) was transferred to that of "plays, writing, production, the stage" (1660s). Spelling with -re prevailed in Britain after c.1700, but American English retained or revived the older spelling in -er. Generic sense of "place of action" is from 1580s; especially "region where war is being fought" (1914).
The Theatre of the Absurd strives to express its sense of the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of the rational approach by the open abandonment of rational devices and discursive thought. [M. Esslin, "Theatre of the Absurd," 1961]
- theatre (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of theater (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.
- theatrical (adj.)
- 1550s, "pertaining to the theater," from theater + -ical. Sense of "stagy, histrionic" is attested from 1709.
- theatrics (n.)
- 1807, "matters pertaining to the stage," from theater; also see -ics. Meaning "theatrical behavior" is attested from 1929, American English.
- Thebaid (n.)
- 1727, "district around Thebes (in Egypt)," formerly haunted by hermits and ascetics. Also, "pertaining to (Boeotian) Thebes" in Greece, especially in reference to the poem by Statius.
- word-forming element used in botany and zoology, from combining form of Greek theke "case, receptacle," from root of tithenai "to put, place" (see theme).
- thee (pron.)
- Old English þe (accusative and dative singular of þu "thou"), from Proto-Germanic *theke (cf. Old Frisian thi, Middle Dutch di, Old High German dih, German dich, Old Norse þik, Norwegian deg, Gothic þuk), from PIE *tege-. A brief history of the second person pronoun in English can be found here. The verb meaning "to use the pronoun 'thee' to someone" is recorded from 1662, from the rise of Quakerism (see thou).
This was the Bottom upon which the Quakers first set up, to run down all worldly Honour ...; to Thee and Thou; to call no Man Master, or Lord, and not to take off their Hats, or Bow to any. [Charles Leslie, "The Snake in the Grass," 1696]
- theft (n.)
- Old English þeofð (West Saxon þiefð), from Proto-Germanic *theubitho (cf. Old Frisian thiufthe, Old Norse þyfð), from *theubaz "thief" (see thief) + suffix -itha (cognate with Latin -itatem).
- thegn (n.)
- "military tenant of an Anglo-Saxon king," a modern revival first attested 1848; see thane.
- c.1200, from Old Norse þierra, genitive of þeir "they" (see they). Replaced Old English hiera. Use with singular objects, scorned by grammarians, is attested from c.1300. Theirs (c.1300) is a double possessive. Alternative form theirn (1836) is attested in Midlands and southern dialect in U.K. and the Ozarks region of the U.S.
- c.1300, variant of themself, with self, originally an inflected adjective, treated as a noun with a meaning "person." Related: Theirselves.
- theism (n.)
- "belief in a deity," 1670s; see theist. Meaning "belief in one god" (as opposed to polytheism) is recorded from 1711.
- theist (n.)
- 1660s, from Greek theos "god" (see Thea) + -ist. The original senses was that later reserved to deist: "one who believes in a transcendant god but denies revelation." Later in 18c. theist was contrasted with deist, as allowing the possibility of revelation.
- theistic (adj.)
- 1780, from theist + -ic.
- them (pron.)
- c.1200, from Old Norse þeim, dative of þeir "they" (see they). Replaced Old English cognate him, heom. Themselves is c.1500, a northern dialectal variant of Old English heom selfum (dative).
- thematic (adj.)
- 1690s, from Greek thematikos, from thema (see theme). Related: Thematically.
- theme (n.)
- c.1300, from Old French tesme (13c., with silent -s-), from Latin thema "a subject, thesis," from Greek thema "a proposition, subject, deposit," literally "something set down," from root of tithenai "put down, place," from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Extension to music first recorded 1670s; theme song first attested 1929. Theme park is from 1960.
- Greek goddess of law and justice, literally "custom, law, right;" related to theme "that which is placed" (see theme).
- name of great Athenian political leader, from Greek Themistokles, literally "famed in law and right," from themis "custom, law, right" (see Themis) + -kles (see Damocles).
- c.1500, standard from 1540s, replacing themself (cf. theirself). Themself returned late 20c. as some writers took to avoiding himself with gender-neutral someone, anyone, etc.
- adverb of time, from Old English þanne, þænne, þonne, from Proto-Germanic *thana- (cf. Old Frisian thenne, Old Saxon thanna, Dutch dan, Old High German danne, German dann), from PIE demonstrative pronoun root *to- (see the). For further sense development, see than. Similar evolutions in other Germanic languages; Dutch uses dan in both senses, but German has dann (adv.) "then," denn (conj.) "than." Now and then "at various times" is attested from 1550s; earlier then and then (c.1200).
- thence (adv.)
- late 13c., from Old English þanone, þanon "from that place" + adverbial genitive -es. Old English þanone/þanon is from West Germanic *thanana (cf. Old Saxon thanana, Old Norse þana, Old Frisian thana, Old High German danana, German von dannen), related obscurely to the root of then, and ultimately from PIE demonstrative base *to- (see the). Written with -c- to indicate a voiceless "s" sound. From thence is redundant.
- thenceforth (adv.)
- late 14c., from thence + forth.
- thenceforward (adv.)
- mid-15c., from thence + forward.
- masc. proper name, from Medieval Latin Theobaldus, from Old High German Theudobald, from theuda "folk, people" + bald "bold." Form influenced in Medieval Latin by the many Greek-derived names beginning in Theo-.
- theocentric (adj.)
- 1886, from Greek theos "god" (see Thea) + -centric.
- theocracy (n.)
- 1620s, "sacerdotal government under divine inspiration" (as that of Israel before the rise of kings), from Greek theokratia "the rule of God" (Josephus), from theos "god" (see Thea) + kratos "a rule, regime, strength" (see -cracy). Meaning "priestly or religious body wielding political and civil power" is recorded from 1825.
- theocrat (n.)
- 1827, from Greek theos "god" (see Thea) + -crat, from aristocrat, etc. Related: Theocratic.
- theodicy (n.)
- 1799, from French théodicée, title of a work by Leibniz, from Greek theos "god" (see Thea) + dike "judgment, justice, usage, custom" (cognate with Latin dicere "to show, tell;" see diction).
- theodolite (n.)
- 1570s, of unknown origin (see OED for discussion).
- masc. proper name, from Latin Theodorus, from Greek Theodoros, literally "gift of god," from theos "god" (see Thea) + doron "gift" (see date (n.1)).
- fem. proper name, from Greek Theodosia, literally "gift of the gods," from theos "god" (see Thea) + dosis "a giving," from stem of didonai "to give" (see date (n.1)).
- masc. proper name, from Late Latin Theodricus, from Gothic, literally "ruler of the people," cf. Gothic þiuda "people" + *reiks "ruler." For spelling, see Theobald.
- theogony (n.)
- 1610s, "the account of the birth or genealogy of the gods," from Greek theogonia "generation or birth of the gods," from theos "a god" (see Thea) + -gonia "a begetting."
- theologian (n.)
- late 15c., from Old French theologien (14c.); see theology. A petty or paltry theologist is a theologaster (1620s), coined in Medieval Latin by Martin Luther (1518).