- characteristic name of a Welshman, c. 1700, from Teifi, Welsh form of Davy (see David).
- surname, from a variant of Old English toft "homestead, site of a house."
- tag (n.1)
- "small, hanging piece from a garment," c. 1400, of uncertain origin but probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian tagg "point, prong, barb," Swedish tagg "prickle, thorn") and related to Middle Low German tagge "branch, twig, spike"), from Proto-Germanic *tag-. The sense development might be "point of metal at the end of a cord, string, etc.," hence "part hanging loose." Or perhaps ultimately from PIE *dek-, a root forming words referring to fringe, horsetail, locks of hair" (see with tail (n.1)).
Meaning "a label" is first recorded 1835; sense of "automobile license plate" is recorded from 1935, originally underworld slang. Meaning "an epithet, popular designation" is recorded from 1961, hence slang verb meaning "write graffiti in public places" (1990).
- tag (n.2)
- "children's game," 1738 (in reference to "Queen Mary's reign"), perhaps a variation of Scottish tig "touch, tap" (1721), probably an alteration of Middle English tek "touch, tap" (see tick (n.2)). Baseball sense is from 1912.
- tag (v.1)
- "to furnish with a tag," late 14c. (implied in tagged), from tag (n.1). Meaning "go along as a follower" is from 1670s; sense of "follow closely and persistently" is from 1884. Related: Tagging. Verbal phrase tag along is first recorded 1900.
- tag (v.2)
- "a touch in the game of tag," 1878; in baseball, 1904, from tag (n.2); the adjective in the pro-wrestling sense is recorded from 1955. Related: Tagged; tagging.
- Tagalog (n.)
- people living near Manila in the Philippines, also their language, 1704, from Tagalog taga "native to" + ilog "river."
- tagliatelle (n.)
- 1876, from Italian tagliatelle, plural noun from tagliare "to cut" (see entail).
- tagline (n.)
- "punchline of a joke," 1926, originally "last line in an actor's speech" (1916), from tag (n.1) + line (n.).
- tahini (n.)
- from Arabic tahina, from tahana "to grind or crush."
- from native Polynesian Otahiti, of uncertain meaning. It was called in turn Sagittaria (1606, by the Portuguese), King George III Island (1767, by the British), Nouvelle-Cythère (1768, by the French). Related: Tahitian.
- Lake on the Nevada-California border, from Washo /da'aw/ "lake."
- Tai (n.)
- group of people of related ethnicity and language in Southeast Asia, including the Thai, Lao, and Shan, from tai, literally "free."
- tai chi (n.)
- 1736, the "supreme ultimate" in Taoism and Neo-Confucianism, from Chinese tai "extreme" + ji "limit." As the name of a form of martial arts training (said to have been developed by a priest in the Sung dynasty, 960-1279) it is first attested 1962, in full, tai chi ch'uan, with Chinese quan "fist."
- taiga (n.)
- belt of coniferous forests in Siberia, 1869, from Russian taiga, which is of Mongolian origin.
- tail (n.1)
- "hindmost part of an animal," Old English tægl, tægel "a tail," from Proto-Germanic *tagla- (cognates: Old High German zagal, German Zagel "tail," dialectal German Zagel "penis," Old Norse tagl "horse's tail," Gothic tagl "hair"), from PIE *doklos, from suffixed form of root *dek- (2) "something long and thin" (referring to such things as fringe, lock of hair, horsetail; cognates: Old Irish dual "lock of hair," Sanskrit dasah "fringe, wick"). According to OED, the primary sense, at least in Germanic, seems to have been "hairy tail," or just "tuft of hair," but already in Old English the word was applied to the hairless "tails" of worms, bees, etc. But Buck writes that the common notion is of "long, slender shape." As an adjective from 1670s.
Meaning "reverse side of a coin" (opposite the side with the head) is from 1680s; that of "backside of a person, buttocks" is recorded from c. 1300; slang sense of "pudenda" is from mid-14c.; that of "woman as sex object" is from 1933, earlier "act of copulation" with a prostitute (1846). Of descending strokes of letters, from 1590s.
Tails "coat with tails" is from 1857. The tail-race (1776) is the part of a mill race below the wheel. To turn tail "take flight" (1580s) originally was a term in falconry. The image of the tail wagging the dog is attested from 1907. Another Old English word for "tail" was steort (see stark).
- tail (n.2)
- "limitation of ownership," a legal term, early 14c. in Anglo-French; late 13c. in Anglo-Latin, in most cases a shortened form of entail.
- tail (v.)
- 1520s, "attach to the tail," from tail (n.1). Meaning "move or extend in a way suggestive of a tail" is from 1781. Meaning "follow secretly" is U.S. colloquial, 1907, from earlier sense of "follow or drive cattle." Related: Tailed; tailing. Tail off "diminish" is attested from 1854.
- tail-bone (n.)
- also tailbone, 1540s, from tail (n.1) + bone (n.).
- tail-end (n.)
- late 14c., from tail (n.1) + end (n.).
- tail-gate (n.)
- 1868, back panel on a wagon, hinged to swing down and open, from tail (n.1) + gate (n.). Extended by 1950 to hatchback door on an automobile. The verb (also tailgate) meaning "to drive too close behind another vehicle" is from 1951 ("Truck drivers know the practice of following too close as tail-gating" - "Popular Science," Jan. 1952); as an adjective, in reference to the open tail-gate of a parked car as a setting for a party or picnic, from 1958. Related: Tail-gating.
- tail-hook (n.)
- 1861, in angling, from tail (n.1) + hook (n.).
- tail-pipe (n.)
- also tailpipe, 1757, "small pipe fixed at the swell of a musket to receive the ramrod," from tail (n.1) + pipe (n.). From 1832 as "suction pipe of a pump;" 1907 as "exhaust pipe of an automobile."
- tailor (n.)
- c. 1300, from Anglo-French tailour, Old French tailleor "tailor," also "stone-mason" (13c., Modern French tailleur), literally "a cutter," from tailler "to cut," from Late Latin or old Medieval Latin taliare "to split" (compare Medieval Latin taliator vestium "a cutter of clothes"), from Latin talea "a slender stick, rod, staff; a cutting, twig."
Although historically the tailor is the cutter, in the trade the 'tailor' is the man who sews or makes up what the 'cutter' has shaped. [OED]
The post-Latin sense development would be "piece of a plant cut for grafting," hence a verb, "cut a shoot," then, generally, "to cut." Possible cognates include Sanskrit talah "wine palm," Old Lithuanian talokas "a young girl," Greek talis "a marriageable girl" (for sense, compare slip of a girl, twiggy), Etruscan Tholna, name of the goddess of youth.
Kent. ... You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
One who makes outer garments to order, as opposed to a clothier, who makes them for sale ready-made. Tailor-made first recorded 1832 (in a figurative sense); literal sense was "heavy and plain, with attention to exact fit and with little ornamentation," as of women's garments made by a tailor rather than a dress-maker.
Corn. Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone cutter, or a painter, could not have made him so ill, though they had been but two hours at the trade.
- tailor (v.)
- 1660s, from tailor (n.). Figurative sense of "to design (something) to suit needs" is attested from 1942. Related: Tailored; tailoring.
- tailspin (n.)
- "downward spiraling dive of an aircraft," 1916, from tail (n.1) + spin (n.). Figurative sense of "state of loss of control" is from 1928.
- tain (n.)
- "thin tin plate for mirrors, etc.," 1858, from French tain "tinfoil" (17c.), an alteration of étain "tin," from Latin stagnum, stannum "alloy of silver and lead," in Late Latin "tin" (see stannic).
- from Taino nitayno "the first, the good."
- taint (v.)
- 1570s, "to corrupt, contaminate," also "to touch, tinge, imbue slightly" (1590s), from Middle English teynten "to convict, prove guilty" (late 14c.), partly from Old French ataint, past participle of ataindre "to touch upon, seize" (see attainder). Also from Anglo-French teinter "to color, dye" (early 15c.), from Old French teint (12c.), past participle of teindre "to dye, color," from Latin tingere (see tincture). Related: Tainted; tainting.
- taint (n.)
- c. 1600, "stain, spot," from Old French teint "color, hue, dye, stain," from Latin tinctus "a dyeing," from tingere "to dye" (see tincture). Meaning "a moral stain, corruption, contaminating influence" is from 1610s.
- literally "terrace bay," from Chinese tai "terrace" + wan "bay." Related: Taiwanese.
- Taj Mahal (n.)
- mausoleum at Agra, India, built by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, from Persian, perhaps "the best of buildings," with second element related to Arabic halla "to lodge." But some authorities hold that the name of the mausoleum is a corruption of the name of the woman interred in it, Mumtaz (in Persian, literally "chosen one") Mahal, who died in 1631. Persian taj is literally "crown, diadem, ornamental headdress," but here denoting an object of distinguished excellence. Figurative use of Taj Mahal in English as a name denoting anything surpassing or excellent is attested from 1895.
- take (v.)
- late Old English tacan "to take, seize," from a Scandinavian source (such as Old Norse taka "take, grasp, lay hold," past tense tok, past participle tekinn; Swedish ta, past participle tagit), from Proto-Germanic *takan- (cognates: Middle Low German tacken, Middle Dutch taken, Gothic tekan "to touch"), from Germanic root *tak- "to take," of uncertain origin, perhaps originally meaning "to touch." As the principal verb for "to take," it gradually replaced Middle English nimen, from Old English niman, from the usual West Germanic *nem- root (source of German nehmen, Dutch nemen; see nimble).
OED calls take "one of the elemental words of the language;" take up alone has 55 varieties of meaning in that dictionary's 2nd print edition. Basic sense is "to lay hold of," which evolved to "accept, receive" (as in take my advice) c. 1200; "absorb" (take a punch) c. 1200; "choose, select" (take the high road) late 13c.; "to make, obtain" (take a shower) late 14c.; "to become affected by" (take sick) c. 1300.
Take five is 1929, from the approximate time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Take it easy first recorded 1880; take the plunge "act decisively" is from 1876; take the rap "accept (undeserved) punishment" is from 1930. Phrase take it or leave it is recorded from 1897. To take it out on (someone or something) "vent one's anger on other than what caused it" is by 1840.
- take (n.)
- 1650s, "that which is taken," from take (v.). Sense of "money taken in" by a single performance, etc., is from 1931. Movie-making sense is recorded from 1927. Criminal sense of "money acquired by theft" is from 1888. The verb sense of "to cheat, defraud" is from 1920. On the take "amenable to bribery" is from 1930.
- takeaway (adj.)
- also take-away, 1964 in reference to food-shops, from take (v.) + away. From 1970 as a noun.
- past participle of take (v.).
- takeoff (n.)
- also take-off, "caricature," colloquial, 1846, from earlier sense of "thing that detracts from something, drawback" (1826), from take (v.) + off (adv.). Meaning "act of becoming airborne" is from 1904 in reference to aircraft; in reference to jumping, it is attested from 1869. Verbal phrase take off "become airborne" is from 1918, in reference to aircraft; figurative use "rise suddenly and dramatically" by 1963.
- takeout (adj.)
- also take-out, in reference to food prepared at a restaurant but not eaten there, 1941, from take (v.) + out. British equivalent is takeaway.
- takeover (n.)
- 1917, "an act of taking over," from verbal phrase take over (1884), from take (v.) + over (adv.). Attested from 1958 in the corporate sense.
- taker (n.)
- "one who takes" in any sense, late 14c., agent noun from take (v.). Specifically "one who accepts a bet" from 1810.
- talaria (n.)
- "winged sandals of Hermes (Mercury)" and often other gods (Iris, Eros, the Fates and the Furies), 1590s, from Latin talaria, noun use of neuter plural of talaris "of the ankle," from talus "ankle" (see talus (n.1)).
- talbearer (n.)
- also tale-bearer, late 15c., from tale (n.) + agent noun from bear (v.).
- talc (n.)
- 1580s, talke, from Middle French talc (16c.), probably from Spanish talco and Medieval Latin talcus, also talcum "talc" (ealy 14c.), both from Arabic talq, from Persian talk "talc." "It was applied by the Arab and medieval writers to various transparent, translucent and shining minerals such as talc proper, mica, selenite, etc." [Flood]. Related: Talcoid; talcose; talcous.
- talcum (n.)
- 1550s, from Medieval Latin talcum, used for any of various shiny minerals. See talc. Talcum powder attested from 1871.
- tale (n.)
- Old English talu "series, calculation," also "story, tale, statement, deposition, narrative, fable, accusation, action of telling," from Proto-Germanic *talo (cognates: Dutch taal "speech, language," Danish tale "speech, talk, discourse," German Erzählung "story," Gothic talzjan "to teach"), from PIE root *del- (2) "to recount, count." The secondary Modern English sense of "number, numerical reckoning" (c. 1200) probably was the primary one in Germanic; see tell (v.), teller and Old Frisian tale, Middle Dutch tal, Old Saxon tala, Danish tal, Old High German zala, German Zahl "number."
The ground sense of the Modern English word in its main meaning, then, might have been "an account of things in their due order." Related to talk (v.) and tell (v.). Meaning "things divulged that were given secretly, gossip" is from mid-14c.; first record of talebearer "tattletale" is late 15c.
- talent (n.)
- late 13c., "inclination, disposition, will, desire," from Old French talent (12c.), from Medieval Latin talenta, plural of talentum "inclination, leaning, will, desire" (11c.), in classical Latin "balance, weight; sum of money," from Greek talanton "a balance, pair of scales," hence "weight, definite weight, anything weighed," and in later times sum of money," from PIE *tele- "to lift, support, weigh," "with derivatives referring to measured weights and thence money and payment" [Watkins]; see extol.
An ancient denomination of weight, originally Babylonian (though the name is Greek), and varying widely in value among different peoples and at different times. [Century Dictionary]
According to Liddell & Scott, as a monetary sum, considered to consist of 6,000 drachmae, or, in Attica, 57.75 lbs. of silver. Also borrowed in other Germanic languages and Celtic. Attested in Old English as talente). The Medieval Latin and common Romanic sense developed from figurative use of the word in the sense of "money." Meaning "special natural ability, aptitude, gift committed to one for use and improvement" developed by mid-15c., in part perhaps from figurative sense "wealth," but mostly from the parable of the talents in Matt. xxv:14-30. Meaning "persons of ability collectively" is from 1856.
- talented (adj.)
- 1630s, "having skills or abilities," from talent (n.). There was a verb talent in 15c., but it meant "predispose."
- talesman (n.)
- "reserve member of a jury," 1670s, from tales "writ ordering bystanders to serve" in place of jurors not in attendance (late 15c.), via Anglo-French (mid-13c.), from Latin tales (in tales de circumstantibus "such persons from those standing about," a clause featured in such a writ), noun use of plural of talis "such, of such kind" (see that).
- Taliban (n.)
- Sunni fundamentalist movement begun in Afghanistan, Pashto plural of Arabic tālib "student;" so called because it originated among students in Pakistani religious schools. Group formed c. 1993. Often incorrectly treated as singular in English.
- talipes (n.)
- "club-foot, deformed foot," from Latin talus "ankle" (see talus (n.1)) + pes "foot," from PIE root *ped- (1) "a foot" (see foot (n.)). The notion seems to be "walking on the ankles."