- titillate (v.)
- 1610s, back-formation from titillation. Related: Titillated; titillating.
- titillation (n.)
- early 15c., "pleasing excitement," from Latin titillationem (nominative titillatio) "a tickling," noun of action from past participle stem of titillare "to tickle," imitative of giggling.
- titivate (v.)
- 1805, perhaps from tidy, "with a quasi-Latin ending" [OED] as in cultivate.
- title (n.)
- c.1300, "inscription, heading," from Old French title "title or chapter of a book; position; legal permit" (12c., Modern French titre, by dissimilation), and in part from Old English titul, both from Latin titulus "inscription, label, ticket, placard, heading; honorable appellation, title of honor," of unknown origin. Meaning "name of a book, play, etc." first recorded mid-14c. The sense of "name showing a person's rank" in English is first attested 1580s. Sports championship sense attested from 1913 (originally in lawn tennis), hence titlist (1913).
- title (v.)
- "to furnish with a title," early 14c., from title (n.). Related: Titled; titling.
- titmouse (n.)
- small, active bird, early 14c., titmose, from tit (n.2), expressing something small, + Old English mase "titmouse," from Proto-Germanic *maison (cognates: Dutch mees, German meise), from adj. *maisa- "little, tiny." Spelling influenced 16c. by unrelated mouse, "when mose had long been obsolete as an independent word" [OED]. The proper plural is titmouses.
- titrate (v.)
- 1854, with -ate (2) + French titrer, from titre "standard, title," also "fineness of alloyed gold" (see title (n.)).
- titration (n.)
- in chemistry, "the establishment of a standard strength or degree of concentration of a solution," 1864, noun of action from titrate (v.).
- titter (v.)
- 1610s, "giggle in a suppressed or nervous way," probably of imitative origin. Related: Tittered; tittering. The noun is first recorded 1728.
- titties (n.)
- 1746, tetties (plural), a nursery or dialect diminutive variant of teats (see teat).
Margery. Come, be quite;--be quite, es zey, a grabbling o' wone's Tetties.---Es wont ha' ma Tetties a grabbled zo ; ner es wont be mullad and foulad.---Stand azide; come, gi' o'er. ["Exmoor Courtship, or, A Suitoring Discourse, in the Devonshire Dialect and Mode, near the forest of Exmoor," 1746]
- tittle (n.)
- late 14c., "small stroke or point in writing" (Wyclif, in Matt. v:18), translating Latin apex in Late Latin sense of "accent mark over a vowel," which itself translates Greek keraia (literally "a little horn"), used by the Greek grammarians of the accents and diacritical points, in this case a Biblical translation of Hebrew qots, literally "thorn, prick," used of the little lines and projections by which the Hebrew letters of similar form differ from one another.
Wyclif's word is borrowed from a specialized sense of Latin titulus (see title (n.)), which was used in Medieval Latin (and in Middle English and Old French) to indicate "a stroke over an abridged word to indicate letters missing" (and compare Provençal titule "the dot over -i-").
"As apex was used by the Latin grammarians for the accent or mark over a long vowel, titulus and apex became to some extent synonymous; hence Wyclif's use of titil, titel to render L. apex" [OED]
Compare tilde, which is the Spanish form of the same word.
- titular (adj.)
- 1590s, from or based on Middle French titulaire (16c.), from Latin titulus (see title) + -ar. Related: Titulary.
- tix (n.)
- short for tickets, by 1944 in "Billboard" headlines.
- tizzy (n.)
- 1922, American English colloquial, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to slang tizzy "sixpence piece" (1804), a corruption of tester, a name for the coin (see tester (n.2)).
- TLC (n.)
- by 1953 as an abbreviation of tender loving care.
- Tlingit (n.)
- Indian group in southwestern Alaska and adjacent parts of Canada, 1865, the people's word for themselves, literally "human beings."
- tmesis (n.)
- 1580s, from Greek tmesis "a cutting," related to temnein "to cut," tome "a cutting" (see tome). The separation of the elements of a compound word by the interposition of another word or words (such as a whole nother).
- 1915, abbreviation of trinitrotoluene (1908), from trinitro- indicating three nitro- groups in place of three hydrogen atoms in a compound, + toluene.
- to (prep.)
- Old English to "in the direction of, for the purpose of, furthermore," from West Germanic *to (cognates: Old Saxon and Old Frisian to, Dutch too, Old High German zuo, German zu "to"), from PIE pronomial base *do- "to, toward, upward" (cognates: Latin donec "as long as," Old Church Slavonic do "as far as, to," Greek suffix -de "to, toward," Old Irish do, Lithuanian da-), from demonstrative *de-.
Not found in Scandinavian, where the equivalent of till (prep.) is used. In Old English, the preposition (go to town) leveled with the adverb (the door slammed to) except where the adverb retained its stress (tired and hungry too); there it came to be written with -oo (see too).
The nearly universal use of to with infinitives (to sleep, to dream, etc.) arose in Middle English out of the Old English dative use of to, and it helped drive out the Old English inflectional endings (though in this use to itself is a mere sign, without meaning).
Commonly used as a prefix in Middle English (to-hear "listen to," etc.), but few of these survive (to-do, together, and time references such as today, tonight, tomorrow -- Chaucer also has to-yeere). To and fro "side to side" is attested from mid-14c. Phrase what's it to you "how does that concern you?" (1819) is a modern form of an old question:
Huæd is ðec ðæs?
[John xxi:22, in Lindisfarne Gospel, c.950]
- particle expressing separation, putting asunder, from West Germanic *ti- (cognates: Old Frisian ti-, Old High German zi-, German zer-), from Proto-Germanic *tiz-, cognate with Latin-derived dis-. According to OED, some 125 compound verbs with this element are recorded in Old English; their number declined rapidly in Middle English and disappeared by c.1500 except as conscious archaisms (such as to-shiver "break to pieces;" all to-brast).
- to-do (n.)
- 1570s, from the verb phrase to do, from Old English to don "proper or necessary to be done" (see to + do). Meaning "disturbance, fuss" is first recorded 1827. Similar formation in French affaire, from à "to" + faire "do."
- toad (n.)
- c.1300, from late Old English tadige, tadie, of unknown origin and according to OED with no known cognates outside English. Applied to loathsome persons from 1560s. Toad-strangler "heavy rain" is from 1919, U.S. Southern dialectal.
- toadstone (n.)
- "stone or stone-like object, supposedly magical (with healing or protective power) and found in the heads of certain toads," 1550s, from toad + stone (n.). Translating Greek batrakhites, Medieval Latin bufonites; compare also French crapaudine (13c.), German krötenstein.
The Crapadine or Toadstone, we speak of before, you shall prove to be a true one, if the Toad lift himself so up against it, when it is shew'd or held to him, as if he would come at it, and leap to catch it away: he doth so much envy that Man should have that stone. ["Eighteen Books of the Secrets of Art & Nature," 1661]
- toadstool (n.)
- late 14c., apparently just what it looks like: a fanciful name from Middle English tadde "toad" (see toad) + stole "stool" (see stool). Toads themselves were regarded as highly poisonous, and this word is "popularly restricted to poisonous or inedible fungi, as distinct from edible "mushrooms" [OED]. Compare toad-cheese, a poisonous fungi; toad's meat (1886), a "rustic" term for toadstool.
- toady (n.)
- "servile parasite," 1826, apparently shortened from toad-eater "fawning flatterer" (1742), originally (1620s) "the assistant of a charlatan," who ate a toad (believed to be poisonous) to enable his master to display his skill in expelling the poison. The verb is recorded from 1827. Related: Toadied; toadying.
- toast (v.1)
- "to brown with heat," late 14c., from Old French toster "to toast, to grill, roast, burn" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *tostare (source of Italian tostare, Spanish tostar), frequentative of Latin torrere (past participle tostus) "to parch" (see terrain). Related: Toasted; toasting.
- toast (v.2)
- "to propose or drink a toast," 1700, from toast (n.1). This probably is the source of the Jamaican and U.S. black word meaning "extemporaneous narrative poem or rap" (1962). Related: Toasted; toasting.
- toast (n.1)
- "a call to drink to someone's health," 1700 (but said by Steele, 1709, to date to the reign of Charles II), originally referring to the beautiful or popular woman whose health is proposed and drunk. The custom apparently has its origin in the use of spiced toast (n.2) to flavor drink, the lady being regarded as figuratively adding piquancy to the wine in which her health was drunk. Steele's story ["Tatler," No. 24] is that an (unnamed) beauty of the day was taking the cold waters at Bath, when a gentleman dipped his cup in the water and drank it to her health; another in his company wittily (or drunkenly) replied that, while he did not care for the drink, he would gladly enjoy the toast. Meaning "one whose health is proposed and drunk to" is from 1746. Toast-master attested from 1749.
- toast (n.2)
- "piece of bread browned by fire or dry heat," early 15c., from toast (v.1); originally as something added to wine, ale, etc. From 17c. in the modern sense as something eaten on its own with a spread. Slang meaning "a goner, person or thing already doomed or destroyed" is recorded by 1987, perhaps from notion of computer circuits being "fried," and with unconscious echoes of earlier figurative phrase to be had on toast (1886) "to be served up for eating."
- toaster (n.)
- 1580s, agent noun from toast (v.1). Electrical type is from 1913. In reference to a person who proposes or pledges a drinking toast, from 1704 (from toast (v.2)). Toaster-oven attested from 1957.
- toasty (adj.)
- "warm and comfortable," 1882, from toast (n.2) + -y (2). Related: Toastiness.
- tobacco (n.)
- 1580s, from Spanish tabaco, in part from an Arawakan language of the Caribbean (probably Taino), said to mean "a roll of tobacco leaves" (according to Las Casas, 1552) or "a kind of pipe for smoking tobacco" (according to Oviedo, 1535). Scholars of Caribbean languages lean toward Las Casas' explanation. But Spanish tabaco (also Italian tabacco) was a name of medicinal herbs from early 15c., from Arabic tabbaq, attested since 9c. as the name of various herbs. So the word may be in part a European one transferred to an American plant. The West Indian island of Tobago was said to have been named by Columbus in 1498 from Haitian tambaku "pipe," in reference to the native custom of smoking dried tobacco leaves [Room].
Cultivation in France began 1556 with an importation of seed by Andre Thevet; introduced in Spain 1558 by Francisco Fernandes. Tobacco Road as a mythical place representative of rural Southern U.S. poverty is from the title of Erskine Caldwell's 1932 novel. Early German and Portuguese accounts of Brazil also record another name for tobacco, bittin or betum, evidently a native word in South America, which made its way into 17c. Spanish, French, and English as petun, petumin, etc., and which is preserved in petunia and butun, the Breton word for "tobacco."
Many haue giuen it [tobacco] the name, Petum, whiche is in deede the proper name of the Hearbe, as they whiche haue traueiled that countrey can tell. [John Frampton, translation of Nicolás Monardes' "Joyful Newes Oute of the Newe Founde Worlde," 1577]
- tobacconist (n.)
- "dealer in tobacco," 1650s, from tobacco + -ist + abnormal inserted consonant; earlier meaning was "person addicted to tobacco" (1590s).
- masc. proper name, from Late Latin Tobias, from Greek Tobias, from Hebrew Tobhiyyah, literally "the Lord is my Good," from Hebrew tobh "good." Toby is a short form.
- toboggan (n.)
- "long, flat-bottomed sled," 1829, from Canadian French tabagane, from an Algonquian language, such as Maleseet /thapaken/. The verb is recorded from 1846. As American English colloquial for a type of long woolen cap, it is recorded from 1929 (earlier toboggan cap, 1928), presumably because one wore such a cap while tobogganing.
- familiar form of masc. proper name Tobias, in various colloquial usages, such as "jug" (1840), "drinking mug in the form of a stout old man;" as a type of collar (1882) it refers to that worn by the dog Toby in 19c. Punch and Judy shows. Also in Toby show (by 1942, American English) "comedy act based on the stock character of a boisterous, blundering yokel."
- word used for the letter T in radio communication, 1898.
- toccata (n.)
- 1724, from Italian toccata, from toccare "to touch," from Vulgar Latin *toccare (see touch (v.)). "A composition for a keyboard instrument, intended to exhibit the touch and technique of the performer, and having the air of an improvisation" [OED].
- in reference to an extinct people and Indo-European language of Chinese Turkestan, 1927, from French tocharien, from Greek Tokharoi (Strabo), name of an Asiatic people who lived in the Oxus valley in ancient times. Earlier Tocharish (1910), from German tocharisch. The identification of this culture with the people named by Strabo was suggested in 1907 by F.W.K. Müller and "is obviously erroneous" (Klein).
- tocsin (n.)
- "alarm bell," 1580s, from Middle French toquassen "an alarm bell, the ringing of an alarm bell" (late 14c.), from Old Provençal tocasenh, from tocar "to strike" (from Vulgar Latin *toccare "strike a bell;" see touch (v.)) + senh "bell, bell note," from Late Latin signum "bell, ringing of a bell," in Latin "mark, signal" (see sign (n.)). The current English spelling is from 1794, adopted from modern French.
- today (adv.)
- Old English todæge, to dæge "on (this) day," from to "at, on" (see to) + dæge, dative of dæg "day" (see day). Meaning "in modern times" is from c.1300. As a noun from 1530s. Generally written as two words until 16c., after which it usually was written to-day until early 20c.
Similar constructions exist in other Germanic languages, such as Dutch van daag "from-day," Danish and Swedish i dag "in day." German heute is from Old High German hiutu, from Proto-Germanic *hiu tagu "on (this) day," with first element from PIE pronomial stem *ki-, represented by Latin cis "on this side."
- masc. proper name, also a surname (late 12c.), from Middle English todde "fox," a Northern English word of unknown origin.
- toddle (v.)
- "to run or walk with short, unsteady steps," c.1600, Scottish and northern British, of uncertain origin, possibly related to totter (1530s); an earlier sense of "to toy, play" is found c.1500. Related: Toddled; toddling.
- toddler (n.)
- 1793, agent noun from toddle. Toddlekins is from 1839.
- toddy (n.)
- 1610s, alteration of taddy (1610s), tarrie (c.1600) "beverage made from fermented palm sap," from Hindi tari "palm sap" (in which the -r- sounds close to an English -d-), from tar "palm tree," from Sanskrit tala-s, probably from a Dravidian language (compare Kannada tar, Telugu tadu). Meaning "beverage made of alcoholic liquor with hot water, sugar, and spices" first recorded 1786.
- toe (n.)
- Old English ta "toe" (plural tan), contraction of *tahe (Mercian tahæ), from Proto-Germanic *taihwo (cognates: Old Norse ta, Old Frisian tane, Middle Dutch te, Dutch teen (perhaps originally a plural), Old High German zecha, German Zehe "toe"). Perhaps originally meaning "fingers" as well (many PIE languages still use one word to mean both fingers and toes), and thus from PIE root *deik- "to show" (see diction).
Þo stode hii I-armed fram heued to þe ton. [Robert of Gloucester, "Chronicle," c.1300]
The old plural survived regionally into Middle English as tan, ton. To be on (one's) toes "alert, eager" is recorded from 1921. To step on (someone's) toes in the figurative sense "give offense" is from late 14c. Toe-hold "support for the toe of a boot in climbing" is from 1880.
- toe (v.)
- "touch or reach with the toes," 1813, from toe (n.). First recorded in expression toe the mark, which seems to be nautical in origin.
The chief mate ... marked a line on the deck, brought the two boys up to it, making them "toe the mark." [R.H. Dana, "Two Years Before the Mast," 1840]
Related: Toed; toeing.
- toenail (n.)
- also toe-nail, 1690s, from toe (n.) + nail (n.).
- toff (n.)
- lower-class London slang for "stylish dresser, man of the smart set," 1851, said by OED to be probably an alteration of tuft, formerly an Oxford University term for a nobleman or gentleman-commoner (1755), in reference to the gold ornamental tassel worn on the caps of undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge whose fathers were peers with votes in the House of Lords.
- toffee (n.)
- 1825, tuffy, toughy, southern British dialectal variant of taffy. Modern spelling recorded by 1843.