toot (n.) Look up toot at
1640s, from toot (v.); meaning "cocaine" is attested by 1977.
toot sweet (adv.) Look up toot sweet at
"right away, promptly," 1917, American English, representing U.S. soldiers' mangled adaptation of French tout de suite.
tooth (n.) Look up tooth at
Old English toð (plural teð), from Proto-Germanic *tan-thuz (cognates: Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Dutch tand, Old Norse tönn, Old Frisian toth, Old High German zand, German Zahn, Gothic tunþus), from PIE *dent- "tooth" (cognates: Sanskrit danta, Greek odontos, Latin dens, Lithuanian dantis, Old Irish det, Welsh dent). Plural form teeth is an instance of i-mutation.

Application to tooth-like parts of other objects (saws, combs, etc.) first recorded 1520s. Tooth and nail as weapons is from 1530s. The tooth-fairy is attested from 1964.
tooth-ache (n.) Look up tooth-ache at
also toothache, Old English toðece; see tooth + ache (n.).
toothbrush (n.) Look up toothbrush at
also tooth-brush, 1650s, from tooth + brush (n.1).
toothless (adj.) Look up toothless at
Old English toðleas, in the literal sense; see tooth + -less. Figurative sense of "dull" is recorded from 1590s; that of "lacking enforcement powers" is first recorded 1961. Related: Toothlessly; toothlessness.
toothpaste (n.) Look up toothpaste at
also tooth-paste, 1832, from tooth + paste (n.). Earlier substances were tooth-powder (1540s); tooth-soap (c. 1600).
toothpick (n.) Look up toothpick at
also tooth-pick, late 15c., from tooth + pick (n.). Old English had toðsticca.
toothsome (adj.) Look up toothsome at
"pleasant to the taste," 1560s, from -some (1) + tooth in a figurative sense of "appetite, taste, liking" attested from late 14c. (compare sweet tooth, also figurative use of palate). The extended sense of "attractive" (1550s) is attested earlier. Related: Toothsomely; toothsomeness.
tootle (v.) Look up tootle at
1820, frequentative of toot (v.). Related: Tootled; tootling.
toots (n.) Look up toots at
slang familiar form of address to a woman or girl, 1936, American English, short for tootsie, tootsy, from tootsy-wootsy (1895), a familiar form of address to a sweetheart, originally a playful or nursery name for a small foot, from childish pronunciation of foot (n.); compare tootsy.
tootsy (n.) Look up tootsy at
also tootsie, 1854, baby-talk substitution for foot (n.). Candy bar Tootsie Roll patent claims use from 1908.
top (n.1) Look up top at
"highest point," Old English top "summit, crest, tuft," from Proto-Germanic *tuppaz (cognates: Old Norse toppr "tuft of hair," Old Frisian top "tuft," Old Dutch topp, Dutch top, Old High German zopf "end, tip, tuft of hair," German Zopf "tuft of hair"); no certain connections outside Germanic except a few Romanic words probably borrowed from Germanic.

Few Indo-European languages have a word so generic, which can be used of the upper part or surface of just about anything. More typical is German, which has Spitze for sharp peaks (mountains), oberfläche for the upper surface of flat things (such as a table). Meaning "highest position" is from 1620s; meaning "best part" is from 1660s. To go over the top is World War I slang for "start an attack," in reference to the top of the trenches; as "beyond reasonable limits, too far" it is recorded from 1968. Top of the world as "position of greatest eminence" is from 1670s. Top-of-the-line (adj.) is by 1950.
top (n.2) Look up top at
"toy that spins on a point," late Old English top, probably a special use of top (n.1), but the modern word is perhaps via Old French topet, which is from or influenced by a Germanic source akin to the root of English top (n.1). As a type of seashell, first recorded 1680s.
top (v.) Look up top at
"put a top on," 1580s, perhaps mid-15c., from top (n.1). Earlier "cut the top off, shave the head" (c. 1300). The meaning "be higher or greater than" also is first recorded 1580s. Meaning "strike (a ball) towards its top" is from 1881. Related: Topped; topping. To top off "to finish" is colloquial from 1836; in sense "fill up, add more to to bring to fullness" it is from 1917.
top (adj.) Look up top at
"being at the top," 1590s, from top (n.1). Top dollar "high price" is from 1942. Top-drawer (1920) is from British expression out of the top drawer "upper-class." Top ten in popular music is from 1945 ("Billboard"). The top dog is the one uppermost in a fight, from 1868 in figurative use, opposed to the underdog.
But if the under dog in the social fight runs away with a bone in violation of superior force, the top dog runs after him bellowing, "Thou shalt not steal," and all the other top dogs unite in bellowing, "This is divine law and not dog law;" the verdict of the top dog so far as law, religion, and other forms of brute force are concerned settles the question. [Van Buren Denslow, "Modern Thinkers: What They Think and Why," 1880]
top-hamper (n.) Look up top-hamper at
1791, originally the upper masts, sails, and rigging of a sailing ship, from top (n.1) + hamper (n.) in the nautical sense of "things necessary but often in the way."
top-hat (n.) Look up top-hat at
also tophat, 1875, from top (n.1) + hat.
top-heavy (adj.) Look up top-heavy at
1530s, from top (n.1) + heavy (adj.).
top-notch (adj.) Look up top-notch at
also top notch, 1848, from top (adj.) + notch (n.). Figurative of the "highest point" of something, but the exact mechanical image is uncertain.
top-sider (n.) Look up top-sider at
kind of casual shoe, 1937, from topside in nautical sense of "upper deck of a ship," where the rubber soles would provide good grip; from top (n.1) + side (n.).
topaz (n.) Look up topaz at
colored crystalline gem, late 13c., from Old French topace (11c.), from Latin topazus (source also of Spanish topacio, Italian topazio), from Greek topazos, topazion, of obscure origin. Pliny says it was named for a remote island in the Red or Arabian Sea, where it was mined, the island so named for being hard to find (from Greek topazein "to divine, to try to locate"); but this might be folk etymology, and instead the word might be from the root of Sanskrit tapas "heat, fire." In the Middle Ages used for almost any yellow stone. To the Greeks and Romans, possibly yellow olivine or yellow sapphire. In modern science, fluo-silicate of aluminum. As a color name from 1908.
tope (v.) Look up tope at
"to drink heavily," 1650s, of unknown origin, perhaps ultimately from Italian toppa "done!" a word signifying acceptance of a bet.
Topeka Look up Topeka at
city in Kansas, U.S.A., from Kansa (Siouan), literally "a good place to dig potatoes;"from /do/ "wild potato" + /ppi/ "good" + /ke/ "to dig."
toper (n.) Look up toper at
"heavy drinker," 1670s, agent noun from tope (v.).
Tophet Look up Tophet at
place near Jerusalem, where, according to the Old Testament, idolatrous Jews made human sacrifice to strange gods; later symbolic of the torments of Hell.
topiary (adj.) Look up topiary at
1590s, from Latin topiarius "of or pertaining to ornamental gardening," as a noun, "ornamental gardening, landscape gardening," also "an ornamental gardener," from topia "ornamental gardening," from Greek topia, plural of topion, originally "a field," diminutive of topos "place" (see topos). The noun is first recorded 1906, from the adjective.
topic (n.) Look up topic at
1630s, "a class of considerations from which probable arguments can be drawn," singular form of "Topics" (1560s), the name of a work by Aristotle on logical and rhetorical generalities, from Latin Topica, from Greek Ta Topika, literally "matters concerning topoi," "commonplaces," neuter plural of noun use of topikos "pertaining to a common place, of a place, local," from topos "place" (see topos). The meaning "matter treated in speech or writing, subject, theme" is first recorded 1720.
topical (adj.) Look up topical at
1580s, "pertaining to a place;" see topic + -al (1). Medical sense "applied to a particular part of the body" is from c. 1600. Meaning "of or pertaining to topics of the day" is from 1873. Related: Topically.
topknot (n.) Look up topknot at
1680s, "a bow;" 1700, "tuft of hair on the head," from top (adj.) + knot (n.).
topless (adj.) Look up topless at
of women, "bare-breasted," 1966, from top (n.1) + -less. Earlier it was used of men's bathing suits (1937) and women's (1964). Earliest sense is "without a visible summit; immeasurably high" (1580s).
topography (n.) Look up topography at
early 15c., "description of a place," from Late Latin topographia, from Greek topographia "a description of a place," from topos "place" (see topos) + -graphia (see -graphy). Meaning "collective features of a region" is from 1847. Related: Topographic; topographical; topographically.
topology (n.) Look up topology at
1650s, "study of the locations where plants are found," from topo-, comb. form of Greek topos "place" (see topos) + -logy. Related: Topological.
toponym (n.) Look up toponym at
1939, "place name," from comb. form of Greek topos "place" (see topos) + -onym "name" (see name (n.)). Toponymy "study of place names" is from 1876. Related: Toponymic; toponymics.
topos (n.) Look up topos at
"literary theme," 1948, from Greek topos, literally "place."
topper (n.) Look up topper at
"the best (of anything)," 1709, originally slang, agent noun from top (v.).
topping (n.) Look up topping at
"an act of putting a top on," c. 1500, verbal noun from top (v.). Meaning "an act of cutting the top off" is from 1510s. Meaning "top layer of a food" is from 1839,
topple (v.) Look up topple at
1580s, "tumble down, fall headfirst," earlier "tumble or roll about" (1540s), from top (v.) "to tip" + frequentative suffix -le. Transitive sense also is from 1590s. Related: Toppled; toppling.
tops (n.) Look up tops at
"the best," 1935, American English colloquial, from top (n.1).
topsoil (n.) Look up topsoil at
also top-soil, 1789, from top (adj.) + soil (n.).
Topsy Look up Topsy at
slave-girl character in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852), immortal in cliche for her response to a question about her origin put to her by the pious Northern abolitionist Miss Ophelia:
"Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?"
The child looked bewildered, but grinned, as usual.
"Do you know who made you?"
"Nobody as I knows on," said the child, with a short laugh.
The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added--
"I spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me."
In addition to being often misquoted by the addition of a "just" (or "jes'"), the line is sometimes used inappropriately in 20c. writing to indicate something that got large without anyone intending it to.
topsy-turvy (adv.) Look up topsy-turvy at
1520s, "but prob. in popular use from an earlier period" [OED]; compare top over terve "to fall over" (mid-15c.); likely from tops, plural of top (n.1) "highest point" + obsolete terve "turn upside down, topple over," from Old English tearflian "to roll over, overturn," from Proto-Germanic *terbanan (cognates: Old High German zerben "to turn round"). Century Dictionary calls it "A word which, owing to its popular nature, its alliterative type, and to ignorance of its origin, leading to various perversions made to suggest some plausible origin, has undergone, besides the usual variations of spelling, extraordinary modifications of form." It lists 31 variations. As an adjective from 1610s.
toque (n.) Look up toque at
kind of round hat, c. 1500, from Middle French toque (15c.), from Spanish toca "woman's headdress," possibly from Arabic *taqa, from Old Persian taq "veil, shawl."
tor (n.) Look up tor at
"high, rocky hill," Old English torr "rock, crag;" said to be a different word than torr "tower." Obviously cognate with Gaelic torr "lofty hill, mound," Old Welsh twrr "heap, pile;" and perhaps ultimately with Latin turris "high structure" (see tower (n.)). But sources disagree on whether the Celts borrowed it from the Anglo-Saxons or the other way round.
Torah (n.) Look up Torah at
"the Pentateuch," 1570s, from Hebrew torah, literally "instruction, law," verbal noun from horah "he taught, showed."
torch (n.) Look up torch at
mid-13c., from Old French torche "torch," also "handful of straw" (for wiping or cleaning, hence French torcher "to wipe, wipe down"), originally "twisted thing," then "torch formed of twisted tow dipped in wax," probably from Vulgar Latin *torca, alteration of Late Latin torqua, from Latin torquere "to twist" (see torque (n.)).

In Britain, also applied to the battery-driven version (in U.S., a flashlight). To pass the torch is an ancient metaphor from the Greek torch-races (lampadedromia) where the goal was to reach the finish line with the torch still burning. Torch-bearer "leader of a cause" is from 1530s. Torch song is 1927 ("My Melancholy Baby," performed by Tommy Lyman, is said to have been the first so called), from carry a torch "suffer an unrequited love" (also 1927), Broadway slang, but the sense is obscure.
torch (v.) Look up torch at
1819, "illuminate with a torch," from torch (n.). Meaning "set fire to" is from 1931. Related: Torched; torching.
torcher (n.) Look up torcher at
"torch-carrier," c. 1600; see torch (n.). Meaning "torch singer" attested by 1940.
torchiere (n.) Look up torchiere at
also torchere, "large, decorated candelabrum," 1910, from French torchère, from torche (see torch (n.)).
torchlight (n.) Look up torchlight at
early 15c., from torch (n.) + light (n.).