- target (v.)
- "to use as a target," 1837, from target (n.). Earlier it meant "to shield" (1610s). Related: Targeted; targeting.
- tariff (n.)
- 1590s, "arithmetical table," also "official list of customs duties on imports or exports; law regulating import duties," from Italian tariffa "tariff, price, assessment," Medieval Latin tarifa "list of prices, book of rates," from Arabic ta'rif "information, notification, a making known; inventory of fees to be paid," verbal noun from arafa "he made known, he taught." Sense of "classified list of charges made in a business" is recorded from 1757. The U.S. Tariff of Abominations was passed in 1828.
- tarmac (n.)
- 1903, Tarmac, a trademark name, short for tarmacadam (1882) "pavement created by spraying tar over crushed stone," from tar (n.1) + John L. McAdam (see macadam). By 1919, tarmac was being used generally in Great Britain for "runway."
- tarn (n.)
- late 14c., mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin, from Old Norse tjörn "small mountain lake without visible tributaries," from Proto-Germanic *terno, perhaps originally "water hole" [Barnhart]. A dialectal word popularized by the Lake poets.
- tarnation (n.)
- 1784, American English alteration of darnation (itself a euphemism for damnation), influenced by tarnal (1790), a mild profanity, clipped from phrase by the Eternal (God) (see eternal).
- tarnish (v.)
- mid-15c. (transitive), from present participle stem of Middle French ternir "dull the luster or brightness of, make dim" (15c.), probably from Old French terne (adj.) "dull, dark," which according to Diez is from a Germanic source cognate with Old High German tarnjan "to conceal, hide," Old English dyrnan "to hide, darken," from Proto-Germanic *darnjaz (see dern), but there are difficulties of form, sense, and date. Intransitive sense from 1670s. Figurative sense is from 1690s. Related: Tarnished; tarnishing.
- tarnish (n.)
- 1713, from tarnish (v.).
- taro (n.)
- tropical food plant, 1769, from Polynesian (Tahitian or Maori) taro. Compare Hawaiian kalo.
- taroc (n.)
- 1610s, name of an old card game of Italy, Austria, etc., played originally with a 78-card deck that includes four suits, four face-cards each, plus the tarot cards as trumps; from Old Italian tarocchi (plural); see tarot.
- tarot (n.)
- 1590s, from French tarot (16c.), from Old Italian tarocchi (plural), of unknown origin, perhaps from Arabic taraha "he rejected, put aside." The deck first was used in Italy 14c., as playing cards as well as for fortune-telling. The tarots, strictly speaking, are the 22 figured cards added to the 56-card suits pack.
- tarp (n.)
- 1906, American English, informal shortening of tarpaulin.
- tarpaulin (n.)
- c. 1600, evidently a hybrid from tar (n.1) + palling, from pall "heavy cloth covering" (see pall (n.)); probably so called because the canvas sometimes is coated in tar to make it waterproof. Originally tarpawlin, tarpawling, etc., the spelling settled down early 18c.
- Tarpeian rock (n.)
- rock face on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, from which persons convicted of treason were thrown headlong, from Latin (mons) Tarpeius "(rock) of Tarpeia," said to have been a Vestal virgin who betrayed the capitol to the Sabines and was buried at the foot of the rock. Her name probably is of Etruscan-Tyrrhenian origin.
- tarpon (n.)
- large fish (Megalops atlanticus) of the herring family, 1680s, of uncertain origin, probably from a Native American word. Also formerly called jew-fish.
- tarragon (n.)
- Artemisia Dracunculus, Eastern European plant of the wormwood genus, 1530s, from Medieval Latin tragonia, from Byzantine Greek tarchon, from Arabic tarkhon, from a non-Arabic source, perhaps Greek drakon "serpent, dragon" (via drakontion "dragonwort"); see dragon. From the same source come Spanish taragona, Italian targone, French estragon (with unetymological prefix). Its aromatic leaves long have been used for flavoring (especially vinegar).
- tarry (v.)
- early 14c., "to delay, retard" (transitive), of uncertain origin. Some suggest a connection to Latin tardare "to delay," or Old English tergan, tirgan "to vex, irritate, exasperate, provoke," which yielded a Middle English verb identical in form to this one. Intransitive meaning "to linger" is attested from late 14c. Related: Tarried; tarrying; tarrysome.
- tarry (adj.)
- 1550s, from tar (n.1) + -y (2). Tarry-fingered "dishonest, thieving" is from 1825.
- tarsal (adj.)
- "of or pertaining to the ankle or instep," 1817, from tarsus (n.1) + -al (1), or from medical Latin tarsalis.
- tarsus (n.)
- the ankle bones collectively, 1670s, Modern Latin, from Greek tarsos "ankle, sole of the foot, rim of the eyelid," originally "flat surface, especially for drying," from PIE root *ters- "to dry" (source also of Greek teresesthai "to be or become dry," tersainein "to make dry;" Latin terra "land, ground, soil," torrere "dry up, parch;" see terrain). The connecting notion is the bones of the "flat" of the foot (Greek tarsos podos).
- tart (adj.)
- "having a sharp taste," 1520s, also attested once, obscurely, from late 14c., perhaps from Old English teart "painful, sharp, severe, rough" (in reference to punishment, pain, suffering), from Germanic *ter-t-, from PIE *der- (2) "to split, flay, peel" (see tear (v.1)), but the gap in the record is unexplained. Figurative use, with reference to words, speech, etc., is attested from c. 1600. Related: Tartly; tartness, both also absent in Middle English.
- tart (n.1)
- "small pie," late 14c., from Old French tarte "flat, open-topped pastry" (13c.), possibly an alteration of torte, from Late Latin torta "round loaf of bread" (in Medieval Latin "a cake, tart"), perhaps from past participle of torquere "to twist."
- tart (n.2)
- 1887, "prostitute, immoral woman," from earlier use as a term of endearment to a girl or woman (1864), sometimes said to be a shortening of sweetheart. But another theory traces it to jam-tart (see tart (n.1)), which was British slang early 19c. for "attractive woman." Diminutive tartlet attested from 1890. To tart (something) up is from 1938. Related: Tarted.
- tartan (n.)
- "kind of woolen fabric," mid-15c., perhaps from Middle French tiretaine "strong, coarse fabric" (mid-13c.), from Old French tiret "kind of cloth," from tire "silk cloth," from Medieval Latin tyrius "cloth from Tyre" (see Tyrian).
If this is the source, spelling likely influenced in Middle English by tartaryn "rich silk cloth" (mid-14c.), from Old French tartarin "Tartar cloth," from Tartare "Tartar," the Central Asian people (see Tartar). Specific meaning "woolen or worsted cloth woven with crossing stripes of colors" is from c. 1500, formerly a part of the distinctive dress of Scottish Highlanders, each clan having its particular pattern.
- tartar (n.)
- "bitartrate of potash" (a deposit left during fermentation), late 14c., from Old French tartre, from Medieval Latin tartarum, from late Greek tartaron "tartar encrusting the sides of wine casks," perhaps of Semitic origin, but if so the exact source has not been identified. The purified substance is cream of tartar. Used generally in 17c. of encrustations from liquid contact; specific meaning "encrustation on teeth" (calcium phosphate) is first recorded 1806.
- mid-14c. (implied in Tartary, "the land of the Tartars"), from Medieval Latin Tartarus, from Persian Tatar, first used 13c. in reference to the hordes of Ghengis Khan (1202-1227), said to be ultimately from Tata, a name of the Mongols for themselves. Form in European languages probably influenced by Latin Tartarus "hell" (e.g. letter of St. Louis of France, 1270: "In the present danger of the Tartars either we shall push them back into the Tartarus whence they are come, or they will bring us all into heaven").
The historical word for what now are called in ethnological works Tatars. A Turkic people, their native region was east of the Caspian Sea. Ghengis' horde was a mix of Tatars, Mongols, Turks, etc. Used figuratively for "savage, rough, irascible person" (1660s). To catch a Tartar "get hold of what cannot be controlled" is recorded from 1660s; original sense not preserved, but probably from some military story similar to the old battlefield joke:
Irish soldier (shouting from within the brush): I've captured one of the enemy.
Among the adjectival forms that have been used are Tartarian (16c.), Tartarous (Ben Jonson), Tartarean (17c.); Byron's Tartarly (1821) is a nonce-word (but a good one). Tartar sauce is first recorded 1855, from French sauce tartare.
Captain: Excellent! Bring him here.
Soldier: He won't come.
Captain: Well, then, you come here.
Soldier: I would, but he won't let me.
- tartaric (adj.)
- 1790, from tartar + -ic.
- Tartarus (n.)
- in Homer and older Greek mythology, the sunless abyss below Hades, from Greek Tartaros, of uncertain origin; "prob. a word of imitative origin, suggestive of something frightful" [Klein]. Later in Greek almost synonymous with Hades.
- Tartuffe (n.)
- "pretender to piety," 1670s, from name of the principal character in the comedy by Molière (1664), apparently from Old French tartuffe "truffle" (see truffle), perhaps chosen for suggestion of concealment (Tartuffe is a religious hypocrite), or "in allusion to the fancy that truffles were a diseased product of the earth." Italian Tartufo is said to have been the name of a hypocritical character in Italian comedy.
- name of character in a series of novels by U.S. fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), introduced 1914.
- Taser (n.)
- 1972, formed (probably on model of laser, etc.) from the initials of Tom Swift's electric rifle, a fictitious weapon. A word that threatens to escape the cage of its copyright, despite the strenuous efforts of the owners, who are within their rights to fight to hold it. They also insist, via their attorneys, that it be written all in capitals. Tom Swift was the hero of a series of early 20c. American sci-fi/adventure novels, one of which was titled "Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle." It seems to have spawned a verb, taze or tase. Related: Tased; tasing.
- task (n.)
- early 14c., "a quantity of labor imposed as a duty," from Old North French tasque (12c., Old French tasche, Modern French tâche) "duty, tax," from Vulgar Latin *tasca "a duty, assessment," metathesis of Medieval Latin taxa, a back-formation of Latin taxare "to evaluate, estimate, assess" (see tax (v.)). General sense of "any piece of work that has to be done" is first recorded 1590s. Phrase take one to task (1680s) preserves the sense that is closer to tax.
German tasche "pocket" is from the same Vulgar Latin source (via Old High German tasca), with presumable sense evolution from "amount of work imposed by some authority," to "payment for that work," to "wages," to "pocket into which money is put," to "any pocket."
- task (v.)
- 1520s, "impose a task upon;" 1590s, "to burden, put a strain upon," from task (n.). Related: Tasked; tasking.
- task-force (n.)
- 1941, originally military; see task (n.) + force (n.).
- taskmaster (n.)
- "overseer, one who imposes a task," 1520s, from task (n.) + master (n.).
- Tasmania (n.)
- 1853, named for Dutch navigator Abel Tasman (1603-1659), who discovered it in 1642. It was called by him Van Diemen's Land for the Dutch governor-general of the East Indies. The Tasmanian devil so called since at least 1829, from its propensity for killing young lambs (other voracious fish or animals also have been named devil).
- Tass (n.)
- official news agency of the former U.S.S.R., an acronym of Russian Telegrafnoje Agenstvo Sovjetskeho Sojuza "Telegraphic Agency of the Soviet Union."
- tassel (n.)
- c. 1300, "mantle fastener," from Old French tassel "tassel, fringe, hem; a fastening, clasp" (12c., Modern French tasseau), from Vulgar Latin *tassellus, said to be from Latin taxillus "small die or cube," a diminutive of talus "knucklebone (used as a die in gaming), ankle" (see talus (n.1)). But OED finds this doubtful and calls attention to the variant form tossel and suggests association with toss (v.). Meaning "hanging bunch of small cords" is first recorded late 14c.
- taste (v.)
- c. 1300, "to touch, to handle," from Old French taster "to taste, sample by mouth; enjoy" (13c.), earlier "to feel, touch, pat, stroke" (12c., Modern French tâter), from Vulgar Latin *tastare, apparently an alteration (perhaps by influence of gustare) of taxtare, a frequentative form of Latin taxare "evaluate, handle" (see tax (v.)). Meaning "to take a little food or drink" is from c. 1300; that of "to perceive by sense of taste" is recorded from mid-14c. Of substances, "to have a certain taste or flavor," it is attested from 1550s (replaced native smack (v.3) in this sense). For another PIE root in this sense, see gusto.
The Hindus recognized six principal varieties of taste with sixty-three possible mixtures ... the Greeks eight .... These included the four that are now regarded as fundamental, namely 'sweet,' 'bitter,' 'acid,' 'salt.' ... The others were 'pungent' (Gk. drimys, Skt. katuka-), 'astringent' (Gk. stryphnos, Skt. kasaya-), and, for the Greeks, 'rough, harsh' (austeros), 'oily, greasy' (liparos), with the occasional addition of 'winy' (oinodes). [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]
Sense of "to know by experience" is from 1520s. Related: Tasted; tasting. Taste buds is from 1879; also taste goblets.
- taste (n.)
- early 14c., "act of tasting," from Old French tast "sense of touch" (Modern French tât), from taster (see taste (v.)). From late 14c. as "a small portion given;" also "faculty or sense by which the flavor of a thing is discerned;" also "savor, sapidity, flavor."
Meaning "aesthetic judgment, faculty of discerning and appreciating what is excellent" is first attested 1670s (compare French goût, German geschmack, Russian vkus, etc.).
Of all the five senses, 'taste' is the one most closely associated with fine discrimination, hence the familiar secondary uses of words for 'taste, good taste' with reference to aesthetic appreciation. [Buck]
Taste is active, deciding, choosing, changing, arranging, etc.; sensibility is passive, the power to feel, susceptibility of impression, as from the beautiful. [Century Dictionary]
- tasteful (adj.)
- 1610s, "having an agreeable taste;" from taste + -ful. From 1756 as "having or showing good taste." Related: Tastefully; tastefulness.
- tasteless (adj.)
- 1590s, "unable to taste;" c. 1600, "uninteresting, insipid" (figurative); 1610s, "having no taste;" 1670s, "tactless;" from taste (n.) + -less. Related: Tastelessly; tastelessness.
- tasty (adj.)
- 1610s, "having agreeable flavor, palatable," from taste (n.) + -y (2); in late 18c. it also could mean "tasteful, elegant" (from the secondary sense of taste (n.)). Related: Tastiness.
- tat (v.)
- 1882, "to do tatting," back-formation from tatting.
- tatami (n.)
- Japanese floor-mat, 1610s, from Japanese tatami.
- Tatar (n.)
- see Tartar.
- tater (n.)
- 1759, representing colloquial pronunciation of potato.
- tatter (n.)
- c. 1400, tatrys (plural) "slashed garments," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse töturr "rags, tatters, tattered garment," cognate with Old English tættec, tætteca "rag, tatter." Related: Tatters.
- tatterdemalion (n.)
- "ragged child, person dressed in old clothes," c. 1600, probably from tatter (n.), with fantastic second element, but perhaps also suggested by Tartar, with a contemporary sense of "vagabond, gypsy."
- tattered (adj.)
- mid-14c., tatrid, "clad in slashed garments," from tatter (n.) or its Scandinavian source.
- tattersall (n.)
- fabric with small and even check pattern, 1891, so called because it was similar to the traditional design of horse blankets, in reference to Tattersall's, a famous London horse market and gambler's rendezvous, founded 1766 by Richard Tattersall (1724-1795). The surname is from the place in Lincolnshire, which is said to represent "Tathere's nook," "probably in the sense 'nook of dry ground in marsh'." [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]