- tatting (n.)
- "making of knotted lace; kind of homemade lace," 1832, of uncertain origin. In French, frivolité.
- tattle (v.)
- late 15c., "to stammer, prattle," in Caxton's translation of "Reynard the Fox," probably from Middle Flemish tatelen "to stutter," parallel to Middle Dutch, Middle Low German, East Frisian tateren "to chatter, babble," possibly of imitative origin. The meaning "tell tales or secrets" is first recorded 1580s. Sense influenced by tittle. Related: Tattled; tattling. As a noun from 1520s. Tattler, the name of the famous periodical by Addison and Steele (1709-1711), means "idle talker, a gossip."
- tattletale (n.)
- 1880, from tattle + tale. Probably patterned on telltale (1540s). A 16c. word for "tattle-tale" was pickthank.
- tattoo (n.1)
- "signal calling soldiers or sailors to quarters at night," 1680s, earlier tap-to (1640s), from Dutch taptoe, from tap "faucet of a cask" (see tap (n.1)) + toe "shut, to," from Proto-Germanic *to (see to (prep.)). "So called because police formerly visited taverns in the evening to shut off the taps of casks" [Barnhart]. In 17c. Dutch the phrase apparently was used with a transferred or figurative sense "say no more." In English, transferred sense of "drumbeat" is recorded from 1755. Hence, Devil's tattoo "action of idly drumming fingers in irritation or impatience" (1803).
- tattoo (n.2)
- "pigment design in skin," 1769 (noun and verb, both first attested in writing of Capt. Cook), from a Polynesian noun (such as Tahitian and Samoan tatau, Marquesan tatu "puncture, mark made on skin"). Century Dictionary (1902) describes them as found on sailors and uncivilized people or as a sentence of punishment. Earlier names in English included Jerusalem cross (1690s) in reference to tattoos on the arms of pilgrims to the Holy Land, also Jerusalem letters (1760).
- tattoo (v.)
- "mark the skin with pigment," 1769, tattow, from tattoo (n.2). Related: Tattooed; tattooing. Thackeray has tattooage.
- tatty (adj.)
- 1510s, "tangled or matted" (of hair), Scottish, probably related to Old English tættec "a rag" (see tatter (n.)). Sense of "tattered, ragged, shabby" first recorded 1933.
- nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, from Hebrew taw, last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, literally "sign, mark."
- past tense of teach (v.), from Old English tahte, past tense of tæcan. For the unrelated adjective meaning "stretched or pulled tight," see taut.
- taunt (v.)
- mid-15c. (implied in tauntingly), possibly [Skeat] from Middle French tanter, tenter "to tempt, try, provoke," variant of tempter "to try" (see tempt). Or from Middle French tant pour tant "so much for so much, tit for tat," on notion of "sarcastic rejoinder" (considered by OED the "most likely suggestion"). Related: Taunted; taunting.
- taunt (n.)
- 1520s, "bitter invective," probably from taunt (v.).
- taupe (n.)
- "dark brownish-gray color" (the color of moleskin), 1906, from French taupe, the color, originally "a mole," Old French, from Latin talpa "a mole." The story below lacks evidence and appears to be a fanciful attempt to divert the origin of the color name to something more appealing:
Before the season advances very far you will find that taupe, pronounced "tope," will be the most favored color in the entire category of shades and blendings. The original word is taken from the German word "taube" pronounced "tob-a," which is the name for the dove, but the French have twisted the b into a p and give us taupe. ["The Illustrated Milliner," August, 1906]
- taurine (n.)
- also taurin, chemical substance (aminoethyl-sulphonic acid), 1845, from Latin taurus "bull" (see Taurus) + chemical suffix -ine (2); obtained by German professor Leopold Gmelin in 1826 and so called because it was first found in ox bile.
- taurine (adj.)
- 1610s, from Latin taurus (see Taurus) + -ine (1). In reference to a period in history, it means the time when the sun was in Taurus at the vernal equinox (roughly 4500-1900 B.C.E.).
- tauromachy (n.)
- "bull-fighting," 1830, from Greek tauromakhia; see Taurus + -machy.
- Taurus (n.)
- zodiac constellation, late Old English, from Latin taurus "bull, bullock, steer," also the name of the constellation, from PIE *tau-ro- "bull" (source also of Greek tauros, Old Church Slavonic turu "bull, steer;" Lithuanian tauras "aurochs;" Old Prussian tauris "bison"); from PIE *tauro- "bull," from root *(s)taeu- "stout, standing, strong" (source also of Sanskrit sthura- "thick, compact," Avestan staora- "big cattle," Middle Persian stor "horse, draft animal," Gothic stiur "young bull," Old English steor, see steer (n.)); extended form of root *stā- "to stand" (see stet).
Klein proposes a Semitic origin (compare Aramaic tora "ox, bull, steer," Hebrew shor, Arabic thor, Ethiopian sor). Meaning "person born under the sign of the bull" is recorded from 1901.
At midnight revels when the gossips met,
The Taurid meteors (peaking Nov. 20) so called from 1878.
He was the theme of their eternal chat:
This ask'd what form great Jove would next devise,
And when his godship would again Taurise?
[William Somerville, "The Wife," 1727]
- taut (adj.)
- mid-13c., tohte "stretched or pulled tight," possibly from tog-, past participle stem of Old English teon "to pull, drag," from Proto-Germanic *tugn, from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (see duke (n.)), which would connect it to tow (v.) and tie. Related: Tautness.
- tauten (v.)
- "to make taut," 1814, from taut + -en (1). Intransitive meaning "become taut" is from 1849. Related: Tautened; tautening.
- tautog (n.)
- edible marine fish of the Atlantic coast of North America, 1640s, from Narragansett tautauog, plural of taut. Translated by Roger Williams as "sheep's head."
- tautology (n.)
- 1570s, from Late Latin tautologia "representation of the same thing in other words," from Greek tautologia, from tautologos "repeating what has been said," from tauto "the same" (contraction of to auto, with to "the" + auto, see auto-) + -logos "saying," related to legein "to say" (see lecture (n.)). Related: Tautological.
- tavern (n.)
- late 13c., "wine shop," later "public house" (mid-15c.), from Old French taverne (mid-13c.) "shed made of boards, booth, stall," also "tavern, inn," from Latin taberna "shop, inn, tavern," originally "hut, shed, rude dwelling," possibly [Klein] by dissimilation from *traberna, from trabs (genitive trabis) "beam, timber," from PIE *treb- "dwelling" (source also of Lithuanian troba "a building," Old Welsh treb "house, dwelling," Welsh tref "a dwelling," Irish treb "residence," Old English ðorp "village, hamlet, farm, estate"). If so, the original meaning probably was "wooden shed."
- taw (v.)
- "to prepare" (leather), from Old English tawian "prepare, make ready, make; cultivate," also "harass, insult, outrage" to do, make," from Proto-Germanic *tawjan (source also of Old Frisian tawa, Old Saxon toian, Middle Dutch tauwen, Dutch touwen, Old High German zouwen "to prepare," Old High German zawen "to succeed," Gothic taujan "to make, prepare"), from Proto-Germanic root *taw- "to make, manufacture" (compare tool (n.)).
- taw (n.)
- "a game at marbles," 1709, of unknown origin.
- tawdry (adj.)
- "no longer fresh or elegant but worn as if it were so; in cheap and ostentatious imitation of what is rich or costly," 1670s, adjective use of noun tawdry "silk necktie for women" (1610s), shortened from tawdry lace (1540s), an alteration (with adhesion of the -t- from Saint) of St. Audrey's lace, a necktie or ribbon sold at the annual fair at Ely on Oct. 17 commemorating St. Audrey (queen of Northumbria, died 679). Her association with lace necklaces is that she supposedly died of a throat tumor, which, according to Bede, she considered God's punishment for her youthful stylishness:
"I know of a surety that I deservedly bear the weight of my trouble on my neck, for I remember that, when I was a young maiden, I bore on it the needless weight of necklaces; and therefore I believe the Divine goodness would have me endure the pain in my neck, that so I may be absolved from the guilt of my needless levity, having now, instead of gold and pearls, the fiery heat of a tumour rising on my neck." [A.M. Sellar translation, 1907]
- tawny (adj.)
- "tan-colored," late 14c., from Anglo-French tauné "of or like the brownish-yellow of tanned leather," from Old French tanét "dark brown, tan" (12c., Modern French tanné), past participle of taner "to tan hides," from Medieval Latin tannare (see tan (v.)).Related: Tawniness.
- tax (v.)
- c. 1300, "impose a tax on," from Old French taxer "impose a tax" (13c.) and directly from Latin taxare "evaluate, estimate, assess, handle," also "censure, charge," probably a frequentative form of tangere "to touch" (see tangent (adj.)). Sense of "to burden, put a strain on" first recorded early 14c.; that of "censure, reprove" is from 1560s. Its use in Luke ii for Greek apographein "to enter on a list, enroll" is due to Tyndale. Related: Taxed; taxing.
- tax (n.)
- early 14c., "obligatory contribution levied by a sovereign or government," from Anglo-French tax, Old French taxe, and directly from Medieval Latin taxa, from Latin taxare (see tax (v.)). Related: Taxes. Tax-deduction is from 1942; tax-shelter is attested from 1961.
- taxable (adj.)
- "subject to taxation," late 15c., from Anglo-French taxable, Anglo-Latin taxabilis; see tax (v.) + -able. As a noun meaning "person subject to taxation" from 1660s.
- taxation (n.)
- early 14c., "imposition of taxes," from Anglo-French taxacioun, Old French taxacion, from Latin taxationem (nominative taxatio) "a rating, valuing, appraisal," noun of action from past participle stem of taxare (see tax (v.)).
- taxeme (n.)
- 1933, from Greek taxis "order, arrangement" (see tactics) + -eme.
- taxi (n.)
- 1907, shortening of taximeter cab (introduced in London in March 1907), from taximeter "automatic meter to record the distance and fare" (1898), from French taximètre, from German Taxameter (1890), coined from Medieval Latin taxa "tax, charge."
An earlier English form was taxameter (1894), used in horse-drawn cabs. Taxi dancer "woman whose services may be hired at a dance hall" is recorded from 1930. Taxi squad in U.S. football is 1966, said to be from a former Cleveland Browns owner who gave his reserves jobs with his taxicab company to keep them paid and available ["Dictionary of American Slang"], but other explanations ("short-term hire" or "shuttling back and forth" from the main team) seem possible.
- taxi (v.)
- 1911, of airplanes, from slang use of taxi (n.) for "aircraft," or from or reinforced "in allusion to the way a taxi driver slowly cruises when looking for fares" [Barnhart]. Related: Taxied; taxiing.
- taxicab (n.)
- 1907, short for taximeter cab; see taxi (n.) + cab (n.).
- taxidermy (n.)
- 1820, from Greek taxis "arrangement, an arranging, the order or disposition of an army, battle array; order, regularity" (see tactics) + derma "skin" (see derma). Related: Taxidermist (1827).
- taxine (adj.)
- 1888, from Latin taxus "yew tree," probably from a Scythian word, + -ine (1).
- taxis (n.)
- "operation whereby displaced parts are put back in their natural situation," 1758, medical Latin, from Greek taxis "arrangement, an arranging, the order or disposition of an army, battle array; order, regularity," verbal noun of tassein "arrange," from PIE root *tag- "to set aright, set in order" (see tangent).
- taxman (n.)
- 1803, from tax (n.) + man (n.).
- taxon (n.)
- 1929, from German (1926), shortened from taxonomie (see taxonomy).
- taxonomy (n.)
- "science of classification," 1819, from French taxonomie (1813), coined irregularly from Greek taxis "arrangement" (see tactics) + -nomia "method," from -nomos "managing," from nemein "to manage," from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot" (see nemesis). Related: Taxonomic; taxonomist.
- taxpayer (n.)
- also tax-payer, 1816, from tax (n.) + payer.
- tay (n.)
- mid-15c., "case, sheath," from French teie (Old French toie "pillowcase, cushion-cover), from Latin theca, from Greek theke "case to put something in" (see theco-). As "outer membrane of the brain" from 1560s.
- fatal inherited disorder, 1907, named in German (1901) by German neurologist Henryk Higier (1866-1942) from names of British ophthalmologist Warren Tay (1843-1927) and U.S. physician and neurologist Warren Sachs (1858-1944) who had independently described it in 1881 and 1887 respectively.
- surname, attested from late 12c., variant of tailor.
- tchotchke (n.)
- "trinket, gewgaw," also (transferred) "pretty girl," 1964, American English, from Yiddish, from a Slavic source (compare Russian tsatska).
- Te Deum
- early 12c., from Late Latin Te Deum laudamus "Thee God we praise," first words of the ancient Latin hymn.
- tea (n.)
- 1650s, tay, also in early spellings thea, tey, tee and at first pronounced so as to rhyme with obey; the modern pronunciation predominates from mid-18c. But earlier in English as chaa (1590s), also cha, tcha, chia, cia. The two forms of the word reflect two paths of transmission: chaa is from Portuguese cha, attested in Portuguese from 1550s, via Macao, from Mandarin (Chinese) ch'a (cf chai). The later form, which became Modern English tea, is via Dutch, from Malay teh and directly from Chinese (Amoy dialect) t'e, which corresponds to Mandarin ch'a.
The distribution of the different forms of the word in Europe reflects the spread of use of the beverage. The modern English form, along with French thé, Spanish te, German Tee, etc., derive via Dutch thee from the Amoy form, reflecting the role of the Dutch as the chief importers of the leaves (through the Dutch East India Company, from 1610). Meanwhile, Russian chai, Persian cha, Greek tsai, Arabic shay, and Turkish çay all came overland from the Mandarin form.
First known in Paris 1635, the practice of drinking tea was first introduced to England 1644. Meaning "afternoon meal at which tea is served" is from 1738. Slang meaning "marijuana" (which sometimes was brewed in hot water) is attested from 1935, felt as obsolete by late 1960s. Tea ball is from 1895.
- tea party (n.)
- 1772, from tea + party (n.). Political references to tea party all trace to the Boston tea party of 1773 (the name seems to date from 1824), in which radicals in Massachusetts colony boarded British ships carrying tea and threw the product into Boston Harbor in protest against royal taxation. It has been a model for libertarian political actions in the U.S. (generally symbolic), including citizen gatherings begun in early 2009 to protest government spending.
- tea-berry (n.)
- American wintergreen, 1818, from tea + berry, so called because the dried berries were used as a substitute for tea.
- tea-cup (n.)
- 1700, from tea + cup (n.).
- tea-kettle (n.)
- 1705, from tea + kettle.