tectonic (adj.)
1650s, "of or relating to building or construction," from Late Latin tectonicus, from Greek tektonikos "pertaining to building," from tekton (genitive tektonos) "builder, carpenter, woodworker; master in any art (sculpture, metal-work, writing)," from PIE root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate." The geological sense, "pertaining to the structure of the Earth's crust," is recorded from 1887.
tectonics (n.)
1899 in the geological sense, from tectonic (also see -ics); earlier it meant "building or constructive arts in general" (1850).
Tecumseh
Native American leader (1768-1813), his name is Shawnee (Algonquian), perhaps literally "flies across;" compare Menominee /takhamehse:w/ "flies straight across."
ted (v.)
"to spread" (new-mown grass for drying), c. 1300, from an unrecorded Old English *teddan or from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse teðja "to spread manure." Related to German verzetteln "to scatter, squander." Related: Tedding; tedder.
Teddy
pet form of masc. proper names Edward, Edmund, and Theodore, with -y (3). Meaning "women's undergarment" (with lower-case t-) is recorded from 1924, of unknown origin, perhaps from some fancied resemblance to a teddy bear (q.v.), a theory that dates to 1929. In British slang phrase teddy boy (1954) it is short for Edward, from the preference of such youths for Edwardian styles (1901-10). Teddies (probably from Teddy Roosevelt) was one of the names given to U.S. troops in France in 1917.
teddy bear (n.)
1906, named for U.S. president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858-1919), a noted big-game hunter, whose conservationist fervor inspired a comic illustrated poem in the "New York Times" of Jan. 7, 1906, about two bears named Teddy, whose names were transferred to two bears presented to the Bronx Zoo that year. The name was picked up by toy dealers in 1907 for a line of "Roosevelt bears" imported from Germany. Meaning "big, lovable person" first attested 1957, from the song popularized by Elvis Presley.
tedesco (n.)
"Teutonic influence in the arts," 1874 in this form, from Italian, literally "German," from Medieval Latin theodiscus (see Dutch). Compare Old French tiois "a German," tiesche (adj.) "German."
tedious (adj.)
early 15c., from Old French tedieus, from Late Latin taediosus "wearisome, irksome, tedious," from Latin taedium (see tedium). Related: Tediously; tediousness.
tedium (n.)
"tediousness," 1660s, from Latin taedium "weariness, irksomeness, disgust," related to taedet "it is wearisome, it excites loathing," and to taedere "to weary," of uncertain origin. Possible cognates are Old Church Slavonic težo, Lithuanian tingiu "to be dull, be listless."
tee (n.)
in golf, 1721, back-formation from teaz (1673), taken as a plural; a Scottish word of uncertain origin. The original form was a little heap of sand. The verb meaning "place a ball on a golf tee" is recorded from 1670s; figurative sense of "to make ready" (usually with up) is recorded from 1938. Teed off in the figurative sense of "angry, annoyed" is first recorded 1953, probably as a euphemism for p(iss)ed off.
tee-hee
imitative of derisive tittering laughter at least since Chaucer ("The Miller's Tale").
teem (v.2)
"to flow copiously," early 14c., "to empty out" (transitive), from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse toema "to empty," from tomr "empty," cognate with Old English tom (adj.) "empty, free from." The original notion is of "to empty a vessel," thus "to pour out." Intransitive sense of "to pour, flow, stream" is from 1828. Related: Teemed; teeming.
teem (v.1)
"abound, swarm, be prolific," Old English teman (Mercian), tieman (West Saxon) "beget, give birth to, bring forth, produce, propagate," from Proto-Germanic *tau(h)mjan (denominative), from PIE root *deuk- "to lead." Related to team (n.) in its now-obsolete Old English sense of "family, brood of young animals." The meaning "abound, swarm" is first recorded 1590s, on the notion of "be full of as if ready to give birth." Related: Teemed; teeming.
teeming (adj.)
"swarming," 1715, earlier "abundantly productive, fertile" (1590s), present participle adjective from teem (v.1).
teen (n.)
"teen-aged person," 1818 (but rare before 20c.), from -teen. As an adjective meaning "of or for teen-agers," from 1947.
teenage (adj.)
also teen age, teen-age; 1911, from teen + age (n.). Originally in reference to Sunday School classes. Teen-aged (adj.) is from 1922.
teenager (n.)
also teen ager, teen-ager; 1922, derived noun from teenage (q.v.). The earlier word for this was teener, attested in American English from 1894, and teen had been used as a noun to mean "teen-aged person" in 1818, though this was not common before 20c.
teens (n.)
1670s (plural), "teen-age years of a person," formed from -teen taken as a separate word. As "decade of years comprising numbers ending in -teen," from 1889.
teeny (adj.)
1825, alteration of tiny; teeny-tiny attested from 1867. Alternative form teensy is attested from 1899 (teensy-weensy is from 1906). Also teenty (1844).
teeny-bopper (n.)
1966, from teen (n.) but also felt as influenced by teeny. For second element, see bop.
teeter (v.)
1843, "to seesaw," alteration of Middle English titter "move unsteadily," probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse titra "to shake, shiver, totter, tremble," from Proto-Germanic *ti-tra- (source also of German zittern "to tremble"). Meaning "move unsteadily, be on the edge of imbalance" is from 1844. Noun teeter-totter "see-saw" is attested from 1905 (earlier simply teeter, 1855, and titter-totter in same sense is from 1520s). Totter (n.) "board swing" is recorded from late 14c.; see totter (v.).
teeth (n.)
plural of tooth (n.). In reference to laws, contracts, etc., "power of enforcement," from 1925. To be armed to the teeth is from late 14c.
teethe (v.)
early 15c., probably from an unrecorded Old English verb *teþan, from toþ "tooth" (from PIE root *dent- "tooth"). Related: Teethed; teething.
teething (n.)
1724, verbal noun from teethe (v.). Teething-ring attested from 1853.
teetotal (v.)
"pledged to total abstinence from intoxicating drink," 1834, possibly formed from total (adj.) with a reduplication of the initial T- for emphasis (T-totally "totally," though not in an abstinence sense, is recorded in Kentucky dialect from 1832 and is possibly older in Irish-English).

The use in temperance jargon was first noted September 1833 in a speech advocating total abstinence (from beer as well as wine and liquor) by Richard "Dicky" Turner, a working-man from Preston, England. Also said to have been introduced in 1827 in a New York temperance society which recorded a T after the signature of those who had pledged total abstinence, but contemporary evidence for this is wanting, and while Century Dictionary allows that "the word may have originated independently in the two countries," OED favors the British origin and ones that Webster (1847) calls teetotaler "a cant word formed in England."
teetotaler (n.)
also teetotaller, 1834, agent noun from teetotal. Related: Teetotalism.
tefillin (n.)
1610s, from Rabbinical Hebrew t'phillim, plural of t'phillah "prayer."
Teflon (n.)
commercially important synthetic polymer, 1945, proprietary name registered in U.S. by du Pont, from chemical name (poly)te(tra)fl(uoroethylene) + arbitrary ending -on; popularized as a coating of non-stick pans in 1960s; metaphoric extension, especially in reference to U.S. President Ronald Reagan, is attested from an Aug. 2, 1983, speech on the floor of Congress by Pat Schroeder.
teg (n.)
sheep in its second year, 1520s, of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish tacka "ewe").
tegular (adj.)
"of or like a tile," 1796, from Latin tegula "tile" (see tile (n.)) + -ar. Related: Tegulated.
tegument (n.)
"a covering, a natural protection of the body or some part of it," mid-15c., from Latin tegumentum "a covering, a cover," from tegere "to cover," from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover." Related: Tegumentary.
Tehran
also Teheran, Iranian capital, said to mean "flat, level, lower," but sometimes derived from Old Persian teh "warm" + ran "place."
Tejano
"native or inhabitant of Texas," 1925, from American Spanish, formerly Texano "a Texan" (see Texas).
tektite (n.)
small roundish glass bodies, probably of meteoric origin, 1909, from German tektit (Suess, 1900), from Greek tektos "molten," from tekein "to melt."
Telamon
in Greek mythology, father of Ajax, brother of Peleus, literally "the Bearer," from Greek telamon "broad strap for bearing something."
telangiectasia (n.)
1831, Modern Latin, from Greek telos "end" (see telos), + angeion "vessel" (see angio-), + ektasis "a stretching out, extension, dilation," from ek (see ex-) + tasis "a stretching, tension, intensity" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch") + abstract noun ending -ia.
tele-
before vowels tel-, word-forming element meaning "far, far off, operating over distance" (also, since c. 1940, "television"), from Greek tele "far off, afar, at or to a distance," related to teleos (genitive telos) "end, goal, completion, result," from PIE root *kwel- (2) "far" in space or time.
telecast (n.)
1937, from television + broadcast (n.). The verb is recorded from 1940.
telecom (n.)
abbreviation of telecommunication, attested by 1963.
telecommunication (n.)
1932, from French télécommunication (see tele- + communication). Related: Telecommunications.
telecommute (v.)
by 1974 (as a hypothetical experience), from tele- + commute. Related: Telecommuted. Compare telecommuting.
telecommuting (n.)
by 1975, as a hypothetical workplace set-up; verbal noun from telecommute. Said to have been coined by Jack Niles of USC.
teleconference (n.)
1952, originally a proprietary name, from tele- + conference. Not in common use until c. 1974.
telegenic (adj.)
1939, from television + ending from photogenic.
Judith Barrett, pretty and blonde actress, is the first Telegenic Girl to go on record. In other words, she is the perfect type of beauty for television. ... She is slated for the first television motion picture. [Baltimore "Sun," Oct. 16, 1939]
telegony (n.)
supposed influence of a sire on the offspring of a female by a later sire, 1893, from Greek tele "far off" (from PIE root *kwel- (2) "far" in space or time) + -geneia "origin," from -genes "born" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget").
telegram (n.)
"telegraphic dispatch," according to Bartlett's 1859 edition a coinage of E. Peshine Smith of Rochester, N.Y., from tele-, as in telegraph + -gram, and introduced in the Albany "Evening Journal" of April 6, 1852. Damned in the cradle by purists who pointed out that the correct formation would be telegrapheme (which is close to the Modern Greek word).
May I suggest to such as are not contented with 'Telegraphic Dispatch' the rightly constructed word 'telegrapheme'? I do not want it, but ... I protest against such a barbarism as 'telegram.' [Richard Shilleto, Cambridge Greek scholar, in the London "Times," Oct. 15, 1857]
Related: Telegrammic.
telegraph (n.)
1794, "semaphor apparatus" (hence the Telegraph Hill in many cities), literally "that which writes at a distance," from French télégraphe, from télé- "far" (from Greek tele-; see tele-) + -graphe (see -graphy). The signaling device had been invented in France in 1791 by the brothers Chappe, who had called it tachygraphe, literally "that which writes fast," but the better name was suggested to them by French diplomat Comte André-François Miot de Mélito (1762-1841). First applied 1797 to an experimental electric telegraph (designed by Dr. Don Francisco Salva at Barcelona); the practical version was developed 1830s by U.S. inventor Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872). Meaning "telegraphic message" is from 1821. Related: Telegraphy.
telegraph (v.)
1805, from telegraph (n.). Figurative meaning "to signal one's intentions" is first attested 1925, originally in boxing. Related: Telegraphed; telegraphing.
telegraphese (n.)
stripped-down style used to save expenses in writing telegraphs, 1885, from telegraph (n.) + -ese. Earlier in reference to the style of writing in the London "Daily Telegraph," which was rather the reverse.
telegraphic (adj.)
1794, originally of semaphor, etc.; from telegraph (n.) + -ic. Electric telegraph sense is from 1823. Related: Telegraphically.