- English (n.1)
- "people of England; the speech of England," noun use of Old English adjective Englisc (contrasted to Denisc, Frencisce, etc.), "of or pertaining to the Angles," from Engle (plural) "the Angles," the name of one of the Germanic groups that overran the island 5c., supposedly so-called because Angul, the land they inhabited on the Jutland coast, was shaped like a fish hook (see angle (n.)). Reinforced by Anglo-French Engleis.
The term was used from earliest times without distinction for all the Germanic invaders -- Angles, Saxon, Jutes (Bede's gens Anglorum) -- and applied to their group of related languages by Alfred the Great. After 1066, of the population of England (as distinguished from Normans and French), a distinction which lasted only about a generation. But as late as Robert of Gloucester's "Chronicle" (c.1300) it also was sometimes distinguished from "Saxon" ("Þe englisse in þe norþ half, þe saxons bi souþe.")
In pronunciation, "En-" has become "In-," but the older spelling has remained. Meaning "English language or literature as a subject at school" is from 1889. As an adjective, "of or belonging to England," from late 13c. It also was a verb in Middle English, "to translate into English" (late 14c.). Old English meaning the Anglo-Saxon language before the Conquest is attested from c.1200 in an account of the native (as opposed to Latin) month names.
- English (n.2)
- "spin imparted to a ball" (as in billiards), 1860, from French anglé "angled" (see angle (n.)), which is similar to Anglais "English."