- English (n.1)
- "people of England; the speech of England," Old English Englisc (contrasted to Denisc, Frencisce, etc.), 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.)).
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.
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. Old English is from early 13c.
- 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."