Etymology
Advertisement
dreadnought (n.)

literally (one who or that which) "fears nothing," from the verbal phrase (drede ich nawiht is attested from c. 1200); see dread (v.) + nought (n.). As a synonym for "battleship" (1916) it is from a specific ship's name. Dreadnought is mentioned as the name of a ship in the Royal Navy as early as c. 1596, but the modern generic sense is from the name of the first of a new class of British battleships, based on the "all big-gun" principle (armed with 10 big guns rather than 4 large guns and a battery of smaller ones), launched Feb. 18, 1906.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
rifle (n.)

"portable firearm having a barrel or barrels with a spirally grooved bore," by 1775; the word was used earlier of the grooves themselves (1751), and is a noun use from rifled pistol, 1680s, from the verb rifle meaning "to cut spiral grooves in" (a gun barrel); see rifle (v.2).

The spirals impart rotation to the projectile, making its flight more accurate. Rifles "troops armed with rifles," sometimes as part of a unit name, is by 1843. Rifle-range is from 1850 as "distance a rifle-ball will carry" (also, and earlier rifle-shot, 1803); the meaning "place for rifle shooting" is by 1862. Rifle-ball is by 1884; the  word continued in use after cylindrical bullets with conical heads replaced round ones.

Related entries & more 
shooting (n.)

Old English scotung, "action of one who shoots" (an arrow from a bow), verbal noun from the source of shoot (v.). By 1640s as "the sport of killing game with a gun;" the modern athletic contest sense is by 1885. By 1873 as "an incident in which someone is shot with a firearm." The film-camera sense is by 1920.

Shooting iron "firearm" is by 1775 (Sam Adams) in American English colloquial; shooting gallery is from 1836, originally a long room having a target at one end and arranged for firearms practice; shooting match as "marksmanship contest" is from 1750. Shooting star "meteor" is recorded by 1590s (the verb shoot with reference to meteors is from late 13c.; shot star for "shooting star" is attested from 1630s).

Related entries & more 
level (v.)

mid-15c., "to make level" (transitive), from level (n.). From c. 1600 as "to bring to a level." Intransitive sense "cease increasing" is from 1958. Meaning "to aim (a gun)" is late 15c. Slang sense of "tell the truth, be honest" is from 1920. To level up "to rise" is attested by 1863.

A word here as to the misconception labored under by our English neighbor; he evidently does not understand the American manner of doing things. We never level down in this country; we are always at work on the up grade. "Level up! Level up!" is the motto of the American people. [James E. Garretson, "Professional Education," in "The Dental Cosmos," Philadelphia, 1865]

Modern use is mostly from computer gaming (2001). To level off "cease rising or falling" is from 1920, originally in aviation. Related: Leveled; leveling.

Related entries & more 
tank (n.)

1610s, "pool or lake for irrigation or drinking water," a word originally brought by the Portuguese from India, from a Hindi source, such as Gujarati tankh "cistern, underground reservoir for water," Marathi tanken, or tanka "reservoir of water, tank." Perhaps ultimately from Sanskrit tadaga-m "pond, lake pool," and reinforced in later sense of "large artificial container for liquid" (1680s) by Portuguese tanque "reservoir," from estancar "hold back a current of water," from Vulgar Latin *stanticare (see stanch). But other sources say the Portuguese word is the source of the Indian ones. 

Meaning "fuel container" is recorded from 1902. Slang meaning "detention cell" is from 1912. Railroad tank-car is from 1874.

In military use, "armored, gun-mounted vehicle moving on continuous articulated tracks," the word originated late 1915. In "Tanks in the Great War" [1920], Brevet Col. J.F.C. Fuller quotes a memorandum of the Committee of Imperial Defence dated Dec. 24, 1915, recommending the proposed "caterpillar machine-gun destroyer" machines be entrusted to an organization "which, for secrecy, shall be called the 'Tank Supply Committee,' ..." In a footnote, Fuller writes, "This is the first appearance of the word 'tank' in the history of the machine." He writes that "cistern" and "reservoir" also were put forth as possible cover names, "all of which were applicable to the steel-like structure of the machines in the early stages of manufacture. Because it was less clumsy and monosyllabic, the name 'tank' was decided on." They were first used in action at Pozieres ridge, on the Western Front, Sept. 15, 1916, and the name was quickly picked up by the soldiers. Tank-trap attested from 1920.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
shy (adj.)

Middle English shei, "easily frightened or startled," from late Old English sceoh "timid, easily startled," from Proto-Germanic *skeukh(w)az "afraid" (source also of Middle Low German schüwe, Dutch schuw, German scheu "shy;" Old High German sciuhen, German scheuchen "to scare away"). Cognates outside Germanic are uncertain, unless perhaps in Old Church Slavonic shchuti "to hunt, incite." Italian schivare "to avoid," Old French eschiver "to shun" are Germanic loan-words.

The meaning "shrinking from contact with others, difficult of approach because of timidity" is by c. 1600. The meaning "lacking, short of" is from 1895, American English gambling slang. As the last element of a compound (gun-shy, etc.) "frightened, averse, reluctant," by 1849.

Related entries & more 
ream (v.)

"to enlarge a hole," especially "to widen or enlarge by the use of a rotary cutter," 1815, a word of "somewhat doubtful origin" [OED], but it is probably a southwest England dialectal survival from obsolete Middle English reme "to make room, open up, extend by stretching."

This is from Old English ryman "widen, extend, enlarge," from Proto-Germanic *rumijan (source also of Old Saxon rumian, Old Norse ryma, Old Frisian rema, Old High German rumen, German räumen"to make room, widen"), from *rumaz "spacious" (see room (n.)). Related: Reamed; reaming; reamer.

Especially with out (adv.). The slang meaning "to cheat, swindle" is recorded by 1914; the sexual sense is attested by 1942. To ream (someone) out in the sense of "to scold, reprimand" is recorded from 1950; earlier it was used of gun barrels, machinery, etc., "to remove (a jam or defect) by reaming" (1861).

Related entries & more 
wad (n.)

early 15c., wadde, "small bunch of fibrous, soft material for padding or stuffing," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin wadda (14c., source also of French ouate, Italian ovate), or Dutch watten (source of German Watte), or Middle English wadmal (c. 1300) "coarse woolen cloth," which seems to be from Old Norse vaðmal "a woolen fabric of Scandinavia," probably from vað "cloth" + mal "measure."

The meaning "something bundled up tightly" (especially paper currency) is from 1778. To shoot (one's) wad "do all one can do" is recorded by 1860. The immediate source of the expression probably is the sense of "disk of cloth used to hold powder and shot in place in a gun." Wad in slang sense of "a load of semen" is attested from 1920s, and the expression now often is felt in this sense. As a suffix, -wad in 1980s joined -bag, -ball, -head in combinations meaning "disgusting or unpleasant person."

Related entries & more 
slug (n.2)

"heavy piece of crude metal for firing from a gun, lead bit, lead bullet not regularly formed," 1620s, perhaps a special use of slug (n.1), which at the time would have meant "lazy person or animal," perhaps on some supposed resemblance.

The meaning "token or counterfeit coin" is recorded from 1881; that of "strong drink" is recorded by 1756, perhaps from the slang phrase fire a slug "take a drink," though it also might be related to Irish slog "swallow."

In typography, "a thin blank of type metal" (1871), hence the journalism sense of "title or short guideline at the head of a news story in draft or galleys" (by 1925), short for slug-line, so called because usually it occupies one slug of type. Sometimes by error they get printed, and if the copy-editor's shorthand instruction is "dead head" or "kill widow," it can look bad.

Related entries & more 

Page 10