word-forming element meaning "around, round about, all around, on all sides," from Latin adverb and preposition circum "around, round about," literally "in a circle," probably accusative form of circus "ring" (see circus). The Latin word was commonly used in word-formation. In French, the element became circon-; Kitchin points out that con for cum is common even in classical Latin. For sense development, compare German rings "around."
late 14c., declinacioun, in astronomy, "distance of a heavenly body from the celestial equator, measured on a great circle passing through the body and the celestial pole," from Old French declinacion (Modern French déclinaison) and directly from Latin declinationem (nominative declinatio) "a bending from (something), a bending aside; the supposed slope of the earth toward the poles; a turning away from (something), an avoiding," noun of action from past-participle stem of declinare (see decline (v.)). From c. 1400 as "a bending or sloping downward." Related: Declinational.
late 14c., periferie, "atmosphere around the earth," from Old French periferie (Modern French périphérie) and directly from Medieval Latin periferia, from Late Latin peripheria, from Greek peripheria "circumference, outer surface, line round a circular body," literally "a carrying around," from peripheres "rounded, moving round, revolving," peripherein "carry or move round," from peri "round about" (see peri-) + pherein "to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry."
In geometry, the meaning "outside boundary of a closed figure," especially the circumference of a circle, is attested in English from 1570s; the general sense of "boundary, surface" is from 1660s.
c. 1200, rengen, "to move over or through (a large area), roam with the purpose of searching or hunting," from Old French ranger, rangier, earlier rengier "to place in a row, arrange; get into line," from reng "row, line," from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hringaz "circle, ring, something curved" (from nasalized form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend"). Compare arrange. Sense of "to arrange in rows, make a row or rows of" is recorded from c. 1300; intransitive sense of "exist in a row or rows" is from c. 1600. Related: Ranged; ranging.
c. 1300, "in circumference, in a circle, on every side," from phrase on round; see a- (1) + round (adj.). It was rare before 1600. In the sense of "here and there with no fixed direction" it is attested from 1776 in American English (British English prefers about).
As a preposition, "on or along a circuit," from late 14c.; "on all sides, encircling, about" from 1660s; of time, by 1873. To have been around "gained worldly experience" is from 1927, U.S. colloquial; to get around to it is from 1864.
It forms all or part of: accolade; ancillary; atelo-; bazaar; bicycle; bucolic; chakra; chukker; collar; collet; colonial; colony; cult; cultivate; culture; cyclamen; cycle; cyclo-; cyclone; cyclops; decollete; encyclical; encyclopedia; entelechy; epicycle; hauberk; hawse; inquiline; Kultur; lapidocolous; nidicolous; palimpsest; palindrome; palinode; pole (n.2) "ends of Earth's axis;" pulley; rickshaw; talisman; teleology; telic; telophase; telos; torticollis; wheel.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit cakram "circle, wheel," carati "he moves, wanders;" Avestan caraiti "applies himself," c'axra "chariot, wagon;" Greek kyklos "circle, wheel, any circular body, circular motion, cycle of events,"polos "a round axis" (PIE *kw- becomes Greek p- before some vowels), polein "move around;" Latin colere "to frequent, dwell in, to cultivate, move around," cultus "tended, cultivated," hence also "polished," colonus "husbandman, tenant farmer, settler, colonist;" Lithuanian kelias "a road, a way;" Old Norse hvel, Old English hweol "wheel;" Old Church Slavonic kolo, Old Russian kolo, Polish koło, Russian koleso "a wheel."
c. 1300, serchen, "go through and examine carefully and in detail" (transitive), from Old French cerchier "to search" (12c., Modern French chercher), from Latin circare "go about, wander, traverse," in Late Latin "to wander hither and thither, go round, explore," from circus "circle" (see circus). Compare Spanish cognate cercar "encircle, surround."
The meaning "make an examination of" a person, bags, etc., is from early 15c. Phrase search me as a verbal shrug of ignorance is recorded by 1901. Search engine attested from 1988. The phrase search-and-destroy as a modifier is by 1966, American English, a coinage from the Vietnam War. Search-and-rescue is by 1944.
c. 1200, "a step, a stair," also "a position in a hierarchy," and "a stage of progress, a single movement toward an end," from Old French degré (12c.) "a step (of a stair), pace, degree (of relationship), academic degree; rank, status, position," which is said to be from Vulgar Latin *degradus "a step," from Latin de- "down" (see de-) + gradus "a step; a step climbed;" figuratively "a step toward something, a degree of something rising by stages" (from PIE root *ghredh- "to walk, go").
A word of wide use in Middle English; in 14c. it also meant "way, manner; condition, state, standing." Most extended senses in Middle English are from the notion of a hierarchy of steps. Genealogical sense of "a certain remove in the line of blood" is from mid-14c.; educational sense of "an academic rank conferred by diploma" is from late 14c. By degrees "gradually, by stages" is from late 14c.
Other transferred senses are from the notion of "one of a number of subdivisions of something extended in space or time," hence "intensive quality, measure, extent." The meaning "1/360th of a circle" is from late 14c. (The division of the circle into 360 degrees was known in Babylon and Egypt; the number is perhaps from the daily motion of the sun through the zodiac in the course of a year.) From 1540s as "a measure of heat;" the specific use as a unit of temperature on a thermometer is by 1727. In reference to crime, by 1670s as "one of certain distinctions of culpability;" in U.S. use by 1821 as "one of the phases of the same kind of crime."