Etymology
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hit (v.)

late Old English hyttan, hittan "come upon, meet with, fall in with, 'hit' upon," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse hitta "to light upon, meet with," also "to hit, strike;" Swedish hitta "to find," Danish and Norwegian hitte "to hit, find," from Proto-Germanic *hitjan, which is of uncertain origin. Meaning shifted in late Old English period to "strike, come into forcible contact" via the notion of "to reach with a blow or missile," and the word displaced Old English slean (modern slay) in this sense. Original sense survives in phrases such as hit it off (1780, earlier in same sense hit it, 1630s) and is revived in slang hit on (1970s).

To hit the bottle "drink alcohol" is from 1933 (hit the booze in the same sense is from 1889, and hit the pipe "smoke opium" is also late 19c.). To figuratively hit the nail on the head (1570s) is from archery. To hit the hay "go to bed" is from 1912. Hit the road "leave" is from 1873; hit the bricks is from 1909, originally trade union jargon meaning "go out on strike." To hit (someone) up "request something" is from 1917. To not know what hit (one) is from 1923. Related: Hitting.

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coelacanth (n.)

order of lobe-finned fishes, 1850, from Modern Latin Coelacanthus (genus name, 1839, Agassiz), from Greek koilos "hollow" (from PIE root *keue- "to swell," also "vault, hole") + akantha "spine" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). So called from the hollow fin rays supporting the tail in fossil remains.

Thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago until a living one was fished up off the east coast of South Africa Dec. 22, 1938. The specimen was noticed by museum curator Marjorie Courtney-Latimer, who wrote a description of it to South African ichthyologist J.L.B. Smith.

I stared and stared, at first in puzzlement. I did not know any fish of our own, or indeed of any seas like that; it looked more like a lizard. And then a bomb seemed to burst in my brain, and beyond that sketch and the paper of the letter, I was looking at a series of fishy creatures that flashed up as on a screen, fishes no longer here, fishes that had lived in dim past ages gone, and of which only fragmentary remains in rock are known. [J.L.B. Smith, "Old Fourlegs: The Story of the Coelacanth," 1956]
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cat (n.)

Old English catt (c. 700) "domestic cat," from West Germanic (c. 400-450), from Proto-Germanic *kattuz (source also of Old Frisian katte, Old Norse köttr, Dutch kat, Old High German kazza, German Katze), from Late Latin cattus.

The near-universal European word now, it appeared in Europe as Latin catta (Martial, c. 75 C.E.), Byzantine Greek katta (c. 350) and was in general use on the continent by c. 700, replacing Latin feles. Probably ultimately Afro-Asiatic (compare Nubian kadis, Berber kadiska, both meaning "cat"). Arabic qitt "tomcat" may be from the same source. Cats were domestic in Egypt from c. 2000 B.C.E., but not a familiar household animal to classical Greeks and Romans. The nine lives have been proverbial at least since 1560s.

The Late Latin word also is the source of Old Irish and Gaelic cat, Welsh kath, Breton kaz, Italian gatto, Spanish gato, French chat (12c.). Independent, but ultimately from the same source are words in the Slavic group: Old Church Slavonic kotuka, kotel'a, Bulgarian kotka, Russian koška, Polish kot, along with Lithuanian katė and non-Indo-European Finnish katti, which is from Lithuanian.

Extended to lions, tigers, etc. c. 1600. As a term of contempt for a woman, from early 13c. Slang sense of "prostitute" is from at least c. 1400. Slang sense of "fellow, guy," is from 1920, originally in African-American vernacular; narrower sense of "jazz enthusiast" is recorded from 1931.

Cat's paw (1769, but cat's foot in the same sense, 1590s) refers to the old folk tale in which the monkey tricks the cat into pawing chestnuts from a fire; the monkey gets the roasted nuts, the cat gets a burnt paw. Cat burglar is from 1907, so called for stealth. Cat-witted "small-minded, obstinate, and spiteful" (1670s) deserved to survive. For Cat's meow, cat's pajamas, see bee's knees. For let the cat out of the bag, see bag (n.).

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shuck (v.)

"to remove the shucks from," 1819, from or related to shuck (n.). Related: Shucked; shucking.

Many extended senses are from the notion of "stripping" an ear of corn, or from the capers associated with husking frolics; such as "to strip (off) one's clothes" (1848) and "to deceive, swindle, cheat, fool" (1959); phrase shucking and jiving "fooling, deceiving" is suggested from 1966, in African-American vernacular, but compare shuck (v.) a slang term among "cool musicians" for "to improvise chords, especially to a piece of music one does not know" (1957), and shuck (n.) "a theft or fraud," in use by 1950s in African-American vernacular.

[B]lack senses probably fr[om] the fact that black slaves sang and shouted gleefully during corn-shucking season, and this behavior, along with lying and teasing, became a part of the protective and evasive behavior normally adopted towards white people in "traditional" race relations; the sense of "swindle" is perhaps related to the mid-1800s term to be shucked out, "be defeated, be denied victory," which suggests that the notion of stripping someone as an ear of corn is stripped may be basic in the semantics. ["Dictionary of American Slang"]
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spill (v.)

Old English spillan "destroy, mutilate, kill," also in late Old English "to waste," variant of spildan "destroy," from Proto-Germanic *spilthjan (source also of Old High German spildan "to spill," Old Saxon spildian "destroy, kill," Old Norse spilla "to destroy," Danish spilde "lose, spill, waste," Middle Dutch spillen "to waste, spend"), from a probable PIE root *spel- (1) "to split, break off" (source also of Middle Dutch spalden, Old High German spaltan "to split;" Greek aspalon "skin, hide," spolas "flayed skin;" Latin spolium "skin, hide;" Lithuanian spaliai "shives of flax;" Old Church Slavonic rasplatiti "to cleave, split;" Middle Low German spalden, Old High German spaltan "to split;" Sanskrit sphatayati "splits").

Sense of "let (liquid) fall or run out" developed mid-14c. from use of the word in reference to shedding blood (early 14c.). Intransitive sense "to run out and become wasted" is from 1650s. Spill the beans recorded by 1910 in a sense of "spoil the situation;" 1919 as "reveal a secret." To cry for spilt milk (usually with negative) is attested from 1738. Related: Spilled; spilt; spilling.

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tight (adj.)

c. 1400, tyght "dense, close, compact," from Middle English thight, from Old Norse þettr "watertight, close in texture, solid," and also from Old English -þiht (compare second element in meteþiht "stout from eating"), both from Proto-Germanic *thinhta- (source also of Middle High German dihte "dense, thick," German dicht "dense, tight," Old High German gidigan, German gediegen "genuine, solid, worthy"), from PIE root *tenk- (2) "to become firm, curdle, thicken" (source also of Irish techt "curdled, coagulated," Lithuanian tankus "close, tight," Persian tang "tight," Sanskrit tanakti "draws together, contracts").

Sense of "drawn, stretched" is from 1570s; meaning "fitting closely" (as of garments) is from 1779; that of "evenly matched" (of a contest, bargain, etc.) is from 1828, American English; that of "drunk" is from 1830. Of persons, "close, intimate, sympathetic" from 1956. From 1670s as an adverb; to sit tight is from 1738; sleep tight as a farewell in sending someone off to bed is by 1871. Related: Tightly; tightness. Tight-assed "unwilling to relax" is attested from 1903. Tight-laced is recorded from 1741 in both the literal and figurative senses. Tight-lipped is first attested 1872.

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geek (n.)

"sideshow freak," 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck "a fool, dupe, simpleton" (1510s), apparently from Dutch gek or Low German geck, from an imitative verb found in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian meaning "to croak, cackle," and also "to mock, cheat" (Dutch gekken, German gecken, Danish gjække, Swedish gäcka). The modern form and the popular use with reference to circus sideshow "wild men" is from 1946, in William Lindsay Gresham's novel "Nightmare Alley" (made into a film in 1947 starring Tyrone Power).

"An ordinary geek doesn't actually eat snakes, just bites off chunks of 'em, chicken heads and rats." [Arthur H. Lewis, "Carnival," 1970]

By c. 1983, used in teenager slang in reference to peers who lacked social graces but were obsessed with new technology and computers (such as the Anthony Michael Hall character in 1984's "Sixteen Candles").

geek out vi. To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, for example at parties held near computer equipment. [Eric S. Raymond, "The New Hacker's Dictionary," 1996]
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abolish (v.)
Origin and meaning of abolish

"put an end to, do away with," mid-15c., from Old French aboliss-, present participle stem of abolir "to abolish" (15c.), from Latin abolere "destroy, efface, annihilate; cause to die out, retard the growth of," which is perhaps from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + the second element of adolere "to grow, magnify" (and formed as an opposite to that word), from PIE *ol-eye-, causative of root *al- (2) "to grow, nourish," and perhaps formed as an antonym to adolere.

But the Latin word rather could be from a root in common with Greek ollymi, apollymi "destroy." Tucker writes that there has been a confusion of forms in Latin, based on similar roots, one meaning "to grow," the other "to destroy." Now generally used of institutions, customs, etc.; application to persons and concrete objects has long been obsolete. Related: Abolished; abolishing.

Abolish is a strong word, and signifies a complete removal, generally but not always by a summary act. It is the word specially used in connection with things that have been long established or deeply rooted, as an institution or a custom : as to abolish slavery or polygamy. [Century Dictionary, 1900]
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tell (v.)

Old English tellan "to reckon, calculate, number, compute; consider, think, esteem, account" (past tense tealde, past participle teald), from Proto-Germanic *taljan "to mention in order" (source also of Old Saxon tellian "tell," Old Norse telja "to count, number; to tell, say," Old Frisian tella "to count; to tell," Middle Dutch and Dutch tellen, Old Saxon talon "to count, reckon," Danish tale "to speak," Old High German zalon, German zählen "to count, reckon"), from PIE root *del- (2) "to count, reckon" (see tale).

Meaning "to narrate, announce, relate" in English is from c. 1000; that of "to make known by speech or writing, announce" is from early 12c. Sense of "to reveal or disclose" is from c. 1400; that of "to act as an informer, to 'peach' " is recorded from 1901. Meaning "to order (someone to do something)" is from 1590s. To tell (someone) off "reprimand" is from 1919.

Original sense in teller and phrase tell time. For sense evolution, compare French conter "to count," raconter "to recount;" Italian contare, Spanish contar "to count, recount, narrate;" German zählen "to count," erzählen "to recount, narrate." Klein also compares Hebrew saphar "he counted," sipper "he told."

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gorilla (n.)

1847, applied to a species of large apes (Troglodytes gorilla) by U.S. missionary Thomas Savage, from Greek gorillai, plural of name given to wild, hairy beings (now supposed to have been chimpanzees) in a Greek translation of Carthaginian navigator Hanno's account of his voyage along the northwest coast of Africa, c. 500 B.C.E. Allegedly an African word.

In its inmost recess was an island similar to that formerly described, which contained in like manner a lake with another island, inhabited by a rude description of people. The females were much more numerous than the males, and had rough skins: our interpreters called them Gorillae. We pursued but could take none of the males; they all escaped to the top of precipices, which they mounted with ease, and threw down stones; we took three of the females, but they made such violent struggles, biting and tearing their captors, that we killed them, and stripped off the skins, which we carried to Carthage: being out of provisions we could go no further. [Hanno, "Periplus"]

Of persons perceived as being gorilla-like, from 1884.

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