Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watr- (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet."
To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah as well as Punjab and julep) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).
"a trench made by digging," especially a trench for draining wet land," Middle English diche, from Old English dic "ditch, dike," a variant of dike (q.v.), which at first meant "an excavation," but later in Middle English was applied to the ridge or bank of earth thrown up in excavating. Middle English diche also could mean "a defensive wall."
As the earth dug out of the ground in making a trench is heaped up on the side, the ditch and the bank are constructed by the same act, and it is not surprising that the two should have been confounded under a common name. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
Ditch-water "stale or stagnant water that collects in ditches" is from mid-14c. In Middle English, digne as dich water (late 14c.) meant "foolishly proud." Also see last-ditch.
1590s, "thing for drying wet spots," agent noun from blot (v.). Meaning "bad writer" is from c. 1600. Sense of "day book" is from 1670s, and the word was applied by 1810 to rough drafts, scrap books, notebooks, and draft account books. Hence the police jargon sense "arrest record sheet," recorded from 1887.
The Waste-Book, or Blotter, is nothing different from the Journal, only from the circumstance that it is used in moments of haste during the business of the day, when it is not practicable to observe that precision, neatness, and order, which we wish to appear on our Journal, which is nothing more nor less than a better finished copy of the Blotter itself .... [Lyman Preston, "Preston's Treatise on Book-Keeping," New York, 1835]
"the domestic Bos taurus" (commonly meaning the castrated males, used to pull loads or for food), Middle English oxe, from Old English oxa "ox" (plural oxan), from Proto-Germanic *ukhson (source also of Old Norse oxi, Old Frisian oxa, Middle Dutch osse, Old Saxon, Old High German ohso, German Ochse, Gothic auhsa), from PIE *uks-en- "male animal," (source also of Welsh ych "ox," Middle Irish oss "stag," Sanskrit uksa, Avestan uxshan- "ox, bull"), said to be from root *uks- "to sprinkle," related to *ugw- "wet, moist." The animal word, then, is literally "besprinkler."
Also used from late Old English of the wild, undomesticated bovines. The black ox "misfortune, adversity, old age," etc., is by 1540s.
1570s, "soft, wet, boggy land; a marsh," from obsolete quag "bog, marsh" + mire (n.). Early spellings or related forms include quamyre (1550s), quabmire (1590s), quadmire (c. 1600), quavemire (1520s), qualmire.
The extended sense of "difficult situation, inescapable bad position" is recorded by 1766; but this seems to have been not in common use in much of 19c. (absent in "Century Dictionary," 1897, which does, however, have a verb, marked "rare," meaning "to entangle or sink in or as in a quagmire"). It revived in a narrower sense in American English in reference to stalled military actions, 1965, with reference to the U.S. war in Vietnam (popularized in the book title "The Making of a Quagmire" by David Halberstam).
late 14c., idroforbia, "dread of water, aversion to swallowing water," a symptom of rabies in man (sometimes used for the disease itself), from Late Latin hydrophobia, from Greek hydrophobos "dreading water," from hydr-, stem of hydor "water" (from suffixed form of PIE root *wed- (1) "water; wet") + phobos "dread, fear" (see phobia). So called because human sufferers show aversion to water and have difficulty swallowing it. In Old English as wæterfyrhtness. Related: Hydrophobe.
The term hydrophobia, which has been so generally applied to the Lyssa canina, has been deservedly reprobated, because the "dread of water," the literal meaning of the word, is not a pathognomonic mark of the disease. The older writers used the terms aerophobia, or a "dread of air," and pantophobia, or a "fear of all things," as appropriate names for the disease, because the impression cold air sometimes excites terror, and the disorder is marked, by a singular degree of general timidity and distrust. ["Encyclopaedia Londinensis," 1823]
Used mainly of clothes in Old English (the principal verb for washing the body, dishes, etc. being þwean). Old French gaschier "to stain, soil; soak, wash" (Modern French gâcher) is from Frankish *waskan, from the same Germanic source. Italian guazzare also is a Germanic loan-word. To wash (one's) hands of something is 1550s, from Pilate in Matthew xxvii.24. To wash up "clean utensils after a meal" is from 1751. Washed up "no longer effective" is 1923, theater slang, from notion of washing up at the end of a job.
"superfluous, exceeding what is natural or necessary," c. 1600, from Latin redundantem (nominative redundans), present participle of redundare, literally "overflow, pour over; be over-full;" figuratively "be in excess," from re- "again" (see re-) + undare "rise in waves," from unda "a wave" (from PIE *unda-, nasalized form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet").
Also sometimes in 17c. in a more positive sense, "abounding to excess or fullness, exuberant, plentiful," e.g. in "Paradise Lost," though what he meant by it here is anyone's guess:
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires that on the grass
Of persons, in employment situations by 1928, chiefly British. Related: Redundantly. As a verb, redund has been tried at least once (1904); the etymological corresponding verb is the Frenchified redound.
"fall in drops through the air," Middle English reinen, from Old English regnian, usually contracted to rinan; see rain (n.), and compare Old Norse rigna, Swedish regna, Danish regne, Old High German reganon, German regnen, Gothic rignjan. Related: Rained; raining. Transferred and figurative use, of other things that fall in showers or drops (blessings, tears, etc.), is by c. 1200.
To rain on (someone's) parade is attested from 1941. Phrase to rain cats and dogs is attested from 1738 (variation rain dogs and polecats is from 1650s), of unknown origin and signification, despite intense speculation. One of the less likely suggestions is pets sliding off sod roofs when the sod got too wet during a rainstorm. (Ever see a dog react to a rainstorm by climbing up an exposed roof?) Probably rather an extension of cats and dogs as proverbial for "strife, enmity" (1570s).
1903, American English, earlier French fried potatoes (by 1856); see French (adj.) + fry (v.). Literally "potatoes fried in the French style." The name is from the method of making them by immersion in fat, which was then considered a peculiarity of French cooking.
There are 2 ways of frying known to cooks as (1) wet frying, sometimes called French frying or frying in a kettle of hot fat; and (2) dry frying or cooking in a frying pan. The best results are undoubtedly obtained by the first method, although it is little used in this country. ["The Household Cook Book," Chicago, 1902]
French frieds (1944) never caught on. Simple short form fries attested by 1973. In the Upper Midwest of the U.S., sometimes called, with greater accuracy, American fries (1950), and briefly during a period of mutual ill feeling, an attempt was made at freedom fries (2003; compare liberty-cabbage for sauerkraut during World War I). Related: French-fry.