Etymology
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philosopher (n.)

early 14c., philosophre, "scholar, learned person, wise person; one devoted to the search for universal truth, a student of metaphysical and moral sciences," replacing Old English philosophe, from Latin philosophus "philosopher," from Greek philosophos "philosopher, sage, one who speculates on the nature of things and truth," literally "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" (see philo-) + sophos "wise; a sage" (see sophist). The form with -er is from an Anglo-French or Old French variant of philosophe with an agent-noun ending. Fem. forms were philosophress (1630s), philosophess (1660s).

Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty. [Klein]

Philosopher in the Middle Ages also could be "alchemist, magician, diviner," hence Philosophers' stone (late 14c., translating Medieval Latin lapis philosophorum, early 12c.), a reputed solid substance supposed by alchemists to change baser metals into gold or silver; also identified with the elixir and thus given the attribute of prolonging life indefinitely and curing wounds and disease. In French pierre philosophale, in German der Stein der Weisen.

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leper (n.)
"one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., earlier "the disease leprosy," from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," noun use of fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly, scabby, rough, leprous," related to lepein "to peel," from lepos, lepis "a scale," from PIE root *lep- (1) "to peel," which also yields words for "something delicate and weak," via the notion of "small shaving, flake, scale" (cognates: Latin lepidus "pleasant, charming, fine, elegant, effeminate," lepos "pleasantness, agreeableness;" Old English læfer "rush, reed; metal plate;" Lithuanian lopas "patch, rag, cloth," lepus "soft, weak, effeminate").

Originally in Middle English this was the word for the disease itself (mid-13c., via Old French lepre); the shift in meaning to "person with leprosy" perhaps developed in Anglo-French, or is because the -er ending resembled an agent-noun affix. By mid-15c. other nouns for the disease were being coined (see leprosy). In English lepra also was an old name for psoriasis (late 14c.).
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render (v.)

late 14c., rendren, rendre, "repeat, say again, recite; translate," from Old French rendre "give back, present, yield" (10c.) and Medieval Latin rendere, from Vulgar Latin *rendere, a variant of Latin reddere "give back, return, restore," from red- "back" (see re-) + combining form of dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give").

The alteration in Vulgar Latin was perhaps simply nasalization or perhaps on analogy of its antonym, prendre "to take" (itself a contraction of prehendere). The irregular retention of -er in a French verb in English is perhaps to avoid confusion with native rend (v.) or by influence of a Middle English legalese noun render "a payment of rent," which is in part from French noun use of the infinitive.

The sense of "reduce," in reference to fats, "clarify by boiling or steaming" also is from late 14c. The meaning "hand over, yield up, deliver" is recorded from c. 1400; sense of "to return" (thanks, a verdict, etc.) is attested from late 15c., as is that of "make or cause to be) in a certain state; the meaning "represent, depict" is attested from 1590s. Related: Rendered; renderer; rendering. Also compare rendition, rent (n.1).

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scavenger (n.)

1540s, originally "person hired to remove refuse from streets," a modification of Middle English scavager, scawageour (late 14c.), the title of a London official who originally was charged with collecting tax on goods sold by foreign merchants.

This is from Middle English scavage, scauage (Anglo-French scawage) "toll or duty exacted by a local official on goods offered for sale in one's precinct" (c. 1400), from Old North French escauwage "inspection," from a Germanic source (compare Old High German scouwon, Old English sceawian "to look at, inspect;" see show (v.)).

The scavenger later was charged with inspection and maintenance of streets: Blount's description ("Glossographia," 1656) is "an Officer well known in London, that makes clean the streets, by scraping up and carrying away the dust and durt." The modern general sense of the word "one who collects and consumes or puts to use what has been discarded" evolved through the notion of "collect and dispose of rubbish."

The word came to be regarded as an agent noun in -er, but the verb scavenge (q.v.) is a late back-formation from the noun. For the unetymological -n- (c. 1500), compare harbinger, passenger, messenger, etc. Extended 1590s to animals that feed on decaying matter. Scavenger hunt is attested from 1937. Mayhew (1851) has scavagery "street-cleaning, removal of filth from streets."

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earthworm (n.)

c. 1400, erþe-worme, popular name of the worms of the family Lumbricidae, from earth + worm (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðmata, also regnwyrm, literally "rain-worm." Old English also had angel-twæcce "earthworm used as bait" (with second element from root of twitch), sometimes used in medieval times as a medicament:

For the blake Jawndes take angylltwacches, er þei go in to the erth in the mornynge and fry hem. Take ix or x small angyltwacches, and bray hem, and giff the syke to drynke fastynge, with stale ale, but loke þat thei bene grounden so small that þe syke may nat se, ne witt what it is, for lothynge. [Book of Medical Recipes in Medical Society of London Library, c. 1450]
The people who inhabit the highlands of Southern Brazil have a firm belief in the existence of a gigantic earthworm fifty yards or more in length, five in breadth, covered with bones as with a coat-of-mail, and of such strength as to be able to uproot great pine-trees as though they were blades of grass, and to throw up such quantities of clay in making its way underground as to dam up streams and divert them into new courses. This redoubtable monster is known as the "Minhocao." [Popular Science, August 1878]
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*ak- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce."

It forms all or part of: acacia; acanthus; accipiter; acer; acerbic; acerbity; acervate; acervulus; acescent; acetic; acid; acicular; acme; acne; acrid; acridity; acrimony; acro-; acrobat; acromegaly; acronym; acrophobia; acropolis; acrostic; acrylic; acuity; aculeate; acumen; acupressure; acupuncture; acute; aglet; ague; Akron; anoxic; awn; coelacanth; dioxin; deoxy-; eager; ear (n.2) "grain part of corn;" edge (n.); egg (v.) "to goad on, incite;" eglantine; epoxy; ester; exacerbation; hammer; hypoxia; mediocre; oxalic; oxide; oxy-; oxygen; oxymoron; paragon; pyracanth; paroxysm; selvage; vinegar.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek akros "at the end, at the top, outermost; consummate, excellent," akis "sharp point," akē "point of an iron tool," akantha "thorn," akmē "summit, edge," oxys "sharp, bitter;" Sanskrit acri- "corner, edge," acani- "point of an arrow," asrih "edge;" Oscan akrid (ablative singular) "sharply;" Latin acer (fem. acris) "sharp to the senses, pungent, bitter, eager, fierce," acutus "sharp, pointed," acuere "to sharpen," acerbus "harsh, bitter," acere "be sharp, be bitter," acus "a needle, pin," ocris "jagged mountain;" Lithuanian ašmuo "sharpness," akstis "sharp stick;" Old Lithuanian aštras, Lithuanian aštrus "sharp;" Old Church Slavonic ostru, Russian óstryj "sharp;" Old Irish er "high;" Welsh ochr "edge, corner, border;" Old Norse eggja "goad;" Old English ecg "sword;" German Eck "corner."

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a- (1)

prefix or inseparable particle, a conglomerate of various Germanic and Latin elements.

In words derived from Old English, it commonly represents Old English an "on, in, into" (see on (prep.)), as in alive, above, asleep, aback, abroad, afoot, ashore, ahead, abed, aside, obsolete arank "in rank and file," etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns, with the notion "in, at; engaged in." In this use it is identical to a (2).

It also can represent Middle English of (prep.) "off, from," as in anew, afresh, akin, abreast. Or it can be a reduced form of the Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware.

Or it can be the Old English intensive a-, originally ar- (cognate with German er- and probably implying originally "motion away from"), as in abide, arise, awake, ashamed, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. Such words sometimes were refashioned in early modern English as though the prefix were Latin (accursed, allay, affright are examples).

In words from Romanic languages, often it represents reduced forms of Latin ad "to, toward; for" (see ad-), or ab "from, away, off" (see ab-); both of which by about 7c. had been reduced to a in the ancestor of Old French. In a few cases it represents Latin ex.

[I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]
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-or 

word-forming element making nouns of quality, state, or condition, from Middle English -our, from Old French -our (Modern French -eur), from Latin -orem (nominative -or), a suffix added to past participle verbal stems. Also in some cases from Latin -atorem (nominative -ator).

In U.S., via Noah Webster, -or is nearly universal (but not in glamour), while in Britain -our is used in most cases (but with many exceptions: author, error, tenor, senator, ancestor, horror etc.). The -our form predominated after c. 1300, but Mencken reports that the first three folios of Shakespeare's plays used both spellings indiscriminately and with equal frequency; only in the Fourth Folio of 1685 does -our become consistent.

A partial revival of -or on the Latin model took place from 16c. (governour began to lose its -u- 16c. and it was gone by 19c.), and also among phonetic spellers in both England and America (John Wesley wrote that -or was "a fashionable impropriety" in England in 1791).

Webster criticized the habit of deleting -u- in -our words in his first speller ("A Grammatical Institute of the English Language," commonly called the Blue-Black Speller) in 1783. His own deletion of the -u- began with the revision of 1804, and was enshrined in the influential "Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language" (1806), which also established in the U.S. -ic for British -ick and -er for -re, along with many other attempts at reformed spelling which never caught on (such as masheen for machine). His attempt to justify them on the grounds of etymology and the custom of great writers does not hold up.

Fowler notes the British drop the -u- when forming adjectives ending in -orous (humorous) and derivatives in -ation and -ize, in which cases the Latin origin is respected (such as vaporize). When the Americans began to consistently spell it one way, however, the British reflexively hardened their insistence on the other. "The American abolition of -our in such words as honour and favour has probably retarded rather than quickened English progress in the same direction." [Fowler]

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