Etymology
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informative (adj.)

1650s, "instructive, didactic," from Medieval Latin informativus, from Latin informatus, past participle of informare "to train, instruct, educate" (see inform). In Middle English, the same word meant "formative, shaping, plastic, having power to form or animate" (late 14c.). Related: Informatively.

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inspire (v.)

mid-14c., enspiren, "to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.);" also "to prompt or induce (someone to do something)," from Old French enspirer (13c.), from Latin inspirare "blow into, breathe upon," figuratively "inspire, excite, inflame," from in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit (n.)).

The Latin word was used as a loan-translation of Greek pnein in the Bible. General sense of "influence or animate with an idea or purpose" is from late 14c. Also sometimes used in literal sense in Middle English. Related: Inspires; inspiring.

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animal (n.)

early 14c., "any sentient living creature" (including humans), from Latin animale "living being, being which breathes," noun use of neuter of animalis (adj.) "animate, living; of the air," from anima "breath, soul; a current of air" (from PIE root *ane- "to breathe;" for sense development, compare deer).

A rare word in English before c. 1600, and not in KJV (1611). Commonly only of non-human creatures. It drove out the older beast in common usage. Used derisively of brutish humans (in which the "animal," or non-rational, non-spiritual nature is ascendant) from 1580s.

Quid est homo? A dedlych best and resonable, animal racionale. ["Battlefield Grammar," c. 1450]
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water (n.1)
Origin and meaning of water

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.).

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creature (n.)

c. 1300, "anything created," hence "a thing" in general, animate or not, but most commonly "a living being," from Old French creature "created being; all creation" (Modern French créature), from Late Latin creatura "a thing created; the creation; a creature," from creatus, past participle of Latin creare "to make, bring forth, produce, beget," from PIE root *ker- (2) "to grow."

Used of humans in limited cases, in contempt, commiseration, endearment. Meaning "person who owes his rise and fortune to another" is from 1580s. Meaning "anything that ministers to man's comforts" (1610s) is after I Timothy iv.4 ("Every creature of God is good") and led to the jocular use of creature for "whiskey, intoxicating drink" (1630s). Creature-comforts "material comforts" (food, clothing) is from 1650s. Related: Creatural; creaturely.

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soul (n.1)

"A substantial entity believed to be that in each person which lives, feels, thinks and wills" [Century Dictionary], Old English sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence; life, living being," from Proto-Germanic *saiwalō (source also of Old Saxon seola, Old Norse sala, Old Frisian sele, Middle Dutch siele, Dutch ziel, Old High German seula, German Seele, Gothic saiwala), of uncertain origin.

Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea," because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death [Barnhart]; if so, it would be from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (see sea). Klein explains this as "from the lake," as a dwelling-place of souls in ancient northern Europe.

Meaning "spirit of a deceased person" is attested in Old English from 971. As a synonym for "person, individual, human being" (as in every living soul) it dates from early 14c. Soul-searching (n.) is attested from 1871, from the phrase used as a present-participle adjective (1610s). Distinguishing soul from spirit is a matter best left to theologians.

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gender (n.)
Origin and meaning of gender

c. 1300, "kind, sort, class, a class or kind of persons or things sharing certain traits," from Old French gendre, genre "kind, species; character; gender" (12c., Modern French genre), from stem of Latin genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, family; kind, rank, order; species," also "(male or female) sex," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.

 The unetymological  -d- is a phonetic accretion in Old French (compare sound (n.1)). Also used in Latin to translate Aristotle's Greek grammatical term genos. The grammatical sense is attested in English from late 14c. Jespersen ("Philosophy of Grammar," 1924) defines grammatical gender by reference to the Indo-European distinction of masculine, feminine, neuter, "whether the division be based on the natural division into two sexes, or on that between animate and inanimate, or on something else."

The "male-or-female sex" sense of the word is attested in English from early 15c. As sex (n.) took on erotic qualities in 20c., gender came to be the usual English word for "sex of a human being," in which use it was at first regarded as colloquial or humorous. Later often in feminist writing with reference to social attributes as much as biological qualities; this sense first attested 1963. Gender-bender is from 1977, popularized from 1980, with reference to pop star David Bowie.

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quick (adj.)

Middle English quik, from Old English cwic "living, alive, animate, characterized by the presence of life" (now archaic), and figuratively, of mental qualities, "rapid, ready," from Proto-Germanic *kwikwaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian quik, Old Norse kvikr "living, alive," Dutch kwik "lively, bright, sprightly," Old High German quec "lively," German keck "bold"), from PIE root *gwei- "to live." Sense of "lively, active, swift, speedy, hasty," developed by c. 1300, on notion of "full of life."

NE swift or the now more common fast may apply to rapid motion of any duration, while in quick (in accordance with its original sense of 'live, lively') there is a notion of 'sudden' or 'soon over.' We speak of a fast horse or runner in a race, a quick starter but not a quick horse. A somewhat similar feeling may distinguish NHG schnell and rasch or it may be more a matter of local preference. [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]

Of persons, "mentally active, prompt to perceive or respond to impressions" from late 15c. Of an action, process, etc., "done in little time," 1540s. Also in Middle English used of soft soils, gravel pits, etc. where the ground is shifting and yielding (mid-14c., compare quicksand). Also in Middle English "with child, in an advanced state of pregnancy" (when the woman can feel the child move within). Also formerly of bright flowers or colors (c. 1200).

As an adverb, "quickly, in a quick manner," from c. 1300. To be quick about something is from 1937. Quick buck is from 1946, American English. Quick-change artist (1886) originally was an actor expert in playing different roles in the same performance of a show. Quick-witted is from 1520s.

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fire (n.)

Old English fyr "fire, a fire," from Proto-Germanic *fūr- (source also of Old Saxon fiur, Old Frisian fiur, Old Norse fürr, Middle Dutch and Dutch vuur, Old High German fiur, German Feuer "fire"), from PIE *perjos, from root *paewr- "fire." Current spelling is attested as early as 1200, but did not fully displace Middle English fier (preserved in fiery) until c. 1600.

PIE apparently had two roots for fire: *paewr- and *egni- (source of Latin ignis). The former was "inanimate," referring to fire as a substance, and the latter was "animate," referring to it as a living force (compare water (n.1)).

Brend child fuir fordredeþ ["The Proverbs of Hendyng," c. 1250]

English fire was applied to "ardent, burning" passions or feelings from mid-14c. Meaning "discharge of firearms, action of guns, etc." is from 1580s. To be on fire is from c. 1500 (in fire attested from c. 1400, as is on a flame "on fire"). To play with fire in the figurative sense "risk disaster, meddle carelessly or ignorantly with a dangerous matter" is by 1861, from the common warning to children. Phrase where's the fire?, said to one in an obvious hurry, is by 1917, American English.

Fire-bell is from 1620s; fire-alarm as a self-acting, mechanical device is from 1808 as a theoretical creation; practical versions began to appear in the early 1830s. Fire-escape (n.) is from 1788 (the original so-called was a sort of rope-ladder disguised as a small settee); fire-extinguisher is from 1826. A fire-bucket (1580s) carries water to a fire. Fire-house is from 1899; fire-hall from 1867, fire-station from 1828. Fire company "men for managing a fire-engine" is from 1744, American English. Fire brigade "firefighters organized in a body in a particular place" is from 1838. Fire department, usually a branch of local government, is from 1805. Fire-chief is from 1877; fire-ranger from 1887.

Symbolic fire and the sword is by c. 1600 (translating Latin flamma ferroque absumi); earlier yron and fyre (1560s), with suerd & flawme (mid-15c.), mid fure & mid here ("with fire and armed force"), c. 1200. Fire-breathing is from 1590s. To set the river on fire, "accomplish something surprising or remarkable" (usually with a negative and said of one considered foolish or incompetent) is by 1830, often with the name of a river, varying according to locality, but the original is set the Thames on fire (1796). The hypothetical feat was mentioned as the type of something impossibly difficult by 1720; it circulated as a theoretical possibility under some current models of chemistry c. 1792-95, which may have contributed to the rise of the expression.

[A]mong other fanciful modes of demonstrating the practicability of conducting the gas wherever it might be required, he anchored a small boat in the stream about 50 yards from the shore, to which he conveyed a pipe, having the end turned up so as to rise above the water, and forcing the gas through the pipe, lighted it just above the surface, observing to his friends "that he had now set the river on fire." ["On the Origins and Progress of Gas-lighting," in "Repertory of Patent Inventions," vol. III, London, 1827]
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