BajaRelated entries & more
in place names (such as Baja California), Spanish baja, literally "lower," either in elevation or geography.
Bakelite (n.)Related entries & more
type of plastic widely used early 20c., 1909, from German Bakelit, named for Belgian-born U.S. physicist Leo Baekeland (1863-1944), who invented it. Originally a proprietary name, it is formed by the condensation of a phenol with an aldehyde.
BalaamRelated entries & more
Biblical prophet (wicked, but not false) whose story is told in Numbers xxii-xxiv; figurative of "one who makes profession of religion for the sake of gain" from 1640s. Balaam's ass speaks in a human voice in Numbers xxii ("And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay."). In old newspaper jargon Balaam came to be used for paragraphs regarding marvelous or incredible events, used to fill out short columns (1826). The name is of uncertain origin.
Balaclava (n.)Related entries & more
"woolen head covering," especially worn by soldiers, evidently named for village near Sebastopol, Russia, site of a battle Oct. 25, 1854, in the Crimean War. But the term (originally Balaclava helmet) does not appear before 1881 and seems to have come into widespread use in the Boer War. The British troops suffered from the cold in the Crimean War, and the usage might be a remembrance of that conflict. The town name (Balaklava) often is said to be from Turkish, but is perhaps folk-etymologized from a Greek original Palakion.
BaldwinRelated entries & more
Balearic (adj.)Related entries & more
"of or pertaining to the islands in the Mediterranean just east of Spain," 1660s, from Latin Balearicus, from Greek Baliarikos, from the ancient name of the islands and their inhabitants; traditionally "the slingers" (from ballein "to throw, sling") in reference to their weapons.
BallardRelated entries & more
surname, attested from late 12c., probably meaning "bald head;" see Wyclif's "Stye up, ballard," where Coverdale translates "Come vp here thou balde heade" [2 Kings ii:23-24].
BalthazarRelated entries & more
masc. proper name, from French, from Latin, from Greek Baltasar, from Hebrew Belteshatztzar, Biblical king of Babylon (who "saw the writing on the wall"), from Babylonian Balat-shar-usur, literally "save the life of the king." As a type of very large wine bottle by 1935, in allusion to Daniel v.1.
Baltic (adj.)Related entries & more
1580s, "pertaining to the brackish sea between the Scandinavian peninsula and Eastern Europe," from Medieval Latin Balticus, perhaps from Lithuanian baltas "white" or Scandinavian balta "belt; strait" (in reference to its narrow entranceway). In German, it is Ostsee, literally "east sea." From 1887 as the name of a language group comprising Lithuanian, Lettish, and Old Prussian.
BaltimoreRelated entries & more
city in Maryland, U.S., founded 1729, named for Cecilius Calvert (1605-1675), 2nd baron Baltimore, who held the charter for Maryland colony; the name is from a small port town in southern Ireland where the family had its seat, from Irish Baile na Tighe Mor, literally "townland of the big house." In old baseball slang, a Baltimore chop was a hit right in front of the plate that bounced high.