"perceive or recognize the difference or distinction between (two or more things);" also "distinguish (an object) with the eyes, see distinctly, behold;" also "perceive rationally, understand;" late 14c., from Old French discerner (13c.) "distinguish (between), separate" (by sifting), and directly from Latin discernere "to separate, set apart, divide, distribute; distinguish, perceive," from dis- "off, away" (see dis-) + cernere "distinguish, separate, sift" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish"). Related: Discerned; discerning.
c. 1200, "come to (a person) to comfort or benefit," from Old French visiter "to visit; inspect, examine; afflict" (12c.) and directly from Latin visitare "to go to see, come to inspect," frequentative of visere "behold, visit" (a person or place), from past participle stem of videre "to see, notice, observe" (from PIE root *weid- "to see"). Originally of the deity, later of pastors and doctors (c. 1300), general sense of "pay a call" is from mid-13c. Meaning "come upon, afflict" (in reference to sickness, punishment, etc.) is recorded in English from mid-14c. Related: Visited; visiting.
early 13c., from Old English la, exclamation of surprise, grief, joy, or mere greeting; probably merged with or influenced in Middle English by lo!, which is perhaps short for lok "look!" imperative of loken "to look" (see look (v.)). Expression lo and behold attested by 1779. In old U.S. slang, Lo was a generic name for an Indian or the Indians collectively (1871), from jocular use of Pope's line "Lo, the poor Indian" ["Essay on Man"].
late 14c., an astrological term, "relative position of the planets as they appear from earth" (i.e., how they "look at" one another); also "one of the ways of viewing something," from Latin aspectus "a seeing, looking at, sight, view; countenance; appearance," from past participle of aspicere "to look at, look upon, behold; observe, examine," figuratively "consider, ponder," from ad "to" (see ad-) + specere "to look" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").
The meanings "the look one wears" and "the appearance of things" are attested by early 15c. The sense of "a facing in a given direction" is from 1660s.
masc. proper name, Old Testament eldest son of Jacob and name of the tribe descended from him, from Greek Rouben, from Hebrew Reubhen, probably literally "Behold a son," from reu, imperative of ra'ah "he saw" + ben "a son."
As a typical name of a farmer, rustic, or country bumpkin, from 1804. The Reuben sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut, etc., on rye bread, an American specialty (1956) is the same name but "Not obviously connected" with the "country bumpkin" sense in rube [OED], but is possibly from Reuben's restaurant, a popular spot in New York's Lower East Side. Various other Reubens have been proposed as the originator.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to observe."
It forms all or part of: aspect; auspex; auspices; auspicious; bishop; circumspect; conspicuous; despicable; despise; episcopal; especial; espionage; espy; expect; frontispiece; gyroscope; haruspex; horoscope; inspect; inspection; inspector; introspect; introspection; perspective; perspicacious; perspicacity; prospect; prospective; respect; respite; retrospect; scope; -scope; scopophilia; -scopy; skeptic; species; specimen; specious; spectacle; spectacular; spectrum; speculate; speculation; speculum; spice; spy; suspect; suspicion; suspicious; telescope.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit spasati "sees;" Avestan spasyeiti "spies;" Greek skopein "behold, look, consider," skeptesthai "to look at," skopos "watcher, one who watches;" Latin specere "to look at;" Old High German spehhon "to spy," German spähen "to spy."
late 14c., "open air place in ancient times for viewing spectacles and plays," from Old French theatre (12c., Modern French théâtre, improperly accented) and directly from Latin theatrum "play-house, theater; stage; spectators in a theater" (source also of Spanish, Italian teatro), from Greek theatron "theater; the people in the theater; a show, a spectacle," literally "place for viewing," from theasthai "to behold" (related to thea "a view, a seeing; a seat in the theater," theates "spectator") + -tron, suffix denoting place. (In Old English glosses, theatrum is rendered by wafungstede "a place for sights").
Meaning "building where plays are shown" is from 1570s in English. Transferred sense of "plays, writing, production, the stage" is from 1660s. Generic sense of "place of action" is from 1580s; especially "region where war is being fought" (1914). Spelling with -re arose late 17c. and prevailed in Britain after c. 1700 by French influence, but American English retained or revived the older spelling in -er.
Old English stille "motionless, stable, fixed, stationary," from Proto-Germanic *stilli- (source also of Old Frisian, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch stille, Dutch stil, Old High German stilli, German still), from PIE *stel-ni-, suffixed form of root *stel- "to put, stand, put in order," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place. Meaning "quiet, calm, gentle, silent" emerged in later Old English. Euphemistic for "dead" in stillborn, etc. Still small voice is from KJV:
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. [I Kings xix.11-13]
Used as a conjunction from 1722.
Middle English sēn, from Old English seon (Anglian sean) "be or become aware of by means of the eye; look, behold;" also "perceive mentally, understand; experience; visit (a place); inspect" (contracted class V strong verb; past tense seah, past participle sewen), from Proto-Germanic *sehwanan (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German sehan, Middle High German, German sehen, Old Frisian sia, Middle Dutch sien, Old Norse sja, Gothic saihwan).
This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *sekw- (2) "to see." That PIE root often was said to be probably identical with *sekw- (1) "to follow," which produced words for "say" in Greek and Latin, and also words for "follow" (such as Latin sequor), but "opinions differ in regard to the semantic starting-point and sequences" [Buck]. Thus see might mean, etymologically, "follow with the eyes" (and in some languages extending to "speak, say, tell"). But OED finds this "involves a hypothetical sense-development which it is not easy to accept with confidence," and Boutkan also doubts the connection and gives the word "No certain PIE etymology."
It is attested by late Old English as "be able to see with the eyes, have the faculty of sight, not be blind."
As the sense of sight affords far more complete and definite information respecting external objects than any other of the senses, mental perceptions are in many (perh. in all) languages referred to in visual terms, and often with little or no consciousness of metaphor. [OED]
English see has been used in many of these senses since early Middle English: "foresee; behold in the imagination or in a dream," also "to recognize the force of (a demonstration)," all c. 1200.
It is attested by c. 1300 as "ensure, make sure" (something is so, someone does something). To see to is by late 14c. as "be attentive to, take special care about" (also "to look at"); hence "attend to, arrange for, bring about as a result." See to it "take special care; see that it be done" is from late 15c.
The sense of "escort" (as in see you home) is attested c. 1600 in Shakespeare. The meaning "to receive as a visitor" is attested from c. 1500. The wagering sense of "equal a bet, accept by staking a similar sum" is by 1590s. Used in phrases expressing comparative and superlative (best I've ever seen) from early 14c.
Imperative use of see! "look! behold!" is by early 14c. Emphatic expression see here is attested from early 15c.; probably the notion is "see, here is ...;" but the modern use of it as "a brusque form of address used to preface an order," etc. [OED] is by 1897 in schoolboy talk. The qualifying expression as far as I can see is attested from 1560s.
Let me see as a statement expressing consideration when the speaker is trying to recall something is recorded from 1510s. See you as a casual farewell is attested by 1891 (see you soon; probably short for hope to see you soon). To see something in (someone, etc.) "perceive good or attractive qualities in" is by 1832.
"narrow track worn or cut in the ground," as by a passing wheeled vehicle, 1570s, probably from Middle English route "way, a road, space for passage" (see route (n.)); though OED finds this "improbable." If so, it is a doublet of route.
Of the lines on the face by 1620s. The figurative meaning "narrow, monotonous routine; habitual mode of behavior or procedure" is attested by 1839 (Carlyle); earlier figurative use was as an obstacle to rapid transit (1705).
Enter an OLD LADY.
[Bosola] You come from painting now.
Old Lady. From what?
Bos. Why, from your scurvy face-physic.
To behold thee not painted, inclines somewhat near
A miracle: these in thy face here, were deep ruts,
And foul sloughs, the last progress.
There was a lady in France, that having the small-pox,
Flay'd the skin off her face, to make it more level;
And whereas before she looked like a nutmeg-grater,
After she resembled an abortive hedgehog.
[Webster, "The Duchess of Malfi"]
The verb meaning "mark with or as with ruts" is by c. 1600. Related: Rutted; rutting.