"an antithetical word," 1867, coined to serve as opposite of synonym, from Greek anti "opposite, against" (see anti-) + onym "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name"). Perhaps introduced to English in the book "Synonyms and Antonyms" (1867) by the Ven. C.J. Smith, M.A.
UNDER the head of Synonyms and Antonyms, Archdeacon Smith arranges words which form an antithesis to one another. The word "antonym" is, we believe, a new formation but useful. [Journal of Sacred Literature, July 1867]
French antonyme (1842), German antonym (by 1859) are older. The un-Greek alternative counterterm has been left to fade.
Old English fleotan "to float; drift; flow, run (as water); swim; sail (of a ship)," from Proto-Germanic *fleutan (source also of Old Frisian fliata, Old Saxon fliotan "to flow," Old High German fliozzan "to float, flow," German fliessen "to flow, run, trickle" (as water), Old Norse fliota "to float, flow"), from PIE root *pleu- "to flow."
Meaning "to glide away like a stream, vanish imperceptibly" is from c. 1200; hence "to fade, to vanish" (1570s). Related: Fleeted; fleeting.
familiar term for an ass, 1785, also donky, donkie, originally slang or dialectal, of uncertain origin. Perhaps a diminutive from dun "dull gray-brown" (from Middle English donned, past participle of donnen "to lose color, fade, from Old English dunnian). Compare Dunning, name of a (dun) horse (mid-14c.), and see dun (adj.). The form perhaps was influenced by monkey.
Or perhaps it is from a familiar form of the proper name Duncan applied to an animal (compare dobbin). The older English word was ass (n.1). Applied to stupid, obstinate, or wrong-headed persons by 1840. In mechanics, used of small or supplementary apparatus from mid-19c. (donkey-engine, donkey-pump, etc.). Short form donk is by 1916.
c. 1400, "have a morbid craving;" early 15c., "grow feeble or sick, begin to die;" mid-15c., "to fade, fail, give way," probably from Middle Dutch quelen "to suffer, be ill," from Proto-Germanic *kwaljan (source also of Old Saxon quelan "to die," Old High German quelan "die," German quälen "suffer pain"), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce."
Or perhaps from obsolete quail "to curdle" (late 14c.), from Old French coailler, from Latin coagulare (see coagulate).
Sense of "lose heart or courage, shrink before a danger or difficulty, cower" is attested from 1550s. According to OED, the word was common 1520-1650, then rare until 19c., when apparently it was revived by Scott. Related: Quailed; quailing.
Middle English blechen, from Old English blæcan, of cloth or fabric, "to make white by removing color, whiten" (by exposure to chemical agents or the sun), from Proto-Germanic *blaikjan "to make white" (source also of Old Saxon blek, Old Norse bleikr, Dutch bleek, Old High German bleih, German bleich "pale;" Old Norse bleikja, Dutch bleken, German bleichen "to make white, cause to fade"), from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn," also "shining white."
The same root probably produced black (q.v.), perhaps because both black and white are colorless, or because both are associated in different ways with burning. For the contrary senses, compare Old English scimian, meaning both "to shine" and "to dim, grow dusky, grow dark," which is related to the source of shine.
The intransitive sense of "become white" is from 1610s. Related: Bleached; bleaching. The past participle in Middle English was sometimes blaught.
1580s (n.), "an aukward, ill-dressed, inelegant woman" [Johnson]; as an adjective, 1670s, "slovenly, shabby in dress" (of women). Perhaps a diminutive of Middle English doude "unattractive woman" (mid-14c.), which is of uncertain origin. Compare Scottish dow "to fade, wither, become dull or flat." In modern use it tends more toward "unfashionable, without style."
If plaine or homely, wee saie she is a doudie or a slut [Barnabe Riche, "Riche his Farewell to Militarie profession," 1581]
You don't have to be dowdy to be a Christian. [Tammy Faye Bakker, Newsweek, June 8, 1987]
Modern use of dowdy (adj.) is likely a back-formation from the noun. Related: Dowdily; dowdiness.
"open large-mouthed vessel," mid-14c., from Old Norse bikarr or Middle Dutch beker "goblet," probably (with Old Saxon bikeri, Old High German behhari, German Becher) from Medieval Latin bicarium, which is probably a diminutive of Greek bikos "earthenware jug, wine jar, vase with handles," also a unit of measure, a word of uncertain origin.
It is sometimes said to be a Semitic word, perhaps a borrowing from Syrian buqa "a two-handed vase or jug," or from Egyptian b:k.t "oil flask." The form has been assimilated in English to beak. Originally a drinking vessel; attested by 1877 in reference to a similar glass vessel used in scientific laboratories.
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
[Keats, from "Ode to a Nightingale"]