Etymology
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stagger (v.)

mid-15c., "walk unsteadily, reel" (intransitive), altered from stakeren (early 14c.), from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Danish stagra, Old Norse stakra "to push, shove, cause to reel," also "to stumble, stagger," perhaps literally "hit with a stick," from Proto-Germanic *stakon- "a stake," from PIE *steg- (1) "pole, stick." Cognate with Dutch staggelen "to stagger," German staggeln "to stammer." Transitive sense of "bewilder, amaze" first recorded 1550s; that of "arrange in a zig-zag pattern" is from 1856. Related: Staggered; staggering.

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stumble (v.)

c. 1300, "to trip or miss one's footing" (physically or morally), probably from a Scandinavian source (compare dialectal Norwegian stumla, Swedish stambla "to stumble"), probably from a variant of the Proto-Germanic base *stam-, source of Old English stamerian "to stammer," German stumm, Dutch stom "dumb, silent." Possibly influenced in form by stumpen "to stumble," but the -b- may be purely euphonious. Meaning "to come (upon) by chance" is attested from 1550s. Related: Stumbled; stumbling. Stumbling-block first recorded 1526 (Tindale), used in Romans xiv.13, where usually it translates Greek skandalon.

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stutter (v.)

1560s, frequentative form of stutt "to stutter," from Middle English stutten "to stutter, stammer" (late 14c.), cognate with Middle Low German stoten "to knock, strike against, collide," from Proto-Germanic *staut- "push, thrust" (source also of Old Saxon stotan, Old High German stozan, Gothic stautan "to push, thrust;" German stutzen "to cut short, curtail; to stop short, hesitate," Dutch stuiten "to stop, check, arrest, stem."), from PIE *(s)teu- (1) "to hit, beat, knock against" (see steep (adj.)). The noun is attested from 1854. Related: Stuttered; stuttering; stutterer.

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hobble (v.)

c. 1300, hoblen "to rock back and forth, toss up and down," probably from or cognate with dialectal German hoppeln, Dutch hobbelen "toss, ride on a hobby-horse; stutter, stammer" (which, however, is not recorded before late 15c.). Or perhaps a variant frequentative of hop (v.).

Meaning "to walk lamely" is from c. 1400. Transitive sense of "tie the legs (of an animal)" to impede or prevent free motion first recorded 1831, probably an alteration of 16c. hopple, cognate with Flemish hoppelen "to rock, jump," which also is related to Dutch hobbelen. Sense of "hamper, hinder" is c. 1870. Related: Hobbled; hobbling.

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hesitation (n.)

c. 1400, from Old French hesitacion or directly from Latin haesitationem (nominative haesitatio) "a hesitation, stammering," figuratively "irresolution, uncertainty," noun of action from past participle stem of haesitare "stick fast, remain fixed; stammer in speech," figuratively "hesitate, be irresolute, be at a loss, be undecided," frequentative of haerere (past participle haesus, first person perfect indicative haesi) "to adhere, stick, cling."

This is said by Watkins to be from PIE root *ghais- "to adhere, hesitate" (source also of Lithuanian gaišti "to delay, tarry, be slow"), but some linguists reject the proposed connection; de Vaan offers no etymology.

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barbarian (n.)

early 15c., in reference to classical history, "a non-Roman or non-Greek," earlier barbar (late 14c.) "non-Roman or non-Greek person; non-Christian; person speaking a language different from one's own," from Medieval Latin barbarinus (source of Old French barbarin "Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian"), from Latin barbarus "strange, foreign, barbarous," from Greek barbaros "foreign, strange; ignorant," from PIE root *barbar- echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (compare Sanskrit barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan," Latin balbus "stammering," Czech blblati "to stammer").

Greek barbaroi (plural noun) meant "all that are not Greek," but especially the Medes and Persians; originally it was not entirely pejorative, but its sense became moreso after the Persian wars. The Romans (technically themselves barbaroi) took up the word and applied it to tribes or nations which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments.

Also in Middle English (c. 1400) "native of the Barbary coast;" meaning "rude, wild person" is from 1610s. Occasionally in 19c. English distinguished from savage (n.) as being a step closer to civilization. Sometimes, in reference to Renaissance Italy, "a non-Italian." It also was used to translate the usual Chinese word of contempt for foreigners.

Barbarian applies to whatever pertains to the life of an uncivilized people, without special reference to its moral aspects. Barbarous properly expresses the bad side of barbarian life and character, especially its inhumanity or cruelty: as, a barbarous act. Barbaric expresses the characteristic love of barbarians for adornment, magnificence, noise, etc., but it is not commonly applied to persons: it implies the lack of cultivated taste .... [Century Dictionary, 1889]
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