c. 1600, "descend, sink, grow less or lower" (intransitive), from lower (adj.), comparative of low (adj.). Transitive meaning "let down, cause to descend" attested from 1650s. Related: Lowered; lowering. In the transitive sense "to cause to descend" the older verb was low (Middle English lahghenn, c. 1200), which continued in use into the 18c.
Middle English lawar, lower, lougher, earlier lahre (c. 1200), comparative of lah "low" (see low (adj.)). As an adverb from 1540s. Lower-class is from 1772. Lower 48, "the forty-eight contiguous states of the United States of America, excluding Alaska and Hawaii," is by 1961 in an Alaska context (Hawaii actually is "lower" on the globe than all of them).
also low-brow, "person who is not intellectual," 1902, from low (adj.) + brow (n.). Said to have been coined by U.S. journalist Will Irwin (1873-1948), perhaps on the model of highbrow, which seems to be earlier. A low brow on a man as a sign of primitive qualities was common in 19c. fiction, but on a woman it was considered a mark of classical beauty.
A low brow and not a very high one is considered beautiful in woman, whereas a high brow and not a low one is the stamp of manhood. ["Medical Review," June 2, 1894]
As an adjective from 1913.
"in a lower position," early 14c., biloogh, from be- "by, about" + logh, lou, lowe "low" (see low (adj.)). Apparently a variant of earlier a-lowe (influenced by other adverbs in be-; see before), the parallel form to an-high (now on high).
Beneath was the usual word; below was very rare in Middle English and gained currency only in 16c. It is frequent in Shakespeare. As a preposition it is attested from 1570s. In nautical use, "off-duty," in contradistinction to "on deck." The meaning "inferior in rank or dignity" is from c. 1600. According to Fowler, below is the opposite of above and concerns difference of level and suggests comparison of independent things. Under is the opposite of over and is concerned with superposition and subjection and suggests some interrelation.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to lean."
It forms all or part of: acclivity; anticline; clemency; client; climate; climax; cline; clinic; clinical; clino-; clitellum; clitoris; decline; declivity; enclitic; heteroclite; incline; ladder; lean (v.); lid; low (n.2) "small hill, eminence;" matroclinous; patroclinous; polyclinic; proclitic; proclivity; recline; synclinal; thermocline.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit srayati "leans," sritah "leaning;" Old Persian cay "to lean;" Lithuanian šlyti "to slope," šlieti "to lean;" Latin clinare "to lean, bend," clivus "declivity," inclinare "cause to bend," declinare "bend down, turn aside;" Greek klinein "to cause to slope, slant, incline;" Old Irish cloin "crooked, wrong;" Middle Irish cle, Welsh cledd "left," literally "slanting").
*kelə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to shout." Perhaps imitative.
It forms all or part of: acclaim; acclamation; Aufklarung; calendar; chiaroscuro; claim; Claire; clairvoyance; clairvoyant; clamor; Clara; claret; clarify; clarinet; clarion; clarity; class; clear; cledonism; conciliate; conciliation; council; declaim; declare; disclaim; ecclesiastic; eclair; exclaim; glair; hale (v.); halyard; intercalate; haul; keelhaul; low (v.); nomenclature; paraclete; proclaim; reclaim; reconcile.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit usakala "cock," literally "dawn-calling;" Latin calare "to announce solemnly, call out," clamare "to cry out, shout, proclaim;" Middle Irish cailech "cock;" Greek kalein "to call," kelados "noise," kledon "report, fame;" Old High German halan "to call;" Old English hlowan "to low, make a noise like a cow;" Lithuanian kalba "language."