Etymology
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asparagus (n.)
Origin and meaning of asparagus
plant cultivated for its edible shoots, late 14c., aspergy; late Old English sparage, from Latin asparagus (in Medieval Latin often sparagus), from Greek asparagos/aspharagos, which is of uncertain origin; perhaps with euphonic a- + PIE root *sp(h)er(e)g- "to spring up," but Beekes suggests "it is rather a substrate word," based in part on the p/ph variation.

In Middle English, asperages sometimes was regarded as a plural, with false singular aspergy. By 16c. the word had been Englished as far as sperach, sperage. The classical Latin form of the word is attested in English from mid-16c., but was limited at first to herbalists and botanists; the common form from 17c.-19c. was the folk-etymologized variant sparrowgrass, during which time asparagus had "an air of stiffness and pedantry" [John Walker, "Critical Pronouncing Dictionary," 1791]. Known in Old English as eorðnafela. Related: Asparaginous.
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astroid (adj.)
"star-shaped," 1909, from Greek astroeides, from astron "star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star") + -oeides (see -oid). Earlier as a noun (1897).
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assured (adj.)
late 14c., of persons, "confident, self-assured," past-participle adjective from assure. From early 15c. as "secure, made safe." Related: Assuredly; assuredness.
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ashlar (n.)
"square stone for building or paving," mid-14c., from Old French aisseler, Medieval Latin arsella "a little board or shingle," diminutive of Latin assis "a board, plank," also spelled axis, which is perhaps not the same axis that means "axle." De Vaan regards the spelling axis as a hyper-correction. The stone sense is peculiar to English. Meaning "thin slab of stone used as facing on a wall" is from 1823.
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aslant (adv.)
"in a sloping direction, not permendicular or at right angles," early 14c., o-slant, literally "on slant," from a- (1) "on" + slant (v.). As a preposition from c. 1600.
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ass-kissing (adj.)

"currying favor," by 1946 (as arse-kissing), apparently from or popularized by military slang in World War II. Ass-kisser is by 1943. Grose's 1788 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" has "A kiss mine arse fellow," defined as "a sycophant." As for the verbal phrase, the Towneley Plays, c. 1460, has Cain telling off Abel with "Com kis myne ars." A 1668 book of "Songs Alamode, Composed by the most Refined Wits of this Age" has a song with the line "And thou maist kiss mine Arse," and of course the Miller's Tale.

In early 20c. American-English ass-licker may have been more common than ass-kisser, at least in print sources, perhaps from German influence. "Leck mich im Arsch" is at least 18c., the title of a Mozart party song, the phrase having been branded into the minds of German readers by Goethe in "Götz von Berlichingen" (1773), where it is the hero's dramatic reply to a call to surrender. (E.g. the reply of Tjaden to the bullying NCO in "All Quiet on the Western Front," where Remarque euphemistically describes it as "dem bekanntesten Klassikerzitat.")

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asafetida (n.)
"pungent sap from the roots of several plants native to Persia and Afghanistan," used as a drug, late 14c., from Medieval Latin asa (Latinized from Persian aza "mastic") + foetida, fem. of foetidus "stinking" (see fetid).
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asexual (adj.)
1829, as a term in biology, "having no sex or sexual system," a hybrid from a- (3) "not" + sexual. In general contexts, "wanting sexuality, being of or referring to neither sex," attested from 1896.
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ascetic (n.)
1650s, "one rigorous in self-denial," especially as an act of religious devotion; 1670s, Ascetic, "one of the early Christians who retired to the desert to live solitary lives of meditation, self-denial, and prayer," from ascetic (adj.).
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ascendant (adj.)
late 14c., ascendent, in astrology, "rising over the horizon," from Latin ascendentem (nominative ascendans), present participle of ascendere "to mount, ascend, go up" (see ascend). Sense "moving upward, rising" is recorded from 1590s.

As a noun in astrology, "point of the ecliptic or sign of the zodiac which is on the eastern horizon at the moment of birth." The planet that rules the ascendant is believed to have predominant influence on the horoscope. Hence in the ascendant "ruling, dominant" (not, as is often thought, "rising"), 1670s, and the adjective meaning "superior, dominant," 1806.
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