Etymology
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vexatious (adj.)
1530s; see vexation + -ous. Related: Vexatiously; vexatiousness.
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pungent (adj.)

1590s, "sharp and painful, poignant, piercing," originally figurative, of pain or grief, from Latin pungentem (nominative pungens), present participle of pungere "to prick, pierce, sting," figuratively, "to vex, grieve, trouble, afflict" (from suffixed form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick"). For sense development, compare piquant; sharp (adj.).

Meaning "having powerful odor or taste, sharply affecting the sense of smell" is recorded by 1660s; in reference to writing, etc., "sharply affecting the mind, curt and expressive" is by 1850. The literal sense of "sharp, pointed" (c. 1600) is very rare in English and mostly limited to botany.

Middle English and early Modern English also had a now-obsolete verb punge "to prick, pierce; to smart, cause to sting," from Latin pungere. Related: Pungently.

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worry (v.)
Origin and meaning of worry

c. 1300, wirien, "to slay, kill or injure by biting and shaking the throat" (as a dog or wolf does), from Old English wyrgan "to strangle," from Proto-Germanic *wurgjan (source also of Middle Dutch worghen, Dutch worgen, Old High German wurgen, German würgen "to strangle," Old Norse virgill "rope"), from *wergh-, from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."

The "strangle" sense generally was obsolete in English after c. 1600; the figurative meaning "to annoy, bother, vex" is by c. 1400. Meaning "to cause mental distress or trouble" is attested from 1822; intransitive sense of "to feel anxiety or mental trouble" is attested by 1860.  Related: Worried; worrier; worrying. 

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quell (v.)

Middle English quellen "to kill" (a person or animal), from Old English cwellan "to kill, cause to die; murder, execute," from Proto-Germanic *kwaljanan (source also of Old English cwelan "to die," cwalu "violent death;" Old Saxon quellian "to torture, kill;" Old Norse kvelja "to torment;" Middle Dutch quelen "to vex, tease, torment;" Old High German quellan "to suffer pain," German quälen "to torment, torture"), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce."

The original sense is obsolete; the milder sense of "suppress, extinguish, cause to cease," developed by c. 1300; that of "reduce to peace or subjection" is by 1560s. Compare quail (v.). "The common identification of quell with kill (1), of which it is said to be the earlier form, is erroneous" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Quelled; quelling.

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chafe (v.)

c. 1300, chaufen, "be provoked, grow or be excited;" late 14c. in literal sense "to make warm, to heat" (also intransitive, "to grow warm or hot"), especially (early 15c.) "to warm by rubbing, excite heat by friction," from Old French chaufer "heat, warm up, become warm" (12c., Modern French chauffer), from Vulgar Latin *calefare, from Latin calefacere "to make hot, make warm," from calere "be warm" (from PIE root *kele- (1) "warm") + facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

From 1520s as "abrade the skin by rubbing." Figurative senses from late 14c. include now-obsolete "kindle (joy), inspire, make passionate" as well as "provoke, vex, anger." Related: Chafed; chafing. Chafing-dish is from late 15c.

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gremlin (n.)

"small imaginary creature blamed for mechanical failures," oral use in R.A.F. aviators' slang from Malta, the Middle East and India is said to date to 1923. First printed use perhaps in poem in journal "Aeroplane" April 10, 1929; certainly in use by 1941, and popularized in World War II and picked up by Americans (for example New York Times Magazine April 11, 1943). Of unknown origin. OED says "probably formed by analogy with GOBLIN." Speculations in Barnhart are a possible dialectal survival of Old English gremman "to anger, vex" + the -lin of goblin; or Irish gruaimin "bad-tempered little fellow." Surfer slang for "young surfer, beach trouble-maker" is from 1961 (short form gremmie by 1962).

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scrod (n.)

1841, "a young cod, split and fried or boiled," a New England word of uncertain origin, possibly from Dutch schrood "piece cut off," from Middle Dutch scrode "shred" (cognate with Old English screade "piece cut off;" see shred (n.)). If this is the origin, the notion is probably of fish cut into pieces for drying or cooking.

A Boston brahmin is on a business trip to Philadelphia. In search of dinner, and hungry for that Boston favorite, broiled scrod, he hops into a cab and asks the driver, "My good man, take me someplace where I can get scrod." The cabbie replies, "Pal, that's the first time I've ever been asked that in the passive pluperfect subjunctive." [an old joke in Philadelphia, this version of it from "Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch," Constance Hale, 2012]
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kill (v.)

c. 1200, "to strike, hit, beat, knock;" c. 1300, "to deprive of life, put to death;" perhaps from an unrecorded variant of Old English cwellan "to kill, murder, execute," from Proto-Germanic *kwaljanan (source also of Old English cwelan "to die," cwalu "violent death;" Old Saxon quellian "to torture, kill;" Old Norse kvelja "to torment;" Middle Dutch quelen "to vex, tease, torment;" Old High German quellan "to suffer pain," German quälen "to torment, torture"), from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce." Related: Killed; killing.

The meaning "to nullify or neutralize the qualities of" is attested from 1610s. Of time, from 1728; of engines, from 1886; of lights, from 1934. Kill-devil, colloquial for "rum," especially if new or of bad quality, is from 1630s. Dressed to kill is first attested 1818 in a letter of Keats (compare killing (adj.) in the sense "overpowering, fascinating, attractive").

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seek (v.)

Middle English sēchen "go in search or quest of; strive for, try to attain," from Old English secan, seocan "search for; pursue, chase; long for, wish for, desire; look for, expect from," influenced by Old Norse soekja, both from Proto-Germanic *sokjanan (source also of Old Saxon sokian, Old Frisian seka, Middle Dutch soekan, Old High German suohhan, German suchen, Gothic sokjan).

This is reconstructed to be from PIE *sag-yo-, from root *sag- "to track down, seek out" (source also of Latin sagire "to perceive quickly or keenly," sagus "presaging, predicting," Old Irish saigim "seek"). The natural modern form of the Anglo-Saxon word, had it not been influenced by Norse, is in beseech. Related: Sought; seeking. 

By late Old English as "ask a question." Seek-sorrow (1580s) was an old term for "a self-tormentor, one who contrives to vex himself." Seek-no-further (or farther) as the name of a type of eating apple is by 1660s.

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starvation (n.)

1778, hybrid noun of action from starve. Famously (but not certainly) introduced in English by Henry Dundas during debate in the House of Commons in 1775 on American affairs. It earned him the nickname "Starvation Dundas," though sources disagree on whether this was given in objection to the harshness of his suggestion of starving the rebels into submission or in derision at the barbarous formation of the word. It is one of the earliest instances of -ation used with a native Germanic word (flirtation is earlier), based on a false analogy with vex/vexation, etc.

As to Lord Chatham, the victories, conquests, extension of our empire within these last five years, will annihilate his fame of course, and he may be replaced by Starvation Dundas, whose pious policy suggested that the devil of rebellion could be expelled only by fasting, though that never drove him out of Scotland. [Horace Walpole, letter to the Rev. William Mason, April 25, 1781]
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