Etymology
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motility (n.)

"capacity of automatic or spontaneous movement," 1827, from French motilité (1827), from Latin mot-, stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").

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hairbreadth (n.)

also hairsbreadth, hairs-breadth, hair's breadth, from late 15c. as a measure of minute exactness. It is said to once have been a formal unit of measure equal to one-forty-eighth of an inch. From hair + breadth.

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measureless (adj.)

"immeasurable, unlimited," late 14c., mesureles, from measure (n.) + -less.

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competent (adj.)

late 14c., "suitable, answering all requirements, sufficient, adequate," from Old French competent "sufficient, appropriate, suitable," and directly from Latin competentem (nominative competens), present participle of competere "coincide, agree" (see compete). It preserves the classical Latin sense of the verb, whereas the meaning in compete is a post-classical evolution. Meaning "able, fit, having ability or capacity" is from 1640s. Legal sense "having legal capacity or qualification" is late 15c. Related: Competently.

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cadence (v.)

"to regulate by musical measure," 1749, from cadence (n.). Related: Cadenced; cadencing.

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peck (n.1)

"dry measure of one-quarter bushel," late 13c., pekke, of unknown origin; perhaps connected with Old French pek, picot (13c.), also of unknown origin (Barnhart says these were borrowed from English). Chiefly of oats for horses; original sense may be "allowance" rather than a fixed measure, thus perhaps from peck (v.). Originally not a precise measure and later sometimes used colloquially as "a great deal" (a peck of troubles, etc.).

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scantily (adv.)

"inadequately, insufficiently, in scanty measure," 1774; see scanty + -ly (2).

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overkill (n.)

"capacity to kill in excess of what is required or wanted," 1958, from over- + kill (v.). Originally in reference to nuclear arsenals; the general sense is from 1965. The verb is attested from 1946.

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tetrameter (n.)

1610s, from Late Latin tetrametrus, from Greek tetrametron "verse of four measures" (generally trochaic), noun use of neuter of tetrametros (adj.) "having four measures," from tetra- "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four") + metron "poetic meter, measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").

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carat (n.)

also karat, late 15c., "a measure of the fineness of gold," from Old French carat "measure of the fineness of gold" (14c.), from Italian carato or Medieval Latin carratus, both from Arabic qirat "fruit of the carob tree," also "weight of 4 grains," from Greek keration "carob seed," also the name of a small weight of measure, literally "little horn" diminutive of keras "horn of an animal" (from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head").

Carob beans were a standard in the ancient world for weighing small quantities. The Greek measure was the equivalent of the Roman siliqua, which was one-twenty-fourth of a golden solidus of Constantine; hence karat took on a sense of "a proportion of one twenty-fourth, a twenty-fourth part," especially in expressing the fineness of gold when used as jewelry, and thus it became a measure of gold purity (1550s): 18-carat gold is eighteen parts gold, six parts alloy; 14-carat gold is 10/24ths alloy, etc.

As a measure of weight for diamonds or other precious stones, carat is attested from 1570s in English. In U.S., karat is used for "proportion of fine gold in an alloy" and carat for "measure of weight of a precious stone."

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