Old English ta "toe" (plural tan), contraction of *tahe (Mercian tahæ), from Proto-Germanic *taihwō(n) (source also of Old Norse ta, Old Frisian tane, Middle Dutch te, Dutch teen (perhaps originally a plural), Old High German zecha, German Zehe "toe"). Perhaps originally meaning "fingers" as well (many PIE languages still use one word to mean both fingers and toes), and thus from PIE root *deik- "to show."
Þo stode hii I-armed fram heued to þe ton. [Robert of Gloucester, "Chronicle," c. 1300]
The old plural survived regionally into Middle English as tan, ton. To be on (one's) toes "alert, eager" is recorded from 1921. To step on (someone's) toes in the figurative sense "give offense" is from late 14c. Toe-hold "support for the toe of a boot in climbing" is from 1880.
mid-13c., "inordinately desirous to obtain and possess, avaricious," from Old French coveitos "desirous, covetous" (12c., Modern French convoiteux), from Vulgar Latin *cupiditosus, from Latin cupiditas "passionate desire, eagerness, ambition," from cupidus "very desirous," from cupere "long for, desire" (see cupidity). From late 14c. in a good sense, "very desirous, eager to acquire." Related: Covetously; covetousness.
COVETOUSNESS. The desire of possessing more than we have, of any good thing whatsoever of which we have already enough for our uses, (adding house to house, and field to field). It is much connected with pride ; but more with restlessness of mind and desire of novelty ; much seen in children who tire of their toys and want new ones. The pleasure in having things 'for one's very own' is a very subtle element in it. [Ruskin, "Fors Clavigera"]
also *ghed-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to seize, to take."
It forms all or part of: apprehend; apprentice; apprise; beget; comprehend; comprehension; comprehensive; comprise; depredate; depredation; emprise; enterprise; entrepreneur; forget; get; guess; impresario; misprision; osprey; predatory; pregnable; prehensile; prehension; prey; prison; prize (n.2) "something taken by force;" pry (v.2) "raise by force;" reprehend; reprieve; reprisal; reprise; spree; surprise.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek khandanein "to hold, contain;" Lithuanian godėtis "be eager;" second element in Latin prehendere "to grasp, seize;" Welsh gannu "to hold, contain;" Russian za-gadka "riddle;" Old Norse geta "to obtain, reach; to be able to; to beget; to learn; to be pleased with;" Albanian gjen "to find."
1560s, "sudden and apparently causeless turn of mind," of unknown origin. Perhaps it is from a dialectal survival of a word related to Middle English friken "to move nimbly or briskly," from Old English frician "to dance" [OED, Barnhart]. There is a freking attested in mid-15c., apparently meaning "capricious behavior, whims." Or perhaps from Middle English frek "eager, zealous, bold, brave, fierce" (see freak (n.2)).
The sense of "capricious notion" (1560s) and that of "unusual thing, fancy" (1784) preceded that of "abnormally developed individual or production" (first attested in freak of nature, 1839, which later was popular in variety show advertisements for bearded ladies, albinos, etc.; compare Latin lusus naturæ, which was used in English from 1660s). As "drug user" (usually appended to the name of the drug) it attested by 1945. The sense in health freak, ecology freak, etc. is attested from 1908 (originally Kodak freak "a camera buff"). Freak show is attested from 1887.
Old English fæst "firmly fixed, steadfast, constant; secure; enclosed, watertight; strong, fortified," probably from Proto-Germanic *fastu- "firm, fast" (source also of Old Frisian fest, Old Norse fastr, Dutch vast, German fest), from PIE root *past- "firm, solid" (source of Sanskrit pastyam "dwelling place").
Meaning "rapid, quick" is from 1550s, from fast (adv.) , in which entry the attempt is made to explain how a root meaning "firm, solid" came variously to yield words for "refrain from eating" (fast (v.)) and "rapid, quick." Of colors, from 1650s; of clocks, from 1840. The sense of "living an unrestrained life, eager in pursuit of pleasure" (usually of women) is from 1746 (fast living is from 1745).
Fast buck recorded from 1947; fast food is first attested 1951. Fast lane is by 1966; the fast track originally was in horse-racing (1934), one that permits maximum speed; figurative sense by 1960s. Fast-forward is by 1948, originally of audio tape.
late 14c., "mental derangement characterized by excitement and delusion," from Late Latin mania "insanity, madness," from Greek mania "madness, frenzy; enthusiasm, inspired frenzy; mad passion, fury," related to mainesthai "to rage, go mad," mantis "seer," menos "passion, spirit," all of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE *mnyo-, suffixed form of root *men- (1) "to think," with derivatives referring to qualities and states of mind or thought.
Mania is manifested by psychic elevation, increased motor activity, rapid speech and the quick flight of ideas. [Scientific American, September 1973]
Sense of "fad, craze, enthusiasm resembling mania, eager or uncontrollable desire" is by 1680s, from French manie in this sense. Sometimes nativized in Middle English as manye. Used since 1500s as the second element in compounds expressing particular types of madness (such as nymphomania, 1775; kleptomania, 1830; megalomania, 1890), originally in Medical Latin, in imitation of Greek, which had a few such compounds, mostly post-classical: gynaikomania (women), hippomania (horses), etc.
c. 1200, kene, from Old English cene "bold, brave, fearless," in later Old English "clever, prudent, wise, intelligent," common Germanic (cognate with Old Norse kænn "skillful, wise," Middle Dutch coene "bold," Dutch koen, Old High German kuon "pugnacious, strong," German kühn "bold, daring"), but according to OED there are no cognates outside Germanic and the original meaning is "somewhat obscure"; it seem to have been both "brave" and "skilled." Perhaps the connection notion was "to be able" and the word is connected to the source of can (v.1).
Sense of "eager (to do something), vehement, ardent" is from c. 1300. The physical meaning "sharp, sharp-pointed, sharp-edged" (c. 1200) is peculiar to English. Extended senses from c. 1300: Of sounds, "loud, shrill;" of cold, fire, wind, etc. "biting, bitter, cutting." Of eyesight c. 1720. A popular word of approval in teenager and student slang from c. 1900. Keener was 19c. U.S. Western slang for a person considered sharp or shrewd in bargaining.
mid-14c., "subtle, sophisticated;" late 14c., "eager to know, inquisitive, desirous of seeing" (often in a bad sense), also "wrought with or requiring care and art;" from Old French curios "solicitous, anxious, inquisitive; odd, strange" (Modern French curieux) and directly from Latin curiosus "careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly, meddlesome," akin to cura "care" (see cure (n.)).
The objective sense of "exciting curiosity" is by 1715 in English. In booksellers' catalogues, the word was a euphemism for "erotic, pornographic" (1877); such material was called curiosa (1883), the Latin neuter plural of curiosus. Related: Curiously; curiousness. Curiouser and curiouser is from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865).
Curious and inquisitive may be used in a good or a bad sense, but inquisitive is more often, and prying is only, found in the latter. Curious expresses only the desire to know; inquisitive, the effort to find out by inquiry; prying, the effort to find out secrets by looking and working in improper ways. [Century Dictionary]
"large carnivorous or omnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae," Old English bera "a bear," from Proto-Germanic *bero, literally "the brown (one)" (source also of Old Norse björn, Middle Dutch bere, Dutch beer, Old High German bero, German Bär), usually said to be from PIE root *bher- (2) "bright; brown." There was perhaps a PIE *bheros "dark animal" (compare beaver (n.1) and Greek phrynos "toad," literally "the brown animal").
Greek arktos and Latin ursus retain the PIE root word for "bear" (*rtko; see arctic), but it is believed to have been ritually replaced in the northern branches because of hunters' taboo on names of wild animals (compare the Irish equivalent "the good calf," Welsh "honey-pig," Lithuanian "the licker," Russian medved "honey-eater"). Others connect the Germanic word with Latin ferus "wild," as if it meant "the wild animal (par excellence) of the northern woods."
Symbolic of Russia since 1794. Used of rude, gruff, uncouth men since 1570s. Stock market meaning "speculator for a fall" is 1709 shortening of bearskin jobber (from the proverb sell the bearskin before one has caught the bear); i.e. "one who sells stock for future delivery, expecting that meanwhile prices will fall." Paired with bull from c. 1720. Bear claw as a type of large pastry is from 1942, originally chiefly western U.S. Bear-garden (1590s) was a place where bears were kept for the amusement of spectators.
"soft, grayish mass filling the cranial cavity of a vertebrate," in the broadest sense, "organ of consciousness and the mind," Old English brægen "brain," from Proto-Germanic *bragnan (source also of Middle Low German bregen, Old Frisian and Dutch brein), of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE root *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (source also of Greek brekhmos "front part of the skull, top of the head"). But Liberman writes that brain "has no established cognates outside West Germanic" and is not connected to the Greek word. More probably, he writes, its etymon is PIE *bhragno "something broken."
The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Figurative sense of "intellectual power" is from late 14c.; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. To have something on the brain "be extremely eager for or interested in" is from 1862. Brain-fart "sudden loss of memory or train of thought; sudden inability to think logically" is by 1991 (brain-squirt is from 1650s as "feeble or abortive attempt at reasoning"). An Old English word for "head" was brægnloca, which might be translated as "brain locker." In Middle English, brainsick (Old English brægenseoc) meant "mad, addled."