late 13c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "thick board used in construction," from Old North French planke, a variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." Planche itself was also used in Middle English.
Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. The political sense of "article or paragraph formulating a distinct principle in a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848, based on the double sense of platform. To be made to walk the plank, "be forced to walk along a plank laid across the bulwarks of a ship until one reaches the end and falls into the sea," popularly supposed to have been a pirate form of execution, is attested from 1789, and most early references are to slave-ships disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.
c. 1200, doten, "behave irrationally, do foolish things, be or become silly or deranged," also "be feeble-minded from age," probably from an unrecorded Old English word akin to Middle Low German and Middle Dutch doten "be foolish, be out of one's mind," all of which are of unknown origin, or directly from these words.
Century Dictionary and OED compare Dutch dutten "take a nap; mope;" Icelandic dotta "to nod, sleep;" Middle High German totzen "take a nap." Wedgwood writes, "The radical sense seems to be to nod the head, thence to become sleepy, to doze, to become confused in the understanding."
From late 15c. as "be infatuated, bestow excessive love." Also in Middle English "to decay, deteriorate," in reference to rotten timber, etc. (mid-15c.). There was a noun dote "fool, simpleton, senile man" (mid-12c.), but Middle English Compendium considers this to be from the verb. Related: Doted; dotes; doting.
"timber sawn into rough planks for use," 1660s, American English (Massachusetts), earlier "disused bit of furniture; heavy, useless objects" (1550s), of uncertain origin. It is said to be probably from lumber (v.1) on the notion of "awkward to move," and perhaps to have been influenced by or associated with Lombard (q.v.), the Italian immigrant class famous as pawnbrokers (and money-lenders) in old England. Lumbar and Lumbard were old alternative forms of Lombard in English.
The evolution of sense then would be because a lumber-house ("pawn shop; place where thieves stash stolen property") naturally accumulates odds and ends of furniture. The 19th century guess was that it comes directly from lumber-house or lumber-room in the pawn shop sense, but these are not attested before lumber (n.). Lumber camp is from 1841; lumber-mill is from 1830; lumber-yard is from 1777.
Live Lumber, soldiers or passengers on board a ship are so called by the sailors. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785]
Old English ribb "a rib; one of a series of long, slender, curved bones of humans and animals, forming a kind of cage or partial enclosure for the chief organs," from Proto-Germanic *rebjan (source also of Old Norse rif, Old Saxon ribbi, Old Frisian rib, reb, Middle Dutch, Dutch ribbe, Old High German ribba, German Rippe).
Boutkan finds the old derivation of this from PIE *rebh- "to roof, cover" (on the notion of "a covering" of the cavity of the chest) doubtful, "particularly because the alleged semantic development to 'rib' is found only in Gmc. and Slavic."
Cookery sense of "piece of meat from an ox, pig, etc. containing one or more ribs" is from early 15c. As "a ship's curved frame timber" from 1550s.
Rib-roast "joint of meat for roasting which includes one or more ribs" is by 1889. Rib-eye for a cut of meat that lies along the outer side of a rib is by 1926, American English, with eye in a specialized sense in butchery. Rib joint "brothel" is slang from 1943, probably in reference to Adam's rib (compare rib "woman, wife," attested from 1580s).
"end of a ridged roof cut off in a vertical plane, together with the wall from the level of the eaves to the apex," mid-14c., "a gable of a building; a facade," from Old French gable "facade, front, gable," from Old Norse gafl "gable, gable-end" (in north of England, the word probably is directly from Norse), according to Watkins, probably from Proto-Germanic *gablaz "top of a pitched roof" (source also of Middle Dutch ghevel, Dutch gevel, Old High German gibil, German Giebel, Gothic gibla "gable"). This is traced to a PIE *ghebh-el- "head," which seems to have yielded words meaning both "fork" (such as Old English gafol, geafel, Old Saxon gafala, Dutch gaffel, Old High German gabala "pitchfork," German Gabel "fork;" Old Irish gabul "forked twig") and "head" (such as Old High German gibilla, Old Saxon gibillia "skull"). See cephalo-.
Possibly the primitive meaning of the words may have been 'top', 'vertex'; this may have given rise to the sense of 'gable', and this latter to the sense of 'fork', a gable being originally formed by two pieces of timber crossed at the top supporting the end of the roof-tree. [OED]
Related: Gabled; gables; gable-end.
also *dreu-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "be firm, solid, steadfast," with specialized senses "wood," "tree" and derivatives referring to objects made of wood.
It forms all or part of: betroth; Dante; dendrite; dendro-; dendrochronology; dour; Druid; drupe; dryad; dura mater; durable; durance; duration; duress; during; durum; endure; hamadryad; indurate; obdurate; perdurable; philodendron; rhododendron; shelter; tar (n.1) "viscous liquid;" tray; tree; trig (adj.) "smart, trim;" trim; troth; trough; trow; truce; true; trust; truth; tryst.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dru "tree, wood," daru "wood, log, timber;" Greek drys "oak," drymos "copse, thicket," doru "beam, shaft of a spear;" Old Church Slavonic drievo "tree, wood," Serbian drvo "tree," drva "wood," Russian drevo "tree, wood," Czech drva, Polish drwa "wood;" Lithuanian drūtas "firm," derva "pine, wood;" Welsh drud, Old Irish dron "strong," Welsh derw "true," Old Irish derb "sure," Old Irish daur, Welsh derwen "oak;" Albanian drusk "oak;" Old English treo, treow "tree," triewe "faithful, trustworthy, honest."
"lowest and principal timber of a ship or boat," mid-14c., probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse kjölr "keel," Danish kjøl, Swedish köl), which according to Watkins is from Proto-Germanic *gwele- (3) "to swallow" (see gullet).
OED and Middle English Compendium say this word is separate from the keel that means "a strong, clumsy boat, barge" (c. 1200), which might be instead from Middle Dutch kiel "ship" (cognate with Old English ceol "ship's prow," Old High German kiel, German Kiel "ship"). But the two words have influenced each other or partly merged, and Barnhart calls them cognates. Keel still is used locally for "flat-bottomed boat" in the U.S. and England, especially on the Tyne.
In historical writing about the Anglo-Saxons, it is attested from 17c. as the word for an early form of long-boat supposedly used by them in the crossing, based on ceolum in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Medieval Latin cyulis (Gildas). Old English also used simply scipes botm or bytme. On an even keel (1560s) is "in a level, horizontal position," hence figurative extension with reference to stability.
c. 1500 (implied in swamwatyr "swamp-water"), of uncertain origin, perhaps [Barnhart] a dialectal survival from an Old English cognate of Old Norse svöppr "sponge, fungus," from Proto-Germanic *swampuz; but traditionally connected with Middle English sompe "morass, swamp," which probably is from Middle Dutch somp or Middle Low German sump "swamp" (see sump). All of these likely are ultimately related to each other, from PIE *swombho- "spongy; mushroom," via the notion of "spongy ground."
[B]y swamps then in general is to be understood any low grounds subject to inundations, distinguished from marshes, in having a large growth of timber, and much underwood, canes, reeds, wythes, vines, briers, and such like, so matted together, that they are in a great measure impenetrable to man or beast .... [Bernard Romans, "A Concise History of East and West Florida," 1775]
More popular in U.S. (swamp (n.) by itself is first attested 1624 in Capt. John Smith's description of Virginia). Swamp-oak is from 1680s, American English. Swamp Yankee "rural, rustic New Englander" is attested from 1941. Thornton's "American Glossary" (1912) has swamp-angel "dweller in a swamp," swamp-law "might makes right."
Old English treo, treow "tree" (also "timber, wood, beam, log, stake"), from Proto-Germanic *trewam (source also of Old Frisian tre, Old Saxon trio, Old Norse tre, Gothic triu "tree"), from PIE *drew-o-, suffixed variant form of root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast," with specialized senses "wood, tree" and derivatives referring to objects made of wood.
The line which divides trees from shrubs is largely arbitrary, and dependent upon habit rather than size, the tree having a single trunk usually unbranched for some distance above the ground, while a shrub has usually several stems from the same root and each without a proper trunk. [Century Dictionary]
In Old English and Middle English also "thing made of wood," especially the cross of the Crucifixion and a gallows (such as Tyburn tree, famous gallows outside London). Middle English also had plural treen, adjective treen (Old English treowen "of a tree, wooden"). For Dutch boom, German Baum, the usual words for "tree," see beam (n.).
Meaning "framework of a saddle" is from 1530s. Meaning "representation of familial relationships in the form of a tree" is from c. 1300. Tree-hugger, contemptuous for "environmentalist" is attested by 1989.
Minc'd Pyes do not grow upon every tree,
But search the Ovens for them, and there they be.
["Poor Robin," Almanack, 1669]
"edged instrument for hewing timber and chopping wood," also a battle weapon, Old English ces (Northumbrian acas) "axe, pickaxe, hatchet," later x, from Proto-Germanic *akusjo (source also of Old Saxon accus, Old Norse ex, Old Frisian axe, German Axt, Gothic aqizi), from PIE *agw(e)si- "axe" (source also of Greek axine, Latin ascia).
The spelling ax is better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, and analogy, than axe, which became prevalent during the 19th century; but it is now disused in Britain. [OED]
The spelling ax, though "better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, & analogy" (OED), is so strange to 20th-c. eyes that it suggests pedantry & is unlikely to be restored. [Fowler]
Meaning "musical instrument" is 1955, originally jazz slang for the saxophone; rock slang for "guitar" dates to 1967. To have an axe to grind is from a Sept. 7, 1810, essay in the Luzerne (Pennsylvania) "Gleaner" by U.S. editor and politician Charles Miner (1780-1865) in which a man flatters a boy and gets him to do the chore of axe-grinding for him, then leaves without offering thanks or recompense. It was published in a collection in 1815 titled "Essays From the Desk of Poor Robert the Scribe." The story ("Who'll Turn the Grindstone?") has been misattributed since late 19c. to Benjamin Franklin, a mistake continued in Weekley, OED print edition, "Century Dictionary," and many other sources (Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations" has gotten it right since 1870).