Etymology
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wasp (n.)

Old English wæps, wæsp "wasp," altered (probably by influence of Latin vespa) from Proto-Germanic *wabis- (source also of Old Saxon waspa, Middle Dutch wespe, Dutch wesp, Old High German wafsa, German Wespe, Danish hveps), from PIE *wopsa-/*wospa- "wasp" (source also of Latin vespa, Lithuanian vapsa, Old Church Slavonic vosa "wasp," Old Irish foich "drone"), perhaps from root *(h)uebh- "weave" (see weave (v.)). If that is the correct derivation, the insect would be so called for the shape of its nest. Of persons with wasp-like tendencies, from c. 1500. Wasp-waist in reference to women's figures is recorded from 1870 (wasp-waisted is from 1775).

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WASP (n.)
acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, by 1955.
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vespiary (n.)
"wasp's nest," 1816, from Latin vespa "wasp" (see wasp) on model of apiary. A proper formation would be *vespary.
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Vespa (n.)
1950, proprietary name of an Italian make of motor scooter, first produced 1946, from Italian, literally "wasp," from Latin vespa (see wasp). Rival brand was Lambretta.
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waspish (adj.)
"irascible, quick to take offense; spiteful," 1560s, from wasp + -ish. Related: Waspishly; waspishness.
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hornet (n.)

Old English hyrnet, hurnitu "large wasp, beetle, gadfly," probably from Proto-Germanic *hurz-nut- (source also of Old Saxon hornut; Middle Dutch huersel, Dutch horzel (with diminutive suffix); Old High German hornaz, German Hornisse "hornet"), from a PIE imitative (buzzing) root; compare Old Church Slavonic srusa, Lithuanian širšu "wasp." On this theory, the English word (as well as German Hornisse) was altered by influence of horn, to suggest either "horner" (from the sting) or "horn-blower" (from the buzz). Compare also Old Saxon hornobero "hornet," literally "trumpeter." Figurative of troublesome and persistent attacks.

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threnody (n.)

"song of lamentation," 1630s, from Greek thrēnōdia "lamentation," from thrēnos "dirge, lament" + ōidē "ode" (see ode). Greek thrēnos probably is from PIE imitative root *dher- (3) "to drone, murmur, hum;" source also of Old English dran "drone," Gothic drunjus "sound," Greek tenthrene "a kind of wasp."

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ichneumon (n.)

1570s, "weasel-like animal of Egypt," from Latin ichneumon, from Greek ikhneumon "ichneumon," literally "searcher, tracker," perhaps so called because it hunts crocodile eggs, from ikhneuein "hunt for, track," from ikhnos "a track, footstep, trace, clue," which is of unknown origin. Used by Aristotle for a species of wasp that hunts spiders (a sense attested in English from 1650s).

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paper (n.)

mid-14c., "material consisting of a compacted web or felting of vegetable fibers, commonly as a thin, flexible sheet for writing, printing, etc.," from Anglo-French paper, Old French papier "paper, document," and directly from Latin papyrus "paper, paper made of papyrus stalks," from Greek papyros "any plant of the paper plant genus," a loan-word of unknown origin, often said to be Egyptian (see papyrus).

Sense of "essay, dissertation on a topic" is from 1660s. Meaning "bills of exchange, paper money" is attested by 1722. As "paper for covering the walls of interiors," 1764. As "printed sheet of news" (a shortened form of newspaper), attested by 1640s. Papers, "collection of documents which establish one's identity, standing, credentials, etc.," it is attested from 1680s.

Paper-clip is by 1875; paper-cutter as a type of machine is by 1969. Paper-hanger is by 1796. Paper-wasp " type of wasp that builds a nest out of paper-like material" is by 1805. Paper chase is by 1856 in British English for the game of hare-and-hounds, from the bits of paper scattered as "scent" by the "hares;" the slang meaning "effort to earn a diploma or college degree" is by 1932.

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center (n.)

late 14c., "middle point of a circle; point round which something revolves," from Old French centre (14c.), from Latin centrum "center," originally the fixed point of the two points of a drafting compass (hence "the center of a circle"), from Greek kentron "sharp point, goad, sting of a wasp," from kentein "stitch," from PIE root *kent- "to prick" (source also of Breton kentr "a spur," Welsh cethr "nail," Old High German hantag "sharp, pointed").

The spelling with -re was popularized in Britain by Johnson's dictionary (following Bailey's), though -er is older and was used by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. Meaning "the middle of anything" attested from 1590s. Figuratively, "point of concentration" (of power, etc.) is from 1680s. Political use, originally in reference to France, "representatives of moderate views" (between left and right) is from 1837. Center of gravity is recorded from 1650s. Center of attention is from 1868.

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