Etymology
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green (adj.)

Old English grene, Northumbrian groene "green, of the color of living plants," in reference to plants, "growing, living, vigorous," also figurative, of a plant, "freshly cut," of wood, "unseasoned" earlier groeni, from Proto-Germanic *grōni- (source also of Old Saxon grani, Old Frisian grene, Old Norse grænn, Danish grøn, Dutch groen, Old High German gruoni, German grün), from PIE root *ghre- "grow" (see grass), through sense of "color of growing plants."

From c. 1200 as "covered with grass or foliage." From early 14c. of fruit or vegetables, "unripe, immature;" and of persons, "of tender age, youthful, immature, inexperienced;" hence "gullible, immature with regard to judgment" (c. 1600). From mid-13c. in reference to the skin or complexion of one sick.

Green cheese originally was that which is new or fresh (late 14c.), later with reference to coloring; for the story told to children that the moon is made of it, see cheese (n.1). Green light in figurative sense of "permission" is from 1937 (green and red as signals on railways first attested 1883, as nighttime substitutes for semaphore flags). Green thumb for "natural for gardening" is by 1938. Green beret originally "British commando" is from 1949. Greenroom (also green room) "room for actors when not on stage" is from 1701; presumably a once-well-known one was painted green. The color of environmentalism since 1971.

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bay (adj.)

"reddish-brown," usually of horses, mid-14c., from Anglo-French bai (13c.), Old French bai, from Latin badius "chestnut-brown" (used only of horses), from PIE root *badyo- "yellow, brown" (source also of Old Irish buide "yellow"). As a noun, elliptical for a horse of this color.

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bay (n.4)

laurel shrub (Laurus nobilis, source of the bay-leaf), late 14c., but meaning originally only the berry, from Old French baie (12c.) "berry, seed," from Latin baca, bacca "berry, fruit of a tree or shrub, nut" (source also of Spanish baya, Old Spanish bacca, Italian bacca "a berry"), a word of uncertain origin. De Vaan writes that connection with Greek Bakhos "Bacchus" is difficult, as the Greek word probably was borrowed from an Asian language. Some linguists compare Berber *bqa "blackberry, mulberry," and suggest a common borrowing from a lost Mediterranean language.

Extension of the word to the shrub itself is from 1520s. The leaves or sprigs were woven as wreaths for conquerors or poets, hence "honorary crown or garland bestowed as a prize for victory or excellence" (1560s). Bay-leaf is from 1630s. Bay-berry (1570s) was coined after the sense of the original word had shifted to the tree.

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bay (v.)

"to bark or howl (at)," late 14c., from bay (n.3). Related: Bayed; baying.

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bay (n.1)

"inlet, recess in the shore of a sea or lake," c. 1400, from Old French baie, Late Latin baia (source of Spanish and Portuguese bahia, Italian baja), which is perhaps ultimately from Iberian (Celtic) bahia.

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bay (n.2)

"opening in a wall," especially a space between two columns, late 14c. from Old French baee "opening, hole, gulf," noun use of fem. past participle of bayer "to gape, yawn," from Medieval Latin batare "gape," which is perhaps of imitative origin. The meaning "compartment for storage: is from 1550s. The word is somewhat confused with bay (n.1) "inlet of the sea;" it is the bay in sick-bay and bay window (early 15c.).

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bay (n.3)

"deep-toned howl of a dog," early 14c., earlier "howling chorus raised (by hounds) when in contact with the hunted animal," c. 1300, from Old French bayer, from PIE root *bai- echoic of howling. Compare Greek bauzein, Latin baubari "to bark," Lithuanian baubti "cry," of cows, etc.; English bow-wow; also see bawl.

From the condition of a hunted animal comes the transferred sense of "final encounter," and thence, on the notion of turning to face the danger when further flight or escape is impossible, at bay.

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green (v.)

Old English grenian "to become green, flourish" (see green (adj.)). Compare Dutch groenen, German grünen, Old Norse grona. Meaning "to make green" is 1560s. Related: Greened; greening.

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green (n.)

late Old English, "green color or pigment, spectral color between blue and yellow;" also "a field, grassy place; green garments; green foliage," from green (adj.). Specific sense "piece of grassland in a village belonging to the community" is by late 15c. In golf, "the putting portion of the links" by 1849. Symbolic of inconstancy since late 14c., perhaps because in nature it changes or fades. Also symbolic of envy and jealousy since Middle English. Shakespeare's green-eyed monster of "Othello" sees all through eyes tinged with jealousy. "Greensleeves," ballad of an inconstant lady-love, is from 1570s. The color of the cloth in royal counting houses from late 14c., later the color of the cloth on gambling tables.

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Gretna Green 

town in Scotland just across the border, proverbial from late 18c. as the customery place for English couples to run off and be married without parental consent.

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