Etymology
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meteor (n.)

late 15c., "any atmospheric phenomenon," from Old French meteore (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin meteorum (nominative meteora), from Greek ta meteōra "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteōron, literally "thing high up," noun use of neuter of meteōros (adj.) "high up, raised from the ground, hanging," from meta "by means of" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, lifted up, suspended, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (from PIE root *wer- (1) "to raise, lift, hold suspended").

Specific sense of "fireball in the sky, shooting star" is attested from 1590s. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as aerial meteors (wind), aqueous meteors (rain, snow, hail), luminous meteors (aurora, rainbows), and igneous meteors (lightning, shooting stars). All the other senses have fallen away. When still in space beyond the atmosphere it is a meteoroid; when fallen to earth it is a meteorite. A periodically recurring fall of them (usually associated with a comet) is a meteor shower (by 1853).

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swarm (n.)

"cloud of bees or other insects," Old English swearm "swarm, multitude," from Proto-Germanic *swarmaz (source also of Old Saxon, Middle Low German swarm, Danish sværm "a swarm," Swedish svärm, Middle Dutch swerm, Old High German swaram, German Schwarm "swarm;" Old Norse svarmr "tumult"), by Watkins, etc., derived from PIE imitative root *swer- "to buzz, whisper" (see susurration) on notion of humming sound, and thus probably originally of bees. But OED suggests possible connection with base of swerve and ground sense of "agitated, confused, or deflected motion." General sense "large, dense throng" is from early 15c.

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swarm (v.1)

"to climb (a tree, pole, etc.) by clasping with the arms and legs alternately, to shin," 1540s, of uncertain origin. "Perh. orig. a sailor's word borrowed from the Continent, but no trace of the meaning has been discovered for phonetically corresponding words" [OED]. perhaps originally a sailors' word, of uncertain origin. Also recorded as swarve (16c.) and in Northern dialects swarble, swarmle. Related: Swarmed; swarming.

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swarm (v.2)

"to leave a hive to start another," also "to gather in a swarm, crowd, or throng," late 14c., from swarm (n.). Compare Dutch zwermen, German schwärmen, Danish sværme. Related: Swarmed; swarming.

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meteoroid (n.)

"rock or metallic mass floating in space," which becomes a meteor when it enters Earth's atmosphere and a meteorite when it strikes, 1865, formed in English from meteor + -oid.

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meteorite (n.)

"rock or metallic mass of extraterrestrial origin that falls to earth after streaking across the sky as a meteor," 1818, from meteor + -ite. They were known from ancient times, but the idea that some such iron masses or rocks had fallen to earth from the sky attained credence among scientists c. 1800.

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meteoric (adj.)

1804, "pertaining to or of the nature of meteors;" earlier "dependent on atmospheric conditions" (1789), from meteor + -ic. Figurative sense of "transiently brilliant" is by 1836.

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teem (v.1)

"abound, swarm, be prolific," Old English teman (Mercian), tieman (West Saxon) "beget, give birth to, bring forth, produce, propagate," from Proto-Germanic *tau(h)mjan (denominative), from PIE root *deuk- "to lead." Related to team (n.) in its now-obsolete Old English sense of "family, brood of young animals." The meaning "abound, swarm" is first recorded 1590s, on the notion of "be full of as if ready to give birth." Related: Teemed; teeming.

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squirm (v.)

1690s, originally referring to eels, of unknown origin; sometimes associated with worm or swarm, but perhaps imitative. Figurative sense "to be painfully affected, to writhe inside" is from 1804. Related: Squirmed; squirming. As a noun from 1839.

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radiant (n.)

in optics, "point or object from which light radiates," 1714; see radiant (adj.). In astronomy, of meteor showers, "the point in the heavens from which the shooting stars seem to proceed," by 1834, in reference to the great shower of the previous November.

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