Etymology
Advertisement
counter (n.2)

c. 1300, countour, "one who counts or reckons, an accountant, a local tax official," from Anglo-French countour, which is from an Old French merger of Latin computator and Medieval Latin computatorium, both ultimately from Latin computare "to count, sum up, reckon together" (see compute).

From late 14c. as "metal disk or other thing used in counting." From 1803 as "apparatus for keeping count."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
snack (v.)

c. 1300, snak, "to bite or snap" (of a dog), perhaps from a Northern variant of snatch (v.) influenced by Scandinavian words (such as Old Norse snakka); or perhaps also from or influenced by continental Germanic words such as Middle Dutch snakken, Flemish snacken "to snatch, snap; chatter," which Watkins traces to a hypothetical Germanic imitative root *snu- forming words having to do with the nose (see snout).

The meaning "have a mere bite or morsel, eat a light meal" is attested by 1807. Related: Snacked; snacking.

Related entries & more 
snack (n.)

c. 1400, snak, "a snatch or snap" (especially that of a dog), from snack (v.). Later "a snappish remark" (1550s); "a share, portion, part" (1680s; hence old expressions such as go snacks "share, divide; have a share in").

The meaning "a bite or morsel to eat hastily" is attested from 1757. Snack bar "counter from which snacks are served" is attested from 1923. The unetymological commercial plural snax is attested from 1942 in the vending machine trade.

Related entries & more 
counter- 

word-forming element used in English from c. 1300 and meaning "against, in opposition; in return; corresponding," from Anglo-French countre-, French contre-, from Latin contra "opposite, contrary to, against, in return," also used as a prefix (see contra (prep., adv.)). A doublet of contra-. In some cases it probably represents a purely English use of counter (adv.).

Related entries & more 
counter (adv.)

"contrary, in opposition, in an opposite direction," mid-15c., from counter- or from Anglo-French and Old French contre "against," both ultimately from Latin contra (see contra (prep., adv.)). As a preposition, "contrary to, opposite, against," mid-15c.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
counter (n.3)

early 15c., "that which is counter or opposite," from counter-. From c. 1500 as "a circular parry in fencing," from counter (adv.); boxing sense of "a counter-punch" is by 1857.

Related entries & more 
counter (n.1)

mid-14c., "table where a money lender does business," from Old French contouer, comptoir "counting room; table or bench of a merchant or bank" (14c.), from Medieval Latin computatorium "place of accounts," from Latin computatus, past participle of computare "to count, sum up, reckon together" (see compute).

Generalized 19c. from banks to shops, then extended to display cases for goods. In reference to a similar construction in a home kitchen by 1875. Over-the-counter in reference to goods sold and money paid is by 1875; phrase under the counter in reference to illegal or clandestine transactions is by 1926.

Related entries & more 
counter (v.)

"go against, come against, engage in combat," late 14c., short for acountren, encountren (see encounter (v.)). In boxing, "to give a return blow while receiving or parrying a blow from one's opponent," by 1861. Related: Countered; countering.

Related entries & more 
counter (adj.)

1590s, "acting in opposition," from counter (adv.) or counter-. From 1823 as "duplicate."

Related entries & more 
Geiger counter (n.)

1924, named for German physicist Hans Geiger (1882-1945), who invented it with Walther Müller. The surname is literally "fiddler."

Related entries & more