Etymology
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tack (n.1)
"clasp, hook, fastener," also "a nail" of some kind, c. 1400, from Old North French taque "nail, pin, peg" (Old French tache, 12c., "nail, spike, tack; pin brooch"), probably from a Germanic source (compare Middle Dutch tacke "twig, spike," Frisian tak "a tine, prong, twig, branch," Low German takk "tine, pointed thing," German Zacken "sharp point, tooth, prong"), from Proto-Germanic *tag-. Meaning "small, sharp nail with a flat head" is attested from mid-15c. The meaning "rope to hold the corner of a sail in place" is first recorded late 15c.
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tack (n.2)
"horse's harness, etc.," 1924, shortening of tackle (n.) in sense of "equipment." Tack in a non-equestrian sense as a shortening of tackle is recorded in dialect from 1777.
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tack (n.3)
"food" in general, but in dialect especially "bad food," and especially among sailors "food of a bread kind," 1833, perhaps a shortening and special use of tackle (n.) in the sense of "gear." But compare tack "taste" (c. 1600), perhaps a variant of tact.
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tack (v.1)
late 14c., "to attach" with a nail, etc., from tack (n.1). Meaning "to attach as a supplement" (with suggestion of hasty or arbitrary proceeding) is from 1680s. Related: Tacked; tacking.
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tack (v.2)
"turn a ship's course toward the wind at an angle," 1550s, from tack (n.1) in the ship-rigging sense (the ropes were used to move the vessel temporarily to one side or another of its general line of course, to take advantage of a side-wind); hence tack (n.) "course of conduct or mode of action suited to some purpose" (1670s), from figurative use of the verb (1630s). Related: Tacked; tacking.
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tacky (adj.1)
"sticky," 1788, from tack (n.1) in the sense of "an act of attaching temporarily" + -y (2). Related: Tackiness "stickiness."
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hardtack (n.)
"ship's biscuit," 1830, from hard (adj.) + tack (n.3); soft-tack was soft wheaten bread.
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thumbtack (n.)
tack with a broad, flat head which may be driven by pressure from the thumb, 1884, from thumb (n.) + tack (n.1).
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tackle (n.)
mid-13c., "apparatus, gear," especially the rigging of a ship, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German takel "the rigging of a ship," perhaps related to Middle Dutch taken "grasp, seize" (see take (v.)), or perhaps from root of tack (n.1), which, if not the origin, has influenced the sense. Meaning "apparatus for fishing" is recorded from late 14c. Meaning "device for grasping and shifting or moving" is from 1530s. Meaning "act of tackling" in the sporting sense is recorded from 1876 (see tackle (v.)); as the name of a position in North American football, it is recorded from 1884. Welsh tacl is fro English.
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