late 12c., to-twic-chen "pull apart with a quick jerk," related to Old English twiccian "to pluck, gather, catch hold of," from Proto-Germanic *twikjon- (source also of Low German twicken, Dutch twikken, Old High German gizwickan, German zwicken "to pinch, tweak"). Related: Twitched; twitching.
1520s, from twitch (v.).
"pinch, pluck, twist," usually to the nose, c. 1600, probably from Middle English twikken "to draw, tug, pluck" (mid-15c.), from Old English twiccian "to pluck," of obscure origin; perhaps related to twitch. Meaning "to make fine adjustments" is attested from 1966. Related: Tweaked; tweaking.
c. 1400, erþe-worme, popular name of the worms of the family Lumbricidae, from earth + worm (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðmata, also regnwyrm, literally "rain-worm." Old English also had angel-twæcce "earthworm used as bait" (with second element from root of twitch), sometimes used in medieval times as a medicament:
For the blake Jawndes take angylltwacches, er þei go in to the erth in the mornynge and fry hem. Take ix or x small angyltwacches, and bray hem, and giff the syke to drynke fastynge, with stale ale, but loke þat thei bene grounden so small that þe syke may nat se, ne witt what it is, for lothynge. [Book of Medical Recipes in Medical Society of London Library, c. 1450]
The people who inhabit the highlands of Southern Brazil have a firm belief in the existence of a gigantic earthworm fifty yards or more in length, five in breadth, covered with bones as with a coat-of-mail, and of such strength as to be able to uproot great pine-trees as though they were blades of grass, and to throw up such quantities of clay in making its way underground as to dam up streams and divert them into new courses. This redoubtable monster is known as the "Minhocao." [Popular Science, August 1878]
c. 1600, "a twitch, a pluck," from tweak (v.). As "a fine adjustment" by 1989.
twitching of a facial muscle, 1822, often a shortening of tic douloureux "severe facial neuralgia," literally "painful twitch" (1798), from French tic "a twitching disease of horses" (17c.), of unknown origin. Klein suggests an imitative origin; Diez compare it to Italian ticchio "whim, caprice, ridiculous habit," itself of unknown origin.
type of insect (Forficula auricularia), Old English earwicga "earwig," from eare (see ear (n.1)) + wicga "beetle, worm, insect," probably from the same Germanic source as wiggle, on the notion of "quick movement," and ultimately from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move." So called from the ancient and widespread (but false) belief that the garden pest went into people's ears. Compare French perce-oreille, German ohr-wurm. A Northern England name for it reported from 1650s is twitch-ballock.
"to hijack an airplane," by August 1961 in U.S. newspapers, apparently coined in headlines in New York Mirror and others, from sky (n.) + second element abstracted from hijack (q.v.).
From hijack to skyjack is no more than a twitch of a headline writer's pencil, and thus America is introduced to a new colloquialism that is thoroughly understood. For general use, however, the word hijack colorfully persists, and skyjack is likely to enjoy ephemeral usage. [editorial, Stockton (Calif.) Record, Aug. 21, 1961]
Related: Skyjacked; skyjacking; skyjacker (1961).
"sacred poem or song," especially one expressing praise and thanksgiving, Old English psealm (West Saxon sealm; Anglian salm), partly from Old French psaume, saume, and partly from Church Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos "song sung to a harp," originally "performance on stringed instrument; a plucking of the harp" (compare psaltes "harper"), from psallein "play on a stringed instrument, pull, twitch" (see feel (v.)).
Used in Septuagint for Hebrew mizmor "song," especially the sort sung by David to the harp and collected in the Old Testament Book of Psalms. Related: Psalmodize. After some hesitation, the pedantic ps- spelling prevailed in English, as it has in many neighboring languages (German, French, etc.), but English is almost alone in not pronouncing the p-.
"plait, knit, weave, twist together," c. 1200, breidan, from Old English bregdan "move quickly, pull, shake, swing, throw (in wrestling), draw (a sword); bend, weave, knit, join together; change color, vary; scheme, feign, pretend" (class III strong verb, past tense brægd, past participle brogden), from Proto-Germanic *bregdanan "make sudden jerky movements from side to side" (compare Old Norse bregða "brandish, turn about, move quickly; braid;" Old Saxon bregdan "weave, braid;" Old Frisian brida "twitch (the eye);" Dutch breien "knit;" Old High German brettan "draw, weave, braid"), perhaps from a PIE root *bhrek- (compare Sanskrit bhurati "moves quickly," Lithuanian bruzdùs "fast"), but there are phonetic difficulties. In English the verb survives only in the narrow definition of "plait hair." Related: Braided; braiding.