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deer (n.)

Old English deor "wild animal, beast, any wild quadruped," in early Middle English also used of ants and fish, from Proto-Germanic *deuzam, the general Germanic word for "animal" (as opposed to man), but often restricted to "wild animal" (source also of Old Frisian diar, Dutch dier, Old Norse dyr, Old High German tior, German Tier "animal," Gothic dius "wild animal," also see reindeer).

This is perhaps from PIE *dheusom "creature that breathes," from root *dheu- (1) "cloud, breath" (source also of Lithuanian dusti "gasp," dvėsti "gasp, perish;" Old Church Slavonic dychati "breathe"). For possible prehistoric sense development, compare Latin animal from anima "breath").

The sense specialization to a specific animal began in Old English (the usual Old English word for what we now call a deer was heorot; see hart), was common by 15c., and is now complete. It happened probably via hunting, deer being the favorite animal of the chase (compare Sanskrit mrga- "wild animal," used especially for "deer"). 

Deer-lick "salty spot where deer come to lick," is attested by 1778, in an American context. The deer-mouse (1840) is so called for its agility.

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deerskin (n.)

"hide of a deer, or leather made from it," late 14c., from deer + skin (n.).

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wilderness (n.)
c. 1200, "wild, uninhabited, or uncultivated place," with -ness + Old English wild-deor "wild animal, wild deer;" see wild (adj.) + deer (n.). Similar formation in Dutch wildernis, German Wildernis, though the usual form there is Wildnis.
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beast (n.)
c. 1200, beste, "one of the lower animals" (opposed to man), especially "a four-footed animal," also "a marvelous creature, a monster" (mermaids, werewolves, lamia, satyrs, the beast of the Apocalypse), "a brutish or stupid man," from Old French beste "animal, wild beast," figuratively "fool, idiot" (11c., Modern French bête), from Vulgar Latin *besta, from Latin bestia "beast, wild animal," which is of unknown origin.

Used in Middle English to translate Latin animal. Replaced Old English deor (see deer) as the generic word for "wild creature," only to be ousted 16c. by animal.
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animal (n.)

early 14c., "any sentient living creature" (including humans), from Latin animale "living being, being which breathes," noun use of neuter of animalis (adj.) "animate, living; of the air," from anima "breath, soul; a current of air" (from PIE root *ane- "to breathe;" compare deer). A rare word in English before c. 1600, and not in KJV (1611). Commonly only of non-human creatures. It drove out the older beast in common usage. Used derisively of brutish humans (in which the "animal," or non-rational, non-spiritual nature is ascendant) from 1580s.

Quid est homo? A dedlych best and resonable, animal racionale. ["Battlefield Grammar," c. 1450]
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derby (n.)

town and county in England, Old English Deorby "deer village," from deor "deer" (see deer) + by "habitation, homestead," from a Scandinavian source (see first element in bylaw). the annual Derby horse race, the most important in England, was begun 1780 by the 12th Earl of Derby and run at Epsom, Surrey; the name was used for any major horse race after 1875. Hence Derby day (generally the Wednesday before Whitsuntide), etc.

Derby dog, something that "turns up" without fail, as the proverbial dog on the race-course on Derby day, after the track is otherwise cleared for the races. [Century Dictionary; the phrase is attested from 1858] 

The type of stiff, felt hat with a rounded crown and more or less narrow brim was manufactured in U.S. by 1850 and called by that name by 1870; perhaps so called because it was worn in riding. It came in as a fashionable novelty in 1874.

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reindeer (n.)

c. 1400, also raindere, reynder, rayne-dere, genus of deer inhabiting the arctic regions of Europe, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse hreindyri "reindeer," with dyr "animal" (see deer) + hreinn, the usual name for the animal in Old Norse, from Proto-Germanic *khrinda- (source also of Old English hran "reindeer;" German Renn "reindeer," which was altered by folk etymology influence of rennen "to run;" and Swedish renko "female reindeer," with ko "cow" (n.)).

Watkins has this from PIE *krei-, from root *ker- (1) "horn; head," with derivatives referring to horned animals (both male and female reindeer have horns; those of the male are remarkable), and thus perhaps cognate with Greek krios "ram" (see kerato-). Older sources connect it to words in Lapp or Finnish (raingo). French renne, Spanish reno, Italian renna ultimately are from Germanic.

Larwood & Hotten ("History of Signboards") write that the 1670s London tavern sign of the ranged deer "was simply intended for the Reindeer, which animal had then just newly come under the notice of the public; their knowledge of it was still confused, and its name was spelled in various ways, such as: rain-deer, rained-deer, range-deer, and ranged-deer."

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doe (n.)

"female of the deer" (the male is a buck), from Old English da "a female deer," which is of unknown origin, perhaps a Celtic loan-word (compare Cornish da "fallow deer," Old Irish dam "ox," Welsh dafad "sheep"). The native word is hind (n.). Similar words in continental Germanic and Scandinavian (such as Old High German tamo) appear to be from or have been altered by influence of Latin damma "a deer." Doe-eyed, of girls, is from 1845.

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hart (n.)

Middle English hert, from Old English heorot "hart, stag, male of the red deer," from Proto-Germanic *herutaz (source also of Old Saxon hirot, Old Frisian and Dutch hert "stag, deer," Old High German hiruz, Old Norse hjörtr, German Hirsch "deer, stag, hart"), perhaps from PIE *keru-, extended form of root *ker- (1) "horn; head." For vowel change, see marsh.

In later times, a male deer after its fifth year, when the crown antler has appeared. The female is a hind (n.).

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white-tail (n.)
type of North American deer, 1872, from white (adj.) + tail (n.).
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