Etymology
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jetsam (n.)

1560s, jottsome "act of throwing goods overboard to lighten a ship," alteration and contraction of Middle English jetteson, from Anglo-French getteson, Old French getaison "a throwing" (see jettison). Intermediate forms were jetson, jetsome; the form perhaps was deformed by influence of flotsam. From 1590s as "goods thrown overboard;" figurative use by 1861. For distinction of meaning, see flotsam.

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flotsam (n.)

c. 1600, from Anglo-French floteson, from Old French flotaison "a floating" (Modern French flottaison), from floter "to float, set afloat" (of Germanic origin and cognate with float) + -aison, from Latin -ation(em). Spelled flotsen in English till mid-19c. when it altered, perhaps under influence of many English words in -some. Folk-etymologized in dialect as floatsome.

In British law, flotsam are goods found floating on the sea as a consequence of a shipwreck or action of wind or waves; jetsam are things cast out of a ship in danger of being wrecked, and afterward washed ashore, or things cast ashore by the sailors. Whatever sinks is lagan. Flotsam and jetsam figuratively for "odds and ends" is attested by 1861.

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jettison (v.)

1848, "to throw overboard," especially to save a ship in danger, from jettison (n.) "act of throwing overboard" to lighten a ship. This noun was an 18c. Marine Insurance writers' restoration of the earlier form and original sense of the 15c. word that had become jetsam, probably because jetsam had taken on a sense of "things cast overboard" and an unambiguous word was needed for "act of casting things overboard."

Middle English jetteson (n.) "act of throwing overboard" is from Anglo-French getteson, Old French getaison "act of throwing (goods overboard)," especially to lighten a ship in distress, from Late Latin iactationem (nominative iactatio) "a throwing, act of throwing," noun of action from past participle stem of iactare "to throw, toss about" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). Related: Jettisoned.

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*ye- 

*yē-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to throw, impel."

It forms all or part of: abject; abjection; adjacence; adjacent; adjective; aphetic; catheter; circumjacent; conjecture; deject; ease; ejaculate; eject; enema; gist; ictus; interjacent; inject; interject; interjection; jess; jet (v.1) "to sprout or spurt forth, shoot out;" jet (n.1) "stream of water;" jete; jetsam; jettison; jetton; jetty (n.) "pier;" joist; jut; object; objection; objective; paresis; project; projectile; reject; rejection; subjacent; subject; subjective; trajectory.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Hittite ijami "I make;" Latin iacere "to throw, cast."

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rack (n.3)

[clouds driven before the wind], c. 1300, rak, "movement, rapid movement," also "rush of wind, collision, crash," originally a northern word, possibly from Old English racu "cloud, storm" (or an unrecorded Scandinavian cognate of it), reinforced by Old Norse rek, *rak "wreckage, jetsam," or Old English wræc "something driven," both of which would be from Proto-Germanic *wrakaz, from PIE root *wreg- "to push, shove, drive" (see urge (v.)).

From late 14c. as "rain cloud." Often confused with wrack (n.) "destruction," especially in the phrase rack and ruin (1590s), which perhaps is encouraged in that case by the visual alliteration. Rack is "fragments of raggy clouds;" wrack is, in its secondary sense, "seaweed cast up on shore." Both probably come, ultimately, from the same PIE root, as does wreak.

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