Etymology
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murder (n.)

"unlawful killing of another human being by a person of sound mind with premeditated malice," c. 1300, murdre, earlier morþer, from Old English morðor (plural morþras) "secret killing of a person, unlawful killing," also "mortal sin, crime; punishment, torment, misery," from Proto-Germanic *murthran (source also of Goth maurþr, and, from a variant form of the same root, Old Saxon morth, Old Frisian morth, Old Norse morð, Middle Dutch moort, Dutch moord, German Mord "murder"), from suffixed form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).

The spelling with -d- probably reflects influence of Anglo-French murdre, from Old French mordre, from Medieval Latin murdrum, which is from the Germanic word. A parallel form murther persisted into 19c.

In Old Norse, custom distinguished morð "secret slaughter" from vig "slaying." The former involved concealment, or slaying a man by night or when asleep, and was a heinous crime. The latter was not a disgrace, if the killer acknowledged his deed, but he was subject to vengeance or demand for compensation.

Mordre wol out that se we day by day. [Chaucer, "Nun's Priest's Tale," c. 1386]

Weakened sense of "very unpleasant situation" is from 1878. Inverted slang sense of "something excellent or terrific" is by 1940. As the name of a parlor or children's game, by 1933.

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murder (v.)

c. 1200 mortheren, "to kill, slay; kill criminally, kill with premeditated malice," from Old English myrðrian, from Proto-Germanic *murthjan (source also of Old High German murdran, German mördren, Gothic maurþjan, from Proto-Germanic *murthra- (see murder (n.)). But OED doubts the Old English verb survived into Middle English and thinks the modern word perhaps from the noun. Forms with -d- begin mid-14c. Meaning "spoil by bad execution" is from 1640s. Related: Murdered; murdering.

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murderous (adj.)

1530s, "guilty of murder;" 1590s, "pertaining to or involved in murder," a hybrid from murder + -ous. An Old English word for it was morðorhycgende. Related: Murderously; murderousness.

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murderer (n.)

"person who commits murder," mid-14c., mordrer, alteration of murtherer (early 14c.), agent noun from murder (v.); in part from Old French mordrere, from Medieval Latin murdrarius, from Germanic. Old English words for this included myrþra, morðorcwalu, morðorslaga, and morðorwyrhta, which is literally "murder-wright."

The original murderer's row was in New York City's Tombs prison; figurative use in baseball dates to 1858, though the quintessential one was the 1927 New York Yankees. Fem. form murderess attested from late 14c. Murderee (1920) never caught on.

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thither (adv.)
Old English þider "to or toward that place," altered (by influence of its opposite hider) from earlier þæder "to that place," from Proto-Germanic *thadra- (source also of Old Norse þaðra "there," Gothic þaþro "thence"), from PIE pronominal root *to- (see that) + PIE suffix denoting motion toward (compare Gothic -dre, Sanskrit -tra). The medial -th- developed early 14c. but was rare before early 16c. (compare gather, murder, burden).
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burden (n.1)

"a load, that which is borne or carried," Old English byrðen "a load, weight, charge, duty;" also "a child;" from Proto-Germanic *burthinjo- "that which is borne" (source also of Old Norse byrðr, Old Saxon burthinnia, German bürde, Gothic baurþei), from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children."

The shift from -th- to -d- began early 12c. (compare murder (n.), rudder, afford). Archaic burthen is occasionally retained for the specific sense of "capacity of a ship." Beast of burden is from 1740. Burden of proof (Latin onus probandi) "obligation on one party in an action to establish an alleged fact by proof" is recorded from 1590s.

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rudder (n.)

mid-15c. (late 12c. as a surname), a variation or alteration of Middle English rother, from Old English roðor "paddle, oar," from Proto-Germanic *rothru- (source also of Old Frisian roðer, Middle Low German roder, Middle Dutch roeder, Dutch roer, Old High German ruodar, German Ruder "oar"), from *ro- "steer" (from PIE root *ere- "to row") + suffix *-þra, used to form neutral names of tools.

The original sense is obsolete. The meaning "broad, flat piece of wood attached to the stern of a boat and guided by a tiller for use in steering" is from c. 1300. For shift of -th- to -d- compare burden (n.1), murder (n.); simultaneous but opposite movement turned -d- to -th- in father (n.), etc.

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manslaughter (n.)

early 14c., " act, crime, or sin of killing another human being," in battle or not, from man (n.) + slaughter (n.). It gradually displaced manslaught, the earlier word, from Old English manslæht (Anglian), manslieht (West Saxon), from slæht, slieht "act of killing" (see slay (v.)). Middle English also had man-quelling "murder, homicide" (late 14c.), and slaughter-man (late 14c.), "an executioner; a butcher."

Etymologically it is comparable to Latin homicide, but in legal use usually it is distinguished from murder and restricted to "simple homicide, unlawful killing of another without malice either express or implied."

Manslaughter differs from murder in not proceeding from malice prepense or deliberate, which is essential to constitute murder. It differs from excusable homicide, being done in consequence of some unlawful act, whereas excusable homicide happens in consequence of misadventure. Manslaughter has been distinguished as voluntary, where the killing was intentional in a sudden heat or passion without previous malice; and involuntary, where it was not intentional, but the slayer was at the time engaged in an unlawful act less than a felony, or doing a lawful act in an unlawful manner. [Century Dictionary]
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spider (n.)

late 14c., spydyr, spither, from earlier spiþre, spiþur, spiþer (mid-14c.), from Old English spiðra, from Proto-Germanic *spin-thron- (cognate with Danish spinder), literally "spinner," from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin" + formative or agential *-thro. The connection with the root is more transparent in other Germanic cognates (such as Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Middle High German, German spinne, Dutch spin "spider").

The male is commonly much smaller than the female, and in impregnating the female runs great risk of being devoured. The difference in sizes is as if the human female should be some 60 or 70 feet tall. [Century Dictionary]

The loss of -n- before spirants is regular in Old English (compare goose (n.), tooth). For shift of -th- to -d- compare murder (n.), burden (n.), rudder.

Not the common word in Old or Middle English, which identified the creatures as loppe (Chaucer's usual word), lobbe. Old English also had atorcoppe (Middle English attercop, literally "poison-head"), and (from Latin aranea), renge; Middle English had araine, "spider," via Old French from the same Latin word; see arachnid). Another Old English word was gangewifre "a weaver as he goes."

In literature, often a figure of cunning, skill, and industry as well as venomous predation; in 17c. English used figuratively for venomousness and thread-spinning but also sensitivity (to vibrations), lurking, independence. As the name for a type of two-pack solitaire, it is attested from 1890, probably based on resemblance of the layout of the decks in the original form of the game (see "Tarbart," "Games of Patience," 1901, p. 49). Spider crab is from 1710, used of various species; spider monkey is from 1764, so called for its long limbs.

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whodunit (n.)
"murder mystery," 1930, U.S. slang, originally a semi-facetious formation from who done it? Whydunit is from 1968.
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