twentieth letter of the English alphabet; in the Phoenician alphabet the corresponding sign was the 22nd and last; everything after T in the modern alphabet represents European alterations or additions. The sound has been consistent throughout its history.
In Late Latin and Old French, -t- before -e- and -i- acquired the "s" value of -c- and words appeared in both spellings (nationem/nacionem) and often passed into Middle English with a -c- (nacioun). In most of these the spelling was restored to a -t- by or in the period of early Modern English, but sorting them out took time (Edmund Coote's "English Schoole-maister" (1596) noted malicious/malitious) and a few (space, place, coercion, suspicion) resisted the restoration.
To cross one's t's(and dot one's i's) "to be exact" is attested from 1849. Phrase to a T "exactly, with utmost exactness" is recorded from 1690s, though the exact signification remains uncertain despite much speculation. The measuring tool called a T-square (sometimes suggested as the source of this) is recorded by that name only from 1785. The T-cell (1970) so called because they are derived from the thymus. As a medieval numeral, T represented 160. A T was formerly branded on the hand of a convicted thief.
proprietary name of a type of hot sauce, 1876, (the sauce so called from 1650s, originally Tavasco), named for the state in Mexico, perhaps because the pepper sauce was first encountered there by U.S. and European travelers. The trademark (by Edward Avery McIlhenny) claims use from c. 1870. The place name is from an unidentified Mexican Indian language and of unknown etymology.
fem. proper name, from Late Latin, from Greek Tabitha, from Aramaic (Semitic) tabhyetha, emphatic of tabhya "gazelle," which is related to Hebrew tzebhi (fem. tzebhiyyah), Arabic zaby.
an indigenous people of the Caribbean at the time of Columbus, from Taino (Arawakan) nitayno "the first, the good." Also the name of their language. Compare Arawakan.
mausoleum at Agra, India, built by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, from Persian, perhaps "the best of buildings," with second element, mahal, from Urdu mahall "private apartments; summer house or palace," from Arabic halla "to lodge." But some authorities hold that the name of the mausoleum is a corruption of the name of the woman interred in it, Mumtaz (in Persian, literally "chosen one") Mahal, who died in 1631. Persian taj is literally "crown, diadem, ornamental headdress," but here denoting an object of distinguished excellence. Figurative use of Taj Mahal in English as a name denoting anything surpassing or excellent is attested from 1895.
city in Alabama, U.S., from Muskogee /talati:ki/, a tribal town name, from /(i)talwa/ "tribal town" + /-atiiki/ "at the edge, border."
place in Florida, U.S.A., 1799, originally Seminole Tallahassee, from Muskogee /talaha:ssi/, name of a tribal town, perhaps from /(i)talwa/ "tribal town" + /ahassi/ "old, rancid."
in 19c. American English political jargon synonymous with "Democratic Party in New York City," hence, late 19c., proverbial for "political and municipal corruption," from Tammany Hall, on 14th Street, headquarters of a social club incorporated 1789, named for Delaware Indian chief Tamanen, who sold land to William Penn in 1683 and '97. Around the time of the American Revolution he was popularly canonized as St. Tammany and taken as the "patron saint" of Pennsylvania and neighboring colonies, sometimes of the whole of America. He was assigned a feast day (May 1 Old Style, May 12 New Style) which was celebrated with festivities that raised money for charity, hence the easy transfer of the name to what was, at first, a benevolent association. The club's symbol was a tiger.