Etymology
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umpire (v.)

1610s, from umpire (n.). Related: Umpired; umpiring.

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umpire (n.)

mid-14c., noumper, from Old French nonper "odd number, not even," in reference to a third person to arbitrate between two, from non "not" (see non-) + per "equal," from Latin par "equal" (see par (n.)). Initial -n- lost by mid-15c. due to faulty separation of a noumpere, heard as an oumpere. Originally legal, the gaming sense first recorded 1714 (in wrestling).

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ump (n.)

short for umpire (n.), by 1915, American English.

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apron (n.)

"apparel for covering the front of a person" (especially while at work, to keep clothes clean), mid-15c., faulty separation (as also in adder, auger, umpire) of a napron (c. 1300), from Old French naperon "small table-cloth," diminutive of nappe "cloth," from Latin mappa "napkin." Napron was still in use late 16c. The shift of Latin -m- to -n- was a tendency in Old French (conter from computare, printemps from primum, natte "mat, matting," from matta).

The word was extended 17c. to things which resemble or function like an apron. It has been symbolic of "a wife's business" from 1610s; apron-string tenure in old law was in reference to property held in virtue of one's wife, or during her lifetime only.

Even at his age, he ought not to be always tied to his mother's apron string. [Anne Brontë, "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall," 1848]
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adder (n.)

Middle English naddre, from Old English (West Saxon) næddre (Mercian nedre, Northumbrian nedra), "a snake; the Serpent in the Garden of Eden," from Proto-Germanic *naethro "a snake" (source also of Old Norse naðra, Middle Dutch nadre, Old High German natra, German Natter, Gothic nadrs), from PIE root *nētr- "snake" (source also of Latin natrix "water snake" (the sense is probably by folk-association with nare "to swim"); Old Irish nathir, Welsh neidr "snake, serpent").

The modern form represents a faulty separation 14c.-16c. of a nadder into an adder, for which see also apron, auger, nickname, orange, humble pie, aitchbone, umpire. Nedder is still a northern English dialect form.

Since Middle English the word has been restricted to use as the common name of the viper, the only poisonous British reptile (though not generally fatal to humans), then by extension it was applied to venomous or similar snakes elsewhere (puff-adder, etc.). Folklore connection with deafness is via Psalms lviii.1-5. The adder is said to stop up its ears to avoid hearing the snake charmer called in to drive it away.

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N 

fourteenth letter of the English alphabet; in chemistry, the symbol for nitrogen.

In late Middle English a and an commonly were joined to the following noun, if that word began with a vowel, which caused confusion over how such words ought to be divided when written separately. In nickname, newt, and British dialectal naunt, the -n- belongs to a preceding indefinite article an or possessive pronoun mine.

Other examples of this from Middle English manuscripts include a neilond ("an island," early 13c.), a narawe ("an arrow," c. 1400), a nox ("an ox," c. 1400), a noke ("an oak," early 15c.), a nappyle ("an apple," early 15c.), a negge ("an egg," 15c.), a nynche ("an inch," c. 1400), a nostryche ("an ostrich," c. 1500). My naunt for mine aunt is recorded from 13c.-17c. None other could be no noder (mid-15c.). My nown (for mine own) was frequent 15c.-18c. In 16c., an idiot sometimes became a nidiot (1530s), which, with still-common casual pronunciation, became nidget (1570s), now, alas, no longer whinnying with us.

It is "of constant recurrence" in the 15c. vocabularies, according to Thomas Wright, their modern editor. One has, among many others, Hoc alphabetum ... a nabse, from misdivision of an ABC (and pronouncing it as a word), and Hic culus ... a ners. Also compare nonce, pigsney. Even in 19c. provincial English and U.S., noration (from an oration) was "a speech; a rumor."

The process also worked in surnames, from oblique cases of Old English at "by, near," as in Nock/Nokes/Noaks from atten Oke "by the oak;" Nye from atten ye "near the lowland;" and see Nashville. (Elision of the vowel of the definite article also took place and was standard in Chancery English of the 15c.: þarchebisshop for "the archbishop," thorient for "the orient.")

But it is more common for an English word to lose an -n- to a preceding a: apron, auger, adder, umpire, humble pie, etc. By a related error in Elizabethan English, natomy or atomy was common for anatomy, noyance (annoyance) and noying (adj.) turn up 14c.-17c., and Marlowe (1590) has Natolian for Anatolian.  The tendency is not limited to English: compare Luxor, jade (n.1), lute, omelet, and Modern Greek mera for hēmera, the first syllable being confused with the article.

The mathematical use of n for "an indefinite number" is attested by 1717 in phrases such as to the nth power (see nth). In Middle English n. was written in form documents to indicate an unspecified name of a person to be supplied by the speaker or reader.

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referee (v.)

"preside over as a referee or umpire," 1883, originally colloquial, from referee (n.). Related: Refereed; refereeing.

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arbitrate (v.)

1580s, "act as an umpire, mediate, decide, determine, give an authoritative decision," from Latin arbitratus, past participle of arbitrari "be of an opinion, give a decision," from arbiter "a judge, umpire, mediator" (see arbiter). The meaning "act as an arbitrator" is from 1610s. Related: Arbitrated; arbitrating; arbitrable (1530s). The earlier verb form was arbitren "decide a dispute by arbitration" (early 15c.).

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handicap (n.)

1650s, from hand in cap, a game whereby two bettors would engage a neutral umpire to determine the odds in an unequal contest. The bettors would put their hands holding forfeit money into a hat or cap. The umpire would announce the odds and the bettors would withdraw their hands — hands full meaning that they accepted the odds and the bet was on, hands empty meaning they did not accept the bet and were willing to forfeit the money. If one forfeited, then the money went to the other. If both agreed either on forfeiting or going ahead with the wager, then the umpire kept the money as payment. The custom, though not the name, is attested from 14c. ("Piers Plowman").

Reference to horse racing is 1754 (Handy-Cap Match), where the umpire decrees the superior horse should carry extra weight as a "handicap;" this led to sense of "encumbrance, disability" first recorded 1890. The main modern sense, "a mental or physical disability," is the last to develop, early 20c.

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arbitrer (n.)

"arbitrator," late 14c., from Anglo-French arbitrour, Old French arbitreor "arbitrator, judge" (13c.), from Old French arbitrer "a judge, umpire, mediator" (see arbiter). Fem. form arbitress is from mid-14c.

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