Etymology
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zig-zag (n.)
also zigzag, 1712, from French zigzag (1670s), perhaps from German Zickzack (though this is attested only from 1703), possibly a reduplication of Zacke "tooth, prong." Earliest use in German is in reference to military siege approaches. Originally in English used to describe the layout of certain garden paths. As an adjective from 1750; the verb is recorded from 1774. The brand of cigarette paper is from 1909. Related: Zig-zagged; zig-zagging.
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switchback (n.)
in reference to zig-zag railways, 1863, from switch (v.) + back (adv.). As an adjective from 1873.
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crank (v.)

1590s, "to zig-zag, run in a winding course," from crank (n.) "a bend, a crook," hence "a winding," for which see crank (n.).  From 1793 as "to bend into a crank shape;" 1834 as "attach a crank to;" meaning "to turn a crank" is first attested 1908, with reference to automobile engines. Related: Cranked; cranking.

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stagger (v.)
mid-15c., "walk unsteadily, reel" (intransitive), altered from stakeren (early 14c.), from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Danish stagra, Old Norse stakra "to push, shove, cause to reel," also "to stumble, stagger," perhaps literally "hit with a stick," from Proto-Germanic *stakon- "a stake," from PIE *steg- (1) "pole, stick." Cognate with Dutch staggelen "to stagger," German staggeln "to stammer." Transitive sense of "bewilder, amaze" first recorded 1550s; that of "arrange in a zig-zag pattern" is from 1856. Related: Staggered; staggering.
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-ty (1)
suffix representing "ten" in cardinal numbers that are multiples of 10 (sixty, seventy, etc.), from Old English -tig, from a Germanic root (cognates: Old Saxon, Dutch -tig, Old Frisian -tich, Old Norse -tigr, Old High German -zug, German -zig) that existed as a distinct word in Gothic (tigjus) and Old Norse (tigir) meaning "tens, decades." Compare tithe (n.).

English, like many other Germanic languages, retains traces of a base-12 number system. The most obvious instance is eleven and twelve which ought to be the first two numbers of the "teens" series. Their Old English forms, enleofan and twel(eo)f(an), are more transparent: "leave one" and "leave two."

Old English also had hund endleofantig for "110" and hund twelftig for "120." One hundred was hund teantig. The -tig formation ran through 12 cycles, and could have bequeathed us numbers *eleventy ("110") and *twelfty ("120") had it endured, but already during the Anglo-Saxon period it was being obscured.

Old Norse used hundrað for "120" and þusend for "1,200." Tvauhundrað was "240" and þriuhundrað was "360." Older Germanic legal texts distinguished a "common hundred" (100) from a "great hundred" (120). This duodecimal system is "perhaps due to contact with Babylonia" [Lass, "Old English"].
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