Etymology
Advertisement

Words related to *ak-

acacia (n.)
Origin and meaning of acacia

1540s, type of shrub or tree fund in warm climates of Africa and Australia, from Latin acacia, from Greek akakia "thorny Egyptian tree," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps it is related to Greek akē "point, thorn" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"), or perhaps it is a Hellenization of some Egyptian word. Beekes suggests it is probably a word from a pre-Greek Mediterranean language and finds "no reason for an Oriental origin." Greek kaktos also has been compared. From late 14c. in English as the name of a type of gum used as an astringent, etc. Extended 17c. to North American trees.

Advertisement
acanthus (n.)
Origin and meaning of acanthus

type of tall herb or shrub native to the Mediterranean regions, 1660s, from Latin acanthus, name of the plant, from Greek akanthos, from akē "point, thorn" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + anthos "flower" (see anther). So called for its large spiny leaves. A conventionalized form of the leaf is used in Corinthian capitals. Related: Acanthaceous.

accipiter (n.)

raptorial bird, 1708, from Latin accipiter, a generic name for birds of prey, especially the common hawk. According to de Vaan, "generally assumed" to be from a Proto-Italic *aku-petri- "having pointed (that is, 'swift') wings" (see acro- + ptero-) and compares Greek okypteros "with swift wings," Sanskrit asu-patvan- "flying swiftly," "all of which are used as epithets to birds of prey." Under this theory the initial acc- is by influence of the verb accipere "to take" (whence also Latin acceptor "falcon;" see accept). Or the sense could be literal, "with pointed wings." The proper plural would be accipitres. Related: Accipitral; accipitrine (1809).

acer (n.)

maple tree genus name, from Latin acer, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE *ak- "be sharp" (see acro-) and so called for its pointed leaves.

There seem to have been two roots for "maple" in Indo-European; cognates of this one are said to include Old High German ahorn "maple," and there is a similar form in Greek akastos "maple," perhaps also Hittite hiqqar- "maple." De Vaan writes, "This may well be a non-PIE tree name which was borrowed into Greek and Latin."

acerbic (adj.)
1865, originally, and usually, figurative: "sour, harsh, severe" (of speech, manners, etc.), from Latin acerbus "harsh to the taste, sharp, bitter, sour," especially of unripe fruits, etc., also figuratively, of character, conduct, etc. (see acerbity) + -ic. The earlier adjective was simply acerb (1650s), from French acerbe, from Latin acerbus.
acerbity (n.)
Origin and meaning of acerbity

"sourness, with roughness or astringency of taste," 1570s, from French acerbité, from Latin acerbitatem (nominative acerbitas) "harshness, sharpness, bitterness, sourness," literal and figurative (as in virus acerbitatis "the poison of malice"), from acerbus "bitter to taste, sharp, sour, tart," from Proto-Italic *akro-po- "sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").

The earliest use in English is figurative, of "sharp and bitter" persons. Of tastes, from 1610s. Latin acerbus is related to acer "sharp" as superbus "haughty" to super "above."

acervate (v.)

"to heap up," 1610s, from Latin acervatus, past participle of acervare "to heap up," from acervus "heap," which is akin to acer "sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point"). Related: Acervated; acervating; acerval; acervative; acervuline "occurring in clusters; clustered" (by 1859).

acervulus (n.)

"brain-sand" (anatomical), 1806, medical Latin, literally "little heap," diminutive of Latin acervus "heap," which is akin to acer "sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point"). Compare acervate.

acescent (adj.)

"becoming sour," 1670s, from French acescent, from Latin acescentem (nominative acescens), present participle of acescere "become sour," from acer "sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").

acetic (adj.)

1808 (in acetic acid), from French acétique "pertaining to vinegar, sour, having the properties of vinegar," from Latin acetum "vinegar" (properly vinum acetum "wine turned sour;" see vinegar), originally the past participle of acere "be sharp; be sour" (related to acer "sharp," from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").