Etymology
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Words related to *ak-

acronym (n.)

word formed from the first letters of a series of words, 1943, American English coinage from acro- + -onym "name" (abstracted from homonym; ultimately from PIE root *no-men- "name"). With the exception of cabalistic esoterica and acrostic poetry, this way of forming words was exceedingly uncommon before 20c. For distinction of usage (regretfully ignored on this site), see initialism.

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acrophobia (n.)

"morbid fear of heights," 1887, medical Latin, from Greek akros "at the end, topmost" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + -phobia "fear." Coined by Italian physician Dr. Andrea Verga in a paper describing the condition, from which Verga himself suffered.

In this paper, read somewhat over a year ago at the congress of alienists at Pavia, the author makes confession of his own extreme dread of high places. Though fearless of the contagion of cholera, he has palpitations on mounting a step-ladder, finds it unpleasant to ride on the top of a coach or to look out of even a first-story window, and has never used an elevator. [abstract of Verga's report in American Journal of Psychology, November 1888]
acropolis (n.)
"elevated part of a Greek city," often the site of original settlement and usually a citadel, 1660s, from Latinized form of Greek akropolis "citadel" (especially, with capital A-, that of Athens), from akros "highest, upper" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + polis "city" (see polis). The plural would be acropoles.
acrostic (n.)

short poem in which the initial letters of the lines, taken in order, spell a word or phrase, 1580s, from Medieval Latin acrostichis, from Greek akrostikhis, from akros "at the end, outermost" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + stikhos "line of verse," literally "row, line" (from PIE root *steigh- "to stride, step, rise;" see stair). The second element is properly -stich, but it has been assimilated to words in -ic. As an adjective from 1680s.

acrylic (adj.)
1843, "of or containing acryl," the name of a radical derived from acrolein (1843), the name of a liquid in onions and garlic that makes eyes tear, from Latin acer "sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + olere "to smell" (see odor) + -in (see -ine (2)). With adjectival suffix -ic. Modern senses often short for acrylic fiber, acrylic resin, etc.
acuity (n.)

"sharpness, acuteness," early 15c., acuite, from Old French acuite (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin acuitatem (nominative acuitas) "sharpness," noun of state from Latin acuere "to sharpen," literal and figurative (of intellect, emotion, etc.), related to acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").

aculeate (adj.)

c. 1600, figurative, "pointed, stinging," of writing, from Latin aculeatus "having a sting; thorny, prickly," also figurative, from aculeus "a sting, prickle," diminutive of acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). From 1660s in a literal sense, in zoology, "furnished with a sting;" by 1870 in botany.

acumen (n.)

"quickness of perception, keen insight," 1530s, from Latin acumen "a point, sting," hence, figuratively, "mental sharpness, shrewdness," from acuere "to sharpen," literal and figurative (of intellect, emotion, etc.), related to acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). Related: Acuminous.

acupressure (n.)

1859, name of a method (developed by J.Y. Simpson) of stopping surgical bleeding by pinning or wiring the artery shut, from Latin acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + pressure (n.). From 1958 in reference to the oriental body therapy also known as shiatsu (said to mean literally "finger-pressure" in Japanese).

acupuncture (n.)

1680s, "pricking with a needle" as a surgical operation to ease pain, from Latin acus "a needle" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + puncture. The verb is recorded by 1972.

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