Etymology
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Words related to U

V 

In Middle English, -u- and -v- were used interchangeably, though with a preference for v- as the initial letter (vnder, vain, etc.) and -u- elsewhere (full, euer, etc.). The distinction into consonant and vowel identities was established in English by 1630, under influence of continental printers, but into 19c. some dictionaries and other catalogues continued to list -u- and -v- words as a single series.

No native Anglo-Saxon words begin in v- except those (vane, vat, vixen) altered by the southwestern England habit of replacing initial f- with v- (and initial s- with z-). Confusion of -v- and -w- also was a characteristic of 16c. Cockney accents.

As a Roman numeral, "five." In German rocket weapons systems of World War II, it stood for Vergeltungswaffe "reprisal weapon." V-eight as a type of motor engine is recorded from 1929 (V-engine is attested from 1909), so called for the arrangement. The V for "victory" hand sign was conceived January 1941 by Belgian politician and resistance leader Victor de Laveleye, to signify French victoire and Flemish vrijheid ("freedom"). It was broadcast into Europe by Radio België/Radio Belgique and popularized by the BBC by June 1941, from which time it became a universal allied gesture.

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you (pron.)

Old English eow, dative and accusative plural of þu (see thou), objective case of ge, "ye" (see ye), from Proto-Germanic *juz-, *iwwiz (source also of Old Norse yor, Old Saxon iu, Old Frisian iuwe, Middle Dutch, Dutch u, Old High German iu, iuwih, German euch), from PIE *yu, second person (plural) pronoun.

Pronunciation of you and the nominative form ye gradually merged from 14c.; the distinction between them passed out of general usage by 1600. Widespread use of French in England after 12c. gave English you the same association as French vous, and it began to drive out singular nominative thou, originally as a sign of respect (similar to the "royal we") when addressing superiors, then equals and strangers, and ultimately (by c. 1575) becoming the general form of address. Through 13c. English also retained a dual pronoun ink "you two; your two selves; each other."

some (adj.)

Old English sum "some, a, a certain one, something, a certain quantity; a certain number;" with numerals "out of" (as in sum feowra "one of four"); from Proto-Germanic *sumaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German sum, Old Norse sumr, Gothic sums), from PIE *smm-o-, suffixed form of root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with." For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come.

The word has had greater currency in English than in the other Teutonic languages, in some of which it is now restricted to dialect use, or represented only by derivatives or compounds .... [OED]

As a pronoun from c. 1100; as an adverb from late 13c. Meaning "remarkable" is attested from 1808, American English colloquial. A possessive form is attested from 1560s, but always was rare. Many combination forms (somewhat, sometime, somewhere) were in Middle English but often written as two words till 17-19c. Somewhen is rare and since 19c. used almost exclusively in combination with the more common compounds; somewho "someone" is attested from late 14c. but did not endure. Scott (1816) has somegate "somewhere, in some way, somehow," and somekins "some kind of a" is recorded from c. 1200. Get some "have sexual intercourse" is attested 1899 in a quote attributed to Abe Lincoln from c. 1840.

come (v.)

elementary intransitive verb of motion, Old English cuman "to move with the purpose of reaching, or so as to reach, some point; to arrive by movement or progression;" also "move into view, appear, become perceptible; come to oneself, recover; arrive; assemble" (class IV strong verb; past tense cuom, com, past participle cumen), from Proto-Germanic *kwem- (source also of Old Saxon cuman, Old Frisian kuma, Middle Dutch comen, Dutch komen, Old High German queman, German kommen, Old Norse koma, Gothic qiman), from PIE root *gwa- "to go, come."

The substitution of Middle English -o- for Old English -u- was a scribal habit before minims to avoid misreading the letters in the old style handwriting, which jammed them together (see U). Modern past tense form came is Middle English, probably from Old Norse kvam, replacing Old English cuom.

Meaning "to happen, occur" is from early 12c. (come to pass "happen, occur" is from 1520s). As an invitation to action, c. 1300; as a call or appeal to a person (often in expanded forms: "come, come," "come, now"), mid-14c. Come again? as an off-hand way of asking "what did you say?" is attested by 1884. For sexual senses, see cum.

Remarkably productive with prepositions (NTC's "Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs" lists 198 combinations); consider the varied senses in come to "regain consciousness," come over "possess" (as an emotion), come at "attack," come on (interj.) "be serious," and come off "occur, have some level of success" (1864). Among other common expressions are:

To come down with "become ill with" (a disease), 1895; come in, of a radio operator, "begin speaking," 1958; come on "advance in growth or development," c. 1600; come out, of a young woman, "make a formal entry into society," 1782; come round "return to a normal state or better condition," 1841; come through "act as desired or expected," 1914; come up "arise as a subject of attention," 1844; come up with "produce, present," 1934.

To have it coming "deserve what one suffers" is from 1904. To come right down to it "get to fundamental facts" is from 1875.

monk (n.)

"member of a community or fraternity of men formed for the practice of religious devotions or duties and bound by certain vows," Old English munuc (used also of women), from Proto-Germanic *muniko- (source also of Old Frisian munek, Middle Dutch monic, Old High German munih, German Mönch), an early borrowing from Vulgar Latin *monicus (source of French moine, Spanish monje, Italian monaco), from Late Latin monachus "monk," originally "religious hermit," from Ecclesiastical Greek monakhos "monk," noun use of a classical Greek adjective meaning "solitary," from monos "alone" (from PIE root *men- (4) "small, isolated"). The original monks in Church history were men who retired from the world for religious meditation and the practice of religious duties in solitude. For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come.

In England, before the Reformation, the term was not applied to the members of the mendicant orders, who were always called friars. From the 16th c. to the 19th c., however, it was usual to speak of the friars as a class of monks. In recent times the distinction between the terms has been carefully observed by well-informed writers. In French and Ger. the equivalent of monk is applied equally to 'monks' and 'friars.' [OED]
tongue (n.)

 Old English tunge "tongue, organ of speech; speech, a people's language," from Proto-Germanic *tungō (source also of Old Saxon and Old Norse tunga, Old Frisian tunge, Middle Dutch tonghe, Dutch tong, Old High German zunga, German Zunge, Gothic tuggo), from PIE root *dnghu- "tongue."

For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. The spelling of the ending of the word apparently is a 14c. attempt to indicate proper pronunciation, but the result is "neither etymological nor phonetic, and is only in a very small degree historical" [OED]. In the "knowledge of a foreign language" sense in the Pentecostal miracle, from 1520s. Tongue-tied is first recorded 1520s. To hold (one's) tongue "refrain from speaking" was in Old English. Johnson has tonguepad "A great talker."

Bewar of tungis double and deceyuable,
Which with ther venym infect ech companye,
Ther poynaunt poisoun is so penetrable.
[John Lydgate, Fall of Princes (c. 1439)]
worm (n.)

Old English wurm, variant of wyrm "serpent, snake, dragon, reptile," also in later Old English "earthworm," from Proto-Germanic *wurmiz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German, German wurm, Old Frisian and Dutch worm, Old Norse ormr, Gothic waurms "serpent, worm"), from PIE *wrmi- "worm" (source also of Greek rhomos, Latin vermis "worm," Old Russian vermie "insects," Lithuanian varmas "insect, gnat"), from PIE *wrmi- "worm," from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."

The ancient category of these was much more extensive than the modern, scientific, one and included serpents, scorpions, maggots, and the supposed causes of certain diseases. For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. As an insult meaning "abject, miserable person" it dates from Old English. Worms "any disease arising from the presence of parasitic worms" is from late Old English. Can of worms figurative for "difficult problem" is from 1951, from the literal can of worms a fisherman might bring with him, on the image of something all tangled up.

U-turn (n.)

1934, from U + turn (n.). So called in reference to the shape of the path described.

Y 

a late-developing letter in English. Called ipsilon in German, upsilon in Greek, the English name is of obscure origin. The sound at the beginning of yard, yes, yield, etc. is from Old English words with initial g- as in got and y- as in yet, which were considered the same sound and often transcribed as Ȝ, known as yogh. The system was altered by French scribes, who brought over the continental use of -g- and from the early 1200s used -y- and sometimes -gh- to replace Ȝ. The French also tended to substitute -y- for -i-, especially before -u-, -n-, or -m-, or at the end of words, to avoid confusion in reading (see U), might also partly explain this tendency in Middle English. As short for YMCA, etc., by 1915.