Words related to Wilderness
word-forming element denoting action, quality, or state, attached to an adjective or past participle to form an abstract noun, from Old English -nes(s), from Proto-Germanic *in-assu- (cognates: Old Saxon -nissi, Middle Dutch -nisse, Dutch -nis, Old High German -nissa, German -nis, Gothic -inassus), from *-in-, originally belonging to the noun stem, + *-assu-, abstract noun suffix, probably from the same root as Latin -tudo (see -tude).
Old English wilde "in the natural state, uncultivated, untamed, undomesticated, uncontrolled," from Proto-Germanic *wildia- (source also of Old Saxon wildi, Old Norse villr, Old Frisian wilde, Dutch wild, Old High German wildi, German wild, Gothic wilþeis "wild," German Wild (n.) "game"), of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE root *welt- "woodlands; wild" (see wold).
Ursula ... hath bin at all the Salsbury rasis, dancing like wild with Mr Clarks. [letter, 1674]
Meaning "sexually dissolute, loose" is attested from mid-13c. Meaning "distracted with excitement or emotion, crazy" is from 1590s. U.S. slang sense of "exciting, excellent" is recorded from 1955. As an adverb from 1540s. Baseball wild pitch is recorded from 1867. Wildest dreams attested from 1717. Wild West in a U.S. context recorded by 1826. Wild Turkey brand of whiskey (Austin Nichols Co.) in use from 1942.
Old English deor "wild animal, beast, any wild quadruped," in early Middle English also used of ants and fish, from Proto-Germanic *deuzam, the general Germanic word for "animal" (as opposed to man), but often restricted to "wild animal" (source also of Old Frisian diar, Dutch dier, Old Norse dyr, Old High German tior, German Tier "animal," Gothic dius "wild animal," also see reindeer).
This is perhaps from PIE *dheusom "creature that breathes," from root *dheu- (1) "cloud, breath" (source also of Lithuanian dusti "gasp," dvėsti "gasp, perish;" Old Church Slavonic dychati "breathe"). For possible prehistoric sense development, compare Latin animal from anima "breath").
The sense specialization to a specific animal began in Old English (the usual Old English word for what we now call a deer was heorot; see hart), was common by 15c., and is now complete. It happened probably via hunting, deer being the favorite animal of the chase (compare Sanskrit mrga- "wild animal," used especially for "deer").
Deer-lick "salty spot where deer come to lick," is attested by 1778, in an American context. The deer-mouse (1840) is so called for its agility.