bass (adj.)

late 14c., bas, of things, "low, not high," from Late Latin bassus "short, low" (see base (adj.)). In Middle English it also meant "low in social scale or rank" (late 14c.). Of voices and music notes, "low in tone" from mid-15c. (technically, ranging from the E flat below the bass stave to the F above it), a sense development influenced by Italian basso.

bass (n.1)

freshwater fish, c. 1400 corruption of Middle English baers, from Old English bærs "a fish, perch," from Proto-Germanic base *bars- "sharp" (source also of Middle Dutch baerse, Middle High German bars, German Barsch "perch," German barsch "rough"), from PIE root *bhar- "point, bristle" (see bristle (n.)). The fish was so called for its dorsal fins. For loss of -r-, see cuss (v.).

bass (n.2)

"lowest part of a harmonized musical composition," c.1500, from bass (adj.) or the cognate noun in Italian. The meaning "singer having a bass voice" is from 1590s. The meaning "bass-viol" is from 1702; that of "double-bass" is from 1927.

updated on October 04, 2022