just (adj.)

late 14c., "morally upright, righteous  in the eyes of God" ("Now chiefly as a Biblical archaism" - OED); also "equitable, fair, impartial in one's dealings;" also "fitting, proper, conforming to standards or rules;" also "justifiable, reasonable;" from Old French juste "just, righteous; sincere" (12c.) and directly from Latin iustus "upright, righteous, equitable; in accordance with law, lawful; true, proper; perfect, complete" (source also of Spanish and Portuguese justo, Italian giusto), from ius "a right," especially "legal right, law" (see jurist; from Latin ius also come English jury (n.), injury, etc.).

From c. 1400 as "right-minded, good in intention;" from early 15c. as "legal, lawful, right in law." Also "exact, precise; marked or characterized by precision; having correct dimensions" (late 14c.); of narrations, calculations, etc., "accurate, correct" (early 15c.). The sense in music, "harmonically pure, correct, and exact" is by 1850.

The more mundane Latin law-word lex covered specific laws as opposed to the body of laws. The noun meaning "righteous person or persons; Christ" is from late 14c. (The neuter adjective in Latin was used as a noun, iustum, "what is right or just").

just (adv.)

c. 1400, "precisely, exactly;" late 15c., "fittingly, snugly;" c. 1500, "immediately;" from just (adj.) and paralleling the adverbial use of French juste (also compare Dutch juist, German just, from the adjectives).

The original sense of "exactly" in space, time, kind, or degree; "precisely, without interval, deviation, or variation" is preserved in just so"exactly that, in that very way" (1751), just as I thought, etc. But the sense decayed, as it often does in general words for exactness (compare anon, soon), from "exactly, precisely, punctually" to "within a little; with very little but a sufficient difference; nearly; almost exactly;" then by 1660s to "merely, barely, by or within a narrow margin (as in just missed). Hence just now as "a short time ago" (1680s). Also "very lately, within a brief period of time" (18c.). It is also used intensively, "quite" (by 1855).

Just-so story is attested 1902 in Kipling, from just so "exactly that, in that very way."

updated on June 15, 2020

Definitions of just from WordNet
just (adv.)
and nothing more;
just a scratch
Synonyms: merely / simply / only / but
just (adv.)
indicating exactness or preciseness; "Properly speaking, all true work is religion."--Thomas Carlyle;
it was just as he said--the jewel was gone
it has just enough salt
Synonyms: precisely / exactly / properly
just (adv.)
only a moment ago;
he has just arrived
the sun just now came out
Synonyms: just now
just (adv.)
(used for emphasis) absolutely;
I just can't take it anymore
he was just grand as Romeo
Synonyms: simply
just (adv.)
only a very short time before; "would have scarce arrived before she would have found some excuse to leave"- W.B.Yeats;
Synonyms: barely / hardly / scarcely / scarce
just (adv.)
possibly (indicating a slight chance of something being true);
it might just happen
just (adv.)
exactly at this moment or the moment described;
we've just finished painting the walls, so don't touch them
just (adv.)
by a little;
the batter just missed being hit
I only just caught the bus
he finished the marathon in just under 3 hours
Synonyms: barely
just (adj.)
used especially of what is legally or ethically right or proper or fitting; "a just and lasting peace"- A.Lincoln;
his just inheritance
a kind and just man
a just reward
just (adj.)
fair to all parties as dictated by reason and conscience;
Synonyms: equitable
just (adj.)
free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; conforming with established standards or rules;
Synonyms: fair
just (adj.)
of moral excellence;
a just cause
Synonyms: good / upright
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.