Etymology
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Words related to righteous

right (adj.1)

[correct, morally correct, direct] Old English riht, of actions, "just, good, fair, in conformity with moral law; proper, fitting, according to standard; rightful, legitimate, lawful; correct in belief, orthodox;" of persons or their characters, "disposed to do what is good or just;" also literal, "straight, not bent; direct, being the shortest course; erect," from Proto-Germanic *rehtan (source also of Old Frisian riucht "right," Old Saxon reht, Middle Dutch and Dutch recht, Old High German reht, German recht, Old Norse rettr, Gothic raihts), from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," also "to rule, to lead straight, to put right" (source also of Greek orektos "stretched out, upright;" Latin rectus "straight, right;" Old Persian rasta- "straight; right," aršta- "rectitude;" Old Irish recht "law;" Welsh rhaith, Breton reiz "just, righteous, wise").

Compare slang straight (adj.1) "honest, morally upright," and Latin rectus "right," literally "straight," Lithuanian teisus "right, true," literally "straight." Greek dikaios "just" (in the moral and legal sense) is from dike "custom."

By 1580s as "in conformity with truth, fact, or reason; correct, not erroneous;" of persons, "thinking or acting in accordance with truth or the facts of the case," 1590s. Of solid figures, "having the base at right angle with the axis," 1670s. The sense of "leading in the proper or desired direction" is by 1814. As an emphatic, meaning "you are right," it is recorded from 1580s; use as a question meaning "am I not right?" is by 1961. Extended colloquial form righto is attested by 1896.

The sense in right whale (by 1733) is said in dictionaries to be "justly entitled to the name" (a sense that goes back to Old English); earliest sources for the term, in New England whaling publications, list it first among whales and compare the others to it. Of persons who are socially acceptable and potentially influential (the right people) by 1842.

Right stuff "best human ingredients" is from 1848, popularized by Tom Wolfe's 1979 book about the first astronauts. Right angle is from late 14c. The right way originally was "the way of moral righteousness, the path to salvation" (Old English); the sense of "correct method, what is most conducive to the end in vision" is by 1560s. The sense in in one's right mind is of "mentally normal or sound" (1660s).

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wise (adj.)

Old English wis "learned, sagacious, cunning; sane; prudent, discreet; experienced; having the power of discerning and judging rightly," from Proto-Germanic *wissaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian wis, Old Norse viss, Dutch wijs, German weise "wise"), from past-participle adjective *wittos of PIE root *weid- "to see" (hence "to know"). Modern slang meaning "aware, cunning" first attested 1896. Related to the source of Old English witan "to know, wit."

A wise man has no extensive knowledge; He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man. [Lao-tzu, "Tao te Ching," c. 550 B.C.E.]

Wise man was in Old English. Wise guy is attested from 1896, American English; wise-ass (n.) by 1966, American English (probably a literal sense is intended by the phrase in the 1607 comedy "Westward Hoe" by Dekker and Webster). Wisenheimer, with mock German or Yiddish surname suffix, first recorded 1904.

courteous (adj.)

c. 1300, curteis, "having elegant manners, well-bred, polite, urbane," also "gracious, benevolent," from Old French curteis (Modern French courtois) "having courtly bearing or manners," from curt "court" (see court (n.)) + -eis, from Latin -ensis.

Rare before c. 1500. In feudal society, also denoting a man of good education (hence the name Curtis). Medieval courts were associated with good behavior and also beauty; compare German hübsch "beautiful," from Middle High German hübesch "beautiful," originally "courteous, well-bred," from Old Franconian hofesch, from hof "court." Related: Courteously (mid-14c., kurteis-liche).

righteousness (n.)

"character of being righteous; purity of heart and rectitude of life; the being and doing right; conformity in character and conduct to a right standard;" an alteration, attested by early 15c., of Middle English rightwisnesse "rightwise," from Old English rehtwisnisse "justice, conformity to divine or moral law;" see righteous + -ness. The original form is now obscure or archaic. Tyndale (1526) has "Blessed are they which honger and thurst for rightewesnes" where KJV has "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness" [Matthew v.6].

self-righteous (adj.)
1680s, from self- + righteous. Related: Self-righteously; self-righteousness.
unrighteous (adj.)
1520s; see un- (1) "not" + righteous (adj.). In Middle English, the word was unrightwis, from Old English unrihtwis. Related: Unrighteously; unrighteousness.