late Old English smoca (rare) "fumes and volatile material given off by burning substances," related to smeocan "give off smoke," from Proto-Germanic *smuk- (source also of Middle Dutch smooc, Dutch smook, Middle High German smouch, German Schmauch), from PIE root *smeug- "to smoke; smoke" (source also of Armenian mux "smoke," Greek smykhein "to burn with smoldering flame," Old Irish much, Welsh mwg "smoke").
There is no fyre without some smoke [Heywood, 1562]
The more usual noun was Old English smec, which became dialectal smeech. Abusive meaning "black person" attested from 1913, American English. Smoke-eater "firefighter" is c. 1930. Figurative phrase go up in smoke "be destroyed" (as if by fire) is from 1933. Smoke-alarm first attested 1936; smoke-detector from 1957.
Old English smocian "to produce smoke, emit smoke," especially as a result of burning, from smoke (n.1). Meaning "to drive out or away or into the open by means of smoke" is attested from 1590s. Meaning "to apply smoke to, to cure (bacon, fish, etc.) by exposure to smoke" is first attested 1590s. In connection with tobacco, "draw fumes from burning into the mouth," first recorded 1604 in James I's "Counterblast to Tobacco." Related: Smoked; smoking. Smoking gun in the figurative sense of "incontestable evidence" is from 1974.
"cigarette," slang, 1882, from smoke (n.1). Also "opium" (1884). Meaning "a spell of smoking tobacco" is recorded from 1835.
updated on September 24, 2019