"alarm bell," 1580s, from French toquassen "an alarm bell, the ringing of an alarm bell" (late 14c.), from Old Provençal tocasenh, from tocar "to strike" (from Vulgar Latin *toccare "strike a bell;" see touch (v.)) + senh "bell, bell note," from Late Latin signum "bell, ringing of a bell," in Latin "identifying mark, sign" (see sign (n.)). The current English spelling is from 1794, adopted from modern French.
Entries linking to tocsin
late 13c., "make deliberate physical contact with," from Old French tochier "to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with" (11c., Modern French toucher), from Vulgar Latin *toccare "to knock, strike" as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare), perhaps of imitative origin. Related: Touched; touching.
From c. 1300 in the transitive sense "bring into physical contact," also "pertain to." Other senses attested from 14c. are "perceive by physical contact, examine by sense of touch," also "be or come into physical contact with; come to rest on; border on, be contiguous with;" also "use the sense of touch," and "mention, describe." From early 14c. as "affect or move mentally or emotionally," with notion of to "touch" the heart or mind. Also from early 14c. as "have sexual contact with." Meaning "to get or borrow money" first recorded 1760.
Touch-and-go (adj.) is recorded from 1812, apparently from the name of a tag-like game, first recorded 1650s (however, despite the coincidence, this in no way suggests an acronym origin for tag). Touch football is first attested 1933. Touch-me-not (1590s) translates Latin noli-me-tangere.
early 13c., signe, "gesture or motion of the hand," especially one meant to express thought or convey an idea, from Old French signe "sign, mark," from Latin signum "identifying mark, token, indication, symbol; proof; military standard, ensign; a signal, an omen; sign in the heavens, constellation."
According to Watkins, literally "standard that one follows," from PIE *sekw-no-, from root *sekw- (1) "to follow." De Vaan has it from PIE *sekh-no- "cut," from PIE root *sek- "to cut" He writes: "The etymological appurtenance to seco 'to cut' implies a semantic shift of *sek-no- 'what is cut out', 'carved out' > 'sign'." But he also also compares Hebrew sakkin, Aramaic sakkin "slaughtering-knife," and mentions a theory that "both words are probably borrowed from an unknown third source."
It has ousted native token. By c. 1300 as "an indication of some coming event." The meaning "a visible mark or device having some special meaning" is recorded from late 13c.; that of "miraculous manifestation, a miracle demonstrating divine power" is from c. 1300. In reference to one of the 12 divisions of the zodiac, from mid-14c.
The sense of "inscribed board with a characteristic device attached to the front of an inn, shop, etc.," to distinguish it from others is recorded from mid-15c. The meaning "indicator, token or signal of some condition" (late 13c.) is behind sign of the times (1520s). The meaning "conventional mark or symbol in place of words" (in music, mathematics, etc., as in plus sign) is by 1550s. In some uses, the word probably is a shortening of ensign.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to follow."
It forms all or part of: associate; association; consequence; consequent; dissociate; ensue; execute; extrinsic; intrinsic; obsequious; persecute; persecution; prosecute; pursue; second (adj.) "next after first;" second (n.) "one-sixtieth of a minute;" sect; secundine; segue; sequacious; sequel; sequence; sequester; sociable; social; society; socio-; subsequent; sue; suit; suite; suitor; tocsin.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit sacate "accompanies, follows;" Avestan hacaiti, Greek hepesthai "to follow;" Latin sequi "to follow, come after," secundus "second, the following;" Lithuanian seku, sekti "to follow;" Old Irish sechim "I follow."
updated on December 07, 2020