Old English wearm "warm," from Proto-Germanic *warmaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Old High German, German warm, Old Norse varmr, Gothic warmjan "to warm"), of uncertain origin. On one guess it is from PIE root *gwher- (source of Greek thermos "warm;" Latin formus "warm," Old English bærnan "to kindle"). On another guess it is connected to the source of Old Church Slavonic goriti "to burn," varŭ "heat," variti "to cook, boil;" and Lithuanian vérdu, virti "to seethe."
The use of distinct words, based on degree of heat, for warm and hot is general in Balto-Slavic and Germanic, but in other languages one word often covers both (Greek thermos; Latin calidus, French chaud, Spanish caliente). In reference to feelings, etc., attested from late 15c. Of colors from 1764. Sense in guessing games first recorded 1860, from earlier hunting use in reference to scent or trail (1713). Warm-blooded in reference to mammals is recorded from 1793. Warm-hearted first recorded c. 1500.
Old English wyrman "make warm" and wearmian "become warm;" from the root of warm (adj.). Phrase warm the bench is sports jargon first recorded 1907. Related: Warmed; warming.
SCOTCH WARMING PAN. A wench. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785]
updated on September 25, 2018