Abba Look up Abba at Dictionary.com
title of honor, from Latin abba, from Greek abba, from Aramaic abba "the father, my father," emphatic of abh "father."
Abbassid Look up Abbassid at Dictionary.com
dynasty of caliphs of Baghdad (750-1258) claiming descent from Abbas (566-652), uncle of Muhammad. For his name, see abbot.
abbe (n.) Look up abbe at Dictionary.com
1520s, title given in France to "every one who wears an ecclesiastical dress," especially one having no assigned ecclesiastical duty, from French abbé, from Late Latin abbatem, accusative of abbas (see abbot).
abbess (n.) Look up abbess at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, abbese, from Old French abbesse, from Late Latin abbatissa, fem. of abbas (see abbot). Replaced earlier abbotess.
abbey (n.) Look up abbey at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., "convent headed by an abbot or abbess," from Anglo-French abbeie, Old French abaïe, from Late Latin abbatia, from abbas (genitive abbatis); see abbot.
abbot (n.) Look up abbot at Dictionary.com
Old English abbod "abbot," from Latin abbatem (nominative abbas), from Greek abbas, from Aramaic abba, title of honor, literally "the father, my father," emphatic state of abh "father." The Latin fem. abbatissa is root of abbess.
abbreviate (v.) Look up abbreviate at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Latin abbreviatus, past participle of abbreviare "to shorten" (see abbreviation). Also sometimes 15c. abbrevy, from Middle French abrevier (14c.), from Latin abbreviare. Related: Abbreviated; abbreviating.
abbreviation (n.) Look up abbreviation at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Middle French abréviation (15c.), from Late Latin abbreviationem (nominative abbreviatio), noun of action from past participle stem of abbreviare "shorten, make brief," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + breviare "shorten," from brevis "short, low, little, shallow" (see brief (adj.)).
ABC (n.) Look up ABC at Dictionary.com
"the alphabet," late 13c., abece. Sense "rudiments or fundamentals (of a subject)" is from late 14c. From 1944 (in a "Billboard" headline) as a shortening of American Broadcasting Company. Related: ABCs.
Abderian laughter (n.) Look up Abderian laughter at Dictionary.com
from Abdera, in Thrace, whose citizens were proverbial as rustic simpletons who would laugh at anything or anyone they didn't understand (making their town the Hellenic equivalent of Gotham).
abdicate (v.) Look up abdicate at Dictionary.com
1540s, "to disown, disinherit (children)," from Latin abdicatus, past participle of abdicare "to disown, disavow, reject" (specifically abdicare magistratu "renounce office"), from ab- "away" (see ab-) + dicare "proclaim" (see diction). Meaning "divest oneself of office" first recorded 1610s. Related: Abdicated; abdicating.
abdication (n.) Look up abdication at Dictionary.com
1550s, "a disowning," from Latin abdicationem (nominative abdicatio) "renunciation, abdication," noun of action from past participle stem of abdicare (see abdicate); sense of "resignation of sovereignty" is from 1680s.
abdomen (n.) Look up abdomen at Dictionary.com
1540s, "belly fat," from Latin abdomen "belly," which is of unknown origin, perhaps from abdere "conceal," with a sense of "concealment of the viscera," or else "what is concealed" by proper dress. De Vaan, however, finds this derivation "unfounded." Purely anatomical sense is from 1610s. Zoological sense of "posterior division of the bodies of arthropods" first recorded 1788.
abdominal (adj.) Look up abdominal at Dictionary.com
1550s, from medical Latin abdominalis, from abdomen (genitive abdominis); see abdomen.
abdominals (n.) Look up abdominals at Dictionary.com
short for "abdominal muscles," attested by 1980; see abdominal.
abduce (v.) Look up abduce at Dictionary.com
"to draw away" by persuasion, 1530s, from Latin abductus, past participle of abducere "to lead away" (see abduction). Related: Abduced; abducing.
abducent (adj.) Look up abducent at Dictionary.com
1713, from Latin abducentem (nominative abducens), present participle of abducere "to lead away" (see abduction).
abduct (v.) Look up abduct at Dictionary.com
"to kidnap," 1834, probably a back-formation from abduction; also see abduce. Related: Abducted; abducting.
abduction (n.) Look up abduction at Dictionary.com
1620s, "a leading away," from Latin abductionem (nominative abductio), noun of action from past participle stem of abducere "to lead away, take away" (often by force), from ab- "away" (see ab-) + ducere "to lead" (see duke (n.)). The illegal activity so called from 1768; before that the word also was a term in surgery and logic. In the Mercian hymns, Latin abductione is glossed by Old English wiðlaednisse.
abeam (adv.) Look up abeam at Dictionary.com
"at right angles to the mainmast," 1826, nautical, literally "on beam;" see a- (1) + beam (n.).
abecedary (n.) Look up abecedary at Dictionary.com
"primer, alphabet table," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin abecedarium "an ABC book," neuter of adjective abecedarius, used as a noun, from the first four letters of the Latin alphabet. Abecedarian (adj.) is attested from 1660s.
abed (adv.) Look up abed at Dictionary.com
Old English on bedde "in bed," from a- (1) + bed (n.). As one word from 17c.
Abel Look up Abel at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, in Old Testament, second son of Adam and Eve, from Hebrew Hebhel, literally "breath," also "vanity."
Abenaki Look up Abenaki at Dictionary.com
see Abnaki.
Aberdeen Look up Aberdeen at Dictionary.com
literally "mouth of the (River) Don," from Gaelic aber "(river) mouth," from Celtic *ad-ber-o-, from *ad- "to" (see ad-) + *ber- "to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry" (see infer). Compare Inverness.
aberrant (adj.) Look up aberrant at Dictionary.com
1798, originally in natural history, from Latin aberrantem (nominative aberrans), present participle of aberrare "to wander away, go astray" (see aberration).
aberration (n.) Look up aberration at Dictionary.com
1590s, "a wandering, straying," from Latin aberrationem (nominative aberratio) "a wandering," noun of action from past participle stem of aberrare "to wander out of the way, lose the way, go astray," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + errare "to wander, stray, roam, rove" (see err). Meaning "deviation from the normal type" first attested 1846.
abet (v.) Look up abet at Dictionary.com
late 14c. (implied in abetting), from Old French abeter "to bait, to harass with dogs," literally "to cause to bite," from a- "to" (see ad-) + beter "to bait," from Frankish or some other Germanic source, perhaps Low Franconian betan "incite," or Old Norse beita "cause to bite," from Proto-Germanic *baitjan, from PIE root *bheid- "to split" (see fissure). Related: Abetted; abetting.
abeyance (n.) Look up abeyance at Dictionary.com
1520s, from Anglo-French abeiance "suspension," also "expectation (especially in a lawsuit)," from Old French abeance "aspiration, desire," noun of condition of abeer "aspire after, gape" from à "at" (see ad-) + ba(y)er "be open," from Latin *batare "to yawn, gape" (see abash).

Originally in French a legal term, "condition of a person in expectation or hope of receiving property;" it turned around in English law to mean "condition of property temporarily without an owner" (1650s). Root baer is also the source of English bay (n.2) "recessed space," as in "bay window."
abhor (v.) Look up abhor at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Latin abhorrere "shrink back from, have an aversion for, shudder at," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + horrere "tremble at, shudder," literally "to bristle, be shaggy," from PIE *ghers- "start out, stand out, rise to a point, bristle" (see horror). Related: Abhorred; abhorring.
abhorrence (n.) Look up abhorrence at Dictionary.com
1650s; see abhorrent + -ence.
abhorrent (adj.) Look up abhorrent at Dictionary.com
1610s, "in a position or condition to recoil," usually with from; from Latin abhorentem (nominative abhorrens), present participle of abhorrere; see abhor. Meaning "repugnant" is from 1650s. Earlier was abhorrable (late 15c.).
abidance (n.) Look up abidance at Dictionary.com
1640s, from abide + -ance.
abide (v.) Look up abide at Dictionary.com
Old English abidan, gebidan "remain, wait, delay, remain behind," from ge- completive prefix (denoting onward motion; see a- (1)) + bidan "bide, remain, wait, dwell" (see bide). Originally intransitive (with genitive of the object: we abidon his "we waited for him"); transitive sense emerged in Middle English. Meaning "to put up with" (now usually negative) first recorded 1520s. Related: Abided; abiding. The historical conjugation is abide, abode, abidden, but the modern formation is now generally weak.
abiding (adj.) Look up abiding at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "enduring," present participle adjective from abide (v.).
Abigail Look up Abigail at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, in Old Testament, Abigail the Carmelitess, a wife of David, from Hebrew Abhigayil, literally "my father is rejoicing," from abh "father" + gil "to rejoice." Used in general sense of "lady's maid" (1660s) from character of that name in Beaumont & Fletcher's "The Scornful Lady." The waiting maid association perhaps begins with I Sam. xxv, where David's wife often calls herself a "handmaid." Her male counterpart was Andrew.
ability (n.) Look up ability at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Old French ableté "expert at handling (something)," from Latin habilitatem (nominative habilitas) "aptitude," noun of quality from habilis "easy to manage, handy" (see able). One case where a Latin silent -h- failed to make a return in English (despite efforts of 16c.-17c. scholars); see H.
abiotic (adj.) Look up abiotic at Dictionary.com
"without life," 1870, from a- (3) + biotic.
Abitur (n.) Look up Abitur at Dictionary.com
German final secondary school exam, 1863, short for abiturium, from Modern Latin abitorire "to wish to leave," desiderative of Latin abire (neuter plural abitum) "to go away," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + ire "to go" (see ion).
abject (adj.) Look up abject at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "cast off, rejected," from Latin abiectus, past participle of abicere "to throw away, cast off; degrade, humble, lower," from ab- "away, off" (see ab-) + iacere "to throw" (past participle iactus; see jet (v.)). Figurative sense of "downcast, brought low" first attested 1510s. Related: Abjectly; abjectness.
abjection (n.) Look up abjection at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Old French abjection (14c.), from Latin abjectionem (nominative abjectio) "dejection, despondency," literally "a throwing away," noun of action from past participle stem of abicere (see abject).
abjuration (n.) Look up abjuration at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Latin abjurationem (nominative abjuratio) "a denying on oath," noun of action from past participle stem of abjurare (see abjure).
abjure (v.) Look up abjure at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Middle French abjurer or directly from Latin abiurare "deny on oath," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + iurare "to swear," related to ius (genitive iuris) "law" (see jurist). Related: Abjured; abjuring.
ablation (n.) Look up ablation at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Latin ablationem (nominative ablatio), "a taking away," noun of action from past participle stem of auferre "to carry away," from ab- "off" (see ab-) + ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) "to bear, carry."
ablative (n.) Look up ablative at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Middle French ablatif, from Latin (casus) ablativus "(case) of removal," expressing direction from a place or time, coined by Julius Caesar from ablatus "taken away," past participle of auferre "carrying away," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + irregular verb ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) "to carry, to bear" (see infer). The Latin case of adverbial relation, typically expressing the notion "away from," or the source or place of an action.
ablaut (n.) Look up ablaut at Dictionary.com
"systematic vowel alteration in the root of a word to indicate shades of meaning or tense," a characteristic of Indo-European languages, 1849, from German Ablaut, literally "off-sound," coined by J.P. Zweigel in 1568 from ab "off" + Laut "sound, tone," from Old High German hlut (see listen). Popularized by Jacob Grimm.
ablaze (adv.) Look up ablaze at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from a "on" (see a- (1)) + blaze (n.).
able (adj.) Look up able at Dictionary.com
early 14c., from Old French (h)able (14c.), from Latin habilem, habilis "easily handled, apt," verbal adjective from habere "to hold" (see habit (n.)). "Easy to be held," hence "fit for a purpose." The silent h- was dropped in English and resisted academic attempts to restore it 16c.-17c. (see H), but some derivatives (such as habiliment, habilitate) acquired it via French.
Able-whackets - A popular sea-game with cards, in which the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors. [Smyth, "Sailor's Word-Book," 1867]
able-bodied (adj.) Look up able-bodied at Dictionary.com
1620s; see able + body.
ablution (n.) Look up ablution at Dictionary.com
"ritual washing," late 14c., from Latin ablutionem (nominative ablutio), noun of action from past participle stem of abluere "to wash off," from ab- "off" (see ab-) + luere "wash," related to lavere (see lave).