alley-way (n.) Look up alley-way at
1788, from alley + way (n.).
alliance (n.) Look up alliance at
c. 1300, "bond of marriage" (between ruling houses or noble families), from Old French aliance (12c., Modern French alliance) "alliance, bond; marriage, union," from aliier (Modern French allier) "combine, unite" (see ally (v.)). As a bond or treaty between rulers, late 14c.
allied (adj.) Look up allied at
c. 1300, past participle adjective from ally (v.). Originally of kindred; in reference to a league or formal treaty, it is first recorded late 14c.
alligator (n.) Look up alligator at
1560s, lagarto (modern form attested from 1620s, with excrescent -r as in tater, feller, etc.), a corruption of Spanish el lagarto (de Indias) "the lizard (of the Indies)," from Latin lacertus (see lizard). Alligarter was an early variant. The slang meaning "non-playing devotee of swing music" is attested from 1936; the phrase see you later, alligator is from a 1956 song title.
Allison Look up Allison at
fem. proper name, a diminutive of Alice (q.v.), via Old French Alison. Popular in U.S. as a girl's name from 1990s, but all but unknown there before 1946; it was popular in England and Scotland 13c.-17c. As a surname, it could represent "Alice's son."
alliterate (v.) Look up alliterate at
"to use alliteration," 1776 (implied in alliterated), back-formation from alliteration, on analogy of obliterate. Related: Alliterating.
alliteration (n.) Look up alliteration at
1650s, "a begining with the same letter," from Modern Latin alliterationem (nominative alliteratio), noun of action from past participle stem of alliterare "to begin with the same letter," from Latin ad- "to" (see ad-) + littera (also litera) "letter, script" (see letter). Formed on model of obliteration, etc. Related: Alliterational.
alliterative (adj.) Look up alliterative at
1764, from alliterate + -ive. Related: Alliteratively.
allo- Look up allo- at
word-forming element meaning "other," from Greek allo-, comb. form of allos "other, different" (see alias (adv.)).
allocate (v.) Look up allocate at
1630s, from verbal used of adjective allocate (mid-15c. in legal use), from Medieval Latin allocate (the common first word of writs authorizing payment), imperative plural of allocare "allocate," from Latin ad- "to" (see ad-) + locare "to place," from locus "a place" (see locus). Related: Allocated; allocating.
allocation (n.) Look up allocation at
mid-15c., from Middle French allocacion, from Medieval Latin allocationem (nominative allocatio), noun of action from past participle stem of allocare (see allocate).
allogenic (adj.) Look up allogenic at
1888, from Greek allogenes "of another race, stranger," from allos "other, different" (see allo-) + -genes "born" (see -gen) + -ic.
allograph (n.) Look up allograph at
"writing made by another person," by 1916 (implied in allographic), from allo- + -graph "something written."
allons Look up allons at
"well!" French, literally "let us go," first person plural imperative of aller "to go."
allopath (n.) Look up allopath at
1830, back-formation from allopathy.
allopathic (adj.) Look up allopathic at
1830, from French allopathique, from allopathie (see allopathy). Related: Allopathically.
allopathy (n.) Look up allopathy at
1842, "treatment of disease by remedies that produce effects opposite to the symptoms," from German Allopathie (Hahnemann), from Greek allos "other" (see alias (adv.)) + -patheia, "suffering, disease, feeling" (see -pathy). The term applied by homeopathists to traditional medicine.
allot (v.) Look up allot at
late 15c., from Old French aloter (Modern French allotir) "to divide by lots, to divide into lots," from à "to" (see ad-) + loter "lot," a word of Germanic origin (cognates: Gothic hlauts, Old High German hloz, Old English hlot; see lot). Related: Allotted; allotting.
allotment (n.) Look up allotment at
1570s, "action of allotting," from Middle French allotement, from Old French aloter (see allot). Or else a native formation from allot + -ment. Meaning "portion assigned to someone or some purpose" is from 1670s.
allotrope (n.) Look up allotrope at
1847, back-formation from allotropy "variation of physical properties without change of substance," from allo- + -tropy "manner" (see -trope). Related: Allotropic.
allow (v.) Look up allow at
early 14c., allouen, "to commend, praise; approve of, be pleased with; appreciate the value of;" also, "take into account or give credit for," also, in law and philosophy, "recognize, admit as valid" (a privilege, an excuse, a statement, etc.). From late 14c. as "sanction or permit; condone;" in business use from early 15c.

The Middle English word is from Anglo-French alouer, Old French aloer, alloiier (13c.) "allot, apportion, bestow, assign," from Latin allocare (see allocate). This word in Old French was confused and ultimately merged with aloer; alloer "to praise, commend," from Latin allaudare, adlaudare, compound of ad- "to" (see ad-) + laudare "to praise" (see laud). From the first word came the sense preserved in allowance as "money granted;" from the second came its meaning "permission based on approval."
Between the two primary significations there naturally arose a variety of uses blending them in the general idea of assign with approval, grant, concede a thing claimed or urged, admit a thing offered, permit, etc., etc. [OED].
Related: Allowed; allowing.
allowable (adj.) Look up allowable at
late 14c., from Old French allouable, from allouer (see allow).
allowance (n.) Look up allowance at
late 14c., "praise" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French aloance "allowance, granting, allocation," from alouer (see allow). Sense of "a sum alloted to meet expenses" is from c. 1400. In accounts, meaning "a sum placed to one's credit" is attested from 1520s. To make allowances is literally to add or deduct a sum from someone's account for some special circumstance. Figurative use of the phrase is attested from 1670s.
allowed (adj.) Look up allowed at
late 14c., "praised;" mid-15c., "assigned as a due share;" late 15c., "permitted," past participle adjective from allow.
alloy (n.) Look up alloy at
early 14c. "relative freedom of a noble metal from alloy or other impurities," from Anglo-French alai, Old French aloi, from aloiier (see alloy (v.)). Meaning " base metal alloyed with a noble metal" is from c. 1400. Modern spelling from late 17c.
alloy (v.) Look up alloy at
c. 1400, "mix with a baser metal," from Old French aloiier "assemble, join," from Latin alligare "bind to, tie to," compound of ad- "to" (see ad-) + ligare "to bind" (see ligament); hence "bind one thing to another." Related: Alloyed; alloying.
allright Look up allright at
see alright.
allspice (n.) Look up allspice at
spice made from the berry of the Jamaican pimento, 1620s, from all + spice (n.), "so called because supposed to combine the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves" [Weekley].
allude (v.) Look up allude at
1530s, "mock," from Middle French alluder or directly from Latin alludere "to play, sport, joke, jest," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + ludere "to play" (see ludicrous). Meaning "make an indirect reference, point in passing" is from 1570s. Related: Alluded; alluding.
allure (v.) Look up allure at
c. 1400, from Anglo-French alurer, Old French aleurer "to attract, captivate; train a falcon to hunt," from à "to" (see ad-) + loirre "falconer's lure," from a Frankish word (see lure), perhaps influenced by French allure "gait, way of walking." Related: Allured; alluring. The noun is first attested 1540s; properly this sense is allurement.
allurement (n.) Look up allurement at
1540s, "means of alluring;" see allure (v.) + -ment. Meaning "act of alluring" is recorded from 1560s.
alluring (n.) Look up alluring at
1530s, "action of attracting," verbal noun from allure (v.).
alluring (adj.) Look up alluring at
"appealing to desires," 1570s, present participle adjective from allure (v.). Related: Alluringly.
allusion (n.) Look up allusion at
1540s, from Latin allusionem (nominative allusio) "a playing with, a reference to," noun of action from past participle stem of alludere (see allude). An allusion is never an outright or explicit mention of the person or thing the speaker seems to have in mind.
allusive (adj.) Look up allusive at
c. 1600, from Latin allus-, past participle stem of alludere (see allude) + -ive. Related: Allusively; allusiveness.
alluvial (adj.) Look up alluvial at
1802, from Latin alluvius "alluvial" (see alluvium) + -al (1).
alluvium (n.) Look up alluvium at
"matter deposited by flowing water," 1660s, from Medieval Latin alluvium, neuter of alluvius "washed against," from Latin alluere "wash against," from ad- "to, against" (see ad-) + -luere, comb. form of lavere "to wash" (see lave).
ally (v.) Look up ally at
late 13c., "to join in marriage," from Old French alier "combine, unite," from a differentiated stem of aliier (from Latin alligare "bind to;" see alloy). Meaning "to form an alliance, join, associate" is late 14c. Related: allied; allying.
ally (n.) Look up ally at
late 14c., "relative, kinsman," from ally (v.); mid-15c. in the sense of "one united with another by treaty or league."
Alma Look up Alma at
fem. proper name, from Latin Alma "nourishing," fem. of almus; from alere "to nourish" (see old).
Alma Mater (n.) Look up Alma Mater at
late 14c., Latin, literally "bountiful mother," a title Romans gave to goddesses, especially Ceres and Cybele, from alma, fem. of almus "nourishing," from alere "to nourish" (see old) + mater "mother" (see mother (n.1)). First used 1710 in sense of "one's university or school" in reference to British universities.
almagest (n.) Look up almagest at
late 14c., title of a treatise on astronomy by Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria, extended in Middle English to other works on astrology or astronomy, from Old French almageste (13c.), from Arabic al majisti, from al "the" + Greek megiste "the greatest (composition)," from fem. of megistos, superlative of megas "great" (see mickle). Originally titled in Greek Megale syntaxis tes astronomias "Great Composition on Astronomy;" Arab translators in their admiration altered this.
almah (n.) Look up almah at
Egyptian dancing-girl, belly-dancer, 1814, perhaps from Arabic almah (fem. adjective), "learned, knowing," from alama "to know." Or perhaps from a Semitic root meaning "girl" (source also of Hebrew alma "a young girl, a damsel").
almanac (n.) Look up almanac at
late 14c., attested in Anglo-Latin from mid-13c., via Old French almanach or directly from Medieval Latin almanachus, which is of uncertain origin. It is sometimes said to be from a Spanish-Arabic al-manakh "calendar, almanac" but possibly ultimately from Late Greek almenichiakon "calendar," which itself is said to be of Coptic origin. This word has been the subject of much speculation. Originally a book of permanent tables of astronomical data; one-year versions, combined with ecclesiastical calendars, date from 16c.; "astrological and weather predictions appear in 16-17th c.; the 'useful statistics' are a modern feature" [OED].
almighty (adj.) Look up almighty at
Old English ælmihtig "all-powerful," also a by-name of God; compound of æl (see all) + mihtig (see mighty); common Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon alomahtig, Old High German alamahtic, German allmächtig, Old Norse almattigr), perhaps an early Germanic loan-translation of Latin omnipotens (see omnipotent).
The almighty dollar, that great object of universal devotion throughout our land. [Washington Irving, 1836]
Related: Almightily.
Almohades Look up Almohades at
12c. Muslim religious power that ruled Spain and North Africa, founded by Mohammed ibn Abdullah, the name is literally "the Unitarians," short for Arabic al-muwahhidun "they who profess the unity (of God)," so called for their absolutist monotheism.
almond (n.) Look up almond at
c. 1300, from Old French almande, amande, from Vulgar Latin *amendla, *amandula, from Latin amygdala (plural), from Greek amygdalos "an almond tree," which is of unknown origin, perhaps a Semitic word. Altered in Medieval Latin by influence of amandus "loveable," and acquiring in French an excrescent -l- perhaps from Spanish almendra "almond," which got it via confusion with the Arabic definite article al-, which formed the beginnings of many Spanish words. Applied to eyes shaped like almonds, especially of certain Asiatic peoples, from 1870.
almoner (n.) Look up almoner at
"official distributor of alms on behalf of another," c. 1300 (mid-13c. as a surname), from Old French almosnier (12c.; Modern French aumônerie), from Vulgar Latin *almosinarius, from Late Latin elemosinarius (adj.) "connected with alms," from eleemosyna "alms" (see alms).
Almoravides Look up Almoravides at
Muslim Berber horde from the Sahara which founded a dynasty in Morocco (11c.) and conquered much of Spain and Portugal. The name is Spanish, from Arabic al-Murabitun, literally "the monks living in a fortified convent," from ribat "fortified convent."
almost (adv.) Look up almost at
Old English eallmæst "nearly all, for the most part," literally "mostly all;" see all + most. Modern form from 15c.