already (adv.) Look up already at
c. 1300, compound of all + ready (adj.); literally "fully ready." Compare Norwegian, Danish allerede "already." Colloquial use in U.S. as a terminal emphatic (as in enough, already!) is attested from 1903, translating Yiddish shoyn, which is used in same sense. The pattern also is attested in Pennsylvania German and in South African.
alright Look up alright at
frequent spelling of all right, attested from 1893.
There are no such forms as all-right, or allright, or alright, though even the last, if seldom allowed by the compositors to appear in print, is often seen ... in MS. [Fowler]
Alsace Look up Alsace at
region between France and Germany (disputed by them 18c.-19c.), Medieval Latin Alsatia, from Old High German *Ali-sazzo "inhabitant of the other (bank of the Rhine)," from Proto-Germanic *alja "other" + Old High German -sazzo "inhabitant," literally "one who sits." Alsatian was adopted 1917 by the Kennel Club for "German Shepherd dog" to avoid the wartime associations of German; the breed has no connection with Alsace.
also (adv.) Look up also at
Old English eallswa "just as, even as, as if, so as, likewise," compound of all + so. The demonstrative sense of "similarly" weakened to "in addition to" in 12c., replacing eke. The compound has parallel forms in German also, Dutch alzoo.
also-ran (n.) Look up also-ran at
1896, originally in reference to horse-races, from also + past tense of run (v.). Probably from the way non-placing horses were listed in race results.
Altaic Look up Altaic at
1832 as a linguistic family, from French Altaïque, from Altaïen, from Altai, name of a mountain range in Asia.
Altair Look up Altair at
bright star in the constellation Aquila, 16c., from Arabic Al Nasr al Tair "the Flying Eagle," from tair, participle of tara "it flew."
altar (n.) Look up altar at
Old English alter, altar, from Latin altare (plural altaria) "high altar, altar for sacrifice to the great gods," perhaps originally meaning "burnt offerings" (compare Latin adolere "to worship, to offer sacrifice, to honor by burning sacrifices to"), but influenced by Latin altus "high." In Middle English, often auter, from Old French auter. Reintroduced from Latin 1500s. As a symbol of marriage, by 1820.
alter (v.) Look up alter at
late 14c., "to change (something)," from Old French alterer "change, alter," from Medieval Latin alterare "to change," from Latin alter "the other (of the two)," from PIE *al- "beyond" (see alias (adv.)) + comparative suffix -ter (as in other). Intransitive sense "to become otherwise" first recorded 1580s. Related: Altered; altering.
alter ego Look up alter ego at
1530s, from Latin phrase (used by Cicero), "a second self, a trusted friend" (compare Greek allos ego); see alter and ego.
alterable (adj.) Look up alterable at
1520s, from alter + -able. Related: Alterably; alterability.
alteration (n.) Look up alteration at
late 14c., "action of altering," from Old French alteracion (14c.) "change, alteration," and directly from Medieval Latin alterationem (nominative alteratio), noun of action from past participle stem of Late Latin alterare (see alter). Meaning "change in character or appearance" is from 1530s; that of "change in ready-made clothes to suit a customer's specifications" is from 1901. Related: Alterations.
altercate (v.) Look up altercate at
1520s, "to contend with words," from Latin altercatus, past participle of altercari (see altercation).
altercation (n.) Look up altercation at
late 14c., from Old French altercacion (12c.) and directly from Latin altercationem (nominative altercatio) "a dispute, debate, discussion," noun of action from past participle stem of altercari "to dispute (with another)," from alter "other" (see alter).
alternate (adj.) Look up alternate at
1510s, from Latin alternatus "one after the other," past participle of alternare "to do first one thing then the other; exchange parts," from alternus "one after the other, alternate, in turns, reciprocal," from alter "the other" (see alter). Alternate means "by turns;" alternative means "offering a choice." Both imply two kinds or things.
alternate (v.) Look up alternate at
1590s, from Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare (see alternate (adj.)). Replaced Middle English alternen "to vary, alternate" (early 15c.). Related: Alternated; alternating.
alternate (n.) Look up alternate at
1718, "that which alternates (with anything else)," from alternate (adj.). Meaning "a substitute" is first attested 1848.
alternately (adv.) Look up alternately at
early 15c., from alternate (adj.) + -ly (2).
alternating (adj.) Look up alternating at
1550s, present participle adjective from alternate (v.). Alternating current is recorded from 1839.
alternation (n.) Look up alternation at
mid-15c., from Old French alternacion, from Latin alternationem (nominative alternatio), noun of action from past participle stem of alternare (see alternate (v.)).
alternative (adj.) Look up alternative at
1580s, "offering one or the other of two," from Medieval Latin alternativus, from Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare (see alternate (v.)). Meaning "purporting to be a superior choice to what is in general use" was current by 1970 (earliest reference is to the media). Alternative energy is from 1975. Related: Alternatively.
alternative (n.) Look up alternative at
1620s, in rhetoric, from Medieval Latin alternativus (see alternative (adj.)). Of courses of action, from 1814. Of objects, etc., "the other of two which may be chosen," by 1838.
alternator (n.) Look up alternator at
1878, agent noun in Latin form from alternate (v.).
although (conj.) Look up although at
early 14c., althagh, compound of all + though, showing once-common emphatic use of all. "All though was originally more emphatic than though, but by 1400 it was practically only a variant of it, and all having thus lost its independent force, the phrase was written as one word" [OED].
altimeter (n.) Look up altimeter at
1918, from Modern Latin altimeter, from alti- "high" (from Latin altus; see old) + -meter.
altimetry (n.) Look up altimetry at
1690s, from Medieval Latin altimetria, from Latin alti- "high" (see old) + Greek -metria (see -metry).
altitude (n.) Look up altitude at
late 14c., from Latin altitudinem (nominative altitudo) "height, altitude," from altus "high" (see old).
alto (n.) Look up alto at
1784, "man with an alto voice," from Italian alto (canto), from Latin altus "high" (see old). Originally a "high" man's voice, now more commonly applied to the lower range of women's voices (which is more strictly the contralto), an extension first recorded in 1881.
The alto in a man is totally distinct from the contralto in a woman. The tone is utterly different -- the best notes of the one are certainly not the best notes of the other; and although in certain cases a contralto may sing with good effect music written for a male alto (e.g. in some oratorios), yet the converse is scarcely ever true. ["How to Sing," 1890]
As a type of saxophone, from 1869.
altogether Look up altogether at
early 13c., altogedere, a strengthened form of all (also see together); used in the sense of "a whole" from 1660s. The altogether "nude" is from 1894.
altruism (n .) Look up altruism at
1853, "unselfishness, opposite of egoism," from French altruisme, coined or popularized 1830 by French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798-1857), from autrui, from Old French altrui, "of or to others," from Latin alteri, dative of alter "other" (see alter). Apparently suggested to Comte by French legal phrase l'autrui, or in full, le bien, le droit d'autrui. The -l- is perhaps a reinsertion from the Latin word.
There is a fable that when the badger had been stung all over by bees, a bear consoled him by a rhapsodic account of how he himself had just breakfasted on their honey. The badger replied peevishly, "The stings are in my flesh, and the sweetness is on your muzzle." The bear, it is said, was surprised at the badger's want of altruism. ["George Eliot," "Theophrastus Such," 1879]
altruist (n.) Look up altruist at
1842, from French; see altruism + -ist.
altruistic (adj.) Look up altruistic at
1853, from French altruiste (adj.), from altruisme (see altruism) + -ic.
alum (n.) Look up alum at
late 14c., "whitish mineral salt used as an astringent, dye, etc.," from Old French alum, from Latin alumen "alum," literally "bitter salt," cognate with Greek aludoimos "bitter" and perhaps with English ale.
aluminium Look up aluminium at
see aluminum.
aluminum (n.) Look up aluminum at
1812, coined by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), from alumina, name given 18c. to aluminum oxide, from Latin alumen "alum" (see alum). Davy originally called it alumium (1808), then amended this to aluminum, which remains the U.S. word, but British editors in 1812 further amended it to aluminium, the modern preferred British form, to better harmonize with other metallic element names (sodium, potassium, etc.).
Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound. ["Quarterly Review," 1812]
alumna (n.) Look up alumna at
see alumnus.
alumnae (n.) Look up alumnae at
see alumnus.
alumni (n.) Look up alumni at
see alumnus.
alumnus (n.) Look up alumnus at
1640s, from Latin alumnus "a pupil," literally "foster son," vestigial present passive participle of alere "to nourish" (see old), with ending akin to Greek -omenos. Plural is alumni. Fem. is alumna (1882), fem. plural alumnae.
alveolar (adj.) Look up alveolar at
"pertaining to alveoli," 1799, from Modern Latin alveolus "socket of a tooth" (see alveolus).
alveolus (n.) Look up alveolus at
1706, from Latin alveolus "a tray, trough, basin; bed of a small river," diminutive of alvus "belly, stomach, paunch, bowels; hold of a ship," from PIE *aulo- "hole, cavity" (cognates: Greek aulos "tube, pipe," Old Church Slavonic uliji, Lithuanian aulys "beehive" (hollow trunk), Armenian yli "pregnant").
always (adv.) Look up always at
mid-14c., compound of Old English phrase ealne weg "always, quite, perpetually," literally "all the way," with accusative of space or distance, though the oldest recorded usages refer to time; see all + way (n.). The adverbial genitive -s appeared early 13c. and is now the standard, though the variant alway survived into 1800s. OED speculates allway was originally of space or distance, "but already in the oldest Eng. transferred to an extent of time."
Alyssum (n.) Look up Alyssum at
genus name for plants of the mustard family, 1550s, from Latin alysson, from Greek alysson, which is perhaps the neuter of adjective alyssos "curing madness," from privative prefix a- + lyssa "madness, martial rage, fury, rabies," literally "wolf-ness," related to lykos "wolf" (see wolf (n.)).
Alzheimer's disease Look up Alzheimer's disease at
(senium præcox), 1912, title of article by S.C. Fuller published in "Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases;" named for German neurologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915). The name was not common before 1970s; shortened form Alzheimer's first recorded 1954. The surname is from the place name Alzheim, literally "Old Hamlet."
am (v.) Look up am at
Old English eom "to be, to remain," (Mercian eam, Northumbrian am), from PIE *esmi- (cognates: Old Norse emi, Gothic im, Hittite esmi, Old Church Slavonic jesmi, Lithuanian esmi), from root *es-, the S-ROOT, which also yielded Greek esti-, Latin est, Sanskrit as-, and German ist.

In Old English it existed only in present tense, all other forms being expressed in the W-BASE (see were, was). This cooperative verb is sometimes referred to by linguists as *es-*wes-. Until the distinction broke down 13c., *es-*wes- tended to express "existence," with beon meaning something closer to "come to be" (see be).

Old English am had two plural forms: 1. sind/sindon, sie and 2. earon/aron. The s- form (also used in the subjunctive) fell from use in English in the early 13c. (though it continues in German sind, the 3rd person plural of "to be") and was replaced by forms of be, but aron (aren, arn, are, from Proto-Germanic *ar-, probably a variant of PIE root *es-) continued, and as am and be merged it encroached on some uses that previously had belonged to be. By the early 1500s it had established its place in standard English. Art became archaic in the 1800s.
amable (adj.) Look up amable at
"friendly, courteous," early 15c., from Old French amable, from Latin amabilem "lovely," from amare "to love" (see Amy). Related: Amably; amability.
amah (n.) Look up amah at
"wet-nurse," 1839, Anglo-Indian, from Portuguese ama "nurse," from Medieval Latin amma "mother," from PIE root *am-, forming nursery words.
amain (adv.) Look up amain at
1530s, from main (adj.) by analogy with other words in a- (such as afoot).
amalgam (n.) Look up amalgam at
c. 1400, "blend of mercury with another metal; soft mass formed by chemical manipulation," from Old French amalgame or directly from Medieval Latin amalgama, "alloy of mercury (especially with gold or silver)," an alchemists' word, perhaps an alteration of Latin malagma "poultice, plaster," probably from Arabic al-malgham "an emollient poultice or unguent for sores (especially warm)" [Francis Johnson, "A Dictionary of Persian, Arabic, and English"], perhaps from Greek malagma "softening substance," from malassein "to soften," from malakos "soft."
amalgamate (v.) Look up amalgamate at
1650s, back-formation from amalgamation, or from adjective amalgamate (1640s) from amalgam. Originally in metallurgy; figurative sense of "to unite" (races, etc.) is attested from 1802. Related: Amalgamated; amalgamating. Earlier verb was amalgamen (1540s).