alumna (n.) Look up alumna at Dictionary.com
see alumnus.
alumnae (n.) Look up alumnae at Dictionary.com
see alumnus.
alumni (n.) Look up alumni at Dictionary.com
see alumnus.
alumnus (n.) Look up alumnus at Dictionary.com
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 Dictionary.com
"pertaining to alveoli," 1799, from Modern Latin alveolus "socket of a tooth" (see alveolus).
alveolus (n.) Look up alveolus at Dictionary.com
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 Dictionary.com
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 Dictionary.com
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 Dictionary.com
(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 Dictionary.com
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 Dictionary.com
"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 Dictionary.com
"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 Dictionary.com
1530s, from main (adj.) by analogy with other words in a- (such as afoot).
amalgam (n.) Look up amalgam at Dictionary.com
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 Dictionary.com
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).
amalgamation (n.) Look up amalgamation at Dictionary.com
1610s, noun of action from archaic amalgam (v.) "to alloy with mercury" (see amalgamate). Figurative, non-chemical sense of "a combining into one uniform whole" is attested from 1775.
amalgamize (v.) Look up amalgamize at Dictionary.com
1590s, from amalgam + -ize. Related: Amalgamized; amalgamizing.
Amanda Look up Amanda at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, literally "worthy to be loved," fem. of Latin amandus "pleasing," gerundive of amare "to love" (see Amy). A top 10 list name for girls born in U.S. between 1976 and 1995.
amanuensis (n.) Look up amanuensis at Dictionary.com
"one who takes dictation," 1610s, from Latin amanuensis "adjective used as a noun," from servus a manu "secretary," literally "servant from the hand," from a "from" + manu, ablative of manus "hand" (see manual (adj.)).
amaranth (n.) Look up amaranth at Dictionary.com
1610s, from French amarante, from Latin amarantus, from Greek amarantos, name of an unfading flower, literally "everlasting," from a- "not" + stem of marainein "die away, waste away, quench, extinguish," from PIE *mer- "to rub away, harm" (see nightmare). In classical use, a poet's word for an imaginary flower that never fades. It was applied to a genus of ornamental plants 1550s. Ending influenced by plant names with Greek -anthos "flower."
amaranthine (adj.) Look up amaranthine at Dictionary.com
1660s, "unfading, undying," poetic (apparently coined by Milton), also amarantine; see amaranth + -ine (1). Later used of a purple color.
Amaretto Look up Amaretto at Dictionary.com
Italian almond-flavored liqueur, 1945 (the original brand, Amaretto di Saronno, dates to 1851), from the Italian word for almond (q.v.), which did not acquire the excrescent -l- of the English word. Sometimes confused with amoretto. Amoroso (literally "lover"), a type of sweetened sherry, is attested from c. 1870.
amarillo (n.) Look up amarillo at Dictionary.com
name given to several species of American trees, from Spanish, from Arabic anbari "yellow, amber-colored," from anbar "amber" (see amber). The city Amarillo in Texas, U.S., may be so called from the color of the banks of a nearby stream.
amaryllis (n.) Look up amaryllis at Dictionary.com
autumn-flowering bulbs, 1794, adopted by Linnaeus from Latin, from Greek Amaryllis, typical name of a country girl or shepherdess (in Theocritus, Virgil, Ovid, etc.).
amass (v.) Look up amass at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "to heap up for oneself," from Old French amasser, from à "to" (see ad-) + masser (see mass (n.1)). Related: Amassed; amassing.
amastia (n.) Look up amastia at Dictionary.com
medical Latin, from Greek amastos "without breasts," from privative prefix a- (see a- (3)) + mastos "breast" (see masto-) + abstract noun ending -ia.
amateur (n.) Look up amateur at Dictionary.com
1784, "one who has a taste for (something)," from French amateur "lover of," from Latin amatorem (nominative amator) "lover," agent noun from amatus, past participle of amare "to love" (see Amy). Meaning "dabbler" (as opposed to professional) is from 1786. As an adjective, by 1838.
amateurish (adj.) Look up amateurish at Dictionary.com
1863; from amateur + -ish. Related: Amateurishly; amateurishness.
amative (adj.) Look up amative at Dictionary.com
1630s, "pertaining to love," from Latin amat-, past participle stem of amare "to love" (see Amy) + -ive.
amatory (adj.) Look up amatory at Dictionary.com
1590s, "pertaining to love" (especially sexual love), from Latin amatorius "loving," from amatus, past participle of amare (see Amy).
amaze (v.) Look up amaze at Dictionary.com
early 13c., amasian "stupefy, make crazy," from a-, probably used here as an intensive prefix, + -masian, related to maze (q.v.). Sense of "overwhelm with wonder" is from 1580s. Related: Amazed; amazing.
amazement (n.) Look up amazement at Dictionary.com
1590s, "mental stupefaction," early use of the Latin suffix with a native verb, from amaze + -ment. Meaning "overwhelming wonder" is c. 1600.
amazing (adj.) Look up amazing at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "stupefactive;" 1590s, "dreadful;" present participle adjective from amaze. Sense of "wonderful" is recorded from 1704. Related: Amazingly.
Amazon (n.) Look up Amazon at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Greek Amazon (mostly in plural Amazones) "one of a race of female warriors in Scythia," probably from an unknown non-Indo-European word, possibly from an Iranian compound *ha-maz-an- "(one) fighting together" [Watkins], but in folk etymology long derived from a- "without" + mazos "breasts," hence the story that the Amazons cut or burned off one breast so they could draw bowstrings more efficiently.

The river in South America (originally called by the Spanish Rio Santa Maria de la Mar Dulce) rechristened by Francisco de Orellana, 1541, after an encounter with female warriors of the Tapuyas (or, as some say, beardless, long-haired male tribesmen; still others hold that the name is a corruption of a native word in Tupi or Guarani meaning "wave").
ambagious (adj.) Look up ambagious at Dictionary.com
1650s, from French ambagieux, from Latin ambagiosus, from ambages "circuits, circumlocutions," from amb- "about" (see ambi-) + agere "to drive" (see act (n.)).
ambassador (n.) Look up ambassador at Dictionary.com
late 14c., also embassador, from Middle French ambassadeur, from Old French embassator, via Provençal or Old Spanish from Latin ambactus "a servant, vassal," from Celtic amb(i)actos "a messenger, servant," from PIE *ambhi- "about" (see ambi-) + *ag- "drive, lead" (see act (v.)). Compare embassy. Forms in am- and em- were used indiscriminately 17c.-18c.
ambassadorial (adj.) Look up ambassadorial at Dictionary.com
1759, from ambassador + -al (1).
amber (n.) Look up amber at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "ambergris, perfume made from ambergris," from Old French ambre, from Medieval Latin ambar "ambergris," from Arabic 'anbar "ambergris." In Europe, the sense was extended, inexplicably, to fossil resins from the Baltic (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin; c. 1400 in English), which has become the main sense as the use of ambergris has waned. This formerly was known as white or yellow amber to distinguish it from ambergris, which word entered English early 15c. from French, which distinguished the two substances as ambre gris and amber jaune. The classical word for Baltic amber was electrum (compare electric).
ambergris (n.) Look up ambergris at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Middle French ambre gris "gray amber" (see amber), "a wax-like substance of ashy colour, found floating in tropical seas, a morbid secretion from the intestines of the sperm-whale. Used in perfumery, and formerly in cookery" [OED]. Its origin was a mystery in Johnson's day, and he records nine different theories. King Charles II's favorite dish was said to be eggs and ambergris [Macauley, "History of England"]. French gris is from Frankish *gris or some other Germanic source (cognates: Dutch grijs, Old High German gris; see gray (adj.)).
Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a whole lump of it to his nose, it is a stink and strikes you down. [Pope, c. 1720]
ambi- Look up ambi- at Dictionary.com
word-forming element meaning "both, on both sides," from Latin ambi- "around, round about," from PIE *ambhi "around" (cognates: Greek amphi "round about;" Sanskrit abhitah "on both sides," abhi "toward, to;" Avestan aibi; Old English ymbe, German um; Gaulish ambi-, Old Irish imb- "round about, about;" Old Church Slavonic oba; Lithuanian abu "both"). The PIE root probably is an ablative plural of *ant-bhi "from both sides," from *ant- "front, forehead" (see ante).
ambiance (n.) Look up ambiance at Dictionary.com
1923, a reborrowing of the French form of ambience, used in art writing as a term meaning "atmospheric effect of an arrangement" (see ambient).
ambidexterity (n.) Look up ambidexterity at Dictionary.com
1650s, from obsolete adjective ambidexter "two-sided, using both hands with equal facility," also "double-dealing," from Medieval Latin ambidexter (see ambidextrous) + -ity.
ambidextrous (adj.) Look up ambidextrous at Dictionary.com
1640s, with -ous, from ambidexter (adj.) "double-dealing" (1610s), from French ambidextre or directly from Latin ambidexter, literally "right-handed on both sides," from ambi- "both" (see ambi-) + dexter "right-handed" (see dexterity). Its opposite, ambilevous "left-handed on both sides, clumsy" (1640s) is rare. Ambidexter as a noun, "one who takes bribes from both sides," is attested from 1530s and is the earliest form of the word in English; its sense of "one who uses both hands equally well" appears by 1590s.
Ambien Look up Ambien at Dictionary.com
trade name for prescription medication Zolpidem, registered 1993 in U.S., no doubt suggested by ambient or words like it in French.
ambience (n.) Look up ambience at Dictionary.com
1797, from French ambiance (see ambient). Compare ambiance.
ambient (adj.) Look up ambient at Dictionary.com
1590s, "surrounding, encircling," from Latin ambientem (nominative ambiens) "going round," present participle of ambire "to go around," from amb- "around" (see ambi-) + ire "go" (see ion). The ground sense of "revolving" led to "encircling, lying all around."
ambiguity (n.) Look up ambiguity at Dictionary.com
c. 1400, "uncertainty, doubt, indecision, hesitation," also from Medieval Latin ambiguitatem (nominative ambiguitas) "double meaning, equivocalness, double sense," noun of state from ambiguus (see ambiguous).
ambiguous (adj.) Look up ambiguous at Dictionary.com
1520s, from Latin ambiguus "having double meaning, shifting, changeable, doubtful," adjective derived from ambigere "to dispute about," literally "to wander," from ambi- "about" (see ambi-) + agere "drive, lead, act" (see act). Sir Thomas More (1528) seems to have first used it in English, but ambiguity dates back to c. 1400. Related: Ambiguously; ambiguousness.
ambisexual (adj.) Look up ambisexual at Dictionary.com
"unisex" (of clothing), also "bisexual," 1912 in the jargon of psychology, from ambi- + sexual. As a humorous coinage based on ambidextrous, ambisextrous is recorded from 1929.
ambisexuality (n.) Look up ambisexuality at Dictionary.com
1916, from ambisexual + -ity.