- amiss (adv.)
- mid-13c., amis "off the mark," also "out of order," literally "on the miss," from a "in, on" (see a- (1)) + missen "fail to hit" (see miss (v.)). From late 14c. as "improper, wrong, faulty;" to take (something) amiss originally (late 14c.) was "to miss the meaning of" (see mistake). Now it means "to misinterpret in a bad sense."
- amity (n.)
- mid-15c., "friendly relations," especially between nations, from Old French amitie, earlier amistie (13c.) "friendship, affection, love, favor," from Vulgar Latin *amicitatem (nominative *amicitas) "friendship" (source also of Spanish amistad), corresponding to Latin amicitia, from amicus (adj.) "friendly," which ultimately is from amare "to love" (see Amy).
- ammeter (n.)
- instrument for measuring the strength of electric currents, 1882, from ampere + -meter.
- ammo (n.)
- 1917, shortened form of ammunition.
- name of the Greek and Roman conception of the Egyptian sovereign sun-god Amun (said to mean literally "hidden"), also Amen-Ra. This they confused with the ram-headed divinity, god of life, worshipped at an oracular sanctuary in Libya. See ammonia. Related: Ammonian.
- ammonia (n.)
- volatile alkali, colorless gas with a strong pungent smell, 1799, coined in scientific Latin 1782 by Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman (1735-1784) as a name for the gas obtained from sal ammoniac, salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon (from Egyptian God Amun) in Libya (see Ammon, and compare ammoniac). The shrine was ancient already in Augustus' day, and the salts were prepared "from the sands where the camels waited while their masters prayed for good omens" [Shipley], hence the mineral deposits. Also known as spirit of hartshorn and volatile alkali or animal alkali.
- ammoniac (adj.)
- late 14c., ammoniak, also armonyak, in reference to gums, earths or salts (sal ammoniac) used medicinally and held to have similar properties (see ammonia), from Old French ammoniac, armoniac, ultimately from Greek *ammoniakos, from the god-name Ammon (q.v.). The gum (Latin guttae ammoniaci) came from a wild plant that grew across North Africa and Asia. The earth (Latin bolus armenicus) was so called because the substance was found in Armenia; hence the medieval forms were confused with words from Greek harmonia (gum ammoniac was used as a binding agent) or Armenia.
- ammonite (n.)
- "fossil cephalopod mollusk," 1758, from French (Breyn, 1732), "better established" [Century Dictionary] by French zoologist Jean Guillaume Bruguière (c. 1750-1798) in 1789, from Medieval Latin (cornu) Ammonis "horn of Ammon," the Egyptian god of life and reproduction (see Ammon), who was depicted with ram's horns, which the fossils resemble. The resemblance also was noted in ancient times. They also were thought to be petrified snakes, hence snakestone.
- ammunition (n.)
- 1620s, "military stores and provisions," from French soldiers' faulty separation of Middle French la munition, as if *l'amunition; from Latin munitionem (nominative munitio) "a fortifying" (see munition).
The mistake in the word perhaps was by influence of French a(d)monition "warning." The error was corrected in French (Modern French munition), but retained in English, with spelling conformed to words in Latin. At first meaning all military supplies in general, in modern use only material used in the discharge of firearms and ordnance.
- amnemonic (adj.)
- "characterized by loss of memory," 1868; see a- (3) + mnemonic.
- amnesia (n.)
- "loss of memory," 1786 (as a Greek word in English from 1670s), Modern Latin, coined from Greek amnesia "forgetfulness," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + mnesi- "remembering" (found only in compounds), from stem of mnasthai "to recall, remember," related to mnemnon "mindful," mneme "memory;" from PIE root *men- (1) "to think, remember" (see mind (n.)). The usual word in Greek was amnestia, but this had a specialized sense of "forgetfulness of wrong" (see amnesty).
- amnesiac (n.)
- "one affected by amnesia," 1913 (as an adjective from 1885), from amnesia (q.v.).
- amnesic (adj.)
- "pertaining to amnesia," 1863; see amnesia + -ic.
- amnestic (adj.)
- "causing loss of memory," 1861, from Greek amnestia "forgetfulness" (see amnesia) + -ic.
- amnesty (n.)
- 1570s, "a ruling authority's pardon of past offenses," from French amnistie "intentional overlooking" (16c.), from Latin amnestia, from Greek amnestia "forgetfulness (especially of wrong); an amnesty," from amnestos "forgotten; forgetful," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + mnestis "remembrance," which is related to mnaomai "I remember" (see mind (n.)).
Usually specifically of pardons or offers of pardon for a class of offenses against a government. As a verb from 1809. The non-governmental organization Amnesty International was founded 1961 to call attention to the plight of prisoners of conscience, as Appeal for Amnesty; the name was changed 1963.
- amniocentesis (n.)
- name of a diagnostic technique involving the withdrawing of amniotic fluid by hypodermic needle, 1958, Modern Latin, from amnion + centesis "surgical puncture involving a puncture," from Latinized form of Greek kentesis "a pricking," from kentein "to prick," from PIE root *kent- "to prick, jab" (see center (n.)).
- amnion (n.)
- innermost membrane around the embryo of a higher vertebrate (reptiles, birds, mammals), 1660s, Modern Latin, from Greek amnion "membrane around a fetus," originally "vase in which the blood of a sacrifice was caught," which is of unknown origin; sometimes said to be from ame "bucket," or a diminutive of amnos "lamb."
- amniotic (adj.)
- 1822, from amnion + -ic, perhaps from or based on French amniotique. The form is irregular; a classically correct word would be *amniac.
- amoeba (n.)
- type of microscopic protozoa, 1855, from Modern Latin Amoeba, genus name (1841 in English, said to have been used 1830 by German naturalist Christian Ehrenberg), from Greek amoibe "change, alteration; exchange," which is related to ameibein "to change, exchange," from PIE *e-meigw-, extended form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move" (see mutable). So called for its constantly changing shape. An earlier popular name for it was proteus (1660s). Related: Amoebic; amoebiform; amoeboid.
- classically correct plural form of amoeba; see -ae.
- amoebaean (adj.)
- also amoebean, "alternating, answering alternately," 1650s, from Greek amoibe "change, alteration; exchange" (see amoeba) + -an.
- amok (adv.)
- in run amok a verbal phrase first recorded 1670s, from Malay (Austronesian) amuk "attacking furiously." Earlier the word was used as a noun or adjective meaning "a frenzied Malay," originally in the Portuguese form amouco or amuco.
There are some of them [Javanese] who ... go out into the streets, and kill as many persons as they meet. ... These are called Amuco. ["The Book of Duarte Barbosa: An Account of the Countries Bordering on the Indian Ocean and Their Inhabitants," c. 1516, English translation]
- amole (n.)
- 1831, in a California context, from Mexican Spanish amole, name for various plant-roots used as detergents, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) amolli "soap-root."
- among (prep.)
- "in, in the midst of," early 12c., from Old English onmang, in late Old English sometimes amang, a contraction of ongemang "among, during," from phrase on gemang, literally "in the crowd or company (of)," from on (see a- (1)) + gemengan "to mingle" (see mingle). Collective prefix ge- dropped 12c. leaving onmong, amang, among. Compare Old Saxon angimang "among, amid;" Old Frisian mong "among."
- amongst (prep., adv.)
- mid-13c., amonges, from among with adverbial genitive -s. The unetymological -t first attested 16c. (see amidst).
- amontillado (n.)
- variety of sherry wine, 1825, from Spanish amontillado, from a "from" (from Latin ad; see ad-) + Montilla, name of a town in the province of Cordova. Formerly the name of a regional wine.
- amoral (adj.)
- "ethically indifferent," 1882, a hybrid formed from Greek-derived a- "not" (see a- (3)) + moral, which is from Latin. Apparently coined by Robert Louis Stephenson as a differentiation from immoral.
- amoretto (n.)
- 1590s, "a lover," from Italian, literally "little love," a diminutive of amore "love," from Latin amor "love, affection; one's beloved" (see Amy).
Forms of this word were borrowed more than once into English from the continental languages, apparently suggesting a higher degree of romance or naughtiness than was available in the native words. The earliest is Middle English amorette (c. 1400, from Old French amorete "sweetheart, amorous girl"), which was obsolete by 17c. but revived or reborrowed 1825 as amourette "petty love affair." Also amorado (c. 1600, from Spanish), amoroso (1610s, Italian). They were variously applied as well to love sonnets, love-knots, amorous glances, little cupids, etc. Also compare Amaretto.
- amorous (adj.)
- c. 1300, "in love; inclined to love; sexually attracted," from Old French amoros "loving, in love; lovely" (13c., Modern French amoureux), from Late Latin amorosum, from Latin amor "love, affection, strong friendly feeling; one's beloved," from amare "to love, be in love with; find pleasure in" (see Amy). Related: Amorously; amorousness.
- amorphous (adj.)
- "shapeless, having no determined form," 1731, from Modern Latin amorphus, from Greek amorphos "without form, shapeless, deformed," from a- "without" (see a- (3)) + morphe "form" (see Morpheus). Related: Amorphously; amorphousness.
- amortisation (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of amortization; see -ize.
- amortise (v.)
- chiefly British English spelling of amortize; for suffix, see -ize. Related: Amortised; amortising.
- amortization (n.)
- 1670s, in reference to the alienation of lands given to religious orders, noun of action from amortize. Of debts, "extinction (especially by a sinking-fund)," from 1824.
- amortize (v.)
- late 14c., from Old French amortiss-, present participle stem of amortir "deaden, kill, destroy; give up by right" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *admortire "to extinguish," from ad "to" (see ad-) + mortus "dead," from Latin mors "death" (see mortal (adj.)).
Originally in English in the literal sense "make dead," also a legal term for an act of alienating lands. In reference to extinguishing a debt from early 19c. Related: Amortized; amortizing.
- masc. proper name; third of the prophets in the Old Testament; via Latin and Greek, from Hebrew Amos, literally "borne (by God)."
- amount (v.)
- late 13c., "to go up, rise, mount (a horse)," from Old French amonter "rise, go up; mean, signify," from amont (adv.) "upward, uphill," literally "to the mountain" (12c.), a contraction of the prepositional phrase a mont, from a (from Latin ad "to;" see ad-) + Latin montem (nominative mons) "mountain" (see mount (n.1)). Meaning "to rise in number or quality (so as to reach)" is from c. 1300. Simple mount (v.) is not used in the physical senses. Related: Amounted; amounting.
- amount (n.)
- "quantity, sum," 1710, from amount (v.). As nouns, Middle English had amountance, amountment.
- amour (n.)
- c. 1300, "love," from Old French amor "love, affection, friendship; loved one" (11c.), from Latin amor "love, affection, strong friendly feeling" (of feelings for sons or brothers, but it especially meant sexual love), from amare "to love" (see Amy). The accent shifted 15c.-17c. to the first syllable as the word became nativized, then shifted back as the sense "illicit love affair" became primary 17c. and the word was felt to be a euphemism.
A common ME word for love, later accented ámour (cf. enamour). Now with suggestion of intrigue and treated as a F[rench] word. [Weekley]
- amour-propre (n.)
- 1775, French, "sensitive self-love, self-esteem;" see amour and proper.
Vanity usually gives the meaning as well, &, if as well, then better. [Fowler]
Middle English had it, translated, as proper love "self-love."
- amoxycillin (n.)
- 1971, contracted from the chemical name, amino-p-hydroxybenzylpenicillin; see amino- + oxy- + penicillin.
- old name for the coastal island of southeastern China now known by the more precise transliteration Xiamen; from local dialect xia "summer" + men "gate." From 1851 as the name of a dialect of Chinese.
- amp (n.)
- 1886 as an abbreviation of ampere; 1967 as an abbreviation of amplifier.
- amperage (n.)
- strength of an electric current, 1889, from ampere on model of voltage; see -age.
- ampere (n.)
- 1881, "the current that one volt can send through a resistance of one ohm," from French ampère, named for French physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836). Adopted by the Electric Congress at Paris in 1881. Shortened form amp is attested from 1886.
- ampersand (n.)
- 1837, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.
The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, which was a different form of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro, which used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, who sprinkled their works with a symbol like a numeral 7 to indicate the word and.
In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."
- amphetamine (n.)
- "synthetic heart-stimulating drug," 1938, contracted from alphamethyl-phenethylamine.
- before a vowel amph-, word-forming element meaning "on both sides, of both kinds; on all sides, all around," from Greek amphi (prep., adv.) "round about, on both sides of, all around; about, regarding," which is cognate with Latin ambi-, both from PIE root *ambi "around" (see ambi-).
- amphibian (adj.)
- 1630s, "having two modes of existence; of doubtful nature," from Greek amphibia, neuter plural of amphibios "living a double life," from amphi "of both kinds" (see amphi-) + bios "life" (see bio-).
Formerly used by zoologists to describe any sort of animal at home on land and in the water, including crocodiles, walruses, beavers, seals, hippopotami; the restriction to the class of animals between fishes and reptiles with life cycles that begin in water and mature on land is from 1835; Amphibia has been used a zoological classification in this sense since c. 1819.
- amphibian (n.)
- "one of the class of animals between fishes and reptiles, having gills and living in water in the early stage of life, later living on land," 1835; from amphibian (adj.). Amphibia was used in this sense from c. 1600.
- amphibious (adj.)
- 1640s, "combining two qualities; having two modes of life," especially "living both on land and in water," from Latinized form of Greek amphibios "having a double life; living on land and in water" (see amphibian (adj.)). Of motor vehicles, from 1915.