abuse (v.) Look up abuse at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "to misuse, misapply," from Middle French abuser, from Vulgar Latin *abusare, from Latin abusus "an abusing, using up," past participle of abuti "use up," also "misuse," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + uti "use" (see use). Of sexual situations from early 15c., but originally incest, homosexuality, prostitution, etc.; meaning "to misuse sexually, ravish" is from 1550s. Specifically of drugs, from 1968. Related: Abused; abusing.
abuse (n.) Look up abuse at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "improper practice," from Old French abus (14c.), from Latin abusus (see abuse (v.)). Earlier in Middle English was abusion "wicked act or practice, shameful thing, violation of decency" (early 14c.), "an insult" (mid-14c.).
abuser (n.) Look up abuser at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., agent noun from abuse (v.).
abusive (adj.) Look up abusive at Dictionary.com
1530s (implied in abusively), originally "improper," from Middle French abusif, from Latin abusivus, from abus-, past participle stem of abuti (see abuse (v.)). Meaning "full of abuse" is from 1580s. Abuseful was used 17c., and Shakespeare has abusious ("Taming of the Shrew," 1594). Related: Abusiveness.
abut (v.) Look up abut at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., "to end at, to border on," from Old French aboter "join end to end, touch upon" (13c.), from à "to" (see ad-) + bout "end" (see butt (n.3)). Related: Abutted; abutting.
abutment (n.) Look up abutment at Dictionary.com
1640s, from abut + -ment. Originally any "junction;" the architectural usage is attested from 1793 (the notion is of the meeting-place of the arches of a bridge, etc.).
abuzz (adv.) Look up abuzz at Dictionary.com
1859, from a- (1) + buzz (n.). First recorded in Dickens.
abysm (n.) Look up abysm at Dictionary.com
"bottomless gulf, greatest depths," now chiefly poetic, c. 1300, from Old French abisme (Modern French abîme), from Vulgar Latin *abyssimus (source of Spanish and Portuguese abismo), which represents either a superlative of Latin abyssus or a formation on analogy of Greek-derived words in -ismus; see abyss.
abysmal (adj.) Look up abysmal at Dictionary.com
1650s, formed in English from abysm + -al (1). Weakened sense of "extremely bad" is first recorded 1904, perhaps from abysmal ignorance (suggestive of its "depth"), an expression attested from 1847. Related: Abysmally.
abyss (n.) Look up abyss at Dictionary.com
late 14c., earlier abime (c. 1300, from a form in Old French), from Late Latin abyssus "bottomless pit," from Greek abyssos (limne) "bottomless (pool)," from a- "without" (see a- (2)) + byssos "bottom," possibly related to bathos "depth."
abyssal (adj.) Look up abyssal at Dictionary.com
1690s, used especially of the zone of ocean water below 300 fathoms, from abyss + -al (1). Though the 19th century, abysmal was more common in oceanography.
Abyssinia (n.) Look up Abyssinia at Dictionary.com
old name for Ethiopia, 1630s, from Modern Latin Abyssinia, from Arabic Habasah, the name for the region, said to be from Amharic hbsh "mixed," in reference to the different races dwelling there. In 1920s-30s popular as a slang pun for "I'll be seeing you." Related: Abyssinian.
AC Look up AC at Dictionary.com
abbreviation of air conditioning, by 1966.
AC/DC (adj.) Look up AC/DC at Dictionary.com
electronics abbreviation of alternating current/direct current, by 1898. As slang for "bisexual," 1959, said to have been in use orally from c. 1940; the notion is of working both ways.
acacia (n.) Look up acacia at Dictionary.com
1540s, from Latin acacia, from Greek akakia "thorny Egyptian tree," perhaps related to Greek ake "point, thorn," from PIE root *ak- "sharp" (see acrid). Or perhaps a Hellenization of some Egyptian word. From late 14c. in English as the name of a type of gum used as an astringent, etc.
Academe (n.) Look up Academe at Dictionary.com
"The Academy," 1580s, from phrase groves of Academe, translating Horace's silvas Academi (see academy); general sense of "the world of universities and scholarship" is attested from 1849. With lower-case letter, academia in the sense of "academic community" is from 1956.
Academe properly means Academus (a Greek hero); & its use as a poetic variant for academy, though sanctioned by Shakespeare, Tennyson & Lowell, is a mistake; the grove of A., however, (Milton) means rightly The Academy. [Fowler]
academic (adj.) Look up academic at Dictionary.com
1580s, "relating to an academy," also "collegiate, scholarly," from Latin academicus "of the Academy," from academia (see academy). Meaning "theoretical, not practical, not leading to a decision" (such as university debates or classroom legal exercises) is from 1886. Academic freedom is attested from 1901. Related: Academically.
academy (n.) Look up academy at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "the classical Academy," from French Académie, from Latin Academia, from Greek Akademeia "grove of Akademos," a legendary Athenian of the Trojan War tales (his name apparently means "of a silent district"), whose estate, six stadia from Athens, was the enclosure where Plato taught his school.
The A[cademy], the Garden, the Lyceum, the Porch, the Tub, are names used for the five chief schools of Greek philosophy, their founders, adherents, & doctrines: the A., Plato, the Platonists & Platonism; the Garden, Epicurus, the Epicureans, & Epicureanism; the Lyceum, Aristotle, the Aristotelians, & Aristotelianism; the Porch, Zeno, the Stoics, & Stoicism; the Tub, Antisthenes, the Cynics, & Cynicism. [Fowler]
Sense broadened 16c. into "any school or training place." Academy awards (1941) so called for their distributor, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Acadian Look up Acadian at Dictionary.com
1705, from Acadia, Latinized form of Acadie, French name of Nova Scotia, probably from Archadia, the name given to the region by Verrazano in 1520s, from Greek Arkadia, emblematic in pastoral poetry of a place of rural peace (see Arcadian); the name may have been suggested to Europeans by the native Micmac (Algonquian) word akadie "fertile land." The Acadians, expelled by the English in 1755, settled in large numbers in Louisiana (see Cajun, which is a corruption of Acadian).
acanthus (n.) Look up acanthus at Dictionary.com
1660s, from Latin acanthus, from Greek akanthos, from ake "point, thorn" (see acrid) + anthos "flower" (see anther). So called for its large spiny leaves. A conventionalized form of the leaf is used in Corinthian capitals.
Acapulco Look up Acapulco at Dictionary.com
in full, Acapulco de Juarez, resort town in western Mexico, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) acapulco "place of the large canes," from aca(tl) "cane (plant)" + -pul "large" + -co "place." Acapulco gold as the name of a local grade of potent marijuana is attested from 1965.
accede (v.) Look up accede at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Latin accedere "approach, enter upon," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + cedere "go, move" (see cede). Latin ad- usually became ac- before "k" sounds. Related: Acceded; acceding.
accelerant (n.) Look up accelerant at Dictionary.com
1854, from Latin accelerantem (nominative accelerans), present participle of accelerare "to hasten, quicken" (see accelerate). As an adjective from 1890.
accelerate (v.) Look up accelerate at Dictionary.com
1520s, from Latin acceleratus, past participle of accelerare "to hasten, quicken," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + celerare "hasten," from celer "swift" (see celerity). Related: Accelerated; accelerating.
acceleration (n.) Look up acceleration at Dictionary.com
1530s, from Latin accelerationem (nominative acceleratio) "a hastening," noun of action from past participle stem of accelerare "to hasten, quicken" (see accelerate).
accelerator (n.) Look up accelerator at Dictionary.com
1610s, from Latin accelerator, agent noun from accelerare (see accelerate). Motor vehicle sense is from 1900.
accent (n.) Look up accent at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "particular mode of pronunciation," from Middle French accent, from Old French acent (13c.), from Latin accentus "song added to speech," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + cantus "a singing," past participle of canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). Loan-translation of Greek prosoidia, from pros- "to" + oide "song," which apparently described the pitch scheme in Greek verse. The decorating sense of "something that emphasizes or highlights" is from 1972.
accent (v.) Look up accent at Dictionary.com
"to pronounce with accent or stress," 1520s, from Middle French accenter, from Old French acenter, from acent (see accent (n.)). Related: Accented; accenting.
accentuate (v.) Look up accentuate at Dictionary.com
1731, from Medieval Latin accentuatus, past participle of accentuare "to accent," from Latin accentus (see accent (n.)). Originally "to pronounce with an accent;" meaning "emphasize" is recorded from 1865.
You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

["Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," 1944, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer]
Related: Accentuated; accentuating.
accentuation (n.) Look up accentuation at Dictionary.com
1690s, from Medieval Latin accentuationem (nominative accentuatio) "intoning, chanting," noun of action from past participle stem of accentuare (see accentuate).
accept (v.) Look up accept at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "to take what is offered," from Old French accepter (14c.) or directly from Latin acceptare "take or receive willingly," frequentative of accipere "receive," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + capere "to take" (see capable). Related: Accepted; accepting.
acceptability (n.) Look up acceptability at Dictionary.com
1660s, from Late Latin acceptabilitas, from Latin acceptabilis "worthy of acceptance" (see acceptable).
acceptable (adj.) Look up acceptable at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Old French acceptable, from Latin acceptabilis "worthy of acceptance," from acceptare "take or receive willingly" (see accept). Related: Acceptably.
acceptance (n.) Look up acceptance at Dictionary.com
1570s, from Middle French acceptance, from accepter (see accept). Earlier in same sense was acceptation (late 14c.).
access (n.) Look up access at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "an attack of fever," from Old French acces "onslaught, attack; onset (of an illness)" (14c.), from Latin accessus "a coming to, an approach," noun use of past participle of accedere "to approach" (see accede). The later senses are directly from Latin. Meaning "an entrance" is from c. 1600. Meaning "habit or power of getting into the presence of (someone or something)" is from late 14c.
access (v.) Look up access at Dictionary.com
1962, originally in computing, from access (n.). Related: Accessed; accessing.
accessibility (n.) Look up accessibility at Dictionary.com
c. 1800, from accessible + -ity.
accessible (adj.) Look up accessible at Dictionary.com
c. 1400, "affording access," from Middle French accessible, from Late Latin accessibilis, verbal adjective from Latin accessus "a coming near, approach" (see access (n.)). Meaning "easy to reach" is from 1640s; Of art or writing, "able to be readily understood," 1961 (a term not needed in the years before writing or art often deliberately was made not so).
accession (n.) Look up accession at Dictionary.com
"act of coming to a position," especially of a throne, 1640s, from Latin accessionem (nominative accessio) "a going to, joining, increase," noun of action from past participle stem of accedere "approach, enter upon" (see accede).
accessorize (v.) Look up accessorize at Dictionary.com
1939, from accessory + -ize. Related: Accessorized; accessorizing.
accessory (n.) Look up accessory at Dictionary.com
also accessary, early 15c. as a legal term in the criminal sense of "one aiding in a crime;" also "that which is subordinate to something else," from Late Latin accessorius, from accessor, agent noun from accedere "to approach" (see accede). Attested from 1896 as "woman's smaller articles of dress;" hence accessorize.
accessory (adj.) Look up accessory at Dictionary.com
1550s, "subordinate," from Late Latin accessorius, from accessor, agent noun from accedere "to approach" (see accede). Meaning "aiding in crime" is from c. 1600.
accidence (n.) Look up accidence at Dictionary.com
late 14c., in philosophy, "non-essential or incidental characteristic," also "part of grammar dealing with inflection" (mid-15c.), in some cases a misspelling of accidents, or else directly from Latin accidentia (used as a term in grammar by Quintilian), neuter plural of accidens, present participle of accidere (see accident). The grammar sense is because they change in accordance with use.
accident (n.) Look up accident at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "an occurrence, incident, event," from Old French accident (12c.), from Latin accidentem (nominative accidens), present participle of accidere "happen, fall out, fall upon," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + cadere "fall" (see case (n.1)). Meaning grew from "something that happens, an event," to "something that happens by chance," then "mishap." Philosophical sense "non-essential characteristic of a thing" is late 14c. Meaning "unplanned child" is attested by 1932.
accidental (adj.) Look up accidental at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "non-essential," from Old French accidentel or directly from Medieval Latin accidentalis, from Latin accidentem (see accident). Meaning "outside the normal course of nature" is from early 15c.; that of "coming by chance" is from 1570s.
accidental (n.) Look up accidental at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "non-essential quality," from accidental (adj.). The musical sense is from 1868.
accidentally (adv.) Look up accidentally at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "non-essentially," also "unnaturally," from accidental + -ly (2). Meaning "unintentionally" is recorded from 1580s; phrase accidentally on purpose is recorded from 1862.
acclaim (v.) Look up acclaim at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "to lay claim to," from Latin acclamare "to cry out at" (see acclamation); the meaning "to applaud" is recorded by 1630s. Related: Acclaimed; acclaiming.
acclaim (n.) Look up acclaim at Dictionary.com
"act of acclaiming," 1667 (in Milton), from acclaim (v.).
acclamation (n.) Look up acclamation at Dictionary.com
1540s, from Latin acclamationem (nominative acclamatio) "a calling, exclamation, shout of approval," noun of action from past participle stem of acclamare "shout approval or disapproval of, cry out at," from ad- "toward" (see ad-) + clamare "cry out" (see claim (v.)). As a method of voting en masse, by 1801, probably from the French Revolution.