asp (n.) Look up asp at Dictionary.com
poisonous snake, 1520s, earlier aspis (mid-14c.), from Old French aspe "asp" (13c.) or directly from Latin aspidem (nominative aspis), from Greek aspis "an asp, Egyptian viper," literally "shield;" the serpent so called probably in reference to its neck hood.
asparagus (n.) Look up asparagus at Dictionary.com
late 14c., aspergy; late Old English sparage, from Latin asparagus (in Medieval Latin often sparagus), from Greek asparagos, of uncertain origin; probably from PIE root *sp(h)er(e)g- "to spring up" (though perhaps not originally a Greek word).

In Middle English, asperages sometimes was regarded as a plural, with false singular aspergy. By 16c. the word had been anglicized as far as sperach, sperage. It was respelled by c.1600 to conform with classical Latin, but in 17c. the folk-etymologized variant sparrowgrass took hold, persisting into 19c., during which time asparagus had "an air of stiffness and pedantry" [John Walker, "Critical Pronouncing Dictionary," 1791]. Known in Old English as eorðnafela.
aspartame (n.) Look up aspartame at Dictionary.com
commercial name of an artificial sweetener, 1973, from aspartic acid (1836), formed irregularly from asparagine (1813), a compound found in asparagus, beet-root, etc., which was named from asparagus + chemical suffix -ine (2). The reason for -ame is unknown.
Aspasia Look up Aspasia at Dictionary.com
beautiful and capable Milesian consort of Pericles, proper name from fem. of Greek aspasios "welcome," related to aspazesthai "to welcome," of uncertain origin.
aspect (n.) Look up aspect at Dictionary.com
late 14c., an astrological term, "relative position of the planets as they appear from earth" (i.e., how they "look at" one another); later also "way of viewing things," from Latin aspectus "a seeing, looking at, sight, view, countenance, appearance," from past participle of aspicere "to look at," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + specere "to look" (see scope (n.1)). Meaning "the look one wears, the appearance of things" attested by early 15c.
aspen (n.) Look up aspen at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from adjective or genitive form of Old English æspe "aspen tree, white poplar," from Proto-Germanic *aspo- (cognates: Old Norse ösp, Middle Dutch espe, Old High German aspa, German Espe), from PIE *apsa "aspen" (cognates: Lithuanian opuse). The current form in English probably arose from phrases such as aspen leaf, aspen bark (see -en (2)). Its leaves have been figurative of tremulousness and quaking since at least early 15c. (an Old English name for it was cwicbeam, literally "quick-tree").
asperate (v.) Look up asperate at Dictionary.com
1650s, "make rough," from Latin asperatus, past participle of asperare "to roughen, make rough, exasperate," from asper "rough" (see asperity). Related: Asperated; asperating.
asperation (n.) Look up asperation at Dictionary.com
1721, noun of action from asperate (v.). Asperacioun "harshness" is attested from early 15c.
Asperger's Syndrome (n.) Look up Asperger's Syndrome at Dictionary.com
1981, named for the sake of Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger (1906-1980), who described it in 1944 (and called it autistic psychopathy; German autistischen psychopathen). A standard diagnosis since 1992; recognition of Asperger's work was delayed, perhaps, because his school and much of his early research were destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944.
The example of autism shows particularly well how even abnormal personalities can be capable of development and adjustment. Possibilities of social integration which one would never have dremt of may arise in the course of development. [Hans Asperger, "Autistic psychopathy in Childhood," 1944]
Asperges (n.) Look up Asperges at Dictionary.com
sprinkling ritual of the Catholic church, 1550s, from Late Latin asperges, noun use of 2nd person singular future indicative of Latin aspergere "to scatter, strew upon, sprinkle," from ad "to" (see ad-) + spargere "to sprinkle" (see sparse). The word is taken from the phrase Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor, from Psalm 51 (Vulgate), sung during the rite of sprinkling a congregation with holy water.
asperity (n.) Look up asperity at Dictionary.com
c.1200, asprete "hardship, harshness of feelings," a figurative use, from Old French asperité "difficulty, painful situation, harsh treatment" (12c., Modern French âpreté), from Latin asperitatem (nominative asperitas) "roughness," from asper "rough, harsh," of unknown origin; in Latin used also of sour wine, bad weather, and hard times. Figurative meaning "harshness of feeling" in English is attested from early 15c.
asperse (v.) Look up asperse at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "to besprinkle," from Latin aspersus, past participle of aspergere "besprinkle, bespatter" (see aspersion). Meaning "to bespatter someone's character with rumor and false reports" is recorded from 1610s.
aspersion (n.) Look up aspersion at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Latin aspersionem (nominative aspersio) "a sprinkling," noun of action from past participle stem of aspergere "to sprinkle on," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + spargere "sprinkle, strew" (see sparse). Originally in theology, the shedding of Christ's blood. Modern sense of "a bespattering with slander" first attested 1590s. To cast aspersions was in Fielding (1749).
asphalt (n.) Look up asphalt at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "hard, resinous mineral pitch found originally in Biblical lands," from Late Latin asphaltum, from Greek asphaltos "asphalt, bitumen," probably from a non-Greek source, possibly Semitic [Klein, citing Lewy, 1895]. Another theory holds it to be from Greek a- "not" + *sphaltos "able to be thrown down," taken as verbal adjective of sphallein "to throw down," in reference to a use of the material in building.

Meaning "paving composition" dates from 1847 and its popular use in this sense established the modern form of the English word, displacing in most senses asphaltum, asphaltos. As a verb meaning "to cover with asphalt," from 1872. Related: Asphaltic.
aspheterism (n.) Look up aspheterism at Dictionary.com
doctrine that there ought to be no private property, 1794, from Greek a- "not," privative prefix (see a- (3)), + spheteros "one's own," from sphetrisomos "appropriation."
asphodel (n.) Look up asphodel at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Latin asphodelus, from Greek asphodelos "asphodel, king's spear, plant of the lily kind," of unknown origin (see daffodil). It was the peculiar plant of the dead; and in Greek mythology and English poetic use it overspreads the Elysian meadows.
To embathe In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel. [Milton, "Comus," 1634]
asphyxia (n.) Look up asphyxia at Dictionary.com
1706, "stoppage of pulse, absence of pulse," from Modern Latin, from Greek asphyxia "stopping of the pulse," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + sphyzein "to throb." Obsolete in its original sense; the transferred sense of "suffocation" is from 1778, but it is a "curious infelicity of etymology" [OED] because victims of suffocation have a pulse for some time after breathing has stopped.
asphyxiate (v.) Look up asphyxiate at Dictionary.com
1818, "to suffocate" (someone or something), from asphyxia + -ate (2). Related: Asphyxiated; asphyxiating.
asphyxiation (n.) Look up asphyxiation at Dictionary.com
1866, noun of action from asphyxiate (v.).
aspic (n.) Look up aspic at Dictionary.com
"savory meat jelly," 1789, from French aspic "jelly" (18c.), literally "asp," from Old French aspe (see asp) + ending from basilisc "basilisk" (the two creatures sometimes were confused with one another). The foodstuff said to be so called from its coldness (froid comme un aspic is said by Littré to be a proverbial phrase), or the colors in the gelatin, or the shape of the mold. It also was a French word for "lavendar spike" and might refer to this as a seasoning element.
aspirant (n.) Look up aspirant at Dictionary.com
"one who aspires," 1738, from French aspirant, from Latin aspirantem (nominative aspirans), present participle of aspirare (see aspire).
aspirate (n.) Look up aspirate at Dictionary.com
1725, "sound of the letter 'H'," especially at the beginning of a word, from Latin aspiratio "a breathing, exhalation; the pronunciation of the letter H" (see aspire).
aspirate (v.) Look up aspirate at Dictionary.com
"to pronounce with audible breath," 1700; perhaps a back-formation from aspiration (n.2), or from French aspirer or directly from Latin aspiratus, past participle of aspirare (see aspire). Related: Aspirated; aspirating.
aspiration (n.1) Look up aspiration at Dictionary.com
1530s, "action of breathing into," from Latin aspirationem (nominative aspiratio) "a breathing on, a blowing upon; rough breathing; influence," noun of action from past participle stem of aspirare (see aspire). Meaning "steadfast longing for a higher goal, earnest desire for something above one" is recorded from c.1600 (sometimes collectively, as aspirations).
aspiration (n.2) Look up aspiration at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "action of aspirating," noun of action from aspirate (v.).
aspire (v.) Look up aspire at Dictionary.com
"strive for," c.1400, from Old French aspirer "aspire to; inspire; breathe, breathe on" (12c.), from Latin aspirare "to breathe upon, blow upon, to breathe," also, in transferred senses, "to be favorable to, assist; to climb up to, to endeavor to obtain, to reach to, to seek to reach; infuse," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit (n.)). The notion is of "panting with desire," or perhaps of rising smoke. Related: Aspired; aspiring.
aspirin (n.) Look up aspirin at Dictionary.com
coined 1899 by German chemist Heinrich Dreser (1860-1924) in German as a trademark name, from Latin Spiraea (ulmaria) "meadow-sweet," the plant in whose flowers or leaves the processed acid in the medicine is naturally found, + common chemical ending -in (see -ine (2)). Spiraea (Tournefort, 1700) is from Latinized form of Greek speiraia "meadow-sweet," so called from the shape of its follicles (see spiral (adj.)). The initial -a- is to acknowledge acetylation; Dreser said the word was a contraction of acetylierte spirsäure, the German name of the acid, which now is obsolete, replaced by salicylic acid.
Die Bezeichnung Aspirin ist abgeleitet aus "Spirsäure" -- alter Name der Salicylsäure und A = Acetyl; statt" Acetylirte Spirsäure, kurzweg "Aspirin". [H, Dreser, "Pharmakologisches über Aspirin (Acetylsalicylsäure)," in "Archiv für die Gesammte Physiologie des Menschen und der Thiere," 1899, p.307]
The custom of giving commercial names to medicinal products began in Germany in the late 19th century, when nascent pharmaceutical firms were discovering medical uses for common, easily made chemicals. To discourage competitors they would market the substance under a short trademarked name a doctor could remember, rather than the long chemical compound word. German law required prescriptions to be filled exactly as written.
asportation (n.) Look up asportation at Dictionary.com
"a carrying away or off" (legal), c.1500, from Latin asportationem (nominative asportatio), noun of action from past participle stem of asportare "to carry off," from abs- "away" (see ab-) + portare "to carry" (see port (n.1)).
asquint (adv.) Look up asquint at Dictionary.com
early 13c., "obliquely, with a sidelong glance," of uncertain etymology; from a- (1) + "a word corresponding to Du. schuinte 'slope, slant' of the independent use of which no instances survive ..." [OED]. "Middle English Dictionary" compares French équinter "cut to a point;" French dialectal (e)squintar "cast a glance, look furtively."
ass (n.1) Look up ass at Dictionary.com
beast of burden, Old English assa (Old Northumbrian assal, assald) "he-ass," probably from Old Celtic *as(s)in "donkey," which (with German esel, Gothic asilus, Lithuanian asilas, Old Church Slavonic osl) ultimately is from Latin asinus, which is probably of Middle Eastern origin (compare Sumerian ansu).
For al schal deie and al schal passe, Als wel a Leoun as an asse. [John Gower, "Confessio Amantis," 1393]
Since ancient Greek times, in fables and parables, the animal typified clumsiness and stupidity (hence asshead, late 15c., etc.). To make an ass of oneself is from 1580s. Asses' Bridge (c.1780), from Latin Pons Asinorum, is fifth proposition of first book of Euclid's "Elements." In Middle English, someone uncomprehending or unappreciative would be lik an asse that listeth on a harpe. In 15c., an ass man was a donkey driver.
ass (n.2) Look up ass at Dictionary.com
slang for "backside," first attested 1860 in nautical slang, in popular use from 1930; chiefly U.S.; from dialectal variant pronunciation of arse (q.v.). The loss of -r- before -s- attested in several other words (such as burst/bust, curse/cuss, horse/hoss, barse/bass). Indirect evidence of the change from arse to ass can be traced to 1785 (in euphemistic avoidance of ass "donkey" by polite speakers) and perhaps to Shakespeare, if Nick Bottom transformed into a donkey in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1594) is the word-play some think it is. Meaning "woman regarded as a sexual object" is from 1942. Colloquial (one's) ass "one's self, one's person" attested by 1958.
assail (v.) Look up assail at Dictionary.com
c.1200, from Old French assalir "attack, assault, assail" (12c., Modern French assaillir), from Vulgar Latin *adsalire "to leap at," from Latin ad- "at" (see ad-) + salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Figurative use from mid-14c. Related: Assailed; assailing; assailable.
assailant (n.) Look up assailant at Dictionary.com
1530s, from French assailant, noun use of present participle of assailir (see assail). Earlier in same sense was assailer (c.1400).
assassin (n.) Look up assassin at Dictionary.com
1530s (in Anglo-Latin from mid-13c.), via French and Italian, from Arabic hashishiyyin "hashish-users," plural of hashishiyy, from hashish (q.v.). A fanatical Ismaili Muslim sect of the time of the Crusades, under leadership of the "Old Man of the Mountains" (translates Arabic shaik-al-jibal, name applied to Hasan ibu-al-Sabbah), with a reputation for murdering opposing leaders after intoxicating themselves by eating hashish. The plural suffix -in was mistaken in Europe for part of the word (compare Bedouin).
assassinate (v.) Look up assassinate at Dictionary.com
1610s, from past participle stem of Medieval Latin assassinare (see assassin). Of reputations, characters, etc., from 1620s. Related: Assassinated; assassinating.
assassination (n.) Look up assassination at Dictionary.com
c.1600, noun of action from assassinate (v.).
assault (n.) Look up assault at Dictionary.com
late 14c., earlier asaut (c.1200), from Old French asaut, assaut "an attack, an assault, attacking forces" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *adsaltus "attack, assault," from ad "to" (see ad-) + Latin saltus "a leap," from salire "to leap, spring" (see assail). In law by 1580s; historically, assault includes menacing words or actions; battery is an actual blow.
assault (v.) Look up assault at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Middle French asauter, assauter, from Vulgar Latin *assaltare (see assault (n.)). Related: Assaulted; assaulting.
assay (v.) Look up assay at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "to try, endeavor, strive; test the quality of," from Anglo-French assaier, from assai (n.), from Old French essai "trial" (see essay).
assay (n.) Look up assay at Dictionary.com
"trial, test of quality, test of character," mid-14c., from Anglo-French assai (see assay (v.)). Meaning "analysis" is from late 14c.
assemblage (n.) Look up assemblage at Dictionary.com
c.1704, from French assemblage "gathering, assemblage," from assembler (see assemble). Earlier English words in the same sense include assemblement, assemblance (both late 15c.).
assemble (v.) Look up assemble at Dictionary.com
early 14c., transitive and intransitive, from Old French assembler "come together, join, unite; gather" (11c.), from Latin assimulare "to make like, liken, compare; copy, imitate; feign, pretend," later "to gather together," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + simulare "to make like" (see simulation). In Middle English and in Old French it also was a euphemism for "to couple sexually." Meaning "to put parts together" in manufacturing is from 1852. Related: Assembled; assembling. Assemble together is redundant.
assembly (n.) Look up assembly at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "a gathering of persons, a group gathered for some purpose," from Old French as(s)emblee "assembly, gathering; union, marriage," noun use of fem. past participle of assembler "to assemble" (see assemble). Meaning "gathering together" is recorded from early 15c.; that of "act of assembling parts or objects" is from 1914, as is assembly line. School sense is recorded from 1932.
assent (v.) Look up assent at Dictionary.com
c.1300, from Old French assentir "agree; get used to" (12c.), from Latin assentare "to agree with," frequentative of assentire, from ad- "to" (see ad-) + sentire "to feel, think" (see sense (n.)). Related: Assented; assenting.
assent (n.) Look up assent at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "consent, approval," from Old French assent, a back-formation from assentir (see assent (v.)).
assert (v.) Look up assert at Dictionary.com
c.1600, "declare," from Latin assertus, past participle of asserere "claim, maintain, affirm" (see assertion). Related: Asserted; asserting. To assert oneself "stand up for one's rights" is recorded from 1879.
assertion (n.) Look up assertion at Dictionary.com
early 15c., assercioun, from Middle French assertion (14c.) or directly from Late Latin assertionem (nominative assertio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin asserere "claim rights over something, state, maintain, affirm," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + serere "join" (see series). By "joining oneself" to a particular view, one "claimed" or "maintained" it.
assertive (adj.) Look up assertive at Dictionary.com
1560s, "declaratory, positive, full of assertion," from assert + -ive. Meaning "insisting on one's rights" is short for self-assertive (1865).
assertively (adv.) Look up assertively at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., assertiveli; see assertive + -ly (2).
assertiveness (n.) Look up assertiveness at Dictionary.com
"tendency toward self-assertion," 1881, from assertive + -ness.