asymptotic (adj.) Look up asymptotic at
1670s, see asymptote + -ic. Related: Asymptotical; asymptotically.
asynchronous (adj.) Look up asynchronous at
1748, from a-, privative prefix, + synchronous.
asyndetic (adj.) Look up asyndetic at
1823; see asyndeton + -ic.
asyndeton (n.) Look up asyndeton at
"omission of conjunctions," 1580s, from Latin, from Greek asyndeton, neuter of asyndetos "unconnected," from a-, privative prefix (see a- (3)), + syndetos, from syndein "to bind together," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + dein "to bind," related to desmos "band," from PIE *de- "to bind."
asystole (n.) Look up asystole at
1860, from Modern Latin, from Greek a-, privative prefix (see a- (3)), + systole "contraction" (see systole).
at (prep.) Look up at at
Old English æt, from Proto-Germanic *at (cognates: Old Norse, Gothic at, Old Frisian et, Old High German az), from PIE *ad- "to, near, at" (cognates: Latin ad "to, toward" Sanskrit adhi "near;" see ad-).

Lost in German and Dutch, which use their equivalent of to; in Scandinavian, however, to has been lost and at fills its place. In choosing between at church, in church, etc. at is properly distinguished from in or on by involving some practical connection; a worshipper is at church; a tourist is in the church.

The colloquial use of at after where ("where it's at") is attested from 1859. At last is recorded from late 13c.; adverbial phrase at least was in use by 1775. At in Middle English was used freely with prepositions (as in at after, which is in Shakespeare), but this has faded with the exception of at about, which was used in modern times by Trollope, Virginia Woolfe, D.H. Lawrence, and Evelyn Waugh, but nonetheless is regarded as a sign of incompetent writing by my copy editor bosses.
at all Look up at all at
"in any way," mid-14c., originally used only affirmatively (as in I Sam. XX:6 in KJV: "If thy father at all misse me"); now it is overwhelmingly used only in the negative or in interrogatory expressions, or in literary attempts at Irish dialect.
at bay Look up at bay at
late 14c., originally often at the bay; see bay (n.3). Figurative use, of human beings in difficulties, is from c. 1400. The expression reflects the former more widespread use of at. Earlier the expression be at abai was used of the hunted animal, "be unable to escape," c. 1300, from French.
at- Look up at- at
assimilated form of ad- "to, toward, before" before stems beginning in -t-; see ad-.
at-bat (n.) Look up at-bat at
"baseball player's turn at the plate," 1912, originally a column heading in statistics tables.
at-home (n.) Look up at-home at
"reception of visitors," 1745, from phrase at home.
Atalanta Look up Atalanta at
in Greek mythology the daughter of king Schoeneus, famous for her swiftness, Latin, from Greek Atalante, fem. of atalantos "having the same value (as a man)," from a- "one, together" + talanton "balance, weight, value" (compare talent).
ataractic (adj.) Look up ataractic at
1941, from Greek ataraktos "not disturbed" (see ataraxia) + -ic.
ataraxia (n.) Look up ataraxia at
also Englished as ataraxy, "calmness, impassivity," c. 1600, from Modern Latin, from Greek ataraxia "impassiveness," from a-, privative prefix, + tarassein (Attic tarattein) "to disturb, confuse," from PIE root *dher- (1) "to make muddy, darken."
atavic (adj.) Look up atavic at
"pertaining to a remote ancestor," 1866, from Latin atavus "ancestor" (see atavism) + -ic.
atavism (n.) Look up atavism at
1833, from French atavisme, attested by 1820s, from Latin atavus "ancestor, forefather," from at- perhaps here meaning "beyond" + avus "grandfather," from PIE *awo- "adult male relative other than the father" (see uncle).
atavistic (adj.) Look up atavistic at
"pertaining to atavism," 1847; see atavism + -ic.
ataxia (n.) Look up ataxia at
also anglicized as ataxy, "irregularity of bodily functions," 1610s, "confusion, disorder," medical Latin, from Greek ataxia, from a-, privative prefix, + taxis "arrangement, order," from stem of tassein "to arrange" (see tactics). Pathological sense is attested from 1660s.
ataxic (adj.) Look up ataxic at
1853, from ataxia + -ic.
atchoo Look up atchoo at
imitative of the sound of sneezing, first attested 1873, as atcha (a-tschoo is from 1878).
ate Look up ate at
past tense of eat (q.v.).
Ate Look up Ate at
Greek goddess of infatuation and evil, from ate "infatuation, bane, ruin, mischief," which is of uncertain origin.
atelectasis (n.) Look up atelectasis at
"incomplete expansion of the lungs," 1836, medical Latin, from Greek ateles "imperfect, incomplete," literally "without an end," (from a-, privative prefix, + telos "completion") + ektosis "extention." Related: Atelectatic.
atelier (n.) Look up atelier at
1840, from French atelier "workshop," from Old French astelier "(carpenter's) workshop, woodpile" (14c.), from astele "piece of wood, a shaving, splinter," probably from Late Latin hastella "a thin stick," diminutive of hasta "spear, shaft" (see yard (n.2)).
atemporal (adj.) Look up atemporal at
1870, from a- "not" + temporal. Related: Atemporally.
Aten Look up Aten at
a name of the sun in ancient Egypt, from Egyptian itn.
Athabascan Look up Athabascan at
1846, Athapaskan, from the name of the North American Indian people, from Lake Athabaska in northern Alberta, Canada, from Woods Cree (Algonquian) Athapaskaw, said by Webster to mean literally "grass or reeds here and there," referring to the delta region west of the lake. Also in reference to their language group.
Athanasian (adj.) Look up Athanasian at
1580s, from Athanasius, archbishop of Alexandria in the reign of Constantine. The name is Latin, from Greek Athanasios, from athanatos "immortal," from a- "not," privative prefix, + thanatos "death" (see thanatology).
atheism (n.) Look up atheism at
1580s, from French athéisme (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god" (see atheist). A slightly earlier form is represented by atheonism (1530s) which is perhaps from Italian atheo "atheist." Ancient Greek atheotes meant "ungodliness."
atheist (n.) Look up atheist at
1570s, from French athéiste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell. [Armand Salacrou, "Certitudes et incertitudes," 1943]
atheistic (adj.) Look up atheistic at
1630s, from atheist + -ic. Atheistical attested from c. 1600.
atheling (n.) Look up atheling at
"member of a noble family," Old English æðling, from æðel "noble family," related to Old English æðele "noble," from Proto-Germanic *athala-, from PIE *at-al- "race, family," from *at(i)- "over, beyond, super" + *al- "to nourish." With suffix -ing "belonging to." A common Germanic word (cognates: Old Saxon ediling, Old Frisian etheling, Old High German adaling).
Athelstan Look up Athelstan at
masc. proper name, Old English Æðelstane, literally "noble stone;" see atheling + stone (n.).
Athena Look up Athena at
Greek goddess of wisdom, skill in the arts, warfare, etc., from Latin Athena, from Greek Athene, perhaps from a name in a lost pre-Hellenic language.
Athenaeum (n.) Look up Athenaeum at
1727, from Latinized form of Greek Athenaion "the temple of Athene," in ancient Athens, in which professors taught and actors or poets rehearsed. Meaning "literary club-room or reading room" is from 1799; "literary or scientific club" is from 1864.
Athenian (n.) Look up Athenian at
Old English Atheniense (plural noun), from Latin Atheniensis, from Athenae (see Athens).
Athens Look up Athens at
city of ancient Attica, capital of modern Greece, from Greek Athenai (plural because the city had several distinct parts), traditionally derived from Athena, but probably assimilated from a lost name in a pre-Hellenic language.
atheroma (n.) Look up atheroma at
"encysted tumor," 1706, medical Latin, from Greek atheroma, from athere "groats, porridge" (related to ather "chaff"), in reference to what is inside. For ending, see -oma.
atherosclerosis (n.) Look up atherosclerosis at
1908, from atherosklerose, coined in German 1904; see atheroma + sclerosis.
athetosis (n.) Look up athetosis at
1871, from Greek athetos "not fixed, without position or place, set aside" + -osis. Coined by U.S. nerve specialist William Alexander Hammond (1828-1900).
athlete (n.) Look up athlete at
early 15c., from Latin athleta "a wrestler, athlete, combatant in public games," from Greek athletes "prizefighter, contestant in the games," agent noun from athlein "to contest for a prize," related to athlos "a contest" and athlon "a prize," which is of unknown origin. Before 1750, usually in Latin form. In this sense, Old English had plegmann "play-man." Athlete's foot first recorded 1928, for an ailment that has been around much longer.
athletic (adj.) Look up athletic at
1630s (athletical is from 1590s), "pertaining to an athlete," from Latin athleticus, from Greek athletikos, from athletes (see athlete). Meaning "strong of body; vigorous; lusty; robust" [Johnson, who spells it athletick] is from 1650s.
athleticism (n.) Look up athleticism at
1835, from athletic + -ism.
athletics (n.) Look up athletics at
c. 1730, from athletic; also see -ics. Probably formed on model of gymnastics.
athrob (adj.) Look up athrob at
1857, from a- (1) + throb. Related: Athrobbing.
athwart (adv.) Look up athwart at
late 15c., from a- (1) + thwart.
atilt (adv.) Look up atilt at
1560s, from a- (1) + tilt (n.).
Atlantic Look up Atlantic at
late 14c., occean of Athlant "sea off the west coast of Africa" (early 15c. as occean Atlantyke), from Latin Atlanticus, from Greek Atlantikos "of Atlas," adjectival form of Atlas (genitive Atlantos), in reference to Mount Atlas in Mauritania (see Atlas). Applied to the whole ocean since c. 1600.
Atlantis Look up Atlantis at
mythical island-nation, from Greek Atlantis, literally "daughter of Atlas." All references trace to Plato's dialogues "Timaeus" and "Critias," both written c. 360 B.C.E.
Atlas Look up Atlas at
1580s, Titan, son of Iapetus and Clymene, supposed to uphold the pillars of heaven, which was his punishment for being the war leader of the Titans in the struggle with the Olympian gods. The name in Greek perhaps means "The Bearer (of the Heavens)," from a-, copulative prefix, + stem of tlenai "to bear," from PIE root *tele- "to lift, support, weigh." Mount Atlas, in Mauritania, was important in Greek cosmology as a support of the heavens.