await (v.) Look up await at Dictionary.com
early 13c., awaiten, from Old North French awaitier (Old French agaitier) "to lie in wait for, watch, observe," from a- "to" (see ad-) + waitier "to watch" (see wait (v.)). Originally especially with a hostile sense. Related: Awaited; awaiting.
awake (v.) Look up awake at Dictionary.com
a merger of two Middle English verbs: 1. awaken, from Old English awæcnan (earlier onwæcnan; strong, past tense awoc, past participle awacen) "to awake, arise, originate," from a "on" + wacan "to arise, become awake" (see wake (v.)); and 2. awakien, from Old English awacian (weak, past participle awacode) "to awaken, revive; arise; originate, spring from," from a "on" (see a (2)) + wacian "to be awake, remain awake, watch" (see watch (v.)).

Both originally were intransitive only; the transitive sense being expressed by Middle English awecchen (from Old English aweccan) until later Middle English. In Modern English, the tendency has been to restrict the strong past tense and past participle (awoke, awoken) to the original intransitive sense and the weak inflection (awakened) to the transitive, but this never has been complete (see wake (v.); also compare awaken).
awake (adj.) Look up awake at Dictionary.com
"not asleep," c.1300, shortened from awaken, past participle of Old English awæcnan (see awaken).
awaken (v.) Look up awaken at Dictionary.com
Old English awæcnan (intransitive), "to spring into being, arise, originate," also, less often, "to wake up;" earlier onwæcnan, from a- (1) "on" + wæcnan (see waken). Transitive meaning "to rouse from sleep" is recorded from 1510s; figurative sense of "to stir up, rouse to activity" is from c.1600.

Originally strong declension (past tense awoc, past participle awacen), already in Old English it was confused with awake (v.) and a weak past tense awæcnede (modern awakened) emerged and has since become the accepted form, with awoke and awoken transferred to awake. Subtle shades of distinction determine the use of awake or awaken in modern English. Related: Awakening.
award (v.) Look up award at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "decide after careful observation," from Anglo-French awarder, from Old North French eswarder (Old French esguarder) "decide, examine" (after careful consideration), from es- "out" (see ex-) + warder "to watch" (see ward (n.)). Related: Awarded; awarding.
award (n.) Look up award at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "decision after consideration," from Anglo-French award, Old French esguard, from esguarder (see award (v.)). Meaning "something awarded" is first attested 1590s.
aware (adj.) Look up aware at Dictionary.com
late Old English gewær, from Proto-Germanic *ga-waraz (cognates: Old Saxon giwar, Middle Dutch gheware, Old High German giwar, German gewahr), from *ga-, intensive prefix, + waraz "wary, cautious" (see wary).
awareness (n.) Look up awareness at Dictionary.com
1828, from aware + -ness.
awash (adj.) Look up awash at Dictionary.com
1825, originally nautical, "on the level of, flush with," from a- (1) "on" + wash (n.). Figurative use by 1912.
away (adv.) Look up away at Dictionary.com
late Old English aweg, earlier on weg "on from this (that) place;" see a- (1) + way (n.). Colloquial use for "without delay" (fire away, also right away) is from earlier sense of "onward in time" (16c.). Intensive use (as in away back) is American English, first attested 1818.
awe (n.) Look up awe at Dictionary.com
c.1300, earlier aghe, c.1200, from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse agi "fright;" from Proto-Germanic *agiz- (cognates: Old English ege "fear," Old High German agiso "fright, terror," Gothic agis "fear, anguish"), from PIE *agh-es- (cognates: Greek akhos "pain, grief"), from root *agh- "to be depressed, be afraid" (see ail). Current sense of "dread mixed with veneration" is due to biblical use with reference to the Supreme Being. Awe-inspiring is recorded from 1814.
awe (v.) Look up awe at Dictionary.com
c.1300, from awe (n.); Old English had egan (v.). Related: Awed; awing.
aweigh (adj.) Look up aweigh at Dictionary.com
"raised, perpendicular," 1620s, nautical, from a- (1) + weigh.
awesome (adj.) Look up awesome at Dictionary.com
1590s, "profoundly reverential," from awe (n.) + -some (1). Meaning "inspiring awe" is from 1670s; weakened colloquial sense of "impressive, very good" is recorded by 1961 and was in vogue from after c.1980. Related: Awesomely; awesomeness.
awestruck (adj.) Look up awestruck at Dictionary.com
1630s, "overwhelmed by reverential fear," from awe (n.) + struck (see strike (v.)).
awful (adj.) Look up awful at Dictionary.com
c.1300, agheful "worthy of respect or fear," from aghe, an earlier form of awe (n.), + -ful. Replaced Old English egefull. Weakened sense "very bad" is from 1809; weakened sense of "exceedingly" is by 1818.
awfully (adv.) Look up awfully at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "so as to inspire reverence," from awful + -ly (2). Meaning "dreadfully, so as to strike one with awe" is recorded from late 14c. As a simple intensifier, "very, exceedingly," recorded from c.1830.
awhile (adv.) Look up awhile at Dictionary.com
Old English ane hwile "(for) a while" (see while (n.)); usually written as one word since 13c.
awhirl (adj.) Look up awhirl at Dictionary.com
1837, from a- (1) + whirl (v.).
awing (n.) Look up awing at Dictionary.com
"action of inspiring with awe," 1650s, verbal noun from awe (v.).
awk (adj.) Look up awk at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "turned the wrong way," from Old Norse afugr "turned backwards, wrong, contrary," from Proto-Germanic *afug-, from PIE *apu-ko-, from root *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Obsolete since 17c.
awkward (adj.) Look up awkward at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "in the wrong direction," from awk "back-handed" + adverbial suffix -weard (see -ward). Meaning "clumsy" first recorded 1520s. Related: Awkwardly. Other formations from awk, none of them surviving, were awky, awkly, awkness.
awkwardness (n.) Look up awkwardness at Dictionary.com
1704, "lack of grace," from awkward + -ness. Meaning "physical clumsiness" is attested from c.1770; that of "social embarrassment" is from 1788.
awl (n.) Look up awl at Dictionary.com
Old English æl "awl, piercer," from Proto-Germanic *ælo (cognates: Old Norse alr, Dutch aal, Middle Low German al, Old High German äla, German Ahle), of uncertain origin. Earliest references are to piercing of the ears, though later it was associated with shoemakers. Through misdivision, frequently written 15c.-17c. as nawl (for an awl; see N).
awn (n.) Look up awn at Dictionary.com
"bristly fibers on grain of plants," c.1300, from Old Norse ögn, from Proto-Germanic *agano (cognates: Old English egenu, Old High German agana, German Ahne, Gothic ahana), from PIE *ak-ona- (cognates: Sanskrit asani- "arrowhead," Greek akhne "husk of wheat," Latin acus "chaff," Lithuanian akuotas "beard, awn"); suffixed form of PIE root *ak- "sharp" (see acrid).
awning (n.) Look up awning at Dictionary.com
1624, origin uncertain (first recorded use is by Capt. John Smith), perhaps from Middle French auvans, plural of auvent "a sloping roof," "itself of doubtful etym[ology]" (OED). A nautical term only until sense of "cover for windows or porch" emerged 1852.
awoke Look up awoke at Dictionary.com
past tense of awake (v.), from Old English awoc; also see awaken. The tendency has been to restrict the strong past tense (awoke) to the original intransitive sense of awake and the weak inflection (awakened) to the transitive, but this never has been complete.
awoken Look up awoken at Dictionary.com
past participle of awake (v.); also see awaken. The tendency has been to restrict the strong past participle (awoken) to the original intransitive sense of awake and the weak inflection (awakened) to the transitive, but this never has been complete.
awol (adj.) Look up awol at Dictionary.com
also a.w.o.l., military initialism (acronym) for absent without leave. The -o- seems to be there mostly so the assemblage can be pronounced as a word. In U.S. military use at least from World War II, popular use by 1960.
awry (adv.) Look up awry at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "crooked, askew," from a- (1) "on" + wry (adj.).
aww Look up aww at Dictionary.com
see aw.
ax (n.) Look up ax at Dictionary.com
see axe (n.).
axe (n.) Look up axe at Dictionary.com
Old English æces (Northumbrian acas) "axe, pickaxe, hatchet," later æx, from Proto-Germanic *akusjo (cognates: Old Saxon accus, Old Norse ex, Old Frisian axe, German Axt, Gothic aqizi), from PIE *agw(e)si- (cognates: Greek axine, Latin ascia).
The spelling ax is better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, and analogy, than axe, which became prevalent during the 19th century; but it is now disused in Britain. [OED]



The spelling ax, though "better on every ground, of etymology, phonology, & analogy" (OED), is so strange to 20th-c. eyes that it suggests pedantry & is unlikely to be restored. [Fowler]
Meaning "musical instrument" is 1955, originally jazz slang for the saxophone; rock slang for "guitar" dates to 1967. The axe in figurative sense of cutting of anything (expenses, workers, etc.), especially as a cost-saving measure, is from 1922, probably from the notion of the headman's literal axe (itself attested from mid-15c.). To have an axe to grind is from an 1815 essay by U.S. editor and politician Charles Miner (1780-1865) in which a man flatters a boy and gets him to do the chore of axe-grinding for him, then leaves without offering thanks or recompense. Misattributed to Benjamin Franklin in Weekley, OED print edition, and many other sources.
axe (v.) Look up axe at Dictionary.com
1670s, "to shape or cut with an axe," from axe (n.). Meaning "to remove, severely reduce," usually figurative, recorded by 1922. Related: Axed; axing.
axel (n.) Look up axel at Dictionary.com
skating jump, 1930, named for Norwegian skater Axel Paulsen (1855-1938).
axial (adj.) Look up axial at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to an axis," by 1825, from axis + -al (1). Related: Axially.
axillary (adj.) Look up axillary at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to the armpit or shoulder," 1610s, from Latin *axillaris, from axilla "armpit, upper arm, wing" (see axle).
axiom (n.) Look up axiom at Dictionary.com
late 15c., from Middle French axiome, from Latin axioma, from Greek axioma "authority," literally "that which is thought worthy or fit," from axioun "to think worthy," from axios "worthy, worth, of like value, weighing as much," from PIE adjective *ag-ty-o- "weighty," from root *ag- "to drive, draw, move" (see act (n.)).
Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses. [Keats, letter, May 3, 1818]
axiomatic (adj.) Look up axiomatic at Dictionary.com
1797, from Greek axiomatikos, from axioma (genitive axiomatos); see axiom. Form axiomatical is attested from 1580s.
axion (n.) Look up axion at Dictionary.com
1978, from axial + scientific suffix -on.
axis (n.) Look up axis at Dictionary.com
1540s, "imaginary straight line around which a body (such as the Earth) rotates," from Latin axis "axle, pivot, axis of the earth or sky," from PIE *aks- "axis" (cognates: Old English eax, Old High German ahsa "axle;" Greek axon "axis, axle, wagon;" Sanskrit aksah "an axle, axis, beam of a balance;" Lithuanian aszis "axle"). Figurative sense in world history of "alliance between Germany and Italy" (later extended unetymologically to include Japan) is from 1936. Original reference was to a "Rome-Berlin axis" in central Europe. The word later was used in reference to a London-Washington axis (World War II) and a Moscow-Peking axis (early Cold War).
axle (n.) Look up axle at Dictionary.com
"pole or pin upon which a wheel revolves," Middle English axel-, from some combination of Old English eax and Old Norse öxull "axis," both from Proto-Germanic *akhsulaz (cognates: Old English eaxl, Old Saxon ahsla, Old High German ahsala, German Achsel "shoulder"), from PIE *aks- "axis" (see axis). Found only in compound axletree before 14c.
axolotl (n.) Look up axolotl at Dictionary.com
1786, genus of Mexican salamanders, from Spanish, from Nahuatl, literally "servant of water," from atl "water" + xolotl "slippery or wrinkled one, servant, slave" [see Frances Karttunen, "An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl"].
axon (n.) Look up axon at Dictionary.com
"axis of the vertebrate body," 1842, from Greek axon "axis" (see axis).
axonometric (adj.) Look up axonometric at Dictionary.com
1869, from axonometry (1865), from Greek axon (see axis) + metria "measurement" (see -metry).
ay Look up ay at Dictionary.com
see aye.
ayah (n.) Look up ayah at Dictionary.com
"native nurse, children's governess," Anglo-Indian, 1782, from Portuguese aia, cognate with Spanish aya, Italian aja, etc., "nurse," from Latin avia "grandmother," fem. of avus "grandfather" (see uncle).
ayatollah (n.) Look up ayatollah at Dictionary.com
honorific title for an Iranian Shiite religious leader, 1950, from Persian, from Arabic ayatu-llah, literally "miraculous sign of God."
aye (interj.) Look up aye at Dictionary.com
"assent," 1570s, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of I, meaning "I assent;" or an alteration of Middle English yai "yes" (see yea), or from aye (adv.) "always, ever."
aye (adv.) Look up aye at Dictionary.com
"always, ever," c.1200, from Old Norse ei "ever" (cognate with Old English a "always, ever"), from PIE *aiw- "vital force, life, long life, eternity" (cognates: Greek aion "age, eternity," Latin aevum "space of time;" see eon).