- volcanic lake in Campania, looked upon by the ancients as an entrance to Hell, usually derived from a Latinization of Greek aornos "without birds," from a- "not, without" (see a- (3)) + ornis "a bird" (see ornitho-), supposedly from the vapors which killed birds attempting to fly over it. Related: Avernal.
- Latinization of name of Ibn Rushd (1126-1198) Arab philosopher and physician of Spain and Morocco. He reintroduced, before the Renaissance, something of Aristotle's doctrines and his followers were particularly noted for their separation of philosophy from religion. Related: Averroist; Averoistic.
- averse (adj.)
- mid-15c., "turned away in mind or feeling, disliking, unwilling," from Old French avers "hostile, antagonistic" and directly from Latin aversus "turned away, turned back," past participle of avertere "to turn away," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + vertere "to turn" (see versus). Originally and usually in English in the mental sense, while averted is used in a physical sense.
Averse applies to feeling, adverse to action: as, I was very averse to his going: an adverse vote: adverse fortune. [Century Dictionary, 1906]
- aversion (n.)
- 1590s, "a turning away from;" 1650s in the figurative sense of "mental attitude of repugnance or opposition," from Middle French aversion (16c.) and directly from Latin aversionem (nominative aversio), noun of action from past participle stem of aversus "turned away, backwards, behind, hostile," itself past participle of avertere "to turn away" (see avert). Aversion therapy in psychology is from 1956.
- avert (v.)
- mid-15c., transitive, "turn (something) away, cause to turn away," from Old French avertir "turn, direct; avert; make aware" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *advertire, from Latin avertere "to turn away; to drive away; shun; ward off; alienate," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + vertere "to turn" (see versus). Meaning "ward off, prevent the occurrence of" is from 1610s. Related: Averted; averting.
- Avestan (n.)
- Eastern Iranian language that survived in sacred texts centuries after it went extinct, from Persian Avesta "sacred books of the Parsees," earlier Avistak, literally "books."
- avian (adj.)
- "resembling or pertaining to birds," 1861, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + -an.
- aviary (n.)
- 1570s, from Latin aviarium "place in which birds are kept," neuter of aviarius "of birds," from avis "bird," from PIE *awi- "bird" (source also of Sanskrit vih, Avestan vish "bird," Greek aietos "eagle").
- aviation (n.)
- "art or act of flying," 1866, from French aviation, noun of action from stem of Latin avis "bird" (see aviary). Coined 1863 by French aviation pioneer Guillaume Joseph Gabriel de La Landelle (1812-1886) in "Aviation ou Navigation aérienne."
- aviator (n.)
- "aircraft pilot," 1887, from French aviateur, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + -ateur. Also used c. 1891 in a sense of "aircraft, flying-machine." Feminine form aviatrix is from 1927; earlier aviatrice (1910), aviatress (1911).
- Latinization of name of Ibn Sina (980-1037), Persian philosopher and physician. Full name Abū 'Alī al-Husayn ibn 'Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā al-Balkhī.
- avicide (n.)
- "slaughter of birds," 1834, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + -cide.
- aviculture (n.)
- "care and breeding of birds in domestication or captivity," 1876, from French aviculture, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + cultura "cultivation" (see culture (n.)). Related: Aviculturist.
- avid (adj.)
- "eager; greedy," 1769, from French avide (15c.), from Latin avidus "longing eagerly, desirous, greedy," from avere "to desire eagerly" (see avarice). Also in part a back-formation from avidity. Related: Avidly.
- avidity (n.)
- mid-15c., "eagerness, zeal," from Old French avidite "avidity, greed" or directly from Latin aviditatem (nominative aviditas) "eagerness, avidity," noun of quality from past participle stem of avere "to desire eagerly" (see avarice).
- aviform (adj.)
- "bird-shaped, resembling a bird," 1885, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + -form.
- avionics (n.)
- 1949, from aviation + electronics.
- U.S. car rental company, according to company history founded 1946 at Willow Run Airport in Detroit by U.S. businessman Warren Avis (1915-2007) and named for him.
- avise (v.)
- obsolete form of advise. Related: Avisement.
- avocado (n.)
- edible, oily fruit of a tree common in the American tropics, 1763, from Spanish avocado, altered (by folk etymology influence of earlier Spanish avocado "lawyer," from same Latin source as advocate (n.)) from earlier aguacate, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) ahuakatl "avocado" (with a secondary meaning "testicle" probably based on resemblance), from proto-Nahuan *pawa "avocado." As a color-name, first attested 1945. The English corruption alligator (pear) is 1763, from Mexican Spanish alvacata, alligato.
- avocation (n.)
- 1610s, "a calling away from one's occupation;" 1640s, "that which calls one away from one's proper business," from Latin avocationem (nominative avocatio) "a calling away, distraction, diversion," noun of action from past participle stem of avocare "to call off, call away," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + vocare "to call" (see voice (n.)). Commonly, but improperly, "one's regular business, vocation" (1660s). Earlier (1520s) in a legalistic sense "calling to a higher court."
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
[Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud Time"]
- avoid (v.)
- late 14c., "shun (someone), refrain from (something), have nothing to do with (an action, a scandal, etc.), escape, evade," from Anglo-French avoider "to clear out, withdraw (oneself)," partially Englished from Old French esvuidier "to empty out," from es- "out" (see ex-) + vuidier "to be empty," from voide "empty, vast, wide, hollow, waste" (see void (adj.)).
In Middle English with a wide range of meanings now obsolete: "to empty, rid, take out, remove, discharge from the body, send away; eject or banish; destroy, erase; depart from or abandon, go away." Current sense corresponds to Old French eviter with which it perhaps was confused. Related: Avoided; avoiding.
- avoidable (adj.)
- "capable of being avoided," mid-15c., from avoid + -able. Related: Avoidably.
- avoidance (n.)
- late 14c., "action of emptying," from avoid + -ance. Sense of "action of dodging or shunning" is recorded from early 15c.; it also meant "action of making legally invalid," 1620s; "becoming vacant" (of an office, etc.), mid-15c.
- avoirdupois (n.)
- 1650s, misspelling (with French du for de) of Middle English avoir-de-peise, the Norman form of Old French avoir de pois "goods of weight" (equivalent to Medieval Latin averia ponderis), from aveir "property, goods" (noun use of aveir "have," from Latin habere; see habit (n.)) + peis "weight," from Latin pensum, neuter of pendere "to weigh" (see pendant (n.)).
The oldest sense in English is "goods sold by weight" (early 14c.); from late 15c. as a system of weights in which 1 pound = 16 ounces. Introduced into England from Bayonne, from late 15c. it was the standard system of weights used in England for all goods except precious metals, precious stones, and medicine.
- river in southwestern England, from Celtic abona "river," from *ab- "water" (see afanc).
- avouch (v.)
- 1550s, "affirm, acknowledge openly;" 1590s, "make good, answer for," from Middle French avochier "call upon as authority," in Old French "call (to court), advocate, plead (a case)," from Latin advocare "call to" as a witness (see advocate (n.)).
Avouch, which is no longer in common use, means guarantee, solemnly aver, prove by assertion, maintain the truth or existence of, vouch for .... Avow means own publicly to, make no secret of, not shrink from admitting, acknowledge one's responsibility for .... Vouch is now common only in the phrase vouch for, which has taken the place of avouch in ordinary use, & means pledge one's word for .... [Fowler]
Related: Avouched; avouching.
- avow (v.)
- c. 1300, "uphold, support, approve; stand by, back up (someone); declare openly, take sides openly, affirm;" mid-14c. "admit openly," from Anglo-French avouer, Old French avoer "acknowledge, accept, recognize," especially as a protector (12c., Modern French avouer), from Latin advocare "to call, summon, invite" (see advocate (n.)). A synonym of avouch (q.v.), which tends to contain the more technical, legal aspect of the word. Related: Avowed; avowing.
- avowal (n.)
- "open declaration, frank acknowledgment," 1716, from avow + -al (2).
- avowed (adj.)
- "declared, open," mid-14c., past-participle adjective from avow. Related: Avowedly.
- avuncular (adj.)
- "of or pertaining to an uncle," 1789, from Latin avunculus "maternal uncle," diminutive of avus (see uncle) + -ar. Used humorously for "of a pawnbroker" (uncle was slang for "pawnbroker" from c. 1600 through 19c.).
Being in genteel society, we would not, of course, hint that any one of our readers can remember so very low and humiliating a thing as the first visit to "my Uncle"--the first pawnbroker. We have been assured though, by those whose necesssities have sometimes compelled them to resort, for assistance, to their avuncular relation, that the first visit--the primary pawning--can never be forgotten. ["North American Miscellany," New York, 1852]
- aw (interj.)
- expresion of mild disappointment, sympathy, etc.; recorded in this form by 1888.
- AWACS (n.)
- 1966, initialism (acronym) for "Airborne Warning and Control Systems."
- await (v.)
- mid-13c., awaiten, "to wait for," 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 "wait for with hostile intent, wait to ambush or spy upon." Related: Awaited; awaiting.
- awake (adj.)
- "not asleep, roused from sleep," c. 1300, shortened from awaken, original past participle of Old English awæcnan (see awaken). Figurative use by 1610s.
- awake (v.)
- "cease to sleep, come out of sleep," 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 (1)) + wacian "to be awake, remain awake, watch" (see watch (v.)).
Both originally were intransitive only; the transitive sense "arouse from sleep" generally 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.
- awaken (v.)
- 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 "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.)
- late 14c., "decide after careful observation," from Anglo-French awarder, from Old North French eswarder (Old French esgarder) "decide, judge, give one's opinion" (after careful consideration), from es- "out" (see ex-) + warder "to watch," a word from Germanic (see ward (n.)). Related: Awarded; awarding.
- award (n.)
- late 14c., "decision after consideration," from Anglo-French award, Old French esgard, from esgarder (see award (v.)). Meaning "something awarded" is first attested 1590s.
- aware (adj.)
- late Old English gewær "watchful, vigilant," from Proto-Germanic *ga-waraz (source also of Old Saxon giwar, Middle Dutch gheware, Old High German giwar, German gewahr), from *ga-, intensive prefix, + *waraz "wary, cautious," from PIE root *wer- (4) "to perceive, watch out for" (see ward (n.)).
- awareness (n.)
- "state of being aware," 1828, from aware + -ness. Earlier was awaredom (1752).
- awash (adj.)
- 1825, originally nautical, "on the level of, flush with" the water, from a- (1) "on" + wash (n.). Figurative use by 1912.
- away (adv.)
- late Old English aweg, earlier on weg "on from this (that) place;" see a- (1) + way (n.).
Meaning "from one's own or accustomed place" is from c. 1300; that of "from one state or condition to another" is from mid-14c.; that of "from one's possession (give away, throw away) is from c. 1400. Colloquial use for "without delay" (fire away, also right away) is from earlier sense of "onward in time" (16c.). Meaning "at such a distance" (a mile away) is by 1712. Intensive use (as in away back) is American English, attested by 1818. Of sporting events played at the other team's field or court, by 1893.
- awe (n.)
- c. 1300, aue, "fear, terror, great reverence," earlier aghe, c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source, such as Old Norse agi "fright;" from Proto-Germanic *agiz- (source also of Old English ege "fear," Old High German agiso "fright, terror," Gothic agis "fear, anguish"), from PIE *agh-es- (source also of Greek akhos "pain, grief"), from root *agh- (1) "to be depressed, be afraid" (see ail). Current sense of "dread mixed with admiration or veneration" is due to biblical use with reference to the Supreme Being. To stand in awe (early 15c.) originally was simply to stand awe. Awe-inspiring is recorded from 1814.
Al engelond of him stod awe.
["The Lay of Havelok the Dane," c. 1300]
- awe (v.)
- "inspire with fear or dread," c. 1300, from awe (n.); Old English had egan (v.). Related: Awed; awing.
- aweigh (adv., adj.)
- of an anchor, "raised, perpendicular," 1620s, nautical, from a- (1) + weigh.
- awesome (adj.)
- 1590s, "profoundly reverential," from awe (n.) + -some (1). Meaning "inspiring awe or dread" 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.)
- also awestruck, "overwhelmed by reverential fear," 1630s (Milton), from awe (n.) + struck (see strike (v.)). Perhaps coined to cut a path between the contemporary senses of awesome ("reverential") and awful ("causing dread"). Awe-strike (v.) is not recorded until much later (1832), has always been rare, and is perhaps a back-formation.
- awful (adj.)
- c. 1300, agheful "worthy of respect or fear, striking with awe; causing dread," from aghe, an earlier form of awe (n.), + -ful. The Old English word was egefull. Weakened sense "very bad" is from 1809; weakened sense of "excessively, very great" is by 1818. It formerly was occasionally used in a sense "profoundly reverential" (1590s).
- awfully (adv.)
- 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," is attested from c. 1830.