batter (n.1) Look up batter at Dictionary.com
in cookery, "a mixture of ingredients (flour, eggs, milk) beaten together," late 14c., from Old French batteure "a beating," from Latin battuere "to beat, knock" (see batter (v.)).
batter (n.2) Look up batter at Dictionary.com
"one who strikes or beats with a bat," 1773, agent noun from bat (v.2). Earlier noun was batsman (1756).
battery (n.) Look up battery at Dictionary.com
1530s, "action of battering," in law, "the unlawful beating of another," from Middle French batterie, from Old French baterie "beating, thrashing, assault" (12c.), from batre "to beat," from Latin battuere (see batter (v.)).

Meaning shifted in Middle French from "bombardment" ("heavy blows" upon city walls or fortresses) to "unit of artillery" (a sense recorded in English from 1550s). Extension to "electrical cell" (1748, first used by Ben Franklin) is perhaps from the artillery sense via notion of "discharges" of electricity. In Middle English, bateri meant only "forged metal ware." In obsolete baseball jargon battery was the word for "pitcher and catcher" considered as a unit (1867, originally only the pitcher).
batting (n.2) Look up batting at Dictionary.com
"action of striking with a bat," 1610s, verbal noun from bat (v.2). In cricket, from 1773. Baseball batting average is from 1867.
batting (n.1) Look up batting at Dictionary.com
"sheets of cotton fiber," 1875, variant of obsolete bat "felted mass of fur, wool, etc." (see bat (n.1)), on notion of "beaten" fabric.
battle (v.) Look up battle at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "to fight," from French batailler (12c.), from bataille (see battle (n.)). Related: Battled; battling.
battle (n.) Look up battle at Dictionary.com
"fight or hostile engagement between opposing forces," c. 1300, from Old French bataille "battle, single combat," also "inner turmoil, harsh circumstances; army, body of soldiers," from Late Latin battualia "exercise of soldiers and gladiators in fighting and fencing," from Latin battuere "to beat, to strike" (see batter (v.)).

Battle-cry is from 1812; battle-flag from 1840; battle-scarred is from 1848. Phrase battle royal "fight involving several combatants" is from 1670s.
battle-axe (n.) Look up battle-axe at Dictionary.com
also battle-ax, late 14c., weapon of war, from battle (n.) + axe (n.); meaning "formidable woman" is U.S. slang, first recorded 1896.
battledore (n.) Look up battledore at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "bat-like implement used in washing clothes," of unknown origin, perhaps from Old Provençal batedor, Spanish batidor "beater, bat," from batir "to beat;" perhaps blended with Middle English betel "hammer, mallet." As a type of racket used in a game, from 1590s, from similarity of shape.
battlefield (n.) Look up battlefield at Dictionary.com
also battle-field, "scene of a battle," 1812, from battle (n.) + field (n.). The usual word for it in Old English was wælstow, literally "slaughter-place."
battlement (n.) Look up battlement at Dictionary.com
"an indented parapet in fortifications," early 14c., from Old French bataillement, earlier bastillement "fortification," from bastillier "to fortify, to equip with battlements," from bastille "fortress, tower" (see bastion). The raised parts are cops or merlons; the indentations are embrasures or crenelles.
battleship (n.) Look up battleship at Dictionary.com
also battle-ship, "powerful warship designed to fight in a line of battle," 1794, shortened from line-of-battle ship (1705), one large enough to take part in a main attack (formerly one of 74-plus guns); from battle (n.) + ship (n.). Later in U.S. Navy it was used of a class of ships that carried guns of the largest size. Rendered obsolete by seaborne air power and guided missiles, the last was decommissioned in 2006. Battleship-gray as a color is attested from 1916. Fighter and bomber airplanes in World War I newspaper articles sometimes were called battleplanes, but it did not catch on.
battology (n.) Look up battology at Dictionary.com
"needless repetition in speaking or writing," c. 1600, from Greek battologia "a speaking stammeringly," from battos "stammerer," of imitative origin, + -logia (see -logy). Related: Battological; battologist.
batty (adj.) Look up batty at Dictionary.com
1580s, "pertaining to or resembling a bat or bats," from bat (n.2) + -y (2). Slang sense "nuts, crazy" is attested from 1903, from the colloquial expression (to have) bats in (one's) belfry "not be right in the head" (1899).
bauble (n.) Look up bauble at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "showy trinket or ornament," from Old French baubel "child's toy, trinket," probably a reduplication of bel, from Latin bellus "pretty" (see belle). Or else related to babe, baby. Meaning "a trifle, thing of little or no value" is from 1630s.
baud (n.) Look up baud at Dictionary.com
1932, originally a unit of speed in telegraphy, coined in French in 1929 in honor of French inventor and engineer Jean-Maurice-Émile Baudot (1845-1903), who designed a telegraph printing system.
Bauhaus (n.) Look up Bauhaus at Dictionary.com
1923, from German Bauhaus, literally "architecture-house;" name of a school of design founded in Weimar, Germany, 1919 by Walter Gropius (1883-1969), later extended to the principles it embodied. First element is bau "building, construction, structure," from Old High German buan "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow"). For second element, see house (n.).
baulk Look up baulk at Dictionary.com
alternative spelling of balk, especially in billiards, in reference to a bad shot.
bauxite (n.) Look up bauxite at Dictionary.com
"clayey mineral containing aluminum," 1861, from French bauxite (1821), from Les Baux, near Arles, in France, where it first was found. The place name is from Provençal Li Baus, literally "the precipices."
Bavaria Look up Bavaria at Dictionary.com
German Bayern, Medieval Latin Boiaria, named for the Boii, the ancient Celtic people who once lived there (also see Bohemia). Related: Bavarian.
bawd (n.) Look up bawd at Dictionary.com
a complicated word of uncertain history. First attested late 15c. in the sense "lewd person" (of either sex; since c. 1700 applied exclusively to women); probably [Middle English Dictionary] from Old French baud "gay, licentious" (from Frankish *bald "bold" or some such Germanic source; see bold), despite the doubts of OED. The 15c. English word perhaps is a shortening of baude-strote "procurer or procuress of prostitutes" (c. 1300).

For the French sense evolution from "bold" to "lewd," compare Old French baudise "ardor, joy, elation, act of boldness, presumption;" baudie "elation, high spirits," fole baudie "bawdry, shamelessness." The Old French word also is the source of French baudet "donkey," in Picardy dialect "loose woman."

The second element in baude-strote would be trot "one who runs errands," or Germanic *strutt (see strut (v.)). There was an Old French baudestrote, baudetrot of the same meaning (13c.), and this may be the direct source of Middle English baude-strote. The obsolete bronstrops "procuress," frequently found in Middleton's comedies, probably is an alteration of baude-strote.
bawdry (n.) Look up bawdry at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "pandering, business of a procuress," probably from Old French bauderie "boldness, ardor, elation, pride," from baud (see bawd). From 1580s as "obscenity, smuttiness, lewd language."
bawdy (adj.) Look up bawdy at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "soiled, dirty, filthy," from bawd + -y (2). Perhaps influenced by Middle English bauded, bowdet "soiled, dirty," from Welsh bawaidd "dirty," from baw "dirt, filth." Meaning "lewd, obscene, chaste" is from 1510s, from notion of "pertaining to or befitting a bawd;" usually of language (originally to talk bawdy).
Bawdy Basket, the twenty-third rank of canters, who carry pins, tape, ballads and obscene books to sell. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785]
Related: Bawdily; bawdiness. Bawdy-house "house of prostitution" is from 1550s.
bawl (v.) Look up bawl at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "to howl like a dog," from Old Norse baula "to low like a cow," and/or Medieval Latin baulare "to bark like a dog," both echoic. Meaning "to shout loudly" attested from 1590s. To bawl (someone) out "reprimand loudly" is 1908, American English. Related: Bawled; bawling.
Baxter Look up Baxter at Dictionary.com
surname, Middle English Bacestere (11c.), literally "baker;" see bake (v.) + -ster. Compare Old English bæcestre, fem. of bæcere "baker," which seems to suggest the surname meant "female baker," but Reaney ("Dictionary of English Surnames") notes Baxter is found mainly in the Anglian counties and is used chiefly of men. Only two examples have been noted with a woman's christian name."
bay (v.) Look up bay at Dictionary.com
"to bark or howl (at)," late 14c., from bay (n.3). Related: Bayed; baying.
bay (n.2) Look up bay at Dictionary.com
"opening in a wall," especially a space between two columns, late 14c. from Old French baee "opening, hole, gulf," noun use of fem. past participle of bayer "to gape, yawn," from Medieval Latin batare "gape," perhaps of imitative origin. Meaning "compartment for storage: is from 1550s. Somewhat confused with bay (n.1) "inlet of the sea," it is the bay in sick-bay and bay window (early 15c.).
bay (n.1) Look up bay at Dictionary.com
"inlet, recess in the shore of a sea or lake," c. 1400, from Old French baie, Late Latin baia (source of Spanish and Portuguese bahia, Italian baja), which is perhaps ultimately from Iberian (Celtic) bahia.
bay (n.3) Look up bay at Dictionary.com
"deep-toned howl of a dog," early 14c., earlier "howling chorus raised (by hounds) when in contact with the hunted animal," c. 1300, from Old French bayer, from PIE root *bai- echoic of howling (compare Greek bauzein, Latin baubari "to bark," English bow-wow; also see bawl).

From the condition of a hunted animal comes the transferred sense of "final encounter," and thence, on the notion of turning to face the danger when further flight or escape is impossible, at bay.
bay (adj.) Look up bay at Dictionary.com
"reddish-brown," usually of horses, mid-14c., from Anglo-French bai (13c.), Old French bai, from Latin badius "chestnut-brown" (used only of horses), from PIE root *badyo- "yellow, brown" (source also of Old Irish buide "yellow"). As a noun, elliptical for a horse of this color.
bay (n.4) Look up bay at Dictionary.com
laurel shrub (Laurus nobilis, source of the bay-leaf), late 14c., but meaning originally only the berry, from Old French baie (12c.) "berry, seed," from Latin baca, bacca "berry, fruit of a tree or shrub, nut" (source also of Spanish baya, Old Spanish bacca, Italian bacca "a berry"), a word of uncertain origin. De Vaan writes that connection with Greek Bakhos "Bacchus" is difficult, as the Greek word probably was borrowed from an Asian language. Some linguists compare Berber *bqa "blackberry, mulberry," and suggest a common borrowing from a lost Mediterranean language.

Extension of the word to the shrub itself is from 1520s. The leaves or sprigs were woven as wreaths for conquerors or poets, hence "honorary crown or garland bestowed as a prize for victory or excellence" (1560s). Bay-leaf is from 1630s. Bay-berry (1570s) was coined after the sense of the original word had shifted to the tree.
Bayard (n.) Look up Bayard at Dictionary.com
generic or mock-heroic name for a horse, mid-14c., from Old French Baiard, name of the bay-colored magic steed given by Charlemagne to Renaud in the legends, from Old French baiart "bay-colored" (see bay (adj.)). Also by early 14c. proverbial as a blind person or thing, for now-unknown reasons.

The name later was used attributively of gentlemen of exceptional courage and integrity, in this sense from Pierre du Terrail, seigneur de Bayard (1473-1524), French knight celebrated as Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche. The surname is perhaps in reference to hair color.
bayberry (n.) Look up bayberry at Dictionary.com
"fruit of the bay tree," 1570s, from bay (n.4) + berry. In Jamaica, the name given to a type of myrtle (Pimenta acris), 1680s, from which bay-rum (1832) is made.
bayonet (n.) Look up bayonet at Dictionary.com
1610s, originally a type of flat dagger; as a soldiers' steel stabbing weapon fitted to the muzzle of a firearm, from 1670s, from French baionnette (16c.), said to be from Bayonne, city in Gascony where supposedly they first were made; or perhaps it is a diminutive of Old French bayon "crossbow bolt." The city name is from Late Latin baia "bay" (which was borrowed into Basque from Spanish) + Basque on "good." As a verb from c. 1700.
bayou (n.) Look up bayou at Dictionary.com
"sluggish watercourse, outlet of a lake or river," 1766, American English, via Louisiana French, from Choctaw (Muskogean) bayuk "small stream."
bazaar (n.) Look up bazaar at Dictionary.com
1580s, from Italian bazarra, ultimately from Persian bazar (Pahlavi vacar) "a market," from Old Iranian *vaha-carana "sale, traffic," from suffixed form of PIE root *wes- (1) "to buy, sell" (see venal) + PIE *kwoleno-, suffixed form of root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round; sojourn, dwell."
bazar (n.) Look up bazar at Dictionary.com
alternative spelling of bazaar.
bazooka (n.) Look up bazooka at Dictionary.com
"metal tube rocket launcher," 1942, from name of a junkyard musical instrument used (c. 1935) as a prop by U.S. comedian Bob Burns (1896-1956); the word is an extension of bazoo, a slang term for "mouth" or "boastful talk" (1877), which is probably from Dutch bazuin "trumpet."
bazooms (n.) Look up bazooms at Dictionary.com
"woman's breasts," especially when deemed prominent, 1955, American English slang alteration of bosoms.
BBC Look up BBC at Dictionary.com
see B.B.C.
BBQ Look up BBQ at Dictionary.com
abbreviation of barbecue, by 1956, American English.
BCE Look up BCE at Dictionary.com
see B.C.E.
be (v.) Look up be at Dictionary.com
Old English beon, beom, bion "be, exist, come to be, become, happen," from Proto-Germanic *biju- "I am, I will be." This "b-root" is from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow," and in addition to the words in English it yielded German present first and second person singular (bin, bist, from Old High German bim "I am," bist "thou art"), Latin perfective tenses of esse (fui "I was," etc.), Old Church Slavonic byti "be," Greek phu- "become," Old Irish bi'u "I am," Lithuanian bu'ti "to be," Russian byt' "to be," etc.

The modern verb to be in its entirety represents the merger of two once-distinct verbs, the "b-root" represented by be and the am/was verb, which was itself a conglomerate. Roger Lass ("Old English") describes the verb as "a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments," while Weekley calls it "an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dial[ect]s." It is the most irregular verb in Modern English and the most common. Collective in all Germanic languages, it has eight different forms in Modern English:

BE (infinitive, subjunctive, imperative)
AM (present 1st person singular)
ARE (present 2nd person singular and all plural)
IS (present 3rd person singular)
WAS (past 1st and 3rd persons singular)
WERE (past 2nd person singular, all plural; subjunctive)
BEING (progressive & present participle; gerund)
BEEN (perfect participle).

The paradigm in Old English was:

SING.PL.
1st pres.ic eom
ic beo
we sind(on)
we beoð
2nd pres.þu eart
þu bist
ge sind(on)
ge beoð
3rd pres.he is
he bið
hie sind(on)
hie beoð
1st pret.ic wæswe wæron
2nd pret.þu wærege waeron
3rd pret.heo wæshie wæron
1st pret. subj.ic wærewe wæren
2nd pret. subj.þu wærege wæren
3rd pret. subj.Egcferð wærehie wæren


The "b-root" had no past tense in Old English, but often served as future tense of am/was. In 13c. it took the place of the infinitive, participle and imperative forms of am/was. Later its plural forms (we beth, ye ben, they be) became standard in Middle English and it made inroads into the singular (I be, thou beest, he beth), but forms of are claimed this turf in the 1500s and replaced be in the plural. For the origin and evolution of the am/was branches of this tangle, see am and was.
That but this blow Might be the be all, and the end all. ["Macbeth" I.vii.5]
be- Look up be- at Dictionary.com
word-forming element of verbs and nouns from verbs, with a wide range of meaning: "about, around; thoroughly, completely; to make, cause seem; to provide with; at, on, to, for;" from Old English be- "about, around, on all sides," the unstressed form of Old English bi "by" (see by (prep.)). The form has remained by- in stressed positions and in some more modern formations (bylaw, bygones, bystander).

The Old English prefix also was used to make transitive verbs and as a privative or intensive prefix (as in behead). The sense "on all sides, all about" naturally grew to include intensive uses (as in bespatter "spatter about," therefore "spatter very much," besprinkle, etc.). Be- also can be causative, or have just about any sense required. The prefix was productive 16c.-17c. in forming useful words, many of which have not survived, such as bethwack "to thrash soundly" (1550s) and betongue "to assail in speech, to scold" (1630s).
be-all (n.) Look up be-all at Dictionary.com
see be.
be-in (n.) Look up be-in at Dictionary.com
"a public gathering of hippies" [OED], 1967, from be + in (adv.).
beach (v.) Look up beach at Dictionary.com
"to haul or run up on a beach," 1840, from beach (n.). Related: Beached; beaching.
beach (n.) Look up beach at Dictionary.com
1530s, "loose, water-worn pebbles of the seashore," probably from a dialectal survival of Old English bece, bece "stream," from Proto-Germanic *bakiz. Extended to loose, pebbly shores (1590s), and in dialect around Sussex and Kent beach still has the meaning "pebbles worn by the waves." French grève shows the same evolution. Beach ball first recorded 1940; beach bum first recorded 1950.
beach-comber (n.) Look up beach-comber at Dictionary.com
1840 [Dana], from beach (n.) + agent noun from comb (v.). Defined in "Century Dictionary" [1900] as "A seafaring man generally, of vagrant and drunken habits, who idles about the wharves of seaports; used most frequently in countries bordering on the Pacific ocean."
beach-head (n.) Look up beach-head at Dictionary.com
also beachhead, 1940, in reference to German military tactics in World War II, from beach (n.) + head (n.), on the model of bridgehead, but the image doesn't quite work.