billiard
singular of billiards, used only in combinations.
billiards (n.)
1590s, from French billiard, originally the word for the wooden cue stick, a diminutive from Old French bille "stick of wood," from Medieval Latin billia "tree, trunk," possibly from Gaulish (compare Irish bile "tree trunk").
billing (n.)
1875, "announcement on a bill or poster," verbal noun from bill (v.); hence top billing (1928). Meaning "act of sending out a bill" is recorded from 1908.
billingsgate (n.)
1670s, the kind of coarse, abusive language once used by women in the Billingsgate market on the River Thames below London Bridge.
Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand. ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]
The place name is Old English Billingesgate, "gate of (a man called) Billing;" the "gate" probably being a gap in the Roman river wall. The market is mid-13c., not exclusively a fish market until late 17c.
billion (n.)
1680s, from French billion (originally byllion in Chuquet's unpublished "Le Triparty en la Science des Nombres," 1484; copied by De la Roche, 1520); see bi- "two" + million. A million million in Britain and Germany (numeration by groups of sixes), which was the original sense; subsequently altered in French to "a thousand million" (numeration by groups of threes) and picked up in that form in U.S., "due in part to French influence after the Revolutionary War" [David E. Smith, "History of Mathematics," 1925]. France then reverted to the original meaning in 1948. British usage is truer to the etymology, but U.S. sense is said to be increasingly common there in technical writing.
In Italian arithmetics from the last quarter of the fifteenth century the words bilione or duilione, trilione, quadrilione or quattrilione, quintilione, cinquilione, or quinquilione, sestione or sestilione, settilione, ottilione, noeilione and decilione occur as common abbreviations of due volte millioni, tre volte millione, etc. In other countries these words came into use much later, although one French writer, Nicolas Chuquet, mentions them as early as 1484, in a book not printed until 1881. The Italians had, besides, another system of numeration, proceeding by powers of a thousand. The French, who like other northern peoples, took most if not all their knowledge of modern or Arabic arithmetic from the Italians, early confounded the two systems of Italian numeration, counting in powers of a thousand, but adopting the names which properly belong to powers of a million.
billionaire (n.)
1844, American English, from billion on model of millionaire. The first in the U.S. likely was John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937), some time after World War I.
billionth
1778, from billion + -th (2).
billow (n.)
1550s, perhaps older in dialectal use, from Old Norse bylgja "a wave, a billow," from Proto-Germanic *bulgjan (cognates: Middle High German bulge "billow, bag"), from PIE *bhelgh- "to swell" (see belly (n.)).
billow (v.)
1590s, from billow (n.). Related: Billowed; billowing.
billowy (adj.)
1610s, from billow (n.) + -y (2). Related: Billowiness.
billy (n.)
"club," 1848, American English, originally burglars' slang for "crowbar;" meaning "policeman's club" first recorded 1856, probably from nickname of William, applied to various objects (compare jack, jimmy, jenny).
bimbo (n.)
1919, "fellow, chap," from variant of Italian bambino "baby;" first attested in Italian-accented theater dialogue. Originally especially "stupid, inconsequential man, contemptible person;" by 1920 the sense of "floozie" had developed (popularized by "Variety" staffer Jack Conway, d.1928). Resurrection during 1980s U.S. political sex scandals led to derivatives including diminutive bimbette (1990) and male form himbo (1988).
bimetallic (adj.)
also bi-metallic, "composed of two metals," 1864, from bi- + metallic. In economics, 1876, from French bimétalique (Cornuschi).
bimodal (adj.)
also bi-modal, 1891, from bi- + modal. Related: Bimodality.
bimonthly (adj.)
also bi-monthly, 1846, "happening once in two months, every two months," also "occurring twice a month," a hybrid from bi- + monthly.
bin (n.)
"receptacle," Old English binne "basket, manger, crib," probably from Gaulish, from Old Celtic *benna, akin to Welsh benn "a cart," especially one with a woven wicker body. The same Celtic word seems to be preserved in Italian benna "dung cart," French benne "grape-gatherer's creel," Dutch benne "large basket," all from Late Latin benna "cart," Medieval Latin benna "basket." Some linguists think there was a Germanic form parallel to the Celtic one.
binary (adj.)
"dual," mid-15c., from Late Latin binarius "consisting of two," from bini "twofold, two apiece, two-by-two" (used especially of matched things), from bis "double" (see bis-). Binary code in computer terminology was in use by 1952, though the idea itself is ancient. Binary star in astronomy is from 1802.
binate (adj.)
"double," 1807, from Latin bini "two by two, twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + -ate (2).
binaural (adj.)
"pertaining to both ears," 1861, from Latin bini "twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + aural. In reference to electronic recordings, from 1933.
bind (v.)
Old English bindan "to tie up with bonds" (literally and figuratively), also "to make captive; to cover with dressings and bandages" (class III strong verb; past tense band, past participle bunden), from Proto-Germanic *bindan (cognates: Old Saxon bindan, Old Norse and Old Frisian binda, Old High German binten "to bind," German binden, Gothic bindan), from PIE root *bhendh- "to bind" (see bend). Intransitive sense of "stick together" is from 1670s. Of books, from c.1400.
bind (n.)
"anything that binds," in various senses, late Old English, from bind (v.). Meaning "tight or awkward situation" is from 1851.
binder (n.)
Old English bindere "one who binds" (see bind). Of various objects or products that bind, from early 16c.
bindery (n.)
1810, American English; see bind (v.) + -ery.
binding (n.)
mid-13c., verbal noun from bind (v.). Meaning "thing that binds" is from c.1300; "state of being bound" is from late 14c. Meaning "covering of a book" is recorded from 1640s.
bindle (n.)
"tramp's bundle," c.1900, perhaps from bundle (n.) or Scottish dialectal bindle "cord or rope to bind things." Related: Bindlestiff.
bine (n.)
"climbing stem, flexible shoot of a shrub," 1727, from a dialectal form of bind (n.).
bing (n.)
"heap or pile," 1510s, from Old Norse bingr "heap." Also used from early 14c. as a word for bin, perhaps from notion of "place where things are piled."
binge (n.)
1854, "drinking bout," also (v.) "drink heavily, soak up alcohol;" dialectal use of binge "soak" (a wooden vessel). Noted originally as a Northampton dialect word. Sense extended c. World War I to include eating as well as drinking. Related: Binged; binging.
bingo (n.)
lotto-like game of chance, 1936; many theories about its origin, none satisfying; the most likely is bingo! as an exclamation of sudden realization or surprise (attested from 1923). Uncertain connection to the slang word for "brandy" (1690s); attested as "liquor" in American English, 1861. Thomas Chandler Haliburton ("Sam Slick") in "The Americans at Home" (1854) recounts a story of a drinking game in which the children's song about the farmer's dog was sung and when it came time to spell out the name, every participant had to take a letter in turn, and anyone who missed or flubbed had to drink.
binnacle (n.)
"wooden box for a ship's compass," c.1750, corruption of bittacle (1620s), which is probably from Spanish bitacula or Portuguese bitacola, both from Latin habitaculum "little dwelling place," from habitare "to inhabit" (see habit).
binocle (n.)
1690s, from French binocle (17c.), from Latin bini- "two by two, twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + oculus "eye" (see eye (n.)).
binocular (adj.)
1738, "involving both eyes," earlier "having two eyes" (1713), from French binoculaire, from Latin bini "two by two, twofold, two apiece" (see binary) + ocularis "of the eye," from oculus "eye" (see eye (n.)). The double-tubed telescopic instrument (1871, short for binocular glass) earlier was called a binocle. Related: Binocularity.
binoculars (n.)
1866; see binocular. Earlier binocle (1690s).
binomial
1550s (n.); 1560s (adj.), from Late Latin binomius "having two personal names," a hybrid from bi- (see bi-) + nomius, from nomen (see name (n.)). Taken up 16c. in the algebraic sense "consisting of two terms."
bint (n.)
"girlfriend," 1855, British English, from Arabic bint "daughter;" adopted by British servicemen in the Middle East.
bio (n.)
short for biography, attested from 1961.
bio-
word-forming element, from Greek bio-, comb. form of bios "one's life, course or way of living, lifetime" (as opposed to zoe "animal life, organic life"), from PIE root *gweie- (1) "to live" (cognates: Sanskrit jivah "alive, living;" Old Persian *jivaka- "alive," Middle Persian zhiwak "alive;" Old English cwic, cwicu "living, alive;" Latin vivus "living, alive," vita "life;" Old Church Slavonic zivo "to live;" Lithuanian gyvas "living, alive," gyvata "(eternal) life;" Old Irish bethu "life," bith "age;" Welsh byd "world"). The correct usage is that in biography, but in modern science it has been extended to mean "organic life."
biocentric (adj.)
also bio-centric, 1889, from bio- + -centric. Anti-biocentric attested from 1882.
biochemical (adj.)
also bio-chemical, 1851, after German biochemisch, from bio- + chemical. Related: Biochemically.
biochemist (n.)
also bio-chemist, 1897; see bio- + chemist.
biochemistry (n.)
also bio-chemistry, 1857, from bio- + chemistry.
biocide (n.)
"destruction of living tissue or living species," 1947, from bio- + -cide.
biodegradable (adj.)
also bio-degradable, 1960, from bio- + degrade + -able.
biodiesel (n.)
also bio-diesel, 1992, from bio- + diesel.
biodiversity (n.)
also bio-diversity, by 1988, from bio- + diversity.
bioethics (n.)
also bio-ethics, coined 1970 by U.S. biochemist Van Rensselaer Potter II (1911-2001), who defined it as "Biology combined with diverse humanistic knowledge forging a science that sets a system of medical and environmental priorities for acceptable survival." From bio- + ethics.
biofeedback (n.)
also bio-feedback, 1969, from bio- + feedback. Said to have been coined by U.S. psychologist and parapsychologist Gardner Murphy (1890-1975).
biofuel (n.)
also bio-fuel, by 1984, from bio- + fuel (n.).
biogenesis (n.)
also bio-genesis, 1870, "theory that living organisms arise only from pre-existing living matter," coined by English biologist T.H. Huxley (1825-1895) from Greek bios "life" (see bio-) + genesis (q.v.). Related: Biogenetic; biogenetical.
biogenic (adj.)
1904, with reference to Haeckel's recapitulation theory; 1913 as "produced by living organisms," from bio- + genic "produced by" (see genus).