cathedra (n.) Look up cathedra at Dictionary.com
"seat of a bishop in his church," Latin, literally "chair" (see cathedral).
cathedral (n.) Look up cathedral at Dictionary.com
1580s, "church of a bishop," from phrase cathedral church (c.1300), partially translating Late Latin ecclesia cathedralis "church of a bishop's seat," from Latin cathedra "an easy chair (principally used by ladies)," also metonymically, as in cathedrae molles "luxurious women;" also "a professor's chair;" from Greek kathedra "seat, bench," from kata "down" (see cata-) + hedra "seat, base, chair, face of a geometric solid," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit" (see sedentary).

It was born an adjective, and attempts to cobble further adjectivization onto it in 17c. yielded cathedraical (1670s), cathedratic (1660s), cathedratical (1660s), after which the effort seems to have been given up.
Catherine Look up Catherine at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from French Catherine, from Medieval Latin Katerina, from Latin Ecaterina, from Greek Aikaterine. The -h- was introduced 16c., probably a folk etymology from Greek katharos "pure" (see catharsis). The initial Greek vowel is preserved in Russian form Ekaterina.

As the name of a type of pear, attested from 1640s. Catherine wheel (early 13c.) is named for St. Catherine of Alexandria, legendary virgin martyr from the time of Maximinus who was tortured on a spiked wheel. Her name day is Nov. 25. A popular saint in the Middle Ages, which accounts for the popularity of the given name.
catheter (n.) Look up catheter at Dictionary.com
c.1600, from French cathéter, from Late Latin catheter "a catheter," from Greek katheter "surgical catheter," literally "anything let down," from stem of kathienai "to let down, thrust in," from kata "down" (see cata-) + stem of hienai "to send" (see jet (v.)). Earlier was cathirum (early 15c.), directly from Medieval Latin. Related: Catheterization; catheterized; catheterizing.
cathexis (n.) Look up cathexis at Dictionary.com
1922, from Latinized form of Greek kathexis "holding, retention," from PIE root *segh- "to hold" (see scheme (n.)). Used by psychologists to render Freud's (libido)besetzung.
cathode (n.) Look up cathode at Dictionary.com
1834, from Latinized form of Greek kathodos "a way down," from kata- "down" (see cata-) + hodos "way" (see cede). Proposed by the Rev. William Whewell (1794-1866), English polymath, and published by English chemist and physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867). So called from the path the electric current was supposed to take. Related: Cathodic; cathodal. Cathode ray first attested 1880, but the phenomenon known from 1859; cathode ray tube is from 1905.
catholic (adj.) Look up catholic at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "of the doctrines of the ancient Church," literally "universally accepted," from French catholique, from Church Latin catholicus "universal, general," from Greek katholikos, from phrase kath' holou "on the whole, in general," from kata "about" + genitive of holos "whole" (see safe (adj.)). Applied to the Church in Rome c.1554, after the Reformation began. General sense of "of interest to all, universal" is from 1550s.
Catholic (n.) Look up Catholic at Dictionary.com
"member of the Roman Catholic church," 1560s, from Catholic (adj.).
Catholicism (n.) Look up Catholicism at Dictionary.com
"faith and practice of the Catholic church," 1610s, from Catholic + -ism.
catholicity (n.) Look up catholicity at Dictionary.com
1830, "catholicism," from catholic + -ity. Meaning "quality of being inclusive or comprehensive" is by 1843.
Catiline (adj.) Look up Catiline at Dictionary.com
from Lucius Sergius Catilina, Roman official who plotted an uprising 63 B.C.E. and was exposed by Cicero in a famous oration, taken since 1590s as a type of a reckless conspirator.
cation (n.) Look up cation at Dictionary.com
1834, from Greek kation "going down," neuter present participle of katienai "to go down," from kata "down" (see cata-) + ienai "to go" (see ion). Proposed by the Rev. William Whewell (1794-1866), English polymath, and published by English physicist Michael Faraday.
catkin (n.) Look up catkin at Dictionary.com
1570s, from Dutch katteken "flowering stem of willow, birch, hazel, etc.," literally "kitten," diminutive of katte "cat" (see cat (n.)). So called for their soft, furry appearance.
catnap (n.) Look up catnap at Dictionary.com
also cat-nap, cat's nap, by 1823, from cat (n.) + nap (n.). A nap such as a cat takes. As a verb from 1859.
catnip (n.) Look up catnip at Dictionary.com
1712, American English, from cat (n.) + nip, from Old English nepte "catnip," from Latin nepta, name of an aromatic herb. The older name is Middle English catmint (mid-13c.).
catoblepas (n.) Look up catoblepas at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Latin catoblepas, from Greek katobleps, from kato "downward" (related to kata-) + blepein "to look," but this might be ancient folk etymology. Name given by ancient authors to some African animal.
A wylde beest that hyghte Catoblefas and hath a lytyll body and nyce in all membres and a grete heed hangynge alway to-warde the erth. [John of Trevisa, translation of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]
catoptric (adj.) Look up catoptric at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to mirrors or a mirror," 1774, from Latinized form of Greek katoptrikos, from katoptron "mirror," from kata- "against" (see cata-) + stem of optos "seen, visible" (see optic) + instrumental suffix -tron. Related: Catoptrics; catoptrical.
catoptromancy (n.) Look up catoptromancy at Dictionary.com
"divination by means of a mirror," 1610s, from Latinized comb. form of Greek katoptron "mirror" (see catoptric) + -mancy.
catsuit (n.) Look up catsuit at Dictionary.com
also cat-suit, 1960, from cat (n.) + suit (n.).
cattail (n.) Look up cattail at Dictionary.com
also cat's tail, type of plant, mid-15c., from cat (n.) + tail (n.).
cattish (adj.) Look up cattish at Dictionary.com
1590s, "cat-like," from cat (n.) + -ish. From 1883 as "catty." Related: Cattishly; cattishness.
cattle (n.) Look up cattle at Dictionary.com
mid-13c., "property," from Anglo-French catel "property" (Old North French catel, Old French chatel), from Medieval Latin capitale "property, stock," noun use of neuter of Latin adjective capitalis "principal, chief" (see capital (n.1)). Compare sense development of fee, pecuniary. Sense originally was of movable property, especially livestock; it began to be limited to "cows and bulls" from late 16c.
catty (adj.) Look up catty at Dictionary.com
1886, "devious and spiteful," from cat (n.) + -y (2). Slightly earlier was cattish. Meaning "pertaining to cats" is from 1902. Related: Cattily; cattiness.
catty-cornered (adj., adv.) Look up catty-cornered at Dictionary.com
1838, earlier cater-cornered (1835, American English), from now-obsolete cater "to set or move diagonally" (1570s), from Middle French catre "four," from Latin quattuor (see four). Compare carrefour.
catwalk (n.) Look up catwalk at Dictionary.com
1885, "long, narrow footway," from cat (n.) + walk (n.); in reference to such narrowness of passage one has to cross carefully, as a cat walks. Originally of ships and theatrical back-stages. Application to fashion show runways is by 1942.
Caucasian (adj.) Look up Caucasian at Dictionary.com
1807, from Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian seas; applied to the "white" race 1795 (in German) by German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach, because its supposed ancestral homeland lay there; since abandoned as a historical/anthropological term. (See Aryan).
Caucasian (n.) Look up Caucasian at Dictionary.com
"resident or native of the Caucasus," 1843; see Caucasus + -ian. Meaning "one of the 'white' race" is from 1958 (earlier Caucasoid, 1956).
Caucasus (n.) Look up Caucasus at Dictionary.com
mountain range between Europe and the Middle East, from Latin Caucasus, from Greek kaukasis, said by Pliny ("Natural History," book six, chap. XVII) to be from a Scythian word similar to kroy-khasis, literally "(the mountain) ice-shining, white with snow." But possibly from a Pelasgian root *kau- meaning "mountain."
caucus (v.) Look up caucus at Dictionary.com
1850, from caucus (n.), but caucusing is attested from 1788.
caucus (n.) Look up caucus at Dictionary.com
"private meeting of party leaders," 1763, American English (New England), perhaps from an Algonquian word caucauasu "counselor, elder, adviser" in the dialect of Virginia, or from the Caucus Club of Boston, a 1760s social & political club whose name possibly derived from Modern Greek kaukos "drinking cup." Another old guess is caulker's (meeting) [Pickering, 1816], but OED finds this dismissable.
caucus: "This noun is used throughout the United States, as a cant term for those meetings, which are held by the different political parties, for the purpose of agreeing upon candidates for office, or concerting any measure, which they intend to carry at the subsequent public, or town meetings." [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]



The word caucus, and its derivative caucusing, are often used in Boston. The last answers much to what we stile parliamenteering or electioneering. All my repeated applications to different gentlemen have not furnished me with a satisfactory account of the origin of caucus. It seems to mean, a number of persons, whether more or less, met together to consult upon adopting and prosecuting some scheme of policy, for carrying a favorite point. [William Gordon, "History, Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America," London, 1788]
caudal (adj.) Look up caudal at Dictionary.com
1660s, from Latin cauda "tail of an animal," of unknown origin, + -al (1).
caudillo (n.) Look up caudillo at Dictionary.com
dictator in Spain or Latin America, 1852, from Spanish caudillo, cabdillo "leader, chief," from Late Latin capitellum, diminutive of caput (genitive capitis) "head" (see capitulum). Later in Spain taken by Franco as a title in imitation of German Führer, Italian Duce.
caudle (n.) Look up caudle at Dictionary.com
"hot drink," late 13c., from Old North French caudel (Old French chaudel, 12c., Modern French chaudeau), from Medieval Latin caldellum, diminutive of caldum, neuter of Latin caldus "warm" (see calorie).
caught Look up caught at Dictionary.com
past tense and past participle of catch (v.), attested from 14c., predominant after c.1800, replacing earlier catched. A rare instance of English strong verb with a French origin. This might have been by influence of Middle English lacchen (see latch (v.)), which also then meant "to catch" and was a synonym of catch (as their noun forms remain), and which then had past tense forms lahte, lauhte, laught. The influence happened before latch switched to its modern weak conjugation.
caul (n.) Look up caul at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "close-fitting cap worn by women," from French cale "cap," back-formation from calotte, from Italian callotta, from Latin calautica "type of female headdress with pendent lappets," a foreign word of unknown origin. Medical use, in reference to various membranes, dates to late 14c. Especially of the amnion enclosing the fetus before birth from 1540s. This, if the child is born draped in it, was supersititously supposed to protect against drowning (cauls were advertised for sale in British newspapers through World War I).
cauldron (n.) Look up cauldron at Dictionary.com
c.1300, caudron, from Anglo-French caudrun, Old North French cauderon (Old French chauderon "cauldron, kettle"), from augmentative of Late Latin caldaria "cooking pot" (source of Spanish calderon, Italian calderone), from Latin calidarium "hot bath," from calidus "warm, hot" (see calorie). The -l- was inserted 15c. in imitation of Latin.
cauliflower (n.) Look up cauliflower at Dictionary.com
1590s, originally cole florye, from Italian cavoli fiori "flowered cabbage," plural of cavolo "cabbage" + fiore "flower" (from Latin flora; see flora).

First element is from Latin caulis "cabbage" (originally "stem, stalk") which was borrowed into Germanic and is the source of cole in cole-slaw and of Scottish kale. The front end of the word was re-Latinized from 18c.; the back end was influenced by flower (n.). The boxer's cauliflower ear is from 1907.
cauline (adj.) Look up cauline at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to or growing on a stem," 1756, from Latin caulis "stalk" (see cole).
caulis (n.) Look up caulis at Dictionary.com
"stem or stalk of a plant," Latin; see cole.
caulk (v.) Look up caulk at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "to stop up crevices or cracks," from Old North French cauquer, from Late Latin calicare "to stop up chinks with lime," from Latin calx (2) "lime, limestone" (see chalk). Original sense is nautical, of making ships watertight. Related: Caulked; caulking. As a noun, "caulking material," by 1980 (caulking in this sense was used from 1743). Related: Caulker.
causal (adj.) Look up causal at Dictionary.com
1530s, from Latin causalis "relating to a cause," from causa (see cause (n.)).
causality (n.) Look up causality at Dictionary.com
c.1600, from causal + -ity.
causation (n.) Look up causation at Dictionary.com
1640s, from Latin causationem (nominative causatio) "excuse, pretext," in Medieval Latin "action of causing," from causa (see cause).
causative (adj.) Look up causative at Dictionary.com
early 15c. (as a noun), from French causatif, from Latin causativus, from causa (see cause (n.)).
cause (n.) Look up cause at Dictionary.com
c.1200, "reason for action, grounds for action; motive," from Old French cause "cause, reason; lawsuit, case in law" (12c.), and directly from Latin causa "a cause; a reason; interest; judicial process, lawsuit," of unknown origin. In English, sense of "matter of concern; side taken in controversy" is from c.1300; that of "the source of an effect" is early 14c.; meaning "reason for something taking place" is late 14c. Cause célèbre "celebrated legal case" is 1763, from French. Cause why? "for what reason?" is in Chaucer.
cause (v.) Look up cause at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "produce an effect," also "impel, compel," from Old French causer "to cause" (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin causare, from Latin causa "a cause; a reason; interest; judicial process, lawsuit," of unknown origin. Related: Caused; causing. Classical Latin causari meant "to plead, to debate a question."
causeway (n.) Look up causeway at Dictionary.com
1570s, from Middle English cauceweye "raised road" (mid-15c.), first element from Anglo-French cauce, Old North French cauciee (12c., Modern French chaussée), from Vulgar Latin *via calciata "paved way," from Latin calcis, genitive of calx (2) "limestone," or Late Latin calciare "to stamp with the heels, tread" (on notion of a road or mound across marshy ground made firm by treading down), from Latin calx (1) "heel." For second element, see way (n.).
caustic (adj.) Look up caustic at Dictionary.com
c.1400, "burning, corrosive," from Latin causticus "burning, caustic," from Greek kaustikos "capable of burning; corrosive," from kaustos "combustible; burnt," verbal adjective from kaiein, the Greek word for "to burn" (transitive and intransitive) in all periods, of uncertain origin with no certain cognates outside Greek. Figurative sense of "sarcastic" is attested from 1771. As a noun, early 15c., from the adjective.
cauterization (n.) Look up cauterization at Dictionary.com
c.1400, from Old French cauterisation (14c.) and directly from Late Latin cauterizationem (nominative cauterizatio), noun of action from past participle stem of cauterizare (see cauterize).
cauterize (v.) Look up cauterize at Dictionary.com
c.1400, from Old French cauterisier, from Late Latin cauterizare "to burn or brand with a hot iron," from Greek kauteriazein, from kauter "burning or branding iron," from kaiein "to burn" (see caustic). Related: Cauterized; cauterizing.