- course (n.)
- late 13c., "onward movement," from Old French cors (12c.) "course; run, running; flow of a river," from Latin cursus "a running race or course," from curs- past participle stem of currere "to run" (see current (adj.)).
Most extended senses (meals, etc.) are present in 14c. Academic meaning "planned series of study" is c.1600 (in French from 14c.). Phrase of course is attested from 1540s; literally "of the ordinary course;" earlier in same sense was bi cours (c.1300).
- course (v.)
- 16c., from course (n.). Related: Coursed; coursing.
- courser (n.)
- large, powerful horse," c.1300, from Old French corsier "fast horse, charger," literally "fast-running," from Vulgar Latin *cursarius, from Latin cursus (see course (n.)).
- court (n.)
- late 12c., from Old French cort (11c., Modern French cour) "king's court, princely residence," from Latin cortem, accusative of cors (earlier cohors) "enclosed yard," and by extension (and perhaps by association with curia "sovereign's assembly"), "those assembled in the yard; company, cohort," from com- "together" (see com-) + stem hort- related to hortus "garden, plot of ground" (see yard (n.1)). Sporting sense is from 1510s, originally of tennis. Legal meaning is from late 13c. (early assemblies for justice were overseen by the sovereign personally).
- court (v.)
- "woo, offer homage," as one does at court, 1570s; see court (n.). Related: Courted; courting.
- court martial (n.)
- also court-martial, 1650s (plural courts martial), originally martial court (1570s), from court + martial. As a verb, from 1859.
- courteous (adj.)
- mid-14c., earlier curteis (c.1300), from Old French curteis (Modern French courtois) "having courtly bearing or manners," from curt "court" (see court (n.)) + -eis, from Latin -ensis.
Rare before c.1500. In feudal society, also denoting a man of good education (hence the name Curtis). Medieval courts were associated with good behavior and also beauty; e.g. German hübsch "beautiful," from Middle High German hübesch "beautiful," originally "courteous, well-bred," from Old Franconian hofesch, from hof "court." Related: Courteously (mid-14c., kurteis-liche).
- courtesan (n.)
- early 15c., from Middle French courtisane, from Italian cortigiana "prostitute," literally "woman of the court," fem. of cortigiano "one attached to a court," from corte "court," from Latin cortem (see court (n.)).
- early 13c., curteisie, from Old French curteisie (Modern French courtoisie), from curteis "courteous" (see courteous). A specialized sense of curteisie is the source of English curtsy.
- courthouse (n.)
- late 15c., from court (n.) + house (n.). In Virginia and the Upper South, it also can mean "county seat."
- courtier (n.)
- early 13c., from Anglo-French *corteour, from Old French cortoiier "to be at court, live at court" (see court (n.)).
- courtly (adj.)
- mid-15c., "having manners befitting a court," from court (n.) + -ly (1). Meaning "pertaining to the court" is from late 15c. Courtly love "highly conventionalized medieval chivalric love" (amour courtois) is attested from 1896.
- courtroom (n.)
- 1670s, from court (n.) + room (n.).
- courtship (n.)
- 1570s, "behavior of a courtier," from court (n.) + -ship. Meaning "paying court to a woman with intention of marriage" is from 1590s.
- courturier (n.)
- 1899, "male dressmaker or fashion designer," from French couture "sewing, dressmaking" (see couture). Couturière "dressmaker" is from 1818.
- courtyard (n.)
- 1550s, from court (n.) + yard (n.1).
- couscous (n.)
- c.1600, from French couscous (16c.), ultimately from Arabic kuskus, from kaskasa "to pound, he pounded."
- cousin (n.)
- mid-12c., from Old French cosin (12c., Modern French cousin) "nephew, kinsman, cousin," from Latin consobrinus "cousin," originally "mother's sister's son," from com- "together" (see com-) + sobrinus (earlier *sosrinos) "cousin on mother's side," from soror (genitive sororis) "sister."
Italian cugino, Danish kusine, Polish kuzyn also are from French. German vetter is from Old High German fetiro "uncle," perhaps on the notion of "child of uncle." Words for cousin tend to drift to "nephew" on the notion of "father's nephew."
Many IE languages (including Irish, Sanskrit, Slavic, and some of the Germanic tongues) have or had separate words for some or all of the eight possible "cousin" relationships, e.g. Latin, which along with consobrinus had consobrina "mother's sister's daughter," patruelis "father's brother's son," atruelis "mother's brother's son," amitinus "father's sister's son," etc. Old English distinguished fæderan sunu "father's brother's son," modrigan sunu "mother's sister's son," etc.
Used familiarly as a term of address since early 15c., especially in Cornwall. Phrase kissing cousin is Southern U.S. expression, 1940s, apparently denoting "those close enough to be kissed in salutation;" Kentish cousin (1796) is an old British term for "distant relative."
- couth (adj.)
- Old English cuðe "known," past participle of cunnan (see can (v.1)), from Proto-Germanic *kunthaz (cf. Old Frisian kuth "known," Old Saxon cuth, Old High German kund, German kund, Gothic kunþs "known").
Died out as such 16c. with the emergence of could, but the old word was reborn 1896, with a new sense of "cultured, refined," as a back-formation from uncouth (q.v.). The Old English word forms the first element in the man's proper name Cuthbert, literally "famous-bright."
- couture (n.)
- 1908, from French couture, literally "dressmaking, sewing," from Old French costure (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *consutura, from past participle of Latin consuere "to sew together," from con- "together" (see com-) + suere "to sew" (see sew). Used as a collective term for "women's fashion designers."
- covalent (adj.)
- 1929, from covalence (1919), from co- + valence.
- 1878, from covariant (1853), from co- + variant.
- cove (n.1)
- early 14c., "den, cave," from Old English cofa "small chamber, cell," from Proto-Germanic *kubon (cf. Old High German kubisi "tent, hut," German Koben "pigsty," Old Norse kofi "hut, shed"). Extension of meaning to "small bay" is 1580s, apparently via Scottish dialectal meaning "small hollow place in coastal rocks" (a survival of an Old English secondary sense).
- cove (n.2)
- "fellow, chap," slang from at least 1560s, said to be from Romany (Gypsy) cova "that man."
- coven (n.)
- "a gathering of witches," 1660s, earlier (c.1500) a variant of covent, cuvent early forms of convent. Association with witches arose in Scotland, but not popularized until Sir Walter Scott used it in this sense in "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft" (1830).
Efter that tym ther vold meit bot somtymes a Coven, somtymes mor, somtymes les; bot a Grand Meitting vold be about the end of ilk Quarter. Ther is threttein persones in ilk Coeven; and ilk on of vs has an Sprit to wait wpon ws, quhan ve pleas to call wpon him. I remember not all the Spritis names; bot thair is on called "Swein," quhilk waitis wpon the said Margret Wilson in Aulderne; he is still clothed in grass-grein .... ["Criminal Trials in Scotland," III, appendix, p.606, confession of Issobell Gowdie in Lochloy in 1662]
- covenant (n.)
- c.1300, from Old French covenant "agreement," originally present participle of covenir "agree, meet," from Latin convenire "come together" (see convene). Applied in Scripture to God's arrangements with man as a translation of Latin testamentum, Greek diatheke, both rendering Hebrew berith (though testament also is used for the same word in different places).
- covenant (v.)
- c.1300, from covenant (n.). Related: Covenanted; covenanting. Covenanter (1638) was used especially in reference to Scottish Presbyterians who signed the Solemn League and Covenant (1643) for the defense and furtherance of their cause.
- covent (n.)
- early form of convent (n.) in use to 17c.
- city in Warwickshire, Old English Couentre (1043) "Cofa's tree," from Old English masc. personal name Cofa (genitive Cofan) + tree (n.). Probably a boundary marker or public assembly place.
- cover (v.)
- mid-12c., from Old French covrir (12c., Modern French couvrir) "to cover, protect, conceal, dissemble," from Late Latin coperire, from Latin cooperire "to cover over, overwhelm, bury," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + operire "to close, cover" (see weir). Related: Covered; covering. Military sense is from 1680s; newspaper sense first recorded 1893; use in football dates from 1907. Betting sense is 1857. OF horses, as a euphemism for "copulate" it dates from 1530s. Covered wagon attested from 1745.
- cover (n.)
- early 13c., in compounds, from cover (v.). Meaning "recording of a song already recorded by another" is 1966. Cover girl is U.S. slang from 1915, shortening of magazine-cover girl.
- cover-up (n.)
- also coverup, "means or act of concealing" some event or activity, 1922, from verbal phrase, from cover (v.) + up (adv.).
- coverage (n.)
- mid-15c., "charge for a booth at a fair," from cover + -age. Reintroduced 1912, American English, in insurance.
- coverlet (n.)
- c.1300, perhaps a diminutive of cover (n.), but early form coverlite suggests an unrecorded Old French or folk-etymology *covre-lit, from covrir "to cover" + lit "bed" (see litter (n.)).
- covert (adj.)
- c.1300, from Old French covert "hidden, obscure, underhanded," literally "covered," past participle of covrir "to cover" (see cover). Related: Covertly.
- coverture (n.)
- early 13c., earliest reference is to bedcovers, from Old French coverture (12c.) "blanket; roof; concealment," from Latin *coopertura, from past participle stem of cooperire "to cover" (see cover (v.)). Most modern senses had evolved by mid-15c.
- covet (v.)
- mid-13c., from Old French coveitier "covet, desire, lust after" (12c., Modern French convoiter, influenced by con- words), probably ultimately from Latin cupiditas "passionate desire, eagerness, ambition," from cupidus "very desirous," from cupere "long for, desire" (see cupidity). Related: Coveted; coveting.
- covetous (adj.)
- mid-13c., from Old French coveitos (12c., Modern French convoiteux) "desirous, covetous," from Vulgar Latin *cupiditosus, from Latin cupiditas (see covet). Related: Covetously; covetousness.
- covey (n.)
- mid-14c., "brood of partridges," from Middle French covée "brood" (Modern French couvée), from Gallo-Romance *cubata, literally "hatchling," from past participle stem of Latin cubare "to sit, incubate, hatch" (see incubation).
- cow (n.)
- Old English cu "cow," from Proto-Germanic *kwon (cf. Old Frisian ku, Middle Dutch coe, Dutch koe, Old High German kuo, German Kuh, Old Norse kyr, Danish, Swedish ko), earlier *kwom, from PIE *gwous (cf. Sanskrit gaus, Greek bous, Latin bov-, Old Irish bo, Latvian guovs, Armenian gaus "cow," Slovak hovado "ox"), perhaps ultimately imitative of lowing (cf. Sumerian gu, Chinese ngu, ngo "ox"). In Germanic and Celtic, of females only; in most other languages, of either gender. Other "cow" words sometimes are from roots meaning "horn, horned," e.g. Lithuanian karve, Old Church Slavonic krava.
- cow (v.)
- "intimidate," c.1600, probably from Old Norse kuga "oppress," of unknown origin, but perhaps having something to do with cow (n.) on the notion of easily herded. Related: Cowed; cowing.
- cowabunga (interj.)
- 1954, American English, from exclamation of surprise and anger by "Chief Thunderthud" in "The Howdy Doody Show," 1950s children's TV show; used by surfers 1960s as a shout of triumph, and spread worldwide 1990 by use in the TV cartoon "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
- coward (n.)
- mid-13c., from Old French coart "coward" (no longer the usual word in French, which has now in this sense poltron, from Italian, and lâche), from coe "tail," from Latin coda, popular dialect variant of cauda "tail," of uncertain origin + -ard, an agent noun suffix denoting one that carries on some action or possesses some quality, with derogatory connotation (see -ard).
The word probably reflects an animal metaphoric sense still found in expressions like turning tail and tail between legs. Coart was the name of the hare in Old French versions of "Reynard the Fox." Italian codardo, Spanish cobarde are from French.
The identification of coward & bully has gone so far in the popular consciousness that persons & acts in which no trace of fear is to be found are often called coward(ly) merely because advantage has been taken of superior strength or position .... [Fowler]
As a surname (attested from 1255) it represents Old English cuhyrde "cow-herd." Farmer has coward's castle "a pulpit," "Because a clergyman may deliver himself therefrom without fear of contradiction or argument."
- cowardice (n.)
- c.1300, from Old French coardise (13c.), from coard, coart (see coward) + noun suffix -ise.
Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination. [Ernest Hemingway, "Men at War," 1942]
- cowardly (adj.)
- 1550s, from coward + -ly (1). The adverb (late 14c.) is much older than the adjective:
Yit had I levir do what I may Than here to dye thus cowerdelye ["Le Morte d'Arthur," c.1450]
An Old English word for "cowardly" was earg, which also meant "slothful." Related: Cowardliness.
- cowbell (n.)
- 1650s, American English, from cow (n.1) + bell (n.).
- cowboy (n.)
- 1725, "boy who tends to cows," from cow (n.) + boy. Sense in Western U.S. is from 1849; in figurative use by 1942 for "brash and reckless young man" (as an adjective meaning "reckless," from 1920s). Cowhand is first attested 1852 in American English (see hand (n.)). Cowpoke (said to be 1881, not in popular use until 1940s) was said to be originally restricted to the cowboys who prodded cattle onto railroad cars with long poles.
- cower (v.)
- c.1300, probably from Middle Low German *kuren "lie in wait" (Modern German kauern), or similar Scandinavian words meaning "to squat" and "to doze" (e.g. Old Norse kura, Danish, Norwegian kure, Swedish kura). Thus unrelated to coward. Related: Cowered; cowering.
- cowl (n.)
- Old English cule, from earlier cugele, from Late Latin cuculla "monk's cowl," variant of Latin cucullus "hood, cowl," of uncertain origin. Cowling is 1917 in the aircraft sense.
- cowlick (n.)
- 1590s, from cow (n.) + lick (n.). Because it looks like a cow licked your head.