cushion (n.) Look up cushion at
c. 1300, from Old French coissin "seat cushion" (12c., Modern French coussin), probably a variant of Vulgar Latin *coxinum, from Latin coxa "hip, thigh," or from Latin culcita "mattress." Someone has counted more than 400 spellings of the plural of this word in Middle English wills and inventories. Also from the French word are Italian cuscino, Spanish cojin.
cushion (v.) Look up cushion at
1730s, from cushion (n.). In the figurative sense, from 1863. Related: Cushioned; cushioning.
cushy (adj.) Look up cushy at
"easy," 1915, Anglo-Indian slang, from Hindi khush "pleasant, healthy, happy" + -y (2).
cusp (n.) Look up cusp at
1580s, from Latin cuspis "point, spear, pointed end, head," which is of unknown origin. Astrological use is earliest.
cuspid (n.) Look up cuspid at
1743, from Latin cuspis (genitive cuspidus) "point, pointed end" (see cusp). Of teeth, from 1878. Related: Cuspidate (adj.), attested from 1690s.
cuspidor (n.) Look up cuspidor at
1779, a colonial word, from Portuguese cuspidor "spittoon," from cuspir "to spit," from Latin conspuere "spit on," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + spuere "to spit" (see spew (v.)).
cuss (n.) Look up cuss at
1775, American English dialectal, "troublesome person or animal," an alteration of curse (n.), or else a shortening of the slang sense of customer.
cuss (v.) Look up cuss at
"to say bad words," 1815, alteration of curse (v.). Related: Cussed; cussing. To cuss out attested by 1881.
custard (n.) Look up custard at
mid-14c., "meat or fruit pie," crustade, from Middle French croustade (Modern French coutarde), from Old Provençal croustado "fruit tart," literally "something covered with crust," from crosta "crust," from Latin crusta (see crust (n.)). Modern meaning is c. 1600. Spelling change perhaps by influence of mustard.
custodial (adj.) Look up custodial at
1772, from custody (Latin custodia) + -al (1).
custodian (n.) Look up custodian at
1781, from custody (Latin custodia) + -an. As "janitor," by 1944, American English, short for custodian-janitor (by 1899).
custody (n.) Look up custody at
mid-15c., from Latin custodia "guarding, watching, keeping," from custos (genitive custodis) "guardian, keeper, protector," from PIE *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (see hide (n.1)).
custom (n.) Look up custom at
c. 1200, "habitual practice," from Old French costume "custom, habit, practice; clothes, dress" (12c., Modern French coutume), from Vulgar Latin *consuetumen, from Latin consuetudinem (nominative consuetudo) "habit, usage, way, practice, tradition, familiarity," from consuetus, past participle of consuescere "accustom," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + suescere "become used to, accustom oneself," related to sui, genitive of suus "oneself," from PIE *swe- "oneself" (see idiom). Replaced Old English þeaw. Sense of a "regular" toll or tax on goods is early 14c. The native word here is toll.
custom (adj.) Look up custom at
"made to measure or order," c. 1830, from custom (n.).
customary (adj.) Look up customary at
1520s, from Medieval Latin custumarius, from Latin consuetudinarius, from consuetitudinem (see custom (n.)). Related: Customarily.
customer (n.) Look up customer at
late 14c., "customs official;" later "buyer" (early 15c.), from Anglo-French custumer, from Medieval Latin custumarius, from Latin consuetudinarius (see custom (n.)). More generalized meaning "a person with whom one has dealings" emerged 1540s; that of "a person to deal with" (usually wth an adjective, tough, etc.) is by 1580s. In Shakespeare, the word also can mean "prostitute."
customise (v.) Look up customise at
chiefly British English spelling of customize (q.v.); for spelling, see -ize.
customize (v.) Look up customize at
1934, "to make (something) to a customer's specifications," American English, from custom (adj.) + -ize. Related: Customizable; customization; customized; customizing.
cut (v.) Look up cut at
late 13c., possibly Scandinavian, from North Germanic *kut- (cognates: Swedish dialectal kuta "to cut," kuta "knife," Old Norse kuti "knife"), or from Old French couteau "knife." Replaced Old English ceorfan (see carve (v.)), sniþan, and scieran (see shear). Meaning "to be absent without excuse" is British university slang from 1794. To cut a pack of cards is from 1590s. Related: Cutting.
cut (n.) Look up cut at
1520s, "gash, incision," from cut (v.); meaning "piece cut off" is from 1590s; sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s.
cutaneous (adj.) Look up cutaneous at
1570s, from Medieval Latin cutaneus, from Latin cutis "the skin" (see cuticle).
cute (adj.) Look up cute at
1731, "clever," shortening of acute; informal sense of "pretty" is 1834, American English student slang. Related: Cuteness.
cutesy (adj.) Look up cutesy at
"artificially or annoyingly cute," by 1968, from cute (adj.).
cutey (n.) Look up cutey at
alternative spelling of cutie.
cuticle (n.) Look up cuticle at
1610s, from Latin cuticula, diminutive of cutis "skin," from PIE *ku-ti-, from root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" (cognates: Lithuanian kiautas "husk," Old English hyd "skin, hide;" see hide (n.1)). Specialized sense of "skin at the base of the nail" is from 1907. Related: Cuticular.
cutie (n.) Look up cutie at
"cute person," originally especially "attractive young woman," 1917, from diminutive of cute.
cutlass (n.) Look up cutlass at
1590s, from Middle French coutelas (16c.), probably from Italian coltellaccio "large knife" (with augmentative suffix -accio), from coltello "knife," from Latin cultellus "small knife," diminutive of culter "knife, plowshare," from PIE *kel-tro-, from root *(s)kel- "to cut" (see scale (n.1)).
cutler (n.) Look up cutler at
c. 1400, from Old French coutelier (12c., Modern French coutelier) "knife-maker," from Latin cultellarius, from cultellus "knife" (see cutlass).
cutlery (n.) Look up cutlery at
mid-14c., cutellerie, "art or trade of knife-making," from Old French coutelerie "cutlery, knife-making" (13c., Modern French coutellerie) "cutting utensils," also "knife-making," from coutel "knife," from Latin cultellus (see cutlass). Meaning "knives and forks collectively" is from 1836.
cutlet (n.) Look up cutlet at
1706, from French côtelette, from Old French costelette "little rib" (14c.), a double diminutive of coste "rib, side," from Latin costa (see coast (n.)); influenced by English cut.
cutoff (n.) Look up cutoff at
1640s, "act of cutting off," also "portion cut off," from verbal phrase cut off (late 14c.). Of rivers, from 1773; of roads, from 1806; of clothing (adj.), from 1840.
cutout (n.) Look up cutout at
1851, from verbal phrase, from cut (v.) + out (adv.).
cutpurse (n.) Look up cutpurse at
"one who steals by the method of cutting purses, a common practice when men wore their purses at their girdles" [Johnson], mid-14c., from cut (v.) + purse (n.). The word continued after the method switched to picking pockets.
cutter (n.) Look up cutter at
late 12c., "one who cuts" in any sense, agent noun from cut (v.). As a type of small, single-masted vessel, from 1762, earlier "boat belonging to a ship of war" (1745), perhaps so called from the notion of "cutting" through the water.
cutthroat (n.) Look up cutthroat at
also cut-throat, 1530s, from cut (v.) + throat (n.). As an adjective from 1560s. Of card games from 1823.
cutting edge Look up cutting edge at
also cutting-edge, 1825 in the literal sense (often at first with reference to plows); figurative sense is from 1964.
cuttlefish (n.) Look up cuttlefish at
Old English cudele "the cuttlefish;" first element perhaps related to Middle Low German küdel "container, pocket;" Old Norse koddi "cushion, testicle;" and Old English codd (see cod).
cuz Look up cuz at
17c. as an abbreviation of cousin; 1889 as an attempt to represent the lazy pronunciation of because.
Cuzco Look up Cuzco at
city in Peru, former capital of the Inca Empire, from Quechua (Inca), literally "navel," in a figurative meaning "center" (of the world, as the navel is the center of the body). Other places known as "navel of the world" include Delphi, Jerusalem, Rome, Easter Island, and Mount Kailash in Tibet.
cv (n.) Look up cv at
abbreviation of curriculum vitae.
cwm (n.) Look up cwm at
1853, from Welsh cwm "coomb" (see coomb).
cyan (n.) Look up cyan at
1889, short for cyan blue (1879), from Greek kyanos "dark blue, dark blue enamel, lapis lazuli," probably a non-Indo-European word, but perhaps akin to, or from, Hittite *kuwanna(n)- "copper blue."
cyanide (n.) Look up cyanide at
a salt of hydrocyanic acid, 1826, from cyano- (before vowels cyan-), used in science as a word-forming element for the carbon-nitrogen compound radical, + chemical ending -ide, on analogy of chloride.

Cyano- is from a Latinized form of Greek kyanos "dark blue" (see cyan). The immediate source of its use in science is French cyanogène, the name given to the compound radical by Gay-Lussac. He called it that because it first had been obtained by heating the dye pigment powder known as Prussian blue (see Prussian).
The cyanogen radical was one of the first examples of a 'compound radical' and was of importance in the development of structural chemistry during the next forty years. [Flood, "Origins of Chemical Names"]
cyanosis (n.) Look up cyanosis at
"blue disease," the "blue jaundice" of the ancients, 1820, Medical Latin, from Greek kyanosis, from kyanos "dark blue color" (see cyan) + -osis.
cyanotic (adj.) Look up cyanotic at
1833, from comb. form of root of cyanosis + -ic.
cyber Look up cyber at
as an element in word formation, ultimately from cybernetics (q.v.). It enjoyed explosive use with the rise of the Internet early 1990s. One researcher (Nagel) counted 104 words formed from it by 1994. Cyberpunk (by 1986) and cyberspace were among the earliest.
Cyber is such a perfect prefix. Because nobody has any idea what it means, it can be grafted onto any old word to make it seem new, cool -- and therefore strange, spooky. ["New York" magazine, Dec. 23, 1996]
As a stand-alone, it is attested by 1998 as short for cybersex (which is attested by 1995).
cybercafe (n.) Look up cybercafe at
1994, from cyber + cafe.
cybernetic (adj.) Look up cybernetic at
1951, back-formation from cybernetics. Greek kybernetikos meant "good at steering."
cybernetics (n.) Look up cybernetics at
coined 1948 by U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) from Greek kybernetes "steersman" (metaphorically "guide, governor") + -ics; perhaps based on 1830s French cybernétique "the art of governing."
The future offers very little hope for those who expect that our new mechanical slaves will offer us a world in which we may rest from thinking. Help us they may, but at the cost of supreme demands upon our honesty and our intelligence. [Norbert Wiener, "God and Golem, Inc.," 1964]
cyberspace (n.) Look up cyberspace at
1982, often as two words at first, coined by science fiction writer William Gibson (best known for "Neuromancer") and used by him in a short story published in 1982, from cyber- (see cybernetics) + space (n.).