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-, suffixed form of root *skel- (1) "to cut."
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. For construction, compare daredevil.
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 combining 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), with -ics + Greek kybernetes "steersman" (metaphorically "guide, governor"), from kybernan "to steer or pilot a ship, direct as a pilot," figuratively "to guide, govern," which is of uncertain origin. Beekes agrees that "the word has no cognates" and concludes "Foreign origin is probable." The construction is 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.).
cyborg (n.) Look up cyborg at
1960, a blend of the first elements of cybernetic and organism.
cycad (n.) Look up cycad at
1845, Modern Latin, from Greek kykas, a word found in Theophrastus, but now thought to be a scribal error for koikas "palm trees," accusative plural of koix, a word from an unknown non-Greek language.
cyclamen (n.) Look up cyclamen at
1550s, from Medieval Latin cyclamen, from Latin cyclaminos, from Greek kyklaminos, from kyklos "circle" (from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round"). So called in reference to the bulbous shape of the root.
cycle (v.) Look up cycle at
1842, "revolve in cycles," from cycle (n.). Meaning "to ride a bicycle" is from 1883. Related: Cycled; cycling.
cycle (n.) Look up cycle at
late 14c., from Late Latin cyclus, from Greek kyklos "circle, wheel, any circular body, circular motion, cycle of events," from PIE kw(e)-kwl-o-, suffixed, reduplicated form of root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round."
cyclic (adj.) Look up cyclic at
1794, from French cyclique (16c.), from Latin cyclicus, from Greek kyklikos "moving in a circle," from kyklos "circle, wheel, any circular body, circular motion, cycle of events" (see cycle (n.)).
cyclical (adj.) Look up cyclical at
1817, from cyclic + -al (1).
cyclist (n.) Look up cyclist at
"bicyclist," 1882; see bicycle + -ist. Saxonists preferred wheelman.
cyclo- Look up cyclo- at
before a vowel, cycl-, word-forming element meaning "circle, ring, rotation," from Latinized form of Greek kyklos "circle, wheel, ring" (from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round").
cyclone (n.) Look up cyclone at
1848, coined by British East India Company official Henry Piddington to describe the devastating storm of December 1789 in Coringa, India; irregularly formed from a Latinized form of Greek kyklon "moving in a circle, whirling around," present participle of kykloun "move in a circle, whirl," from kyklos "circle" (from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round"). Applied to tornadoes from 1856.
cyclonic (adj.) Look up cyclonic at
1860, from cyclone + -ic.
cyclopean (adj.) Look up cyclopean at
1640s, from Latin cyclopeus, from Greek kyklopeios, from kyklopes (see cyclops).
cyclops (n.) Look up cyclops at
(plural cyclopes), 1510s, from Latin, from Greek kyklops, literally "round-eyed," from stem of kyklos "circle, circular body" (from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round") + ops "eye" (from PIE root *okw- "to see"). One of a race of one-eyed giants who forged thunderbolts for Zeus, built the walls of Mycenae, etc.
cyclorama (n.) Look up cyclorama at
"picture of a landscape on the interior surface of a cylindrical space," 1840, from cyclo- + -rama "spectacle."
cyclotron (n.) Look up cyclotron at
1935, from cyclo- + ending from electron.
cygnet (n.) Look up cygnet at
c. 1400, also signet before 17c., from Anglo-French, diminutive of Old French cigne, cisne "swan" (12c., Modern French cygne), from Latin cygnus, from Greek kyknos, perhaps from PIE *keuk- "to be white."
cylinder (n.) Look up cylinder at
1560s, from Middle French cylindre (14c.), from Latin cylindrus "roller, cylinder," from Greek kylindros "a cylinder, roller, roll," from kylindein "to roll," which is of unknown origin.
cylindrical (adj.) Look up cylindrical at
1640s, probably from cylindric (but this is attested only from 1680s), from Greek kylindrikos, from kylindros (see cylinder) + -al (1).
cymbal (n.) Look up cymbal at
from Old English cimbal and from Old French cymbale (13c.), both from Latin cymbalum, from Greek kymbalon "a cymbal," from kymbe "bowl, drinking cup."
Cymric (adj.) Look up Cymric at
1839, from Welsh Cymru "Wales," Cymry "the Welsh," plural of Cymro, probably from ancient combrox "compatriot," from British Celtic *kom-brogos, from collective prefix *kom- (see com-) + *brogos "district," from PIE *merg- "boundary, border" (see mark (n.1)). Compare Allobroges, name of a warlike people in Gallia Narbonensis, literally "those from another land."
cynic (n.) Look up cynic at
mid-16c., in reference to the ancient philosophy, from Greek kynikos "a follower of Antisthenes," literally "dog-like," from kyon (genitive kynos) "dog" (from PIE root *kwon- "dog"). Supposedly from the sneering sarcasm of the philosophers, but more likely from Kynosarge "Gray Dog," name of the gymnasium outside ancient Athens (for the use of those who were not pure Athenians) where the founder, Antisthenes (a pupil of Socrates), taught. Diogenes was the most famous. Popular association even in ancient times was "dog-like" (Lucian has kyniskos "a little cynic," literally "puppy"). Meaning "sneering sarcastic person" is from 1590s.
cynical (adj.) Look up cynical at
1580s, "resembling Cynic philosophers," from cynic + -al (1). By late 17c. the meaning had shaded into the general one of "critical, disparaging the motives of others, captious, sneering, peevish." Related: Cynically.
cynicism (n.) Look up cynicism at
1670s, "philosophy of the Cynics," from cynic + -ism. Meaning "cynical character" is from 1847. For nuances of usage of cynicism, see humor (n.).
cynosure (n.) Look up cynosure at
1590s, from Middle French cynosure (16c.), from Latin Cynosura, literally "dog's tail," the constellation (now Ursa Minor) containing the North Star, the focus of navigation, from Greek kynosoura, literally "dog's tail," from kyon (genitive kynos; from PIE root *kwon- "dog") + oura "tail" (see arse).
Cynthia Look up Cynthia at
fem. proper name, also "the Moon," from Latin Cynthia dea "the Cynthian goddess," epithet of Artemis/Diana, said to have been born on Mt. Cynthus on Delos.
cypress (n.) Look up cypress at
type of evergreen tree (sacred to Pluto), late 12c., from Old French cipres (12c., Modern French cyprès), from Late Latin cypressus, from Latin cupressus, from Greek kyparissos, probably from an unknown pre-Greek Mediterranean language. Perhaps related to Hebrew gopher, name of the tree whose wood was used to make the ark (Genesis vi.14).