escargot (n.) Look up escargot at
"edible snail," 1892, from French escargot, from Old French escargol "snail" (14c.), from Provençal escaragol, ultimately from Vulgar Latin *coculium, from classical Latin conchylium "edible shellfish, oyster" (see cockle (n.1)). The form of the word in Provençal and French seems to have been influenced by words related to scarab.
escarole (n.) Look up escarole at
type of endive, 1897, from French escarole (13c., scariole), from Italian scariola, from Medieval Latin escariola.
escarp (n.) Look up escarp at
"steep slope," especially as part of a fortification, 1680s, from French escarpe (16c.), from Italian scarpa (see scarp).
escarpment (n.) Look up escarpment at
1802, from French escarpment, from escarper "make into a steep slope," from escarpe "slope," from Italian scarpa (see scarp). Earlier in same sense was escarp.
eschatology (n.) Look up eschatology at
1834, from Latinized form of Greek eskhatos "last, furthest, uttermost, extreme, most remote" in time, space, degree, from PIE *eghs-ko-, suffixed form of *eghs "out" (see ex-) + -ology. In theology, the study of the four last things (death, judgment, heaven, hell). Related: Eschatological; eschatologically.
eschaton (n.) Look up eschaton at
"divinely ordained climax of history," 1935, coined by Protestant theologian Charles Harold Dodd (1884-1973) from Greek eskhaton, neuter of eskhatos "last, furthest, uttermost" (see eschatology).
escheat (n.) Look up escheat at
the reverting of land to a king or lord in certain cases, early 14c., from Anglo-French eschete (late 13c.), Old French eschete "succession, inheritance," literally "that which falls to one," noun use of fem. past participle of escheoir "happen, befall, occur, take place; fall due; lapse (legally)," from Late Latin *excadere "to fall out," from Latin ex- "out, away" (see ex-) + cadere "to fall" (see case (n.1)). As a verb, from late 14c. Related: Escheated; escheating. Late Latin *excadere represents a restored form of excidere, which yielded excise.
eschew (v.) Look up eschew at
mid-14c., from Old French eschiver "shun, eschew, avoid, dispense with," from Frankish *skiuhan "dread, avoid, shun," from Proto-Germanic *skeukhwaz (cognates: Old High German sciuhen "to avoid, escape," German scheuen "to fear, shun, shrink from," scheu "shy, timid"); see shy (adj.). Related: Eschewed; eschewing; eschewal; eschewance. Italian schivare "to avoid, shun, protect from," schivo "shy, bashful" are related loan words from Germanic. For e-, see e-.
esclavage (n.) Look up esclavage at
chain or bead necklace worn by women and popular mid-18c., 1758, from French esclavage, literally "slavery" (16c.), from esclave (13c.) "slave" (see slave (n.)). So called from fancied resemblance to a slave's neck chains.
escort (n.) Look up escort at
1570s, in military sense, from Middle French escorte (16c.), from Italian scorta, literally "a guiding," from scorgere "to guide," from Vulgar Latin *excorrigere, from ex- "out" (see ex-) + Latin corrigere "set right" (see correct (v.)). The sense of "person accompanying another to a social occasion" is 1936.
escort (v.) Look up escort at
1708, originally military, from escort (n.), or from French escorter; social sense is from 1890. Related: Escorted; escorting.
escritoire (n.) Look up escritoire at
"piece of furniture with conveniences for writing," 1706, from French écritoire (Old French escritoire, 12c., "desk, carrel"), from Late Latin scriptorium "place for writing" (see scriptorium).
escrow (n.) Look up escrow at
1590s, from Anglo-French escrowe, from Old French escroe "scrap, small piece, rag, tatter, single parchment," from a Germanic source akin to Old High German scrot "a scrap, shred, a piece cut off" (see shred (n.)). Originally a deed delivered to a third person until a future condition is satisfied, which led to sense of "deposit held in trust or security" (1888).
escudo (n.) Look up escudo at
Spanish and Portuguese coin, 1821, from Spanish/Portuguese escudo, from Latin scutum "shield" (see escutcheon). Also compare ecu.
esculent (adj.) Look up esculent at
1620s, from Latin esculentus "good to eat, eatable, fit to eat," from esca "food," from PIE *eds-qa- (cognates: Lithuanian eska "appetite"), from root *ed- "to eat" (see edible). As a noun from 1620s, "food, especially vegetables."
escutcheon (n.) Look up escutcheon at
"shield on which a coat of arms is depicted," late 15c., from Old North French escuchon, variant of Old French escusson "half-crown (coin); coat of arms, heraldic escutcheon," from Vulgar Latin *scutionem, from Latin scutum "shield" (see hide (n.1)).
Escutcheon of pretense, in her., a small escutcheon charged upon the main escutcheon, indicating the wearer's pretensions to some distinction, or to an estate, armorial bearings, etc., which are not his by strict right of descent. It is especially used to denote the marriage of the bearer to an heiress whose arms it bears. Also called inescutcheon. [Century Dictionary]

Clev. Without doubt: he is a Knight? Jord. Yes Sir.
Clev. He is a Fool too?
Jord. A little shallow[,] my Brother writes me word, but that is a blot in many a Knights Escutcheon.
[Edward Ravenscroft, "Mamamouchi, or the Citizen Turn'd Gentleman," 1675]
esker (n.) Look up esker at
"deposit left by a glacial stream," 1852, from Irish eiscir "ridge of gravel."
Eskimo (n.) Look up Eskimo at
1580s, from Danish Eskimo or Middle French Esquimaux (plural), both probably from an Algonquian word, such as Abenaki askimo (plural askimoak), Ojibwa ashkimeq, traditionally said to mean literally "eaters of raw meat," from Proto-Algonquian *ask- "raw" + *-imo "eat." Research from 1980s in linguistics of the region suggests this derivation, though widely credited there, might be inaccurate or incomplete, and the word might mean "snowshoe-netter." See also Innuit. Of language, from 1819. As an adjective by 1744. Eskimo pie "chocolate-coated ice cream bar" introduced 1922 and was initially a craze that drove up the price of cocoa beans on the New York market 50 percent in three months [F.L. Allen, "Only Yesterday," 1931].
Esmerelda Look up Esmerelda at
fem. proper name, from Spanish, literally "emerald."
esne (n.) Look up esne at
Old English esne "domestic slave, laborer, retainer, servant; youth, man," from Proto-Germanic *asnjoz- "harvestman" (cognates: Gothic asneis), from *asanoz- "harvest" (see earn).
eso- Look up eso- at
word-forming element meaning" within," from Greek eso "within" (see esoteric).
esophagus (n.) Look up esophagus at
also oesophagus, late 14c., from Greek oisophagos "gullet, passage for food," literally "what carries and eats," from oisein, future infinitive of pherein "to carry" (see infer) + -phagos, from phagein "to eat" (see -phagous). Related: Esophageal.
esoteric (adj.) Look up esoteric at
1650s, from Greek esoterikos "belonging to an inner circle" (Lucian), from esotero "more within," comparative adverb of eso "within," from PIE *ens-o-, suffixed form of *ens, extended form of root *en "in" (see en- (2)). Classically applied to certain popular and non-technical writings of Aristotle, later to doctrines of Pythagoras. In English, first of Pythagorean doctrines.
esoterica (n.) Look up esoterica at
by 1807, from Latinized plural of Greek esoterikos "belonging to an inner circle, pertaining to those within" (see esoteric).
ESP (n.) Look up ESP at
also e.s.p., 1934, initialism (acronym) for extra-sensory perception.
espadrille (n.) Look up espadrille at
shoe with soles of hemp-rope (originally worn in the Pyrenees), 1892, from French espadrille (17c.), from Provençal espardillo, from Latin spartum "Spanish broom, Spanish grass," a plant of Iberia and North Africa that produced a fiber used to make mats, nets, ropes, etc., from Greek sparton "rope made of spartos" ("Spanish broom"), from PIE *spr-to-, from root *sper- (2) "to turn, twist" (see Sparta). For initial e- see e-.
espalier (n.) Look up espalier at
fan-shaped trellis for ornamental or fruit trees, 1660s, from French espalier (16c.), from Italian spalliera "stake-works shoulder-high," from spalla "shoulder," from Latin spatula (see spatula).
especial (adj.) Look up especial at
late 14c., from Old French especial "pre-eminent, important," from Latin specialis "belonging to a particular kind or species," from species "kind" (see species). Latin words with initial sp-, st-, sc- usually acquired an e- in Old French (see e-). Modern French has restored the word to spécial. In English, originally with the same sense as special (adj.), later restricted to feelings, qualities, etc.
especially (adv.) Look up especially at
c. 1400, from especial + -ly (2).
Esperanto (n.) Look up Esperanto at
1892, from Doktoro Esperanto, whose name means in Esperanto, "one who hopes," pen name used on the title page of a book about the artificial would-be universal language published 1887 by its Polish-born creator, Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof (1859-1917). Compare Spanish esperanza "hope," from esperar, from Latin sperare "hope" (see sperate). For initial e- see e-.
espionage (n.) Look up espionage at
1793, from French espionnage "spying," from Middle French espionner "to spy," from espion "a spy" (16c.), probably via Old Italian spione from a Germanic source akin to Old High German spehon "spy" (see spy (v.)). For initial e- see e-. Middle English had espiouress "female spy" (early 15c.).
esplanade (n.) Look up esplanade at
"open space, level or sloping, especially in front of a fortification," 1590s, from French esplanade (15c.), from Spanish esplanada "large level area," noun use of fem. past participle of esplanar "make level," from Latin explanare "to level" (see explain). Or perhaps the French word is from or influenced by Italian spianata, from spianare.
espousal (n.) Look up espousal at
late 14c., from Old French esposailles (plural) "act of betrothal" (12c., Modern French époussailles), from Latin sponsalia "betrothal, espousal, wedding," noun use of neuter plural of sponsalis "of a betrothal," from sponsa "spouse" (see espouse). For the -e- see e-. Figuratively, of causes, principles, etc., from 1670s.
espouse (v.) Look up espouse at
mid-15c., "to take as spouse, marry," from Old French espouser "marry, take in marriage, join in marriage" (11c., Modern French épouser), from Latin sponsare, past participle of spondere "make an offering, perform a rite, promise secretly," hence "to engage oneself by ritual act" (see spondee). Extended sense of "adopt, embrace" a cause, party, etc., is from 1620s. Related: Espoused; espouses; espousing. For initial e-, see e-.
espresso (n.) Look up espresso at
coffee made under steam pressure, 1945, from Italian (caffe) espresso, from espresso "pressed out," past participle of esprimere, from Latin exprimere "press out, squeeze out" (see express (v.1)). In reference to the steam pressure.
esprit (n.) Look up esprit at
1590s, "liveliness, wit, vivacity," from Middle French esprit "spirit, mind," from Old French espirit "spirit, soul" (12c.), from Latin spiritus "spirit" (see spirit (n.)). For initial e-, see e-.

Esprit de corps, recorded from 1780 in English, preserves the usual French sense. French also has the excellent phrase esprit de l'escalier, literally "spirit of the staircase," defined in OED as, "a retort or remark that occurs to a person after the opportunity to make it has passed." It also has espirit fort, a "strong-minded" person, one independent of current prejudices, especially a freethinker in religion.
espy (v.) Look up espy at
early 13c., aspy, from Old French espiier "observe, watch closely, spy on; guard, keep in custody" (12c., Modern French épier), from Vulgar Latin *spiare, from a Germanic source (compare Old High German spehon "to spy;" see spy (v.)). For initial e-, see e-. Related: Espied; espial.
esquire (n.) Look up esquire at
late 14c., from Middle French esquier "squire," literally "shield-bearer" (for a knight), from Old French escuier "shield-bearer (attendant young man in training to be a knight), groom" (Modern French écuyer), from Medieval Latin scutarius "shield-bearer, guardsman" (in classical Latin, "shield-maker"), from scutum "shield" (see hide (n.1)). For initial e-, see e-. Compare squire (n.). Originally the feudal rank below knight, sense broadened 16c. to a general title of courtesy or respect for the educated and professional class, especially, later, in U.S., regarded as belonging especially to lawyers.
In our own dear title-bearing, democratic land, the title of esquire, officially and by courtesy, has come to include pretty much everybody. Of course everybody in office is an esquire, and all who have been in office enjoy and glory in the title. And what with a standing army of legislators, an elective and ever-changing magistracy, and almost a whole population of militia officers, present and past, all named as esquires in their commissions, the title is nearly universal. [N.Y. "Commercial Advertiser" newspaper, quoted in Bartlett, 1859]
essay (n.) Look up essay at
1590s, "trial, attempt, endeavor," also "short, discursive literary composition" (first attested in writings of Francis Bacon, probably in imitation of Montaigne), from Middle French essai "trial, attempt, essay" (in Old French from 12c.), from Late Latin exagium "a weighing, a weight," from Latin exigere "drive out; require, exact; examine, try, test," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + agere (see act (n.)) apparently meaning here "to weigh." The suggestion is of unpolished writing. Compare assay, also examine.
essay (v.) Look up essay at
"to put to proof, test the mettle of," late 15c., from Middle French essaier, from essai "trial, attempt" (see essay (n.)). This sense has mostly gone with the divergent spelling assay. Meaning "to attempt" is from 1640s. Related: Essayed; essaying.
essayist (n.) Look up essayist at
"writer of essays," c. 1600, from essay (n.) + -ist. French essayiste (19c.) is from English.
essence (n.) Look up essence at
late 14c., essencia (respelled late 15c. on French model), from Latin essentia "being, essence," abstract noun formed (to translate Greek ousia "being, essence") from essent-, present participle stem of esse "to be," from PIE *es- "to be" (cognates: Sanskrit asmi, Hittite eimi, Old Church Slavonic jesmi, Lithuanian esmi, Gothic imi, Old English eom "I am;" see be).

Originally "substance of the Trinity;" the general sense of "basic element of anything" is first recorded in English 1650s, though this is the underlying notion of the first English use of essential. Meaning "ingredient which gives something its particular character" is from c. 1600, especially of distilled oils from plants (1650s), hence "fragrance, perfume" (17c.). In 19c. U.S., essence-peddler could mean "medical salesman" and "skunk."
Essene (n.) Look up Essene at
1550s, member of a Jewish sect (first recorded 2c. B.C.E.), from Latin, from Greek Essenoi, of disputed etymology, perhaps from Hebrew tzenum "the modest ones," or Hebrew hashaim "the silent ones." Klein suggests Syriac hasen, plural absolute state of hase "pious." Related: Essenes.
essential (adj.) Look up essential at
mid-14c., "that is such by its essence," from Late Latin essentialis, from essentia "essence" (see essence). Meaning "pertaining to essence" is from late 14c., that of "constituting the essence of something" is from 1540s; that of "necessary" is from 1520s. Essentials "indispensable elements" is from early 16c. Related: Essentially.
essentialism (n.) Look up essentialism at
1939, in educational jargon (opposed to progressivism), from essential + -ism. Related: Essentialist.
Essex Look up Essex at
Old English East-Seaxe "East Saxons," who had a 7c. kingdom there. See east, Saxon.
essive (adj.) Look up essive at
1885, from Finnish essiivi, from Latin esse (see essence).
establish (v.) Look up establish at
late 14c., from Old French establiss-, present participle stem of establir "cause to stand still, establish, stipulate, set up, erect, build" (12c., Modern French établir), from Latin stabilire "make stable," from stabilis "stable" (see stable (adj.)). For the excrescent e-, see e-. Related: Established; establishing. An established church or religion is one sanctioned by the state.
establishment (n.) Look up establishment at
late 15c., "settled arrangement," also "income, property," from establish + -ment. Meaning "established church" is from 1731; Sense of "place of business" is from 1832. Meaning "social matrix of ruling people and institutions" is attested occasionally from 1923, consistently from 1955.
establishmentarian (n.) Look up establishmentarian at
"adherent of the principle of an established church," 1839, from establishment + -arian. Related: Establishmentarianism (1846).