fennel (n.) Look up fennel at Dictionary.com
Old English fenol, finul, finol "fennel," perhaps via (or influenced by) Old French fenoil (13c.) or directly from Vulgar Latin *fenuculum, from Latin feniculum/faeniculum, diminutive of fenum/faenum "hay," probably literally "produce" (see fecund). Apparently so called from its hay-like appearance and sweet odor.
fenugreek (n.) Look up fenugreek at Dictionary.com
leguminous plant in western Asia and North Africa, Old English fenograecum, from Latin faenugraecum, literally "Greek hay," from faenum (see fennel) + Graecum (see Greek). The modern form in English is from Middle French fenugrec.
fer de lance (n.) Look up fer de lance at Dictionary.com
large poisonous snake of American tropics, 1817, from French, "lance-head," literally "iron of a lance." So called for its shape.
feral (adj.) Look up feral at Dictionary.com
c.1600, "wild, undomesticated," from Middle French feral "wild," from Latin fera, in phrase fera bestia "wild animal," from ferus "wild" (see fierce). Since 19c. commonly "run wild, having escaped from domestication."
Ferdinand Look up Ferdinand at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, Germanic, perhaps from Proto-Germanic *fardi-nanth- and meaning literally "adventurer," with first element perhaps Proto-Germanic *fardiz "journey," abstract noun related to or from *far- "to fare, travel" (see fare (v.)); second element is Proto-Germanic *nanthiz "risk," related to Old English neðan, Old High German nendan "to risk, venture."
fere (n.) Look up fere at Dictionary.com
"companion" (obsolete), from Middle English fere, a shortening of Old English gefera "associate, comrade, fellow-disciple; wife, man, servant," from Proto-Germanic *for-ja-, related to the root of faran "to go, travel" (see fare (v.)). Literally "one who goes with another." Compare German Gefährte "companion," from the same root; also, from causative *forjan-, Old High German fuoren. "to lead," modern German Fuhrer.
Fergus Look up Fergus at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, from Gaelic Fearghus or Old Irish Fergus "man-ability," first element cognate with Latin vir "man" (see virile); second from Old Irish gus "ability, excellence, strength, inclination," from Celtic root *gustu- "choice," from PIE root *geus- "to taste" (see gusto).
ferhoodle (v.) Look up ferhoodle at Dictionary.com
"to confuse, perplex," by 1956, from Pennsylvania German verhuddle "to confuse, tangle," related to German verhudeln "to bungle, botch." Related: Ferhoodled; ferhoodling.
ferial (adj.) Look up ferial at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to holidays," late 14c., from Old French ferial or directly from Medieval Latin ferialis, from Latin feriae "holidays," during which work and business were suspended and devotions were made (see feast (n.)).
ferine (adj.) Look up ferine at Dictionary.com
"wild, in a state of nature," 1630s, from Latin ferinus "pertaining to wild animals," from fera "a wild beast, wild animal" (see fierce).
Feringhee (n.) Look up Feringhee at Dictionary.com
name used in India for "European; Englishman; Portuguese," 1630s, from Persian Farangi, from Arabic Faranji (10c.), from Old French Franc "Frank" (see Frank) + Arabic ethnic suffix -i. The fr- sound is impossible in Arabic.
fermata (n.) Look up fermata at Dictionary.com
1876, musical term indicating a pause or hold, Italian, literally "a stop, a pause," from fermare "to fasten, to stop," from fermo "strong, fastened," from Latin firmus (see firm (adj.)).
ferment (v.) Look up ferment at Dictionary.com
late 14c. (intransitive), from Old French fermenter (13c.) and directly from Latin fermentare "to leaven, cause to rise or ferment," from fermentum "substance causing fermentation, leaven, drink made of fermented barley," perhaps contracted from *fervimentum, from root of fervere "to boil, seethe" (see brew (v.)). Transitive use from 1670s. Figurative use from 1650s. Related: Fermented; fermenting.
ferment (n.) Look up ferment at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Middle French ferment (14c.), from Latin fermentum "leaven, yeast; drink made of fermented barley;" figuratively "anger, passion" (see ferment (v.)). Figurative sense of "anger, passion, commotion" in English is from 1670s.
fermentation (n.) Look up fermentation at Dictionary.com
late 14c., in alchemy, with a broad sense; modern scientific sense is from c.1600; from Late Latin fermentationem (nominative fermentatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin fermentare "to ferment" (see ferment (v.)). Figurative use attested from 1650s.
fermium (n.) Look up fermium at Dictionary.com
radioactive element, discovered in the debris of a 1952 U.S. nuclear test in the Pacific, named 1955 for Italian-born U.S. physicist Enrico Fermi (1901-1954).
fern (n.) Look up fern at Dictionary.com
Old English fearn "fern," from Proto-Germanic *farno- (cognates: Old Saxon farn, Middle Dutch vaern, Dutch varen, Old High German farn, German Farn).

Possibly the word has a prehistoric sense of "having feathery fronds" and is from PIE *por-no-, which has yielded words for "feather, wing" (cognates: Sanskrit parnam "feather;" Lithuanian papartis "fern;" Russian paporot'; Greek pteris "fern," pteron "feather"), from the root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over" (see petition (n.)). The plant's ability to appear as if from nothing accounts for the ancient belief that fern seeds conferred invisibility (1590s).
ferocious (adj.) Look up ferocious at Dictionary.com
1640s, from Latin ferocis, oblique case of ferox "fierce, wild-looking" (see ferocity). Alternative ferocient (1650s) is seldom seen. Related: Ferociously; ferociousness.
ferocity (n.) Look up ferocity at Dictionary.com
c.1600, from French férocité, from Latin ferocitatem (nominative ferocitas) "fierceness," from ferocis, oblique case of ferox "bold, courageous, warlike; fierce, savage, headstrong, cruel," literally "wild-looking," a derivative of ferus "wild" (see fierce) + -ox, -ocem (genitive -ocis), a suffix meaning "looking or appearing" (cognate with Greek ops "eye, sight;" see eye (n.)).
ferret (v.) Look up ferret at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "hunt with a ferret," from ferret (n.) or from Old French verb fureter, in reference to the use of half-tame ferrets to kill rats and flush rabbits from burrows. The extended sense of "search out, discover," especially by perseverence and cunning, usually with out (adv.), is from 1570s. Related: Ferreted; ferreting.
ferret (n.) Look up ferret at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Old French furet "ferret," diminutive of fuiron "weasel, ferret," literally "thief" (in allusion to the animal's slyness and craftiness), probably from Late Latin furionem (related to furonem "cat," which also meant "robber"), from Latin fur (genitive furis) "thief," probably from PIE *bhor- (source also of furtive), from root *bher- (1) "to carry" (see infer). Also from the French word are Dutch fret, German Frett. Ferret-faced is from 1837 (to have ferret-eyes is from 1580s).
ferric (adj.) Look up ferric at Dictionary.com
1799, "pertaining to or extracted from iron," from Latin ferrum "iron" (see ferro-) + -ic. Especially of iron with a valence of three.
ferrier (n.) Look up ferrier at Dictionary.com
"ferryman," mid-15c., from ferry + -er (1).
Ferris wheel (n.) Look up Ferris wheel at Dictionary.com
1893, American English, from U.S. engineer George W.G. Ferris (1859-1896), who designed it for the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. It was 250 feet tall and meant to rival the Eiffel Tower, from the 1889 Paris Exposition. The surname is said to be a 16c. form of Ferrers, borne in England by two families, from two places named Ferrières in Normandy.
ferrite (n.) Look up ferrite at Dictionary.com
"compound of ferric oxide and another metallic oxide," 1851, from Latin ferrum "iron" (see ferro-) + -ite (2).
ferro- Look up ferro- at Dictionary.com
before vowels ferr-, word-forming element indicating the presence of or derivation from iron, from Latin ferro-, comb. form of ferrum "iron," of unknown origin. Possibly of Semitic origin, via Etruscan [Klein]; Watkins suggests "possibly borrowed (via Etruscan) from the same obscure source as OE bræs "brass." Also sometimes especially indicative of the presence of iron in the ferrous state; ferri- indicating iron in the ferric state.
ferromagnetic (adj.) Look up ferromagnetic at Dictionary.com
"behaving like iron in a magnetic field," 1840, from ferro- "iron" + magnetic.
ferrous (adj.) Look up ferrous at Dictionary.com
"pertaining to or containing iron," 1865, from Latin ferreus "made of iron," from ferrum "iron" (see ferro-). In chemistry, "containing iron," especially with a valence of two. Contrasted with ferric.
ferrule (n.) Look up ferrule at Dictionary.com
"metal cap on a rod," 1610s, ferule, earlier verrel (early 15c.), from Old French virelle "ferrule, collar" (12c. Modern French virole), from Medieval Latin viriola "bracelet," diminutive of Latin viriae "bracelets," from a Gaulish word akin to Old Irish fiar "bent, crooked," from PIE *wi-ria-, from root *wei- (1) "to turn, twist" (see wire (n.)). Spelling influenced by Latin ferrum "iron."
ferry (v.) Look up ferry at Dictionary.com
Old English ferian "to carry, convey, bring, transport" (in late Old English, especially over water), from Proto-Germanic *farjan "to ferry" (cognates: Old Frisian feria "carry, transport," Old Norse ferja "to pass over, to ferry," Gothic farjan "travel by boat"), from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over" (see port (n.1)). Related to fare (v.). Related: Ferried; ferries; ferrying.
ferry (n.) Look up ferry at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "a passage over a river," from the verb or from Old Norse ferju-, in compounds, "passage across water," ultimately from the same Germanic root as ferry (v.). Meaning "place where boats pass over a body of water" is from mid-15c. The sense "boat or raft to convey passengers and goods short distances across a body of water" (1580s) is a shortening of ferry boat (mid-15c.).
fertile (adj.) Look up fertile at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "bearing or producing abundantly," from Middle French fertil (15c.) and directly from Latin fertilis "bearing in abundance, fruitful, productive," from ferre "to bear" (see infer). Fertile Crescent (1914) was coined by U.S. archaeologist James H. Breasted (1865-1935) of University of Chicago in "Outlines of European History," Part I.
fertilisation (n.) Look up fertilisation at Dictionary.com
chiefly British English spelling of fertilization. For spelling, see -ize.
fertility (n.) Look up fertility at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Middle French fertilité, from Latin fertilitatem (nominative fertilitas) "fruitfulness, fertility," from fertilis "fruitful, productive" (see fertile).
fertilization (n.) Look up fertilization at Dictionary.com
1857, noun of action from fertilize, or else from French fertilisation.
fertilize (v.) Look up fertilize at Dictionary.com
1640s, "make fertile;" see fertile + -ize. Its biological sense of "unite with an egg cell" is first recorded 1859. Related: Fertilized; fertilizing.
fertilizer (n.) Look up fertilizer at Dictionary.com
1660s, "something that fertilizes (land)," agent noun from fertilize. As a euphemism for "manure," from 1846.
ferule (n.) Look up ferule at Dictionary.com
"rod or flat piece of wood for punishing children," 1590s, earlier "giant fennel" (early 15c.), from Middle English ferula "fennel plant" (late 14c.), from Latin ferula "reed, whip, rod, staff; fennel plant or stalk" (fennel stalks were used for administering flogging punishment in ancient Roman times) probably related to festuca "stalk, straw, rod."
fervent (adj.) Look up fervent at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from Old French fervent "fervent, ardent" (12c.), from Latin ferventem (nominative fervens) "boiling, hot, glowing," figuratively "violent, impetuous, furious," present participle of fervere "to boil, glow," from PIE root *bhreuə- "to boil, bubble" (see brew (v.)). The figurative sense of "impassioned" is first attested c.1400. Related: Fervency; fervently.
fervid (adj.) Look up fervid at Dictionary.com
1590s, "burning, glowing, hot," from Latin fervidus "glowing, burning; vehement, fervid," from fervere "to boil, glow" (see brew (v.)). Figurative sense of "impassioned" is from 1650s. Related: Fervidly; fervidness.
fervor (n.) Look up fervor at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "warmth or glow of feeling," from Old French fervor "heat; enthusiasm, ardor, passion" (12c., Modern French ferveur), from Latin fervor "a boiling, violent heat; passion, ardor, fury," from fervere "to boil; be hot" (see brew (v.)).
fervour (n.) Look up fervour at Dictionary.com
chiefly British English spelling of fervor (q.v.); for spelling, see -or.
Fescennine (adj.) Look up Fescennine at Dictionary.com
"vulgar, obscene, scurrilous," from Latin Fescenninus (versus), a rude form of dramatic or satiric verse, from Fescennia, city in Etruria, noted for such productions.
The Fescennine Songs were the origin of the Satire, the only important species of literature not derived from the Greeks, and altogether peculiar to Italy. These Fescennine Songs were rude dialogues, in which the country people assailed and ridiculed one another in extempore verses, and which were introduced as an amusement in various festivals. [William Smith, "A Smaller History of Rome," London, 1870]
fescue (n.) Look up fescue at Dictionary.com
1510s, "teacher's pointer," alteration of festu "piece of straw, twig" (late 14c.), from Old French festu "straw; object of little value" (12c., Modern French fétu), from Vulgar Latin festucum, from Latin festuca "straw, stalk, rod," probably related to ferula "reed, whip, rod" (see ferule). Sense of "pasture, lawn grass" is first recorded 1762. Wyclif (1382) has festu in Matt. vii:3 for the "mote" in the eye. In Old French rompre le festu was to symbolically break a straw to signify the breaking of a bond.
fess (v.) Look up fess at Dictionary.com
shortened form of confess, attested by 1840, American English. With up (adv.) from 1930. Related: Fessed; fesses; fessing.
fess (n.) Look up fess at Dictionary.com
wide horizontal band across an escutcheon, late 15c., from Old French faisce, from Latin fascia "a band" (see fasces).
fest (n.) Look up fest at Dictionary.com
see -fest.
festal (adj.) Look up festal at Dictionary.com
late 15c., from Old French festal, from Late Latin festalis, from Latin festum "feast" (see feast (n.)).
fester (v.) Look up fester at Dictionary.com
late 14c., of wounds, "to become ulcerous, suppurate," from festre (n.) "a fistula" (c.1300), or from Old French verb festrir "ulcerate, fester," from festre (n.) "small sore discharging pus." The nouns in Old French and Middle English both are from Latin fistula "pipe, ulcer" (see fistula). Related: Festered; festering; festerment.
festival (n.) Look up festival at Dictionary.com
1580s, "a festal day, appointed day of festive celebration," short for festival day (late 14c.), from Old French festival (adj.) "suitable for a feast; solemn, magnificent, joyful, happy," and directly from Medieval Latin festivalis "of a church holiday," from festum "festival, holiday" (see festivity). The English word returned to French 19c. in certain specialized senses.