- humor (n.)
- mid-14c., "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Old North French humour (Old French humor; Modern French humeur), from Latin umor "body fluid" (also humor, by false association with humus "earth"); related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet," from PIE *wegw- "wet."
In ancient and medieval physiology, "any of the four body fluids" (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black bile) whose relative proportions were thought to determine state of mind. This led to a sense of "mood, temporary state of mind" (first recorded 1520s); the sense of "amusing quality, funniness" is first recorded 1680s, probably via sense of "whim, caprice" (1560s), which also produced the verb sense of "indulge," first attested 1580s. "The pronunciation of the initial h is only of recent date, and is sometimes omitted ...." [OED] For types of humor, see the useful table below, from H.W. Fowler ["Modern English Usage," 1926].
||words & ideas
||morals & manners
||faults & foibles
||statement of facts
||exposure of nakedness
||victim & bystander
||an inner circle
- humor (v.)
- 1580s; see humor (n.). Related: Humored; humoring.
- humoral (adj.)
- "pertaining to the humors of the body," 1520s, from Middle French humoral (14c.), from Latin humor (see humor (n.)).
- humorist (n.)
- 1590s, from humor (n.) + -ist. Perhaps on model of Middle French humoriste.
- humorous (adj.)
- early 15c., "relating to the body humors," a native formation from humor, or else from Middle French humoreux "damp," from Old French humor (see humor (n.)). The meaning "funny" dates from 1705 in English. Related: Humorously; humorousness.
- chiefly British English spelling of humor; see -or. Related: Humourous; humourist.
- hump (n.)
- 1680s (in hump-backed), from Dutch homp "lump," from Middle Low German hump "bump," from Proto-Germanic *hump-, from PIE *kemb- "to bend, turn, change, exchange." Replaced, or perhaps influenced by, crump, from Old English crump. A meaning attested from 1901 is "mound in a railway yard over which cars must be pushed," which may be behind the figurative sense of "critical point of an undertaking" (1914). Humpback whale is from 1725.
- hump (v.)
- "to do the sex act with," attested from 1785, but the source of this indicates it is an older word. Meaning "to raise into a hump" is from 1840. Related: Humped; humping.
- as a grunting sound of disdain, etc., from 1815.
- masc. proper name, from Old English Hunfrið, probably from Proto-Germanic *hun "strength" + Old English frið "peace." To dine with Duke Humphrey (17c.) meant to go without a meal, though the reason for the expression now is obscure.
- from French nursery rhyme hero (the rhyme first attested in English 1810), earlier "a short, clumsy person of either sex" (1785), probably a reduplication of Humpty, a pet form of Humphrey. Originally, humpty-dumpty was a drink (1690s), "ale boiled with brandy," probably from hump and dump, but the connection is obscure and there might not be one.
'It's very provoking,' Humpty Dumpty said, ... 'to be called an egg -- very!' ["Through the Looking-Glass," 1872]
- humus (n.)
- 1796, from Latin humus "earth, soil," probably from humi "on the ground," from PIE *dhghem- "earth" (source also of Latin humilis "low;" see chthonic). Related: Humous (adj.).
- 1983, popularized 1991 in Persian Gulf War military slang, rough acronym for high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle.
- Old English, person from a tribe from central Asia that overran Europe in the 4c. and 5c., from Medieval Latin Hunni, apparently ultimately from Turkic Hun-yü, the name of a tribe (they were known in China as Han or Hiong-nu). Figurative sense of "reckless destroyer of beauty" is from 1806. Applied to the German in World War I by their enemies because of stories of atrocities, but the nickname originally was urged on German soldiers bound for China by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1900, which caused a scandal.
- Chinese province, literally "south of the lake" (Lake Dongting), from hu "lake" + nan "south."
- originally (c. 1500) a verb, "to push, thrust," of unknown origin. Meaning "raise or bend into a hump" is 1670s. Perhaps a variant of bunch. The noun is attested from 1620s, originally "a push, thrust." Figurative sense of "hint, tip" (a "push" toward a solution or answer), first recorded 1849, led to that of "premonition, presentiment" (1904).
- hunchback (n.)
- “person with a hunched back,” 1712, back-formation from hunchbacked (1590s; see hunch).
- hundred (n.)
- Old English hundred "the number of 100, a counting of 100," from Proto-Germanic *hundrath (cognates: Old Norse hundrað, German hundert); first element is Proto-Germanic *hundam "hundred" (cognate with Gothic hund, Old High German hunt), from PIE *km-tom "hundred," reduced from *dkm-tom- (cognates: Sanskrit satam, Avestan satem, Greek hekaton, Latin centum, Lithuanian simtas, Old Church Slavonic suto, Old Irish cet, Breton kant "hundred"), from *dekm- "ten" (see ten).
Second element is Proto-Germanic *rath "reckoning, number" (as in Gothic raþjo "a reckoning, account, number," garaþjan "to count;" see read (v.)). The common word for the number in Old English was simple hund, and Old English also used hund-teontig.
In Old Norse hundrath meant 120, that is the long hundred of six score, and at a later date, when both the six-score hundred and the five-score hundred were in use, the old or long hundred was styled hundrath tolf-roett ... meaning "duodecimal hundred," and the new or short hundred was called hundrath ti-rætt, meaning "decimal hundred." "The Long Hundred and its use in England" was discussed by Mr W.H. Stevenson, in 1889, in the Archcæological Review (iv. 313-27), where he stated that amongst the Teutons, who longest preserved their native customs unimpaired by the influence of Latin Christianity, the hundred was generally the six-score hundred. The short hundred was introduced among the Northmen in the train of Christianity. ["Transactions" of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1907]
Meaning "division of a county or shire with its own court" (still in some British place names and U.S. state of Delaware) was in Old English and probably represents 100 hides of land. The Hundred Years War (which ran intermittently from 1337 to 1453) was first so called in 1874. The original Hundred Days was the period between Napoleon's restoration and his final abdication in 1815.
- c. 1200, from hundred + -fold.
- early 14c., from hundred + -th (1). Old English used hundrað.
- hung (adj.)
- past tense and past participle of hang (v.); meaning "having impressive male genitals" is from 1640s; of a jury, "unable to agree," 1838, American English. Hung-over (also hungover) in the drinking sense is from 1950 (see hangover); hung-up "obsessed" is from 1961.
- c. 1300, from Medieval Latin Hungaria (also source of French Hongrie), probably literally meaning "land of the Huns," who ruled a vast territory from there under Attila in 5c. The people's name for themselves we transliterate as Magyar. Middle English uses the same words for both Attila's people and the Magyars, who appeared in Europe in 9c. From the same source as Medieval Greek Oungroi, German Ungarn, Russian Vengriya, Ukrainian Ugorshchina. The Turkish name for the country, Macaristan, reflects the indigenous name. Related: Hungarian.
- hunger (n.)
- Old English hungor "unease or pain caused by lack of food, craving appetite, debility from lack of food," from Proto-Germanic *hungruz (cognates: Old Frisian hunger, Old Saxon hungar, Old High German hungar, Old Norse hungr, German hunger, Dutch honger, Gothic huhrus), probably from PIE root *kenk- (2) "to suffer hunger or thirst." Hunger strike attested from 1885; earliest references are to prisoners in Russia.
- hunger (v.)
- Old English hyngran (cognates: Old Saxon gihungrjan, Old High German hungaran, German hungern, Gothic huggrjan), from the source of hunger (n.). Related: Hungered; hungering.
- Old English hungrig "hungry, famished;" see hunger + -y (2). Compare Old Frisian hungerig, Dutch hongerig, German hungrig. Figurative use from c. 1200. Related: Hungrily.
- hunk (n.)
- 1813, "large piece cut off," possibly from West Flemish hunke (used of bread and meat), which is perhaps related to Dutch homp "lump, hump." Meaning "attractive, sexually appealing man" is first attested 1945 in jive talk (in Australian slang, it is recorded from 1941).
- hunker (v.)
- "to squat, crouch," 1720, Scottish, of uncertain origin, possibly from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse huka "to crouch," hoka, hokra "to crawl." Hunker down, Southern U.S. dialectal phrase, popularized c. 1965, from northern British hunker "haunch." Related: Hunkered; hunkering.
- hunky-dory (adj.)
- 1866, American English (popularized c. 1870 by a Christy Minstrel song), perhaps a reduplication of hunkey "all right, satisfactory" (1861), from hunk "in a safe position" (1847) New York City slang, from Dutch honk "goal, home," from Middle Dutch honc "place of refuge, hiding place." A theory from 1876, however, traces it to Honcho dori, said to be a street in Yokohama, Japan, where sailors went for diversions of the sort sailors enjoy.
- hunt (v.)
- Old English huntian "chase game," related to hentan "to seize," from Proto-Germanic *huntojan (cognates: Gothic hinþan "to seize, capture," Old High German hunda "booty"), from PIE *kend-.
General sense of "search diligently" (for anything) is first recorded c. 1200. Related: Hunted; hunting. Happy hunting-grounds "Native American afterlife paradise" is from "Last of the Mohicans" (1826).
- hunt (n.)
- early 12c., from hunt (v.). Meaning "body of persons associated for the purpose of hunting with a pack of hounds" is first recorded 1570s.
- mid-13c. (attested in place names from late 12c.), from hunt + -er (1). The Old English word was hunta.
- hunting (n.)
- Old English huntung, verbal noun from hunt (v.). Bartlett (1848) notes it as the word commonly used by sportsmen in the Southern states of the U.S. where in the North they use gunning.
- Old English Huntandun (973) "Hill of the Huntsman" (or of a man called Hunta).
- Huntington's chorea
- also Huntington's disease, 1889, named for U.S. neurologist George Huntington (1851-1916), who described it in 1872.
- late 14c.; see hunter + -ess. Old English had hunticge.
- hurdle (n.)
- Old English hyrdel "frame of intertwined twigs used as a temporary barrier," diminutive of hyrd "door," from Proto-Germanic *hurdiz "wickerwork frame, hurdle" (cognates: Old Saxon hurth "plaiting, netting," Dutch horde "wickerwork," German Hürde "hurdle, fold, pen;" Old Norse hurð, Gothic haurds "door"), from PIE *krtis (cognates: Latin cratis "hurdle, wickerwork," Greek kartalos "a kind of basket," kyrtos "fishing creel"), from root *kert- "to weave, twist together" (cognates: Sanskrit krt "to spin"). Sense of "barrier to jump in a race" is by 1822; figurative sense of "obstacle" is 1924.
- hurdle (v.)
- 1590s, "to build like a hurdle," from hurdle (n.). Sense of "to jump over" dates from 1880 (implied in hurdling). Related: Hurdled; hurdling. Hurdles as a type of race (originally horse race) with hurdles as obstacles is attested by 1836 (hurdle-race is from 1822).
- 1749, perhaps imitative of its sound and influenced by c. 1500 hirdy-girdy "uproar, confusion."
- hurl (v.)
- early 13c., hurlen, "to run against (each other), come into collision," later "throw forcibly" (c. 1300); "rush violently" (late 14c.); perhaps related to Low German hurreln "to throw, to dash," and East Frisian hurreln "to roar, to bluster." OED suggests all are from an imitative Germanic base *hurr "expressing rapid motion;" see also hurry. The noun is attested from late 14c., originally "rushing water." For difference between hurl and hurtle (which apparently were confused since early Middle English) see hurtle.
- hurling (n.)
- verbal noun of hurl (q.v.); attested 1520s as a form of hockey played in Ireland; c. 1600 as the name of a game like hand-ball that once was popular in Cornwall.
- also hurlyburly, 1530s, apparently an alteration of phrase hurling and burling, reduplication of 14c. hurling "commotion, tumult," verbal noun of hurl (q.v.). Hurling time was the name applied by chroniclers to the period of tumult and commotion around Wat Tyler's rebellion.
- the North American lake is named for the Indian people, whose name is from obsolete French huron "bristle-haired" (the French word frequently was used in reference to head-dresses, and that might be its original sense here), from Old French huré "bristly, unkempt, shaggy," of uncertain origin, but French sources indicate it probably is from Germanic.
- 1680s, alteration of huzza, similar to shouts recorded in German, Danish, Swedish. Perhaps picked up during Thirty Years' War. Hurra was said to be the battle-cry of Prussian soldiers during the War of Liberation (1812-13). Hooray is its popular form and is almost as old. Also hurray (1780); hurroo (1824); hoorah (1798).
- hurricane (n.)
- 1550s, a partially deformed adoptation from Spanish huracan (Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdés, "Historia General y Natural de las Indias," 1547-9), furacan (in the works of Pedro Mártir De Anghiera, chaplain to the court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and historian of Spanish explorations), from an Arawakan (W. Indies) word. In Portuguese, it became furacão. For confusion of initial -f- and -h- in Spanish, see hacienda. The word is first in English in Richard Eden's "Decades of the New World":
These tempestes of the ayer (which the Grecians caule Tiphones ...) they caule furacanes.
OED records 39 different spellings, mostly from the late 16c., including forcane, herrycano, harrycain, hurlecane. Modern form became frequent from 1650, established after 1688. Shakespeare uses hurricano ("King Lear," "Troilus and Cressida"), but in reference to waterspouts.
- “done in a rush,” 1660s, from past participle of hurry (v.). Related: Hurriedly.
- hurry (v.)
- 1590, first recorded in Shakespeare, who used it often; perhaps a variant of harry (v.), or perhaps a West Midlands sense of Middle English hurren "to vibrate rapidly, buzz," from Proto-Germanic *hurza "to move with haste" (cognates: Middle High German hurren "to whir, move fast," Old Swedish hurra "to whirl round"), which also perhaps is the root of hurl. Related: hurried; hurrying.
- hurry (n.)
- c. 1600, probably from hurry (v.).
- 1732, probably a reduplication of hurry formed with awareness of scurry.
- "hillock" (especially a sandy one), also "grove, wooded eminence," from Old English hyrst, from Proto-Germanic *hurstiz (cognates: Middle Dutch horst "underwood," German Horst "thicket, shrubbery"). Common in place names (such as Amherst).
- hurt (v.)
- c. 1200, "to injure, wound" (the body, feelings, reputation, etc.), also "to stumble (into), bump into; charge against, rush, crash into; knock (things) together," from Old French hurter "to ram, strike, collide," perhaps from Frankish *hurt "ram" (cognates: Middle High German hurten "run at, collide," Old Norse hrutr "ram"). The English usage is as old as the French, and perhaps there was a native Old English *hyrtan, but it has not been recorded. Meaning "to be a source of pain" (of a body part) is from 1850. To hurt (one's) feelings attested by 1779. Sense of "knock" died out 17c., but compare hurtle. Other Germanic languages tend to use their form of English scathe in this sense (Danish skade, Swedish skada, German schaden, Dutch schaden).