mailbox (n.) Look up mailbox at
also mail-box, 1797, "box for mailbags on a coach," from mail (n.1) + box (n.1). Meaning "letterbox" is from 1853, American English.
mailed (adj.) Look up mailed at
"having mail armor," late 14c., from mail (n.2).
maillot (n.) Look up maillot at
"tight-fitting one-piece swimsuit," 1928, from French maillot "swaddling clothes," from Old French mailloel (13c.), probably an alteration of maille "mesh" (see mail (n.2)). Borrowed earlier by English in the sense of "tights" (1888).
mailman (n.) Look up mailman at
also mail-man, 1841, from mail (n.1) + man (n.).
maim (v.) Look up maim at
c. 1300, maimen, from Old French mahaignier "injure, wound, muitilate, cripple, disarm," possibly from Vulgar Latin *mahanare (source also of Provençal mayanhar, Italian magagnare), of unknown origin; or possibly from a Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *mait- (source of Old Norse meiða "to hurt," related to mad (adj.)), or from PIE root *mai- (1) "to cut." Related: Maimed; maiming.
main (adj.) Look up main at
early 13c., "large, bulky, strong," from Old English mægen- "power, strength, force," used in compounds (such as mægensibb "great love," mægenbyrðen "heavy burden;" see main (n.)), probably also from or influenced by Old Norse megenn (adj.) "strong, powerful." Sense of "chief" is c. 1400. Main course in the meal sense attested from 1829. Main man "favorite male friend; hero" is from 1967, African-American vernacular.
main (n.) Look up main at
Old English mægen (n.) "power, bodily strength, force, efficacy," from Proto-Germanic *maginam "power," suffixed form of PIE root *magh- "to be able, have power." Original sense preserved in phrase with might and main. Meaning "principal channel in a utility system" is first recorded 1727 in main drain. Used since 1540s for "continuous stretch of land or water;" in nautical jargon used loosely for "the ocean," but in Spanish Main the word is short for mainland and refers to the coast between Panama and Orinoco (as contrasted to the islands of the West Indies).
main line (n.) Look up main line at
"principal line of a railway," 1841; meaning "affluent area of residence" is by 1917, originally (with capitals) that of Philadelphia, from the "main line" of the Pennsylvania Railroad which added local stops to a string of backwater towns west of the city late 19c. that helped turn them into fashionable suburbs.
The Main Line, Philadelphia's most famous suburban district, was deliberately conceived in the 1870's and 1880's by the [Pennsylvania] Railroad, which built high-toned housing developments, ran hotels, more or less forced its executives to plunk their estates out there, and created a whole series of somewhat spurious Welsh towns along the railroad tracks. ... Now everybody assumes these all date from 1682, like the Robertses; but as Chestnut Hill people like to say, "nobody but Welsh peasants lived on the Main Line till the Railroad built it up." [Nathaniel Burt, "The Perennial Philadelphians," 1963]
The original station stops were, in order out from the city, Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Paoli. The train line for commuters along it is the Paoli Local.
Main Street (n.) Look up Main Street at
"principal street of a (U.S.) town," 1810. Used allusively to indicate "mediocrity, small-town materialism" from late 19c., especially since publication of Sinclair Lewis's novel "Main Street" (1920).
main-mast (n.) Look up main-mast at
"the tallest mast, usually located near the center of the ship," 16c., from main (adj.) + mast (n.1).
Maine Look up Maine at
U.S. state, probably ultimately from French Maine, region in France (named for the river that runs through it, which has a name of Gaulish origin). The name was applied to that part of coastal North America by French explorers.
mainframe (n.) Look up mainframe at
"central processor of a computer system," 1964, from main (adj.) + frame (n.).
mainland (n.) Look up mainland at
c. 1400, from main (adj.) + land (n.). Usually referring to continuous bodies of land and not islands or peninsulas. Related: Mainlander.
mainline (v.) Look up mainline at
also main-line, 1934, from main line in American English slang sense "principal vein into which drugs can be injected" (1933).
mainly (adv.) Look up mainly at
late 13c., "vigorously," from main (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "especially" is from c. 1400; that of "for the most part" is from 1660s.
mainspring (n.) Look up mainspring at
1590s, of watches, clocks, etc., from main (adj.) + spring (n.3). Figurative use from 1690s.
mainstay (n.) Look up mainstay at
"chief support," 1787, figurative use of a nautical noun meaning "stay which extends from the main-top to the foot of the foremast" (late 15c.), from main (adj.) + stay (n.).
mainstream (n.) Look up mainstream at
also main-stream, main stream, "principal current of a river," 1660s, from main (adj.) + stream (n.); hence, "prevailing direction in opinion, popular taste, etc.," a figurative use first attested in Carlyle (1831). Mainstream media attested by 1980 in language of U.S. leftists critical of coverage of national affairs.
maintain (v.) Look up maintain at
mid-13c., "to practice habitually," from Anglo-French meintenir (Old French maintenir, 12c.) "keep (a wife), sustain; persevere in, practice continually," from Latin manu tenere "hold in the hand," from manu, ablative of manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand") + tenere "to hold," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." Meaning "to carry on, keep up" is from mid-14c.; that of "to keep oneself, to support" is from late 14c. Sense of "to defend in speech" is from mid-14c. Related: Maintained; maintaining; maintains.
maintainable (adj.) Look up maintainable at
mid-15c., from maintain + -able. Related: Maintainability.
maintenance (n.) Look up maintenance at
mid-14c., "bearing, deportment," from Old French maintenance "upkeep; shelter, protection," from maintenir (see maintain). Meaning "action of upholding or keeping in being" is from early 15c. "Action of providing a person with the necessities of life" is from late 14c.
maisonette (n.) Look up maisonette at
1818, "small house," from French maisonnette, diminutive of maison "house" (11c.), from Latin mansionem (see mansion). Meaning "a part of a building let separately" is from 1912.
maitre d' Look up maitre d' at
also maitre d, 1943; see maître d'hôtel.
maitre d'hotel Look up maitre d'hotel at
1530s, "head domestic," from French maître d'hôtel, literally "house-master," from Old French maistre "master; skilled worker, educator" (12c.), from Latin magistrum (see magistrate). Sense of "hotel manager, manager of a dining room" is from 1890. Shortened form maître d' is attested from 1942; simple maitre from 1899.
maize (n.) Look up maize at
1550s, from Cuban Spanish maiz, from Arawakan (Haiti) mahiz.
majestic (adj.) Look up majestic at
c. 1600, from majesty + -ic. Related: Majestical (1570s); majestically.
majesty (n.) Look up majesty at
c. 1300, "greatness, glory," from Old French majeste "grandeur, nobility" (12c.), from Latin maiestatem (nominative maiestas) "greatness, dignity, elevation, honor, excellence," from stem of maior (neuter maius), comparative of magnus "great, large, big" (of size), "abundant" (of quantity), "great, considerable" (of value), "strong, powerful" (of force); of persons, "elder, aged," also, figuratively, "great, mighty, grand, important," from suffixed form of PIE root *meg- "great." Earliest English us is with reference to God; as a title, in reference to kings and queens (late 14c.), it is from Romance languages and descends from the Roman Empire.
Majlis (n.) Look up Majlis at
Persian national assembly, 1821, from Arabic majlis "assembly," literally "session," from jalasa "he sat down."
majolica (n.) Look up majolica at
Italian glazed pottery, 1550s, from Italian Majolica, 14c. name of island now known as Majorca in the Balearics, from Latin maior (see major (adj.)); so called because it is the largest of the three islands. The best pottery of this type was said to have been made there.
major (n.) Look up major at
military rank, 1640s, from French major, short for sergent-major, originally a higher rank than at present, from Medieval Latin major "chief officer, magnate, superior person," from Latin maior "an elder, adult," noun use of the adjective (see major (adj.)). The musical sense attested by 1797.
major (v.) Look up major at
"focus (one's) studies," 1910, American English, from major (n.) in sense of "subject of specialization" (1890). Related: Majored; majoring. Earlier as a verb, in Scottish, "to prance about, or walk backwards and forwards with a military air and step" [Jamieson, 1825].
major (adj.) Look up major at
c. 1300, from Latin maior (earlier *magjos), irregular comparative of magnus "large, great" (from PIE root *meg- "great"). Used in music (of modes, scales, or chords) since 1690s, on notion of an interval a half-tone greater than the minor.
major-domo (n.) Look up major-domo at
1580s, via Italian maggiordomo or Spanish mayordomo, from Medieval Latin major domus "chief of the household," also "mayor of the palace" under the Merovingians, from Latin major "greater" (see major (adj.)) + genitive of domus "house" (from PIE root *dem- "house, household").
majorette (n.) Look up majorette at
"baton-twirler," 1941, short for drum-majorette (1938), fem. of drum-major (1590s).
The perfect majorette is a pert, shapely, smiling extrovert, who loves big, noisy crowds and knows how to make those crowds love her. ["Life" magazine, Oct. 10, 1938]
(The article notes that the activity "has been going on for about six years now").
majoritarian Look up majoritarian at
1917 (adj.), from majority + -ian.
majority (n.) Look up majority at
1550s, "condition of being greater, superiority," from Middle French majorité (16c.), from Medieval Latin majoritatem (nominative majoritas) "majority," from Latin maior "greater" (see major (adj.)). Sense of "state of being of full age" is attested from 1560s; meaning "greater number or part" (of votes, etc.) first recorded 1690s. The majority "the dead" recorded from 1719; hence euphemistic verbal phrase join the majority.
majorly (adv.) Look up majorly at
by 1887, from major (adj.) + -ly (2). Common in popular U.S. colloquial speech from c. 1995.
majuscule Look up majuscule at
18c. as an adjective, 1825 as a noun, from French majuscule (16c.), from Latin maiuscula (littera), fem. of maiusculus "somewhat larger, somewhat greater," diminutive of maior (see major (adj.)).
make (n.) Look up make at
"match, mate, companion" (now archaic or dialectal), from Old English gemaca "mate, equal; one of a pair, comrade; consort, husband, wife," from Proto-Germanic *gamakon-, related to Old English gemæcc "well-matched, suitable," macian "to make" (see make (v.)). Meaning "manner in which something is made, design, construction" is from c. 1300. Phrase on the make "intent on profit or advancement" is from 1869.
make (v.) Look up make at
Old English macian "to make, form, construct, do; prepare, arrange, cause; behave, fare, transform," from West Germanic *makon "to fashion, fit" (source also of Old Saxon makon, Old Frisian makia "to build, make," Middle Dutch and Dutch maken, Old High German mahhon "to construct, make," German machen "to make"), from PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit." If so, sense evolution perhaps is via prehistoric houses built of mud. Gradually replaced the main Old English word, gewyrcan (see work (v.)).

Meaning "to arrive at" (a place), first attested 1620s, originally was nautical. Formerly used in many places where specific verbs now are used, such as to make Latin (c. 1500) "to write Latin compositions." This broader usage survives in some phrases, such as to make water "to urinate," to make a book "arrange a series of bets" (1828), make hay "to turn over mown grass to expose it to sun." Make the grade is 1912, perhaps from the notion of railway engines going up an incline.
Read the valuable suggestions in Dr. C.V. Mosby's book -- be prepared to surmount obstacles before you encounter them -- equipped with the power to "make the grade" in life's climb. [advertisement for "Making the Grade," December 1916]
But the phrase also was in use in a schoolwork context at the time. Make do "manage with what is available" is attested from 1867. Make time "go fast" is 1849; make tracks in this sense is from 1834. To make a federal case out of (something) popularized in 1959 movie "Anatomy of a Murder;" to make an offer (one) can't refuse is from Mario Puzo's 1969 novel "The Godfather." To make (one's) day is from 1909; menacing make my day is from 1971, popularized by Clint Eastwood in film "Sudden Impact" (1983). Related: Made; making.
make out (v.) Look up make out at
c. 1600, "get along," from make (v.) + out (adv.). Sense of "understand" is from 1640s; sexual sense first recorded 1939.
make up (v.) Look up make up at
"end a quarrel, reconcile," 1660s, from make (v.) + up (adv.).
make-believe (n.) Look up make-believe at
"pretence," 1811, from the verbal phrase, used in children's talk for "pretend; see make (v.) + believe. As an adjective by 1824. Let's-pretend (n.) in the same sense is attested by 1904 (the verbal phrase is from 1848).
make-up (n.) Look up make-up at
also makeup, "manner in which something is put together," 1821, from make (v.) + up. Cosmetics sense is from 1886; verbal phrase make up "to apply cosmetics" is from 1808.
make-work Look up make-work at
1913 (adj.); 1937 (n.), "busy-work, activity of no value," American English, from the verbal expression to make work (see make (v.) + work (n.)).
A big fire devoured a street; "It will make work," I heard my father say; a ship was lost at sea laden with silk, and leather, and cloth; "It will make work," said my father; a reservoir broke jail, and swept the heart of the town away. "It will make work," my mother said; so all human calamities were softened blessings to me; they made "work," and work made wages, and wages made bread and potatoes, and clothes for me. ["The Radical Review," Chicago, Sept. 15, 1883]
makeless (adj.) Look up makeless at
early 13c., "peerless, without equal," from make (n.) + -less. Meaning "mateless, widowed" is from early 15c.
makeover (n.) Look up makeover at
also make-over, by 1981, from phrase make over in sense "to refashion" (1690s); from make (v.) + over (adv.).
maker (n.) Look up maker at
c. 1300, "one who makes," also "God as creator," agent noun from make (v.). Specifically, "manufacturer" by late 14c. To meet (one's) maker "die" is attested by 1814.
makeshift Look up makeshift at
also make-shift, 1560s, as a noun, "shifty person, rogue," from make (v.) + shift (v.). Adjectival sense of "substitute" is first recorded 1680s. Compare make-sport "a laughing stock" (1610s).
makeweight (n.) Look up makeweight at
also make-weight, 1690s, "small quantity of something added to make the total reach a certain weight," from make (v.) + weight.
MAKE WEIGHT. A small candle: a term applied to a little slender man. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, 1785]