pentad (n.) Look up pentad at Dictionary.com
1650s, from Greek pentas (genitive pentados) "group of five" (see five). Meaning "period of five years" is from 1880; meaning "period of five days" is from 1906, originally in meteorology.
pentagon (n.) Look up pentagon at Dictionary.com
plane figure with five angles and five sides, 1560s, from Middle French pentagone or directly from Late Latin pentagonum "pentagon," from Greek pentagonon, noun use of neuter of adjective pentagonos "five-angled," from pente "five" (see five) + gonia "angle" (see knee (n.)). The U.S. military headquarters Pentagon was completed 1942, so called for its shape; used allusively for "U.S. military leadership" from 1945. Related: Pentagonal.
In nature, pentagonal symmetry is rare in inanimate forms. Packed soap bubbles seem to strive for it but never quite succeed, and there are no mineral crystals with true pentagonal structures. But pentagonal geometry is basic to many living things, from roses and forget-me-nots to sea urchins and starfish. [Robert Bringhurst, "The Elements of Typographic Style," 1992]
pentagram (n.) Look up pentagram at Dictionary.com
"five-pointed star," 1820, from Greek pentagrammon, noun use of neuter of adj. pentagrammos "having five lines," from pente "five" (see five) + gramma "what is written" (see grammar).
pentameter (adj.) Look up pentameter at Dictionary.com
1540s, from Middle French pentametre, from Latin pentameter, from Greek pentametros (adj.) "having five measures," from pente "five" (see five) + metron "measure" (see meter (n.2)). As a noun from 1580s.
pentangle (n.) Look up pentangle at Dictionary.com
c.1300; see penta- + angle (n.). In some early uses perhaps a corruption of pentacle. Related: Pentangular.
Pentateuch Look up Pentateuch at Dictionary.com
first five books of the Bible, c.1400, from Late Latin pentateuchus (Tertullian, c.207), from Greek pentateukhos (c.160), originally an adjective (abstracted from phrase pentateukhos biblos), from pente "five" (see five) + teukhos "implement, vessel, gear" (in Late Greek "book," via notion of "case for scrolls"), literally "anything produced," related to teukhein "to make ready," from PIE *dheugh- "to produce something of utility" (see doughty).
pentathlon (n.) Look up pentathlon at Dictionary.com
athletic contest of five events, 1852, from Greek pentathlon "the contest of five exercises," from pente "five" (see five) + athlon "prize, contest," of uncertain origin. Earlier in English in Latin form pentathlum (1706). The Greek version consisted of jumping, sprinting, discus and spear throwing, and wrestling. The modern version (1912) consists of horseback riding, fencing, shooting, swimming, and cross-country running.
Pentecost Look up Pentecost at Dictionary.com
Old English Pentecosten "Christian festival on seventh Sunday after Easter," from Late Latin pentecoste, from Greek pentekoste (hemera) "fiftieth (day)," fem. of pentekostos, from pentekonta "fifty," from pente "five" (see five). The Hellenic name for the Old Testament Feast of Weeks, a Jewish harvest festival observed on 50th day of the Omer (see Lev. xxiii:16).
pentecostal Look up pentecostal at Dictionary.com
1660s, "pertaining to the Pentecost," from Latin pentecostalis (Tertullian), from pentecoste (see pentecost). With a capital P- and meaning "Pentecostalist," in reference to "Christian sect emphasizing gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Acts ii), it is attested from 1904 (noun and adjective).
penthouse (n.) Look up penthouse at Dictionary.com
pendize, early 14c., from Anglo-French pentiz, a shortening of Old French apentis "attached building, appendage," from Medieval Latin appendicium, from Latin appendere "to hang" (see append). Modern spelling is from c.1530, by folk etymology influence of Middle French pente "slope," and English house (the meaning at that time was "attached building with a sloping roof or awning"). Originally a simple structure (Middle English homilies describe Jesus' birthplace in the manger as a "penthouse"); meaning "apartment or small house built on the roof of a skyscraper" first recorded 1921, from which time dates its association with luxury.
Pentothal Look up Pentothal at Dictionary.com
trademark name of an anaesthetic and hypnotic, 1935, refashioning of Thiopental, from pento-, in reference to the methylbutyl five-carbon group + first two letters of thiobarbiturate + chemical product suffix -ol.
penult (adj.) Look up penult at Dictionary.com
"last but one," 1530s, abbreviation of penultima. As a noun from 1570s.
penultima (n.) Look up penultima at Dictionary.com
1580s, from Latin penultima (syllaba), "the next to the last syllable of a word or verse," from fem. of Latin adjective penultimus "next-to-last," from paene "almost" + ultimus "final" (see ultimate).
penultimate (adj.) Look up penultimate at Dictionary.com
1670s, from penultima (n.) on model of proximate.
penumbra (n.) Look up penumbra at Dictionary.com
1660s, from Modern Latin penumbra "partial shadow outside the complete shadow of an eclipse," coined 1604 by Kepler from Latin pæne "almost" + umbra "shadow" (see umbrage). Related: Penumbral.
penurious (adj.) Look up penurious at Dictionary.com
1590s, from penury + -ous, or else from Medieval Latin penuriosus, from Latin penuria "penury." Originally "poverty-stricken, in a state of penury;" meaning "stingy" is first attested 1630s. Related: Penuriously.
penury (n.) Look up penury at Dictionary.com
c.1400, from Latin penuria "want, need; scarcity," related to paene "scarcely."
Penzance Look up Penzance at Dictionary.com
place in Cornwall, Pensans (late 13c.), literally "Holy Headland," from Cornish penn "head" + sans "holy."
peon (n.) Look up peon at Dictionary.com
unskilled worker, 1826, from Mexican Spanish peon "agricultural laborer" (especially a debtor held in servitude by his creditor), from Spanish peon "day laborer," also "pedestrian," originally "foot soldier," from Medieval Latin pedonem "foot soldier" (see pawn (n.2)). The word entered British English earlier (c.1600) in the sense "native constable, soldier, or messenger in India," via Portuguese peao "pedestrian, foot soldier, day laborer."
peonage (n.) Look up peonage at Dictionary.com
1848, American English, from peon + -age.
peony (n.) Look up peony at Dictionary.com
a 16c. merger of Middle English pyony (from Old English peonie) and Old North French pione (Modern French pivoine), both from Late Latin peonia, from Latin pæonia, from Greek paionia (fem. of paionios), perhaps from Paion, physician of the gods (or Apollo in this aspect), and so called for the plant's healing qualities. The root, flowers, and seeds formerly were used in medicine.
people (n.) Look up people at Dictionary.com
late 13c., "humans, persons in general," from Anglo-French people, Old French peupel "people, population, crowd; mankind, humanity," from Latin populus "a people, nation; body of citizens; a multitude, crowd, throng," of unknown origin, possibly from Etruscan. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish pueblo, Italian popolo. In English, it displaced native folk.

Meaning "body of persons comprising a community" first recorded late 13c. in Anglo-French; meaning "common people, masses" (as distinguished from the nobility) first recorded c.1300 in Anglo-French. Meaning "one's own tribe, group, etc." is from late 14c. The word was adopted after c.1920 by Communist totalitarian states to give a spurious sense of populism to their governments. Legal phrase The People vs., in U.S. cases of prosecution under certain laws, dates from 1801. People of the Book "those whose religion entails adherence to a book of divine revelation (1834) translates Arabic Ahl al-Kitab.
people (v.) Look up people at Dictionary.com
late 15c. (intransitive), c.1500 (transitive), from people (n.), or else from Middle French peupler, from Old French peuple. Related: Peopled; peopling.
Peoria Look up Peoria at Dictionary.com
small city in Illinois, U.S., originally the name of a subdivision of the Miami/Illinois people (1673), from native /peewaareewa/. Their own name is said to mean "carriers." The place name also is found in Oklahoma and Iowa, but it is the Illinois city that has been proverbially regarded as the typical measure of U.S. cultural and intellectual standards at least since Ambrose Bierce (c.1890). Also the butt of baseball player jokes (c.1920-40, when it was part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system) and popularized in the catchphrase "It'll play in Peoria" (often negative), meaning "the average American will approve," which was popular in the Nixon White House (1969-74) but seems to have had a vaudeville origin. Personification in "little old lady in Peoria" is said to be from Harold Ross of the "New Yorker." Peoria's rivals as embodiment of U.S. small city values and standards include Dubuque, Iowa; Hoboken and Hackensack, N.J.; Oakland (Gertrude Stein: "When you get there, there isn't any there there") and Burbank, Calif., and the entire state of North Dakota.
pep (n.) Look up pep at Dictionary.com
"vigor, energy," 1912, shortened form of pepper (n.), which was used in the figurative sense of "spirit, energy" from at least 1847. Pep rally is attested from 1945; pep talk from 1926. To pep (something) up is from 1925.
pepper (n.) Look up pepper at Dictionary.com
Old English pipor, from an early West Germanic borrowing of Latin piper "pepper," from Greek piperi, probably (via Persian) from Middle Indic pippari, from Sanskrit pippali "long pepper." The Latin word is the source of German Pfeffer, Italian pepe, French poivre, Old Church Slavonic pipru, Lithuanian pipiras, Old Irish piobhar, Welsh pybyr, etc. Application to fruits of the capsicum family (unrelated, originally native of tropical America) is 16c.
pepper (v.) Look up pepper at Dictionary.com
"to sprinkle as with pepper," 1610s, from pepper (n.). Old English had gepipera. Meaning "to pelt with shot, etc." is from 1640s. Related: Peppered; peppering.
pepper-box (n.) Look up pepper-box at Dictionary.com
1540s, from pepper (n.) + box (n.1). Meaning "hot-tempered person" is from 1867.
pepper-pot (n.) Look up pepper-pot at Dictionary.com
1838, from pepper (n.) + pot (n.1).
peppercorn (n.) Look up peppercorn at Dictionary.com
late Old English, from pepper (n.) + corn (n.1).
peppermint (n.) Look up peppermint at Dictionary.com
1690s, from pepper (n.) + mint (n.1). As a type of candy drop by 1829.
pepperoni (n.) Look up pepperoni at Dictionary.com
"beef and pork sausage seasoned with pepper," 1919, American English, from Italian peperone "chilli," from pepe (see pepper (n.)).
peppery (adj.) Look up peppery at Dictionary.com
1690s, from pepper (n.) + -y (2). Figurative use from 1826. Related: Pepperiness.
peppy (adj.) Look up peppy at Dictionary.com
"full of pep," 1915, from pep + -y (2).
Pepsi-Cola Look up Pepsi-Cola at Dictionary.com
U.S. patent filed Sept. 23, 1902, by Caleb D. Bradham (1867-1934), pharmacist and drugstore owner of New Bern, N.C., probably from pepsin; early Pepsi ads tout it as a digestive aid.
pepsin (n.) Look up pepsin at Dictionary.com
also pepsine, fermin in gastric juice, used medicinally for cases of indigestion, 1844, coined in German (Theodor Schwann, 1835) from Greek pepsis "digestion," from stem pep- (see peptic) + -in (2).
peptic (adj.) Look up peptic at Dictionary.com
1650s, from Latin pepticus, from Greek peptikos "able to digest," from peptos "cooked, digested," verbal adjective of peptein "to cook" (see cook (n.)).
peptide (n.) Look up peptide at Dictionary.com
1906, from German peptid; see peptone + -ide, probably indicating a derivative.
peptone (n.) Look up peptone at Dictionary.com
1860, from German Pepton, from Greek pepton, neuter of peptos "cooked, digested" (see peptic).
per (prep.) Look up per at Dictionary.com
1580s (earlier in various Latin and French phrases), from Latin per "through, during, by means of, on account of, as in," from PIE root *per- (1) "Base of prepositions and preverbs with the basic meanings of 'forward,' 'through,' and a wide range of extended senses such as 'in front of,' 'before,' 'early,' 'first,' 'chief,' 'toward,' 'against,' 'near,' 'at,' 'around'" [Watkins]. Cognates: Sanskrit pari- "around, about, through," pura "before, formerly;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Old Persian pariy; Hittite para- "on, forth;" Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before;" Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of;" (adv.) "before, previously;" German vor "for;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.
per annum Look up per annum at Dictionary.com
Latin, literally "by the year," from per (see per) + annum, accusative singular of annus "year" (see annual).
per capita Look up per capita at Dictionary.com
Latin, literally "by the head," from per (see per) + capita "head" (see capital).
per diem Look up per diem at Dictionary.com
Latin, literally "by the day," from per (see per) + diem, accusative singular of dies "day" (see diurnal). As a noun from 1809.
per se Look up per se at Dictionary.com
Latin, literally "by itself;" translating Greek kath auto (Aristotle).
per stirpes Look up per stirpes at Dictionary.com
Latin, "by families, by stocks;" in legal use, for inheritances, etc., opposed to per capita.
per- Look up per- at Dictionary.com
word-forming element meaning "through, throughout; thoroughly; entirely, utterly," from Latin preposition per (see per (prep.)).
peradventure (adv.) Look up peradventure at Dictionary.com
1620s, from Middle English peraventure (mid-15c.), from per auenture (late 13c.), from Old French par aventure (see adventure). Refashioned as though from Latin.
perambulate (v.) Look up perambulate at Dictionary.com
1560s, from Latin perambulatus, past participle of perambulare "to walk through, go through, ramble through," from per- "through" (see per) + ambulare "to walk" (see amble). Related: Perambulated; perambulating.
perambulation (n.) Look up perambulation at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from Anglo-Latin (c.1300) and Anglo-French perambulacion, from Medieval Latin perambulationem (nominative perambulatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin perambulare (see perambulate).
perambulator (n.) Look up perambulator at Dictionary.com
1610s, "one who perambulates," agent noun in Latin form from perambulate. Sense of "baby carriage" is first recorded 1856; often colloquially shortened to pram.