peony (n.) Look up peony at
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
1540s, from pepper (n.) + box (n.1). Meaning "hot-tempered person" is from 1867.
pepper-pot (n.) Look up pepper-pot at
1838, from pepper (n.) + pot (n.1).
peppercorn (n.) Look up peppercorn at
late Old English, from pepper (n.) + corn (n.1).
peppermint (n.) Look up peppermint at
1690s, from pepper (n.) + mint (n.1). As a type of candy drop by 1829.
pepperoni (n.) Look up pepperoni at
"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
1690s, from pepper (n.) + -y (2). Figurative use from 1826. Related: Pepperiness.
peppy (adj.) Look up peppy at
"full of pep," 1915, from pep + -y (2).
Pepsi-Cola Look up Pepsi-Cola at
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
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
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
1906, from German peptid; see peptone + -ide, probably indicating a derivative.
peptone (n.) Look up peptone at
1860, from German Pepton, from Greek pepton, neuter of peptos "cooked, digested" (see peptic).
per (prep.) Look up per at
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
Latin, literally "by the year," from per (see per) + annum, accusative singular of annus "year" (see annual).
per capita Look up per capita at
Latin, literally "by the head," from per (see per) + capita "head" (see capital).
per diem Look up per diem at
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
Latin, literally "by itself;" translating Greek kath auto (Aristotle).
per stirpes Look up per stirpes at
Latin, "by families, by stocks;" in legal use, for inheritances, etc., opposed to per capita.
per- Look up per- at
word-forming element meaning "through, throughout; thoroughly; entirely, utterly," from Latin preposition per (see per (prep.)).
peradventure (adv.) Look up peradventure at
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
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
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
1610s, "one who perambulates," agent noun in Latin form from perambulate. Sense of "baby carriage" is first recorded 1856; often colloquially shortened to pram.
percale (n.) Look up percale at
1620s, name of a fabric imported from the East; in modern use, 1840, from French percale, perhaps ultimately from Persian pargalah "a rag."
perceivable (adj.) Look up perceivable at
late 15c., from Old French percevable, from perçoivre (see perceive). Related: Perceivably.
perceive (v.) Look up perceive at
c. 1300, via Anglo-French parceif, Old North French *perceivre (Old French perçoivre) "perceive, notice, see; recognize, understand," from Latin percipere "obtain, gather, seize entirely, take possession of," also, figuratively, "to grasp with the mind, learn, comprehend," literally "to take entirely," from per "thoroughly" (see per) + capere "to grasp, take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp" (see capable).

Replaced Old English ongietan. Both the Latin senses were in Old French, though the primary sense of Modern French percevoir is literal, "to receive, collect" (rents, taxes, etc.), while English uses the word almost always in the metaphorical sense. Related: Perceived; perceiving.
percent Look up percent at
1560s, per cent, from Modern Latin per centum "by the hundred" (see per and see hundred). Until early 20c. often treated as an abbreviation and punctuated accordingly.
percentage (n.) Look up percentage at
1789, from percent + -age. Sense of "profit, advantage" is from 1862.
percentile (n.) Look up percentile at
1885, coined by English scientist Francis Galton (1822-1911) from percent + -ile.
percept (n.) Look up percept at
1837, from Latin perceptum "(a thing) perceived," noun use of neuter past participle of percipere (see perceive). Formed on model of concept.
perceptible (adj.) Look up perceptible at
early 15c., "perceptive," from Late Latin perceptibilis "perceptible," from Latin percept-, past participle stem of percipere (see perceive). Meaning "capable of being perceived" is from c. 1600. Related: Perceptibly; perceptibility.
perception (n.) Look up perception at
late 14c., "receiving, collection," from Latin perceptionem (nominative perceptio) "perception, apprehension, a taking," from percipere "perceive" (see perceive). First used in the more literal sense of the Latin word; in secondary sense, "the taking cognizance of," it is recorded in English from 1610s. Meaning "intuitive or direct recognition of some innate quality" is from 1827.
perceptive (adj.) Look up perceptive at
1650s, from Latin percept-, past participle stem of percipere (see perceive) + -ive. In reference to intelligence from 1860. From mid-15c. as the name of a type of optical instrument. Related: Perceptively; perceptiveness.
perceptual (adj.) Look up perceptual at
1852; see percept + -al (1). Related: Perceptually.
perch (n.1) Look up perch at
"where a bird rests," late 13c., originally only "a pole, rod, stick, stake," from Old French perche "unit of linear measurement" (5.5 yards), also "measuring rod, pole, bar" used to measure this length (13c.), from Latin pertica "pole, long staff, measuring rod," related to Oscan perek "pole," Umbrian perkaf "twigs, rods." Meaning "a bar fixed horizontally for a hawk or tame bird to rest on" is attested from late 14c.; this led to general sense of "any thing that any bird alights or rests on" (late 15c.). Figurative sense of "an elevated or secure position" is recorded from 1520s. The "land-measuring rod" sense also was in Middle English (c. 1200), hence surviving meaning "measure of land equal to a square lineal perch" (usually 160 to the acre), mid-15c.
perch (n.2) Look up perch at
"spiny-finned freshwater fish," c. 1300, from Old French perche, from Latin perca "perch," from Greek perke "a perch," from PIE root *perk- "speckled, spotted" (source also of Sanskrit prsnih "speckled, variegated;" Greek perknos "dark-colored," perkazein "to become dark"), typically in names of animals.
perch (v.) Look up perch at
"to roost," late 14c., from Old French perchier "to sit on a perch" (of a bird), from perche (n.) (see perch (n.1)). Related: Perched; perching.
perchance (adv.) Look up perchance at
mid-14c., parchaunce, from Old French par cheance, literally "by chance." With Latin per substituted c. 1400 for French cognate par.
Percheron (n.) Look up Percheron at
1875, from French Percheron, adjective formed from le Perche, region south of Normandy where horses were bred that were strong, light, and fast.
percipience (n.) Look up percipience at
c. 1770, from percipient + -ence.
percipient (adj.) Look up percipient at
1690s, from Latin percipientem, present participle of percipere (see perceive). Earlier in English as a noun, "one who perceives" (1660s).
Percocet Look up Percocet at
by 1991, a North American brand name for oxycodone/acetaminophen.
percolate (v.) Look up percolate at
1620s, a back-formation from percolation, or else from Latin percolatus, past participle of percolare "to strain through." Figurative sense by 1670s. Related: Percolated; percolating.