- primrose (n.)
- late 14c., prymrose, from Old French primerose, primerole (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin prima rosa, literally "first rose," so called because it blooms early in spring (see prime (adj.)). As the name of a pale yellow color, by 1844.
Parallel name primula (c.1100) is from Old French primerole, from Medieval Latin primula "primrose," shortened from primula veris "firstling of spring," thus properly fem. of Latin primulus, diminutive of primus; but primerole was used in Old French and Middle English of other flowers (cowslips, field daisies). The primrose path is from "Hamlet" I, iii.
- primum mobile (n.)
- "the first source of motion," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin (11c.), literally "the first movable thing;" see prime (adj.) + mobile. A translation of Arabic al-muharrik al-awwal "the first moving" (Avicenna).
- Latin for "first, the first" (see prime (adj.)).
- prince (n.)
- c.1200, "ruler of a principality" (mid-12c. as a surname), from Old French prince "prince, noble lord" (12c.), from Latin princeps (genitive principis) "first man, chief leader; ruler, sovereign," noun use of adjective meaning "that takes first," from primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + root of capere "to take" (see capable). German cognate fürst, from Old High German furist "first," is apparently an imitation of the Latin formation. Colloquial meaning "admirable or generous person" is from 1911, American English. Prince Regent was the title of George, Prince of Wales (later George VI) during the mental incapacity of George III (1811-1820).
- Prince Albert
- "piercing that consists of a ring which goes through the urethra and out behind the glans," mid-20c., supposedly so-called from the modern legend that Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1819-1861), prince consort of Queen Victoria, had one.
But the term seems to be not older than bodyart maven Doug Malloy and his circle, and the stories about the prince may be fantastical inventions. Perhaps there is some connection with Albert underworld/pawnshop slang for "gold watch chain" (1861), which probably is from the common portraits of the prince in which he is shown with a conspicuous gold watch chain. Many fashions in male dress made popular by him bore his name late 19c.
- Prince Charming
- 1837, from French Roi Charmant, name of the hero of Comtesse d'Aulnoy's "L'Oiseau Bleu" (1697). In English he was adopted into native fairy tales including "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella."
As for me, I have always agreed with the fairy books that the moment when Prince Charming arrives is the perfect climax. Everything that goes before in the life of a girl simply leads up to that moment, and everything that comes after dates from it; and while the girl of the twentieth century, sallying forth in search of adventure, may not hope to meet at the next turn a knight in shining armor, or a sighing troubadour, she does hope, if she is normal and has the normal dreams of a girl, to find her hero in some of the men who pass her way. [Temple Bailey, "Adventures in Girlhood," Philadelphia, 1919]
- princeling (n.)
- 1610s, from prince + -ling.
- princely (adj.)
- c.1500, "of a prince," from prince + -ly (2). Meaning "sumptuous, magnificent" is from 1530s.
- princess (n.)
- late 14c., "woman of royal or noble birth; daughter or wife of a ruler or prince; female ruler," a native formation, or else from Old French princesse, fem. of prince (see prince). Compare Medieval Latin principissa, Italian principessa. As a colloquial form of address to a woman or girl, it is recorded from 1924 (as a term of address to a lover, early 15c.).
- principal (adj.)
- c.1300, "main, principal, chief, dominant, most important;" also "great, large," from Old French principal "main, most important," of persons, "princely, high-ranking" (11c.), from Latin principalis "first in importance; original, primitive," from princeps "first man, chief, leader" (see prince).
- principal (n.)
- c.1300, "ruler, governor;" also "main part;" from principal (adj.) or from or influenced by noun uses in Old French and Latin. From mid-14c. in the sense of "money on which interest is paid;" 1827 as "person in charge of a public school," though meaning "head of a college or hall" was in English from mid-15c.
- principality (n.)
- c.1300, "position of a prince," from Old French principalite "principal matter; power, sovereignty" (12c., Modern French principauté), from Late Latin principalitatem (nominative principalitas), from principalis (see principal (adj.)). Meaning "region or state ruled by a prince" is attested from c.1400.
- principally (adv.)
- mid-14c., "mostly, mainly; most importantly," from principal (adj.) + -ly (2). Late 14c. as "first of all." Meaning "for the most part" attested by 1832.
- principia (n.)
- "fundamental principles," plural of Latin principium "beginning, origin" (see principle (n.)). Especially as the short form of the title of Newton's book (published 1687).
- principle (n.)
- late 14c., "origin, source, beginning; rule of conduct; axiom, basic assumption; elemental aspect of a craft or discipline," from Anglo-French principle, Old French principe "origin, cause, principle," from Latin principium (plural principia) "a beginning, commencement, origin, first part," in plural "foundation, elements," from princeps (see prince). Used absolutely for (good or moral) principle from 1650s.
It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them. [Adlai Stevenson, speech, New York City, Aug. 27, 1952]
Scientific sense of "general law of nature" is recorded from 1802. The English -l- apparently is by analogy of participle, etc.
- principled (adj.)
- "honorable, moral," 1690s, from principle, which was used as a verb 17c.-18c. meaning "to ground in principles."
- print (n.)
- c.1300, "impression, mark" (as by a stamp or seal), from Old French preinte "impression," noun use of fem. past participle of preindre "to press, crush," altered from prembre, from Latin premere "to press" (see press (v.1)). The Old French word also was borrowed into Middle Dutch (prente, Dutch prent) and other Germanic languages.
Meaning "printed lettering" is from 1620s; print-hand "print-like handwriting" is from 1658. Sense of "picture or design from a block or plate" is first attested 1660s. Meaning "piece of printed cloth" is from 1756. In Middle English, stigmata were called precious prentes of crist; to perceiven the print of sight was "to feel (someone's) gaze." Out of print "no longer to be had from the publisher" is from 1670s (to be in print is recorded from late 15c.). Print journalism attested from 1962.
- print (v.)
- mid-14c., prenten "to make an impression" (as with a seal, stamp, etc.), from print (n.). Meaning "to set a mark on any surface" (including by writing) is attested from late 14c. Meaning "to run off on a press" is recorded from 1510s (Caxton, 1474, used enprynte in this sense). In reference to textiles, 1580s. The photography sense is recorded from 1851 (the noun in this sense is from 1853). Meaning "to write in imitation of typography" is from 1801.
He always prints, I know, 'cos he learnt writin' from the large bills in the bookin' offices. [Charles Dickens, "Pickwick Papers," 1837]
The meaning "to record (someone's) fingerprints" is from 1952. Related: Printed; printing.
- print-out (n.)
- 1899, from print (v.) + out (adv.).
- printable (adj.)
- 1820 as "capable of being printed;" 1838 as "suitable to be published in print," from print (v.) + -able. Related: Printability.
- printer (n.)
- c.1500, "person who prints books, etc.," agent noun from print (v.). As a mechanical device from 1859, originally in telegraphy. In the computer sense, from 1946. Printer's bible (c.1702) so called from mistaken substitution of printers for princes in Psalm cxix:161, which led to the misreading:
Printers have persecuted me without a cause.
- printing (adj.)
- present participle adjective from print (v.). Printing press is from 1580s.
- prion (n.)
- petrel-like bird, 1848, from Greek prion "a saw," related to priein, prizein "to saw, to be cut in pieces." So called for its bill.
- prior (adj.)
- "earlier," 1714, from Latin prior "former, previous, first;" figuratively "superior, better;" as a noun "forefather; superior rank;" comparative of Old Latin pri "before," from PIE *prai-, *prei-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).
- prior (n.)
- "superior officer of a religious house or order," late Old English, from Medieval Latin prior "superior officer," noun use of Latin adjective meaning "former, superior" (see prior (adj.)). As short for prior arrest, by 1990, American English.
- prioress (n.)
- c.1300, from Medieval Latin priorissa, from prior "head of a priory of men" (see prior (n.)).
- prioritise (v.)
- chiefly British English spelling of prioritize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Prioritised; prioritising; prioritisation.
- prioritization (n.)
- 1973, from prioritize + -ation.
- prioritize (v.)
- 1972, apparently coined during the U.S. presidential contest that year, from root of priority + -ize. Related: Prioritized; prioritizing.
- priority (n.)
- late 14c., "state of being earlier," from Old French priorite (14c.), from Medieval Latin prioritatem (nominative prioritas) "fact or condition of being prior," from Latin prior (see prior (adj.)). From c.1400 as "precedence in right or rank." Wyclif (early 15c.) renders prioritas into (Middle) English as furtherhead.
- priory (n.)
- late 13c., from Anglo-French priorie (mid-13c.), from Medieval Latin prioria "monastery governed by a prior," from Latin prior (see prior (n.)).
- Priscian (n.)
- Latin Priscianus, name of a celebrated Roman grammarian (c.500-530); hence to break Priscian's head (1520s) "to violate rules of grammar" (Latin diminuere Prisciani caput). See Priscilla.
- fem. proper name, from Latin, fem. of Priscillus, diminutive of Priscus, from priscus "antique, old-fashioned, old, ancient, primitive, venerable;" related to prior (see prior (adj.)).
- prism (n.)
- 1560s, a type of solid figure, from Late Latin prisma, from Greek prisma (Euclid), literally "something sawed," from prizein "to saw" (see prion). Meaning in optics is first attested 1610s.
- prismatic (adj.)
- 1709, from Greek prismat-, stem of prisma (see prism) + -ic. Related: Prismatical (1650s).
- prison (n.)
- early 12c., from Old French prisoun "captivity, imprisonment; prison; prisoner, captive" (11c., Modern French prison), altered (by influence of pris "taken;" see prize (n.2)) from earlier preson, from Vulgar Latin *presionem, from Latin prensionem (nominative prensio), shortening of prehensionem (nominative *prehensio) "a taking," noun of action from past participle stem of prehendere "to take" (see prehensile). "Captivity," hence by extension "a place for captives," the main modern sense.
- prison (v.)
- "to imprison," early 14c., from prison (n.) or Old French prisoner (v.). Related: Prisoned; prisoning.
- prisoner (n.)
- "person in prison, captive person," late 14c. (earlier "a jailer," mid-13c., but this did not survive Middle English), from Old French prisonier "captive, hostage" (12c., Modern French prisonnier), from prisoun (see prison (n.)). Captives taken in war have been called prisoners since mid-14c.; phrase prisoner of war dates from 1670s (see also POW). Prisoner's dilemma attested from 1957.
- priss (n.)
- 1914, Southern U.S., back-formation from prissy.
- prissy (adj.)
- 1895, probably Southern U.S. dialect, first attested in Joel Chandler Harris, perhaps an alteration of precise (q.v.), or a merger of prim and sissy [OED]. Related: Prissily; prissiness.
["]Then Mrs Blue Hen rumpled up her feathers and got mad with herself, and went to setting. I reckon that's what you call it. I've heard some call it 'setting' and others 'sitting.' Once, when I was courting, I spoke of a sitting hen, but the young lady said I was too prissy for anything."
"What is prissy?" asked Sweetest Susan.
Mr. Rabbit shut his eyes and scratched his ear. Then he shook his head slowly.
"It's nothing but a girl's word," remarked Mrs. Meadows by way of explanation. "It means that somebody's trying hard to show off."
"I reckon that's so," said Mr. Rabbit, opening his eyes. He appeared to be much relieved.
[Joel Chandler Harris, "Mr. Rabbit at Home"]
- pristine (adj.)
- 1530s, "pertaining to the earliest period, primitive, ancient," from Middle French pristin or directly from Latin pristinus "former, early, original," from Old Latin pri "before" (see prime (adj.)). Meaning "unspoiled, untouched, pure" is from 1899 (implied in a use of pristinely) but according to OED 2nd ed. print still regarded as ignorant "by many educated speakers."
- 1570s, altered from phrase (I) pray thee (14c.; see pray).
- prius (n.)
- "that which takes precedence," noun use of Latin neuter of prior "former, earlier" (see prior (adj.)). The hybrid car (with a capital P- ) debuted in 1997 in Japan, 2001 in U.S. and Europe. Name supposedly chosen because the car is a predecessor of new types. Proper plural is said to be Priora, but that is for the adjective.
- privacy (n.)
- 1590s, "a private matter, a secret;" c.1600 as "seclusion," from private (adj.) + -cy. Meaning "state of freedom from intrusion" is from 1814. Earlier was privatie (late 14c. as "secret, mystery;" c.1400 as "a secret, secret deed; solitude, privacy"), from Old French privauté.
- private (adj.)
- late 14c., "pertaining or belonging to oneself, not shared, individual; not open to the public;" of a religious rule, "not shared by Christians generally, distinctive; from Latin privatus "set apart, belonging to oneself (not to the state), peculiar, personal," used in contrast to publicus, communis; past participle of privare "to separate, deprive," from privus "one's own, individual," from PIE *prei-wo-, from PIE *prai-, *prei-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).
Old English in this sense had syndrig. Private grew popular 17c. as an alternative to common (adj.), which had overtones of condescension. Of persons, "not holding public office," recorded from early 15c. In private "privily" is from 1580s. Related: Privately. Private school is from 1650s. Private parts "the pudenda" is from 1785. Private enterprise first recorded 1797; private property by 1680s; private sector is from 1948. Private eye "private detective" is recorded from 1938, American English.
- private (n.)
- 1590s, "private citizen," short for private person "individual not involved in government" (early 15c.), or from Latin privatus "man in private life," noun use of the adjective; 1781 in the military sense, short for Private soldier "one below the rank of a non-commissioned officer" (1570s), from private (adj.).
- privateer (n.)
- 1660s, "private man of war," from private (adj.), probably on model of volunteer, buccaneer.
- privation (n.)
- mid-14c., "action of depriving," from Old French privacion and directly from Latin privationem (nominative privatio) "a taking away," noun of action from past participle stem of privare "deprive" (see private (adj.)). Meaning "want of life's comforts or of some necessity" is attested from 1790.
- privatisation (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of privatization. For spelling, see -ize.
- privative (adj.)
- 1580s, "expressing negation" (as do the prefixes un-, a- (2), etc.), from Latin privativus "denoting privation, negative," from privatus, past participle of privare (see private).