reel (n.2)
"lively Highland dance," 1580s, probably a special use of reel (n.1), which had a secondary sense of "a whirl, whirling movement" (1570s) or from reel (v.1). Applied to the music for such a dance from 1590s.
reel (v.1)
"to whirl around," late 14c., also "sway, swing, rock, become unsteady" (late 14c.), "stagger as a result of a blow, etc." (c. 1400), probably from reel (n.1), on notion of "spinning." Of the mind, from 1796. Related: Reeled; reeling.
reel (v.2)
"to wind on a reel," late 14c., from reel (n.1). Verbal phrase reel off "recite without pause or effort" is from 1837. Fishing sense is from 1849. Related: Reeled; reeling.
reem (n.)
Hebrew name of an animal in the Old Testament (Job xxxix.9, etc.), now identified with the wild ox, but formerly translated in Latin as rhinoceros and in English as unicorn.
reet (adj.)
"good, proper, excellent," 1934, jazz slang, from American English dialectal pronunciation of right (adj.).
reeve (n.)
"steward," Old English gerefa "king's officer," of unknown origin and with no known cognates. Not connected to German Graf (see margrave). An Anglo-Saxon official of high rank, having local jurisdiction under a king. Compare sheriff.
1899 (n.), 1929 (v.); short for referee. Related: Reffed; reffing.
refashion (v.)
1788 (implied in refashioned), from re- + fashion (v.). Related: Refashioning.
refectory (n.)
"dining hall," especially one in a monastery, early 15c., from Medieval Latin refectorium, from past participle stem of reficere "to remake, restore," from re- (see re-) + combining form of facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
refer (v.)
late 14c., "to trace back (to a first cause), attribute, assign," from Old French referer (14c.) and directly from Latin referre "to relate, refer," literally "to carry back," from re- "back" (see re-) + ferre "to carry, bear," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children." Meaning "to commit to some authority for a decision" is from mid-15c.; sense of "to direct (someone) to a book, etc." is from c. 1600. Related: Referred; referring.
referee (n.)
1620s, "person who examines patent applications" (see refer). Sporting use recorded by 1820 (specifically of baseball from 1856).
referee (v.)
1883, originally colloquial, from referee (n.). Related: Refereed; refereeing.
reference (v.)
1620s, "to assign;" as "to provide with a reference," 1837 (implied in referenced), from reference (n.). Related: Referencing.
reference (n.)
1580s, "act of referring," from refer + -ance, or else from French référence, from Medieval Latin *referentia, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre. Meaning "direction to a book or passage" is recorded from 1610s. Meaning "testimonial" is from 1895. Reference book dates from 1808. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s.
referendum (n.)
1847, "a submitting of a question to the voters as a whole" (originally chiefly in reference to Switzerland), from French or German, from Latin referendum "that which must be referred," literally "thing brought back," neuter gerundive of referre "to bring or take back" (see refer). Fowler prefers a plural referendums because referenda is "too suggestive (cf. memoranda, agenda &c.) of the correct sense--questions to be referred."
referent (adj.)
1838, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre (see refer). As a noun from 1844.
referential (adj.)
1650s, from reference (n.) on model of inferential, etc. Related: Referentially.
referral (n.)
1920, "act of referring," from refer + -al (2). Especially to an expert or specialist (a sense attested from 1955). Earlier word was referment (1550s).
refill (v.)
1680s, from re- "back, again" + fill (v.). Related: Refilled; refilling.
refill (n.)
1884, from refill (v.). Meaning "a second drink" is from 1929.
refinance (v.)
1901, from re- "again" + finance (v.). Related: Refinanced; refinancing.
refine (v.)
1580s, of metals, c. 1590 of manners, from re-, intensive prefix, + obsolete fine (v.) "make fine," from fine (adj.) "delicate." Compare French raffiner, Italian raffinare, Spanish refinar. General and figurative sense is recorded from 1590s; of sugar, from 1610s. Related: Refined; refining.
refined (adj.)
1570s, "subtle;" 1580s, "elegant;" 1590s, "purified," past participle adjective from refine (v.).
refinement (n.)
1610s, "act or process of refining; state of being pure," from refine + -ment. Meaning "fineness of feeling" is from 1708.
refinery (n.)
1727, from refine + -ery. Originally in metallurgy and sugar-making; of petroleum by 1865.
refit (v.)
1660s, from re- "again" + fit (v.). Originally nautical. Related: Refitted; refitting.
reflect (v.)
late 14c., "turn or bend back;" early 15c., "to divert, to turn aside, deflect," from Old French reflecter (14c.), from Latin reflectere "bend back, turn back" (see reflection). Of mirrors or polished surfaces, to shine back light rays or images, early 15c.; meaning "to turn one's thoughts back on" is c. 1600. Related: Reflected; reflecting.
reflection (n.)
late 14c., reflexion, in reference to surfaces throwing back light or heat, from Late Latin reflexionem (nominative reflexio) "a reflection," literally "a bending back," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin reflectere "to bend back, bend backwards, turn away," from re- "back" (see re-) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible). Of the mind, from 1670s. Meaning "remark made after turning back one's thought on some subject" is from 1640s. Spelling with -ct- recorded from late 14c., established 18c., by influence of the verb.
reflective (adj.)
1620s, from reflect + -ive. Related: Reflectively; reflectiveness.
reflectivity (n.)
1849, from reflective + -ity.
reflector (n.)
also reflecter, 1660s, agent noun in Latin form from reflect. As an attachment to a vehicle, etc., from 1909. As a type of telescope, 1767.
reflex (n.)
c. 1500, "reflection of light," from verb reflex meaning "refract, deflect" (late 14c.), from Late Latin reflexus "a bending back," noun use of past participle of reflectere (see reflection). Meaning "involuntary nerve stimulation" first recorded 1877, from reflex action (1833).
reflexive (adj.)
1580s, "reflective, capable of bending or turning back," from Medieval Latin reflexivus, from Late Latin reflexus (see reflect). Meaning "of the nature of a reflex" is from 1839 (implied in reflexively). Grammatical sense from 1837. Related: Reflexiveness; reflexivity.
reflexology (n.)
1927, as a psychological theory, from German reflexologie (1912); see reflex + -ology. As a foot massage technique, first recorded 1976.
reflux (n.)
early 15c., "a flowing back (of the sea, etc.)," from Medieval Latin refluxus, from Latin re- "back, again" (see re-) + fluxus "a flowing," from fluere "to flow" (see fluent). Digestive sense is recorded from 1937.
refocus (v.)
1858, from re- + focus (v.). Related: Refocused; refocusing.
reforest (v.)
"to restore to a wooded condition," 1831, from re- "back, again" + verb use of forest (n.). Related: Reforested; reforesting.
reform (v.)
c. 1300, "to convert into another and better form," from Old French reformer "rebuild, reconstruct, recreate" (12c.), from Latin reformare "to form again, change, transform, alter," from re- "again" (see re-) + formare "to form" (see form (n.)). Intransitive sense from 1580s.

Meaning "to bring (a person) away from an evil course of life" is recorded from early 15c.; of governments, institutions, etc., from early 15c. Related: Reformed; reforming. Reformed churches (1580s) usually are Calvinist as opposed to Lutheran. Reformed Judaism (1843) is a movement initiated in Germany by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Reform school is attested from 1859.
reform (n.)
"any proceeding which brings back a better order of things," 1660s, from reform (v.) and in some uses from French réforme. As a branch of Judaism from 1843.
reformable (adj.)
late 15c., from reform (v.) + -able.
reformation (n.)
"improvement, alteration for the better," late 14c., "restoration;" mid-15c., "improvement," from Old French reformacion and directly from Latin reformationem (nominative reformatio), noun of action from past participle stem of reformare (see reform (v.)). In reference to the European religious movement, it is attested by 1540s, borrowed from Luther. The movement began as a bid to reform doctrines and practices of the Church of Rome.
reformatory (adj.)
1704, from past participle stem of Latin reformare "to transform, change" (see reform (v.)). As a noun, "house of correction for juveniles," from 1758.
reformer (n.)
1540s, agent noun from reform (v.).
reformist (n.)
1580s, originally religious; from reform + -ist. Political sense is from 1640s. Related: Reformism.
reformulate (v.)
1882, from re- + formulate. Related: Reformulated; reformulating.
refract (v.)
"to bend" (light, sound, heat, etc.), 1610s, back-formation from refraction, and in part from Latin refractus, past participle of refringere "to break up," from re- "back" (see re-) + combining form of frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"). Related: Refracted; refracting.
refraction (n.)
1570s, from Late Latin refractionem (nominative refractio) "a breaking up," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin refringere "to break up," from re- "back" (see re-) + combining form of frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break").
refractive (adj.)
1670s, from Late Latin refractivus, or from refract + -ive.
refractor (n.)
1769, as a type of telescope, agent noun from refract.
refractory (adj.)
"stubborn, obstinate, perverse," 1610s (earlier refractorious, 1550s, refractary, c. 1600), from Latin refractarius "obstinate, stubborn," from past participle stem of refringere "to break up" (see refraction). The notion is said to be "breaking back" all attempts to enforce obedience. Related: Refractorily; refractoriness.