Scylla (n.) Look up Scylla at
sea-monster in the Strait of Messina, from Latinized form of Greek Skylla, of unknown origin, perhaps related to skyllein "to tear."
scythe (n.) Look up scythe at
Old English siðe, sigði, from Proto-Germanic *segithoz (cognates: Middle Low German segede, Middle Dutch sichte, Old High German segensa, German Sense), from PIE root *sek- "to cut" (see section (n.)). The sc- spelling crept in early 15c., from influence of Latin scissor "carver, cutter" and scindere "to cut." Compare French scier "saw," a false spelling from sier.
scythe (v.) Look up scythe at
1570s, "use a scythe;" 1590s "to mow;" from scythe (n.). From 1897 as "move with the sweeping motion of a scythe." Related: Scythed; scything.
Scythian (n.) Look up Scythian at
1540s, from Latin Scythia, from Greek Skythia, name anciently given to the region along the north coast of the Black Sea, from Skythes "a Scythian," said to be from an Indo-European root meaning "shepherd" [Room]. As an adjective from 1560s. Herodotus is responsible for Scythian disease or Scythian insanity.
se- Look up se- at
word-forming element, from Latin se-, collateral form of sed- "without, apart, aside, on one's own," related to sed, Latin reflexive pronoun (accusative and ablative), from PIE *sed-, extended form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (source also of German sich; see idiom).
sea (n.) Look up sea at
Old English "sheet of water, sea, lake, pool," from Proto-Germanic *saiwaz (cognates: Old Saxon seo, Old Frisian se, Middle Dutch see, Swedish sjö), of unknown origin, outside connections "wholly doubtful" [Buck]. Meaning "large quantity" (of anything) is from c. 1200. Meaning "dark area of the moon's surface" is attested from 1660s (see mare (n.2)).

Germanic languages also use the general Indo-European word (represented by English mere (n.)), but have no firm distinction between "sea" and "lake," either by size, by inland or open, or by salt vs. fresh. This may reflect the Baltic geography where the languages are thought to have originated. The two words are used more or less interchangeably in Germanic, and exist in opposite senses (such as Gothic saiws "lake," marei "sea;" but Dutch zee "sea," meer "lake"). Compare also Old Norse sær "sea," but Danish , usually "lake" but "sea" in phrases. German See is "sea" (fem.) or "lake" (masc.). The single Old English word glosses Latin mare, aequor, pontus, pelagus, and marmor.

Phrase sea change "transformation" is attested from 1610, first in Shakespeare ("The Tempest," I.ii). Sea anemone is from 1742; sea legs is from 1712; sea level from 1806; sea urchin from 1590s. At sea in the figurative sense of "perplexed" is attested from 1768, from literal sense of "out of sight of land" (c. 1300).
sea monkey (n.) Look up sea monkey at
1909 as a heraldic animal, 1964 as a U.S. proprietary name for brine shrimp (Artemia salina), which had been used as food for aquarium fish till they began to be marketed as pets by U.S. inventor Harold von Braunhut (d.2003), who also invented "X-Ray Specs" and popularized pet hermit crabs. He began marketing them in comic book advertisements in 1960 as "Instant Life," and changed the name to Sea Monkeys in 1964, so called for their long tails.
sea-breeze (n.) Look up sea-breeze at
one blowing from the sea to the shore, 1690s, from sea + breeze (n.).
sea-dog (n.) Look up sea-dog at
1590s, "harbor seal," from sea + dog (n.). Also "pirate" (1650s). Meaning "old seaman, sailor who has been long afloat" is attested from 1840.
sea-floor (n.) Look up sea-floor at
1832, from sea + floor (n.).
sea-green (n.) Look up sea-green at
as a color, 1590s, from sea + green (adj.). As an adjective from c. 1600.
sea-horse (n.) Look up sea-horse at
late 15c., "walrus," from sea + horse (n.); also see walrus. Also in heraldry as a fabulous animal with the foreparts of a horse and the tail of a fish. Main modern sense in zoology is attested from 1580s.
sea-lion (n.) Look up sea-lion at
c. 1600, "kind of lobster," from sea + lion. Later the name of a fabulous animal (in heraldry, etc.), 1660s. Applied from 1690s to various species of large eared seals. As code name for the planned German invasion of Britain, it translates German Seelöwe, announced by Hitler July 1940, scrubbed October 1940.
sea-monster (n.) Look up sea-monster at
1580s, from sea + monster. Sea serpent is attested from 1640s. In Old English a sea-monster might be called sædraca "sea dragon," or sædeor.
sea-salt (n.) Look up sea-salt at
c. 1600, from sea + salt (n.).
Seabee (n.) Look up Seabee at
1942, from pronunciation of C.B., abbreviation of Construction Battalion, formed as a volunteer branch of the Civil Engineer Corps of the U.S. Navy.
seaboard (n.) Look up seaboard at
"seaward side of a ship," late 15c., from sea + board (n.2).
seacoal (n.) Look up seacoal at
also sea-coal, old name for "mineral coal" (as opposed to charcoal), mid-13c.; earlier, in Old English, it meant "jet," which chiefly was found washed ashore by the sea. The coal perhaps so called from resemblance to jet, or because it was first dug from beds exposed by wave erosion. From sea + coal. As it became the predominant type used, the prefix was dropped.
seafarer (n.) Look up seafarer at
1510s, from sea + agent noun from fare (n.). The Anglo-Saxon poem known by this name since at least 1842 was untitled in original MS.
seafaring (adj.) Look up seafaring at
c. 1200, from sea + faring (see fare (v.)).
seafood (n.) Look up seafood at
"food obtained from the sea," 1836, American English, from sea + food.
seagull (n.) Look up seagull at
1540s, from sea + gull (n.).
seal (n.1) Look up seal at
"design stamped on wax," especially one attached to a document as evidence of authenticity, c. 1200, from Old French seel "seal on a letter" (Modern French sceau), from Vulgar Latin *sigellum (source of Italian suggello, Spanish sello; also Old Frisian and Middle High German sigel, German Siegel), from Latin sigillum "small picture, engraved figure, seal," diminutive of signum "mark, token" (see sign (n.)). An earlier borrowing directly from Latin is represented by Old English insigel. Technical use, "what prevents the escape of a gas or liquid" is from 1853.
seal (n.2) Look up seal at
fish-eating mammal with flippers, Old English seolh "seal," from Proto-Germanic *selkhaz (compare Old Norse selr, Swedish sjöl, Danish sæl, Middle Low German sel, Middle Dutch seel, Old High German selah), of unknown origin, perhaps a borrowing from Finnic. Seal point "dark brown marking on a Siamese cat" is recorded from 1934, from the dark brown color of seal fur; compare seal brown "rich, dark brown color," by 1875. Old English seolhbæð, literally "seal's bath," was an Anglo-Saxon kenning for "the sea."
seal (v.) Look up seal at
"to fasten with (or as with) a seal," c. 1200, from seal (n.1). Meaning "to place a seal on (a document)" is recorded from mid-14c.; hence "to conclude, ratify, render official" (late 15c.). Sense of "to close up with wax, lead, cement, etc." is attested from 1660s, from the notion of wax seals on envelopes. In reference to the actions of wood-coatings, 1940. Related: Sealed; sealing. Sealing-wax is attested from c. 1300. To seal (one's) fate (1799) probably reflects the notion of a seal on an execution warrant.
sealant (n.) Look up sealant at
1945, from seal (v.) + -ant.
sealskin (n.) Look up sealskin at
early 14c., from seal (n.2) + skin (n.).
seam (n.) Look up seam at
Old English seam "seam, suture, junction," from Proto-Germanic *saumaz (cognates: Old Frisian sam "hem, seam," Old Norse saumr, Middle Dutch som, Dutch zoom, Old High German soum, German Saum "hem"), from PIE root *syu- "to sew, to bind" (cognates: Old English siwian, Latin suere, Sanskrit syuman; see sew).
Chidynge and reproche ... vnsowen the semes of freendshipe in mannes herte. [Chaucer, "Parson's Tale," c. 1386]
Meaning "raised band of stitching on a ball" is recorded from 1888. Geological use is from 1590s.
seam (v.) Look up seam at
1580s, from seam (n.). Related: Seamed; seaming.
seaman (n.) Look up seaman at
"a sailor," Old English sæmanna (plural); see sea + man (n.). Similar formation in Dutch zeeman, German Seemann, Old Norse sjomaðr.
seamanship (n.) Look up seamanship at
1766, "acquaintance with the skill of a good seaman," from seaman + -ship.
seamless (adj.) Look up seamless at
late 15c., from seam + -less. Figurative sense of "whole, integrated" is attested from 1862. Related: Seamlessly; seamlessness.
seamount (n.) Look up seamount at
by 1908, from sea + mount (n.1).
seamstress (n.) Look up seamstress at
1640s, with -ess + seamster (also sempster), from Old English seamestre "sewer, tailor, person whose work is sewing," from seam. Originally indicating a woman, but after a while the fem. ending -estre no longer was felt as such and a new one added.
seamy (adj.) Look up seamy at
c. 1600, "least pleasant, worst," in figurative phrase seamy side, from seam + -y (2); the seamy side of a sewn garment being the less attractive, and thus typically turned in. The popularity of the figurative sense likely is due to its use by Shakespeare in "Othello" IV.ii.146: "Some such Squire he was That turn'd your wits the seamy-side without, And made you to suspect me with the Moore."
Sean Look up Sean at
masc. proper name, also Shaun Shawn; Irish form of John.
seance (n.) Look up seance at
1789, "sitting, session," as of a learned society, from French séance "a sitting," from seoir "to sit," from Latin sedere (see sedentary). Meaning "spiritualistic session" first recorded 1845.
seaplane (n.) Look up seaplane at
1913, from sea + plane (n.2).
seaport (n.) Look up seaport at
1590s, from sea + port (n.1).
sear (v.) Look up sear at
Old English searian (intransitive) "dry up, to wither," from Proto-Germanic *saurajan (cognates: Middle Dutch soor "dry," Old High German soren "become dry"), from root of sear "dried up, withered" (see sere). Meaning "cause to wither" is from early 15c. Meaning "to brand, to burn by hot iron" is recorded from c. 1400, originally especially of cauterizing wounds; figurative use is from 1580s. Related: Seared; searing.
search (v.) Look up search at
c. 1300, from Old French cerchier "to search" (12c., Modern French chercher), from Latin circare "go about, wander, traverse," in Late Latin "to wander hither and thither," from circus "circle" (see circus). Phrase search me as a verbal shrug of ignorance first recorded 1901. Search engine attested from 1988. Search and destroy as a modifier is 1966, American English, from the Vietnam War. Search and rescue is from 1944.
search (n.) Look up search at
c. 1400, "act of searching;" early 15c., "right to investigate illegal activity; examination of records, wills, etc.; a search through an area or a place," from Anglo-French serche, Old French cerche, from cerchier (see search (v.)). Search warrant attested from 1739.
searchable (adj.) Look up searchable at
1550s, from search (v.) + -able. Compare unsearchable.
searchlight (n.) Look up searchlight at
also search-light, 1882, from search (v.) + light (n.).
seashell (n.) Look up seashell at
also sea-shell, Old English sæscel; see sea and shell (n.).
seashore (n.) Look up seashore at
also sea-shore, 1520s, from sea + shore (n.). Old English used særima "sea-rim," sæ-strande, etc.
seasick (adj.) Look up seasick at
also sea-sick, 1560s, from sea + sick (n.). Related: Seasickness.
seaside (n.) Look up seaside at
also sea-side, c. 1200, from sea + side (n.). As an adjective from 1781. Old English had sæhealf.
season (n.) Look up season at
c. 1300, "a period of the year," with reference to weather or work, also "proper time, suitable occasion," from Old French seison, also saison "season, date; right moment, appropriate time" (Modern French saison) "a sowing, planting," from Latin sationem (nominative satio) "a sowing, planting," noun of action from past participle stem of serere "to sow" (see sow (v.)).

Sense shifted in Vulgar Latin from "act of sowing" to "time of sowing," especially "spring, regarded as the chief sowing season." In Old Provençal and Old French (and thus in English), this was extended to "season" in general. In other Indo-European languages, generic "season" (of the year) words typically are from words for "time," sometimes with a word for "year" (as in Latin tempus (anni), German Jahreszeit). Of game (as in out of season) from late 14c. Spanish estacion, Italian stagione are unrelated, being from Latin statio "station."

Meaning "time of year during which a place is most frequented" is from 1705. Season ticket is attested from 1820.
season (v.) Look up season at
"improve the flavor of by adding spices," c. 1300, from Old French assaisoner "to ripen, season," from a- "to" (see ad-) + root of season (n.) on the notion of fruit becoming more palatable as it ripens. Applied to timber by 1540s. In 16c., it also meant "to copulate with."