- smock (n.)
- Old English smoc "garment worn by women, corresponding to the shirt on men," from Proto-Germanic *smukkaz (cognates: Old Norse smokkr "a smock," but this is perhaps from Old English; Old High German smoccho "smock," a rare word; North Frisian smok "woman's shift," but this, too, perhaps from English).
Klein's sources, Barnhart and the OED see this as connected to a group of Germanic sm- words having to do with creeping or pressing close, such as Old Norse smjuga "to creep (through an opening), to put on (a garment)," smuga "narrow cleft to creep through; small hole;" Old Swedish smog "a round hole for the head;" Old English smugan, smeogan "to creep," smygel "a burrow." Compare also German schmiegen "to cling to, press close, nestle;" and Schmuck "jewelry, adornments," from schmucken "to adorn," literally "to dress up."
Watkins, however, traces it to a possible Germanic base *(s)muk- "wetness," figuratively "slipperiness," from PIE root*meug- "slimy, slippery" (see mucus). Either way, the original notion, then, seems generally to have been "garment one creeps or slips into," by the same pattern that produced sleeve and slip (n.2).
Now replaced by euphemistic shift (n.2); smock was the common word down to 18c., and was emblematic of womanhood generally, as in verb smock "to render (a man) effeminate or womanish" (1610s); smocker "man who consorts with women" (18c.); smock-face "person having a pale, effeminate face" (c.1600). A smock-race (1707) was an old country pastime, a foot-race for women and girls with a smock as a prize. Modern meaning "woman's or child's loose dress or blouse" is from 1907; sense of "loose garment worn by artists over other clothes" is from 1938.
- smog (n.)
- 1905, blend of smoke and fog, formed "after Lewis Carrol's example" [Klein; see portmanteau]. Reputedly coined in reference to London, and first attested there in a paper read by Dr. H.A. des Voeux, treasurer of the Coal Smoke Abatement Society, though he seems not to have claimed credit for coining it.
At a recent health congress in London, a member used a new term to indicate a frequent London condition, the black fog, which is not unknown in other large cities and which has been the cause of a great deal of bad language in the past. The word thus coined is a contraction of smoke fog "smog" -- and its introduction was received with applause as being eminently expressive and appropriate. It is not exactly a pretty word, but it fits very well the thing it represents, and it has only to become known to be popular. ["Journal of the American Medical Association," Aug. 26, 1905]
Smaze (with haze (n.)) is from 1953.
- smoggy (adj.)
- 1905, from smog (n.) + -y (2). Related: Smogginess.
- smokable (adj.)
- 1839, from smoke (v.) + -able. Related: Smokably; smokability.
- smoke (n.1)
- late Old English smoca (rare) "fumes and volatile material given off by burning substances," related to smeocan "give off smoke," from Proto-Germanic *smuk- (cognates: Middle Dutch smooc, Dutch smook, Middle High German smouch, German Schmauch), from PIE root *smeug- "to smoke; smoke" (cognates: Armenian mux "smoke," Greek smykhein "to burn with smoldering flame," Old Irish much, Welsh mwg "smoke").
There is no fyre without some smoke [Heywood, 1562]
The more usual noun was Old English smec, which became dialectal smeech. Abusive meaning "black person" attested from 1913, American English. Smoke-eater "firefighter" is c.1930. Figurative phrase go up in smoke "be destroyed" (as if by fire) is from 1933. Smoke-alarm first attested 1936; smoke-detector from 1957.
- smoke (v.)
- Old English smocian "to produce smoke, emit smoke," especially as a result of burning, from smoke (n.1). Meaning "to drive out or away or into the open by means of smoke" is attested from 1590s. Meaning "to apply smoke to, to cure (bacon, fish, etc.) by exposure to smoke" is first attested 1590s. In connection with tobacco, "draw fumes from burning into the mouth," first recorded 1604 in James I's "Counterblast to Tobacco." Related: Smoked; smoking. Smoking gun in figurative sense of "incontestable evidence" is from 1974.
- smoke (n.2)
- "cigarette," slang, 1882, from smoke (n.1). Also "opium" (1884). Meaning "a spell of smoking tobacco" is recorded from 1835.
- smoke-screen (n.)
- 1915, as a form of military camouflage, from smoke (n.1) + screen (n.); 1926 in the figurative sense. The association of smoke with "deception, deliberate obscurity" dates back to at least 1560s.
- smokeless (adj.)
- "emitting little smoke," 1580s, from smoke (n.1) + -less.
- smoker (n.)
- 1590s, "one who cures meat," agent noun from smoke (v.). Meaning "one who smokes tobacco" is from 1610s. Railway meaning "smoking car" is from 1875. Smoker's cough attested from 1898.
- smokestack (n.)
- also smoke-stack, 1833, from smoke (n.1) + stack (n.).
- smokey (adj.)
- variant of smoky. As a noun, sometimes short for Smokey Bear.
- Smokey Bear (n.)
- "state policeman," 1974, from truckers' slang, in reference to the wide-brim style of hat worn by state troopers (the hats so called by 1969). Ultimately the reference is to a popular illustrated character of that name, dressed in forest ranger gear (including a hat like those later worn by state troopers). He was introduced in 1944 by the U.S. Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council in a campaign to lower the number of forest fires in the West.
- smoky (adj.)
- early 14c., "emitting smoke," from smoke (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "filled with smoke" and meaning "resembling smoke" are from late 14c. Of flavors, from 1540s; of colors, from 1550s. Related: Smokiness.
- smolder (v.)
- c.1300 (implied in smoldering), "to smother, suffocate," related to Middle Dutch smolen, Low German smelen, Flemish smoel "hot," from Proto-Germanic *smel-, *smul-. The intransitive meaning "burn and smoke without flame" is first recorded 1520s, fell from use 17c. (though smoldering persisted in poetry) and was revived 19c. Figurative sense "exist in a suppressed state; burn inwardly" is from 1810. Related: Smouldered; smolderingly. Middle English also had a noun smolder meaning "smoky vapor, a stifling smoke."
- smooch (v.)
- 1932, alteration of dialectal verb smouch "to kiss" (1570s), possibly imitative of the sound of kissing (compare German dialectal schmutzen "to kiss"). An earlier alteration produced smudge (v.) "to kiss, caress" (1844). Related: Smooched; smooching. As a noun by 1942.
- smoochy (adj.)
- "amorous, meant for kissing," 1947, from smooch (n.) + -y (2).
- smooth (adj.)
- Old English smoð "smooth, serene, calm," variant of smeðe "free from roughness, not harsh, polished; soft; suave; agreeable," of unknown origin and with no known cognates. Of words, looks, "pleasant, polite, sincere" late 14c., but later "flattering, insinuating" (mid-15c.). Slang meaning "superior, classy, clever" is attested from 1893. Sense of "stylish" is from 1922.
Smooth-bore in reference to guns is from 1812. smooth talk (v.) is recorded from 1950. A 1599 dictionary has smoothboots "a flatterer, a faire spoken man, a cunning tongued fellow." The usual Old English form was smeðe, and there is a dialectal smeeth found in places names, such as Smithfield, Smedley.
- smooth (v.)
- late Old English smoþ "to make smooth," replacing smeðan "to smooth, soften, polish; appease, soothe;" smeðian "smoothen, become smooth," from the source of smooth (adj.). Meaning "to make smooth" is c.1200. Related: Smoothed; smoothing. Middle English also had a verb form smoothen (mid-14c.).
- smoothie (n.)
- 1928, "suave person, person of complete self-assurance and poise, especially in the company of the opposite sex," college slang, from smooth (adj.) + -ie. As a type of blender drink, by 1983.
- smoothly (adv.)
- 1520s, "in a smooth manner, blandly," from smooth (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "without impediment or complications" is from 1660s.
- smoothness (n.)
- late 14c., "smoothness, evenness," from smooth (adj.) + -ness.
- smorgasbord (n.)
- 1893, from Swedish smörgåsbord, literally "butter-goose table," from smörgås, "slice of bread and butter," compounded from smör "butter" (see smear (n.)) and gås, literally "goose" (and from the same Germanic root that yielded English goose (n.)).
[Smörgås] properly signifies "a slice of bread-and-butter"; and has come by custom--in much the same way as when we familiarly speak of "taking a sandwich" for partaking of some light refreshment--to be applied synecdochically to the preliminary relish or appetizer partaken of before meals. ["Notes and Queries," Nov. 15, 1884]
The final element is bord "table," from Proto-Germanic *burdam "plank, board, table" (see board (n.1)). Figurative sense of "medley, miscellany" is recorded from 1948.
- past tense of smite (v.).
- smother (v.)
- c.1200, "to suffocate with smoke," from smother (n.), earlier smorthre "dense, suffocating smoke" (late 12c.), from stem of Old English smorian "to suffocate, choke, strangle, stifle," cognate with Middle Dutch smoren, German schmoren; possibly connected to smolder. Meaning "to kill by suffocation in any manner" is from 1540s; sense of "to extinguish a fire" is from 1590s. Sense of "stifle, repress" is first recorded 1570s; meaning "to cover thickly (with some substance)" is from 1590s. Related: Smothered; smothering.
- smoulder (v.)
- see smolder. Related: Smouldered; smouldering; smoulderingly.
- smudge (v.)
- early 15c., smogen "to soil, stain, blacken," of obscure origin. Related: Smudged; smudging. Meaning "make a smoky fire" is from 1860, hence smudge-pot (1903). The noun meaning "a stain, spot, smear" is first attested 1768, from the verb.
- smudgy (adj.)
- "dirty," 1859, from smudge (n.) + -y (2).
- smug (adj.)
- 1550s, "trim, neat, spruce, smart," possibly an alteration of Low German smuk "trim, neat," from Middle Low German smücken "to adorn" (originally "to dress," secondary sense of words meaning "to creep or slip into"), from the same source as smock. The meaning "having a self-satisfied air" is from 1701, an extension of the sense of "smooth, sleek" (1580s), which was commonly used of attractive women and girls. Related: Smugly; smugness.
- smuggle (v.)
- "import or export secretly and contrary to law," 1680s, of Low German or Dutch origin (see smuggler). Related: Smuggled; smuggling.
- smuggler (n.)
- 1660s, from Low German smuggeln or Dutch smokkelen "to transport (goods) illegally," apparently a frequentative formation of a word meaning "to sneak" (from Proto-Germanic *smuganan; cognates: Dutch smuigen "to eat secretly;" Swedish smyg "a lurking-hole," Danish smughandel "contraband trade," Norwegian smjuga, Old English smeogan "to creep"), perhaps literally "to slip (contraband through)," from Proto-Germanic *(s)muk- (see smock).
- 1825 (n.), variant of mush. As a verb, by 1980.
- smut (n.)
- 1660s, "black mark, stain," from verb smutten "debase, defile" (late 14c.), later "stain or mark with soot, etc." (1580s), cognate with Middle High German smotzen "make dirty," from West Germanic *smutt- (cognates: Middle High German smuz "grease, dirt;" German Schmutz "dirt," schmutzen "to make dirty"). The meaning "indecent or obscene language" is first attested 1660s.
- smutch (v.)
- 1610s, variant of smudge (v.). As a noun from 1520s.
- smutty (adj.)
- 1590s, "soiled with smut" (of grain); 1660s, "indecent," from smut + -y (2). Related: Smuttily; smuttiness. Smutty-nosed in ornithology means "having black nostrils."
- snack (v.)
- c.1300, "to bite or snap" (of a dog), probably from Middle Dutch or Flemish snacken "to snatch, snap; chatter," which Watkins traces to a hypothetical Germanic imitative root *snu- forming words having to do with the nose (see snout). The meaning "have a mere bite or morsel, eat a light meal" is first attested 1807. Related: Snacked; snacking.
- snack (n.)
- c.1400, "a snatch or snap" (especially that of a dog), from snack (v.). Later "a snappish remark" (1550s); "a share, portion, part" (1680s; hence old expression go snacks "share, divide; have a share in"). Main modern meaning "a bite or morsel to eat hastily" is attested from 1757. Snack bar is attested from 1923. Commercial plural form snax attested from 1942 in the vending machine trade.
- snaffle (n.)
- "simple bridle-bit," 1530s, of uncertain origin, perhaps from or related to Dutch snavel "beak, bill;" compare German Schnabel "beak, face," Old English nebb, Old Norse neff "beak, nose" (see neb).
- snafu (n.)
- 1941, U.S. military slang, acronym for situation normal, all fucked up, "an expression conveying the common soldier's laconic acceptance of the disorder of war and the ineptitude of his superiors" ["Oxford English Dictionary"]. As an adjective from 1942. In public explanations the word typically was euphemised to fouled.
- snag (n.)
- 1570s, "stump of a tree, branch," of Scandinavian origin, compare Old Norse snagi "clothes peg," snaga "a kind of ax," snag-hyrndr "snag-cornered, with sharp points." The ground sense seems to be "a sharp protuberance." The meaning "sharp or jagged projection" is first recorded 1580s; especially "tree or branch in water and partly near the surface, so as to be dangerous to navigation" (1807). The figurative meaning "obstacle, impediment" is from 1829.
- snag (v.)
- "be caught on an impediment," 1807, from snag (n.). Originally in American English, often in reference to steamboats caught on branches and stumps lodged in riverbeds. Of fabric, from 1967. The transitive meaning "to catch, steal, pick up" is U.S. colloquial, attested from 1895. Related: Snagged; snagging.
- snaggle-toothed (adj.)
- "having crooked, projecting teeth," 1580s) from snag (n.), perhaps a frequentative formation, + toothed "having teeth" (of a certain kind); see tooth (n.). Alternative snaggle-tooth (adj.) is from 1650s; snaggle-tooth (n.) is from 1820.
- snail (n.)
- Old English snægl, from Proto-Germanic *snagila (cognates: Old Saxon snegil, Old Norse snigill, Danish snegl, Swedish snigel, Middle High German snegel, dialectal German Schnegel, Old High German snecko, German Schnecke "snail"), from *snog-, variant of PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creep; creeping thing" (see snake (n.)). The word essentially is a diminutive form of Old English snaca "snake," which literally means "creeping thing." Also formerly used of slugs. Symbolic of slowness since at least c.1000; snail's pace is attested from c.1400.
- snake (n.)
- Old English snaca, from Proto-Germanic *snakon (cognates: Old Norse snakr "snake," Swedish snok, German Schnake "ring snake"), from PIE root *sneg- "to crawl, creeping thing" (cognates: Old Irish snaighim "to creep," Lithuanian snake "snail," Old High German snahhan "to creep"). In Modern English, gradually replacing serpent in popular use.
Traditionally applied to the British serpent, as distinguished from the poisonous adder. Meaning "treacherous person" first recorded 1580s (compare Old Church Slavonic gadu "reptile," gadinu "foul, hateful"). Applied from 17c. to various snake-like devices and appliances. Snakes! as an exclamation is from 1839.
Snake eyes in crap-shooting sense is from 1919. Snake-bitten "unlucky" is sports slang from 1957, from a literal sense, perhaps suggesting one doomed by being poisoned. The game of Snakes and Ladders is attested from 1907. Snake charmer is from 1813. Snake pit is from 1883, as a supposed primitive test of truth or courage; figurative sense is from 1941. Phrase snake in the grass is from Virgil's Latet anguis in herba [Ecl. III:93].
- snake (v.)
- 1650s, "to twist or wind (hair) into the form of a snake," from snake (n.). The intransitive sense of "to move like a snake" is attested from 1848; that of "to wind or twist like a snake" (of roads, etc.) is from 1875. Related: Snaked; snaking.
- snake oil (n.)
- 1927 as "phony remedy," American English, from the use of oil derived from the fat of snakes (especially the rattlesnake) as a folk remedy in the rural regions of the U.S. Snake oil in this sense is attested by 1858. It was a folk remedy for rheumatism and gout in Georgia, but a cure for deafness in rural Pennsylvania. Professional pharmacy journals began to condemn it early 20c., not because it was quackery but because products sold under the name had no real snake oil in them.
What is known as snake oil is usually a combination which is handed out by the dealer to satisfy the demand of some credulous customer. A genuine oil of course is that which is obtained by "trying out" the fat of a snake, usually the rattlesnake, and to preserve their faces druggists sometimes employ a small proportion of such oil in preparing the weird mixtures dispensed by them. ["The Practical Druggist," July 1912]
- snakehead (n.)
- 1845 as a type of plant; 1891 as a type of Asian carnivorous fish," from snake (n.) + head (n.).
- snakestone (n.)
- "fossil ammonite," 1660s, from snake (n.) + stone (n.). So-called from the old popular notion that they were coiled snakes petrified.
- snaky (adj.)
- 1560s, from snake (n.) + -y (2).
- snap (n.)
- late 15c., "quick, sudden bite or cut," from Dutch or Low German snappen "to snap," probably related to Middle Low German or Middle Dutch snavel "bill, beak," from West Germanic *snu-, an imitative root forming words having to do with the nose (see snout).
As an adjective from 1790. Commonly used to indicate instantaneous action, as in snap judgment (1841). Sense of "quick movement" is first recorded 1630s; that of "something easily done" is 1877. Meaning "brief or sudden spell" of weather (usually cold) is from 1740. Meaning "catch or fastener that closes with a snapping sound" is from 1815. The card game name is attested from 1881, from a call used in the game. Meaning "a snap-shot" is from 1894. U.S. football sense is from 1912, earlier snap-back (1880), which also was a name for the center position. Snap, Crackle and Pop, cartoon characters associated with Kellogg breakfast cereal Rice Krispies, are from 1940.