space (v.) Look up space at
1540s, "to make of a certain extent;" 1680s in typography; 1703 as "to arrange at set intervals," from space (n.). Meaning "to be in a state of drug-induced euphoria" is recorded from 1968. Space cadet "eccentric person disconnected with reality" (often implying an intimacy with hallucinogenic drugs) is a 1960s phrase, probably traceable to 1950s U.S. sci-fi television program "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet," which was watched by many children who dreamed of growing up to be one and succeeded. Related: Spaced; spacing.
space (adj.) Look up space at
c. 1600, from space (n.). Meaning "having to do with outer space" is from 1894.
spacecraft (n.) Look up spacecraft at
1928, from space (n.) + craft (n.).
spaceman (n.) Look up spaceman at
1942 in the astronaut sense, from space (n.) + man (n.). Earlier it meant "journalist paid by the length of his copy" (1892). Spacewoman recorded from 1960.
spacer (n.) Look up spacer at
typewriter mechanism and key, 1882, agent noun from space (v.).
spaceship (n.) Look up spaceship at
1894, from space (n.) + ship (n.). Spaceship earth is from 1966.
spacesuit (n.) Look up spacesuit at
also space-suit, 1920, from space (n.) + suit (n.).
spacewalk (n.) Look up spacewalk at
also space-walk, 1965, from space (n.) + walk (n.).
spacing (n.) Look up spacing at
"allowing and gauging of intervals between words in setting type," 1680s, verbal noun from space (v.).
spacious (adj.) Look up spacious at
late 14c., from Old French spacios, espacios "roomy, spacious, extensive" (12c., Modern French spacieux), or directly from Latin spatiosus "roomy, ample" (Medieval Latin spaciosus), from spatium "room, space" (see space (n.)). Related: Spaciously; spaciousness.
Spackle (n.) Look up Spackle at
proprietary name for a surfacing compound, 1927, probably based on German spachtel "putty knife, mastic, filler." The verb is attested from 1940. Related: Spackled; spackling.
spacy (adj.) Look up spacy at
also spacey, 1852, "large, roomy, spacious," from space (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "felt as characteristic of outer space" (especially with reference to electronic music) is attested from 1971, probably influenced by spaced-out (1965, American English slang), a reference to the behavior of people using hallucinogenic drugs (see space (v.)).
Spad (n.) Look up Spad at
French biplane fighter of World War I, 1917, from French spad, from acronym of Societé pour Aviation et ses Dérivés.
spade (n.1) Look up spade at
"tool for digging," Old English spadu "spade," from Proto-Germanic *spadan (cognates: Old Frisian spada "a spade," Middle Dutch spade "a sword," Old Saxon spado, Middle Low German spade, German Spaten), from PIE *spe-dh-, from root *spe- (2) "long, flat piece of wood" (cognates: Greek spathe "wooden blade, paddle," Old English spon "chip of wood, splinter," Old Norse spann "shingle, chip;" see spoon (n.)).

"A spade differs from a two-handed shovel chiefly in the form and thickness of the blade" [Century Dictionary]. To call a spade a spade "use blunt language, call things by right names" (1540s) translates a Greek proverb (known to Lucian), ten skaphen skaphen legein "to call a bowl a bowl," but Erasmus mistook Greek skaphe "trough, bowl" for a derivative of the stem of skaptein "to dig," and the mistake has stuck [see OED].
spade (n.2) Look up spade at
black figure on playing cards," 1590s, probably from Italian spade, plural of spada "the ace of spades," literally "sword, spade," from Latin spatha "broad, flat weapon or tool," from Greek spathe "broad blade" (see spade (n.1)). Phrase in spades "in abundance" first recorded 1929 (Damon Runyon), probably from bridge, where spades are the highest-ranking suit.
The invitations to the musicale came sliding in by pairs and threes and spade flushes. [O.Henry, "Cabbages & Kings," 1904]
Derogatory meaning "black person" is 1928, from the color of the playing card symbol.
spado (n.) Look up spado at
"castrated person," early 15c., from Latin spado, from Greek spadix, related to spadon "eunuch," span "to draw, tear away" (see spay).
spae (v.) Look up spae at
c. 1300, "foretell, devine, predict from signs," Scottish, from Old Norse spa, cognate with Danish spaa "prophesy;" related to Old Saxon spahi, Old High German spahi "wise, skillful," Old High German spehon "to spy" (see spy (v.)). Related: Spae-book "book containing directions for telling fortunes;" spaeman; spaewife.
spaghetti (n.) Look up spaghetti at
1849 (as sparghetti, in Eliza Acton's "Modern Cookery"), from Italian spaghetti, plural of spaghetto "string, twine," diminutive of spago "cord," of uncertain origin. Spaghetti Western (one filmed in Italy) first attested 1969. Spaghetti strap is from 1972.
Spain Look up Spain at
c. 1200, from Anglo-French Espayne, from Late Latin Spania, from Latin Hispania (see Spaniard). The usual Old English form was Ispania.
spake Look up spake at
archaic or poetic past tense of speak.
spald (v.) Look up spald at
c. 1400, "to splinter, chip" (transitive; spalding-knife is from mid-14c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Middle Dutch spalden, cognate with Middle Low German spalden, Old High German spaltan, German spalten "to split" (see spill (v.)). The later form of the verb is spall (1758), from or by influence of the noun. Related: Spalled; spalling.
spall (n.) Look up spall at
"chip of stone," mid-15c., from Middle English verb spald "to split open."
spam (n.) Look up spam at
proprietary name registered by Geo. A. Hormel & Co. in U.S., 1937; probably a conflation of spiced ham. Soon extended to other kinds of canned meat.

In the sense of "Internet junk mail" it was coined by Usenet users after March 31, 1993, when Usenet administrator Richard Depew inadvertently posted the same message 200 times to a discussion group. The term had been used in online text games, and ultimately it is from a 1970 sketch on the British TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" wherein a reading of a restaurant's menu devolves into endless repetitions of "spam."
span (n.1) Look up span at
"distance between two objects," from Old English span "distance between the thumb and little finger of an extended hand" (as a measure of length, roughly nine inches), probably related to Middle Dutch spannen "to join, fasten" (see span (v.)).

The Germanic word was borrowed into Medieval Latin as spannus, hence Italian spanna, Old French espan "hand's width, span as a unit of measure," French empan. As a measure of volume (early 14c.), "what can be held in two cupped hands." Meaning "length of time" first attested 1590s; that of "space between abutments of an arch, etc." is from 1725. Meaning "maximum lateral dimension of an aircraft" is first recorded 1909.
span (v.) Look up span at
Old English spannan "to join, link, clasp, fasten, bind, connect; stretch, span," from Proto-Germanic *spannan (cognates: Old Norse spenna, Old Frisian spanna, Middle Dutch spannen, Dutch spannan "stretch, bend, hoist, hitch," Old High German spannan, German spannen "to join, fasten, extend, connect"), from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin" (cognates: Latin pendere "to hang, to cause to hang," pondus "weight" (perhaps the notion is the weight of a thing measured by how much it stretches a cord), pensare "to weigh, consider;" Greek ponos "toil," ponein "to toil;" Lithuanian spendziu "lay a snare;" Old Church Slavonic peti "stretch, strain," pato "fetter," pina "I span;" Old English spinnan "to spin;" for other cognates, see spin (v.)).

The meaning "to encircle with the hand(s)" is from 1781; in the sense of "to form an arch over (something)" it is first recorded 1630s. Related: Spanned; spanning.
span (n.2) Look up span at
"two animals driven together," 1769, American English, from Dutch span, from spannen "to stretch or yoke," from Middle Dutch spannan, cognate with Old English spannan "to join" (see span (v.)). Also used in South African English.
spanandry (n.) Look up spanandry at
"extreme scarcity of males in a population," 1924, from French spananderie (1913), from Greek spanis "scarcity" + aner "man."
Spandex (n.) Look up Spandex at
synthetic fiber, 1959, American English, proprietary name, an arbitrary formation from expand + commercial suffix -ex.
spandrel (n.) Look up spandrel at
"triangular space between the outer curve of an arch and the molding enclosing it," late 15c., apparently a diminutive of Anglo-French spaundre (late 14c.), which is of uncertain origin, perhaps a shortening of Old French espandre "to expand, extend, spread," from Latin expandre (see expand).
spangle (n.) Look up spangle at
early 15c., "small piece of glittering metal," diminutive of spang "glittering ornament, spangle," probably from Middle Dutch spange "brooch, clasp," cognate with Old English spang "buckle, clasp," from Proto-Germanic *spango, from an extended form of the root of span (v.).
spangle (v.) Look up spangle at
1540s, "cover with spangles," from spangle (n.). Intransitive meaning "glitter, glisten" is from 1630s. Related: Spangled; spangling.
Spanglish (n.) Look up Spanglish at
"Spanish deformed by English words and idioms," by 1967, probably a nativization of Spanish Espanglish (1954); ultimately from Spanish (n.) + English.
spangly (adj.) Look up spangly at
1753, from spangle (n.) + -y (2).
Spaniard (n.) Look up Spaniard at
c. 1400, from Old French Espaignart, from Espaigne "Spain," from Latin Hispania, from Greek Hispania "Spain," Hispanos "Spanish, a Spaniard," probably from Celt-Iberian, in which language (H)i- represents a definite article [Klein, who compares Hellenistic Greek Spania]. The earlier English noun was Spaynol (mid-14c.), from Old French Espaignol. The Latin adjectives are Hispanus, Hispanicus, Hispaniensis.
spaniel (n.) Look up spaniel at
late 13c., as a surname meaning "Spaniard;" as a name for a breed of dog supposedly of Spanish origin, late 14c., from Old French (chien) espagneul, literally "Spanish (dog)," from Vulgar Latin *Hispaniolus "of Spain," diminutive of Latin Hispanus "Spanish, Hispanic" (see Spaniard). Used originally to start game; the breed was much-developed in England in 17c. Whether it is actually originally Spanish is uncertain.
Spanish (adj.) Look up Spanish at
c. 1200, Spainisc, from Spaine "Spain," from Old French Espaigne (see Spaniard) + -ish. Replaced Old English Speonisc. Altered 16c. by influence of Latin. As a noun, "the Spanish language," from late 15c.

For Spanish Main see main. Spanish moss is attested from 1823. Spanish fly, the fabled aphrodisiac (ground-up cantharis blister-beetles), is attested from c. 1600. Spanish-American War was so called in British press speculations early 1898, even before it began in April. For Spanish Inquisition (by c. 1600), see Inquisition.
spank (v.) Look up spank at
1727, "to strike forcefully with the open hand, especially on the buttocks," possibly imitative of the sound of spanking. Related: Spanked; spanking. The noun is from 1785.
spanking (adj.) Look up spanking at
1660s, "very big or fine," later (especially of horses) "moving at a lively pace" (1738), of uncertain origin; perhaps from a Scandinavian source (OED compares Danish spanke "to strut"). Probably also related to spanker "something striking" (for size, etc.), 1751; as a kind of sail from 1794.
spanking (n.) Look up spanking at
"act of striking with the open hand," especially as a punishment administered to children, 1854, verbal noun from spank (v.).
spanner (n.) Look up spanner at
1630s, a tool for winding the spring of a wheel-lock firearm, from German Spanner, from spannen (see span (v.)). Meaning "wrench" is from 1790. Figurative phrase spanner in the works attested from 1921 (Wodehouse).
spar (n.1) Look up spar at
early 14c., "rafter;" late 14c., "stout pole," from or cognate with Middle Low German or Middle Dutch sparre, from Proto-Germanic *sparron (cognates: Old English *spere "spear, lance," Old Norse sperra "rafter, beam," German Sparren "spar, rafter"), from PIE root *sper- (1) "spear, pole" (see spear (n.1)). Nautical use, in reference to one used as a mast, yard, boom, etc., dates from 1630s. Also borrowed in Old French as esparre, which might be the direct source of the English word.
spar (v) Look up spar at
late 14c., "go quickly, rush, dart, spring;" c. 1400, "to strike or thrust," perhaps from Middle French esparer "to kick" (Modern French éparer), from Italian sparare "to fling," from Latin ex- (see ex-) + parare "make ready, prepare," hence "ward off, parry" (see pare). Etymologists consider a connection with spur unlikely. Used in 17c. in reference to preliminary actions in a cock fight; figurative sense of "to dispute, bandy with words" is from 1690s. Extension to humans, in a literal sense, with meaning "to engage in or practice boxing" is attested from 1755. Related: Sparred; sparring.
spar (n.2) Look up spar at
"crystalline mineral that breaks easily into fragments with smooth surfaces," 1580s, from Low German Spar, from Middle Low German *spar, *sper, cognate with Old English spær- in spærstan "gypsum."
sparagmos (n.) Look up sparagmos at
ritual death of a hero in tragedy or myth, 1913, from Greek sparagmos, literally "tearing, rending."
spare (adj.) Look up spare at
"kept in reserve, not used, provided or held for extra need," late 14c., from or from the same root as spare (v.). Old English had spær "sparing, frugal." Also compare Old Norse sparr "(to be) spared." In reference to time, from mid-15c.; sense of "lacking in substance; lean, gaunt; flimsy, thin; poor," is recorded from 1540s. Spare part is attested from 1888. Spare tire is from 1894 of bicycles; 1903 of automobiles; 1961 of waistlines.
spare (v.) Look up spare at
Old English sparian "to refrain from harming, be indulgent to, allow to go free; use sparingly," from the source of Old English spær "sparing, frugal," from Proto-Germanic *sparaz (cognates: Old Saxon sparon, Old Frisian sparia, Old Norse spara, Dutch sparen, Old High German sparon, German sparen "to spare"). Meaning "to dispense from one's own stock, give or yield up," is recorded from early 13c. Related: Spared; sparing.
spare (n.) Look up spare at
"extra thing or part," 1640s, from spare (adj.). The Middle English noun sense was "a sparing, mercy, leniency" (early 14c.). Bowling game sense of "an advantage gained by a knocking down of all pins in two bowls" is attested from 1843, American English.
spare-ribs (n.) Look up spare-ribs at
1590s, formerly also spear-ribs, from spare (adj.), here indicating probably "absence of fat;" or perhaps from Middle Low German ribbesper "spare ribs," from sper "spit," and meaning originally "a spit thrust through pieces of rib-meat" [Klein]; if so, it is related to spar (n.1).
sparingly (adv.) Look up sparingly at
mid-15c., from sparing, attested from late 14c. as a present participle adjective from spare (v.), + -ly (2).
spark (n.) Look up spark at
Old English spearca "glowing or fiery particle thrown off," from Proto-Germanic *spark- (cognates: Middle Low German sparke, Middle Dutch spranke, not found in other Germanic languages). Electrical sense dates from 1748. Old French esparque is from Germanic.

Slang sense of "a gallant, a showy beau, a roisterer" (c. 1600) is perhaps a figurative use, but also perhaps from cognate Old Norse sparkr "lively." Spark plug first recorded 1902 (sparking plug is from 1899); figurative sense of "one who initiates or is a driving force in some activity" is from 1941.