sport (n.) Look up sport at
early 15c., "pleasant pastime," shortening of disport "activity that offers amusement or relaxation; entertainment, fun" (c. 1300), also "a pastime or game; flirtation; pleasure taken in such activity" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French disport, Old French desport, deport "pleasure, enjoyment, delight; solace, consolation; favor, privilege," related to desporter, deporter "to divert, amuse, please, play" (see sport (v.)).

Original sense preserved in phrases such as in sport "in jest" (mid-15c.). Meaning "game involving physical exercise" first recorded 1520s. Sense of "stylish man" is from 1861, American English, probably because they lived by gambling and betting on races. Meaning "good fellow" is attested from 1881 (as in be a sport, 1913). Sport as a familiar form of address to a man is from 1935, Australian English. The sport of kings was originally (1660s) war-making. Other, lost senses of Middle English disport were "consolation, solace; a source of comfort."
sport (v.) Look up sport at
c. 1400, "to take pleasure, to amuse oneself," from Old French desporter, deporter "to divert, amuse, please, play; to seek amusement," literally "carry away" (the mind from serious matters), from des- "away" (see dis-) + porter "to carry," from Latin portare "to carry" (from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over"). Restricted sense of "amuse oneself by active exercise in open air or taking part in some game" is from late 15c. Meaning "to wear" is from 1778. Related: Sported; sporting.
sporting (adj.) Look up sporting at
c. 1600, "playful;" 1799 as "characterized by conduct constant with that of a sportsman" (as in sporting chance, 1897), present participle adjective from sport (v.).
sportive (adj.) Look up sportive at
1580s, "frolicsome," from sport (n.) + -ive. Related: Sportively; sportiveness. Earlier was sportful (c. 1400).
sports (n.) Look up sports at
atheltic games and contests, 1590s, from sport (n.). Meaning "sports section of a newspaper" is 1913. As an adjective from 1897. Sports fan attested from 1921. Sports car attested by 1914; so called for its speed and power:
I have just returned from the south of France, passing through Lyons, where I visited the [Berliet] works with my car, and was shown the new model 25 h.p. "sports" car, and was so impressed with this that I immediately ordered one on my return to London. [letter in "The Autocar," Jan. 7, 1914]
sportscast (n.) Look up sportscast at
1938, from sports + ending from broadcast (n.).
sportsman (n.) Look up sportsman at
1706, from sports + man (n.). Sportswoman attested from 1754.
sportsmanlike (adj.) Look up sportsmanlike at
1728, from sportsman + like (adj.).
sportsmanship (n.) Look up sportsmanship at
"conduct worthy of a sportsman," 1745, from sportsman + -ship.
sportswear (n.) Look up sportswear at
also sports-wear, 1912, from sports (n.) + wear (n.). Hence sports coat, sports shirt, etc.
sporty (adj.) Look up sporty at
1889, "sportsmanlike;" 1962, "in the style of a sports car," from sport (n.) + -y (2). Related: Sportily; sportiness.
spot (v.) Look up spot at
mid-13c., "to mark or stain with spots;" late 14c. as "to stain, sully, tarnish," from spot (n.). Meaning "to see and recognize," is from 1718, originally colloquial and applied to a criminal or suspected person; the general sense is from 1860. Related: Spotted; spotting. Spotted dick "suet pudding with currants and raisins" is attested from 1849.
spot (n.) Look up spot at
c. 1200, "moral stain," probably from Old English splott "a spot, blot, patch (of land)," and partly from or related to Middle Dutch spotte "spot, speck." Other cognates are East Frisian spot "speck," North Frisian spot "speck, piece of ground," Old Norse spotti "small piece," Norwegian spot "spot, small piece of land." It is likely that some of these are borrowed from others, but the exact evolution now is impossible to trace.

Meaning "speck, stain" is from mid-14c. The sense of "particular place, small extent of space" is from c. 1300. Meaning "short interval in a broadcast for an advertisement or announcement" is from 1923. Proceeded by a number (as in five-spot) it originally was a term for "prison sentence" of that many years (1901, American English slang). To put (someone) on the spot "place in a difficult situation" is from 1928. Colloquial phrase to hit the spot "satisfy, be what is required" is from 1868. Spot check first attested 1933. Adverbial phrase spot on "completely right" attested from 1920.
spotless (adj.) Look up spotless at
late 14c., spotlez, from spot (n.) + -less. Figurative sense is from 1570s. Related: Spotlessly; spotlessness.
spotlight (n.) Look up spotlight at
1904, from spot (n.) + light (n.). Originally a theatrical equipment; figurative sense is attested from 1916. The verb is first recorded 1923.
spotter (n.) Look up spotter at
1610s, "one who makes spots," agent noun from spot (v.). From 1893 in hunting; 1903 in sense "look-out."
spotty (adj.) Look up spotty at
mid-14c., "marked with spots," from spot (n.) + -y (2). Meaning "unsteady, uneven" is attested from 1932, from a more specific use with reference to painting (1812).
spousage (n.) Look up spousage at
"marriage, wedlock," mid-14c., from spouse (n.) + -age.
spousal (adj.) Look up spousal at
1510s, "pertaining to marriage," from spouse (n.) + -al (1).
spousal (n.) Look up spousal at
c. 1300, "a wedding ceremony, action of marrying; wedlock, condition of being espoused," from Anglo-French spousaille, Old French esposaille (see espousal). Earlier was spousage "marriage, wedlock" (mid-14c.).
spouse (n.) Look up spouse at
c. 1200, "a married person, either one of a married pair, but especially a married woman in relation to her husband," also "Christ or God as the spiritual husband of the soul, the church, etc.," also "marriage, the wedded state," from Old French spous (fem. spouse) "marriage partner," variant of espous/espouse (Modern French épous/épouse), from Latin sponsus "bridegroom" (fem. sponsa "bride"), literally "betrothed," from masc. and fem. past participle of spondere "to bind oneself, promise solemnly," from PIE *spend- "to make an offering, perform a rite" (see spondee). Spouse-breach (early 13c.) was an old name for "adultery."
spout (n.) Look up spout at
late 14c., from spout (v.). Cognate with Middle Dutch spoit, North Frisian spütj. It was the slang term for the lift in a pawnbroker's shop, the device which took up articles for storage, hence figurative phrase up the spout "lost, hopeless, gone beyond recall" (1812).
spout (v.) Look up spout at
"to issue forcible, as a liquid," early 14c., related to Middle Dutch spoiten "to spout" (Dutch spuiten "to flow, spout"), North Frisian spütji "spout, squirt," Swedish sputa "to spout," from Proto-Germanic *sput-, from PIE *sp(y)eu- "to spew, spit" (see spew (v.)). Meaning "to talk, declaim" is recorded from 1610s. Related: Spouted; spouting.
sprag (n.) Look up sprag at
"prop in a mine," 1841, of unknown origin. Transferred by 1878 to wood blocks, etc., used to brake motor vehicles. As a verb, from 1841. Related: Spragged; spragging.
sprain (n.) Look up sprain at
c. 1600, of uncertain origin. The verb is attested from 1620s. A connection has been suggested to Middle French espraindre "to press out," from Latin exprimere [Klein, Century Dictionary], but the sense evolution is difficult. Related: Sprained; spraining.
sprang Look up sprang at
past tense of spring (v.).
sprat (n.) Look up sprat at
small European herring, 1590s, variant of sprot (c. 1300), from Old English sprott "a small herring," according to Klein related to Dutch sprot and probably connected to sprout (v.).
sprawl (n.) Look up sprawl at
1719, from sprawl (v.); meaning "straggling expansion of built-up districts into surrounding countryside" is from 1955.
sprawl (v.) Look up sprawl at
Old English spreawlian "move convulsively," with cognates in the Scandinavian languages (such as Norwegian sprala, Danish sprælle) and North Frisian spraweli, probably ultimately from PIE root *sper- (4) "to strew" (see sprout (v.)). Meaning "to spread out" is from c. 1300. That of "to spread or stretch in a careless manner" is attested from 1540s; of things, from 1745. Related: Sprawled; sprawling.
spray (v.) Look up spray at
"sprinkle liquid in drops," 1520s, from Middle Dutch sprayen, from Proto-Germanic *sprewjan (source also of German sprühen "to sparkle, drizzle," Spreu "chaff," literally "that which flies about"), from extended form of PIE root *sper- (4) "to sow, scatter" (see sprout (v.)). Related: Sprayed; spraying.
spray (n.1) Look up spray at
"small branch," mid-13c., of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to Old English spræc "shoot, twig" (see sprig), and compare Danish sprag in same sense.
spray (n.2) Look up spray at
"water blown by waves," 1620s, from spray (v.).
spray-paint (v.) Look up spray-paint at
1928, from spray (v.) + paint (v.). Related: Spray-painting (1902).
spread (n.) Look up spread at
1620s, "act of spreading;" 1690s, "extent or expanse of something," from spread (v.). Meaning "copious meal" dates from 1822; sense of "food for spreading" (butter, jam, etc.) is from 1812. Sense of "bed cover" is recorded from 1848, originally American English. Meaning "degree of variation" is attested from 1929. Meaning "ranch for raising cattle" is attested from 1927.
spread (v.) Look up spread at
c. 1200, "to stretch out, to lay out; diffuse, disseminate" (transitive), also "to advance over a wide area" (intransitive); probably from Old English sprædan "to spread, stretch forth, extend" (especially in tosprædan "to spread out," and gesprædung "spreading"), from Proto-Germanic *spreit- (source also of Danish sprede, Old Swedish spreda, Middle Dutch spreiden, Old High German and German spreiten "to spread"), extended form of PIE root *sper- (4) "to strew" (see sprout (v.)). Reflexive sense of "to be outspread" is from c. 1300; that of "to extend, expand" is attested from mid-14c. Transitive sense of "make (something) wide" is from late 14c. As an adjective from 1510s. Related: Spreading.
spread-eagle (n.) Look up spread-eagle at
literally "splayed eagle," 1560s, a heraldic term, from past participle adjective of spread (v.). Common on signs, flags, etc; the colloquial term was from split crow. The figure is on the seal of the United States (hence spreadeagleism "extravagant laudation of the U.S.," 1858). Meaning "person secured with arms and legs stretched out" (originally to be flogged) is attested from 1785.
spreadable (adj.) Look up spreadable at
1940, from spread (v.) + -able.
spreader (n.) Look up spreader at
late 15c., agent noun from spread (v.).
spreadsheet (n.) Look up spreadsheet at
1965, from spread (n.) + sheet (n.1).
spree (n.) Look up spree at
"a frolic, drinking bout," 1804, slang, earliest use in Scottish dialect works, of uncertain origin. Perhaps [Barnhart] an alteration of French esprit "lively wit" (see esprit). According to Klein, Irish spre seems to be a loan-word from Old Norse sprakr. Watkins proposes a possible origin as an alteration of Scots spreath "cattle raid," from Gaelic sprédh, spré, "cattle; wealth," from Middle Irish preit, preid, "booty," ultimately from Latin praeda "plunder, booty" (see prey (n.)).
The splore is a frolic, a merry meeting. In the slang language of the inhabitants of St Giles's, in London, it is called a spree or a go. [Note in "Select Scottish Songs, Ancient and Modern," vol. II, London, 1810]
In Foote's comedy "The Maid of Bath" (1794) the word appears as a Scottish dialect pronunciation of spry: " 'When I intermarried with Sir Launcelot Coldstream, I was en siek a spree lass as yoursel; and the baronet bordering upon his grand climacteric;' " etc.
sprig (n.) Look up sprig at
"shoot, twig or spray of a plant, shrub," c. 1400, probably related to Old English spræc "shoot, twig," a word of obscure origin.
spright (n.) Look up spright at
alternative form of sprite.
sprightly (adj.) Look up sprightly at
1590s, from spright, an early 16c. variant of sprite, + -ly (1). Related: Sprightliness.
spring (n.3) Look up spring at
"act of springing or leaping," late 14c., from spring (v.). The elastic wire coil that returns to its shape when stretched is so called from early 15c., originally in clocks and watches. As a device in carriages, coaches, etc., it is attested from 1660s.
spring (n.1) Look up spring at
season following winter, the vernal season, c. 1400, earlier springing time (late 14c.), which replaced Lent, the Old English word. From spring (v.); also see spring (n.3). The notion is of the "spring of the year," when plants begin to rise (as in spring of the leaf, 1520s), from the noun in its old sense of "action or time of rising or springing into existence." It was used of sunrise, the waxing of the moon, rising tides, etc.; compare 14c. spring of dai "sunrise," spring of mone "moonrise," late Old English spring "carbuncle, pustule."

Other Germanic languages tend to take words for "fore" or "early" as their roots for the season name (Danish voraar, Dutch voorjaar, literally "fore-year;" German Frühling, from Middle High German vrueje "early"). In 15c. English, the season also was prime-temps, after Old French prin tans, tamps prim (French printemps, which replaced primevère 16c. as the common word for spring), from Latin tempus primum, literally "first time, first season."

Spring fever is from 1843 as "surge of romantic feelings;" earlier of a type of disease or head-cold prevalent in certain places in spring; Old English had lenctenadle. First record of spring cleaning in the domestic sense is by 1843 (in ancient Persia, the first month, corresponding to March-April, was Adukanaiša, which apparently means "Irrigation-Canal-Cleaning Month;" Kent, p.167). Spring chicken "small roasting chicken" (usually 11 to 14 weeks) is recorded from 1780; transferred sense of "young person" first recorded 1906. Baseball spring training attested by 1889, earlier of militias, etc.
spring (n.2) Look up spring at
"source of a stream or river, flow of water rising to the surface of the earth from below," Old English spring "spring, source, sprinkling," from spring (v.) on the notion of the water "bursting forth" from the ground. Rarely used alone in Old English, appearing more often in compounds, such as wyllspring "wellspring," espryng "water spring." Figurative sense of "source or origin of something" is attested from early 13c. Cognate with Old High German sprung "source of water," Middle High German sprinc "leap, jump; source of water."
spring (v.) Look up spring at
Old English springan "to leap, burst forth, fly up; spread, grow," (class III strong verb; past tense sprang, past participle sprungen), from Proto-Germanic *sprengan (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian springa, Middle Dutch springhen, Dutch Related: springen, Old Saxon and Old High German springan, German springen), from PIE *sprengh-, nasalized form of root *spergh- "to move, hasten, spring" (source also of Sanskrit sprhayati "desires eagerly," Greek sperkhesthai "to hurry").

In Middle English, it took on the role of causal sprenge, from Old English sprengan (as still in to spring a trap, etc.). Meaning "to cause to work or open," by or as by a spring mechanism, is from 1828.Meaning "to announce suddenly" (usually with on) is from 1876. Meaning "to release" (from imprisonment) is from 1900. Slang meaning "to pay" (for a treat, etc.) is recorded from 1906.
spring-house (n.) Look up spring-house at
also springhouse, 1762, from spring (n.2) + house (n.).
springboard (n.) Look up springboard at
also spring-board, 1799, from spring (v.) + board (n.1).
springbok (n.) Look up springbok at
South African gazelle, 1775, from Afrikaans, from springen "to leap" (from Middle Dutch springhen, see spring (v.)) + bok "antelope," from Middle Dutch boc (see buck (n.1)).