- thanks (n.)
- Old English þanc, þonc in late use "grateful thought, gratitude," plural form thanks from mid-13c., from the same root as thank (v.). Compare Old Saxon thank, Old Frisian thank, Old Norse þökk, Dutch dank, German Dank. The Old English noun originally and chiefly meant "thought, reflection, sentiment; mind, will, purpose;" also "grace, mercy, pardon; pleasure, satisfaction."
As short for I give you thanks from 1580s; often with extensions, such as thanks a lot (1908). Spelling thanx attested by 1907.
- thanksgiving (n.)
- 1530s, "the giving of thanks," from thanks (n.) + present participle of give (v.). In the specific sense of "public celebration acknowledging divine favors" thanksgiving dates from 1630s (the first one in America was held October 1621 by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims in appreciation of assistance from members of the Massasoit tribe and celebration of the first harvest); though Thanksgiving Day itself is not attested until 1670s.
- now representing dialectal pronunciation of there; in literary use in Middle English.
- that (pron.)
- Old English þæt, "that, so that, after that," neuter singular demonstrative pronoun ("A Man's a Man for a' that"), relative pronoun ("O thou that hearest prayer"), and
demonstrative adjective ("Look at that caveman go!"), corresponding to masc. se, fem. seo. From Proto-Germanic *that, from PIE *tod-, extended form of demonstrative pronomial base *-to- (see -th (1)). With the breakdown of the grammatical gender system, it came to be used in Middle English and Modern English for all genders. Germanic cognates include Old Saxon that, Old Frisian thet, Middle Dutch, Dutch dat "that," German der, die, das "the."
Generally more specific or emphatic than the, but in some cases they are interchangeable. From c. 1200 opposed to this as indicating something farther off. In adverbial use ("I'm that old"), in reference to something implied or previously said, c. 1200, an abbreviation of the notion of "to that extent," "to that degree." Slang that way "in love" first recorded 1929. That-a-way "in that direction" is recorded from 1839. "Take that!" said while delivering a blow, is recorded from early 15c.
- thatch (v.)
- late 14c., thecchen, from Old English þeccan "to cover, cover over, conceal," in late Old English specifically "cover the roof of a house," related to þæc "roof, thatching material," from Proto-Germanic *thakan (cognates: Old Saxon thekkian, Old Norse þekja, Old Frisian thekka, Middle Dutch decken, Dutch dekken, Old High German decchen, German decken "to cover"), from PIE *(s)teg- (2) "to cover" (see stegosaurus).
- thatch (n.)
- Old English þæc "roof, thatch, cover of a building," from the source of thatch (v.). Compare Old Norse þak, Old Frisian thek, Swedish tak, Danish tag, Middle Dutch, Dutch dak "roof," Old High German dah "covering, cover," German Dach "roof."
- thatcher (n.)
- early 14c. (late 12c. as a surname); agent noun from thatch (v.). Corresponds to Old English þecere, Dutch dekker, German Decker. Thatcherite in British politics (1976) refers to policies and principles of Conservative politician and prime minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013).
- thaught (n.)
- "rower's bench," 1620s, alteration of thoft, from Old English þofte, from Proto-Germanic *thufto- (cognates: Dutch doft, German ducht), from PIE *tupta-, from root *tup- "to squat."
- thaumaturge (n.)
- "wonder-worker," 1715, from Medieval Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos "wonder-working; conjurer," from thauma (genitive thaumatos) "wonder, astonishment; wondrous thing," literally "a thing to look at," from root of theater, + ergon "work" (see organ).
- thaumaturgy (n.)
- "wonder-working," 1727, from Greek thaumatourgia, from thaumatourgos (see thaumaturge). Related: Thaumaturgic; thaumaturgical (1620s).
- thaw (n.)
- "the melting of ice or snow," also "spell of weather causing this," c. 1400, from thaw (v.). Figurative sense is from 1590s; specifically "relaxation of political harshness or hostility" from 1950, an image from the "Cold War."
- thaw (v.)
- Old English þawian (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *thawon- (cognates: Old Norse þeyja, Middle Low German doien, Dutch dooien, Old High German douwen, German tauen "to thaw"), from PIE root *ta- "to melt, dissolve" (cognates: Sanskrit toyam "water," Ossetic thayun "to thaw," Welsh tawadd "molten," Doric Greek takein "to melt, waste, be consumed," Old Irish tam "pestilence," Latin tabes "a melting, wasting away, putrefaction," Old Church Slavonic tajati "to melt"). Intransitive sense from early 14c. Related: Thawed; thawing.
- THC (n.)
- active ingredient in marijuana and hashish, 1968, short for tetrahydrocannabinol (1940).
- definite article, late Old English þe, nominative masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun and adjective. After c.950, it replaced earlier se (masc.), seo (fem.), þæt (neuter), and probably represents se altered by the th- form which was used in all the masculine oblique cases (see below).
Old English se is from PIE root *so- "this, that" (cognates: Sanskrit sa, Avestan ha, Greek ho, he "the," Irish and Gaelic so "this"). For the þ- forms, see that. The s- forms were entirely superseded in English by mid-13c., excepting a slightly longer dialectal survival in Kent. Old English used 10 different words for "the" (see table), but did not distinguish "the" from "that." That survived for a time as a definite article before vowels (that one or that other).
Adverbial use in the more the merrier, the sooner the better, etc. is a relic of Old English þy, the instrumentive case of the neuter demonstrative (see that).
- fem. proper name, from Greek thea "goddess," fem. equivalent of theos "god" (see theo-).
- theater (n.)
- late 14c., "open air place in ancient times for viewing spectacles and plays," from Old French theatre (12c., Modern French théâtre, improperly accented) and directly from Latin theatrum "play-house, theater; stage; spectators in a theater" (source also of Spanish, Italian teatro), from Greek theatron "theater; the people in the theater; a show, a spectacle," literally "place for viewing," from theasthai "to behold" (related to thea "a view, a seeing; a seat in the theater," theates "spectator") + -tron, suffix denoting place.
Meaning "building where plays are shown" is from 1570s in English. Transferred sense of "plays, writing, production, the stage" is from 1660s. Generic sense of "place of action" is from 1580s; especially "region where war is being fought" (1914). Spelling with -re arose late 17c. and prevailed in Britain after c. 1700 by French influence, but American English retained or revived the older spelling in -er.
- theatre (n.)
- chiefly British English spelling of theater (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.
- theatrical (adj.)
- 1550s, "pertaining to the theater;" see theater + -ical. Sense of "stagy, histrionic" is attested from 1709. Related: Theatrically; theatricality.
- theatrics (n.)
- 1807, "matters pertaining to the stage," from noun use of theatric (adj.) "pertaining to the theater" (1706), from theater. Meaning "theatrical behavior" is attested from 1929, American English.
- Thebaid (n.)
- 1727, "district around Thebes (in Egypt)," formerly haunted by hermits and ascetics. Also, "pertaining to (Boeotian) Thebes" in Greece, especially in reference to the poem by Statius.
- before vowels thec-, word-forming element used in botany and zoology with the sense "case, capsule," from Latinized combining form of Greek theke "case, receptacle," from root of tithenai "to put, place" (see theme).
- thee (pron.)
- Old English þe (accusative and dative singular of þu "thou"), from Proto-Germanic *theke (cognates: Old Frisian thi, Middle Dutch di, Old High German dih, German dich, Old Norse þik, Norwegian deg, Gothic þuk), from PIE *tege-, accusative of root *tu-, second person singular pronoun (see thou). The verb meaning "to use the pronoun 'thee' to someone" is recorded from 1662, in connection with the rise of Quakerism.
In Middle English, people began to use plural forms in all cases, at first as a sign of respect to superiors, then as a courtesy to equals. By the 1600s, the singular forms had come to represent familiarity and lack of status, and fell from use except in the case of a few dialects, notably in the north of England. People in Lancashire north of the Rossendale Forest and Yorkshire formerly were noted for use of the singular second person pronouns tha (nom.) and thee (acc.). For religious reasons (Christian equality of persons, but also justified as grammatically correct), the Quakers also retained the familiar forms.
Thou and Thee was a sore cut to proud flesh and them that sought self-honour, who, though they would say it to God and Christ, could not endure to have it said to themselves. So that we were often beaten and abused, and sometimes in danger of our lives, for using those words to some proud men, who would say, "What! you ill-bred clown, do you Thou me?" as though Christian breeding consisted in saying You to one; which is contrary to all their grammar and teaching books, by which they instructed their youth. [George Fox's journal, 1661]
While the Quakers originally adopted "thee" and "thou" on account of their grammatical correctness, they soon fell into the careless habit of using "thee," the objective, instead of "thou," the nominative. Common illustrations are: "How does thee do?" or "Will thee," etc. [George Fox Tucker, "A Quaker Home," Boston, 1891]
- theft (n.)
- mid-13c., from Old English þeofð (West Saxon þiefð) "theft," from Proto-Germanic *theubitho (cognates: Old Frisian thiufthe, Old Norse þyfð), from *theubaz "thief" (see thief) + abstract formative suffix *-itha (cognate with Latin -itatem; see -th (2)).
- thegn (n.)
- "military tenant of an Anglo-Saxon king," 1848, a modern revival of an Old English form; see thane.
- their (pron.)
- plural possessive pronoun, c. 1200, from Old Norse þierra "of them," genitive of plural personal and demonstrative pronoun þeir "they" (see they). Replaced Old English hiera. As an adjective from late 14c. Use with singular objects, scorned by grammarians, is attested from c. 1300, and OED quotes this in Fielding, Goldsmith, Sydney Smith, and Thackeray. Theirs (c. 1300) is a double possessive. Alternative form theirn (1836) is attested in Midlands and southern dialect in U.K. and the Ozarks region of the U.S.
- theirs (pron.)
- possessive pronoun, "their own," early 14c., from their + possessive -s, on analogy of his, etc. In form, a double possessive.
- theirself (pron.)
- emphatic plural pronoun, c. 1300, from their + self, with self, originally an inflected adjective, treated as a noun with a meaning "person." Related: Theirselves.
- theism (n.)
- 1670s, "belief in a deity or deities," (as opposed to atheism); by 1711 as "belief in one god" (as opposed to polytheism); by 1714 as "belief in the existence of God as creator and ruler of the universe" (as opposed to deism), the usual modern sense; see theist + -ism.
Theism assumes a living relation of God to his creatures, but does not define it. It differs from deism in that the latter is negative and involves a denial of revelation, while the former is affirmative, and underlies Christianity. One may be a theist and not be a Christian, but he cannot be a Christian and not be a theist. [Century Dictionary]
- theist (n.)
- 1660s, from Greek theos "god" (see theo-) + -ist. The original senses was that later reserved to deist: "one who believes in a transcendent god but denies revelation." Later in 18c. theist was contrasted with deist, as believing in a personal God and allowing the possibility of revelation.
- theistic (adj.)
- 1780, from theist + -ic. Related: Theistical (1690s); theistically.
- them (pron.)
- third person plural pronoun, c. 1200, from Old Norse þeim, dative of plural personal and demonstrative pronoun þeir (see they). Replaced Old English cognate him, heom.
- thematic (adj.)
- 1690s, in logic, from Greek thematikos, from thema (genitive thematos; see theme). From 1871 of writing or discourse. Related: Thematical; thematically.
- theme (n.)
- early 14c., "subject or topic on which a person writes or speaks," from Old French tesme (13c., with silent -s- "indicating vowel length" [OED], Modern French thème) and directly from Latin thema "a subject, thesis," from Greek thema "a proposition, subject, deposit," literally "something set down," from root of tithenai "put down, place," from PIE *dhe-mn, from root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Meaning "school essay" is from 1540s. Extension to music first recorded 1670s; theme song first attested 1929. Theme park is from 1960.
- Greek goddess of law and justice, the name means "custom, right," literally "that which is laid down or established" (by custom); also "laws, ordinances," but closer in sense to Latin jus than lex; related to thema "proposition; that which is placed" (see theme).
- name of great Athenian political leader, from Greek Themistokles, literally "famed in law and right," from themis "custom, law, right" (see Themis) + -kles (see Damocles).
- themselves (pron.)
- mid-15c. in northern dialect, standard from 1540s, alteration of Middle English tham-self, emphatic plural pronoun, also reciprocal pronoun (14c.); see them + self, with self, originally an inflected adjective, treated as a noun with a meaning "person" and pluralized. Displacing Old English heom selfum (dative). Themself returned late 20c. as some writers took to replacing himself with gender-neutral everyone, anyone, etc.
- then (adv.)
- adverb of time, Old English þanne, þænne, þonne, from Proto-Germanic *thana- (cognates: Old Frisian thenne, Old Saxon thanna, Dutch dan, Old High German danne, German dann), from PIE demonstrative pronoun root *to- (see the).
As a conjunction, "in that case, therefore," in Old English. As an adjective, "being at that time," from 1580s. As a noun from early 14c. For further sense development, see than. Similar evolutions in other Germanic languages; Dutch uses dan in both senses, but German has dann (adv.) "then," denn (conj.) "than." Now and then "at various times" is attested from 1550s; earlier then and then (c. 1200).
- thence (adv.)
- late 13c., from Old English þanone, þanon "from that place" + adverbial genitive -es. Old English þanone/þanon is from Proto-Germanic *thanana (cognates: Old Saxon thanana, Old Norse þana, Old Frisian thana, Old High German danana, German von dannen), related obscurely to the root of then, and ultimately from PIE demonstrative base *to- (see the). Written with -c- to indicate a voiceless "s" sound. Meaning "from that time" is from late 14c.; sense of "for that reason" is from 1650s. From thence is redundant.
- thenceforth (adv.)
- late 14c., from thence + forth.
- thenceforward (adv.)
- mid-15c., from thence + forward.
- word-forming element meaning "god, gods, God," from comb. form of Greek theos "god," from PIE root *dhes-, root of words applied to various religious concepts, such as Latin feriae "holidays," festus "festive," fanum "temple."
- masc. proper name, from Medieval Latin Theobaldus, from Old High German Theudobald, from theuda "folk, people" (see Teutonic) + bald "bold" (see bold). Form influenced in Medieval Latin by the many Greek-derived names beginning in Theo-.
- theocentric (adj.)
- 1856, from theo- + -centric.
- theocracy (n.)
- 1737; earlier as un-Latinized theocraty (1620s), "form of government in which God is recognized as supreme ruler and his laws form the statute book," originally of the sacerdotal government of Israel before the rise of kings, from later Greek theokratia (Josephus), literally "the rule of God," from theos "god" (see theo-) + kratos "a rule, regime, strength" (see -cracy). Meaning "priestly or religious body wielding political and civil power" is recorded from 1825. Related: Theocratic (1741).
- theocrat (n.)
- 1827, "a ruler in the name of God," from Greek theos "god" (see theo-) + -crat, from aristocrat, etc. From 1843 as "one who favors a system of theocracy." Theocratist was the name of a publication begun in 1828 "to maintain the essential relation which subsists between religion and politics," and might be used in the sense "one who emphasizes divine authority over reason and individual freedom and who explains social order as a revelation from God."
- theodicy (n.)
- "vindication of divine justice," 1771, from French théodicée, title of a 1710 work by Leibniz to prove the justice of God in a world with much moral and physical evil, from Greek theos "god" (see theo-) + dike "judgment, justice, usage, custom" (cognate with Latin dicere "to show, tell;" see diction). Related: Theodicean.
- theodolite (n.)
- surveying instrument, 1570s, of unknown origin (see OED for discussion). "The word has a Gr[eek] semblance, but no obvious Gr[eek] basis" [Century Dictionary].
- masc. proper name, from Latin Theodorus, from Greek Theodoros, literally "gift of god," from theos "god" (see theo-) + doron "gift" (see date (n.1)). The fem. form is Theodora.
- masc. proper name, from Late Latin Theodoricus, from Gothic, literally "ruler of the people," from Gothic þiuda "people" (see Teutonic) + *reiks "ruler" (see Reich). For spelling, see Theobald. The French form of the name, via the Franks, is Thierry.
- fem. proper name, from Greek Theodosia, literally "gift of the gods," from theos "god" (see theo-) + dosis "a giving," from stem of didonai "to give" (see date (n.1)).