- tail-bone (n.)
- also tailbone, 1540s, from tail (n.1) + bone (n.).
- tail-end (n.)
- late 14c., from tail (n.1) + end (n.).
- tail-gate (n.)
- 1868, back panel on a wagon, hinged to swing down and open, from tail (n.1) + gate (n.). Extended by 1950 to hatchback door on an automobile. The verb (also tailgate) meaning "to drive too close behind another vehicle" is from 1951 ("Truck drivers know the practice of following too close as tail-gating" - "Popular Science," Jan. 1952); as an adjective, in reference to the open tail-gate of a parked car as a setting for a party or picnic, from 1958. Related: Tail-gating.
- tail-hook (n.)
- 1861, in angling, from tail (n.1) + hook (n.).
- tail-pipe (n.)
- also tailpipe, 1757, "small pipe fixed at the swell of a musket to receive the ramrod," from tail (n.1) + pipe (n.). From 1832 as "suction pipe of a pump;" 1907 as "exhaust pipe of an automobile."
- tailor (n.)
- c. 1300, from Anglo-French tailour, Old French tailleor "tailor," also "stone-mason" (13c., Modern French tailleur), literally "a cutter," from tailler "to cut," from Late Latin or old Medieval Latin taliare "to split" (compare Medieval Latin taliator vestium "a cutter of clothes"), from Latin talea "a slender stick, rod, staff; a cutting, twig."
Although historically the tailor is the cutter, in the trade the 'tailor' is the man who sews or makes up what the 'cutter' has shaped. [OED]
The post-Latin sense development would be "piece of a plant cut for grafting," hence a verb, "cut a shoot," then, generally, "to cut." Possible cognates include Sanskrit talah "wine palm," Old Lithuanian talokas "a young girl," Greek talis "a marriageable girl" (for sense, compare slip of a girl, twiggy), Etruscan Tholna, name of the goddess of youth.
Kent. ... You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
One who makes outer garments to order, as opposed to a clothier, who makes them for sale ready-made. Tailor-made first recorded 1832 (in a figurative sense); literal sense was "heavy and plain, with attention to exact fit and with little ornamentation," as of women's garments made by a tailor rather than a dress-maker.
Corn. Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone cutter, or a painter, could not have made him so ill, though they had been but two hours at the trade.
- tailor (v.)
- 1660s, from tailor (n.). Figurative sense of "to design (something) to suit needs" is attested from 1942. Related: Tailored; tailoring.
- tailspin (n.)
- "downward spiraling dive of an aircraft," 1916, from tail (n.1) + spin (n.). Figurative sense of "state of loss of control" is from 1928.
- tain (n.)
- "thin tin plate for mirrors, etc.," 1858, from French tain "tinfoil" (17c.), an alteration of étain "tin," from Latin stagnum, stannum "alloy of silver and lead," in Late Latin "tin" (see stannic).
- an indigenous people of the Caribbean at the time of Columbus, from Taino (Arawakan) nitayno "the first, the good." Also the name of their language. Compare Arawakan.
- taint (v.)
- 1570s, "to corrupt, contaminate," also "to touch, tinge, imbue slightly" (1590s), from Middle English teynten "to convict, prove guilty" (late 14c.), partly from Old French ataint, past participle of ataindre "to touch upon, seize" (see attainder). Also from Anglo-French teinter "to color, dye" (early 15c.), from Old French teint (12c.), past participle of teindre "to dye, color," from Latin tingere (see tincture). Related: Tainted; tainting.
- taint (n.)
- c. 1600, "stain, spot," from Old French teint "color, hue, dye, stain," from Latin tinctus "a dyeing," from tingere "to dye" (see tincture). Meaning "a moral stain, corruption, contaminating influence" is from 1610s.
- literally "platform bay" (perhaps with a sense of "port"), from Chinese tai "terrace, platform" + wan "bay." Related: Taiwanese.
- Taj Mahal (n.)
- mausoleum at Agra, India, built by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, from Persian, perhaps "the best of buildings," with second element related to Arabic halla "to lodge." But some authorities hold that the name of the mausoleum is a corruption of the name of the woman interred in it, Mumtaz (in Persian, literally "chosen one") Mahal, who died in 1631. Persian taj is literally "crown, diadem, ornamental headdress," but here denoting an object of distinguished excellence. Figurative use of Taj Mahal in English as a name denoting anything surpassing or excellent is attested from 1895.
- take (v.)
- late Old English tacan "to take, seize," from a Scandinavian source (such as Old Norse taka "take, grasp, lay hold," past tense tok, past participle tekinn; Swedish ta, past participle tagit), from Proto-Germanic *takan- (source also of Middle Low German tacken, Middle Dutch taken, Gothic tekan "to touch"), from Germanic root *tak- "to take," of uncertain origin, perhaps originally meaning "to touch." As the principal verb for "to take," it gradually replaced Middle English nimen, from Old English niman, from the usual West Germanic *nem- root (source of German nehmen, Dutch nemen; see nimble).
OED calls take "one of the elemental words of the language;" take up alone has 55 varieties of meaning in that dictionary's 2nd print edition. Basic sense is "to lay hold of," which evolved to "accept, receive" (as in take my advice) c. 1200; "absorb" (take a punch) c. 1200; "choose, select" (take the high road) late 13c.; "to make, obtain" (take a shower) late 14c.; "to become affected by" (take sick) c. 1300.
Take five is 1929, from the approximate time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Take it easy first recorded 1880; take the plunge "act decisively" is from 1876; take the rap "accept (undeserved) punishment" is from 1930. Phrase take it or leave it is recorded from 1897. To take it out on (someone or something) "vent one's anger on other than what caused it" is by 1840.
- take (n.)
- 1650s, "that which is taken," from take (v.). Sense of "money taken in" by a single performance, etc., is from 1931. Movie-making sense is recorded from 1927. Criminal sense of "money acquired by theft" is from 1888. The verb sense of "to cheat, defraud" is from 1920. On the take "amenable to bribery" is from 1930.
- takeaway (adj.)
- also take-away, 1964 in reference to food-shops, from take (v.) + away. From 1970 as a noun.
- past participle of take (v.).
- takeoff (n.)
- also take-off, "caricature," colloquial, 1846, from earlier sense of "thing that detracts from something, drawback" (1826), from take (v.) + off (adv.). Meaning "act of becoming airborne" is from 1904 in reference to aircraft; in reference to jumping, it is attested from 1869. Verbal phrase take off "become airborne" is from 1918, in reference to aircraft; figurative use "rise suddenly and dramatically" by 1963.
- takeout (adj.)
- also take-out, in reference to food prepared at a restaurant but not eaten there, 1941, from take (v.) + out. British equivalent is takeaway.
- takeover (n.)
- 1917, "an act of taking over," from verbal phrase take over (1884), from take (v.) + over (adv.). Attested from 1958 in the corporate sense.
- taker (n.)
- "one who takes" in any sense, late 14c., agent noun from take (v.). Specifically "one who accepts a bet" from 1810.
- talaria (n.)
- "winged sandals of Hermes (Mercury)" and often other gods (Iris, Eros, the Fates and the Furies), 1590s, from Latin talaria, noun use of neuter plural of talaris "of the ankle," from talus "ankle" (see talus (n.1)).
- talbearer (n.)
- also tale-bearer, late 15c., from tale (n.) + agent noun from bear (v.).
- talc (n.)
- 1580s, talke, from Middle French talc (16c.), probably from Spanish talco and Medieval Latin talcus, also talcum "talc" (ealy 14c.), both from Arabic talq, from Persian talk "talc." "It was applied by the Arab and medieval writers to various transparent, translucent and shining minerals such as talc proper, mica, selenite, etc." [Flood]. Related: Talcoid; talcose; talcous.
- talcum (n.)
- 1550s, from Medieval Latin talcum, used for any of various shiny minerals. See talc. Talcum powder attested from 1871.
- tale (n.)
- Old English talu "series, calculation," also "story, tale, statement, deposition, narrative, fable, accusation, action of telling," from Proto-Germanic *talo (source also of Dutch taal "speech, language," Danish tale "speech, talk, discourse," German Erzählung "story," Gothic talzjan "to teach"), from PIE root *del- (2) "to recount, count." The secondary Modern English sense of "number, numerical reckoning" (c. 1200) probably was the primary one in Germanic; see tell (v.), teller and Old Frisian tale, Middle Dutch tal, Old Saxon tala, Danish tal, Old High German zala, German Zahl "number."
The ground sense of the Modern English word in its main meaning, then, might have been "an account of things in their due order." Related to talk (v.) and tell (v.). Meaning "things divulged that were given secretly, gossip" is from mid-14c.; first record of talebearer "tattletale" is late 15c.
- talent (n.)
- late 13c., "inclination, disposition, will, desire," from Old French talent (12c.), from Medieval Latin talenta, plural of talentum "inclination, leaning, will, desire" (11c.), in classical Latin "balance, weight; sum of money," from Greek talanton "a balance, pair of scales," hence "weight, definite weight, anything weighed," and in later times sum of money," from PIE *tele- "to lift, support, weigh," "with derivatives referring to measured weights and thence money and payment" [Watkins]; see extol.
An ancient denomination of weight, originally Babylonian (though the name is Greek), and varying widely in value among different peoples and at different times. [Century Dictionary]
According to Liddell & Scott, as a monetary sum, considered to consist of 6,000 drachmae, or, in Attica, 57.75 lbs. of silver. Also borrowed in other Germanic languages and Celtic. Attested in Old English as talente). The Medieval Latin and common Romanic sense developed from figurative use of the word in the sense of "money." Meaning "special natural ability, aptitude, gift committed to one for use and improvement" developed by mid-15c., in part perhaps from figurative sense "wealth," but mostly from the parable of the talents in Matthew xxv.14-30. Meaning "persons of ability collectively" is from 1856.
- talented (adj.)
- 1630s, "having skills or abilities," from talent (n.). There was a verb talent in 15c., but it meant "predispose."
- talesman (n.)
- "reserve member of a jury," 1670s, from tales "writ ordering bystanders to serve" in place of jurors not in attendance (late 15c.), via Anglo-French (mid-13c.), from Latin tales (in tales de circumstantibus "such persons from those standing about," a clause featured in such a writ), noun use of plural of talis "such, of such kind" (see that).
- Taliban (n.)
- Sunni fundamentalist movement begun in Afghanistan, Pashto plural of Arabic tālib "student;" so called because it originated among students in Pakistani religious schools. Group formed c. 1993. Often incorrectly treated as singular in English.
- talipes (n.)
- "club-foot, deformed foot," from Latin talus "ankle" (see talus (n.1)) + pes "foot," from PIE root *ped- (1) "a foot" (see foot (n.)). The notion seems to be "walking on the ankles."
- talisman (n.)
- 1630s, "magical figure cut or engraved under certain observances," from French talisman, in part via Arabic tilsam (plural tilsaman), from Byzantine Greek telesma "talisman, religious rite, payment," earlier "consecration, ceremony," originally in ancient Greek "completion," from telein "perform (religious rites), pay (tax), fulfill," from telos "end, fulfillment, completion" (see tele-). The Arabic word also was borrowed into Turkish, Persian, Hindi. Related: Talismanic; talismanical.
- talk (v.)
- c. 1200, talken, probably a diminutive or frequentative form related to Middle English tale "story," and ultimately from the same source as tale, with rare English formative -k (compare hark from hear, stalk from steal, smirk from smile) and replacing that word as a verb. East Frisian has talken "to talk, chatter, whisper." Related: Talked; talking.
To talk (something) up "discuss in order to promote" is from 1722. To talk shop is from 1854. To talk turkey is from 1824, supposedly from an elaborate joke about a swindled Indian. To talk back "answer impudently or rudely" is from 1869. Phrase talking head is by 1966 in the jargon of television production, "an in-tight closeup of a human head talking on television." In reference to a person who habitually appears on television in talking-head shots (usually a news anchor), by 1970. The phrase is used earlier, in reference to the well-known magic trick (such as Señor Wences's talking head-in-the-box "Pedro" on the "Ed Sullivan Show"), and to actual talking heads in mythology around the world (Orpheus, Bran).
- talk (n.)
- late 15c., "speech, discourse, conversation," from talk (v.). Meaning "informal lecture or address" is from 1859. Meaning "a subject of gossip" is from 1620s (in talk of the town). Talk show first recorded 1965; talk radio is from 1985.
- talkative (adj.)
- early 15c.; see talk (v.) + -ative. An early hybrid word in English. Originally especially "boastful," but now considered less pejorative than loquacious or garrulous. Related: Talkatively; talkativeness.
- talkie (n.)
- "motion picture with sound," 1913, from earlier talking picture (1908), from talk (v.).
- talking-to (n.)
- "a reprimand," 1871, from euphemistic use of verbal phrase talk to (see talk (v.)).
- talky (adj.)
- "loquacious," 1815, from talk (n.) + -y (2). Related: Talkiness.
- tall (adj.)
- "high in stature," 1520s, probably from Middle English tal "handsome, good-looking; valiant; lively in speech; large, big; humble, meek," from Old English getæl "prompt, active," from Germanic *(ge)-tala- (source also of Old High German gi-zal "quick," Gothic un-tals "indocile"). Main modern sense "being of more than average height (and slim in proportion to height)" probably evolved out of earlier meanings "brave, valiant, seemly, proper" (c. 1400), "attractive, handsome" (late 14c.).
Sense evolution is "remarkable" [OED], but adjectives applied to persons can wander far in meaning (such as pretty, buxom, German klein "small, little," which in Middle High German meant the same as its English cognate clean (adj.)). Meaning "having a (defined) height," whether lofty or not is from 1580s. Meaning "exaggerated" (as in tall tale) is American English colloquial attested by 1846. Phrase tall, dark, and handsome is recorded from 1906. Related: Tallness.
- city in Alabama, U.S., from Muskogee /talati:ki/, a tribal town name, from /(i)talwa/ "tribal town" + /-atiiki/ "at the edge, border."
- place in Florida, U.S.A., 1799, originally Seminole Tallahassee, from Muskogee /talaha:ssi/, name of a tribal town, perhaps from /(i)talwa/ "tribal town" + /ahassi/ "old, rancid."
- tallboy (n.)
- also tall-boy, "high-stemmed glass or goblet," 1670s, from tall + boy, though the exact signification is unclear. In reference to a high chest of drawers it is recorded from 1769, here perhaps a partial loan-translation of French haut bois, literally "high wood."
- Estonian capital, from Old Estonian (Finnic) tan-linn "Danish fort," from tan "Danish" + linn "fort, castle." Founded 1219 by Danish king Valdemar II.
- tallow (n.)
- hard animal fat, used to make soap, candles, etc., mid-14c., talwgh, from a source (perhaps an unrecorded Old English word) cognate with Middle Low German talg "tallow," Middle Dutch talch, from Proto-Germanic *talga-, meaning perhaps originally "firm, compact material" (compare Gothic tulgus "firm, solid"). OED says related Scandinavian words probably are from continental Germanic.
- tally (n.)
- mid-15c., "stick marked with notches to indicate amount owed or paid," from Anglo-French tallie (early 14c., Old French taille "notch in a piece of wood signifying a debt"), Anglo-Latin talea (late 12c.), from Medieval Latin tallia, from Latin talea "a cutting, rod, stick" (see tailor (n.), and compare sense history of score). Meaning "a thing that matches another" first recorded 1650s, from practice of splitting a tally lengthwise across the notches, debtor and creditor each retaining one of the halves; the usual method of keeping accounts before writing became general (the size of the notches varied with the amount). Sports sense of "a total score" is from 1856. Also in 19c. British provincial verbal expression live tally, make a tally bargain "live as husband and wife without marrying."
- tally (v.)
- mid-15c., "keep an account by tally," from Medieval Latin talliare "to tax," from tallia (see tally (n.)). Meaning "correspond, agree" is from 1705; sports sense of "to score" is from 1867. Related: Tallied; tallying. Hence tally-sheet (1889); tallyman "one who keeps account (of anything)" (1857).
- also tallyho, huntsman's cry to alert others that the game has been spotted, 1772, earlier in the name of a roistering character in English theater, Sir Toby Tallyho (Foote, 1756), from French taiaut, cry used in deer hunting (1660s), from Old French taho, tielau. Meaning "fast coach" is from 1823, originally in reference to the one that made the run from London to Birmingham.
- Talmud (n.)
- body of Jewish traditional ceremonial and civil law, 1530s, from late Hebrew talmud "instruction" (c. 130 C.E.), from lamadh "he learned." Related: Talmudic; Talmudist.
- talon (n.)
- c. 1400, talounz "claws of a bird or beast," probably originally from Old French talon "heel or hinder part of the foot of a beast, or of a man, or of a shoe; foot-step" (12c.), from Medieval Latin talonem "heel," from Latin talus "ankle" (see talus (n.1)). "The extension to birds of prey, and subsequent stages, are peculiar to English" [OED].