- timber (n.)
- Old English timber "building, structure," in late Old English "building material, trees suitable for building," and "trees or woods in general," from Proto-Germanic *timran (cognates: Old Saxon timbar "a building, room," Old Frisian timber "wood, building," Old High German zimbar "timber, wooden dwelling, room," Old Norse timbr "timber," German Zimmer "room"), from PIE *deme- "to build," possibly from root *dem- "house, household" (source of Greek domos, Latin domus; see domestic (adj.)).
The related Old English verb timbran, timbrian was the chief word for "to build" (compare Dutch timmeren, German zimmern). As a call of warning when a cut tree is about to fall, it is attested from 1912 in Canadian English. Timbers in the nautical slang sense (see shiver (v.2)) is from the specialized meaning "pieces of wood composing the frames of a ship's hull" (1748).
The timber-wolf (1846) of the U.S. West is the gray wolf, not confined to forests but so-called to distinguish it from the prairie-wolf (coyote).
- timberline (n.)
- 1867, from timber + line (n.).
- timbre (n.)
- "characteristic quality of a musical sound," 1849, from French timbre "quality of a sound," earlier "sound of a bell," from Old French, "bell without a clapper," originally "small drum," probably via Medieval Greek *timbanon, from Greek tympanon "kettledrum" (see tympanum). Timbre was used in Old French (13c.) and Middle English (14c.) to render Latin tympanum in Ps. 150.
- timbrel (n.)
- percussive Middle Eastern instrument, c.1500, diminutive of timbre (14c.), from Old French timbre in its older sense of "drum" (see timbre). Used in Bible translations, chiefly to render Hebrew toph, cognate with Arabic duff "drum," of imitative origin.
- city on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, older spelling Timbuctoo, used allusively in English for "most distant place imaginable" from at least 1863. The name is from Songhai, literally "hollow," in reference to the depression in which it stands.
- time (n.)
- Old English tima "limited space of time," from Proto-Germanic *timon- "time" (cognates: Old Norse timi "time, proper time," Swedish timme "an hour"), from PIE *di-mon-, suffixed form of root *da- "cut up, divide" (see tide (n.)).
Abstract sense of "time as an indefinite continuous duration" is recorded from late 14c. Personified since at least 1509 as an aged bald man (but with a forelock) carrying a scythe and an hour-glass. In English, a single word encompasses time as "extent" and "point" (French temps/fois, German zeit/mal) as well as "hour" (as in "what time is it?" compare French heure, German Uhr). Extended senses such as "occasion," "the right time," "leisure," or times (v.) "multiplied by" developed in Old and Middle English, probably as a natural outgrowth of such phrases as "He commends her a hundred times to God" (Old French La comande a Deu cent foiz).
to have a good time ( = a time of enjoyment) was common in Eng. from c 1520 to c 1688; it was app. retained in America, whence readopted in Britain in 19th c. [OED]
Time of day (now mainly preserved in negation, i.e. what someone won't give you if he doesn't like you) was a popular 17c. salutation (as in "Good time of day vnto your Royall Grace," "Richard III," I.iii.18), hence to give (one) the time of day "greet socially" (1590s); earlier was give good day (mid-14c.). The times "the current age" is from 1590s. Behind the times "old-fashioned" is recorded from 1831. Times as the name of a newspaper dates from 1788.
Time warp first attested 1954; time-traveling in the science fiction sense first recorded 1895 in H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." Time capsule first recorded 1938, in reference to the one "deemed capable of resisting the effects of time for five thousand years preserving an account of universal achievements embedded in the grounds of the New York World's fair."
Jones [archaeologist of A.D. 5139] potters about for a while in the region which we have come to regard as New York, finds countless ruins, but little of interest to the historian except a calcified direction sheet to something called a "Time Capsule." Jones finds the capsule but cannot open it, and decides, after considerable prying at the lid, that it is merely evidence of an archaic tribal ceremony called a "publicity gag" of which he has already found many examples. ["Princeton Alumni Weekly," April 14, 1939]
To do time "serve a prison sentence" is from 1865. Time frame is attested by 1964; time-limit is from 1880. About time, ironically for "long past due time," is recorded from 1920.
- time (v.)
- Old English getimian "to happen, befall," from time (n.). Meaning "to appoint a time" (of an action, etc.) is attested from c.1300; sense of "to measure or record the time of" (a race, event, etc.) is first attested 1660s. Related: Timed; timing.
- time zone (n.)
- by 1885, from time (n.) + zone (n.). As in Britain and France, the movement to regulate time nationally came from the railroads.
Previous to 1883 the methods of measuring time in the United States were so varied and so numerous as to be ludicrous. There were 50 different standards used in the United States, and on one road between New York and Boston, whose actual difference is 12 minutes, there were three distinct standards of time. Even small towns had two different standards one known as "town" or local time and the other "railroad" time.
... At noon on November 18, 1883, there was a general resetting of watches and clocks all over the United States and Canada, and the four great time zones, one hour apart, into which the country was divided came into being. So smoothly did the plan work that the general readjustment was accomplished without great difficulty and it has worked satisfactorily ever since. ["Railroad Trainman," 1909]
- time-honored (adj.)
- also time-honoured, 1590s; from time (n.) + past participle of honor (v.).
- time-keeper (n.)
- also timekeeper, 1680s, from time (n.) + keeper.
- time-line (n.)
- also timeline, 1876, from time (n.) + line (n.).
- time-out (n.)
- also time out, 1896 in sports, 1939 in other occupations; from 1980 as the name of a strategy in child discipline; from time + out.
- time-server (n.)
- "one who adapts his manners and opinions to the times," 1580s, from expression serve the time "shape one's views to what is in favor" (1550s), translating Latin tempori servire. See time (n.) + serve (v.).
- time-sharing (n.)
- 1953, as a computing term, from time (n.) + verbal noun from share (v.). In real estate, as an arrangement in property use, it is recorded from 1976.
- time-span (n.)
- also timespan, 1897, from time (n.) + span (n.1).
- time-stamp (n.)
- 1888, from time (n.) + stamp (n.). As a verb by 1906. Related: Time-stamped.
- time-worn (adj.)
- 1729, from time (n.) + worn (adj.).
- timeless (adj.)
- "eternal," 1620s, from time (n.) + -less. Earlier it meant "ill-timed" (1550s). Related: Timelessly; timelessness.
- timely (adv.)
- late Old English timlic "quickly, soon;" see time (n.) + -ly (2). As an adjective meaning "occurring at a suitable time" it is attested from c.1200.
- timeous (adj.)
- "timely," late 15c., from time (n.) + -ous. Related: Timeously.
- timepiece (n.)
- 1765, from time (n.) + piece (n.).
- timer (n.)
- 1908 as a mechanical device, agent noun from time (v.).
- timetable (n.)
- 1838, originally of railway trains, from time (n.) + table (n.).
- timewise (adv.)
- also time-wise, 1898, from time (n.) + wise (n.).
- timid (adj.)
- 1540s, from Middle French timide "easily frightened, shy" (16c.) and directly from Latin timidus "fearful, afraid, cowardly," from timere "to fear," of uncertain origin. Related: Timidly; timidness.
- timidity (n.)
- 1590s, from Latin timiditas "fearfulness, faint-heartedness, cowardice," from timidus "fearful, afraid" (see timid).
- timing (n.)
- mid-13c., "a happening," verbal noun from time (v.). From 1590s as "the noting or recording of time;" 1915 as "coordination of moving parts in a machinery."
- timocracy (n.)
- 1580s, from Middle French tymocracie, from Medieval Latin timocratia (13c.), from Greek timokratia, from time "honor, worth" (related to tiein "to place a value on, to honor," from PIE *kwi-ma-, suffixed form of root *kweie- (1) "to value, honor") + -kratia "rule" (see -cracy). In Plato's philosophy, a form of government in which ambition for honor and glory motivates the rulers (as in Sparta). In Aristotle, a form of government in which political power is in direct proportion to property ownership. Related: Timocratic; timocratical.
- Timon (n.)
- "misanthrope," from Timon, name of a misanthrope who lived in Athens during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.E.), hero of Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens" (c.1605).
- island in the East Indies, Malay timur "east" (in reference to Java and Sumatra). Related: Timorese.
- timorous (adj.)
- early 15c., from Middle French timoureus (14c.), from Medieval Latin timorosus "fearful," from Latin timor "fear, dread, apprehension, anxiety; religious awe, reverence," from timere "to fear, be afraid, dread," of unknown origin. Some early senses in English seem to show confusion with Middle English temerous "rash" (see temerity). Related: Timorously; timorousness.
- masc. proper name, from French Timothée, from Latin Timotheus, from Greek Timotheos, literally "honoring God," from time "honor, respect" (see timocracy) + theos "god" (see theo-).
- timothy (n.)
- 1747, short for timothy grass (1736), American English name for "cat-tail grass" (Phleum pratense), a native British grass introduced to the American colonies and cultivated there from c.1720. Said since 1765 to be so called for a certain Timothy Hanson, who is said to have promoted it in the Carolinas as an agricultural plant.
- timpani (n.)
- 1876, plural of timpano (1740), from Italian timpani "drums," from Latin tympanum "drum" (see tympanum). Related: Timpanist.
- tin (n.)
- Old English tin, from Proto-Germanic *tinom (cognates: Middle Dutch and Dutch tin, Old High German zin, German Zinn, Old Norse tin), of unknown origin, not found outside Germanic.
Other Indo-European languages often have separate words for "tin" as a raw metal and "tin plate;" such as French étain, fer-blanc. Pliny refers to tin as plumbum album "white lead," and for centuries it was regarded as a form of silver debased by lead; hence its figurative use for "mean, petty, worthless." The chemical symbol Sn is from Late Latin stannum (see stannic).
Meaning "container made of tin" is from 1795. Tin-can is from 1770; as naval slang for "destroyer," by 1937. Tin-type in photography is from 1864. Tin ear "lack of musical discernment" is from 1909. Tin Lizzie "early Ford, especially a Model T," first recorded 1915.
- Tin Pan Alley (n.)
- "hit song writing business," 1907, from tin pan, slang for "a decrepit piano" (1882). The original one was "that little section of Twenty-eighth Street, Manhattan, that lies between Broadway and Sixth Avenue," home to many music publishing houses.
- fem. proper name, short for Cristina, etc.
- tinct (n.)
- "color, tint," c.1600, from Latin tinctus "a dyeing," from tingere "to dye" (see tincture).
- tincture (n.)
- c.1400, "a coloring, dye," from Latin tinctura "act of dyeing or tingeing," from tinctus "dye," past participle of tingere "to tinge, dye, soak in color," originally merely "to moisten, wet, soak," from PIE root *teng- "to soak" (cognates: Old High German dunkon "to soak," Greek tengein "to moisten"). Meaning "solution of medicine in a mixture of alcohol" is first recorded 1640s. The verb is recorded from 1610s. Related: Tinctured.
- tinder (n.)
- "dry, inflammable substance," Old English tynder, from or related to tendan "to kindle," from Proto-Germanic *tund- "ignite, kindle" (cognates: Gothic tandjan, Swedish tända, German zünden "to kindle").
- tinderbox (n.)
- also tinder-box, "box in which tinder and flint are kept," 1520s, from tinder + box (n.); figurative sense of " 'inflammable' person or thing" is attested from 1590s.
- tine (n.)
- mid-14c., from Old English tind "spike, beak, prong, tooth of a fork," a general Germanic word (compare Old High German zint "sharp point, spike," Old Norse tindr "tine, point, top, summit," German Zinne "pinnacle"), of unknown origin (see zinc).
- tinea (n.)
- late 14c., "ringworm," from Latin tinea "a gnawing worm, moth, bookworm," of uncertain origin. From 1650s as a type of moth (the larvae of which eat clothes, papers, etc.).
- tinfoil (n.)
- also tin-foil, late 15c., from tin (n.) + foil (n.).
- tinge (v.)
- late 15c., "to dye, color slightly," from Latin tingere "to dye, color" (see tincture). Related: Tinged. The noun is first recorded 1752.
- tingle (v.)
- late 14c., "to have a ringing sensation when hearing something," also "to have a stinging or thrilling feeling," variation of tinkelen (see tinkle). Related: Tingled; tingling. The noun is first recorded 1700 in reference to sound, 1848 in reference to sensation.
- tingly (adj.)
- 1898, from tingle + -y (2). Related: Tingliness.
- tinhorn (adj.)
- "petty but flashy," 1857, from tin + horn (n.); originally of low-class gamblers, from the tin cans they used for shaking dice.
- late 14c. (v.); c.1600 (n.), echoic.
- tinker (n.)
- "mender of kettles, pots, pans, etc.," late 14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), of uncertain origin. Some connect the word with the sound made by light hammering on metal. Tinker's damn "something slight and worthless" is from 1824, probably preserving tinkers' reputation for free and casual use of profanity; the plain and simple etymology is not good enough for some writers, and since 1877 an ingeniously elaborate but baseless derivation has been circulated claiming the second word is really dam.