torque (n.) Look up torque at
"rotating force," 1882, from Latin torquere "to twist, turn, turn about, twist awry, distort, torture," from PIE *torkw-eyo-, causative of root *terkw- "to twist." The word also is used (since 1834) by antiquarians and others as a term for the twisted metal necklace worn anciently by Gauls, Britons, Germans, etc., from Latin torques "collar of twisted metal," from torquere. Earlier it had been called in English torques (1690s). Torque-wrench is from 1941.
torr (n.) Look up torr at
unit of pressure, 1949, named for Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647), inventor of the barometer.
torrent (n.) Look up torrent at
"rapid stream," c. 1600, from Middle French torrent (16c.) and directly from Latin torrentem (nominative torrens) "rushing, roaring" (of streams), also "a rushing stream," originally as an adjective "roaring, boiling, burning, parching, hot, inflamed," present participle of torrere "to parch" (from PIE root *ters- "to dry"). Extension to any onrush (of words, feelings, etc.) first recorded 1640s.
torrential (adj.) Look up torrential at
1849; see torrent + -ial. Perhaps by influence of French torrentiel. Related: Torrentially.
torrid (adj.) Look up torrid at
1580s, in torrid zone "region of the earth between the tropics," from Medieval Latin torrida zona, from fem. of torridus "dried with heat, scorching hot," from torrere "to parch," from PIE root *ters- "to dry." Sense of "very hot" is first attested 1610s. Figurative sense from 1630s.
torsion (n.) Look up torsion at
early 15c., "wringing pain in the bowels," from Old French torsion "colic" (early 14c.), from Late Latin torsionem (nominative torsio) "a wringing or gripping," from Latin tortionem (nominative tortio) "torture, torment," noun of action from past participle stem of torquere "to twist, distort, torture" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). Meaning "act or effect of twisting as by opposing forces" is first recorded 1540s.
torso (n.) Look up torso at
1797, "trunk of a statue," from Italian torso "trunk of a statue," originally "stalk, stump," from Vulgar Latin *tursus, from Latin thyrsus "stalk, stem," from Greek thyrsos (see thyrsus). As "trunk of a person" by 1865. Earlier, in the statuary sense, in French form torse (1620s).
tort (n.) Look up tort at
mid-13c., "injury, wrong," from Old French tort "wrong, injustice, crime" (11c.), from Medieval Latin tortum "injustice," noun use of neuter of tortus "wrung, twisted," past participle of Latin torquere "turn, turn awry, twist, wring, distort" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). Legal sense of "breach of a duty, whereby someone acquires a right of action for damages" is first recorded 1580s.
torte (n.) Look up torte at
"sweet cake, tart," 1748, from German Torte; earlier sense of "round cake, round bread" (1550s) is from Middle French torte; both are from Late Latin torta "flat cake," also "round loaf of bread" (also source of Italian torte, Spanish torta), probably related to tart (n.1). Not considered to be from the source of tort.
tortellini (n.) Look up tortellini at
1937, from Italian, plural of tortellino, diminutive of tortello "cake, fritter," itself a diminutive of torta (see torte).
tortfeasor (n.) Look up tortfeasor at
1650s, from Old French tortfesor, from tort "wrong, evil" (see tort) + -fesor "doer," from Latin facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
torticollis (n.) Look up torticollis at
wryneck, 1811, Modern Latin, from Latin tortus "crooked, twisted," from torquere "to twist" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist") + collum "neck" (see collar (n.)), from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round."
tortilla (n.) Look up tortilla at
1690s, from American Spanish tortilla, from Spanish, "a tart," literally "a little cake," diminutive of torta "cake," from Late Latin torta "flat cake" (see torte).
tortious (adj.) Look up tortious at
late 14c., "wrongful, illegal," from Anglo-French torcious (14c.), from stem of torcion, literally "a twisting," from Late Latin tortionem (see torsion, and compare tort). Meaning "pertaining to a tort" is from 1540s.
tortoise (n.) Look up tortoise at
1550s, altered (perhaps by influence of porpoise) from Middle English tortuse (late 15c.), tortuce (mid-15c.), tortuge (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin tortuca (mid-13c.), perhaps from Late Latin tartaruchus "of the underworld" (see Tartarus). Others propose a source in Latin tortus "twisted," based on the shape of the feet. The classical Latin word was testudo, from testa "shell." First record of tortoise shell as a pattern of markings is from 1782.
tortuous (adj.) Look up tortuous at
late 14c., "full of twists and turns," from Anglo-French tortuous (12c.), Old French tortuos, from Latin tortuosus "full of twists, winding," from tortus "a twisting, winding," from stem of torquere "to twist, wring, distort" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). Related: Tortuously; tortuousness.
torture (v.) Look up torture at
1580s, from torture (n.). Related: Tortured; torturing.
torture (n.) Look up torture at
early 15c., "contortion, twisting, distortion; a disorder characterized by contortion," from Old French torture "infliction of great pain; great pain, agony" (12c.), and directly from Late Latin tortura "a twisting, writhing," in Medieval Latin "pain inflicted by judicial or ecclesiastical authority as a means of punishment or persuasion," from stem of Latin torquere "to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist").

The meaning "infliction of severe bodily pain as a means of punishment or persuasion" in English is from 1550s. The theory behind judicial torture was that a guilty person could be made to confess, but an innocent one could not, by this means. Macaulay writes that it was last inflicted in England in May 1640.
torturous (adj.) Look up torturous at
"pertaining to or characterized by torture," late 15c., from Anglo-French torturous, from Old French tortureus, from Latin tortura (see torture (n.)).
torus (n.) Look up torus at
1560s, in architecture, "large, rounded molding at the base of a column," from Latin torus "a swelling, bulge, knot; cushion, couch."
Tory (n.) Look up Tory at
1566, "an outlaw," specifically "one of a class of Irish robbers noted for outrages and savage cruelty," from Irish toruighe "plunderer," originally "pursuer, searcher," from Old Irish toirighim "I pursue," from toir "pursuit," from Celtic *to-wo-ret- "a running up to," from PIE root *ret- "to run, roll" (see rotary).

About 1646, it emerged as a derogatory term for Irish Catholics dispossessed of their land (some of whom subsequently turned to outlawry); c. 1680 applied by Exclusioners to supporters of the Catholic Duke of York (later James II) in his succession to the throne of England. After 1689, Tory was the name of a British political party at first composed of Yorkist Tories of 1680. Superseded c. 1830 by Conservative, though it continues to be used colloquially. As an adjective from 1680s. In American history, Tory was the name given after 1769 to colonists who remained loyal to the crown; it represents their relative position in the pre-revolutionary English political order in the colonies.
A Tory has been properly defined to be a traitor in thought, but not in deed. The only description, by which the laws have endeavoured to come at them, was that of non-jurors, or persons refusing to take the oath of fidelity to the state. [Jefferson, "Notes on the State of Virginia"]
tosh (adj.) Look up tosh at
"neat, clean, trim," 1776, Scottish, of unknown origin.
tosh (n.) Look up tosh at
"valuables collected from drains," 1852, London slang, of unknown origin.
toss (v.) Look up toss at
mid-15c., "to lift or throw with a sudden movement," of uncertain origin, possibly from a Scandinavian source (compare dialectal Norwegian tossa "to strew, spread"). Food preparation sense (with reference to salad, etc.) is recorded from 1723. Intransitive sense "be restless; throw oneself about" is from 1550s. Related: Tossed; tossing.
toss (n.) Look up toss at
"an act of throwing," 1630s, from toss (v.). Meaning "a coin toss" is from 1798.
toss-up (n.) Look up toss-up at
"even matter," 1809, from earlier sense of "a flipping of a coin to arrive at a decision" (c. 1700), from verbal phrase, from toss (v.) + up (adv.).
tosser (n.) Look up tosser at
term of contempt in British slang, by 1977, probably from slang toss off "act of masturbation" (1735). Agent noun from toss (v.). Compare jerk (n.).
tosspot (n.) Look up tosspot at
"heavy drinker," 1560s, from toss (v.) + pot (n.1).
tostada (n.) Look up tostada at
1945, from Mexican Spanish, from past participle of Spanish tostar "to toast" (see toast (v.1)).
tot (n.) Look up tot at
"little child," 1725, Scottish, of uncertain origin, perhaps a shortened form of totter, or related to Old Norse tottr, nickname of a dwarf (compare Swedish tutte "little child," Danish tommel-tot "little child," in which the first element means "thumb"). Tot-lot "play ground for young children" is recorded from 1944.
tot (v.) Look up tot at
"to reckon up," 1760, from tot (n.) "total of an addition," first recorded 1680s, short for total (n.). Hence, "to mark (an account or a name) with the word 'tot.'"
total (n.) Look up total at
"whole amount, sum," 1550s, from total (adj.).
total (v.) Look up total at
1716, "bring to a total," from total (n.). Intransitive sense "reach a total of" is from 1859. Meaning "to destroy one's car" first recorded 1954. Related: Totaled; totaling.
total (adj.) Look up total at
late 14c., from Old French total (14c.), from Medieval Latin totalis "entire, total" (as in summa totalis "sum total"), from Latin totus "all, all at once, the whole, entire, altogether," a word of unknown origin. Total war is attested from 1937 (William Shirer), in reference to a concept developed in Germany.
totalitarian (adj.) Look up totalitarian at
1926, first in reference to Italian fascism, formed in English on model of Italian totalitario "complete, absolute, totalitarian," from total (adj.) + ending from authoritarian. The noun is recorded from 1938.
totalitarianism (n.) Look up totalitarianism at
1926, first recorded in reference to Italian fascism, from totalitarian + -ism.
totality (n.) Look up totality at
1590s, from total (adj.) + -ity, or from or based on Middle French totalité, Medieval Latin totalitas. In the eclipse sense, "time of total obscuration," from 1842.
totally (adv.) Look up totally at
c. 1500, from total (adj.) + -ly (2).
tote (v.) Look up tote at
"to carry," 1670s, of unknown origin; originally attested in Virginia, but OED discounts the popular theory of its origin in a West African language (such as Kikongo tota "pick up," Kimbundu tuta "carry, load," related to Swahili tuta "pile up, carry"). Related: Toted; toting. Tote bag is first recorded 1900.
totem (n.) Look up totem at
animal or natural object considered as the emblem of a family or clan, 1760, from Algonquian (probably Ojibwa) -doodem, in odoodeman "his sibling kin, his group or family," hence, "his family mark;" also attested in French c. 1600 in form aoutem among the Micmacs or other Indians of Nova Scotia. Totem pole is 1808, in reference to west coast Canadian Indians.
totemic (adj.) Look up totemic at
1846, from totem + -ic.
tother (prep.) Look up tother at
"the other," early 13c., þe toþer, from faulty separation of þet oþer "that other;" simple use of tother in place of the other is attested by 1580s. Often written t'other as though a contraction of the other.
totipotent (adj.) Look up totipotent at
1896, from Latin toti-, comb. form of totus "whole" (see total (adj.)) + potent. Perhaps immediately from German totipotent, which is attested by 1893. Related: Totipotency.
toto Look up toto at
Latin ablative singular (masc. and neuter) of totus "whole, entire" (see total (adj.)).
toto caelo Look up toto caelo at
Latin, "by the whole heaven."
totter (v.) Look up totter at
c. 1200, "swing to and fro," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare dialectal Norwegian totra "to quiver, shake"). Meaning "stand or walk with shaky, unsteady steps" is from c. 1600. Related: Tottered; tottering.
tottery (adj.) Look up tottery at
"trembling, unsteady," 1861, from totter + -y (2).
toucan (n.) Look up toucan at
bright-colored bird of South America, 1560s, from French toucan (1550s) and Spanish tucan; from Tupi (Brazil) tuka, tukana, said to be probably imitative of its call. The southern constellation Tucana was among those added to the map 1590s by Flemish cartographer Petrus Plancius.
touch (v.) Look up touch at
late 13c., "make deliberate physical contact with," from Old French tochier "to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with" (11c., Modern French toucher), from Vulgar Latin *toccare "to knock, strike" as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare), perhaps of imitative origin. Related: Touched; touching.

From c. 1300 in transitive sense "bring into physical contact," also "pertain to." Other senses attested from 14c. are "perceive by physical contact, examine by sense of touch," also "be or come into physical contact with; come to rest on; border on, be contiguous with;" also "use the sense of touch," and "mention, describe." From early 14c. as "affect or move mentally or emotionally," with notion of to "touch" the heart or mind. Also from early 14c. as "have sexual contact with." Meaning "to get or borrow money" first recorded 1760. Touch-and-go (adj.) is recorded from 1812, apparently from the name of a tag-like game, first recorded 1650s. Touch football is first attested 1933. Touch-me-not (1590s) translates Latin noli-me-tangere.
touch (n.) Look up touch at
c. 1300, from Old French toche "touch, a touching; a blow, attack; a test" (Modern French touche), from tocher "to touch" (see touch (v.)). Meaning "slight attack" (of an illness, etc.) is recorded from 1660s. Sense of "communication" (to be in or out of touch) is from 1884. Sense of "skill or aptitude in some topic" is first recorded 1927, probably from music or the arts. Soft touch "person easily manipulated" is recorded from 1940.