- task-force (n.)
- 1941, originally military; see task (n.) + force (n.).
- taskmaster (n.)
- "overseer, one who imposes a task," 1520s, from task (n.) + master (n.).
- Tasmania (n.)
- 1853, named for Dutch navigator Abel Tasman (1603-1659), who discovered it in 1642. It was called by him Van Diemen's Land for the Dutch governor-general of the East Indies. The Tasmanian devil so called since at least 1829, from its propensity for killing young lambs (other voracious fish or animals also have been named devil).
- Tass (n.)
- official news agency of the former U.S.S.R., an acronym of Russian Telegrafnoje Agenstvo Sovjetskeho Sojuza "Telegraphic Agency of the Soviet Union."
- tassel (n.)
- c. 1300, "mantle fastener," from Old French tassel "tassel, fringe, hem; a fastening, clasp" (12c., Modern French tasseau), from Vulgar Latin *tassellus, said to be from Latin taxillus "small die or cube," a diminutive of talus "knucklebone (used as a die in gaming), ankle" (see talus (n.1)). But OED finds this doubtful and calls attention to the variant form tossel and suggests association with toss (v.). Meaning "hanging bunch of small cords" is first recorded late 14c.
- taste (v.)
- c. 1300, "to touch, to handle," from Old French taster "to taste, sample by mouth; enjoy" (13c.), earlier "to feel, touch, pat, stroke" (12c., Modern French tâter), from Vulgar Latin *tastare, apparently an alteration (perhaps by influence of gustare) of taxtare, a frequentative form of Latin taxare "evaluate, handle" (see tax (v.)). Meaning "to take a little food or drink" is from c. 1300; that of "to perceive by sense of taste" is recorded from mid-14c. Of substances, "to have a certain taste or flavor," it is attested from 1550s (replaced native smack (v.3) in this sense). For another PIE root in this sense, see gusto.
The Hindus recognized six principal varieties of taste with sixty-three possible mixtures ... the Greeks eight .... These included the four that are now regarded as fundamental, namely 'sweet,' 'bitter,' 'acid,' 'salt.' ... The others were 'pungent' (Gk. drimys, Skt. katuka-), 'astringent' (Gk. stryphnos, Skt. kasaya-), and, for the Greeks, 'rough, harsh' (austeros), 'oily, greasy' (liparos), with the occasional addition of 'winy' (oinodes). [Buck]
Sense of "to know by experience" is from 1520s. Related: Tasted; tasting. Taste buds is from 1879; also taste goblets.
- taste (n.)
- early 14c., "act of tasting," from Old French tast "sense of touch" (Modern French tât), from taster (see taste (v.)). From late 14c. as "a small portion given;" also "faculty or sense by which the flavor of a thing is discerned;" also "savor, sapidity, flavor."
Meaning "aesthetic judgment, faculty of discerning and appreciating what is excellent" is first attested 1670s (compare French goût, German geschmack, Russian vkus, etc.).
Of all the five senses, 'taste' is the one most closely associated with fine discrimination, hence the familiar secondary uses of words for 'taste, good taste' with reference to aesthetic appreciation. [Buck]
Taste is active, deciding, choosing, changing, arranging, etc.; sensibility is passive, the power to feel, susceptibility of impression, as from the beautiful. [Century Dictionary]
- tasteful (adj.)
- 1610s, "having an agreeable taste;" from taste + -ful. From 1756 as "having or showing good taste." Related: Tastefully; tastefulness.
- tasteless (adj.)
- 1590s, "unable to taste;" c. 1600, "uninteresting, insipid" (figurative); 1610s, "having no taste;" 1670s, "tactless;" from taste (n.) + -less. Related: Tastelessly; tastelessness.
- tasty (adj.)
- 1610s, "having agreeable flavor, palatable," from taste (n.) + -y (2); in late 18c. it also could mean "tasteful, elegant" (from the secondary sense of taste (n.)). Related: Tastiness.
- tat (v.)
- 1882, "to do tatting," back-formation from tatting.
- tatami (n.)
- Japanese floor-mat, 1610s, from Japanese tatami.
- Tatar (n.)
- see Tartar.
- tater (n.)
- 1759, representing colloquial pronunciation of potato.
- tatter (n.)
- c. 1400, tatrys (plural) "slashed garments," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse töturr "rags, tatters, tattered garment," cognate with Old English tættec, tætteca "rag, tatter." Related: Tatters.
- tatterdemalion (n.)
- "ragged child, person dressed in old clothes," c. 1600, probably from tatter (n.), with fantastic second element, but perhaps also suggested by Tartar, with a contemporary sense of "vagabond, gypsy."
- tattered (adj.)
- mid-14c., tatrid, "clad in slashed garments," from tatter (n.) or its Scandinavian source.
- tattersall (n.)
- fabric with small and even check pattern, 1891, so called because it was similar to the traditional design of horse blankets, in reference to Tattersall's, a famous London horse market and gambler's rendezvous, founded 1766 by Richard Tattersall (1724-1795). The surname is from the place in Lincolnshire, which is said to represent "Tathere's nook," "probably in the sense 'nook of dry ground in marsh'." [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]
- tatting (n.)
- "making of knotted lace; kind of homemade lace," 1832, of uncertain origin. In French, frivolité.
- tattle (v.)
- late 15c., "to stammer, prattle," in Caxton's translation of "Reynard the Fox," probably from Middle Flemish tatelen "to stutter," parallel to Middle Dutch, Middle Low German, East Frisian tateren "to chatter, babble," possibly of imitative origin. The meaning "tell tales or secrets" is first recorded 1580s. Sense influenced by tittle. Related: Tattled; tattling. As a noun from 1520s. Tattler, the name of the famous periodical by Addison and Steele (1709-1711), means "idle talker, a gossip."
- tattletale (n.)
- 1880, from tattle + tale. Probably patterned on telltale (1540s). A 16c. word for "tattle-tale" was pickthank.
- tattoo (v.)
- "mark the skin with pigment," 1769, tattow, from tattoo (n.2). Related: Tattooed; tattooing. Thackeray has tattooage.
- tattoo (n.1)
- "signal calling soldiers or sailors to quarters at night," 1680s, earlier tap-to (1640s), from Dutch taptoe, from tap "faucet of a cask" (see tap (n.1)) + toe "shut, to," from Proto-Germanic *to (see to (prep.)). "So called because police formerly visited taverns in the evening to shut off the taps of casks" [Barnhart]. In 17c. Dutch the phrase apparently was used with a transferred or figurative sense "say no more." In English, transferred sense of "drumbeat" is recorded from 1755. Hence, Devil's tattoo "action of idly drumming fingers in irritation or impatience" (1803).
- tattoo (n.2)
- "pigment design in skin," 1769 (noun and verb, both first attested in writing of Capt. Cook), from a Polynesian noun (such as Tahitian and Samoan tatau, Marquesan tatu "puncture, mark made on skin"). Century Dictionary (1902) describes them as found on sailors and uncivilized people or as a sentence of punishment.
- tatty (adj.)
- 1510s, "tangled or matted" (of hair), Scottish, probably related to Old English tættec "a rag" (see tatter (n.)). Sense of "tattered, ragged, shabby" first recorded 1933.
- nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, from Hebrew taw, last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, literally "sign, mark."
- past tense of teach (v.), from Old English tahte, past tense of tæcan. For the unrelated adjective meaning "stretched or pulled tight," see taut.
- taunt (v.)
- mid-15c. (implied in tauntingly), possibly [Skeat] from Middle French tanter, tenter "to tempt, try, provoke," variant of tempter "to try" (see tempt). Or from Middle French tant pour tant "so much for so much, tit for tat," on notion of "sarcastic rejoinder" (considered by OED the "most likely suggestion"). Related: Taunted; taunting.
- taunt (n.)
- 1520s, "bitter invective," probably from taunt (v.).
- taupe (n.)
- "dark brownish-gray color" (the color of moleskin), 1906, from French taupe, the color, originally "a mole," Old French, from Latin talpa "a mole." The story below lacks evidence appears to be a fanciful attempt to divert the origin of the color name to something more appealing:
Before the season advances very far you will find that taupe, pronounced "tope," will be the most favored color in the entire category of shades and blendings. The original word is taken from the German word "taube" pronounced "tob-a," which is the name for the dove, but the French have twisted the b into a p and give us taupe. ["The Illustrated Milliner," August, 1906]
- taurine (n.)
- also taurin, chemical substance (aminoethyl-sulphonic acid), 1845, from Latin taurus "bull" (see Taurus) + chemical suffix -ine (2); obtained by German professor Leopold Gmelin in 1826 and so called because it was first found in ox bile.
- taurine (adj.)
- 1610s, from Latin taurus (see Taurus) + -ine (1). In reference to a period in history, it means the time when the sun was in Taurus at the vernal equinox (roughly 4500-1900 B.C.E.).
- tauromachy (n.)
- "bull-fighting," 1830, from Greek tauromakhia; see Taurus + -machy.
- Taurus (n.)
- zodiac constellation, late Old English, from Latin taurus "bull, bullock, steer," also the name of the constellation, from PIE *tau-ro- "bull" (cognates: Greek tauros, Old Church Slavonic turu "bull, steer;" Lithuanian tauras "aurochs;" Old Prussian tauris "bison"); from PIE *tauro- "bull," from root *(s)taeu- "stout, standing, strong" (cognates: Sanskrit sthura- "thick, compact," Avestan staora- "big cattle," Middle Persian stor "horse, draft animal," Gothic stiur "young bull," Old English steor, see steer (n.)); extended form of root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).
Klein proposes a Semitic origin (compare Aramaic tora "ox, bull, steer," Hebrew shor, Arabic thor, Ethiopian sor). Meaning "person born under the sign of the bull" is recorded from 1901.
At midnight revels when the gossips met,
The Taurid meteors (peaking Nov. 20) so called from 1878.
He was the theme of their eternal chat:
This ask'd what form great Jove would next devise,
And when his godship would again Taurise?
[William Somerville, "The Wife," 1727]
- taut (adj.)
- mid-13c., tohte "stretched or pulled tight," possibly from tog-, past participle stem of Old English teon "to pull, drag," from Proto-Germanic *tugn, from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (see duke (n.)), which would connect it to tow (v.) and tie. Related: Tautness.
- tauten (v.)
- "to make taut," 1814, from taut + -en (1). Intransitive meaning "become taut" is from 1849. Related: Tautened; tautening.
- tautog (n.)
- edible marine fish of the Atlantic coast of North America, 1640s, from Narragansett tautauog, plural of taut. Translated by Roger Williams as "sheep's head."
- tautology (n.)
- 1570s, from Late Latin tautologia "representation of the same thing in other words," from Greek tautologia, from tautologos "repeating what has been said," from tauto "the same" (contraction of to auto, with to "the" + auto, see auto-) + -logos "saying," related to legein "to say" (see lecture (n.)). Related: Tautological.
- tavern (n.)
- late 13c., "wine shop," later "public house" (mid-15c.), from Old French taverne (mid-13c.) "shed made of boards, booth, stall," also "tavern, inn," from Latin taberna "shop, inn, tavern," originally "hut, shed, rude dwelling," possibly [Klein] by dissimilation from *traberna, from trabs (genitive trabis) "beam, timber," from PIE *treb- "dwelling" (cognates: Lithuanian troba "a building," Old Welsh treb "house, dwelling," Welsh tref "a dwelling," Irish treb "residence," Old English ðorp "village, hamlet, farm, estate"). If so, the original meaning probably was "wooden shed."
- taw (v.)
- "to prepare" (leather), from Old English tawian "prepare, make ready, make; cultivate," also "harass, insult, outrage" to do, make," from Proto-Germanic *tawjan (cognates: Old Frisian tawa, Old Saxon toian, Middle Dutch tauwen, Dutch touwen, Old High German zouwen "to prepare," Old High German zawen "to succeed," Gothic taujan "to make, prepare"), from Proto-Germanic root *taw- "to make, manufacture" (compare tool (n.)).
- taw (n.)
- "a game at marbles," 1709, of unknown origin.
- tawdry (adj.)
- "no longer fresh or elegant but worn as if it were so; in cheap and ostentatious imitation of what is rich or costly," 1670s, adjective use of noun tawdry "silk necktie for women" (1610s), shortened from tawdry lace (1540s), an alteration (with adhesion of the -t- from Saint) of St. Audrey's lace, a necktie or ribbon sold at the annual fair at Ely on Oct. 17 commemorating St. Audrey (queen of Northumbria, died 679). Her association with lace necklaces is that she supposedly died of a throat tumor, which, according to Bede, she considered God's punishment for her youthful stylishness. Related: Tawdriness.
"I know of a surety that I deservedly bear the weight of my trouble on my neck, for I remember that, when I was a young maiden, I bore on it the needless weight of necklaces; and therefore I believe the Divine goodness would have me endure the pain in my neck, that so I may be absolved from the guilt of my needless levity, having now, instead of gold and pearls, the fiery heat of a tumour rising on my neck." [A.M. Sellar translation, 1907]
- tawny (adj.)
- "tan-colored," late 14c., from Anglo-French tauné "of or like the brownish-yellow of tanned leather," from Old French tanét "dark brown, tan" (12c., Modern French tanné), past participle of taner "to tan hides," from Medieval Latin tannare (see tan (v.)).Related: Tawniness.
- tax (v.)
- c. 1300, "impose a tax on," from Old French taxer "impose a tax" (13c.) and directly from Latin taxare "evaluate, estimate, assess, handle," also "censure, charge," probably a frequentative form of tangere "to touch" (see tangent (adj.)). Sense of "to burden, put a strain on" first recorded early 14c.; that of "censure, reprove" is from 1560s. Its use in Luke ii for Greek apographein "to enter on a list, enroll" is due to Tyndale. Related: Taxed; taxing.
- tax (n.)
- early 14c., "obligatory contribution levied by a sovereign or government," from Anglo-French tax, Old French taxe, and directly from Medieval Latin taxa, from Latin taxare (see tax (v.)). Related: Taxes. Tax-deduction is from 1942; tax-shelter is attested from 1961.
- taxable (adj.)
- "subject to taxation," late 15c., from Anglo-French taxable, Anglo-Latin taxabilis; see tax (v.) + -able. As a noun meaning "person subject to taxation" from 1660s.
- taxation (n.)
- early 14c., "imposition of taxes," from Anglo-French taxacioun, Old French taxacion, from Latin taxationem (nominative taxatio) "a rating, valuing, appraisal," noun of action from past participle stem of taxare (see tax (v.)).
- taxeme (n.)
- 1933, from comb. form of Greek taxis "order, arrangement" (see tactics) + -eme.
- taxi (n.)
- 1907, shortening of taximeter cab (introduced in London in March 1907), from taximeter "automatic meter to record the distance and fare" (1898), from French taximètre, from German Taxameter (1890), coined from Medieval Latin taxa "tax, charge."
An earlier English form was taxameter (1894), used in horse-drawn cabs. Taxi dancer "woman whose services may be hired at a dance hall" is recorded from 1930. Taxi squad in U.S. football is 1966, said to be from a former Cleveland Browns owner who gave his reserves jobs with his taxicab company to keep them paid and available ["Dictionary of American Slang"], but other explanations ("short-term hire" or "shuttling back and forth" from the main team) seem possible.
- taxi (v.)
- 1911, of airplanes, from slang use of taxi (n.) for "aircraft," or from or reinforced "in allusion to the way a taxi driver slowly cruises when looking for fares" [Barnhart]. Related: Taxied; taxiing.