upshot (n.) Look up upshot at
1530s, from up (adj.) + shot (n.); originally, the final shot in an archery match, hence the figurative sense of "result, issue, conclusion" (c. 1600).
upside (n.) Look up upside at
1610s, "upper side or surface," from up (adj.) + side (n.). Adverbial phrase upside (someone's) head in reference to a blow to the head is recorded from 1970, African-American vernacular.
upside down (adv.) Look up upside down at
late 15c., earlier upsadoun (late 14c.), up so down (c. 1300); the so perhaps meaning "as if." As an adjective from 1866.
upsilon (n.) Look up upsilon at
20th letter of the Greek alphabet, 1640s, from Greek u psilon, literally "a mere (or bare) 'u;' " so called in later Greek in reference to its sound. The exact reason is variously explained, but it seems to have had something to do with distinguishing it from diphthongs.
upskirt (adj.) Look up upskirt at
by 1997, from up (adv.) + skirt (n.). As a verb by 2008.
"Upskirt" videos, usually taken using low-hanging bags, feature up-close-and-personal crotch shots of leggy, panty-clad young women. ["Weekly World News," Sept. 29, 1998]
upstage (adv.) Look up upstage at
1855 in theatrical jargon, "to the rear of the stage," from up (adv.) + stage (n.). From 1901 as an adjective, 1916 as a noun. The notion in the verb (1921) is of drawing attention to oneself (and away from a fellow actor) by moving upstage, so that the other actor must face away from the audience. Related: Upstaged; upstaging.
upstairs (adv.) Look up upstairs at
1590s, from up (adv.) + stairs (see stair). As an adjective from 1782. The noun is first attested 1872. Adjectival meaning "characteristic of upstairs life" (in private rooms of a household, as opposed to servants' quarters) is recorded from 1942.
He [Halifax] had said he had known many kicked down stairs, but he never knew any kicked up stairs before. [Gilbert Burnet, supplement to "History of My own Time," from his original memoirs, c. 1697]
upstanding (adj.) Look up upstanding at
14c., altered from or replacing Old English upstandene, in the literal sense, from up (adv.) + standing (see stand (v.)); see -ing (2). Figurative sense of "honest" is attested from 1863. A verb upstand "stand up, be erect, rise" is recorded from c. 1200.
upstart (n.) Look up upstart at
1550s, "one newly risen from a humble position to one of power, importance, or rank, a parvenu," also start-up, from up (adv.) + start (v.) in the sense of "jump, spring, rise." As an adjective from 1560s. Compare the archaic verb upstart "to spring to one's feet," attested from c. 1300.
upstate (adv.) Look up upstate at
1901, American English, from up (adv.) + state (n.).
upstream (adv.) Look up upstream at
also up-stream, 1680s, from up (adv.) + stream (n.). As an adjective from 1838.
upsurge (n.) Look up upsurge at
1916, from up (adv.) + surge (n.).
upswing (n.) Look up upswing at
1922, in golf, from up (adv.) + swing (n.). Sense in economics is attested from 1934.
upsy-daisy (adv.) Look up upsy-daisy at
1711, up-a-daisy, baby talk extension of up (adv.). Compare lackadaisical. A word upsee was in use in English late 17c. in phrases such as upsee-Dutch "in the Dutch style" (of drinking), from Dutch op zijn, and also occasionally as an adverb, "extremely," and could have had an influence on this word.
uptake (n.) Look up uptake at
"capacity for understanding, perceptive power," 1816, from up (adv.) + take (v.). Compare Middle English verb uptake "to pick or take up" (c. 1300). Meaning "pipe leading up from the smoke box of a steam boiler to the chimney" is from 1839.
uptick (n.) Look up uptick at
"upward trend," 1962, an economist's term, from up (adv.) + tick (v.), in reference to some recording mechanism.
uptight (adj.) Look up uptight at
"tense," slang, 1934, from up- + tight (adj.). Meaning "straight-laced" first recorded 1969. It was used in a sense of "excellent" in jazz slang c. 1962.
uptown (adv.) Look up uptown at
1802, "to or in the higher or upper portion of a town," from up (adv.) + town (n.). As an adjective from 1838. As this usually was the residential portion of a town (especially a port) the word had overtones of "residential quarter" as opposed to "commercial and industrial district." As a noun from 1946, often meaning "more prosperous area of town."
upturn (n.) Look up upturn at
1868, "upturned part," from up (adv.) + turn (n.). Meaning "improvement" (especially in economics) is from 1930.
upward (adv.) Look up upward at
also upwards, Old English upweard, upweardes "up, upward, toward heaven;" see up (adv.) + -ward. Similar formation in Middle Low German upwart, Middle Dutch opwaert, Dutch opwaart, Middle High German ufwart. As an adjective from c. 1600 (also in Old English). Phrase upward mobility first recorded 1949; mainly restricted to sociologists' jargon until 1960s.
upwelling (adj.) Look up upwelling at
1841, from up (adv.) + present participle of well (v.). As a noun from 1847. A verb upwell is attested from 1885.
upwind (adv.) Look up upwind at
also up-wind, 1838, from up (adv.) + wind (n.1). Originally a nautical term. As an adjective from 1892.
ur- Look up ur- at
prefix meaning "original, earliest, primitive," from German ur- "out of, original," from Proto-Germanic *uz- "out," from PIE *ud- "up, out" (see out (adv.)) At first only in words borrowed from German (such as ursprache "hypothetical primitive language"); since mid-20c. a living prefix in English. Compare also Urschleim under protoplasm and Urquell under Pilsner.
uracil (n.) Look up uracil at
pyramidine base, coined in German, 1885, perhaps from urea + German Acetsäure "acetic acid" (or possibly acrylic) + chemical suffix -il.
Ural Look up Ural at
mountain range between Europe and Asia (the river is named for the mountains), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Vogul urala "mountain peak" or from Tatar ural "boundary."
Urania Look up Urania at
name of the Muse of astronomy and celestial forces, from Latin Urania, from Greek Ourania, fem. of ouranios, literally "heavenly," from ouranos (see Uranus).
uranian (adj.) Look up uranian at
"homosexual," 1893, from the reference to Aphrodite in Plato's "Symposium;" Urania "Heavenly" (Greek Ourania; see Uranus) being an epithet of Aphrodite as born of Uranus and also as distinguished from the vulgar Venus of commonplace lust.
But the son of the heavenly Aphrodite is sprung from a mother in whose birth the female has no part, but she is from the male only; this is that love which is of youths only, and the goddess being older has nothing of wantonness. Those who are inspired by this love turn to the male, and delight in him who is the more valiant and intelligent nature; any one may recognize the pure enthusiasts in the very character of their attachments. [B. Jowett, transl., 1874]
Also as a noun, "a homosexual person" (1908). Related uranism "homosexuality" (1893).
Uranian (adj.) Look up Uranian at
"pertaining to the planet Uranus," 1844, from comb. form of Uranus + -ian.
uranium (n.) Look up uranium at
rare metallic element, 1797, named 1789 in Modern Latin by its discoverer, German chemist and mineralogist Martin Heinrich Klaproth (1743-1817), for the recently found planet Uranus (q.v.).
Uranus Look up Uranus at
first planet discovered that was not known in ancient times, named for the god of Heaven, husband of Gaia, the Earth, from Latin Uranus, from Greek Ouranos literally "heaven, the sky;" in Greek cosmology, the god who personifies the heavens, father of the titans.

The planet was discovered and identified as such in 1781 by Sir William Herschel (it had been observed before, but mistaken for a star; in 1690 John Flamsteed cataloged it as 34 Tauri); Herschel proposed calling it Georgium Sidus, literally "George's Star," in honour of his patron, King George III of England.
I cannot but wish to take this opportunity of expressing my sense of gratitude, by giving the name of Georgium Sidus ... to a star which (with respect to us) first began to shine under His auspicious reign. [Sir William Herschel, 1783]
The planet was known in English in 1780s as the Georgian Planet; French astronomers began calling Herschel, and ultimately German astronomer Johann Bode proposed Uranus as in conformity with other planet names. However, the name didn't come into common usage until c. 1850.
urban (adj.) Look up urban at
"characteristic of city life, pertaining to cities or towns," 1610s (but rare before 1830s), from Latin urbanus "of or pertaining to a city or city life; in Rome," also "in city fashion, polished, refined, cultivated, courteous," but also sometimes "witty, facetious, bold, impudent;" as a noun, "city dweller," from urbs (genitive urbis) "city, walled town," a word of unknown origin.

The word gradually emerged in this sense as urbane became restricted to manners and styles of expression. In late 20c. American English gradually acquiring a suggestion of "African-American." Urban renewal, euphemistic for "slum clearance," is attested from 1955, American English. Urban sprawl recorded by 1958. Urban legend attested by 1980.
Urban Look up Urban at
masc. proper name, from Latin urbanus "refined, courteous," literally "of a city" (see urban (adj.)).
urbane (adj.) Look up urbane at
1530s, "of or relating to cities or towns," from Middle French urbain (14c.) and directly from Latin urbanus "belonging to a city," also "citified, elegant" (see urban). The meaning "having the manners of townspeople, courteous, refined" is from 1620s, from a secondary sense in classical Latin. Urbanity in this sense is recorded from 1530s. For sense connection and differentiation of form, compare human/humane; german/germane.
urbanisation (n.) Look up urbanisation at
chiefly British English spelling of urbanization. For spelling, see -ize.
urbanism (n.) Look up urbanism at
1885, from urban + -ism.
urbanite (n.) Look up urbanite at
1897, from urban + -ite.
urbanity (n.) Look up urbanity at
1530s, from Middle French urbanité (14c.) and directly from Latin urbanitatem (nominative urbanitas) "city life; life in Rome; refinement, city fashion or manners, elegance, courtesy," also "wit, raillery, trickery," from urbanus (see urban).
urbanization (n.) Look up urbanization at
1888, noun of action from urbanize.
urbanize (v.) Look up urbanize at
1640s, "to make more civil;" 1884 "to make into a city," from urban + -ize; in the latter sense from French urbaniser (1873). Related: Urbanized; urbanizing.
urceolate (adj.) Look up urceolate at
1760, with -ate (1) + Latin urceolus, diminutive of urceus "pitcher," of uncertain origin (see urn).
urchin (n.) Look up urchin at
c. 1300, yrichon "hedgehog," from Old North French *irechon (cognate with Picard irechon, Walloon ireson, Hainaut hirchon), from Old French herichun "hedgehog" (Modern French hérisson), formed with diminutive suffix -on + Vulgar Latin *hericionem, from Latin ericius "hedgehog," enlarged form of er, originally *her, from PIE root *ghers- "to bristle" (source also of Greek kheros "hedgehog;" see horror).

Still used for "hedgehog" in non-standard speech in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Shropshire. Applied throughout 16c. to people whose appearance or behavior suggested hedgehogs, from hunchbacks (1520s) to goblins (1580s) to bad girls (1530s); meaning "poorly or raggedly clothed youngster" emerged 1550s, but was not in frequent use until after c. 1780. Sea urchin is recorded from 1590s (a 19c. Newfoundland name for them was whore's eggs); Johnson describes it as "a kind of crabfish that has prickles instead of feet."
Urdu Look up Urdu at
official language of Pakistan, 1796, formerly also known as Hindustani, from Urdu urdu "camp," from Turkish ordu (source of horde); short for zaban-i-urdu "language of the camp." Compare Dzongkha, a variant of Tibetan and the official language of Bhutan, literally "the language of the fortress." A form of Hindu heavily leavened with Persian and Arabic. "So named because it grew up since the eleventh century in the camps of the Mohammedan conquerors of India as a means of communication between them and the subject population of central Hindustan." [Century Dictionary]
ure (n.) Look up ure at
"effect, operation, practice," early 15c., from Old French uevre (13c., Modern French oeuvre), from Latin opera (see opera).
urea (n.) Look up urea at
compound found in the urine of animals, 1806, Latinized from French urée (1803), from Greek ouron "urine" (see urine).
uremia (n.) Look up uremia at
1857, Modern Latin, from Latinized form of Greek ouron "urine" (see urine) + haima "blood" (see -emia) + abstract noun ending -ia.
ureter (n.) Look up ureter at
1570s, from medical Latin ureter, from Greek oureter "urinary duct of the kidneys," from ourein "to urinate," from ouron (see urine). Related: Ureteral.
urethane (n.) Look up urethane at
1838, from French uréthane (1833), coined by Dumas, apparently from urea + ether + -ane as a generic chemical suffix.
urethra (n.) Look up urethra at
"canal through which urine is discharged from the bladder," 1630s, from Late Latin urethra, from Greek ourethra "the passage for urine," coined by Hippocrates from ourein "to urinate," from ouron (see urine). Related: Urethral.
urethritis (n.) Look up urethritis at
1823, medical Latin, from urethra + -itis "inflammation."
uretic (adj.) Look up uretic at
1849, from Late Latin ureticus, from Greek ouretikos, from ourein (see urine).