vane (n.) Look up vane at Dictionary.com
"plate metal wind indicator," early 15c., southern England alteration (see V) of fane "flag, banner."
Vanessa Look up Vanessa at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, also the name of a butterfly genus. As a name, not much used in U.S. before 1950. It appears to have been coined by Swift c.1711 as a pseudonym for Esther Vanhomrigh, who was romantically attached to him, and composed of elements of her name. He used it in private correspondence and published it in the poem "Cadenus and Vanessa" (1713).
The name Cadenus is an anagram of Decanus; that of Vanessa is formed much in the same way, by placing the first syllable of her sir-name before her christian-name, Hessy. [William Monck Mason, "History and Antiquities of the Collegiate and Cathedral Church of St. Patrick, Near Dublin," 1820]
As the name of a genus of butterflies that includes the Red Admiral and the Painted Lady, it dates to 1808, chosen by Danish entomologist Johan Christian Fabricius (1745-1808) for unknown reasons. He has no obvious connection to Swift, and the theory that it was intended for *Phanessa, from Greek phanes "a mystical divinity in the Orphic system" does no honor to his classical learning.
vanguard (n.) Look up vanguard at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., vaunt garde, from Middle French avant-garde, from avant "in front" (see avant) + garde "guard" (see guard (n.)). Communist revolutionary sense is recorded from 1928.
vanilla (n.) Look up vanilla at Dictionary.com
1660s, "pod of the vanilla plant," from Spanish vainilla "vanilla plant," literally "little pod," diminutive of vaina "sheath," from Latin vagina "sheath of an ear of grain, hull of a plant" (see vagina). So called from the shape of the pods. European discovery 1521 by Hernando Cortes' soldiers on reconnaissance in southeastern Mexico. Meaning "flavoring extracted from the vanilla bean" is attested by 1728. Meaning "conventional, of ordinary sexual preferences" is 1970s, from notion of whiteness and the common choice of vanilla ice cream.
vanillin (n.) Look up vanillin at Dictionary.com
substance prepared from fruit of the vanilla plant, 1859, from vanilla + -in (2).
vaniloquence (n.) Look up vaniloquence at Dictionary.com
"idle talk," 1620s, from Latin vaniloquentia, from vanus "idle, empty" (see vain) + loquens, from loqui "to speak" (see locution).
vanish (v.) Look up vanish at Dictionary.com
"disappear quickly," c.1300, from shortened form of esvaniss-, stem of Old French esvanir "disappear; cause to disappear," from Vulgar Latin *exvanire, from Latin evanescere "disappear, pass away, die out," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + vanescere "vanish," inchoative verb from vanus "empty" (see vain). Related: Vanished; vanishing; vanishingly. Vanishing point in perspective drawing is recorded from 1797.
vanity (n.) Look up vanity at Dictionary.com
c.1200, "that which is vain, futile, or worthless," from Old French vanite "self-conceit; futility; lack of resolve" (12c.), from Latin vanitatem (nominative vanitas) "emptiness, aimlessness; falsity," figuratively "vainglory, foolish pride," from vanus "empty, vain, idle" (see vain). Meaning "self-conceited" in English is attested from mid-14c. Vanity table is attested from 1936. Vanity Fair is from "Pilgrim's Progress" (1678).
vanquish (v.) Look up vanquish at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., "to defeat in battle, conquer," from Old French venquis-, extended stem of veintre "to defeat," from Latin vincere "defeat" (see victor). Influenced in Middle English by Middle French vainquiss-, present stem of vainquir "conquer," from Old French vainkir, alteration of veintre. Related: Vanquished; vanquishing.
vantage (n.) Look up vantage at Dictionary.com
early 14c., "advantage, profit," from Anglo-French vantage, from Old French avantage "advantage, profit, superiority" (see advantage). Vantage point "favorable position" attested from 1865; a similar notion was in earlier vantage ground (1610s).
vapid (adj.) Look up vapid at Dictionary.com
1650s, "flat, insipid" (of drinks), from Latin vapidus "flat, insipid," literally "that has exhaled its vapor," related to vappa "stale wine," and probably to vapor "vapor." Applied from 1758 to talk and writing deemed dull and lifeless. Related: Vapidly; vapidness.
vapidity (n.) Look up vapidity at Dictionary.com
1721, from vapid + -ity.
vapor (n.) Look up vapor at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Anglo-French vapour, Old French vapor "moisture, vapor" (13c., Modern French vapeur) and directly from Latin vaporem (nominative vapor) "a warm exhalation, steam, heat," of unknown origin. Vapors "fit of fainting, hysteria, etc." is 1660s, from medieval notion of "exhalations" from the stomach or other organs affecting the brain.
vaporetto (n.) Look up vaporetto at Dictionary.com
Venetian public transit canal-motorboat, 1926, from Italian vaporetto, diminutive of vapore "steam," from Latin vapor (see vapor (n.)).
vaporization (n.) Look up vaporization at Dictionary.com
also vaporisation, 1788, noun of action from vaporize. In same sense Middle English had vaporacioun (late 14c.).
vaporize (v.) Look up vaporize at Dictionary.com
1630s, "to smoke" (tobacco), from vapor + -ize. Later "convert into vapor, cause to become vapor" (1803), and "spray with fine mist" (1900). Intransitive sense "become vaporous" is from 1828. Related: Vaporized; vaporizing. An earlier verb was simply vapor (c.1400, transitive and intransitive), from Latin vaporare.
vaporizer (n.) Look up vaporizer at Dictionary.com
1846, agent noun from vaporize.
vaporous (adj.) Look up vaporous at Dictionary.com
late 14c., from Late Latin vaporosus "full of steam," from Latin vaporus, from vapor (see vapor).
vapour (n.) Look up vapour at Dictionary.com
chiefly British English spelling of vapor; see -or.
vappa (n.) Look up vappa at Dictionary.com
"wine that has lost its flavor," c.1600, from Latin vappa "wine without flavor," figuratively "a good-for-nothing" (see vapid).
vaquero (n.) Look up vaquero at Dictionary.com
1826, from Spanish, literally "cowboy," from vaca "cow," from Latin vacca (see vaccination).
Varangian (n.) Look up Varangian at Dictionary.com
one of the Northmen who ravaged the Baltic coast in 9c. and by tradition overran part of western Russia and founded a dynasty there," 1788, from Medieval Latin Varangus, from Byzantine Greek Barangos, a name ultimately (via Slavic) from Old Norse væringi "a Scandinavian," properly "a confederate," from var- "pledge, faith," related to Old English wær "agreement, treaty, promise," Old High German wara "faithfulness" (see very). Attested in Old Russian as variagi; surviving in Russian varyag "a pedlar," Ukrainian varjah "a big strong man."
variability (n.) Look up variability at Dictionary.com
1771, from variable (Latin variabilis) + -ity.
variable (adj.) Look up variable at Dictionary.com
late 14c., of persons, "apt to change, fickle," from Old French variable "various, changeable, fickle," from Late Latin variabilis "changeable," from variare "to change" (see vary). Of weather, seasons, etc., attested from late 15c.; of stars, from 1788.
variable (n.) Look up variable at Dictionary.com
"quantity that can vary in value," 1816, from variable (adj.) in mathematical sense of "quantitatively indeterminate" (1710). Related: Variably; variability.
variance (n.) Look up variance at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "fact of undergoing change," from Old French variance "change, alteration; doubt, hesitation" and directly from Latin variantia, from stem of variare "to change" (see vary). Meaning "state of disagreement" is recorded from early 15c. The U.S. zoning sense of "official dispensation from a building regulation" is recorded from 1925.
variant (n.) Look up variant at Dictionary.com
:something substantially the same, but in different form," 1848, from variant (adj.).
variant (adj.) Look up variant at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "tending to change," from Old French variant and directly from Latin variantem (nominative varians), present participle of variare "to change" (see vary).
variate (n.) Look up variate at Dictionary.com
in statistics, 1899, from adjective variate (mid-15c.), from Latin variatus, past participle of variare (see vary).
variation (n.) Look up variation at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "difference, divergence," from Old French variacion "variety, diversity" and directly from Latin variationem (nominative variatio) "a difference, variation, change," from past participle stem of variare "to change" (see vary). The musical sense is attested from 1801. Related: Variational.
varicella (n.) Look up varicella at Dictionary.com
"chicken-pox," medical Latin, 1764, irregular diminutive of variola (see variola). Related: Varicellous.
varices (n.) Look up varices at Dictionary.com
plural of varix "dilated vein" (c.1400), from PIE root *wer- (1) "high raised spot or other bodily infirmity" (see vary (v.)).
varicocele (n.) Look up varicocele at Dictionary.com
"tumor in the scrotum," 1736, medical Latin, from Latin varic-, comb. form of varix "dilated vein" (see varices) + Latinized form of Greek kele "tumor."
varicolored (adj.) Look up varicolored at Dictionary.com
"diversified in color, motley," also vari-colored, 1660s, from Latin varius (see vary) + English colored (adj.).
varicose (adj.) Look up varicose at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Latin varicosus "with dilated veins," from varix (genitive varicis) "dilated vein," probably related to varus "bent outward, bow-legged" (see varus).
varied (adj.) Look up varied at Dictionary.com
"changed," early 15c., past participle adjective from vary (v.). From 1580s as "differing from one another;" as "characterized by variety," from 1732.
variegate (v.) Look up variegate at Dictionary.com
1650s "give variety to," from Late Latin variegatus "made of various sorts or colors," past participle of variegare "diversify with different colors," from varius "spotted, changing, varying" (see vary) + root of agere "to drive" (see act). Meaning "mark with different colors" is from 1660s (implied in Variegated). Related: vareiegating.
varietal (adj.) Look up varietal at Dictionary.com
"having the characteristics of a variety," 1849, a biologists' word, from variety + -al (1). In reference to wines, "made from a single variety of grape," first attested 1941, American English. As a noun, in this sense, attested from 1955. Related: Varietally.
variety (n.) Look up variety at Dictionary.com
1530s, "change of fortunes," from Middle French variété and directly from Latin varietatem (nominative varietas) "difference, diversity; a kind, variety, species, sort," from varius "various" (see vary). Meaning diversity, absence of monotony" is from 1540s; that of "collection of different things" is from 1550s; sense of "something different from others" is from 1610s. In reference to music hall or theatrical performances of a mixed nature, first recorded 1868, American English.
variform (adj.) Look up variform at Dictionary.com
1660s, from Latin varius (see vary) + forma (see form (n.)).
varify (v.) Look up varify at Dictionary.com
"to make varied," c.1600, from Latin vari-, stem of varius "different, diverse" (see vary) + -fy. Related: Varified; varifying.
variola (n.) Look up variola at Dictionary.com
"smallpox," 1771, medical Latin diminutive of Latin varius "changing, various," in this case "speckled, spotted" (see vary).
variorum (adj.) Look up variorum at Dictionary.com
"an edition (especially of the complete works of a classical author) with notes of various commentators or editors," 1728, genitive masculine plural of Latin varius "different, diverse" (see vary), in phrase editio cum notis variorum. Its use with reference to an edition of an author's works containing variant readings (1955) is "deplored by some scholars" [OED].
various (adj.) Look up various at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "characterized by variety," from Middle French varieux and directly from Latin varius "changing, different, diverse" (see vary). Meaning "different from one another, having a diversity of features" is recorded from 1630s. Related: Variously.
varlet (n.) Look up varlet at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "servant, attendant of a knight," from Middle French varlet (14c.), variant of vaslet, originally "squire, young man," from Old French vassal (see vassal). The meaning "rascal, rogue" is 1540s.
varmint (n.) Look up varmint at Dictionary.com
1530s, varment; the chiefly American English dialectal form varmint is attested from 1829; variant of vermin. Meaning "objectionable or troublesome person" is recorded from 1773.
varnish (n.) Look up varnish at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from Old French vernis "varnish" (12c.), from Medieval Latin vernix "odorous resin," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Late Greek verenike, from Greek Berenike, name of an ancient city in Libya (modern Bengasi) credited with the first use of varnishes. The town is named for Berenike II, queen of Egypt (see Berenice). Figurative sense of "specious gloss, pretense," is recorded from 1560s.
varnish (v.) Look up varnish at Dictionary.com
late 14c.; see varnish (n.). Related: Varnished; varnishing. Century Dictionary defines varnishing day as "A day before the opening of a picture exhibition on which exhibitors have the privilege of retouching or varnishing their pictures after they have been placed on the walls." The custom is said to date to the early years of 19c.
varsity (adj.) Look up varsity at Dictionary.com
1825, "university," variant of earlier versity (1670s), shortened form of university. Compare varsal (1690s), short for universal; varmint from vermin; and Grose's "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" (1788) has vardy as slang for verdict. "Used in English universities, and affected to some extent in American colleges" [Century Dictionary].
varus (n.) Look up varus at Dictionary.com
foot deformity in which the feet are extroverted, so that the inner ankle rests on the ground, while the sole of the foot is more or less turned outwards, 1800, from Latin varus "bent, bent outwards, turned awry, crooked," specifically "with legs bent inward, knock-kneed," of uncertain origin.
If the original meaning was 'with the legs opened', varus might be compared with vanus and vastus, and reflect *wa-ro- 'going apart, letting go'. In any case, none of the other etymologies proposed seems plausible. [de Vaan]
The use of classical varus and valgus, which denoted deformities of the legs, in modern medicine to describe deformities of the feet, was criticized by learned writers (see "Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," July 1838).