wingman (n.) Look up wingman at
pilot of the plane beside the lead aircraft in a formation, 1943 (earlier as a football position), from wing (n.) + man (n.). With figurative extensions, including the dating-sidekick one that was in use by 2006.
wingnut (n.) Look up wingnut at
"nut with flared sides for turning with the thumb and forefinger;" so called for its shape (see wing (n.) + nut (n.)). Meaning "weird person" recorded by 1989, probably not from the literal sense but from the secondary sense of nut, influenced perhaps by slang senses of wing in wing-ding "wild party," originally "fit, spasm" (1937). An earlier, British, sense of wingnut was "person with large, protruding ears" (1986).
wingspan (n.) Look up wingspan at
also wing-span, 1894, from wing (n.) + span (n.1).
wingtip (n.) Look up wingtip at
also wing-tip, 1867, "tip of a wing" (originally of insects; by 1870 of birds), from wing (n.) + tip (n.1). Of airplane wings from 1909. As a type of shoe with a back-curving toe cap suggestive of a bird's wingtip, from 1928. Related: Wing-tipped.
wink (v.) Look up wink at
Old English wincian "to blink, wink, close one's eyes quickly," from Proto-Germanic *wink- (source also of Dutch winken, Old High German winkan "move sideways, stagger; nod," German winken "to wave, wink"), a gradational variant of the root of Old High German wankon "to stagger, totter," Old Norse vakka "to stray, hover," from PIE root *weng- "to bend, curve." The meaning "close an eye as a hint or signal" is first recorded c. 1100; that of "close one's eyes (to fault or irregularity)" first attested late 15c. Related: Winked; winking.
wink (n.) Look up wink at
"a quick shutting and opening of the eyes," c. 1300, from wink (v.); meaning "very brief moment of time" is attested from 1580s.
winkle (n.) Look up winkle at
edible mollusk, 1580s, shortening of periwinkle (n.2).
winless (adj.) Look up winless at
1948, from win (n.) + -less.
winnable (adj.) Look up winnable at
1540s, from win (v.) + -able.
Winnebago Look up Winnebago at
"Siouan people of eastern Wisconsin," 1766, from Potawatomi winepyekoha, literally "person of dirty water," in reference to the muddy or fish-clogged waters of the Fox River below Lake Winnebago. As a type of motor vehicle, attested from 1966.
winner (n.) Look up winner at
mid-14c., agent noun from win (v.). Adjectival winner-take-all attested from 1901.
winning (n.) Look up winning at
"thing gained or won," late 14c., verbal noun from win (v.). Related: Winnings.
Winnipeg Look up Winnipeg at
originally the name of the lake, probably from Ojibwa (Algonquian) winipeg "dirty water;" compare winad "it is dirty." Etymologically related to Winnebago.
winnow (v.) Look up winnow at
late 14c., from Old English windwian "to fan, winnow," from wind "air in motion, paring down," see wind (n.1). Cognate with Old Norse vinza, Old High German winton "to fan, winnow," Gothic diswinþjan "to throw (grain) apart."
wino (n.) Look up wino at
1915, from wine + suffix as in bucko, kiddo.
winsome (adj.) Look up winsome at
Old English wynsum "agreeable, pleasant," from wynn "pleasure, delight," from Proto-Germanic *wunjo- (source also of Old Saxon wunnia, Old High German wunja, German Wonne "joy, delight"), from PIE root *wen- (1) "to desire, strive for" + -sum (see -some (1)). Apparently surviving only in northern English dialect for 400 years until revived 18c. by Hamilton, Burns, and other Scottish poets. Similar formation in Old Saxon wunsam, Old High German wunnisam. Related: Winsomely; winsomeness.
winter (v.) Look up winter at
"to pass the winter (in some place)," late 14c., from winter (n.). Related: Wintered; wintering.
winter (n.) Look up winter at
Old English winter (plural wintru), "the fourth and coldest season of the year, winter," from Proto-Germanic *wintruz "winter" (source also of Old Frisian, Dutch winter, Old Saxon, Old High German wintar, German winter, Danish and Swedish vinter, Gothic wintrus, Old Norse vetr "winter"), probably literally "the wet season," from PIE *wend-, nasalized form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet"). On another old guess, cognate with Gaulish vindo-, Old Irish find "white."

As an adjective in Old English. The Anglo-Saxons counted years in "winters," as in Old English ænetre "one-year-old;" and wintercearig, which might mean either "winter-sad" or "sad with years." Old Norse Vetrardag, first day of winter, was the Saturday that fell between Oct. 10 and 16.
wintergreen (n.) Look up wintergreen at
type of plant, 1540s, from winter (n.) + green (n.). So called from keeping green through the winter.
winterize (v.) Look up winterize at
1938, on model of earlier summerize (1935); from winter (n.) + -ize. Related: Winterized; winterizing.
wintry (adj.) Look up wintry at
Old English wintrig (see winter (n.) + -y (2)); also winterlic; "but the modern word appears to be a new formation" [Barnhart]. Similar formation in German wintericht.
wipe (v.) Look up wipe at
Old English wipian "to wipe, cleanse," from Proto-Germanic *wipjan "to move back and forth" (source also of Danish vippe, Middle Dutch, Dutch vippen, Old High German wifan "to swing"), from PIE *weip- "to turn, vacillate, tremble" (source of Latin vibrare "to shake;" see vibrate).
wipe (n.) Look up wipe at
1640s, "act of wiping," from wipe (v.). From 1708 as "something used in wiping" (especially a handkerchief); 1971 as "disposable absorbent tissue."
wipeout (n.) Look up wipeout at
also wipe-out, 1962, American English, surfer slang, from wipe (v.) + out. Sense of "destruction, defeat, a killing" is recorded from 1968. Verbal phrase wipe out "destroy, obliterate" is from 1610s.
wiper (n.) Look up wiper at
1550s as a person, 1580s as a cloth, agent noun wipe (v.). From 1929 as short for windshield wiper.
wire (n.) Look up wire at
Old English wir "metal drawn out into a fine thread," from Proto-Germanic *wira- (source also of Old Norse viravirka "filigree work," Swedish vira "to twist," Old High German wiara "fine gold work"), from PIE *wei- (1) "to turn, twist, plait" (source also of Old Irish fiar, Welsh gwyr "bent, crooked;" Latin viere "to bend, twist," viriæ "bracelets," of Celtic origin). A wire as marking the finish line of a racecourse is attested from 1883; hence the figurative down to the wire. Wire-puller in the political sense is 1848, American English, on the image of pulling the wires that work a puppet.
wire (v.) Look up wire at
c. 1300, "adorn with (gold) wire," from wire (n.). From 1859 as "communicate by means of a telegraphic wire;" 1891 as "furnish with electrical wires and connections." Related: Wired; wiring.
wire-tapping (n.) Look up wire-tapping at
also wiretapping, "surreptitiously obtaining information by connecting wires to telegraph (later telephone) lines and establishing an intermediate station between two legitimate ones," 1878, from wire (n.) + agent noun from tap (v.2). Earliest references often are to activity during the American Civil War, but the phrase does not seem to have been used at that time. Related: Wire-tap; wire-tapper.
wired (adj.) Look up wired at
Old English wired "made of wire," past participle adjective from wire (v.). From early 15c. as "stiffened by wires." Meaning "nervous, jittery" is by 1970s; earlier (1959, perhaps early 1950s) "using narcotic drugs, addicted to drugs."
wiredraw (v.) Look up wiredraw at
1590s, "to make wire by drawing metal," from wire (n.) + draw (v.). Related: Wiredrawer; wiredrawing.
wiregrass (n.) Look up wiregrass at
also wire-grass, 1790, from wire (n.) + grass (n.).
wireless (adj.) Look up wireless at
1894, in reference to as a type of telegraph, from wire (n.) + -less. As a noun, "radio broadcasting," attested from 1903, subsequently superseded by radio.
wireman (n.) Look up wireman at
worker on electrical lines, 1881, from wire (n.) + man (n.).
wiring (n.) Look up wiring at
"wires collectively," 1809, later especially "electrical wirework" (1887), from present participle of wire (v.).
wiry (adj.) Look up wiry at
1580s, "made of wire," from wire (n.) + -y (2). As "resembling wire" from 1590s; of persons, "lean, sinewy," by 1808. Related: Wiriness.
Wisconsin Look up Wisconsin at
organized as a U.S. territory 1836; admitted as a state 1848. Originally applied to the Wisconsin River; a native name of unknown origin. Early spellings include Mescousing and Wishkonsing.
wisdom (n.) Look up wisdom at
Old English wisdom "knowledge, learning, experience," from wis (see wise (adj.)) + -dom. A common Germanic compound (Old Saxon, Old Frisian wisdom, Old Norse visdomr, Old High German wistuom "wisdom," German Weistum "judicial sentence serving as a precedent"). Wisdom teeth so called from 1848 (earlier teeth of wisdom, 1660s), a loan-translation of Latin dentes sapientiae, itself a loan-translation of Greek sophronisteres (used by Hippocrates, from sophron "prudent, self-controlled"), so called because they usually appear ages 17-25, when a person reaches adulthood.
wise (n.) Look up wise at
"way of proceeding, manner," Old English wise "way, fashion, custom, habit, manner; condition, state, circumstance," from Proto-Germanic *wison "appearance, form, manner" (see wise (adj.)). Compare Old Saxon wisa, Old Frisian wis, Danish vis, Middle Dutch wise, Dutch wijs, Old High German wisa, German Weise "way, manner." Most common in English now as a word-forming element (as in likewise, clockwise); the adverbial -wise has been used thus since Old English. For sense evolution from "to see" to "way of proceeding," compare cognate Greek eidos "form, shape, kind," also "course of action." Ground sense is "to see/know the way."
wise (v.) Look up wise at
Old English wisean "make wise or knowing" (transitive), cognate with Old Frisian wisa, Old Saxon wisian, Middle Dutch wisen, Dutch wijzen, Old High German wisan, German weisen; from the source of wise (adj.). Intransitive wise up is attested by 1905.
wise (adj.) Look up wise at
Old English wis "learned, sagacious, cunning; sane; prudent, discreet; experienced; having the power of discerning and judging rightly," from Proto-Germanic *wissaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian wis, Old Norse viss, Dutch wijs, German weise "wise"), from past participle adjective *wittos of PIE root *weid- "to see" (hence "to know"). Modern slang meaning "aware, cunning" first attested 1896. Related to the source of Old English witan "to know, wit."
A wise man has no extensive knowledge; He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man. [Lao-tzu, "Tao te Ching," c. 550 B.C.E.]
Wise man was in Old English. Wise guy is attested from 1896, American English; wise-ass (n.) by 1966, American English (probably a literal sense is intended by the phrase in the 1607 comedy "Westward Hoe" by Dekker and Webster). Wisenheimer, with mock German or Yiddish surname suffix, first recorded 1904.
wiseacre (n.) Look up wiseacre at
1590s, partial translation of Middle Dutch wijssegger "soothsayer" (with no derogatory connotation), probably altered by association with Middle Dutch segger "sayer" from Old High German wizzago "prophet," from wizzan "to know," from Proto-Germanic *wit- "to know" (see wit (v.)). The deprecatory sense of "one who pretends to know everything" may have come through confusion with obsolete English segger "sayer," which also had a sense of "braggart" (mid-15c.).
wisecrack (n.) Look up wisecrack at
1906, American English, from wise (adj.) + crack in the "boast" sense (see cracker (n.2)). As a verb from 1915. Related: Wisecracking.
wisely (adv.) Look up wisely at
Old English wislice; see wise (adj.) + -ly (2).
wish (n.) Look up wish at
early 14c., "act of wishing," also "what one wishes for," from wish (v.). Cognate with Old Norse osk, Middle Dutch wonsc, Dutch wens, Old High German wunsc, German Wunsch "a wish." Wish fulfillment (1901) translates German wunscherfüllung (Freud, "Die Traumdeutung," 1900).
wish (v.) Look up wish at
Old English wyscan "to wish, cherish a desire," from Proto-Germanic *wunsk- (source also of Old Norse œskja, Danish ønske, Swedish önska, Middle Dutch wonscen, Dutch wensen, Old High German wunsken, German wunschen "to wish"), from PIE root *wen- (1) "to desire, strive for." Related: Wished; wishing. Wishing well as an enchanted water hole attested by 1819.
wishbone (n.) Look up wishbone at
also wish-bone, 1860, from wish (n.) + bone (n.); so called from the custom of making a wish while pulling the bone in two with another person. The wishbone breaking custom dates to the early 17c., when the bone was a merrythought.
wishful (adj.) Look up wishful at
1520s, from wish (n.) + -ful. Related: Wishfully; wishfulness. Wishful thinking is recorded from 1907.
wishy-washy (adj.) Look up wishy-washy at
1690s, "feeble or poor in quality," reduplication of washy "thin, watery." Meaning "vacillating" first recorded 1873.
wisp (n.) Look up wisp at
early 14c., "handful or bundle of hay, grass, etc.," used for burning or cleaning or as a cushion; perhaps from an unrecorded Old English word, cognate with Norwegian and Swedish visp "wisp," of unknown origin; sometimes said to be connected with whisk or with Middle Low German and Middle Dutch wispel "a measure of grain." Meaning "thin, filmy portion" first attested 1836.
wispy (adj.) Look up wispy at
1717, from wisp + -y (2). Related: Wispiness.