wingnut (n.)
"nut with flared sides for turning with the thumb and forefinger;" so called for its shape. 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.)
also wing-span, 1894, from wing (n.) + span (n.1).
wingtip (n.)
also wing-tip, 1872, "tip of a bird's wing," 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.)
Old English wincian "to blink, wink, close one's eyes quickly," from Proto-Germanic *wink- (cognates: 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.)
"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.)
edible mollusk, 1580s, shortening of periwinkle (n.2).
winless (adj.)
1948, from win (n.) + -less.
winnable (adj.)
1540s, from win (v.) + -able.
"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.)
mid-14c., agent noun from win (v.). Adjectival winner-take-all attested from 1901.
winnings (n.)
"things gained or won," late 14c., plural verbal noun from win (v.).
originally the name of the lake, probably from Ojibwa (Algonquian) winipeg "dirty water;" compare winad "it is dirty." Etymologically related to Winnebago.
winnow (v.)
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.)
1915, from wine + suffix as in bucko, kiddo.
winsome (adj.)
Old English wynsum "agreeable, pleasant," from wynn "pleasure, delight," from Proto-Germanic *wunjo- (cognates: Old Saxon wunnia, Old High German wunja, German Wonne "joy, delight;" see win (v.)) + -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 (n.)
Old English winter (plural wintru), "the fourth and coldest season of the year, winter," from Proto-Germanic *wintruz "winter" (cognates: 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-, from root *wed- (1) "water, wet" (see water (n.1)). 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.
winter (v.)
"to pass the winter (in some place)," late 14c., from winter (n.). Related: Wintered; wintering.
wintergreen (n.)
type of plant, 1540s, from winter (n.) + green. So called from keeping green through the winter.
winterize (v.)
1938, on model of earlier summerize (1935); from winter (n.) + -ize. Related: Winterized; winterizing.
wintry (adj.)
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 (n.)
1640s, "act of wiping," from wipe (v.). From 1708 as "something used in wiping" (especially a handkerchief); 1971 as "disposable absorbent tissue."
wipe (v.)
Old English wipian "to wipe, cleanse," from Proto-Germanic *wipjan "to move back and forth" (cognates: 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).
wipeout (n.)
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.)
1550s as a person, 1580s as a cloth, agent noun wipe (v.). From 1929 as short for windshield wiper.
wire (n.)
Old English wir "metal drawn out into a fine thread," from Proto-Germanic *wira- (cognates: Old Norse viravirka "filigree work," Swedish vira "to twist," Old High German wiara "fine gold work"), from PIE *wei- (1) "to turn, twist, plait" (cognates: 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.)
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.)
"surreptitiously obtaining information by connecting wires to telegraph (later telephone) lines and establishing an intermediate station between two legitimate ones," 1880, from wire (n.) + agent noun from tap (v.2). Related: Wire-tap; wire-tapper.
wired (adj.)
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.)
1590s, "to make wire by drawing metal," from wire (n.) + draw (v.). Related: Wiredrawer; wiredrawing.
wiregrass (n.)
also wire-grass, 1790, from wire (n.) + grass (n.).
wireless (adj.)
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.)
worker on electrical lines, 1881, from wire (n.) + man (n.).
wiring (n.)
"wires collectively," 1809, later especially "electrical wirework" (1887), from present participle of wire (v.).
wiry (adj.)
1580s, "made of wire," from wire (n.) + -y (2). As "resembling wire" from 1590s; of persons, "lean, sinewy," by 1808. Related: Wiriness.
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.)
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 (adj.)
Old English wis "learned, sagacious, cunning; sane; prudent, discreet; experienced; having the power of discerning and judging rightly," from Proto-Germanic *wissaz (cognates: 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" (see vision). 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.
wise (n.)
"way of proceeding, manner," Old English wise "way, fashion, custom, habit, manner; condition, state, circumstance," from the same source as 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, clockwide); 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.)
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.
wiseacre (n.)
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.)
1906, American English, from wise (adj.) + crack in the "boast" sense (see cracker (n.2)). As a verb from 1915. Related: Wisecracking.
wisely (adv.)
Old English wislice; see wise (adj.) + -ly (2).
wish (v.)
Old English wyscan "to wish, cherish a desire," from Proto-Germanic *wunsk- (cognates: Old Norse œskja, Danish ønske, Swedish önska, Middle Dutch wonscen, Dutch wensen, Old High German wunsken, German wunschen "to wish"), from PIE *wen- (1) "to strive after, wish, desire, be satisfied" (cognates: Sanskrit vanati "he desires, loves, wins," Latin venus "love, sexual desire, loveliness," venerari "to worship;" see Venus). Related: Wished; wishing. Wishing well as an enchanted water hole attested by 1819.
wish (n.)
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).
wishbone (n.)
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.)
1520s, from wish (n.) + -ful. Related: Wishfully; wishfulness. Wishful thinking is recorded from 1907.
wishy-washy (adj.)
1690s, "feeble or poor in quality," reduplication of washy "thin, watery." Meaning "vacillating" first recorded 1873.
wisp (n.)
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.)
1717, from wisp + -y (2). Related: Wispiness.
wist (v.)
"to know" (archaic), c.1500, from Old English past tense of witan "to know" (cognates: German wusste, past tense of wissen "to know"); see wit. Had-I-wiste was used c.1400-1550 in sense "regret for something done rashly or heedlessly;" see wist. Proverbial in expression Had-I-wiste cometh ever too late.
Haddywyst comyth euer to late Whan lewyd woordis beth owte y-spronge. ["Commonplace book" in Trinity College, Cambridge, c.1500]