- Old English wrað "angry" (literally "tormented, twisted”), from Proto-Germanic *wraithaz (cf. Old Frisian wreth "evil," Old Saxon wred, Middle Dutch wret, Dutch wreed "cruel," Old High German reid, Old Norse reiðr "angry, offended"), from PIE *wreit- "to turn" (see wreath). Rare or obsolete from early 16c. to mid-19c., but somewhat revived since, especially in dignified writing, or this exchange:
Secretary: "The Dean is furious. He's waxing wroth."
Quincy Adams Wagstaf [Groucho]: "Is Roth out there too? Tell Roth to wax the Dean for a while."
["Horse Feathers," 1932]
- mid-13c., from past participle of Middle English werken (see work).
- wry (adj.)
- 1520s, "distorted, somewhat twisted," from obsolete verb wry "to contort, to twist or turn," from Old English wrigian "to turn, bend, move, go," from Proto-Germanic *wrig- (cf. Old Frisian wrigia "to bend," Middle Low German wrich "turned, twisted"), from PIE *wreik- "to turn" (cf. Greek rhoikos "crooked," Lithuanian raisas "paralysed"), from root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). Of words, thoughts, etc., from 1590s. The original sense is preserved in awry.
- wryly (adv.)
- 1570s, from wry + -ly (2).
- wunderkind (n.)
- child prodigy (especially in music), 1891 (G.B. Shaw), from German Wunderkind, literally "wonder-child."
- Wurlitzer (n.)
- type of musical instrument (originally a player piano popular in silent movie theaters, later a type of jukebox), 1925, named for The Wurlitzer Company, founded near Cincinnati, Ohio, 1856 by Rudolph Wurlitzer (1831-1914), Saxon immigrant to U.S. An importer at first, he started production of pianos in 1880; coin-operated pianos in 1896.
- wurst (n.)
- German sausage, 1855, from German Wurst, from Old High German.
- wuss (n.)
- 1982, abbreviated from wussy.
Mike Damone: You are a wuss: part wimp, and part pussy
["Fast Times at Ridgemont High" script, 1982]
- wussy (n.)
- 1960s, probably an alteration of pussy (n.2). DAS suggests shortened from hypothetical pussy-wussy, reduplicated form of pussy (n.1).
- wuthering (adj.)
- Northern England dialectal variant of Scottish and dialectal whithering "rushing, whizzing, blustering," from a verb whither (late 14c.) which was used in reference to gusts of wind and coughing fits, from Old Norse *hviðra (cf. Norwegian kvidra "to go quickly to and fro," related to Old English hwiþa "air, breeze").
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed, in stormy weather. [Emily Brontë, "Wuthering Heights," 1847]
- North American Indian people, 1884, from Wyandot, from French Ouendat, from Huron Wendat.
- see witch hazel.
- region in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, from Munsee Delaware (Algonquian) chwewamink "at the big river flat," from /xw-/ "big" + /-e:wam-/ "river flat" + /-enk/ "place." Popularized by 1809 poem "Gertrude of Wyoming," set amid wars between Indians and American settlers, by Scottish author Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), who seems to have had a vague or defective notion of Pennsylvania geography. Subsequently applied 19c. to other locations, including a western territory organized July 25, 1868 (admitted as a state 1890); also used in Kansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!
Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall,
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring,
Of what thy gentle people did befall;
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore,
Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore!
[Campbell, "Gertrude of Wyoming," 1809]
On the same day there was debate in the Senate over the name for the new Territory. Territories often keep their names when they become States, so we may be glad that "Cheyenne," to be pronounced "Shy-en," was not adopted. "Lincoln" was rejected for an obvious and, no doubt, sound reason. Apparently, nobody had a better name to offer, though there must be plenty of Indian words that could properly be used, and, for the present, the insignificant "Wyoming" is retained. ["The Nation," June 11, 1868]
- see weird.
- 1982, computer programmer's acronym from what you see is what you get.
- wyvern (n.)
- c.1600, formed (with excrescent -n) from Middle English wyver (c.1300), from Anglo-French wivre, from Old North French form of Old French guivre "snake," from Latin vipera "viper" (see viper). In heraldry, a winged dragon with eagle's feet and a serpent's barbed tail.