earthly (adj.) Look up earthly at
Old English eorþlic "worldly, pertaining to this world" (as opposed to spiritual or heavenly"); see earth (n.) + -ly (1). The sense "belonging to or originating in the earth" is from mid-15c.
earthman (n.) Look up earthman at
also earth-man, 1860, "a spirit of nature; a demon who lives below the ground," from earth (n.) + man (n.). Science fiction sense of "inhabitant of the planet Earth" first attested 1949 in writing of Robert Heinlein.
earthquake (n.) Look up earthquake at
late 13c., eorthequakynge, from earth + quake (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðdyn, eorðhrernes, eorðbeofung, eorðstyrung.
earthwork (n.) Look up earthwork at
"mounds of earth thrown up for some purpose, especially as a military fortification," 1630s, from earth + work (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðbyrig "mound, embankment;" Old English eorðweorc meant "work on the land."
earthworm (n.) Look up earthworm at
c. 1400, erþe-worme, from earth + worm (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðmata, also regnwyrm, literally "rain-worm." Old English also had angel-twæcce "earthworm used as bait" (with second element from root of twitch), sometimes used in medieval times as a medicament:
For the blake Jawndes take angylltwacches, er þei go in to the erth in the mornynge and fry hem. Take ix or x small angyltwacches, and bray hem, and giff the syke to drynke fastynge, with stale ale, but loke þat thei bene grounden so small that þe syke may nat se, ne witt what it is, for lothynge. [Book of Medical Recipes in Medical Society of London Library, c. 1450]
earthy (adj.) Look up earthy at
late 14c., "containing or resembling the substance earth," from earth (n.) + -y (2). Of tastes, smells, etc., from 1550s. Figurative sense of "coarse, unrefined" is from 1590s. Related: Earthiness.
earwax (n.) Look up earwax at
also ear-wax, early 14c., from ear (n.1) + wax (n.).
Earwicker Look up Earwicker at
English surname, pronounced "Erricker," from Old English eoforwacer "boar-watchman" (1061).
earwig (n.) Look up earwig at
type of insect (Forficula auricularia), Old English earwicga "earwig," from eare (see ear (n.1)) + wicga "beetle, worm, insect," probably from the same Germanic source as wiggle, on the notion of "quick movement;" perhaps distantly related to PIE root *wegh- "to go." So called from the ancient and widespread (but false) belief that the garden pest went into people's ears. Compare French perce-oreille, German ohr-wurm. A Northern England name for it reported from 1650s is twitch-ballock.
ease (n.) Look up ease at
c. 1200, "physical comfort, undisturbed state of the body; tranquility, peace of mind," from Old French aise "comfort, pleasure, well-being; opportunity," which is of unknown origin, despite attempts to link it to various Latin verbs; perhaps Celtic. According to OED, the earliest senses in French appear to be 1. "elbow-room" (from an 11th century Hebrew-French glossary) and 2. "opportunity." This led Sophus Bugge to suggest an origin in Vulgar Latin asa, a shortened form of Latin ansa "handle," which could be used in the figurative sense of "opportunity, occasion," as well as being a possible synonym for "elbow," because Latin ansatus "furnished with handles" also was used to mean "having the arms akimbo." OED editors add, "This is not very satisfactory, but it does not appear that any equally plausible alternative has yet been proposed."

At ease "at rest, at peace, in comfort" is from late 14c.; as a military order (1802) the word denotes "freedom from stiffness or formality."
ease (v.) Look up ease at
c. 1300, "to help, assist," from Old French aiser, from aise (see ease (n.)). Meaning "to give ease, mitigate, alleviate, relieve from pain or care" is from mid-14c. Meaning "render less difficult" is from 1630s; the sense of "to relax one's efforts" is from 1863 (with up by 1907, earlier with a more specific sense in sailing). Farmer reports ease in a slang sense of "to content a woman" sexually, with an 1861 date. Related: Eased; easing.
easeful (adj.) Look up easeful at
late 14c., from ease (n.) + -ful.
easel (n.) Look up easel at
1590s, from Dutch ezel "easel," originally "ass," from Middle Dutch esel, from Latin asinus "ass" (see ass (n.1)); the comparison being of loading a burden on a donkey and propping up a painting or canvas on a wooden stand (compare sawhorse, French chevalet, Italian cavalletto).
easement (n.) Look up easement at
late 14c., "compensation, redress," from Old French aisement "comfort, convenience; use, enjoyment," from aisier "to ease," from aise (see ease (n.)). The meaning "legal right or privilege of using something not one's own" is from early 15c.
easily (adv.) Look up easily at
c. 1300, aisieliche, "in comfortable circumstances; with little effort," from easy + -ly (2). From late 14c. as "gently."
east Look up east at
Old English east, eastan (adj., adv.) "east, easterly, eastward;" easte (n.), from Proto-Germanic *aust- "east," literally "toward the sunrise" (source also of Old Frisian ast "east," aster "eastward," Dutch oost Old Saxon ost, Old High German ostan, German Ost, Old Norse austr "from the east"), from PIE *aus- (1) "to shine," especially of the dawn (source also of Sanskrit ushas "dawn;" Greek aurion "morning;" Old Irish usah, Lithuanian auszra "dawn;" Latin aurora "dawn," auster "south;" see aurora). The east is the direction in which dawn breaks. For theory of shift in the geographical sense in Latin, see Australia.

As one of the four cardinal points of the compass, from c. 1200. Meaning "the eastern part of the world" (from Europe) is from c. 1300. Cold War use of East for "communist states" first recorded 1951. French est, Spanish este are borrowings from Middle English, originally nautical. The east wind in Biblical Palestine was scorching and destructive (as in Ezek. xvii:10); in New England it is bleak, wet, unhealthful. East End of London so called by 1846; East Side of Manhattan so called from 1871; East Indies (India and Southeast Asia) so called 1590s to distinguish them from the West Indies.
Easter (n.) Look up Easter at
Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *austron-, "dawn," also the name of a goddess of fertility and spring, perhaps originally of sunrise, whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *aust- "east, toward the sunrise" (compare east), from PIE *aus- (1) "to shine" (especially of the dawn); see aurora.

Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pascha to name this holiday (see paschal). Easter egg attested by 1825, earlier pace egg (1610s). Easter bunny attested by 1904 in children's lessons; Easter rabbit is by 1888; the paganish customs of Easter seem to have grown popular c. 1900; before that they were limited to German immigrants.
If the children have no garden, they make nests in the wood-shed, barn, or house. They gather colored flowers for the rabbit to eat, that it may lay colored eggs. If there be a garden, the eggs are hidden singly in the green grass, box-wood, or elsewhere. On Easter Sunday morning they whistle for the rabbit, and the children imagine that they see him jump the fence. After church, on Easter Sunday morning, they hunt the eggs, and in the afternoon the boys go out in the meadows and crack eggs or play with them like marbles. Or sometimes children are invited to a neighbor's to hunt eggs. [Phebe Earle Gibbons, "Pennsylvania Dutch," Philadelphia 1882]
Easter Island Look up Easter Island at
so called because it was discovered by Dutch navigator Jakob Roggeveen on April 2, 1722, which was Easter Monday. It earlier had been visited by English pirate Edward Davis (1695), but he neglected to name it. The native Polynesian name is Mata-kite-ran "Eyes that Watch the Stars."
easterling (n.) Look up easterling at
"resident of an eastern land," in England, especially Hanse merchants and others from the North Sea Coast of Germany and the southern and eastern coast of the Baltic, early 15c., from easter, obsolete variant of eastern + -ling.
easterly Look up easterly at
1540s (adj.), 1630s (adv.), from easter (late 14c.), variant of eastern + -ly (1) and (2). As a noun meaning "easterly wind," by 1901. Old English easterlic meant "pertaining to Easter."
eastern (adj.) Look up eastern at
Old English easterne "of the east, from the east; oriental; of the Eastern Orthodox Church; of the eastern part of the globe," from east + -erne, suffix denoting direction. Cognate with Old Saxon ostroni, Old High German ostroni, Old Norse austroenn. Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia so called from 1620s.
easterner (n.) Look up easterner at
1839, American English, from eastern + -er (1). Earlier word was easterling.
easternmost (adj.) Look up easternmost at
1640s, from eastern + -most. Eastermost attested from 1610s; comparative eastermore from late 15c.
Eastlake Look up Eastlake at
style of furniture, 1878, often a mere debased Gothic, but at its best inspired by English designer Charles Locke Eastlake (1836-1906) and his book "Hints on Household Taste."
I find American tradesmen continually advertising what they are pleased to call 'Eastlake' furniture, with the production of which I have had nothing whatever to do, and for the taste of which I should be very sorry to be considered responsible [C.L. Eastlake, 1878]
eastward (adv.) Look up eastward at
also eastwards, Old English eastwearde; see east + -ward. As an adjective mid-15c., from the adverb.
easy (adj.) Look up easy at
c. 1200, "at ease, having ease, free from bodily discomfort and anxiety," from Old French aisie "comfortable, at ease, rich, well-off" (Modern French aisé), past participle of aisier "to put at ease," from aise (see ease (n.)). Sense of "not difficult, requiring no great labor or effort" is from late 13c.; of conditions, "offering comfort, pleasant," early 14c. Of persons, "lenient, kind, calm, gentle," late 14c. Meaning "readily yielding, not difficult of persuasion" is from 1610s. The concept of "not difficult" was expressed in Old English and early Middle English by eaþe (adv.), ieþe (adj.), apparently common West Germanic (compare German öde "empty, desolate," but of disputed origin.

Easy Street is from 1890. Easy money attested by 1889; to take it easy "relax" is from 1804 (be easy in same sense recorded from 1746); easy does it recorded by 1835. Easy rider (1912) was African-American vernacular for "sexually satisfying lover." The easy listening radio format is from 1961, defined by William Safire (in 1986) as, "the music of the 60's played in the 80's with the style of the 40's." Related: Easier; easiest.
easy chair (n.) Look up easy chair at
also easy-chair, one designed especially for comfort, 1707, from easy + chair (n.).
easy-going (adj.) Look up easy-going at
also easygoing, "good-natured," 1640s, from easy + going.
eat (v.) Look up eat at
Old English etan (class V strong verb; past tense æt, past participle eten) "to consume food, devour, consume," from Proto-Germanic *etan (source also of Old Frisian ita, Old Saxon etan, Middle Dutch eten, Dutch eten, Old High German ezzan, German essen, Old Norse eta, Gothic itan), from PIE root *ed- "to eat" (see edible).

Transferred sense of "corrode, wear away, consume, waste" is from 1550s. Meaning "to preoccupy, engross" (as in what's eating you?) first recorded 1893. Slang sexual sense of "do cunnilingus on" is first recorded 1927. The slang phrase eat one's words "retract, take back what one has uttered" is from 1570s; to eat one's heart out is from 1590s; for eat one's hat, see hat. Eat-in (adj.) in reference to kitchens is from 1955. To eat out "dine away from home" is from 1930.
eatable (adj.) Look up eatable at
late 15c., from eat + -able. Compare sdible.
eaten Look up eaten at
Old English eten, past participle of eat.
eater (n.) Look up eater at
Old English etere "one who eats," especially a servant or retainer, agent noun from eat (v.)). From 17c. in compounds with various objects or substances eaten.
eatery (n.) Look up eatery at
"restaurant," 1901; see eat + -ery.
eats (n.) Look up eats at
"food," in use by 1889 in U.S., considered colloquial, but the same construction with the same meaning was present in Old English.
eau (n.) Look up eau at
French for "water," from Old French eue (12c.), from Latin aqua "water, rainwater" (see aqua-). Brought into English in combinations such as eau de vie "brandy" (1748), literally "water of life;" eau de toilette (1907). For eau de Cologne see cologne.
eave (n.) Look up eave at
"lower part of a roof," especially that which projects beyond the wall, 1570s, alteration of southwest Midlands dialectal eovese (singular), from Old English efes "edge of a roof," also "edge of a forest," from Proto-Germanic *ubaswo-/*ubiswo "vestibule, porch, eaves" (source also of Old Frisian ose "eaves," Old High German obasa "porch, hall, roof," German Obsen, Old Norse ups, Gothic ubizwa "porch;" German oben "above"), from extended form of PIE *upo- "under, up from under, over," with a sense here of "that which is above or over" (see over). Regarded as plural and a new singular form eave emerged 16c.
eaves (n.) Look up eaves at
see eave.
eavesdrop (v.) Look up eavesdrop at
"lurk near a place to hear what is said inside," c. 1600, probably a back-formation from eavesdropper. The original notion is listening from under the eaves of a house. Related: Eavesdropping.
eavesdropper (n.) Look up eavesdropper at
mid-15c., with agent-noun ending + Middle English eavesdrop, from Old English yfesdrype "place around a house where the rainwater drips off the roof," from eave (q.v.) + drip (v.). Technically, "one who stands at walls or windows to overhear what's going on inside."
ebb (n.) Look up ebb at
Old English ebba "falling of the tide, low tide," perhaps from Proto-Germanic *af- (source also of Old Frisian ebba, Old Saxon ebbiunga, Middle Dutch ebbe, Dutch eb, German Ebbe), from PIE root *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Figurative sense of "decline, decay, gradual diminution" is from late 14c. Ebb-tide is from 1776.
ebb (v.) Look up ebb at
Old English ebbian "flow back, subside," from the root of ebb (n.). Figurative use in late Old English. Related: Ebbed; ebbing.
Ebenezer Look up Ebenezer at
masc. proper name, from Hebrew ebhen ezar "stone of help," from ebhen "stone" + ezer "help." Sometimes also the name of a Protestant chapel or meeting house, from name of a stone raised by Samuel to commemorate a divinely aided victory over the Philistines at Mizpeh (I Sam. vii:12),
Ebionite Look up Ebionite at
mid-15c., sect (1c.-2c.) that held Jesus was a mere man and Christians continued bound by Mosaic Law, from Latin ebonita, from Hebrew ebyon "the poor." The reason it was so called is uncertain. Related: Ebionism; Ebionitic.
Eblis Look up Eblis at
prince of the fallen angels in Arabic mythology and religion, from Arabic Iblis. Klein thinks this may be Greek diablos, passed through Syriac where the first syllable was mistaken for the Syriac genitive particle di and dropped. "Before his fall he was called Azazel or Hharis" [Century Dictionary].
ebola (n.) Look up ebola at
virus, 1976, named for Ebola River valley in Congo, where it first was studied.
ebon (n.) Look up ebon at
early 15c., "ebony wood, ebony tree," from Old French ebene or directly from Latin ebenus (see ebony). As an adjective, "made of ebony," from 1590s. Figurative sense of "dark, black" is from 1590s; in some cases a poetic shortening of ebony.
Ebonics (n.) Look up Ebonics at
"African-American vernacular English," 1975, as title of a book by U.S. professor R.L. Williams (b.1930); a blend of ebony and phonics.
ebonite (n.) Look up ebonite at
1860, from ebon + -ite (1).
ebony (n.) Look up ebony at
dark, hard wood favored for carving, musical instruments, etc., 1590s, perhaps an extended form of Middle English ebon, or from hebenyf (late 14c.), perhaps a Middle English misreading of Latin hebeninus "of ebony," from Greek ebeninos, from ebenos "ebony," probably from Egyptian hbnj or another Semitic source. Figurative use to suggest intense blackness is from 1620s. As an adjective, "of ebony, made of ebony," from 1590s; in reference to skin color of Africans, by 1813. French ébène, Old High German ebenus (German Ebenholz) are from Latin ebenus.
ebriety (n.) Look up ebriety at
"state or habit of being intoxicated," early 15c., from Latin ebrietatem (nominative ebrietas) "drunkenness, intoxication," from ebrius "drunk, full, sated with drink," which is of uncertain origin; according to de Vaan, from PIE *hiegwh-ro-, from a root *hegwh- "to drink." The opposite of sobriety. Related: Ebrious; ebriosity.