fowl (n.) Look up fowl at
Old English fugel "bird, feathered vertebrate," from Proto-Germanic *fuglaz, the general Germanic word for "bird" (source also of Old Saxon fugal, Old Frisian fugel, Old Norse fugl, Middle Dutch voghel, Dutch vogel, German vogel, Gothic fugls "a fowl, a bird"), perhaps a dissimilated form meaning literally "flyer," from PIE *pleuk- (see fly (v.1)).

Displaced in its original sense by bird (n.); narrower sense of "barnyard hen or rooster" (the main modern meaning) is first recorded 1570s; in U.S. this was extended to domestic ducks and geese.
fowl (v.) Look up fowl at
Old English fuglian "to catch birds," from the source of fowl (n.). Related: Fowled; fowling. Fowling-piece "gun used for shooting wildfowl" is from 1590s.
fowler (n.) Look up fowler at
Old English fugelere, agent noun from fuglian "to hunt fowl" (see fowl (v.)). The German equivalent is Vogler.
fox (n.) Look up fox at
Old English fox "a fox," from Proto-Germanic *fuhsaz "fox" (cognates Old Saxon vohs, Middle Dutch and Dutch vos, Old High German fuhs, German Fuchs, Old Norse foa, Gothic fauho), from Proto-Germanic *fuh-, from PIE *puk- "tail" (source also of Sanskrit puccha- "tail").

The bushy tail also inspired words for "fox" in Welsh (llwynog, from llwyn "bush"); Spanish (raposa, from rabo "tail"); and Lithuanian (uodegis, from uodega "tail"). Metaphoric extension to "clever person" was in late Old English. Meaning "sexually attractive woman" is from 1940s; but foxy in this sense is recorded from 1895. A fox-tail was anciently one of the badges of a fool (late 14c.).

A late Old English translation of the Medicina de Quadrupedibus of Sextus Placitus advises, for women "who suffer troubles in their inward places, work for them into a salve a foxes limbs and his grease, with old oil and with tar; apply to the womens places; quickly it healeth the troubles." It also recommends, for sexual intercourse without irritation, "the extremest end of a foxes tail hung upon the arm." Rubbing a fox's testicles on warts was supposed a means to get rid of them.
Fox Look up Fox at
name of an Algonquian people (confederated with the Sac after 1760), translating French renards, which itself may be a translation of an Iroquoian term meaning "red fox people." Their name for themselves is /meškwahki:-haki/ "red earths." French renard "fox" is from Reginhard, the name of the fox in old Northern European fables (as in Low German Reinke de Vos, but Chaucer in The Nun's Priest's Tale calls him Daun Russell); it is Germanic and means literally "strong in council, wily."
fox (v.) Look up fox at
1660s, "to delude" (perhaps implied in Old English foxung "fox-like wile, craftiness"), from fox (n.). The same notion is implied in Old English verbal noun foxung "fox-like wile, craftiness;" and Middle English had foxerie "wiliness, trickery, deceit." Foxed in booksellers' catalogues (1847) means "stained with fox-colored marks" (rusty red-brown). In other contexts the past-participle adjective typically meant "drunk" (1610s).
fox-fire (n.) Look up fox-fire at
also foxfire, "phosphorescent light given off by decayed timber" (which was called foxwood), late 15c., from fox (n.) + fire (n.).
fox-hole (n.) Look up fox-hole at
also foxhole, Old English fox-hol "a fox's den," from fox (n.) + hole (n.). Military sense of "slit trench" is from late in World War I (1918).
The term "fox-hole" is used by the German soldier, as determined from the examination Of large numbers of prisoners, to describe a hole in the ground sufficient to give shelter from splinters and perhaps from the weather also, to one or two soldiers. [U.S. First Army summary report, Oct. 31, 1918]
fox-hunting (n.) Look up fox-hunting at
1670s, from fox (n.) + hunting (n.). Fox-hunt (n.) is by 1807; it also is known as a fox-chase. Related: Fox-hunter.
fox-trot (n.) Look up fox-trot at
also foxtrot, 1872, "a slow trot or jog trot, a pace with short steps," such as a fox's, especially of horses, from fox (n.) + trot (n.). As a type of popular dance to ragtime music, from late 1914, a fad in 1915. The early writing on the dance often seems unaware of the equestrian pace of the same name, and instead associated it with the turkey trot one-step dance that was popular a few years before.
As a variation of the one-step, as a legitimate successor to all the objectionable trots, the fox trot has attained a form which is in a fair way to become permanent. ... It has the charm of being an absolute fit for many of the most alluring transient tunes; and it can be danced, without self-consciousness, by hundreds of people who never pretended to be graceful or dancefully talented. [Maurice Mouvet, "Maurice's Art of Dancing," 1915]
foxglove (n.) Look up foxglove at
Old English foxes glofa, literally "fox's glove." The flower shape is that of the finger of a glove (compare German Fingerhut "foxglove," literally "thimble," the source of digitalis). The reason for fox is lost in the mute past of English herb-lore. Compare Old English plant names foxesfot ("fox's foot") "xiphion;" foxesclate ("fox's bur") "burdock."
foxhound (n.) Look up foxhound at
"hound for chasing foxes," 1763, from fox (n.) + hound (n.).
foxy (adj.) Look up foxy at
1520s, "crafty, cunning," as foxes are, from fox (n.) + -y (2). Middle English had foxish in this sense (late 14c.). Of colors, stains, tints, etc. from 18c. Meaning "attractive" (of a woman) is from 1895, American English slang. Related: Foxiness.

The compiler of the "Brut" chronicle, complaining of English fashions in the time of Edward III, notes that þe wemmen ... were so strete cloþed þat þey lete hange fox tailes sawyd beneþe with-inforþ hire cloþis forto hele and heyde hire ars. That is, the women's clothing was so tight/scanty "that they let hang fox tails sewn inside their clothes at the back to ... hide their arses," the which behavior, he writes, perauenture afterward brougte forþe & encausid many mys-happis & mischeuys in þe reaume of Engelond.
foy (n.) Look up foy at
"entertainment given by one about to make a journey," Scottish and dialectal, late 15c., of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from French voie "way, journey" (see voyage (n.)).
foyer (n.) Look up foyer at
"lobby of a theater or opera house," 1859, from French foyer "green room, room for actors when not on stage," literally "fireplace," from Old French foier "furnace, stove, hearth, fireplace" (12c.), from Latin focarium, noun use of neuter of adjective focarius "having to do with the hearth," from focus "hearth, fireplace" (see focus (n.)).
fra (adv.) Look up fra at
Scottish and Northern English survival of Old Norse fra "from" (see from, which is its cognate).
fracas (n.) Look up fracas at
1727, from French fracas "crash, sudden noise; tumult, bustle, fuss" (15c.), from Italian fracasso "uproar, crash," back-formation from fracassare "to smash, crash, break in pieces," from fra-, a shortening of Latin infra "below" (see infra-) + Italian cassare "to break," from Latin quassare "to shake" (see quash).
fracking (n.) Look up fracking at
along with frack (v.), by 2000 in engineering jargon, short for hydraulic fracturing and with a -k- to keep the -c- hard.
fractal (n.) Look up fractal at
"never-ending pattern," 1975, from French fractal, from Latin fractus "interrupted, irregular," literally "broken," past participle of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Coined by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010) in "Les Objets Fractals."
Many important spatial patterns of Nature are either irregular or fragmented to such an extreme degree that ... classical geometry ... is hardly of any help in describing their form. ... I hope to show that it is possible in many cases to remedy this absence of geometric representation by using a family of shapes I propose to call fractals -- or fractal sets. [Mandelbrot, "Fractals," 1977]
fraction (n.) Look up fraction at
late 14c., originally in the mathematical sense, from Anglo-French fraccioun (Old French fraccion, "a breaking," 12c., Modern French fraction) and directly from Late Latin fractionem (nominative fractio) "a breaking," especially into pieces, in Medieval Latin "a fragment, portion," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin frangere "to break (something) in pieces, shatter, fracture," from Proto-Italic *frang-, from a nasalized variant of PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (source also of Sanskrit (giri)-bhraj "breaking-forth (out of the mountains);" Gothic brikan, Old English brecan "to break;" Lithuanian brasketi "crash, crack;" Old Irish braigim "break wind"). Meaning "a breaking or dividing" in English is from early 15c.; sense of "broken off piece, fragment," is from c. 1600.
fractional (adj.) Look up fractional at
1670s, from fraction + -al (1). Related: Fractionally.
fractious (adj.) Look up fractious at
"apt to quarrel," 1725, from fraction in an obsolete sense of "a brawling, discord" (c. 1500) + -ous; probably on model of captious. Related: Fractiously; fractiousness.
fracture (n.) Look up fracture at
early 15c., "a breaking of a bone," from Middle French fracture (14c.), from Latin fractura "a breach, break, cleft," from fractus, past participle of frangere "to break" (see fraction). As "a broken surface" from 1794.
fracture (v.) Look up fracture at
"cause a fracture in" (transitive), 1610s (implied in fractured), from fracture (n.). Intransitive meaning "become fractured" is from 1830. Related: Fracturing.
frag (v.) Look up frag at
by 1970, U.S. military slang, back-formed verb from slang noun shortening of fragmentation grenade (1918), which was said to have been the weapon of choice over a firearm because the evidence is destroyed in the act. Related: Fragged; fragging.
fragile (adj.) Look up fragile at
1510s, "liable to sin, morally weak;" c. 1600, "liable to break;" a back-formation from fragility, or else from Middle French fragile (Old French fragele, 14c.), from Latin fragilis "easily broken," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Transferred sense of "of frail constitution" (of persons) is from 1858.
fragility (n.) Look up fragility at
late 14c., "moral weakness," from Old French fragilité "debility, frailty" (12c.), from Latin fragilitatem (nominative fragilitas) "brittleness, weakness," from fragilis "brittle, easily broken," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Meaning "quality of being easily broken" is from late 15c.
fragment (n.) Look up fragment at
early 15c., "small piece or part," from Latin fragmentum "a fragment, remnant," literally "a piece broken off," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction).
fragment (v.) Look up fragment at
by 1788 (implied in fragmented), from fragment (n.). Intransitive use from 1961. Related: Fragmenting.
fragmentary (adj.) Look up fragmentary at
1610s, but mainly a dictionary word until early 19c., from fragment (n.) + -ary. Fragmental was used from 1798.
fragmentation (n.) Look up fragmentation at
"a breaking up into parts," 1842, noun of action from fragment (v.). Fragmentation grenade attested from 1918.
fragrance (n.) Look up fragrance at
1660s, from French fragrance or directly from Late Latin fragrantia, from stem of Latin fragrans "sweet-smelling" (see fragrant). Related: Fragrancy (1570s).
fragrant (adj.) Look up fragrant at
mid-15c., from Latin fragrantem (nominative fragrans) "sweet-smelling," present participle of fragrare "smell strongly, emit (a sweet) odor," from Proto-Italic *fragro-, from PIE root *bhrag- "to smell" (source also of Old Irish broimm "break wind," Middle High German bræhen "to smell," Middle Dutch bracke, Old High German braccho "hound, setter;" see brach). Usually of pleasing or agreeable smells, but sometimes ironic. Related: Fragrantly.
fraidy-cat (n.) Look up fraidy-cat at
"coward," by 1871, American English slang, from 'fraid (by 1816), childish or dialectal (African, West Indies) pronunciation of afraid, + cat (n.), perhaps in reference to the animals' instinct to scatter when startled.
frail (adj.) Look up frail at
mid-14c., "morally weak," from Old French fraile, frele "weak, frail, sickly, infirm" (12c., Modern French frêle), from Latin fragilis "easily broken" (see fragility). It is the Frenchified form of fragile. Sense of "easily destroyed, liable to break" in English is from late 14c. The U.S. slang noun meaning "a woman" is attested from 1908; perhaps with awareness of Shakespeare's "Frailty, thy name is woman."
frailty (n.) Look up frailty at
mid-14c., freylte, from Old French fraileté "frailty, weakness," from Latin fragilitatem (nominative fragilitas) "weakness, frailty," from fragilis "fragile" (see fragility). Related: Frailties.
fraktur (n.) Look up fraktur at
1886, Fractur, "German black-lettering," from German Fraktur "black-letter, Gothic type," also "a fracture, a break," from Latin fractura (see fracture (n.)). So called from its angular, "broken" letters. The style was common in German printing from c. 1540 and thence was transferred to Pennsylvania German arts that incorporate the lettering.
framboise (n.) Look up framboise at
1570s, from French framboise "raspberry" (12c.), usually explained as a corruption (by influence of French fraise "strawberry") of Dutch braambezie (cognate with German brombeere "blackberry," literally "bramble-berry"). "But some French scholars doubt this" [OED].
frame (v.) Look up frame at
Old English framian "to profit, be helpful, avail, benefit," from fram (adj., adv.) "active, vigorous, bold," originally "going forward," from fram (prep.) "forward; from" (see from). Influenced by related Old English fremman "help forward, promote; do, perform, make, accomplish," and Old Norse fremja "to further, execute." Compare German frommen "avail, profit, benefit, be of use."

Sense focused in Middle English from "make ready" (mid-13c.) to "prepare timber for building" (late 14c.). Meaning "compose, devise" is first attested 1540s. The criminal slang sense of "blame an innocent person" (1920s) is probably from earlier sense of "plot in secret" (1900), perhaps ultimately from meaning "fabricate a story with evil intent," which is first attested 1510s. Related: Framed; framing.
frame (n.) Look up frame at
c. 1200, "profit, benefit, advancement;" mid-13c. "a structure composed according to a plan," from frame (v.) and in part from Scandinavian cognates (Old Norse frami "advancement"). In late 14c. it also meant "the rack."

Meaning "sustaining parts of a structure fitted together" is from c. 1400. Meaning "enclosing border" of any kind is from c. 1600; specifically "border or case for a picture or pane of glass" from 1660s. The meaning "human body" is from 1590s. Of bicycles, from 1871; of motor cars, from 1900. Meaning "separate picture in a series from a film" is from 1916. From 1660s in the meaning "particular state" (as in Frame of mind, 1711). Frame of reference is 1897, from mechanics and graphing; the figurative sense is attested from 1924.
frame (adj.) Look up frame at
(of buildings), "made of wood," 1790, American English, from frame (n.).
framework (n.) Look up framework at
1640s, "structure for enclosing or supporting," from frame (n.) + work (n.). Figurative sense "adjusted arrangement" is from 1816.
franc (n.) Look up franc at
French coin, late 14c., frank, from French franc; a name said to have been given because Medieval Latin Francorum Rex, "King of the Franks" (see Frank), was inscribed on gold coins first made during the reign of Jean le Bon (1350-64). Used of different gold and silver coins over the years; as the name of an official monetary unit of France from 1795.
franc-tireur (n.) Look up franc-tireur at
"sharpshooter of the irregular infantry," 1808, French, literally "free-shooter," from franc "free" (see frank (adj.)) + tireur "shooter," from tirer "to draw, shoot" (see tirade). A term from the French Revolution.
France Look up France at
late Old English, from Old French France, from Medieval Latin Francia, from Francus "a Frank" (see Frank). Old English had Franc-rice "kingdom of the Franks," more commonly Franc-land.
Frances Look up Frances at
fem. proper name, from French, from Old French Franceise (Modern French Françoise), fem. of Franceis (see Francis).
franchise (n.) Look up franchise at
c. 1300, fraunchise, "a special right or privilege (by grant of a sovereign or government);" also "national sovereignty; nobility of character, generosity; the king's authority; the collective rights claimed by a people or town or religious institution," also used of the state of Adam and Eve before the Fall, from Old French franchise "freedom, exemption; right, privilege" (12c.), from variant stem of franc "free" (see frank (adj.)).

From late 14c. as "freedom; not being in servitude; social status of a freeman;" early 15c. as "citizenship, membership in a community or town; membership in a craft or guild." The "special right" sense narrowed 18c. to "particular legal privilege," then "right to vote" (1790). From mid-15c. as "right to buy or sell," also "right to exclude others from buying or selling, a monopoly;" meaning "authorization by a company to sell its products or services" is from 1959.
franchise (v.) Look up franchise at
late 14c., "to make free," from Old French franchiss-, past participle stem of franchir "to free" (12c.), from franc "free" (see frank (adj.)). Franchising is from 1570s; the commercial licensing sense is from 1966. Related: Franchisee; franchiser; franchisor.
Francis Look up Francis at
masc. proper name, from French François, from Old French Franceis "noble, free," as a noun "a Frenchman, inhabitant of Ile-de-France; the French language," from Late Latin Franciscus, literally "Frankish;" cognate with French and frank (adj.).
Franciscan (n.) Look up Franciscan at
1590s, "friar of the order founded in 1209 by St. Francis (Medieval Latin Franciscus) of Assisi" (1182-1226). Also as an adjective.