eldorado (n.) Look up eldorado at Dictionary.com
1590s, from Spanish El Dorado "the golden one," name given 16c. to the country or city believed to lie in the heart of the Amazon jungle, from past participle of dorar "to gild," from Latin deaurare, from de-, here probably intensive, + aurare "to gild," from aurum (see aureate). The story originated with the early Spanish explorers, and the place was sought for down to the 18th century.
Eldred Look up Eldred at Dictionary.com
masc. proper name, from Old English Ealdred, literally "great in counsel," from eald "old; great" (see old) + ræd "advice, counsel" (see read (v.)).
eldritch (adj.) Look up eldritch at Dictionary.com
"hideous, ghastly, weird," c. 1500, of uncertain origin; apparently somehow from elf (compare Scottish variant elphrish), an explanation OED finds "suitable;" Watkins connects its elements with Old English el- "else, otherwise" and rice "realm."
Eleanor Look up Eleanor at Dictionary.com
also Elinor, from Provençal Ailenor, a variant of Leonore, introduced in England by Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), wife of Henry II. The Old French form of the name was Elienor.
elect (v.) Look up elect at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "to choose for an office, position, or duty," from Latin electus, past participle of eligere "to pick out, choose" (see election). Related: Elected; electing.
elect (adj.) Look up elect at Dictionary.com
early 15c., of action, "voluntary;" of persons, "taken in preference to others," especially "chosen by God for some special purpose," from Latin electus, past participle of eligere "to pick out, choose" (see election). The noun meaning "those chosen by God" is from early 15c.
electable (adj.) Look up electable at Dictionary.com
1758, "qualified for election;" see elect (v.) + -able. Meaning "capable of getting enough support to win an election" is by 1962. Related: Electability.
election (n.) Look up election at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "act of choosing someone to occupy a position, elevation to office" (whether by one person or a body of electors); also "the holding of a vote by a body of electors; the time and place of such a vote," from Anglo-French eleccioun, Old French elecion "choice, election, selection" (12c.), from Latin electionem (nominative electio), noun of action from past participle stem of eligere "pick out, select," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + -ligere, comb. form of legere "to choose, read" (see lecture (n.)). Theological sense "God's choice of someone" for eternal life is from late 14c. Meaning "act of choosing, choice" is from c. 1400.
electioneer (v.) Look up electioneer at Dictionary.com
1760 (implied in verbal noun electioneering), from election, probably on model of auctioneer, as the verb engineer was not yet in use.
elective (adj.) Look up elective at Dictionary.com
early 15c., "voluntary," from Late Latin electivus, from elect-, past participle stem of eligere "to pick out, choose" (see election). In U.S., in reference to school subjects studied at the student's choice, first recorded 1847. As a noun, from 1701.
elector (n.) Look up elector at Dictionary.com
"one who elects or has the right of choice," mid-15c., from Latin elector "chooser, selecter," agent noun from past participle stem of eligere "to pick out, choose" (see election).
electoral (adj.) Look up electoral at Dictionary.com
1670s, "pertaining to electors," in reference to Germany, from elector + -al (1). In general sense from 1790. Related: Electorally. The U.S. electoral college so called from 1808 (the term was used earlier in reference to Germany).
electorate (n.) Look up electorate at Dictionary.com
1670s, "condition of being an elector," in reference to Germany, from elector + -ate (1). Meaning "whole body of voters" is from 1879.
Electra Look up Electra at Dictionary.com
also called Laodice, a daughter of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, the accomplice of her brother Orestes in the murder of their mother, from Greek Elektra, literally "shining, bright," related to elektor "the beaming sun" and perhaps to elektron "amber." Especially in psychological Electra complex (1913, Jung) in reference to a daughter who feels attraction toward her father and hostility to her mother. Also the name of a daughter of Atlas, and as such a name of one of the Pleiades.
electric (adj.) Look up electric at Dictionary.com
1640s, first used in English by physician Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), apparently coined as Modern Latin electricus (literally "resembling amber") by English physicist William Gilbert (1540-1603) in treatise "De Magnete" (1600), from Latin electrum "amber," from Greek elektron "amber" (Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus), also "pale gold" (a compound of 1 part silver to 4 of gold); which is of unknown origin.
Vim illam electricam nobis placet appellare [Gilbert]
Originally the word described substances which, like amber, attract other substances when rubbed. Meaning "charged with electricity" is from 1670s; the physical force so called because it first was generated by rubbing amber. In many modern instances, the word is short for electrical. Figurative sense is attested by 1793. Electric light is from 1767. Electric toothbrush first recorded 1936; electric blanket in 1930. Electric typewriter is from 1958. Electric guitar is from 1938; electric organ coined as the name of a hypothetical future instrument in 1885.
electrical (adj.) Look up electrical at Dictionary.com
1630s, "giving off electricity when rubbed," from electric + -al (1). Meaning "relating to electricity, run by electricity" is from 1746. Related: Electrically.
electrician (n.) Look up electrician at Dictionary.com
1751, "scientist concerned with electricity;" 1869 as "technician concerned with electrical systems and appliances;" see electric + -ian.
electricity (n.) Look up electricity at Dictionary.com
1640s (Browne, from Gilbert's Modern Latin), from electric (q.v.) + -ity. Originally in reference to friction.
Electricity seems destined to play a most important part in the arts and industries. The question of its economical application to some purposes is still unsettled, but experiment has already proved that it will propel a street car better than a gas jet and give more light than a horse. [Ambrose Bierce, "The Cynic's Word Book," 1906]
electrification (n.) Look up electrification at Dictionary.com
1748, "state of being charged with electricity," noun of action from electrify.
electrify (v.) Look up electrify at Dictionary.com
1745, "to charge with electricity, cause electricity to pass through;" see electric + -fy. Figurative sense recorded by 1752. Meaning "convert a factory, industry, etc., to electrical power" is by 1902. Related: Electrified; electrifying.
electro- Look up electro- at Dictionary.com
before vowels electr-, word-forming element meaning "electrical, electricity," Latinized form of Greek elektro-, comb. form of elektron "amber" (see electric). As a stand-alone, formerly often short for electrotype, electroplate.
electrocardiogram (n.) Look up electrocardiogram at Dictionary.com
1904, from electro- + cardiogram.
electrocute (v.) Look up electrocute at Dictionary.com
"execute by electricity," 1889, American English, from electro- + back half of execute. The method first was used Aug. 6, 1890, in New York state, on William Kemmler, convicted of the murder of his common-law wife. In reference to accidental death by 1909. Electric chair is also first recorded 1889, the year the one used on Kemmler was introduced in New York as a humane alternative to hanging. Related: Electrocuted; electrocuting.
electrocution (n.) Look up electrocution at Dictionary.com
"execution by electricity," 1889, American English; noun of action from electrocute. Meaning "any death by electricity" is from 1897.
Electrocution, unless better performed than in the first instance, is a retrograde step rather than the contrary. The preliminary arrangements: the shaving of the head, the cutting of the clothing, the strapping in a chair, add much to the horror of the occasion. It is safe to say that electrocution is not the coming method of execution. ["The Medical Era," vol. vii, no. 9, Sept. 1890]
electrode (n.) Look up electrode at Dictionary.com
"one of the two ends of an open electrical circuit," 1834, coined by English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) from electro- + Greek hodos "way" (see cede) on the same pattern as anode, cathode.
electroencephalogram (n.) Look up electroencephalogram at Dictionary.com
1934, from electro- + encephalo-, comb. form of Modern Latin encephalon "brain" (see encephalitis) + -gram.
electrolysis (n.) Look up electrolysis at Dictionary.com
1834; the name was introduced by Faraday on the suggestion of the Rev. William Whewell (1794-1866), English polymath, from electro- + Greek lysis "a loosening," from lyein "to loosen, set free" (see lose). Originally of tumors, later (1879) of hair removal. Related: electrolytic.
electrolyte (n.) Look up electrolyte at Dictionary.com
"substance decomposed by electrolysis," 1834, from electro- + Greek lytos "loosed," from lyein "to loose" (see lose).
electromagnet (n.) Look up electromagnet at Dictionary.com
also electro-magnet, "magnet which owes its magnetic properties to electric current," 1822; see electro- + magnet.
electromagnetic (adj.) Look up electromagnetic at Dictionary.com
also electro-magnetic, 1821; see electro- + magnetic.
electromagnetism (n.) Look up electromagnetism at Dictionary.com
also electro-magnetism, 1821; see electro- + magnetism.
electron (n.) Look up electron at Dictionary.com
coined 1891 by Irish physicist George J. Stoney (1826-1911) from electric + -on, as in ion (q.v.). Electron microscope (1932) translates German Elektronenmikroskop.
electronic (adj.) Look up electronic at Dictionary.com
1901, "pertaining to electrons;" see electron + -ic; 1930 as "pertaining to electronics." Related: Electronically.
electronic mail (n.) Look up electronic mail at Dictionary.com
1977; see e-mail.
electronics (n.) Look up electronics at Dictionary.com
1910, from electronic; also see -ics. The science of how electrons behave in vacuums, gas, semi-conductors, etc.
electroplate (n.) Look up electroplate at Dictionary.com
1844, from electro- + plate (n.).
electrotype (n.) Look up electrotype at Dictionary.com
"copy in metal made by electric action," 1840, from electro- + type (n.).
electrum (n.) Look up electrum at Dictionary.com
"alloy of gold and up to 40% silver," late 14c. (in Old English elehtre), from Latin electrum "alloy of gold and silver," also "amber" (see electric). So called probably for its pale yellow color. "A word used by Greek and Latin authors in various meanings at various times" [Century Dictionary"]. In Greek, usually of amber but also of pure gold. The Romans used it of amber but also of the alloy. The sense of "amber" also occasionally is found in English. "At all times, and especially among the Latin writers, there is more or less uncertainty in regard to the meaning of this word" ["Century Dictionary"].
eleemosynary (adj.) Look up eleemosynary at Dictionary.com
1610s, from Medieval Latin eleemosynarius "pertaining to alms," from Late Latin eleemosyna "alms," from Greek eleemosyne "pity" (see alms).
elegance (n.) Look up elegance at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, "tastefulness, correctness, harmoniousness, refinement," of speech or prose, from Middle French élégance, from Latin elegantia "taste, propriety, refinement," from elegantem (see elegant). Earlier form was elegancy (early 15c.). Meaning "refined luxury" is from 1797. Via French come German Eleganz, Swedish elegans, etc.
elegant (adj.) Look up elegant at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "tastefully ornate," from Middle French élégant (15c.), from Latin elegantem (nominative elegans) "choice, fine, tasteful," collateral form of present participle of eligere "select with care, choose." Meaning "characterized by refined grace" is from 1520s. Latin elegans originally was a term of reproach, "dainty, fastidious;" the notion of "tastefully refined" emerged in classical Latin. Related: Elegantly.
Elegant implies that anything of an artificial character to which it is applied is the result of training and cultivation through the study of models or ideals of grace; graceful implies less of consciousness, and suggests often a natural gift. A rustic, uneducated girl may be naturally graceful, but not elegant. [Century Dictionary]
elegiac (adj.) Look up elegiac at Dictionary.com
1580s, in reference to lines of verse of a particular construction, from Middle French élégiaque, from Latin elegiacus, from Greek elegeiakos, from eleigeia (see elegy). In ancient Greece the verse form was used especially with mournful music. Meaning "pertaining to an elegy or elegies" is from 1640s in English; loosened sense "expressing sorrow, lamenting" is from c. 1800. Related: Elegiacal (1540s, of meter); elegiacally.
elegize (v.) Look up elegize at Dictionary.com
1702, "write an elegy," from elegy + -ize. Transitive sense is from 1809. Related: Elegized; elegizing.
elegy (n.) Look up elegy at Dictionary.com
1510s, from Middle French elegie, from Latin elegia, from Greek elegeia ode "an elegaic song," from elegeia, fem. of elegeios "elegaic," from elegos "poem or song of lament," later "poem written in elegiac verse," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Phrygian word. Related: Elegiast.
element (n.) Look up element at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "earth, air, fire, or water; one of the four things regarded by the ancients as the constituents of all things," from Old French element (10c.), from Latin elementem "rudiment, first principle, matter in its most basic form" (translating Greek stoikheion), origin and original sense unknown. Meaning "simplest component of a complex substance" is late 14c. Modern sense in chemistry is from 1813, but is not essentially different from the ancient one. Meaning "proper or natural environment of anything" is from 1590s, from the old notion that each class of living beings had its natural abode in one of the four elements. Elements "atmospheric force" is 1550s.
elemental (adj.) Look up elemental at Dictionary.com
late 15c., "pertaining to the four elements," from Medieval Latin elementalis, from Latin elementum (see element). Meaning "pertaining to the powers of nature" is from 1823. The noun in the occult sense "a spirit of the elements" is from 1877. Related: Elementally.
elementary (adj.) Look up elementary at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "having the nature of one of the four elements," from Middle French elementaire and directly from Latin elementarius "belonging to the elements or rudiments," from elementum (see element). Meaning "rudimentary, involving first principles" is from 1540s; meaning "simple" is from 1620s. In elementary school (1841) it has the "rudimentary" sense.
elephant (n.) Look up elephant at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, olyfaunt, from Old French olifant (12c., Modern French éléphant), from Latin elephantus, from Greek elephas (genitive elephantos) "elephant; ivory," probably from a non-Indo-European language, likely via Phoenician (compare Hamitic elu "elephant," source of the word for it in many Semitic languages, or possibly from Sanskrit ibhah "elephant").

Re-spelled after 1550 on Latin model. Cognate with the common term for the animal in Romanic and Germanic; Slavic words (for example Polish slon', Russian slonu) are from a different word. Old English had it as elpend, and compare elpendban, elpentoð "ivory," but a confusion of exotic animals led to olfend "camel."

Herodotus mentions the (African) elephant, which in ancient times and until 7c. C.E. was found north of the Sahara as well. Frazer (notes to Pausanias's "Description of Greece," 1898) writes that "Ptolemy Philadelphius, king of Egypt (283-247 B.C.), was first to tame the African elephant and use it in war; his elephants were brought from Nubia," and the Carthaginians probably borrowed the idea from him; "for in the Carthaginian army which defeated Regulus in 255 B.C. there were about 100 elephants .... It was easy for the Carthaginians to procure elephants, since in antiquity the animal was found native in the regions of North Africa now known as Tripoli and Morocco (Pliny, N.H. viii.32)."

As an emblem of the Republican Party in U.S. politics, 1860. To see the elephant "be acquainted with life, gain knowledge by experience" is an American English colloquialism from 1835. The elephant joke was popular 1960s-70s.
elephantiasis (n.) Look up elephantiasis at Dictionary.com
1580s, from Greek elephantos, genitive of elephas "elephant" (see elephant) + -iasis "pathological or morbid condition." It refers to two diseases, one characterized by thickening of a body part (E. Arabum), the other, older meaning is "disease characterized by skin resembling an elephant's" (E. Græcorum, also called Egyptian leprosy). In Middle English, elephancy (late 14c.).
elephantine (adj.) Look up elephantine at Dictionary.com
1620s, "huge," from Latin elephantinus "pertaining to the elephant," from elephantus (see elephant). Meaning "pertaining to elephants" is from 1670s. Earlier adjective was elephantic (1590s).