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Online etymology dictionary


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sentry - 1611, originally "watchtower;" perhaps a shortened variant of sentinel, or worn down from sanctuary, on notion of "shelter for a watchman." Meaning "military guard posted around a camp" is first attested 1632. Sentry-box is from 1728.

separate (v.) - early 15c., from L. separatus, pp. of separare, from se- "apart" + parare "make ready, prepare." The adj. meaning "detached, kept apart" is first recorded 1600, from the pp. used as an adjective. Separatism (1628) and separatist (1608) were first used in religious sense. Sepatration "sundering of a married couple" is from 1600.

Sephardim - pl. of Sephardi, 1851, from Mod.Heb., from Sepharad, name of a country mentioned only in Obad. xx, identified by the rabbis as Spain. Originally, "a Spanish or Portuguese Jew."

sepia - 1821, from It. seppia "cuttlefish" (borrowed with that meaning in M.E.), from L. sepia "cuttlefish," from Gk. sepia. The color was that of brown paint or ink prepared from the fluid secretions of the cuttlefish.

sepoy - 1717, from Port. sipae, from Urdu sipahi, from Pers. sipahi "soldier, horseman," from sipah "army." A native of India in British military service. The Sepoy Mutiny was 1857-8.

sepsis - 1876, from Mod.L. sepsis, from Gk. sepsis "putrefaction," from sepein "to rot."

September - late O.E., from L. September, from septem "seven," being the seventh month of the old Roman calendar. Replaced O.E. hжrfestmonaр, haligmonaр. Septembrist in Fr. history refers to the massacre of the political prisoners in Paris, Sept. 2-5, 1792.

septet - 1828, from Ger. Septett, from L. septum "seven."

septic - 1605, from L. septicus "of or pertaining to putrefaction," from Gk. septikos "characterized by putrefaction," from sepein "cause to rot."

septicemia - 1866, Mod.L. septicжmia, from septikos (see septic) + haima "blood."

septuagenarian - 1793, from L. septuagenarius "containing seventy," from septuageni "seventy each," from septem "seven."

Septuagint - "Greek version of the Old Testament," 1633, from L.L. septuaginta interpretes "seventy interpreters," from L. septuaginta "seventy," from septem "seven" + -ginta "tens." So called in allusion to the (false) tradition that the translation was done 3c. B.C.E. by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars from Palestine and completed in 70 days. Often denoted by Roman numerals, LXX.

septum - 1720, Mod.L., from L. sжptum "a fence," from neut. pp. of sжpire "to hedge in," from sжpes "hedge, fence."

sepulcher - 12c., from O.Fr. sepulcre, from L. sepulcrum, from root of sepelire "to bury," originally "to perform rituals on a corpse." No reason for the -ch- spelling. Sepulchral "gloomy" is from 1771.

sequel - 1439, from L.L. sequela "that which follows, result, consequence," from sequi "to follow," from PIE base *sekw- (cf. Skt. sacate "accompanies, follows," Avestan hacaiti, Gk. epesthai "to follow," Lith. seku "to follow," O.Ir. sechim "I follow"). Original sense was "consequence," meaning "story that follows and continues another" first recorded 1513.

sequence - 14c., "hymn sung after the Hallelujah and before the Gospel," from O.Fr. sequence "answering verses," from M.L. sequentia "a following, a succession," from L. sequentem (nom. sequens), prp. of sequi "to follow." In Church use, a partial loan-translation of Gk. akolouthia, from akolouthos "following." General sense of "succession," also "a sequence at cards," appeared 1575.

sequester - c.1384, from O.Fr. sequestrer, from L. sequestrare "to place in safekeeping," from sequester "trustee, mediator," originally "follower," related to sequi "to follow." Meaning "seize by authority, confiscate" is first attested 1513.

sequin - 1617, name of a former Italian and Turkish gold coin, from Fr. sequin, from It. zecchino, from zecca "a mint," from Ar. sikkah "a minting die." Meaning "a spangle" is first recorded 1882, from resemblance to a gold coin.

sequoia - 1869, from Mod.L., tree genus name given by Endlicher, 1847, in honor of ^ Sequoya (1760-1843), Cherokee man who invented a system of writing for his people's language, from Muskogean (Cherokee) Sikwayi.

seraglio - 1581, from It. seraglio, alteration of Turk. saray "palace, court," from Pers. sara'i "palace, inn," from Ir. *thraya- "to protect." The It. word probably reflects folk etymology influence of serraglio "enclosure, cage," from M.L. serraculum "bung, stopper" (see serried).

serape - 1834, from Mex.Sp. sarape, probably from Nahuatl, but difficult to identify source because there is no -r- sound in Nahuatl.

seraph - 1667, first used by Milton (probably on analogy of cherub/cherubim), singular back-formation from O.E. seraphim (pl.), from L.L. seraphim, from Gk. seraphim, from Heb. seraphim (only in Isa. vi), pl. of saraph, probably from saraph "it burned." Seraphs were traditionally regarded as burning or flaming angels, though the word seems to have some etymological sense of "flying," perhaps from confusion with the root of Ar. sharafa "be lofty."

sere - O.E. sear "dried up, withered, from P.Gmc. *sauzas. A good word now relegated to bad poetry. Related to sear.

serenade - 1649, from Fr. sérénade, from It. serenata "an evening song," probably from sereno "the open air," noun use of sereno "clear, calm," from L. serenus "peaceful, calm, serene." The verb is from 1668.

serendipity - 1754, from the fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," by Horace Walpole (1717-92), whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of," from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Ar. Sarandib, from Skt. Simhaladvipa "Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island." Serendipity formed c.1950.

serene - c.1440, "clear, calm" (of weather), from L. serenus "peaceful, calm, clear." Applied to people since 1635.

serf - 1483, from M.Fr. serf, from L. servus "slave" (see serve).

serge - 14c., from O.Fr. serge, from V.L. *sarica, in M.L. "cloth of wool mixed with silk or linen," from L. serica vestis "silken garment," from serica, from Gk. serike, fem. of serikos "silken" (see silk).

sergeant - 12c., "servant," from O.Fr. sergent, from M.L. servientum (nom. serviens) "servant, vassal, soldier" (in L.L. "public official"), from L. servientem "serving," prp. of servire "to serve." Meaning "non-commissioned military officer" first recorded 1548. Originally a much more important rank than presently. As a police rank, in Great Britain from 1839; sergeant-major is from 1573. M.E. alternate spelling serjeant (from O.Fr.) was retained in Britain in special use as title of a superior order of barristers, abolished 1880, from which Common Law judges were chosen; also used of certain other officers of the royal household.

serial - 1840, from series (q.v.), originally used of Dickens' novels, published one part at a time (as opposed to all at once, in a book). Found to be a useful word and given wide application. ^ Serial killer is first attested 1981 (in relation to John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy), though serial had been used in connection with murders since the early 1960s.

sericulture - 1851, from Fr. sériciculture, from L. serica "silk" (see serge) + cultura (see culture).

series - 1611, from L. series "row, chain, series," from serere "to join, link, bind together, put."

serious - 1440, from M.Fr. sérieux "grave, earnest," from L.L. seriosus, from L. serius "weighty, important, grave." Meaning "attended with danger" is from 1800.

sermon - 12c., from Anglo-Fr. sermun, O.Fr. sermon, from L. sermonem (nom. sermo) "discourse, speech, talk," originally "a stringing together of words," related to serere "to join."

serous - early 15c., from L. serum "watery fluid, whey."

serpent - 13c., from O.Fr. sarpent, from L. serpentem (nom. serpens) "snake," from prp. of serpere "to creep," from PIE *serp-. Cognate with Gk. herpein.

serpentine - c.1408, from O.Fr. serpentin (fem. serpentine), from L.L. serpentius "of a serpent," from L. serpentem (nom. serpens) "snake" (see serpent). Meaning "twisting, winding" first recorded 1615; the greenish mineral was so-called from 1408.

serrated - 1703, from serrate (1668), from L. serratus "notched like a saw," from serra "saw."

serried - 1667 (in "Paradise Lost"), from pp. of serry "to press close together," a 16c. military term, from M.Fr. serre "close, compact," pp. of serrer "press close, fasten," from V.L. *serrare "to bolt, lock up," from L. serare, from sera "bolt, lock."

serum - 1672, from L. serum "watery fluid, whey." First used of blood serum 1893.

servant - 12c., from O.Fr., noun use of servant "serving, waiting," prp. of servir "to attend, wait upon" (see serve). In N.American colonies and U.S., the usual designation for "slave" 17c.-18c.

serve - c.1175, from O.Fr. servir "to serve," from L. servire "to serve," originally "be a slave," related to servus "slave," perhaps from an Etruscan word (cf. Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve). Sporting sense, in tennis, badminton, etc., first recorded 1585. To serve the time "shape one's views to what is in favor" is from 1560, translating L. tempori servire.

service - 11c., from O.Fr. servise, from L. servitium "slavery, servitude," from servus "slave." Sense of "duty of a military man" first recorded 1590, hence "the military as an occupation" (1706). Verb sense of "perform work on" first recorded 1926. Religious sense of "celebration of public worship" is M.E.; meaning "the furniture of the table" (tea service, etc.) is from 1468. Serving "a helping of food" is from 1769.

serviette - 1818, from Fr. serviette "napkin, towel," perhaps from pp. of servir "to serve" (see serve).

servile - 14c., from L. servilis "of a slave, servile," from servus "slave." Earliest sense was legal, servile work being forbidden on the Sabbath; sense of "cringing, fawning" first recorded 1605.

servitude - early 15c., from M.Fr. servitude, from L.L. servitudo "slavery," from L. servus "a slave."

servo - 1910, from servo-motor (1889), from Fr. servo-moteur, ult. from L. servus "slave" + motor "mover."

sesame - c.1425, probably from M.Fr. sisame, from L. sesama, from Gk. sesamon (Doric sasamon), from Late Babylonian *shawash-shammu (cf. Assyrian shamash-shammu "sesame," lit. "oil-seed"). First as a magic password in 1785 translation of Galland's "Mille et une nuits," where it opens the door of the thieves' den in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." Phrase open sesame current since about 1826.

sesquicentennial - 1880, from L. sesqui- "one and a half" (from semis "a half" + -que "and") + centennial.

sesquipedalian - 1615, from L. sesquipedalia verba "words a foot-and-a-half long," in Horace's "Ars Poetica" (96), nicely illustrating the thing he is criticizing, from sesqui- "half as much again" + pes "foot."

sessile - 1725, from L. sessilis "sitting," from sessum, pp. of sedere "to sit." Originally "adhering close to the surface;" meaning "sedentary" first recorded 1860.

session - late 14c., from L. sessionem (nom. sessio) "act of sitting," from pp. stem of sedere "to sit." Sense of "period set aside for some activity" is first recorded 1920, in bull session, probably from quarter sessions courts (see quarter). Musical sense of "recording occasion in a studio" is from 1927.

sestina - 1838, It., "poem of six-lined stanzas," from sesto "six." The line endings of the first stanza are repeated in different order in the rest, and in an envoi.

set (v.) - O.E. settan "cause to sit, put in some place, fix firmly," causative form of sittan "to sit," from P.Gmc. *satjanan. Meaning "group of pieces musicians perform at a club during 45 minutes (more or less) is from c.1925, though it is found in a similar sense in 1590. Meaning "ready, prepared" first recorded 1844. Confused with sit since early 14c. Set-to "bout, fight" is 1743, originally pugilistic slang. Setup "arrangement" is from 1890. To set (someone) back "cost" is from 1900.

set (n.) - "collection of things," 1443, from O.Fr. sette "sequence," from M.L. secta retinue, from L. secta "a following" (see sect). Meaning "group of persons with shared status, habits, etc." is from 1682. Setback is from 1674; setting of a jewel, etc. is from 1815; meaning "background, history, environment" is 1841.

settee - 1716, perhaps a variant of settle (n.).

setter - 1576, from set (v.), so called because the dog was originally "set" on game.

settle (v.) - "come to rest," O.E. setlan, from setl "a seat" (see settle (n.)). Sense of "establish a permanent residence" first recorded 1627; that of "decide" is 1621. Settled "firmly fixed" is 1556. Settlement is 1697 as "colony;" 1729 as "payment of an account."

settle (n.) - "long bench," O.E. setl "a seat, position, abode," related to sittan "to sit," from P.Gmc. *setla-, from PIE *sed- "to sit." Also related to saddle.

seven - O.E. seofon, from P.Gmc. *sebun, from PIE *septm. Long regarded as a number of perfection (Seven wonders, seven champions, seven sleepers, seven against Thebes etc.), but in Ger. a nasty, troublesome woman is eine bцse Sieben "an evil seven" (1662). The Seven Years' War (1756-63) is also the Third Silesian War. Seventeen is from O.E. seofontyne; seventh is from O.E. seofunda (Anglian), from P.Gmc. *sebundon; seventy is from O.E. seofontig.

sever - c.1300, from Anglo-Fr. severer, from O.Fr. sevrer, from V.L. *seperare, from L. separare "separate" (see separate). Severance is late M.E., from Anglo-Fr., from O.Fr. sevrance, from sevrer.

several - c.1421, from Anglo-Fr. several, from M.Fr. seperalis "separate," from L. separe (ablative of *separ "distinct"), back formation from separare "to separate."

severity - 1481, from M.Fr. severite, from L. severitas, from severus "stern, strict, serious," possibly from *se vero "without kindness," from se "without" + *vero "kindness," neuter ablative of verus "true." Severe is 1548, from M.Fr. severe.

sew - O.E. siwian "to stitch," earlier siowian, from P.Gmc. *siwjanan, from PIE base *siw-/*sju-.

sewage - 1834, from sew (v.) "to drain, draw off water" (1475), from sewer.

sewer - 1402, from Anglo-Fr. sewere, O.N.Fr. sewiere "sluice from a pond," lit. "something that makes water flow," from Gallo-Romance *exaquaria, from L. ex- "out" + aquaria, fem. of aquarius "pertaining to water," from aqua "water."

sex (n.) - c.1380, used of either males or females collectively, from L. sexus "state of being either male or female, gender," perhaps related to secare "to divide or cut." Meaning "quality of being male or female" first recorded 1526. Meaning "sexual intercourse" first attested 1929 (in writings of D.H. Lawrence); sexy first recorded 1925, originally "engrossed in sex;" sense of "sexually attractive" is 1932. Sex appeal first recorded 1924; sex drive is from 1918; sex object and sex symbol both first attested 1911. Sexpot is from 1954. Sexist is from 1965. Sexpert "sex therapist" is from 1924.

sexagenarian - 1738, from L. sexagenarius "containing sixty," from L. sexagenarius, from sexageni "sixty each," from sex (see six).

sextant - 1628, from Mod.L. sextans, coined c.1600 by Dan. astronomer Tycho Brahe, from L. sextans "a sixth," from sex "six." So called because the sextans has a graduated arc equal to a sixth part of a circle.

sextet - 1841, altered (by influence of Ger. Sextett) from sestet (1801), from It. sestetto, dim. of sesto "sixth," from sex (see six).

sexton - c.1303, sekesteyn, "person in charge of the sacred objects of a church," from O.Fr. segrestien, from M.L. sacristanus (see sacristan). Sense of "custodian of a church" first recorded 1582.

sextuplet - 1852, from sextuple (1626), from L. sextus "sixth," from sex "six." Patterned on triplet, etc.

sexual - 1651, from L.L. sexualis, from L. sexus (see sex). Originally "of or pertaining to the fact of being male or female;" meaning "pertaining to copulation or generation" is from 1799. Sexuality "capability of sexual feelings" is from 1879.

sh- - sound represented in O.E. by sc- (cf. fisc, pronounced "fish"). The sound did not exist in O.Fr., and Fr. scribes after the Norman conquest often represented it with -ssh- in medial and final positions, and sch- in initial positions. The spelling -sh- has been standard since Caxton, and is probably a worn-down form of M.E. -sch-.

shabby - 1669, from shab "scab," from O.E. sceabb (see scab). Shabby-genteel first recorded 1754.

shack - 1878, Amer.Eng. and Canadian Eng., probably from Mex.Sp. jacal, from Nahuatl xacalli "wooden hut." Or perhaps a back-formation from Eng. shackly "shaky, rickety" (1848), or from ramshackle. Shack up "cohabit" first recorded 1935.

shackle - O.E. sceacel, from P.Gmc. *skakula-. The verb is first recorded 1440.

shad - O.E. sceadd, possibly from Scand. (cf. Norw. dialectal skadd "small whitefish").

shade - O.E. sceadu "shade, shadow, darkness," also "shady place, protection from glare or heat," from P.Gmc. *skadwo, from PIE *skotwa, from base *skot- "dark, shade." Meaning "grade of color" first recorded 1690 (cf. Fr. nuance, from nue "cloud"). Meaning "ghost" is from 1616. Shady "inferior," first recorded 1862, originally university slang; literal sense of "affording shade" is from 1579.

shadow - O.E. sceadwe, sceaduwe, oblique cases of sceadu (see shade). The verb is O.E. sceadwian. Meaning "to follow like a shadow" is from 1602 in an isolated instance, not attested again until 1872. Shadow of Death (Ps. xxiii:4, etc.) is Gk. skia thanatou, perhaps a mistranslation of a Heb. word for "intense darkness."

shaft - O.E. sceaft "long, slender rod of a staff or spear," from P.Gmc. *skaftaz. Meaning in mineshaft, etc., is M.E., probably from notion of "long and cylindrical," possibly a translation of Low Ger. schacht in this sense. Meaning "treat cruelly and unfairly" is 1950s, from notion of sodomy. The word's double sense is attested in country music song title, "She Got the Gold Mine, I Got the Shaft."

shag - 1592, from O.E. sceacga "hair," cognate with O.N. skegg "beard," from P.Gmc. *skagjan. Of tobacco, from 1789. Meaning "copulate with" is 1788, perhaps related to shake.

shah - 1564, shaw, from Pers. shah, shortened from O.Pers. kshayathiya "king," cognate with Skt. kshatra "dominion."

shake - O.E. sceacan "to vibrate, make vibrate, move away" (class VI strong verb; past tense scoc, pp. scacen), from P.Gmc. *skakanan. As short for "to shake hands" it dates from 1535. The shakes "nervous agitation" is from 1624. Shaky "insecure, unreliable" (of credit, etc.) is from 1841. Shakedown (1730 as "impromptu bed," 1872 in figurative sense of "blackmail, extort," 1914 as "a thorough search") is a metaphor from measuring corn. Shakeout "business upheaval" is from 1895; shake-up "reorganization" is from 1899; no great shakes is perhaps from dicing. Shake a leg "hurry up" first recorded 1904.

Shakespeare - The name is recorded from 1248, and means "a spearman." This was a common type of Eng. surname, e.g. Shakelance (1275), Shakeshaft (1332). "Never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in origin. It is exactly what it looks -- Shakespear." [Bardsley, "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," 1901] Nevertheless, speculation flourishes.

shako - 1815, from Hungarian csako "peaked cap," originally "projecting point of a cow's horn."

shale - 1747, possibly a specialized use of shale "shell, husk, pod" (c.1380), also "fish scale," from O.E. scealu (see shell). Geological use also possibly influenced by Ger. Schalstein "laminated limestone," and Schalgebirge "layer of stone in stratified rock."

shall - O.E. sceal "I owe/he owes, will have to, ought to, must" (infinitive sculan, pt. sceolde), a common Gmc. preterite-present verb, from P.Gmc. *skal-, *skul-. The sense shifted in M.E. from a notion of "obligation" to include "futurity." Its past tense form has become should (q.v.).

shallot - 1664, from Fr. échalote, from M.Fr. eschalotte, from O.Fr. eschaloigne, from V.L. *escalonia (see scallion).

shallow - 14c., schalowe "not deep," probably from O.E. sceald (see shoal). The noun, usually shallows, is first recorded 1571, from the adj.

sham - 1677, perhaps from sham, a northern dialectal variant of shame. The meaning in pillow-sham (1721) is from the notion of "counterfeit."

shaman - 1698, probably from Rus. shaman, from Tungus shaman "Buddhist monk," from Prakrit samaya-, from Skt. sramana-s "Buddhist ascetic."

shamble (v.) - 1592, from an adj. meaning "ungainly, awkward," from shamble (n.) "table, bench" (see shambles) perhaps on the notion of the splayed legs of bench, or the way a worker sits astride it.

shambles - 1477, "meat or fish market," from schamil "table, stall for vending," from O.E. scomul, sceamel "stool, footstool, table for vending," an early Gmc. borrowing from L. scamillus "low stool," ultimately from scamnum "stool, bench." In Eng., sense evolved to "slaughterhouse" (1548), "place of butchery" (1593), and "confusion, mess" (1901).

shame (n.) - O.E. sceamu, sceomu "feeling of guilt or disgrace," from P.Gmc. *skamo. The verb is O.E. sceamian. The O.N. word for it was kinnroрi, lit. "cheek-redness," hence, "blush of shame." Gk. distinguished shame in the bad sense of "disgrace, dishonor" (aiskhyne) from shame in the good sense of "modesty, bashfulness" (aidos). Shamefaced (1555) is folk etymology alteration of O.E. scamfжst "bashful," from -fжst, adjectival suffix.

shammy - 1651, phonetic spelling of chamois.

shampoo (v.) - 1762, "to massage," from Anglo-Indian shampoo, from Hindi champo, imperative of champna "to press, knead the muscles," perhaps from Skt. capayati "pounds, kneads." Meaning "wash the hair" first recorded 1860. The noun meaning "soap for shampooing" first recorded 1866.

shamrock - 1571, from Ir. seamrog, dim. of seamar "clover."

shamus - "police officer, detective," 1925, probably from Yiddish, lit. "sexton of a synagogue," from Heb. shamash "servant;" influenced by Celt. Seamus "James," as a typical name for an Irish cop.

shanghai - 1871, from the practice of kidnapping sailors to serve aboard ships wanting men on extended voyages, such as to the Chinese seaport of Shanghai.

shank - O.E. sceanca "leg, shank," from P.Gmc. *skanka- "that which bends." Specifically, the part of the leg from the knee to the ankle.

shantung - 1882, from Shantung province, in China, where the fabric was made.

shanty (1) - "rough cabin," 1820, from Fr. Canadian chantier "lumberjack's headquarters," in Fr., "timberyard, dock," from O.Fr. chantier "gantry," from L. cantherius "rafter, frame" (see gantry). Shanty-town is first recorded 1876; Shanty Irish is from 1928 (title of a book by Jim Tully).

shanty (2) - "sea song," 1869, alternate spelling of chanty, from Fr. chanter "to sing."

shape (v.) - O.E. scapan, pp. of scieppan "to create, form, destine," from P.Gmc. *skapjanan "create, ordain." O.E. scieppan survived into M.E. as shippen, but shape emerged as a regular verb (with pt. shaped) by 1500s. The old past participle form shapen survives in misshapen. The noun is from O.E. gesceap "creation, form, destiny." Shapely "well-formed" is late M.E. Shape up (v.) is 1865 as "progress;" 1938 as "reform."

shard - O.E. sceard "fragment, gap," from P.Gmc. *skardas, a pp. from the root of O.E. sceran "to cut" (see shear).

share (1) - "portion," O.E. scearu "a cutting, shearing, division," related to sceran "to cut" (see shear), from P.Gmc. *skaro-, from PIE base *sker- "to cut." The verb is from 1586. Shareholder first attested 1828.

share (2) - "iron blade of a plow," O.E. scear, scжr, related to scieran "to cut" (see shear), from P.Gmc. *skar-, from PIE base *sker- "to cut."

sharif - 1560, shereef, from Ar. sharif "noble, glorious," from sharafa "to be exalted." A descendant of Muhammad through his daughter Fatima.

shark - 1569, of uncertain origin. The meaning "dishonest person who preys on others," though only attested from 1599, may be the original sense, later applied to the predatory fish. It is possibly from Ger. Schorck, a variant of Schurke "scoundrel, villain." Loan shark, combining both senses, is attested from 1905.

sharp - O.E. scearp "cutting, keen, sharp," from P.Gmc. *skarpaz, from PIE *sker- "cut." The adjective meaning "promptly" is first attested 1840. The musical meaning "half step above a given tone" is from 1576. Meaning "a cheat at games" (1797) is short for sharper (1681), probably a variant of sharker (see shark). First record of sharpshooter is 1802.

shatter - 13c., probably a variant of M.E. scateren (see scatter).

shave (v.) - O.E. sceafan, from P.Gmc. *skabanan. Original strong verb status is preserved in past tense form shaven. The noun meaning "an act of shaving" is from 1838 (O.E. sceafa meant "tool for shaving"). Shaver "fellow, chap" is slang from 1592; phrase a close shave is from 1856, on notion of "a slight, grazing touch."

shawl - 1662, originally of a type of scarf worn in Asia, from Urdu and other Indian languages, from Pers. shal.

shawm - "medieval oboe-like instrument," M.E. shallemelle, from O.Fr. chalemel, dim. of L. calamus "reed."

shay - 1717, back-formation from chaise, mistaken as a plural.

she - O.E. seo, sio (acc. sie), fem. of demonstrative pronoun se "the." The O.E. word for "she" was heo, hio, however this converged by phonetic evolution with he "he," so the fem. demonstrative pronoun was probably used it its place (cf. similar development in Du. zij, Ger. sie, Gk. he, etc.). The original h- survives in her. A relic of the O.E. pronoun is in Manchester-area dial. oo "she." She-devil "difficult woman" first recorded 1840.

sheaf - O.E. sceaf "sheaf of corn," from P.Gmc. skaubaz. Related to O.N. skauf "fox's tail." Also used in M.E. for "two dozen arrows."

shear - O.E. sceran, scieran (class IV strong verb; past tense scear, pp. scoren), from P.Gmc. *sker- "to cut," from PIE *sker- "cut." Related to shard. Shears "large scissors" (1625), originally a device for raising the masts of ships, from O.E. sceara, from P.Gmc. *skжr-.





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