Agnes Scott College

Give me the origin, history of the words deep, regular, water, apple, bad, meter ?

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O.E. deop (adj.) "profound, awful, mysterious; serious, solemn; deepness, depth," deope (adv.), from P.Gmc. *deupaz (cf. O.S. diop, O.Fris. diap, Du. diep, O.H.G. tiof, Ger. tief, O.N. djupr, Dan. dyb, Swed. djup, Goth. diups "deep"), from PIE *dheub- "deep, hollow" (cf. Lith. dubus "deep, hollow, O.C.S. duno "bottom, foundation," Welsh dwfn "deep," O.Ir. domun "world," via sense development from "bottom" to "foundation" to "earth" to "world"). Figurative senses were in O.E.; extended 16c. to color, sound. Deep pocket "wealth" is from 1951. To go off the deep end "lose control of oneself" is slang first recorded 1921, probably in reference to the deep end of a swimming pool, where a person on the surface can no longer touch bottom. The noun is O.E. deop "deep water," especially the sea. When 3-D films seemed destined to be the next wave and the biggest thing to hit cinema since talkies, they were known as deepies (1953).


regular (adj.)

late 14c., from O.Fr. reguler, from L.L. regularis "continuing rules for guidance," from L. regula "rule," from PIE *reg- "move in a straight line" (see regent). Earliest sense was of religious orders (the opposite of secular). Extended 16c. to shapes, etc., that followed predictable or uniform patterns; sense of "normal" is from 1630s; meaning "real, genuine" is from 1821. Noun meaning "a regular customer" is recorded from 1852.


water (n.1)

O.E. wæter, from P.Gmc. *watar (cf. O.S. watar, O.Fris. wetir, Du. water, O.H.G. wazzar, Ger. Wasser, O.N. vatn, Goth. wato "water"), from PIE *wodor/*wedor/*uder-, from root *wed- (cf. Hittite watar, Skt. udrah, Gk. hydor, O.C.S., Rus. voda, Lith. vanduo, O.Prus. wundan, Gael. uisge "water;" L. unda "wave").

Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Skt. apah) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).

To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. First record of water-closet is from 1755. Water-ice as a confection is from 1818. Watering-place is mid-15c., of animals, 1757, of persons. Water-lily first attested 1540s.

water (n.2)

measure of quality of a diamond, c.1600, from water (n.1), perhaps as a translation of Arabic ma' "water," which also is used in the sense "lustre, splendor."


apple (n.)

O.E. æppel "apple; any kind of fruit; fruit in general," from P.Gmc. *ap(a)laz (cf. O.S., O.Fris., Du. appel, O.N. eple, O.H.G. apful, Ger. Apfel), from PIE *ab(e)l "apple" (cf. Gaul. avallo "fruit;" O.Ir. ubull, Lith. obuolys, O.C.S. jabloko "apple"), but the exact relation and original sense of these is uncertain (cf. melon).

A roted eppel amang þe holen, makeþ rotie þe yzounde. ["Ayenbite of Inwit," 1340]

In Middle English and as late as 17c., it was a generic term for all fruit other than berries but including nuts (e.g. O.E. fingeræppla "dates," lit. "finger-apples;" M.E. appel of paradis "banana," c.1400). Hence its grafting onto the unnamed "fruit of the forbidden tree" in Genesis. Cucumbers, in one Old English work, are eorþæppla, lit. "earth-apples" (cf. Fr. pomme de terre "potato," lit. "earth-apple;" see also melon). Fr. pomme is from L. pomum "fruit."

As far as the forbidden fruit is concerned, again, the Quran does not mention it explicitly, but according to traditional commentaries it was not an apple, as believed by Christians and Jews, but wheat. ["The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity," Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2002]

Apple of Discord (c.1400) was thrown into the wedding of Thetis and Peleus by Eris (goddess of chaos and discord), who had not been invited, and inscribed kallisti "To the Prettiest One." Paris, elected to choose which goddess should have it, gave it to Aphrodite, offending Hera and Athene, with consequences of the Trojan War, etc. Apple of one's eye (Old English), symbol of what is most cherished, was the pupil, supposed to be a globular solid body. Apple-polisher "one who curries favor" first attested 1928 in student slang. The image of something that upsets the apple cart is attested from 1788.


bad (adj.)

c.1200, "inferior in quality;" early 13c., "wicked, evil, vicious," a mystery word with no apparent relatives in other languages.* Possibly from O.E. derogatory term bæddel and its dim. bædling "effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast," probably related to bædan "to defile." A rare word before 1400, and evil was more common in this sense until c.1700. Meaning "uncomfortable, sorry" is 1839, American English colloquial.

Comparable words in the other I.E. languages tend to have grown from descriptions of specific qualities, such as "ugly," "defective," "weak," "faithless," "impudent," "crooked," "filthy" (e.g. Gk. kakos, probably from the word for "excrement;" Rus. plochoj, related to O.C.S. plachu "wavering, timid;" Pers. gast, O.Pers. gasta-, related to gand "stench;" Ger. schlecht, originally "level, straight, smooth," whence "simple, ordinary," then "bad").

Comparative and superlative forms badder, baddest were common 14c.-18c. and used as recently as Defoe (but not by Shakespeare), but yielded to comp. worse and superl. worst (which had belonged to evil and ill).

As a noun, late 14c., "evil, wickedness." In U.S. place names, sometimes translating native terms meaning "supernaturally dangerous." Ironic use as a word of approval is said to be at least since 1890s orally, originally in Black English, emerging in print 1928 in a jazz context. It might have emerged from the ambivalence of expressions like bad nigger, used as a term of reproach by whites, but among blacks sometimes representing one who stood up to injustice, but in the U.S. West bad man also had a certain ambivalence:

These are the men who do most of the killing in frontier communities, yet it is a noteworthy fact that the men who are killed generally deserve their fate. [Farmer & Henley]

*Farsi has bad in more or less the same sense as the English word, but this is regarded by linguists as a coincidence. The forms of the words diverge as they are traced back in time (Farsi bad comes from M.Pers. vat), and such accidental convergences exist across many languages, given the vast number of words in each and the limited range of sounds humans can make to signify them. Among other coincidental matches with English are Korean mani "many," Chinese pei "pay," Nahuatl (Aztecan) huel "well," Maya hol "hole."


meter (v.)

"to measure by means of a meter," 1884, from meter (n.3). Meaning "install parking meters" is from 1957.

meter (n.3)

"device for measuring," abstracted 1832 from gas-meter, etc., from Fr. -mètre, used in combinations (in English from 1790), from L. metrum "measure" or cognate Gk. metron "measure" (see meter (n.2)). Influenced by English meter "person who measures" (late 14c., agent noun from mete (v.)). As short for parking meter from 1960. Meter maid first recorded 1957; meter reader 1963.

meter (n.1)

also metre, "poetic measure," O.E. meter "meter, versification," from L. metrum, from Gk. metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion," from PIE root *me- "measure" (see meter (n.2)). Possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use) from O.Fr. metre, with specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from L. metrum.

meter (n.2)

also metre, unit of length, 1797, from Fr. mètre (18c.), from Gk. metron "measure," from PIE root *me- "to measure" (cf. Gk. metra "lot, portion," Skt. mati "measures," matra "measure," Avestan, O.Pers. ma-, L. metri "to measure"). Developed by French Academy of Sciences for system of weights and measures based on a decimal system originated 1670 by French clergyman Gabriel Mouton. Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the length of a quadrant of the meridian.


wow... okay... this irks me jill. I'm confused.