bachelor: Man who has never married. From Old French “bacheler”=knight bachelor < Latin “baculum”=stick (knight trained with a stick.
bacon: Cured meat from back/sides of a pig. Old French “bacon” < Latin “baconem” < Old High German “bacho” < Germanic “*bakon”=buttock, ham.
bacon: Cured meat from the back and sides of a pig. Old French “bacon” < Old High German “bacho”=buttock, side of ham < Germanic “*bakon.”
bacteria: Microscopic organisms – some cause illnesses. Greek “bakteria”=stick, rod; first bacteria seen by microscope were rod-shaped.
badinage: Humorous, witty discourse, usually frivolous. French “badinage”=trifling chat < Latin “badar”=to gape open mouthed.
badine: Light-hearted, playful, or frivolous. French “badin”=a fool or clown < Latin “badare”=to gape open mouthed.
bagel: Hard, ring-shaped bread roll. Yiddish “beygel” < Middle High German “*bougel”=diminutive “boug-“=ring, bracelet.
bagle: Old name for a bishop’s staff or crozier. Old Norse “bagall”=staff < Latin “baculum, baculus”=rod or staff.
bailiwick: District under the control of a bailiff. From Old French “bailiff” < Latin “bajulus”=carrier, manager + Old English “wic”=village.
bairn: A child or baby of either sex. Old English “bearn” < Germanic “beran”=to bear (children).
bajulate: To carry a heavy burden. Latin “bajulare”=to carry < “bajalus”=a porter (someone who carries things).
bake: Cook food by dry heat without direct exposure to a flame, typically in an oven. Old English “bacan.”
baksheesh: Sum of money given as alms, a tip, or a bribe. Persian “bakhshish”=present < “bakshi-dan”=to give.
balanoid: Having the shape of an acorn. Greek “balanos”=acorn + “-oid”=suffix meaning “having the form of” or “resembling.”
balbutiate: To stammer or stutter. Latin “balbutire”=to stammer or lisp + “-ate”=verb-forming suffix.
bale-sithe: Misfortune, ill-fate; death and destruction. Old English “bealu”=evil + “sith”=expedition, venture, fortune.
ballad: Light, simple song that tells a story. Old French “balade”=a song for dancing < Latin “ballare”=to dance.
ballot: Piece of paper or a card used to cast or register a vote. From Italian “ballotta”=small ball used to register a vote.
ballot: Process of voting, usually in writing and in secret. Middle French “ballotte”=small ball put in a box to vote < Italian “ballotta.”
balneology: The scientific study of bathing and medicinal spas. Latin “balneum”=bath + Greek “-ology”=the science/study of.
bamboozle: To deceive by trickery or mystify someone. Slang coined in 1700’s and possibly from Scottish dialect “bumbaze”=to confuse.
banal: Common, trivial, trite. From French “banal”=feudal service < Latin “bannum”=assembly of vassals, whose ovens were open to their lord.
banausic: Banal; merely mechanical; dull. Greek “banausikos”=for mechanics < “banausos”=working with fire < “baunos”=furnace, forge.
bandicoot: A large Indian rat, as big as a cat, and very destructive. Telugu “pandi-kokku”=pig-rat.
bandit: A robber, usually in a gang, or an outlaw in general. From Italian “banditi”=outlaw < “bandire”=to proscribe or banish.
bane: Something that causes harm, trouble, or ruin. Old English “bana”=death, murder.
banish: To send someone away from where they live. Old French “banir”=to proclaim as an outlaw < Latin “bannum”=proclamation.
banjo: Stringed instrument with 4 strings and round body. Alteration of Spanish “bandore”=type of lute < Greek “pandoura”=3-stringed lute.
banquet: An extravagant feast of food. French “banquet” < diminutive of “banc”=bench on which food can be served.
banshee: Female spirit that wails by a house where someone is about to die. Irish “bean sidhe” < Old Irish “ben side”=woman of the fairies.
baragouin: Unintelligible speech or jargon. Breton “bara”=bread + “gwenn”=white; referring to Breton soldiers’ surprise seeing white bread.
barbate: Bearded; cover with small tufts of hair. Latin “barbatus”=bearded < “barba”=beard.
barber: A man who cuts hair and/or shaves facial hair. Anglo-Norman “barbour”< Latin “barbatorem” < “barba”=beard.
barbershop: Unaccompanied singing by four people. From Latin “barba”=beard + Old English “scoppa”=shed for working in.
barbette: To mutter or make inarticulate sounds. Old French “barbetter” < Latin “balbutire”=to stammer < “balbus”=a speech defect.
bard: A poet. Gaelic “bard”=minstrel-poet < Old Celtic “*bardo”=one from an order of minstrel-poets who created epic tales put to song.
bard: A poet. Gaelic and Irish “bard” < Old Celtic “*bardo”=poet-singer, minstrel. A term on contempt in the C16th.
bare: Naked, nude; without covering. Old English “baer”=uncovered < Germanic “*baza-” < Indo-European “*bhos-”
barge: Flat-bottomed boat for carrying freight. Old French “barge” < Latin “barga” < Greek “baris”=Egyptian boat (Coptic “bara”=boat).
barmy: Silly, stupid, or crazy. From Old English “beorma”=froth on top of fermented liquors. Hence, “barmy”=head full of barm or frothing.
barratress: A female fighter. Old French “barateresse” < “barateor”=fraudulent dealer, trickster < Influenced by Old Norse “baratta”=fight.
barrel: Large curved container with flat end, traditionally made of wood used for storing beer, wine etc. Latin “barriclus”=small cask
barrel: Metal, cylindrical part of a firearm through which a bullet travels. From Old French “baril”=round vessel.
barricade: A temporary fence that prevents people from passing. French “barrique”=barrel or cask – used to create a barrier.
bashful: Shy, sensitive, not wanting of attention.From “abash” < Anglo-Norman “abaiss <Old French “esbair” < “es”=utterly + “bair”=astound.
basil: The leaves of the basil plant used as a culinary herb. Old French “basile” < Latin “basilica” < Greek “basilikos”=royal.
basilisk: Mythical serpent that could kill by breath or gaze. Greek “basilislos”=princeling < “basileus”=king + “‘iskos”=diminutive suffix.
bask: To lie in the warmth of the sun. Middle English “baske” < Old Norse “bathask”=to bathe.
bass: [bas] The common European freshwater perch with spines. Old English “baers” ?< Germanic “*bars”=sharp, rough, bristled.
bass: [bays] A voice or instrument of the lowest range. Middle English “bas” < Latin “bassus”=short or low.
bastard: (a) Child born outside wedlock; (b) disliked person. Old French “fils de bast”=son born on a saddle + pejorative suffix “-ard.”
baste: Pour juices or melted fat over meat during cooking to keep it moist. ?Old French “basser”=to moisten slightly.
bastinado: Form of torture by hitting the soles of the feet. Spanish “bastinado”=caning < “baston”=a cudgel < Latin “baston”=stick.
bath: The act of putting a body in water to clean it. Old English “baeth”=immersing in water, mud etc. < Old Germanic ?”bajo-” to heat up.
bathos: Sudden change in style from lofty and elevated to commonplace; an anticlimax. From Greek “bathos”=deep.
bathukolpian: Deep-bosomed; showing a generous cleavage. Greek “bathos”=deep + “kolpos”=breast + Latin “-ian”=of or belonging to.
batik: Way of dying patterns on cloth using wax to create undyed areas, then removing the wax. Javanese “batik”=painted.
batman: A military officer’s servant. French “cheval do bat”=horse carrying a pack < Old French “bast” < Latin “bastum”=pack saddle.
batrachophobia: Fear of frogs. Greek “bacrakos”=frog + “phobia”=fear (of).
batraquomancy: reading the future using frogs, typically by croaks and color. From Greek “batraxos”=frog + “manteia”=prophet/soothsayer.
battery: The action of beating or battering. French “batterie”=beating < “batter”=to beat < Latin “battuere”=beat.
battle: A fight or fighting. Middle English “batayle” < Old French “bataille” < Latin “battuere”=to beat.
bauble: Showy trinket hung on a Christmas tree. Old French “baubel”=child’s toy, trinket, plaything.
bavardage: Idle chatter; gossip. French “bavarder”=to chatter < “bavard”=talkative < “bave”=saliva or drool.
bawdy: Lewd, obscene or unchaste, typically applied to language. Uncertain origin, poss Old French “baud”=lively, merry.
bayonet: Small stabbing blade attached to the muzzle of a gun. Origin uncertain ? diminutive Old French “bayon”=arrow, shaft of cross-box.
bayou: Marshy outlet of a lake or river in southern USA. American French “bayou” < Choctaw “bayuk”=creek, stream.
bazaar: A market selling a wide-range of goods. Italian “bazarro” < Turkish “bazar”=a Middle Eastern marketplace < Persian “bazar”=market.
beach: Area of sand or small stones at the edge of the sea or a lake. From Old English “bece”=stream. Perhaps from Old Norse “bakki”=bank
beacon: Fire or light used as a signal. Old English “beacen”=a sign or portent.
beak: Hard, horny projection on a bird’s head used for tearing and eating. From Middle English “bec” < Latin “beccus”=beak or bill.
bear: Large mammal with thick fur that eats flesh, fruit, and insects. Old English “bera”=brown < Germanic “*bero”=brown animal.
beast: An animal, especially a large or dangerous one. From Old French “beste”=animal < Latin “bestia”=beast, wild animal.
beatific: Blissfully, spiritually happy. Latin “beatificus” < “beatus”=blessed < “beare”=to bless + “ficus”=making.
beauty: Quality that people, places, or things have that makes them attractive. From Old French “biauté” < Latin “bellus”=handsome, charming
bedlam: Madness, chaos, confusion. Shortened from name of London asylum founded 1330 “Hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem.”
bedraggled: Looking wet, untidy, and messy. Old English “be-“=verb-forming prefix with sense of “around” + “draggle”=to wet/soil a garment.
beef: Flesh of ox, bull, or cow used as food. Old French “boef” < Latin “bovem” < “bos”=ox. Cognate of Greek “bous” and Sanskrit “”go”=ox.
beer: Alcoholic drink made from cereal grain, flavored by hops. From Old English “beor”=beer. Possibly from Latin “biber”=to drink.
beetle: Insect with a round hard back which is usually black. Old English “bitula”=biter < “bitan”=to bite.
begrutten: Swollen faced because of excessive crying. Old English “be”=about + “greotan”=to weep < Germanic *”graetan.”
beguiled: Attracted to someone by trickery or as if by magic. From Old English “be-“=surround with + “guile” < “wil(e)”=trickery or deceit.
behemoth: A huge and monstrous creature. Middle English “behemot” < Hebrew “b’hemoth”=plural of “b’hemah”=beast.
behold: To see or regard something; look. Old English “bihaldan” < “be-“=intensifier meaning “thoroughly” + “haldan”=to hold.
bell: Hollow cup-shaped instrument of metal, rung by an internal clapper. From Old English “bellan”=to roar.
bellatrice: A warrior woman, skilled in the art of fighting. French “bellatrice” < Latin “bellator”=warrior < “bellum”=war.
belligerent: Hostile and aggressive; given to causing wars. Latin “belligerare”=to make war < “bellum”=war.
belt: Strip of material (often leather) tied round the waist to fasten clothes. Old English < Germanic *”baltjo” < Latin “balteus”=girdle
bemoan: regret strongly; to be disappointed. From Old English “bemanen” < “be-“=around + “moan”=a lament or complaint.
benevolence: Desire to do good; generosity, charity. Old French “benivolence” < Latin “benevolentem” < “bene”=good + “volentem”=wishing well
berate: To chide or scold. Old English “be-“=intensifying meaning “excessively” + ?Old French “reter”=to blame or accuse.
bereft: Lacking or without something; sense of something being taken away. Old English “bereafian”=bereaved < Germanic “*birauthoja.”
beryllium: Hard, gray metal, atomic #4. Old French “beryl” < Latin “beryllus” < Greek “birullos”=a pale-green semi-precious stone.
besom: A bundle of twigs or similar tied round a handle and used for sweeping or punishing. Old English “besema” < Germanic “*besmon-.”
besotted: Muddled by drink. Middle English “besot”=to make foolish < Old English “be-“=cause to be + “sott”=foolish person.
betray: Put someone in danger by giving info to an enemy. Middle English “betraien” < “be-“=thoroughly + Latin “tradere”=to hand over.
bezzle: To consume lots of alcohol wastefully; squander. Middle English “besil” < Old French “besiler”=lay waste, ravage, be wasteful.
biannual: Occurring twice in a year. From latin “bi-“=two or double + “annus”=year.
bias: Inclination or prejudice for or against a proposition; sometimes unconscious. French “biais”=slanted <?Greek “epikarsios”=oblique.
bibimbap: Korean rice dish, typically with sauteed veg, meat, and raw or fried egg. Korean “pibimbap” < “pibi”=to mix + “pap”=rice.
bibliography: List of books that have been in the body of a book. Greek “biblion”=book + “graphia”=writing or drawing.
bibliomania: Passion for collecting and owning books. Greek “biblio-“=prefix from “biblion”=book + “mania”=madness.
bibliometrics: The statistical analysis of books, articles, or other publications. Greek “biblion”=book + “metros”=measure.
bibliothecary: A librarian. Latin “bibiliotheca”=library < Greek “biblion”=book + “thiki”=repository; place to keep things.
bibulous: Addicted to drinking, tippling. Latin “bibulus”=drinking freely < “bibere”=to drink + suffix “-ous”=characterized by.
bicker: To argue constantly over trivial things. From Middle English “biker”=argue < ?Middle Dutch “bicken”=to attack or cut.
bide: To wait, remain, or stay somewhere. Old English “biden” < Germanic “*biden”=to wait.
biennial: Occurring every two years. From Latin “biennium”=two-year period.
biennium: Period of two years. Latin “biennium” < “bi-“=two + “annus”=year + “-ium”=verbal suffix denoting an act.
bier: Movable frame in which a corpse is carried to a grave. Old English “ber”=any carrying frame < Old Germanic “beran”=to carry.
bigamy: Crime of being married to two people at the same time. Latin “bigamia”=twice married < Greek “gamos”=marriage.
bight: A slight bend of curve in a coastline. Old English “byht” < Germanic “beugan”=to bend or curve.
bilge. Nonsensical talk or rubbish. Originally the foulness that collected in a ship’s “bilge” < Old French “boulge”=bulge, bottom of a ship.
bilk: To cheat or defraud. Originally to spoil someone’s score in a game of Cribbage. ?<“balk”=block < Old Norse “balkr”=partition.
billiards: Game played on table hitting balls with a cue. Old French “billart”=curved end < “bille”=stick < Latin “billus”=tree branch.
bimarian: Pertaining to two seas. Latin “bimaris” < “bi”=two + “mare”=sea + “-an”=suffix meaning of or belonging to.
bimonthly: Occurring every two months OR twice in one month! Former preferred. From Latin “bi-“=two + Old English “monath”=month.
bird: Egg-laying feathered vertebrate, often able to fly. Middle English “byrd/bryd” < Old English “brid”=chick, fledgling.
birr: A strong wind. Middle English “burr/byre” < Old Norse “byrr”=favoring wind < Germanic “beran”=to bear, carry along.
bishop: Senior member of Christian clergy n charge of a diocese. Old English “biscop” < Greek “episkopos” < “epi”=over + “skopos”=watcher.
bite: The cut with the teeth. Old English “bitan” < Germanic “*bitan”=to cleave, split. Related to Sanskrit “bhid-“=split.
bitter: Having a sharp, pungent, often unpleasant taste.Old English “biter” < Germanic “bitan”=to bite.
bizarre: Odd, strange, extraordinary. From French “bizarre” < Basque “bizar”=beard – the notion of odd-looking when bearded
blackberry: Black or dark purple juicy but seedy edible fruit from bramble bush. From Old English “blak”=black + “berie”=grapes.
blackjack: US name for Vingt-et-un (21). In the US, to promote the game, ace + a black jack got paid 10-to-1. Blackjack=that hand’s name
blag: To get something by using persuasion or guile. ? French “blaguer”=to tell lies.
blanch: Prepare food by briefly immersing in boiling water. Middle English “blaunche”=to make white < Old French “blanchir” < “blanc”=white
blancmange: Sweet, cold dessert made from cornflower, milk, and sugar. Old French “blanc-manger”=white food < “blanc”=white +”manger”=to eat
blarney: Smooth, charming flattery. Eponym from Blarney castle in Ireland where kissing a stone is said to give the power of persuasion.
blase: Nonchalantly unconcerned; supercilious. French “blaser”=to exhaust by enjoyment. Unknown origin.
blasphemy: Irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable. From Greek “blasphemia”=evil speaking (“-phemos”=speaking)
blatant: Obvious and lacking in subtlety. Invented C16th by Spenser in “The Faerie Queene,” probably < Latin “blatire”=to babble.
blateration: Chatter or blabber. Latin “blaterate”=to talk or chatter vainly.
bleary: Of the eyes – made dim, misty or unclear by water. Middle English “blere” < Middle High German “blerre”=blurred vision.
blechure: A wound. Old French “bleceüre”=wound < “blechier”=to wound, injure.
bleed: To lose blood. To leak any fluid in general. Old English “bledan” < Germanic “*blôdjan”=to lose blood < “*blôdo”=blood.
blesiloquent: Descriptive of speaking stammeringly or dysfluently. Latin “blaesus”=lisping, stammering + “loqui”=to speak.
bliss: Perfect happiness; great joy. Old English “bliths”=kindness, joy, delight < Old Germanic “*blithin”=kind, gentle.
blithe: Happy or joyous. Old English “blithe”=kindly, gentle < possibly Germanic “blithiz”=shine or to shine.
blizzard: Severe snowstorm with high winds. C19th word meaning “a hit or sharp blow.” Unknown origin, possible French “blesser”=to wound.
bloat: As a noun, the condition of being swollen and large. Middle English “bloute” < ?”Old Norse “blautr-“=flabby and soft.
bloated: Full of food e.g. after Christmas lunch. From Old Norse “blautr”=soft after soaking (from the process of curing fish)
blog: A frequently updated web page often of commentary by an individual. Shortened from “web log” where “log” < “log book”=a record.
bloviate: To speak pompously and use empty rhetoric. Thought to come from “blow” < Old English “blawan”=make a current of air.
blue: Color like the sky or sea on a clear day. Old French “bleu” < Germanic *”blaewo-z”=blue.
blues: Feeling of sadness or depression: From phrase “blue devils”=depression < “blue”=color of burning brimstone i.e. the Devil
blunder: A mistake or error. Middle English “blondyre”=confusion, stumble around blindly < Old Norse “blunda”=shut one’s eyes.
boanthropy: Mental illness where a man believes himself to be an ox. Greek “bous”=ox + “anthropos”=man + “-y”=abstract noun-forming suffix.
boat: A small, open-top vessel for traveling on water. Old English “bat”=boat, vessel < Germanic “bitan”=to cleave, cut (like a log).
bocage: Woodland. Old French “boscage”=wooded country, a thicket < Latin “boscum”=wood, forest.
body: A person’s physical structure of bones, flesh, and organs. Old English “bodig”=body.
bogus: Fake, originally counterfeit money. Uncertain origin, possibly shortened from a c19th Vermont (USA) slang “tantrabogus”=fake.
boil: To heat a liquid to the point it turns to vapor. Old French “boillir” < Latin “bullire”=to bubble < “bulla”=a bubble.
boisterous: Energetic, noisy, and cheerful. Middle English “boystrous” < rough or coarse (in quality). Uncertain earlier origin.
bold: Willing to take risks; courageous; Old English “bald” < Germanic “*balthoz”=swift and/or brave.
bollocks: UK slang for “nonsense” or “testicles.” Old English “bealluc”=ball < Latin “follis”=inflated bellows.
bomb: An explosive device fused to detonate under specified condition. From Greek “bombos”=deep, hollow sound. Onomatopoeia for “boom”?
bombastic: Using inflated or turgid language. From Latin “bombax”=cotton < corruption of Greek “bombus”=silk. Literally spoken “stuffing.”
bonkers: Crazy or mad. Unknown origin but appeared 1945 and thought to be from “bonk”=sound of blow to the head (leading to craziness).
boofhead: Foolish or stupid person. Probably alteration of “bufflehead” < Latin “bubalus”=buffalo < Greek “bubalos”=wild ox.
book: Paper pages fastened along one side and encased between covers. From Old English “boc”=beech (on which runes were inscribed).
booty: Goods taken as plunder; a pirate’s stolen property; a rich prize. From Old French “butin” < Germanic “bute”=exchange.
booty: Goods taken as plunder; a pirate’s stolen property; a rich prize. From Old French “butin” < Germanic “bute”=exchange.
booze: To drink alcohol in large quantities. Middle Englsh “bouse” < Middle Dutch “busen”= to drink to excess.
Borborite: One who holds filthy or immoral doctrines, once applied to a branch of the Mennonites. Greek “Borboritai” < “borboros”=filth.
borborygm: The gurgling sound of made by gas in the stomach and intestines. Greek “borborygein”=to have rumbling in the bowels
bordello: A house of prostitution. modernLatin “bordarius”=cottager < medieval Latin “borda”=hut, cottage.
boron: Non-metallic, black solid, atomic #5. “bo-” < Latin “borac” < Persian “burah”=borax powder + “-on” modeled on “carbon.”
boscaresque: Beautiful like a wood or forest. Latin “boscum, boscus”=wood + French “-esque”=suffix meaning “resembling.”
bosky: Covered in bushes; wooded. Middle English “bosk”=bush < Old Norse “busk” < Latin “boscum, boscus”=wood.
boson: Subatomic particle with zero or integral spin. Eponym after Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose + “on”=physics suffix for particles.
boss: Person in charge of an organization or group of people. Dutch “baas”=master.
bottle: Container with narrow top for storing liquids, often made of plastic or glass. Old French “boteille” < Latin “buttis”=cask, wineskin
boudoir: Small room where a lady may rest or meet friends. French “boudoir”=a place in which to sulk < “bouder”=to pout, sulk.
bouksome: Corpulent, chubby, or portly. Old English “buc”=belly, paunch + “-sum”=adjective-forming suffix.
bouquet: A bunch of flowers. French “bouquet”=little wood < Old French dialectal word “bos”=wood.
bouquet: The scent/aroma of a wine. French “bouquet”=little wood < “bosco”=wood + diminutive “-ette.”
bourdly: In a joking manner; frivolously. Old French “bourde” < Provençal “=lie, cheat, deception + “-ly”=adverb-creating suffix.
bourride: Fish stew from Provencal. Occitan “burrido”=altered form of “boulid”=something boiled < Latin “bullire”=to boil.
bovine: Referring to cows or any other cattle. Also descriptive of a dull person. From Latin “bos”=cow/ox + “-ine”=pertaining to.
bow: [boh] A knot tied with two loops and two loose ends, often for decoration. Old English “bega”=arch, bend.
bow: [bou] A short bend of the head or body as a sign of respect. Old English “bugan”=to bend.
bowdlerize: to censor text by removing “offensive” material. From Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), editor of an expurgated edition of Shakespeare.
bowel: The part of the gut after the stomach; the intestines. Old French “bouel” < Latin “botellus”=little sausage < “botulus”=sausage.
bower: A lady’s private apartment, or a poetic reference to a house. Old English “bur”=dwelling < Germanic “bu-“=to dwell.
bowler: English hard felt hat with a dome-shaped top. Eponym named after Thomas Bowler, and English hatter who designed it in 1850.
boxing: Sport where gloved men hit each other. Middle English “box”=a blow, hit < ?Germanic “*boki”=hit c.f. Middle Dutch “boken”=to hit.
boycott: Refuse to buy or take part in something as a protest. From c19th Charles “Boycott,” Irish land agent against whom people protested.
brace: A pair of something, typically birds or mammals. Old French “bracier”=to embrace < “brachium”=arm < Greek “brakhion”=arm.
brahmacharya: Purity of life, especially sexual restraint. Sanskrit “brahmacarya” < “brahman”=prayer + “carya”=conduct.
brain: Organ in the head that controls how you think, feel, and move. Old English “braegan”=organ of thought, head, skull.
braise: Fry food lightly then stew slowly in a closed container. French “braiser”=to braise < “braise”=hot charcoal (over which a pan sits).
braky: Overgrown with fern or brushwood. Middle English “brake”=fern, bracken < Old English “bracu”=thicket, fern.
brand: Mark on the skin made by a hot iron; usually marks ownership. Old English “brond”=flame or fire < Germanic “brinnen”=to burn.
brand: Specific name for a product, usually legally exclusive. Old English “brond”=fire or burn on the skin < Germanic “brinnen”=to burn.
brazen: Bold and without shame; unembarrassed. Middle English “brassan” < Old English “brasen”= made of brass < “braes”=brass.
Brazil: Country in S. America; wood from East Indian tree (Cæsalpinia sappan). Latin “brasilium” ?< oriental name of the dye from the wood.
breach: To break an agreement; a gap in a wall. Old English “brecan”=to break, influenced by Old French “breche”=gap, opening.
breakfast: Morning meal. From Old English “brecan”=to break + “fasten”=an incident of fasting.
breakfast: Morning meal. From Old English “brecan”=to break + “fasten”=an incident of fasting.
breathe: Take air into the lungs and send it out again. Middle English “breth” < Old English “braeth”=odor, smell, scent < Aryan “*bhreto.”
breech: The back part of a gun or cannon; buttocks, behind. Old English “brec”=plural of “broc”=garment covering lower body spec. backside.
breed: To produce offspring, children. Old English “bredan” < Old Germanic “broda”=warmth, hatching, fostering heat c.f. brood.
breeze: Gentle or light wind. Originally specific to NE trade wind. Old Spanish “briza”=north-east wind.
brephophagist: Someone who eats babies. Greek “brephos”=baby + “-phagia”=eating + “-ist”=designating a person.
bribe: Give money illegally to someone to get them to act in your favor. Middle English “brybe”=steal < Old French “briber”=to beg.
brick: Small block of dried clay used for building. Middle English “brekke” < Old French “briche”=a piece < ?Germanic “brekan”=break.
bride: Woman just about to be married. Old English “bryd”=bride or betrothed to be married.
bridegroom: Often just “groom,” man about to be married. Old English “brydguma” < “bryd”=bride + “guma”=man (poetic).
brief: Of short duration, quickly passing away. Middle English “breffe” < Old French “bref” < Latin “brevem”=short.
brigand: Member of gangs that rob people, esp in mountain/forests. Old French “brigand”=foot soldier < Italian “brigare”=to contend.
brilliant: Clever or talented; very bright (light). French “brillant”=shining < Latin “beryllus” < Greek “birullos”=beryl, a precious gem.
bris: The ceremony where a Jewish male is circumcised. Yiddish “bris” < Hebrew “bĕrīṯ”=covenant < short form of “bĕrīṯ milā.”
brisk: Active and energetic. Uncertain origin but probably French “brusque”=lively, fierce < Italian “brusco”=sour, tart.
bro: US slang for fellow, guy, or dude. Shortened form “brother” < Old English “brothor”=male relative of same parents < Germanic “*brothar”
broccoli: Green vegetable with short branch-like stems. Diminutive Italian “brocco”=shoot < Latin “brocchus”=”projecting.”
brochure: A short, printed work, usually about a product or service. French “brocher”=to stitch + “-ure”=suffix denoting process or action.
broggle: To fish for eels by poking a stick into holes where they might be. Scottish dialect “brog”=a short stick used to prod things.
broil: Cook meat or fish by exposure to direct heat. Middle English “brule/broille” < to char with fire < Old French “bruler”=to burn.
broiler: A grill or part of a stove for cooking meat or fish. Middle Englsh “broilye”=to char with fire < Old French “bruler”=to burn.
bromatology: The study of food; a treatise on food. Greek “broma”=food + “-logia”=the study of.
bronco: An untamed or half-tamed horse, or a cross between a horse and mustang. Spanish “bronco”=rough or rude.
bronteon: Ancient Greek brass urns placed under the floor of a theater used to imitate thunder. Greek “bronti”=thunder.
brontology: The study or science of thunder; a treatise on thunder. Greek “bronti+=thunder + “logia”=the study of.
brood: A family of animals hatched all at once. Old English “brod”=that which is hatched < Germanic verb “bro-“=warmth, heat.
broom: Long-handled brush of bristles or twigs, used for sweeping. Old English “brom” < West Germanic “*brama”=thorny shrub.
brothel: Short for “brothel house,” a place where prostitutes work. Middle English “brothel”=a wretch < Old English “breothan”=to go to ruin.
brothfall: Old word for epilepsy. Old Norse “brao-fall”=sudden fall. Found in Icelandic as “brotfall”=epileptic fit.
Brown: Dark, dusky coloring; as a surname, referring to skin tone. Old English “brun” < Germanic *”bruna”=brown.
browse: To look through books, magazines, journals, or, more recently, web pages. From Old French “broster”=to sprout or bud.
browser: One who feeds cattle in winter (1550). Old French “brost”=bud, young shoot + Old English “ere”=suffix to indicate the “doer.”
bruise: Bluish/purple mark on the skin caused by injury to blood vessels. Old English “brysan”=to crush or injure with a blow.
brumal: Winter-like; wintry; belonging to winter. Latin “bruma”=winter < “brevima”=shortest day (or winter).
brush: Object with bristles used to straighten out hair. Middle English “brusshe” < Old French “brosser”=to sweep.
brusque: Abrupt or offhand in speech or manner. French “brusque”=lively, fierce < Italian “brusco”=sour, tart in taste.
brusque: Marked by rude or peremptory shortness. French “brusque” < Italian “brusco”=sour, rough <?Latin “bruscus”=a rough plant
brutality: Savage, physical violence and/or cruelty. French “brut” < Latin “brutus”=heavy, dull + “-ality”=noun-forming suffix.
bubulcitate: To cry, or act, like a cowherd. Latin “bubulcitare” < “bubulcus”=cowherd.
buccaneer: Pirate, original name for French settlers in Spanish West Indies. From French “boucanier”=someone using a “boucan”=grill.
bucket: Container with a handle, used for carrying things, often water. Old English “buket”=washing tub, milk pail or “buc”=pitcher.
buffet: Meal at which people serve themselves from a table and then move away to eat. From French “buffet”=table, hence meal from a table.
bug: An insect in general. Uncertain origin but perhaps from Middle English “bug”=object of fear < ?Welsh “bwg”=ghost.
bugle: Brass instrument that sounds like bull oxen. Shortened “bugle-horn”=hunting horn < Old French “bugle” < Latin “buculus”=little ox.
bugloss: Bristly plant of the borage family with bright blue flowers. Latin “buglossus” < Greek “bous”=ox + “glossa”=tongue (shape of petal)
bull: (n) Falsity; nonsense. (v) Talk nonsense. Probably Middle English “bul” < Old French “boule”=falsehood and/or “bouller”=to deceive.
bull: Male of a bovine animal. Middle English “bole” < Old Norse boli=male bovine.
bullet: Metal projectile in the shape of a pointed cylinder or ball that is fired from a gun. From Latin “bulla”=round object.
bumbershoot: Slang (US) for umbrella (orig. 1896). From “bumber”=humorous alteration of “umbrella” + “shoot”=altered “chute” (< parachute.)
bungalow: A small single-level house. Hindustani “bangla”=belonging to Bengal – type of cottage built for early European settlers in Bengal.
buoyant: Being able to float. Spanish “boyante” < “boyar”=to float.
burglary: Act of breaking into buildings and stealing things. Anglo-Latin “burglator”=one who steals. ?<“bourg”=town + “leres”=robber.
burlesque: Literary/dramatic work that ridicules via grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation. From Italian “burlesco” < “burla”=mockery
burrito: Flour tortilla with meat/veg filling. Folded end looks like little donkey’s ear, hence from Spanish “burro”=donkey + “-ito”=little.
busk: Ceremony of the American Indian Creek people held before first maize crop is eaten. Creek < “poskita”=act of fasting < “posk”=to fast.
busy: engaged in action; occupied. From Old English “bisig”=occupied. Similar to Middle Low German “besich”=busy.
butcher: One who kills and cuts up animals for food. Anglo-Norman “bochier” < Old French “boc”=he-goat. Sense of “dealer in goat flesh.”
butterfly: Insect with large wings, often with beautiful colors. “Butter”+”fly” < Old English “buttorfleoge” ?from myth that they ate butter
butyraceous: Producing, containing, or having the quality of butter. Latin “butyrum”=butter + “-aceous”=adj.-suffix meaning “related to.”
buzzard: Hawk-like bird of prey with broad wings and rounded tail. Middle English “busard” < Old French “busart” < Latin “buteo”=falcon.
byte: Computer term for 8 bits of information. Arbitrary formation likely < “bite” as small piece “(bite out of”) of a bit.