habitable: Suitable for sustaining life; fit to live in. Latin “habitare”=to possess or live in + “-able”=adjective-forming suffix.
hadji: One who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca. Arabic “hajj”=pilgrimage, religious journey + “‘i”=suffix indicating a person.
haggard: Looking unwell or exhausted. French “hagard”=wild or untamed, as used in falconry to describe a hawk.
hail: Pellet of frozen rain. Old English “hagol” < West Germanic “*hagal” ?<Indo-European “*kaghlo”=pebble (c.f. Greek “kakhlix”=pebble).
hair: Fine, strand-like filaments that grow on animal skin. Old Englis “haer”=hair < Germanic *”haero.”
Haiti: A Creole- and French-speaking Caribbean country, officially the Republic of Haiti. From Taino “ayti” = mountainous land.
halcyon: peaceful, calm. From Greek myth of Alcyone. 14 days of calm around December 21st, brought by kingfisher. Gk: “alkyon”=kingfisher.
hale: Fit and healthy. Old English “hal”=whole, complete.
halitosis: A condition where someone has bad-smelling breath. Latin “halitus”=breath + Greek “-osis”=suffix marking illness or disorder.
hallow: To regard as holy or sacred. Old English “halgian” < Old Germanic *”hailag”=holy.
ham: Smoked meat from the pig’s leg above the knee. Old English “hamm”=angle of the knee (hence upper leg) < Germanic “*hamm”=crooked.
hamas: Militant Islamic group. From Arabic “hamas”=zeal < (b)acronym of “harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya”=Islamic Resistance Movement.
hamlet: Village without a church. From Old English “ham”=home, village + “-let”=diminutive suffix meaning small.
hammer: Tool with heavy head on a handle for hitting nails into wood. Old English “hamor” related to Old Norse “hamarr”=rock (stone tool).
handsome: Good looking, having a pleasing appearance. Originally “easy to handle” from Old English “hond”=hand + “-som”=adjective suffix
haori: Short, loose coat worn in Japan. Japanese “haori”=short outer garment.
happy: Having feelings of pleasure. From Old Norse “happ”=chance/luck + suffix “-y” < Old English “ig”=full of. Literally “full of luck.
haptic: Of, or related to, the sense of touch. Greek “aptikos”=able to come into contact with < “aptein”=to fasten.
harass: To annoy persistently. From Middle French “harer”=to set the dogs on < Old French “hare”=a call to dogs. Common misspell “harrass.”
harbor: Body of water protected and deep enough to provide safety for ships. From Old English “herebeorg” < “here”=army ” + “beorg”=shelter.
harbor: Protected body of water, deep enough to provide safety for ships. From Old English “herebeorg” < “here”=army ” + “beorg”=shelter.
hard: Difficult to bend, press, change; rigid and firm. Old English “heard”=unyielding, resistive < Germanic “*hardus”=strong.
harlot: An unchaste woman; a prostitute. Old French “herlot”=vagabond, beggar. c.f. Old Portuguese “alrotar”=to go begging.
harmony: Quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole. Latin “harmonia” < Greek “armonia”=agreement, concord < “armos”=joint.
harp: Instrument with strings of different lengths in a large frame. Old English “hearpe” < Old Germanic “*harpôn.”
harpaxophilia: Sexual arousal from being robbed. Greek “arpaksein”=to seize away + “philos”=loving. c.f. “harpy”=mythical rapacious monster.
harry: Continually harass or annoy. From Old English “hergian”=make war and plunder < Greek “koiranos”=ruler.
harvest: Season for gathering crops. Old English “haerfest” < same Indo-European root as Latin “carpere”=to pluck and Greek “karpos”=fruit.
hassock: A small cushion for kneeling on in church. Old English “hassuc”=clump of soft matted vegetation (from which a hassock was made).
hate: To dislike intensely. From Old English “hatian”=detest, bear malice toward.
haven: Place of sanctuary or rest. From Old English “hæfen” < Old Norse “hofn”=contain.
havoc: Great confusion, disorder, possibly destruction. From Old French “havot”=disorder <“crier havoc”=cry havoc (order to pillage)
hawk: Bird of prey with broad round wings and long tail. Old English “haefoc” < Germanic *”habuko-z”=seize or grasp.
hazard: A danger or risk. Old French “hasard”=dice game < Arabic “az-zahr”=chance, luck < Persian “zar”=dice.
headache: Dull, throbbing pain located in the head. From Old English “heafod”=top of the body + “acan”=to suffer pain.
healthy: Fit, hale, and free from illness or disease. Old English “haelth”=soundness of body + “-y”=suffix meaning “full of.
heart: Vital muscle that pumps blood around the body; symbol of love. Old English “heorte” < Germanic “*herton”=heart.
heathen: Person who does not belong to a widely held religion. Old English “haethen” < Gothic “haithi”=one who lives on a heath.
heaven: The sky seen from the earth, or the abode of gods. From Old English “heofan”=sky/covering.
heavy: Of great weight; difficult to lift or move. Old English “hefig”=heavy < ?Germanic “*hafjan”=to heave.
hedonist: Someone who believes pleasure is the most important thing in life. Greek “idoni”=pleasure + “-ism”=suffix meaning “belief system.”
heedless: Showing a lack of care; not paying attention. Old English “hedan”=to take charge or possession + “-leas”=suffix meaning “without.”
heeler: Person who ropes the heels of a steer at a rodeo. Old English “hela”=hind part of the foot + “-er”=suffix indicating “one who…”
hegemony: Dominance of one group/state over another. From Greek “igemonia”=”leadership < “igemon”=leader.
hegira: An exodus or departure of people. Latin “hegira” < Arabic “hijrah”=departure from one’s country < “hajara”=to go away or separate.
heinous: Exceptionally wicked or vile. From Middle English “hainous” < Old French “hainos” < “haine”=hatred.
helium: Inert lightest gas, atomic #2. Greek “helios”=sun, because its existence was inferred from an emission line in the sun’s spectrum.
hell: In many religions a place where the dead exist, often a place of punishment. From Old English “helle/hel”=underworld.
hen: Female bird, particularly a domesticated one. Old English “henn” < West Germanic *”hanja”=female of *”hanni”=cock (male bird).
hendecad: A group of eleven things; period of eleven years. Latin “hendecas” < Greek “entheka”=eleven.
herald: Official messenger bringing news. Middle English “heraud” < Old French “herault” < ?Old High German “heren”=to call, cry.
herb: Any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring/medicine/perfume. Old French “erbe” < Latin “herba”=grass, green crops.
herculean: Extremely difficult job/task. From Greek “Hercules,” a demi-god < “Hera,” Zeus’ wife + “kleos”=glory: Lit. having Hera’s glory.
herd: A group of animals living together or kept as livestock. Old English “heord” < Old Germanic “*herda.” c.f. Sanskrit “cardha”=a troop.
heretic: One who disagrees with official ideas of a religion. Old French “herege” < Latin “haereticus” < Greek “airetikos”=able to choose.
hermit: Someone living in solitude from society, often for religious reason. From Greek “eremites”=desert person < “eremos”=uninhabited
hero: Man who performs an act of great courage. Latin “heros”=superhuman, favored by the gods < Greek “iros.”
hesitate: To hold back due to doubt or uncertainty. Latin “haesitare”=to stammer, be undecided < “haerare”=to stick, adhere, hold fast.
hesternal: Adjective meaning “of yesterday.” From Latin “hesterus”=yesterday or yester + “-al”=pertaining to.
hiatus: A break; a pause from some activity. Latin “hiatus”=gaping or gap < “hiare”=to gape.
hibernate: To spend the winter in a dormant state, like some animals do. Latin “hibernare”=to winter < “hibernus”=wintery.
hiemal: Of or belonging to winter. Latin “hiemalis” < “hiems”=winter.
hieratic: Of or concerning priests. Latin “hieraticus” < Greek “hierius”=priest < “hieros”=sacred.
hierophant: A priest who interprets sacred mysteries. Latin “hierophantes” < Greek “hieros”=sacred + ” phainein”=to bring to light.
high: Measuring a great distance from bottom to top. Old English “heah”< Germanic *”hauhoz”=high
hijack: To take control of a vehicle and use it for your own ends. C20th US slang ? from “highway” and “jacker”=one who takes.
hilarity: Extreme amusement, often marked by lots of laughter. French “hilarité” < Latin “hilarus” < Greek “ilaros”=cheerful, happy, gay.
hinder: Create difficulties for someone, block. Old English “hindrian”= injure or damage < Old Teutonic “*hindarojan”=put or keep back.
hippopotamus: Large grey African animal with big head and mouth that lives near water. Greek “hippos”=horse + “potamos”=river.
hircose: Smelling (or looking) like a goat. Latin “hircosus”=goat-like < “hircus”=a he-goat.
hirsuite: hairy; having rough or shaggy hair. From Latin “hirsutus”=rough, shaggy.
hispid: Covered with stiff hair or bristles. Latin “hispidus”=bristly or hairy.
hive: An artificial home for bees. Old English “hyf” < Old Germanic “*hufiz”; related to Old Norse “hufr”=hull of a ship.
hoard: A secret store of valuable objects, such as money or jewels. Old English “hord”=hidden place, treasure < Germanic “*hozdo”=hidden.
hoax: Action intended to deceive or trick someone – deliberate lie. Shortened from “hocus pocus”=mock-Latin spell used by magician.
hockey: Two team game using hooked sticks to hit ball/puck into a small net. Probably Middle French “hoquet”=shepherd’s crook < “hoc”=hook.
hocus-pocus: Trickery or deceit; word used by conjurer. From 17th century magician called “Hocus Pocus” after mock Latin he used as a spell.
hoi polloi: The common people; the masses. Greek “oi”=the + “polloi”=many.
hoist: To raise or lift something up. Corruption of Middle English “hoisse”=raise (a sail) < Low German “heisan.”
hole: A hollow place in a solid body or surface. Old English “hol”=hollow place.
holiday: An officially sanctioned period of time away from work. From Old English “halig”=holy + “daeg”=day.
hollow: A depression in a solid body or surface. Old English “hol””=hollow < Proto-Indo-European *”kel-“=conceal.
holly: Small tree with sharp dark green leaves and red berries. Old English “holegn” < ?Indo-European *”kel-“=to prick.
homburg: Felt hat with curled brim and tapered top with a lengthwise crease. Toponym from city of Homburg, Germany, where it was first worn.
home: Village or town; place where one lives. Old English “ham” < Greek “kome”=village ?< Sanskrit “ksemas”=safe dwelling.
homicide: The killing of a person by another. Old French “homicide” < Latin “homicida” < “homo-“=man + “cidere”=to kill.
homophone: Word that sounds like another word e.g. meet/meat; to/too/two. From Greek “homos”=same + “phone”=sound.
honest: Free of deceit; truthful and sincere. Old French “honeste”=held in honor < Latin “honestus”=decent, fine, handsome.
honey: Sweet, sticky, edible substance made by bees. From Old English “hunig.”
honor: High respect, esteem, or reverence to someone. From Old French “honor” < Latin “honorem”=repute, esteem, or dignity – also a gift.
hoodwink: To hide the truth; deliberate evasion. For Old English “hod”=head covering + “wincian”=to nod; to close ones eyes.
hook: Small curved piece of metal used to catch fish. From Old English “hoc”=corner or angle. Also related to Old English “haca”=bolt.
hooker: a prostitute (typically US use). Thought to come from the notion of “one who hooks/ensnares.” Middle Dutch “hoec”=fishhook.
hooroosh: To drive with the cry ‘hurrish!’ or ‘hurroosh!’ ?Middle High German “hurren”=to whir; same as Norwegian “hurra,” Icelandic “hurr”
hooter: Slang for “nose” probably from the sound made blowing the nose. From Middle English “houten”=the sound of hoot.
hop: To jump on one leg; to move in a light, skipping motion. From Old English “hoppian”=to spring or dance.
hope: To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. From Old English “hopian”=wish or look forward to.
hoplite: A heavily armed foot solider of ancient Greece. Greek “oplites” < “oplon”=weapon or a shield < “opla”=(military) arms.
horde: Crowd or throng of people. Originally nomadic tribes (1555). From Turkic “orda”=residence of the Khan.
hornet: Large stinging wasp that typically nests in hollow trees. Old English “hyrnet < ?Germanic “hors-nut.”
hornet: Large yellow and black stinging fly of the wasp family. Old English “hyrnet” < Proto-Germanic “*horz-nut.”
hornswoggle: to cheat or swindle someone. Unknown origin, first mentioned in 1829 .
horoscope: A forecast of someone’s future based on the position of stars and planets.Greek “hora”=time + “skopos”=observer.
horrent: Hair standing on end; bristling. Latin “horrere”=to stand on end like hair; to shudder with fear.
horrible: Likely to cause shock; very rude or unpleasant. Old French “orrible” < Latin “horrere”=to shudder or tremble in fear.
horse: Large mammal with hooves, mane, and tail, used for riding. Old English “hors” < same Germanic root as Latin “currere”=to run.
hot: Having a high degree of heat. Old English “hat”< Old Germanic “*haito”=hot.
hotel: Place offering accommodation to a traveler. Old French “hostel”= lodging < Latin “hospitalis”=hospitable < “hospes”=guest/foreigner.
hounds: Breed of dogs used for hunting. Old English “hund” < Germanic “*hundoz”=dog, hound.
hour: Unit of time equal to 1/24th equal parts of a day. Old French “hore”=one-twelfth of a day (sunrise/set) < Greek “hora”=Limited time.
Houston: Name of 4th largest city in the US, after the then-President of Texas, Sam Houston. From Scottish “Hugh’s Town.” OE “tun”=town.
hubris: Excessive pride, presumption or arrogance. Also describes the action of someone challenging the gods. From Greek “hybris”=insolence.
hue: A shade of a color. Old English “heow”=appearance < West Germanic “hiuwj”=appearance, form. c.f Sanskrit “chawi”=skin, complexion.
huge: Of great size, enormous. Middle English “hoge” < Old French “ahoege”=big, or great size. Earlier etymology unknown.
Hughes: Form of Hugh meaning heart, mind, and spirit. Old French “Hue” < Germanic “hug”=mind, spirit, will.
huipil: Loose, embroidered garment worn as by Indian women of Mexico and Guatemala. Mexican Spanish < Nahuatl “huipilli.”
humble: Modest. Showing a consciousness of one’s defects or shortcomings. From Latin “humilis”=lowly or slight < “humus”=earth.
humdrum: Quality of wearisome constancy, routine, lack of variety. Probably from 1550 – repetition of “hum” < monotonous sound.
humility: A modest view of one’s own importance. Old French “humilite” < Latin “humilis”=low, lowly < “humus”=ground.
humongous: US slang for very large. Uncertain origin, poss. Old French “ahuge”=large + Latin “monstrum”=monster + “osos”=adjective suffix.
hungry: Wanting or needing something very much, usually food. From Old English “hungor”=state of wanting food + suffix “-y”=have quality of
hurricane: A wind with a speed greater than 74 miles per hour. From Spanish “huracan” < Mayan “Jun Raquan”=storm god (lit. one-legged!)
hydrogen: Colorless, odorless flammable gas, atomic #1. French “hydrogène” < Greek “hudro”=water + “genes”=of a specific kind.
hydroscope: Type of water clock. Greek “idroscopos” < “uthor”=water + “scopos”=look at or examine.
hyena: Dog-like African mammal with forelimbs that are longer than the hind limbs. Latin “hyena” < Greek “huaina” < “hus”=pig.
hymn: Religious song of worship. From Old English “ymen” < Latin “hymnus”=song of praise < Greek “ymnos”=song or ode to gods or heroes
hyperbole: Verbal exaggeration; extravagant excess. Greek “yper”=over, above measure + “ballein”=to throw (like a curve).
hypochondria: Chronic and abnormal anxiety about imagined illness. From Greek “hypo”=below + “chondros”=cartilage (breastbone)
hysteria: Medical condition where someone feels abnormally nervous and/or anxious. From Greek “isterikos”=of the womb < “istera”=womb.