C

cacophonous: Harsh-sounding voice, music, or sounds. From Greek “kakos”=bad or evil + “phone”=voice + “-ous”=adjective-forming suffix.

cache: (n.) Hiding place, especially for goods or treasure. From Middle French “cacher”=to hide

cache: (v.) To store or hide something away. From Old French “cachier”=to die < Latin “coactare”=to constrain or force.

caddie: golfer’s attendant who carries his clubs. From French “cadet”=young son or brother < Latin “capitetto”=little head (of the family).

caddy: Container for holding tea; US a storage can for small items. From Malay “kati”=a weight used in China of 625 grammes/1+1/3rd pounds.

calumny: Abusive attack on a person’s character or good name. From Latin “calumnia”=deception or false accusation.

cantankerous: Ill-natured and quarrelsome. Thought to be from Wiltshire (UK) word “contankerous” < Middle English “contak”=quarrel.

cantrip: A mischievous trick or whimsically mad behavior. Originally meant a magical spell. C18th Scottish dialect but unknown origin.

carnivore: Animal, or person, that eats meat. From Latin “carnivorus”=flesh eating < “caro”=flesh + “vorare”=to eat or devour.

carp: To keep complaining in an annoying way. From Old Norse “karpa”=to brag ?< Latin “carpere”=to pluck, but figuratively to slander.

catharsis: Purging of emotional tensions. From Greek “katharsis”=cleansing, purging < “kathairein”=to cleanse < “katharos”=clean.

catholic: Having wide and varied tastes; all-embracing. From Greek “katholikos”=universal < “kata”=concerning + “olos”=whole.

catty: Like a cat, or spiteful and mean.Uncertain origin – possibly Latin “cattus”=domestic cat < Late Egyptian “caute:=jungle cat.

canard: false, unfounded story; fabrication. From Mid. French “vendre des canards à moitié”=to half-sell a duck. Old Fr. “quanart”=duck.

candy: Sweet confection made with sugar and often flavoring and filling. From Sanskrit “khanda”=piece of sugar.

candy: Crystallized sugar from boiled down sugar syrup. From Middle French “sucre candi” < Old French “sucre”=sugar + Persian “qand”=sugar.

candle: Molded or dipped wax or tallow with a wick, burned for light or heat. From Latin “candela”=a light < “candere”=to shine.

cannibal: Person who eats human flesh. From Spanish “canibal”=savage < Native of island of Caniba, thought by Columbus to eat people.

canoe: Light narrow boat with both ends sharp that is usually propelled by paddling. From Spanish “canoa” < Arawakan “canaoua”=canoe.

cask: Container for liquids, typically cylindrical. From Middle English “caske” < Old Spanish “casco”=helmet, potsherd.

cataclysm: Sudden and violent event, usually from natural forces. From Greek “kata”=down + “klyzein”=wash down.

cavil: To object by raising frivolous, trivial objections. From Old French “caviller”=to mock, jest < Latin “cavillari”=to jeer or mock.

celebration: Festivities to mark a special event or anniversary. From Latin “celebrem”=honored by a great assembly.

censorship: Act of banning actions or ideas deemed wrong. From Latin “censor”=supervisor of morals + “-ship”+ Old English “-scipe”=act as.

cent: US coin that is 1/100th of a dollar. From Latin “centum”=one hundred (and later one hundredth).

chaos: State of disorder and confusion with no organization at all. From Greek “khaos”=abyss or vast emptiness.

charisma: Natural, persuasive, almost magnetic, charm that some people have. From Greek “kharisma”=divine gift < “kharis”=charm or grace.

charity: Generosity and helpfulness especially toward those suffering or in need. From Latin “caritas”=esteem, affection.

charm: Internal quantum number of some elementary particles, used to explain some scattering experiments. From Latin “canare”=to sing.

charm: Special quality someone has that makes people like them. Originally a magical spell. From Latin “carmen”=song or incantation.

chary: Characterized by great caution and wariness. Old English “cearig”=Old High German “charag” < Old Teutonic “kara”=sorrow.

chauvinism: Excessive or blind patriotism. After Nicholas Chauvin, a c17th soldier who was fiercely pro-Empire.

cheeky: impudent, sassy, brash, risqué: From Old English “ceace”=jaw. Became associated with insolent speech in the 19th century (1840).

cheerio: English parting exclamation. Sense of “take courage.” From Old French “chiere” < Latin “cara”=countenance + -o”=colloquial marker.

cheetah: Long-legged, swift-running wild cat of Africa and SW Asia, with tawny, black-spotted fur. From Sanskrit “chitraka”=speckled.

chemist: British dispenser of medicine. From Latin “alchimista”=alchemist < Arabic “al-kimia” < Greek “khemia”=art of transmuting metals.

chirm: Collection of finches (from 1430). From Old English “cirman”=cry out of make a noise. So by association from the group’s noise.

chocolate: Food made from ground roasted cacao bean. From Nahuatl “xocolatl” = “xococ”=bitter” + “atl”=water.

chrestomathy: Collection of choice passages from an author or authors. From Greek “chrestos”=useful + “manthanein”=to learn.

chupacabra: Mythical small dog-like beast from Latin America, reported to suck goats’ blood. From Spanish “chupar”=to suck + “cabra”=goat.

circumambages: Roundabout methods of speech; circumlocutions. From Latin “circum”=around + “amb-“=about + “agere”=to drive.

circumlocution: Speaking in a roundabout way, evading a subject. From Latin “circumlocutionem” < “circum-“=around + “loqui”=to speak.

city: Habitation with big population, bigger than a town. From Old French “cite” < Latin “civitatem”=community of citizens < “civis”=citizen

Cleveland: City in Ohio on Lake Erie. Named in 1796 after General Moses Cleaveland. From Middle English “cleave”=cliff + “land”=ground.

cliche: Stereotyped expression; overused word or phrase. French name for a printing block. From French “cliquer”=to click (sound of block).

clunker: A vehicle that is old, unreliable and prone to breaking down. Onomatopoeic – from late c.1800 derived from the sound of a clunk.

coalition: Union of political partiesso they can form a government. From Latin “coalescere” < “co(m)”=together + “alescere”=grow up.

coeval: Person nearly the same age as another. From Latin “coaevus” < “co-“=same + “avum”=age + “-al”=pertaining to.

coffee: Drink made from the seeds of the Coffea plant. Prob. from Turkish “kahveh” < Arabic “qahwa”=perhaps the region of Kaffa in Ethiopia.

cognomen: Nickname or family name. Third name of a Roman citizen (From Latin “com”=with + “gnomen”=name.

collective noun: Word for a group of individuals. From Latin “colligere”=gather together + “-ive”=like + “nomen”=name.

colt: Young male horse under 4 years. (in scriptures, a camel). From Old English “colt” but obscure origin. c.f. Swedish dialect “kult”=pig.

comedy: Light and amusing play that causes laughter. From Greek “komoidia”=amusing spectacle < “komos”=merry-making + “aoithos”=minstrel

comic: Something funny or amusing. From Greek “komikos”=related to comedy. Ultimately from Greek “komos”=revel, carouse.

comma: (,) punctuation mark used to mark a pause or list elements. From Greek “komma”=piece cut-off < “koptein”=to cut off.

complaisant: Willing to do what pleases others. From Latin “complacare”=to be pleasing < “com”=intensifier + “placere”=to please.

compunction: Feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed. Old French “compunctiun” < Latin “compungere”=to sting/prick.

computer: (a) Person who counts (1646); (b) Device that performs calculations (1897). From Latin “com-”=with + “putare”=to reckon/count.

concocted: Fabricated, planned, fabricated. From Latin “concoquere”=to boil together < “con-“=together + “coquere”=to cook.

condone: Make allowances for; be lenient with. Latin “condonare”=to forgive, pardon < “con”=altogether + “donare”=to give.

conference: Large organized meeting where people discuss important matters . From Latin “conferens” < “com”=together + “ferre”=to bear.

confess: Admit to having done something, usually a wrong doing. Old French “confesse” < Latin “confessare”=to avow < Greek “faros”=spoken.

congress: Supreme legislative body of a nation, esp. a Republic. From Latin “congressus”=a meeting < “com”=together + “gradi”=to walk.

construe: Make sense of; assign a meaning to. Latin “construere”=to pile together < “con-“=together + “struere”=to build, lay.

contemporary: As a noun, one living at the same time as another. From Latin “con-“=together + “temporarius”=belonging to time.

contract: To draw together and become smaller. From Latin “contrahere”=to draw together < “com”=together + “trahere”=to draw.

contrary: Opposed in nature or tendency. From Latin “contrarius”=opposite/hostile < “contra”-against + “-ary”=pertaining to.

contrite: Feeling guilty and sorry for something bad that you have done. From Latin “conterere”=worn out < “com”=together + “terere”=to rub.

contrived: Artificially formal. Was (1400) “ingeniously planned!” From Old French “controver”=to find out < Latin “turbare”=stir

convulsion: Uncontrollable shaking of the body. From Latin “convellere”=to pull violently < “con-“together + “vellere”=to pull or tear.

corona: A colored circle oft seen around a luminous body. From Latin “corona”-crown. related to Greek “korone”=curved/crown-like.

corsair: French privateer (or pirate). From Middle Latin “cursarius”= pirate < Latin “cursus”=run a course.

cosmetic: Pertaining to making your hair, skin, body etc look more attractive. From Greek “kosmetikos”=skilled in adorning < “kosmos”=order.

costume: Special outfit worn on Halloween or similar occasions; customary dress of a period. From Latin “consuetudo”=custom.

cougar: Large wild American feline resembling a lion. From Portuguese “cucuarana” < Tupi “suasuarana” < “suasu”=deer + “rana”+like (color).

cow: The mature female of domestic cattle (as opposed to male “bull”). From Middle English “cou” < Old English “cu”=cow.

coward: One who shows disgraceful fear or timidity. Old French “coart” < Latin “cauda”=tail. ?Allusion to frightened animal hiding its tail.

crab: Short crustacean with small abdomen, short antennae, and front pair of pincers. From Old English “crabba”=crab.

crap: To defecate; pass a stool; poop. Latin “crappa”=chaff. Hence lead to idea of dregs or residue, through to “excrement” by late c.18th.

crapulent: Sick from over-eating or drinking alcohol. From Latin “crapula”=excessive drinking < Greek “kraipali”=drunken headache.

crass: Insensitive, unrefined, or grossly stupid. From Latin “crassus”=solid, dense, thick.

crassulent: Very fat; obese. Latin “crassus”=thick, dense, fat + “-ulent”=suffix meaning “full of.”

craven: Lacking even the rudiments of courage. Middle English “crauant” < possibly Old French “creant”=giving oneself up.

crawfish: Freshwater crustacean resembling small lobster. From Old French “crevice” < Old High German “krebiz”=crab.

cricket: Game where a bowler tries to hit three sticks behind a batter, who tries to hit the ball. From Old French “criquet”=stake.

criticism: Act of finding fault or passing judgment. From Latin “criticus” < Greek “kritikos”=one who judges < “kritis”=a judge.

crook: Dishonest person who makes a living through breaking the law. From Old Norse “kraka”=hook (a crooked shape).

cruciverbalist: word game enthusiast, particularly crosswords. From Latin “crux”=cross and “verbum”=word.

cry: To shed tears due to being in an emotional state. From Latin “quiritare”=wail; variation of “quirritare”=squeal like a pig.

crystal: Clear, transparent mineral. From Latin “crystallum”=crystal or ice < Greek “krystallos” < “krystainein”=to freeze < “kros”=frost.

cupidity: Extreme greed for material wealth. From French “cupidité” < Latin “cupidus”=eagerly desirous.

cyberchondria: Abnormal anxiety about illness caused by excessive use of medical websites. From Greek “cybernetics” + “hypochondria.”

cybernetics: The study of control processes in biological, mechanical, and electronic systems. From Greek “kybernao”=to steer.

cynical: Distrusting of human nature and motives. Like followers of the Greek school of Cynics. From Greek “kynikos”=doglike.

cynophobia: Fear of dogs. From Greek “kynikos”=doglike + “phobia”=fear of.