taciturn: Speaking very little, staying quiet. From Latin “tacitus”-silent < “tacere”=to be silent.
talent: Natural ability or gift. In this sense from Gospel of Matthew – parable of the talents. From Greek “talanton”=balance, weight.
tall: Something of considerable height. Originally active and ready, from Old English “getale”=swift or prompt.
talon: Sharp nail on a bird’s foot for tearing. From Old French “talon”=heel of foot < Latin “talus”=ankle.
tango: Latin dance of step-step-step-step-close, then long pause and stylized body pose. Perhaps from African “tamgu”=to dance.
tardy: Being or doing something late. From Old French “tardif” < Latin “tardus”=slow or sluggish.
target: Something aimed at, such as a goal. From Old English/French “targe”= small, light shield. Note that Arabic “al-darqah”=wood shield.
tarriance: Temporary residence in a place. Obscure origin, poss. Old English “tergan”=to irritate, vex + Latin “ance”=turn verb to noun.
tattoo: Image on the skin made by puncturing flesh and adding pigment. From Polynesian “tatau” < “ta’tatau”=to strike or stamp.
tatzelwurm: Mythical dragon-like 6-foot-long beast living in the Swiss alps. From Middle High German “tatze”=claw + “wurm”=worm.
tea: Drink made from infusion of leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. From Chinese Amoy dialect “te” < ancient Chinese “kia.”
tennis: Game where two people use rackets to hit a ball backwards and forwards over a net. From Old French “tenez”=take.
tense: In a state of nervous stress. From Latin “tendere”=to stretch. Literally “stretched out.”
tequila: Mexican spirit (mezcal) made by distilling and fermenting sap of a maguey. Mexican Spanish eponym of one major production site.
tether: To bind two (or sometimes more) things together. From Old Norse “tjothr”=a tie, tether. Rope used to tie an animal to a post.
tether: To cable a laptop with a cell phone to use the phone for internet access, as TWG is now doing in Chicago O’Hare!
thesaurus: Collection of words according to similarities of meaning. From Greek “thesauros”=treasure-house or treasury.
thirsty: Craving water or drink in general. From Old English “thurst”=sensation caused by want of a drink + suffix “-y”=have quality of.
thole: Pair of pins set in the gunwale of a boat to hold an oar in place. From Old English “thol” = Old Norse “thollr”=peg or fir tree.
thong: Originally a narrow strip of leather, more recently sandal or skimpy swimwear. From Old English “thwong”=leather strip.
thug: Brutal ruffian, gangster, or hoodlum. From Hindi “thag”=cheat or rogue.
thunder: Natural sound made by sudden expansion of hot air following lightning. From Old English “thunrian”=to speak loudly.9
Thursday: Day of the week from Old English “thunresdag”=Thor’s Day. Norse god of thunder, Thor, whose name in Old Norse is “thorr”=thunder.
tiger: Carnivorous cat, largest of the cat family, with a tawny coat and black stripes. From Greek “tigris” < Zend “tighri”=arrow.
tired: Weakened or exhausted by action. From Old English “tiorian”=to give out or come to an end + past ppl. “-ed”=past marker.
titivate: To make small changes to improve appearance; add the finishing touches. Perhaps from “tidy”=neat + quasi-Latin ending “-ivate.”
tomato: Soft round red fruit eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. From Nahuatl (Aztec) “tomatl” < “tomana”=to swell + “atl”=water.
toponymy: The study of place names. From Greek “topos”=place + “onuma”=word.
torchwood: Anagram of “Doctor Who” first used as code for the Dr.Who TV series. Also the inflammable wood of certain trees used for torches.
Tory: Common slang for UK Conservative party member. From Irish “toruighe”=plunderer, pursuer, robber. Party of Yorkist Tories 1680.
town: Collection of houses and people larger than a village. From Old English “tun”=enclosure with buildings.
tragic: Bringing harm, suffering, or disaster. From Greek “tragikos”=pertaining to a goat. “Tragos”=goat. Song before sacrifice of a goat.
tramp: Homeless person who wanders around. From Middle Low German “trampen”=to stamp.
tranche: Part of a larger transaction e.g. a loan installment. From French “trancher”=to cut < Old French “trenche”=path through a wood.
transgress: To cross a boundary or limit; to break a law. From Latin “transgredi” < “trans”=across + “gradi”=to step or walk.
transsexual: Person who strongly identifies with the opposite sex and may undergo surgery. From Latin “trans”=across + “sexus”=gender.
transvestite: Someone who likes to dress in the clothes of the opposite gender. Coined 1910 from Latin “trans”=across + “vestire”=to dress.
travails: Bodily or mental chores or labors. From Old French “travail”=suffering or painful effort < “trepalium”=an instrument of torture.
travel: Journey from place to place. From Old French “travaillier”=to torment, harrass > poss. Latin “trepalium”=an instrument of torture.
travesty: Role played by character of opposite sex e.g. man playing a woman in English pantomime. From Latin “trans”=over + “vestire”=dress.
treat: Event, action, or object that gives pleasure to someone. From Latin “tractare”= to drag/handle (“tractor” has same root).
treif: (tref,treyfe) Unfit to be eaten under Jewish law. From Hebrew “trefah”=torn; more specifically meat torn from one animal by another.
trek: Long journey using an ox wagon or simply a difficult journey. From Dutch “trekken” to march < Old High German “trechan”= to draw.
tremor: Small shaking of the earth; bodily trembling. From Old French “tremour”=terror or fear < Latin “tremore”=to tremble.
trick: Something done to deceive someone, usually a bad thing. From Latin “tricari”=be evasive or deceptive.
trip: Short voyage or journey. From Old English “treper”=to strike the ground with feet in joy, annoyance, or to dance.
triskaidekaphobia: abnormal and irrational fear of number 13. From Greek”treis”=three + “kai”=and + “deka”=ten + “phobos”=fear.
trivial: Of little value; ordinary. From Latin “trivium”=the lower three of seven liberal arts in Medieval studies: grammar, rhetoric, logic.
trouble: Disturbance, agitation, stir up. Old French “torbler” < Latin “turbidus”=full of confusion or disorder < “turba”=crowd.
troublous: Causing grief, pain; disturbing. Old French “troubleus” < Latin “turbidus”=confused, perplexed < “turba”=crowd, disturbance.
trout pout: Lips injected with collagen that look too plump – like fish lips. From “trout”=a type of fish + “pout”=push out the lips.
truth: The quality of being true or factual.Being in accord with the facts. From Old English “triewth”=fidelity or faithfulness.
tsunami: Large, often destructive, sea wave caused by seismic activity. From Japanese “tsu”=harbor + “nami”=waves.
tudiculate: To bruise or pound. Latin “tudiculare” < “tudes”=a mallet < “tundere”=to pound.
tumor: A Swelling; abnormal tissue growth in/on a body. From Latin “tumor” < “tumere”=to swell.
tun: Large container, especially for wine. From Old English “tunne”=cask.
turbid: Unclear, opaque, obscure. Muddy or thick with smoke. From Latin “turbidus”=confused < Greek “tyrbe”=turmoil.
turgid: Excessively ornate language; swollen or bloated. From Latin “turgidus”=swollen < “turgere”=to swell.
turpitude: Corrupt, depraved or degenerate practice. French “turpitude” < Latin “turpis”=base + “tude”=suffix for abstract noun.
tuatara: Large, dark bronze-green lizard with spikes on its back, found in New Zealand. From Mauri “tua”=on the back + “tara”=spine.
twitter: To make chirping noises, like a bird. Imitative origin – sound of twittering c.f. Old High German “zwiziron” and Swedish “qvittra”
twitterati: Users of Twitter, usually applied to one with many followers. Portmanteau of Latin “literati”=well-read people + “Twitter.”
twitterholic: Person addicted to Twitter, both sending and receiving tweets. Portmanteau of “Twitter” and “alcohol” + “-ic”=pertaining to.
twittumcised: Of a Tweet with the end cut off because is has over 140 characters. Portmanteau of “Twitter” and “circumcised.”
typhoon: A hurricane in the western Pacific or Indian oceans. From Greek “Typhon”=god of winds, and/or Cantonese “daai feng”=great wind.
tyromancy: Telling the future using cheese. From Greek “tyros”=cheese + “-manteia”-prophet/seer.