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Eng·lish (ĭngglĭsh)
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adj.
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of England or its people or culture.
2. Of or relating to the English language.
n.
1. (used with a pl. verb) The people of England.
2.
a. The West Germanic language of England, the United States, and other countries that are or have been under English influence or control.
b. The English language of a particular time, region, person, or group of persons: American English.
3. A translation into or an equivalent in the English language.
4. A course or individual class in the study of English language, literature, or composition.
5. also english
a. The spin given to a propelled ball by striking it on one side or releasing it with a sharp twist.
b. Bodily movement in an effort to influence the movement of a propelled object; body English.
tr.v. Eng·lished, Eng·lish·ing, Eng·lish·es
1. To translate into English.
2. To adapt into English; Anglicize.

[Middle English, from Old English Englisc, from Engle, the Angles.]

English·ness n.

Word History: English is derived from England, one would think. But in fact the language name is found long before the country name. The latter first appears as Englaland around the year 1000 and means "the land of the Engle," that is, the Angles. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were the three Germanic tribes that emigrated from what is now Denmark and northern Germany and settled in England around the fourth century AD. Early on, the Angles enjoyed a rise to power that must have made them seem more important than the other two tribes, for all three tribes are indiscriminately referred to in early documents as Angles. The speech of the three tribes was conflated in the same way: they all spoke what would have been called *Anglisc, or "Anglish," as it were. By the earliest recorded Old English, this had changed to Englisc. In Middle English, the first vowel, originally pronounced (ĕ) in Old English, changed further and became the familiar (ĭ) of today, as reflected in the occasional spellings Ingland and Inglish. The same change in the pronunciation of the short vowel (ĕ) to (ĭ) before the sound (ng) also occurred in other Middle English words, such as streng and weng. In Modern English, these words are now always spelled string and wing with an i, but the old spelling with e, reflecting the vowel's earlier pronunciation, has been kept in the case of England and English. See Note at British.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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