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ilk 1 (ĭlk)
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n.
Type or kind: can't trust people of that ilk.
pron.
Scots
The same. Used following a name to indicate that the one named resides in an area bearing the same name: Duncan of that ilk.

[Middle English ilke, same, from Old English ilca; see i- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Word History: When one uses ilk, as in the phrase men of his ilk, one is using a word with an ancient pedigree even though the sense of ilk, "kind or sort," is actually quite recent, having been first recorded at the end of the 18th century. This sense grew out of an older use of ilk in the phrase of that ilk, meaning "of the same place, territorial designation, or name." This phrase was used chiefly in names of landed families, Guthrie of that ilk meaning "Guthrie of Guthrie." "Same" is the fundamental meaning of the word. The ancestors of ilk, Old English ilca and Middle English ilke, were common words, usually appearing with such words as the or that, but the word hardly survived the Middle Ages in those uses.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
ilk 2 (ĭlk)
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adj.
Variant of ilka.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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