Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"circular band," Old English hring "small circlet, especially one of metal for wearing on the finger or as part of a mail coat; anything circular," from Proto-Germanic *khrengaz (cf. Old Norse hringr, Old Frisian hring, Danish, Swedish, Dutch ring, Old High German hring, German Ring), literally "something curved," from PIE *skrengh- nasalized form of (s)kregh-, from root *(s)ker- "to turn, bend," with wide-ranging derivative senses (cf. Latin curvus "bent, curved," crispus "curly;" Old Church Slavonic kragu "circle," and perhaps Greek kirkos "ring," koronos "curved").
Other Old English senses were "circular group of persons," also "horizon." Meaning "place for prize fight and wrestling bouts" (early 14c.) is from the space in a circle of bystanders in the midst of which such contests once were held, "... a circle formed for boxers, wrestlers, and cudgel players, by a man styled Vinegar; who, with his hat before his eyes, goes round the circle, striking at random with his whip to prevent the populace from crowding in" [Grose, 1788]. Meaning "combination of interested persons" is from 1829. Of trees, from 1670s; fairy ring is from 1620s. Ring finger is Old English hringfingr, a compound found in other Germanic languages. To run rings round (someone) "be superior to" is from 1891.
Nursery rhyme ring a ring a rosie is attested in an American form (with a different ending) from c.1790. "The belief that the rhyme originated with the Great Plague is now almost universal, but has no evidence to support it and is almost certainly nonsense" ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore"]. This proposal of connection dates only to the late 1960s.
1540s, "set of church bells," from ring (v.1). Meaning "a call on the telephone" is from 1900; to give (someone) a ring "call on the telephone" was in use by 1910. Meaning "a ringing tone" is from 1620s; specifically "the ringing sound made by a telephone" by 1951. Meaning "resonance of coin or glass as a test of genuineness" is from 1850, with transferred use (ring of truth, etc.).
"sound a bell," Old English hringan "sound, give a certain resonant sound when struck; announce by bells," from Proto-Germanic *khrenganan (cf. Old Norse hringja, Swedish ringa, Middle Dutch ringen), probably of imitative origin. Related: Rang; rung. Originally a weak verb, strong inflexion began in early Middle English by influence of sing, etc. To ring down a theatrical curtain is from 1772, from the custom of signaling for it by ringing a bell. To ring up a purchase on a cash register is by 1937, from the bell that sounded. Specialized sense "give a resonant sound when struck as an indication of genuineness or purity," with transferred use (e.g. to ring hollow) is from 1610s.
"make a circle around," Old English ymbhringan, from the root of ring (n.1). Intransitive sense "gather in a ring" is mid-15c. Sense of "provide or attach a ring" is late 14c. Meaning "move in a circle around" is from 1825. Related: Ringed; ringing. Cf. Frisian ringje, Middle Dutch and Dutch ringen, Old High German ringan, German ringen, Old Norse hringa, hringja.
In a circle, meaning "registered (trademark)," first incorporated in U.S. statues 1946. Three Rs (1825) said to have been given as a toast by Sir W. Curtis (1752-1829). R&R "rest and relaxation," first recorded 1953, American English; R&B "rhythm and blues" (type of popular music) first attested 1949, American English.
If all our r's that are written are pronounced, the sound is more common than any other in English utterance (over seven per cent.); the instances of occurrence before a vowel, and so of universal pronunciation, are only half as frequent. There are localities where the normal vibration of the tip of the tongue is replaced by one of the uvula, making a guttural trill, which is still more entitled to the name of "dog's letter" than is the ordinary r; such are considerable parts of France and Germany; the sound appears to occur only sporadically in English pronunciation. [Century Dictionary]She goes on to note that in British humorous writing, -ar "popularly indicates the sound of the vowel in father" and formations like larf (for laugh) "are to be read with the broad vowel but no uttered r." She also quotes Henry James on the characteristic prominence of the medial -r- sound (which tends to be dropped in England and New England) in the speech of the U.S. Midwest, "under some strange impulse received toward consonantal recovery of balance, making it present even in words from which it is absent, bringing it in everywhere as with the small vulgar effect of a sort of morose grinding of the back teeth."
The moment we encounter the added r's of purp or dorg in our reading we know that we have to do with humor, and so with school-marm. The added consonants are supposed to be spoken, if the words are uttered, but, as a matter of fact, they are less often uttered than seen. The words are, indeed, largely visual forms; the humor is chiefly for the eye. [Louise Pound, "The Humorous 'R,'" "American Mercury," October 1924]
radical (usually an alkyl or aryl group)
respiratory exchange ratio
or r roentgen
A circular object, form, or arrangement with a vacant circular center.
The area between two concentric circles; annulus.
A group of atoms linked by bonds that may be represented graphically in circular or triangular form.
Abbreviation of radius
The symbol for resistance.
Used as an ornament to decorate the fingers, arms, wrists, and also the ears and the nose. Rings were used as a signet (Gen. 38:18). They were given as a token of investment with authority (Gen. 41:42; Esther 3:8-10; 8:2), and of favour and dignity (Luke 15:22). They were generally worn by rich men (James 2:2). They are mentioned by Isiah (3:21) among the adornments of Hebrew women.
unit of X-radiation or gamma radiation, the amount that will produce, under normal conditions of pressure, temperature, and humidity, in 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of air, an amount of positive or negative ionization equal to 2.58104 coulomb. It is named for the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen. See also rem.