the dozens

dozen

1 [duhz-uhn]
noun, plural dozens (as after a numeral) dozen.
1.
a group of 12.
2.
the dozens, Slang. a ritualized game typically engaged in by two persons each of whom attempts to outdo the other in insults directed against members of the other's family (usually used in the phrase play the dozens ).
adjective

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English dozeine < Old French do(u)zaine, equivalent to do(u)ze (< Latin duodecim) + -aine (< Latin -āna) -an

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dozen (ˈdʌzən)
 
determiner (preceded by a or a numeral)
1.  a.  twelve or a group of twelve: a dozen eggs; two dozen oranges
 b.  (as pronoun; functioning as sing or plural): give me a dozen; there are at least a dozen who haven't arrived yet
 
n , dozens, dozen
2.  by the dozen in large quantities
3.  See baker's dozen
4.  talk nineteen to the dozen to talk without stopping
 
[C13: from Old French douzaine, from douze twelve, from Latin duodecim, from duo two + decem ten]
 
'dozenth
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

dozen
c.1300, from O.Fr. dozeine "a dozen," from douze "twelve," from L. duodecim from duo "two" + decem "ten" (see ten). The O.Fr. fem. suffix -aine is characteristically added to cardinals to form collectives in a precise sense ("exactly 12," not "about 12"). The dozens "invective
contest" (1928) originated in slave culture, the custom probably African, the word probably from bulldoze (q.v.) in its original sense of "a whipping, a thrashing."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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