One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The female of the ruff, Philomachus pugnax; = "reeve".
1A walled enclosure for sheep, cattle, or pigs, usually made of stone and often with a covered area. Now also: a run or pen for poultry. Frequently with distinguishing word; see also "sheep-ree".
2A yard or enclosure in which coal is stored for sale. More fully "coal ree".
nounIrish English, Scottish, Northern
A type of riddle or sieve used for grain, pulses, etc.
Scottish and Irish English (northern). Of a person: mad, frenzied, crazed. Of a horse: frisky, restive, difficult to control.
with object To clean (grain, pulses, etc.) using a sieve, especially by sifting in a circular motion so that the chaff, etc., collects in the centre. Compare ree. Also without object: to sieve in this way.
exclamationEnglish Regional, Regional, Northern
Used as a command to a horse to turn to the right. Also as noun: this command; an utterance of this.
Late Middle English. Perhaps originally a transferred use as noun of reigh, the male being so called on account of its pugnacity; in later use, the bird name was transferred to the female, its etymological connection with the adjective having become obscure<br>late 17th century; earliest use found in Kirkcudbright Town Council Records. Origin uncertain; perhaps related to reid, although the semantic development is difficult to explain. This etymology assumes that the some forms are primary (although these are first attested slightly later), with the some forms showing loss of the final consonant; the some forms probably show reverse spellings<br>early 18th century; earliest use found in The Caledonian Mercury. From ree<br>mid 18th century (in an earlier sense). Origin uncertain; perhaps a Scots reflex, with specific semantic development, of reigh, although that word is apparently not attested after the late 13th cent., and is not found in Scots<br>early 16th century; earliest use found in John Fitzherbert (d. 1531). Origin unknown. Compare reeing, which perhaps implies earlier currency of the verb, although the possibility cannot be excluded that the verb was inferred from reeing as a back-formation; perhaps compare also renge and range, range, ranger, ranging sieve<br>mid 16th century. Origin uncertain. Compare gee, jee [interjection]. In spite of the semantic connection, a derivation from reet, regional (northern) variant of right seems unlikely on the grounds of chronology and of regional distribution.
Rare earth element(s).
1960s; earliest use found in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
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