Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


 (ôr′ə-jĭn, ŏr′-)
1. The point at which something comes into existence or from which it derives or is derived.
2. often origins Ancestry: "We cannot escape our origins, however hard we try" (James Baldwin).
3. The fact of originating; rise or derivation: The rumor had its origin in an impulsive remark.
4. Anatomy The point of attachment of a muscle that remains relatively fixed during contraction.
5. Mathematics The point of intersection of coordinate axes, as in the Cartesian coordinate system.

[Middle English origine, ancestry, from Latin orīgō, orīgin-, from orīrī, to arise, be born; see er- in Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: origin, inception, source, root1
These nouns signify the point at which something originates. Origin is the point at which something comes into existence: The origins of some words are unknown. When origin refers to people, it means parentage or ancestry: "He came ... of mixed French and Scottish origin" (Charlotte Brontë).
Inception is the beginning, as of an action or process: The researcher was involved in the project from its inception. Source signifies the point at which something springs into being or from which it derives or is obtained: "The mysterious ... is the source of all true art and science" (Albert Einstein).
Root denotes what is considered the fundamental cause of or basic reason for something: "Lack of money is the root of all evil" (George Bernard Shaw).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


etiology. — aetiological, adj.
the study of human origins. — anthropogenic, anthropogenetic adj.
the science of origins.
the state of being aboriginal or native to a particular area. — autochthonous, adj.
the study of the causes for and origin of any phenomena. Also spelled aetiology.etiological, adj.
the state or process of deriving from the same source or origins, as different parts deriving from the same embryo tissues. — isogenic, isogenetic, adj.
the theory that the entire human race is descended from a single ancestral pair. Also monogenesis, monogeny.monogenist, n.monogenistic, adj.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ætterni, rætur


(ˈoridʒin) noun
the place or point from which anything first comes; the cause. the origin(s) of the English language; the origin of the disagreement.
oˈriginal (əˈri-) adjective
1. existing at the beginning; first. This part of the house is new but the rest is original.
2. (able to produce ideas which are) new, fresh or not thought of before. original ideas; He has a very original mind.
3. (of a painting etc) by the artist etc, from which copies may be made. The original painting is in the museum, but there are hundreds of copies.
1. the earliest version. This is the original – all the others are copies.
2. a model from which a painting etc is made. She is the original of the famous portrait.
oˌrigiˈnality (əridʒiˈnӕ-) noun
His writing shows originality.
oˈriginally adverb
originate (əˈridʒineit) verb
to bring or come into being. That style of painting originated in China.
ˈorigins noun plural
a person's place of birth, family background etc. He tried to hide his origins.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Give heed, my brethren, to every hour when your spirit would speak in similes: there is the origin of your virtue.
These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species--that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.
It is generally believed that the Aborigines of the American continent have an Asiatic origin. There are many physical as well as moral facts which corroborate this opinion, and some few that would seem to weigh against it.
And first I will speak of the nature and origin of justice according to the common view of them.
While our family has followed the general human law in the matter just mentioned, it forms a marked exception to the rule that so absolutely controls all of white blood, on this continent, in what relates to immigration and territorial origin. When the American enters on the history of his ancestors, he is driven, after some ten or twelve generations at most, to seek refuge in a country in Europe; whereas exactly the reverse is the case with us, our most remote extraction being American, while our more recent construction and education have taken place in Europe.
They derive their origin from a deep religious and contemplative feeling, and also from an observation of curious mental phenomena.
The origin of the Chinese tone is not a poetical one, but is undoubtedly due to the necessity of having some distinguishing method of accentuation in a language which only contains about four hundred different sounds.
We can imagine, therefore, that among such folk a settler, of Aeolic origin like Hesiod, who clearly was well acquainted with the Ionian epos, would naturally see that the only outlet for his gifts lay in applying epic poetry to new themes acceptable to his hearers.
Now money-making, as we say, being twofold, it may be applied to two purposes, the service of the house or retail trade; of which the first is necessary and commendable, the other justly censurable; for it has not its origin in [1258b] nature, but by it men gain from each other; for usury is most reasonably detested, as it is increasing our fortune by money itself, and not employing it for the purpose it was originally intended, namely exchange.
In his account of the singular and interesting people among whom he was thrown, it will be observed that he chiefly treats of their more obvious peculiarities; and, in describing their customs, refrains in most cases from entering into explanations concerning their origin and purposes.
The mate, of course, had no suspicion of the true origin of these monsters, but his knowledge of the fact that they had not been upon the island when the Ithaca arrived and that it would have been impossible for them to have landed and reached the camp without having been seen by himself or some member of his company, was sufficient evidence to warrant him in attributing their presence to some supernatural and malignant power.
This is the origin of the letter, as expounded by the renowned Dr.

Full browser ?