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  deep-water Deere, John  
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   The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.  2000.
 
deer
 
PRONUNCIATION:  dîr
NOUN:Inflected forms: pl. deer
Any of various hoofed ruminant mammals of the family Cervidae, characteristically having deciduous antlers borne chiefly by the males. The deer family also includes the elk, moose, caribou, and reindeer.
ETYMOLOGY:Middle English der, beast, from Old English dor.
WORD HISTORY: In various Middle English texts one finds a fish, an ant, or a fox called a der, the Middle English ancestor of our word deer. In its Old English form dor, our word referred to any animal, including members of the deer family, and continued to do so in Middle English, although it also acquired the specific sense “a deer.” By the end of the Middle English period, around 1500, the general sense had all but disappeared. Deer is a commonly cited example of a semantic process called specialization, by which the range of a word's meaning is narrowed or restricted. When Shakespeare uses the expression “mice and rats, and such small deer” for Edgar's diet in King Lear, probably written in 1605, we are not sure whether deer has the general or the specific sense. It is interesting to note that the German word Tier, the cognate of English deer, still has the general sense of “animal.”
 
 
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

CONTENTS · INDEX · ILLUSTRATIONS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  deep-water Deere, John  
 
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