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Old French. sors, *surs, *sours masculine, and surse, sourse, source (modern.French source) fem., substantival uses of the pa. pple. of sourdre to rise or spring . ca.14th century


  • 1. ‘A support or underprop’ (Gwilt). Obs.
  • 2. a. Hawking. The act of rising on the wing, on the part of a hawk or other bird. Obs.
b. The rising of the sun. Obs.
c. An assault or attack. Obs.
  • 3. a. The fountain-head or origin of a river or stream; the spring or place from which a flow of water takes its beginning.
b. With a and pl. A spring; a fountain.
c. In fig. contexts.
  • 4. fig. a. The chief or prime cause of something of a non-material or abstract character; the quarter whence something of this kind originates.
b. With a, this, etc., or pl.
c. The origin, or original stock, of a person, family, etc.
d. The originating cause or substance of some material thing or physical agency.
e. A work, etc., supplying information or evidence (esp. of an original or primary character) as to some fact, event, or series of these. Also, a person supplying information, an informant, a spokesman.
f. attrib., as (sense 4e) source book, data, document, material, study.
  • 5. a. Physics. A point or centre from which a fluid or current flows. More widely, any point where, or process by which, energy or some material component enters a physical system; opp. SINK n.1 8. Freq. without const., but otherwise not really distinct from sense 4d.
b. Electronics. (The material forming) the part of a unipolar transistor which corresponds in function to the cathode of a thermionic valve.
  • 6. Comb., as (sense 4e) source-hunter, -hunting; source-criticism Theology., analysis and study of the sources used by the authors of the biblical text; hence source-critical a.; source program Computers, a program written in a language other than machine code, usu. a high-level language (cf. object program s.v. OBJECT n. 10); source rock Geol., a rock formation in which a particular mineral material originates; spec. a deposit in which petroleum is formed.

See also