Race - Encyclopedia


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RACE, an homonymous word of which the principal meanings are (I) a trial or contest of speed; (2) a tribe, breed, a group of individuals descended from a common ancestor. In the first case the word is an adaptation of O.Nor. ras, a cognate form in O.E. being ra g s, rush, onset; while the O.E. descendant reese was frequently used in medieval poetry. The particular use of the word for a swift current of water running through a narrow channel, e.g. the Race of Alderney, and for the water conducted in an artificial channel to a point where its power is to be used, as in "mill-race," may be due to the O.Fr. raz or raze, probably of Breton origin. The second word, an ethnical or national stock, comes from Fr. rase, adapted from Ital. razzo, cf. Span. raza. It has been referred to an O.H.G. reiza, line, mark, cognate with Eng. "write," i.e. the line marking descent.

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