verb (used with object), eased, eas·ing.
- to bring (the helm or rudder of a vessel) slowly amidships.
- to bring the head of (a vessel) into the wind.
- to slacken or lessen the hold upon (a rope).
- to lessen the hold of (the brake of a windlass).
verb (used without object), eased, eas·ing.
Origin of ease
- (of a standing soldier, etc) in a relaxed position with the feet apart and hands linked behind the back
- a command to adopt such a position
- in a relaxed attitude or frame of mind
Word Origin for ease
c.1300, "to help, assist," see ease (n.). Meaning "to give ease" is from mid-14c.; the sense of "to relax one's efforts" is from 1863. Farmer reports ease in a slang sense of "to content a woman" sexually, with an 1861 date. Related: Eased; easing.
early 13c., from Old French aise "comfort, pleasure, well-being; opportunity," of unknown origin, despite attempts to link it to various Latin verbs.
The earliest senses in French appear to be 1. "elbow-room" (from an 11th century Hebrew-French glossary) and 2. "opportunity." This led Sophus Bugge to suggest an origin in Vulgar Latin asa, a shortened form of Latin ansa "handle," which could be used in the figurative sense of "opportunity, occasion," as well as being a possible synonym for "elbow," because Latin ansatus "furnished with handles" also was used to mean "having the arms akimbo." OED editors report this theory, and write, "This is not very satisfactory, but it does not appear that any equally plausible alternative has yet been proposed."
Also, at one's ease. Comfortable, relaxed, unembarrassed, as in I always feel at ease in my grandmother's house. The related idiom put at ease means “make comfortable, reassure,” as in I was worried that the letter would not arrive in time, but the postmaster put me at ease. [1300s] For the antonym, see ill at ease.
In a relaxed position in military ranks. The phrase is often used as a command for troops standing at attention to relax, as in At ease, squadron. The command stand at ease is slightly different. A British military dictionary of 1802 described it as standing with the right foot drawn back about six inches and one's weight put on it. An American version is to stand with one's feet slightly apart and the hands clasped behind one's back.
In addition to the idioms beginning with ease
- ease off
- ease out
- at ease
- ill at ease
Also see undereasilyeasy.