From Middle English kednei, kidenei, from earlier kidnēre, kidenēre (“kidney”), of obscure origin and formation. Probably a compound consisting of Middle English *kid, *quid (“belly, womb”), from Old English cwiþ, cwiþa (“belly, womb, stomach”) + Middle English nēre (“kidney”), from Old English *nēora (“kidney”), from Proto-Germanic *neurô (“kidney”), from Proto-Indo-European *negʷʰr- (“kidney”). If so, then related to Scots nere, neir (“kidney”), Saterland Frisian Njuure (“kidney”), Dutch nier (“kidney”), German Niere (“kidney”), Danish nyre (“kidney”), Norwegian nyre (“kidney”), Swedish njure (“kidney”), Ancient Greek νεφρός (nephrós).
Alternate etymology traces the first element to Old English cēod, codd (“sack, scrotum”), from Proto-Germanic *keudō (“sack”) as the terms for testicle and kidney were often interchangeable in Germanic (compare Old High German nioro (“kidney", also "testicle”), Old Swedish vig-niauri (“testicle”). More at codpiece.
kidney (plural kidneys)
- An organ in the body that filters the blood, producing urine.
- This organ (of an animal) cooked as food.
- (figuratively, dated) Constitution, temperament, nature, type, character, disposition. (usually used of people)
- c. 1597, William Shakespeare, “The Merry VViues of VVindsor”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, (please specify the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals)]:
- […] think of that, – a man of my kidney, – think of that, […]
- (Can we date this quote by L'Estrange and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
- millions in the world of this man's kidney
- (Can we date this quote by Burns and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
- Your poets, spendthrifts, and other fools of that kidney, pretend, forsooth, to crack their jokes on prudence.
- (obsolete, slang) A waiter.
- 1709, Richard Steele, The Tatler, volume 1:
- I once more desire my readers to consider that as I cannot keep an ingenious man to go daily to Will's under twopence each day merely for his charges, to White's under sixpence, nor to the Grecian without allowing him some plain Spanish, to be as able as others at the learned table; and that a good observer cannot speak with even Kidney at St. James's without clean linen; ...
- floating kidney
- head kidney
- kidney bean
- kidney belt
- kidney corpuscle
- kidney dagger
- kidney disease
- kidney dish
- kidney machine
- kidney ore
- kidney punch
- kidney stone
- kidney vetch
- skirts and kidneys
- steak and kidney pie