General English

  • verb to show thoughts or feelings in words, pictures or actions

General Science

  • verb to put something into words, symbols or signs


  • adjective clearly shown in words
  • verb to send something very fast


  • noun a very fast ball
    Citation ‘Other bowling feats with his “expresses” include 7 wickets for 9 runs, 9 wickets for 9 runs, and 9 wickets for 8 runs, in 1871’ (Pullin 1900)
  • noun a very fast bowler
    Citation ‘With the terrifying express bowler John Jackson bowling opposite Cris Tinley, the attack, it was said, consisted of “a corkscrew at one end and a thunderbolt at the other”’ (Frith 1984)
    Citation ‘India made a decent start and were doing well at 147 for one, when “Rawalpindi Express” Shoaib Akhtar castled Rahul Dravid’ (Purandare 2005)


  • verb to squeeze liquid or air out of something, especially to squeeze out breast milk for a baby to feed on later


  • verb to state what you think or feel


  • noun a very fast train or coach
  • verb to show something

Origin & History of “express”

Something that is expressed is literally ‘pressed out’. The word comes via Old French from vulgar Latin *expressāre, a compound verb formed from the prefix ex- ‘out’ and pressāre ‘press’. Its meaning developed metaphorically from ‘press out’ to ‘form by pressure’ (presumably applied originally to modelling in clay or some similar substance, and subsequently to sculpture and then painting), and finally to ‘make known in words’.

The Vulgar Latin verb was in fact moving in on territory already occupied by its classical Latin forerunner exprimere (source of French exprimer ‘express’ and perhaps of English sprain (17th c.)). The past participle of this was expressus, used adjectivally for ‘prominent, distinct, explicit’. Old French took it over as expres and passed it on to English in the 14th century. By now its meaning was moving towards ‘intended for a particular purpose’, and in the 19th century it was applied to ‘special’ trains (as in ‘football specials’). It did not take long, however, for this to slip via ‘train for people wanting to go to a particular place, and therefore not stopping anywhere else’ to ‘fast train’. Hence the modern sense of express, ‘fast’, was born.