host

Definitions

General English

  • noun the person who introduces and talks to the guests on a TV or radio show
  • verb to act as host at a party
  • verb to be the centre where something takes place
  • verb to organise and manage websites for other people

Agriculture

  • noun a plant or animal on which a parasite lives

Computing

Electronics

  • A business which provides server space for entities such as individuals or corporations. When an entity does not have its own servers, yet desires a presence on the Internet through one or more Web pages, such a host provides the space. Hosting services may be fee-based, depending on the specific needs, such as the memory and bandwidth required, whether it is for commercial use, and so on. Also called Web host.
  • To provide the services of a host computer (1). Also called hosting (1).
  • To provide the services of a host (2). Also called hosting (2), or Web hosting.

Information & Library Science

  • noun the main computer in a system which allows access to online databases

Media Studies

  • noun a person who welcomes and speaks to invited guests on a radio or television programme such as a chat or game show
  • noun the main computer that controls specific functions or files in a network
  • verb to be the host of a television or radio programme

Medical

  • noun a person or animal on which a parasite lives

Military

  • noun a person who invites other people as guests

Origin & History of “host”

Indo-European *ghostis denoted ‘stranger’. From it were descended Germanic *gastiz (source of English guest), Greek xénos ‘guest, stranger’ (source of English xenon and xenophobia), and Latin hostis ‘stranger, enemy’. This original meaning is retained in the derived adjective hostile (16th c.), but the noun itself in post-classical times came to mean ‘army’, and that is where (via Old French) English got host ‘army’ (13th c.) from. Its main modern sense, ‘large number’, is a 17th-century development. But Latin had another noun, hospes ‘host’, which was probably derived from hostis. Its stem form, hospit-, passed into Old French as hoste (whose modern French descendant hôte means both ‘host’ and ‘guest’). English borrowed this in the 13th century, giving it a second noun host, quite distinct in meaning, but ultimately of the same origin. (other English words that owe their existence to Latin hospes include hospice, hospital, hostel, hotel, and ostler.)

But that is not the end of the host story. English has yet another noun host, meaning ‘bread of the Eucharist’ (14th c.). This comes via Old French hoiste from Latin hostia ‘sacrifice, victim’.
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