Words: otto, n.
Monday 06 December 1999
As a name, it has various Teutonic forms akin to the Old English ead, meaning rich (hence the Goodie fellow's surname Oddie - nothing to do with his looks), but it is also a term to denote a four-stroke engine, invented by a 19th- century German, Nikolaus August Otto - a name rich in irony, for those petrol fumes are a far cry from otto: that is, a fragrant essence, generally something pleasant, in particular roses. It is a variant upon attar, from the Persian, but the OED cites otto first, by a margin of 160 years.
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