- pole (n.1)
- "stake," late Old English pal "stake, pole, post," a general Germanic borrowing (Old Frisian and Old Saxon pal "stake," Middle Dutch pael, Dutch paal, Old High German pfal, Old Norse pall) from Latin palus "stake" (see pale (n.)).
Racing sense of "inside fence surrounding a course" is from 1851; pole position in auto racing attested from 1904.
A ten-foot pole as a metaphoric measure of something one would not touch something (or someone) else with is by 1839, American English. The ten-foot pole was a common tool used to set stakes for fences, etc., and the phrase "Can't touch de bottom with a ten foot pole" is in the popular old minstrel show song "Camptown Races."
"I saw her eat."
"No very unnatural occurrence I should think."
"But she ate an onion!"
"Right my boy, right, never marry a woman who would touch an onion with a ten foot pole."
["The Collegian," University of Virginia, 1839]
- pole (n.2)
- "ends of Earth's axis," late 14c., from Old French pole or directly from Latin polus "end of an axis;" also "the sky, the heavens" (a sense sometimes used in English from 16c.), from Greek polos "pivot, axis of a sphere, the sky," from PIE *kwol- "turn round," from root *kwel- (1) "wheel; turn, roll around" (see cycle (n.)).
- Pole (n.)
- "inhabitant or native of Poland," 1650s, from German Pole, singular of Polen, from Polish Polanie "Poles," literally "field-dwellers," from pole "field," related to Old Church Slavonic polje "field," from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat, to spread" (see plane (n.1)).
- pole (v.)
- "to furnish with poles," 1570s, from pole (n.1). Meaning "to push with a pole" is from 1753. Related: Poled; poling.
- pole-star (n.)
- the North Star (see Polaris), 1550s, from pole (n.2) + star (n.).
- pole-vault (n.)
- 1877, from pole (n.1) + vault (n.2). As a verb from 1892 (implied in pole-vaulting). Related: Pole-vaulted.
- poleax (n.)
- kind of axe used as a weapon or by butchers, c.1300, pollax, from pol "head" (see poll (n.)) + ax (n.). From notion of beheading or head-splitting, or perhaps from the shape of the ax. Spelling altered 17c. by confusion with pole (n.1)).
- polecat (n.)
- early 14c., from cat (n.); the first element is perhaps Anglo-French pol, from Old French poule "fowl, hen" (see pullet (n.)); so called because it preys on poultry [Klein]. The other alternative is that the first element is from Old French pulent "stinking," for obvious reasons. Originally the European Putorius foetidus; also applied to related U.S. skunks since 1680s.
- polemarch (n.)
- "commander of the army" in Greek history, 1570s, from Greek polemarkhos "one who begins or leads a war," from polemos "war" + arkhos "leader, chief, ruler" (see archon).
- polemic (n.)
- 1630s, "controversial argument or discussion," from French polémique (16c./17c.), noun use of adjective meaning "disputatious, controversial" (see polemic (adj.)).
- polemic (adj.)
- 1640s, from French polémique (from Middle French polemique) "disputatious, controversial," or directly from Greek polemikos "of war, warlike, belligerent; skilled in war, fit for service; like an enemy, stirring up hostility," from polemos "war," of unknown origin. Related: Polemical (1630s).
- polemicist (n.)
- 1859, American English formation parallel to polemist (1825), from Greek polemistes "a warrior," from polemizein "to wage war, to make war."
- polemicize (v.)
- 1953, from polemic + -ize. Related: Polemicized; polemicizing. Earlier was polemize (1828), from Greek polemizein "to make war, to wage war."
- polemology (n.)
- the study of war, 1870, from Greek polemos "war," of unknown origin, + connective -o- + -logy.
- polenta (n.)
- Old English polente, from Latin pollenta, polenta, literally "peeled barley," related to pollen "fine flour," from Proto-Indo-European *pel- (1) "flour; dust" (see pollen). Later reborrowed from Italian polenta, from the Latin word.
- police (n.)
- c.1530, at first essentially the same word as policy (n.1); from Middle French police (late 15c.), from Latin politia "civil administration," from Greek polis "city" (see polis).
Until mid-19c. used in England for "civil administration;" application to "administration of public order" (1716) is from French (late 17c.), and originally in English referred to France or other foreign nations. The first force so-named in England was the Marine Police, set up 1798 to protect merchandise at the Port of London. Police state "state regulated by means of national police" first recorded 1865, with reference to Austria. Police action in the international sense of "military intervention short of war, ostensibly to correct lawlessness" is from 1933. Police officer is attested from 1800. Police station is from 1817.
- police (v.)
- "to keep order in," 1580s, from Middle French policer, from police (see police (n.)). Meaning "to keep order by means of police" is from 1837. Related: Policed; policing.
- policeman (n.)
- 1790, from police (n.) + man (n.).
- Polichinelle (n.)
- "Punch," French (17c.), from Neapolitan Polecenella (see Punch).
- policlinic (n.)
- 1827, originally, "clinic held in a private house" (instead of a hospital), from German Poliklinik, from Greek polis "city" (see polis) + Klinik, from French clinique (see clinic).
- policy (n.1)
- "way of management," late 14c., policie, "study or practice of government; good government;" from Old French policie (14c.) "political organization, civil administration," from Late Latin politia "the state, civil administration," from Greek politeia "state, administration, government, citizenship," from polites "citizen," from polis "city, state" (see polis). Meaning "plan of action, way of management" first recorded c.1400.
- policy (n.2)
- "written insurance agreement," 1560s, from Middle French police "contract, bill of lading" (late 14c.), from Italian polizza "written evidence of a transaction," from Old Italian poliza, from Medieval Latin apodissa "receipt for money," from Greek apodexis "proof, declaration," from apo- "off" + deiknynia "to show," cognate with Latin dicere "to tell" (see diction).
- polio (n.)
- 1911, abbreviation of poliomyelitis.
- poliomyelitis (n.)
- 1874, also polio-myelitis, coined by German physician Adolph Kussmaul (1822-1902) from Greek polios "grey" (see fallow (adj.)) + myelos "marrow" + -itis "inflammation." So called because the gray matter in the spinal cord is inflamed, which causes paralysis. The earlier name was infantile paralysis (1843).
In many respects, also, this affection resembles the acute spinal paralysis of infancy, which, from the researches of Charcot, Joffroy, and others, have been shown pathologically to be an acute myelitis of the anterior cornua. Hence, for these forms of paralysis, Professor Kussmaul suggests the name of 'poliomyelitis anterior.' ["London Medical Record," Dec. 9, 1874]
- polis (n.)
- "ancient Greek city-state," 1894, from Greek polis "city, one's city; the state, citizens," from PIE *pele- "citadel; enclosed space, often on high ground" (cognates: Sanskrit pur, puram "city, citadel," Lithuanian pilis "fortress").
- polish (v.)
- early 14c., polischen "make smooth," from Old French poliss-, present participle stem of polir (12c.) "to polish, decorate, see to one's appearance," from Latin polire "to polish, make smooth; decorate, embellish;" figuratively "refine, improve," said to be from Proto-Indo-European *pel- "to thrust, strike, drive" (via the notion of fulling cloth). The sense of "free from coarseness, to refine" first recorded in English mid-14c. Related: Polished; polishing. Slang polish off "finish" is 1837, from notion of applying a coat of polish being the final step in a piece of work.
- polish (n.)
- 1590s, "absence of coarseness," from polish (v.). From 1704 as "act of polishing;" 1819 as "substance used in polishing."
- Polish (adj.)
- 1670s, from Pole + -ish. Related: Polishness. Polish-American attested from 1898.
- polished (adj.)
- late 14c., "made smooth;" early 15c., "elegant;" past participle adjective from polish (v.).
- Politburo (n.)
- "highest policy-making committee of the U.S.S.R.," 1927, from Russian politbyuro, contracted from politicheskoe byuro "political bureau."
- polite (adj.)
- late 14c., "polished, burnished" (mid-13c. as a surname), from Latin politus "refined, elegant, accomplished," literally "polished," past participle of polire "to polish, to make smooth" (see polish (v.)). Used literally at first in English; sense of "elegant, cultured" is first recorded c.1500, that of "behaving courteously" is 1748 (implied in politely). Related: Politeness.
- politesse (n.)
- "civility," 1717, from French politesse (17c.), from Italian politezza, properly "the quality of being polite," from polito "polite," from Latin politus (see polite).
- politic (adj.)
- early 15c., "pertaining to public affairs," from Middle French politique "political" (14c.) and directly from Latin politicus "of citizens or the state, civil, civic," from Greek politikos "of citizens, pertaining to the state and its administration; pertaining to public life," from polites "citizen," from polis "city" (see polis). Replaced in most adjectival senses by political. From mid-15c. as "prudent, judicious."
- politic (v.)
- also politick, "to engage in political activity," 1917, a back-formation from politics. Related: Politicked; politicking (for the -k- see picnic).
- political (adj.)
- 1550s, "pertaining to a polity, civil affairs, or government;" from Latin politicus "of citizens or the state" (see politic (adj.)) + -al (1). Meaning "taking sides in party politics" (usually pejorative) is from 1749. Political prisoner first recorded 1860; political science is from 1779 (first attested in Hume). Political animal translates Greek politikon zoon (Aristotle, "Politics," I.ii.9) "an animal intended to live in a city; a social animal."
- politically (adv.)
- 1580s, "in a politic manner;" 1630s "in a political manner," from politic or political + -ly (2).
- politically correct (adj.)
- first attested in prevailing current sense 1970; abbreviation P.C. is from 1986.
[T]here is no doubt that political correctness refers to the political movement and phenomenon, which began in the USA, with the aim to enforce a set of ideologies and views on gender, race and other minorities. Political correctness refers to language and ideas that may cause offence to some identity groups like women and aims at giving preferential treatment to members of those social groups in schools and universities. [Thuy Nguyen, "Political Correctness in the English Language,"2007]
- politicaster (n.)
- "a petty, feeble, or contemptible politician" [OED], 1640s, from Italian or Spanish politicastro, noun use of adjective meaning "political," from Latin politicus (see political).
- politician (n.)
- 1580s, "person skilled in politics," from politics + -ian. It quickly took on overtones, not typically good ones. Johnson defines it as "A man of artifice; one of deep contrivance."
- politicization (n.)
- 1918, noun of action from politicize.
- politicize (v.)
- 1758, "take up politics," from politics + -ize. Meaning "to render political" is from 1846. Related: Politicized; politicizing. Earlier was politize (late 16c.), but this was rare.
- politicking (n.)
- 1928, from present participle of politic (v.). For the -k-, see picnic.
- politico (n.)
- "politician, political agent," usually in a derogatory sense, 1620s, from Italian or Spanish politico, noun use of adjective meaning "political," from Latin politicus (see politic (adj.)).
- word-forming element meaning "political and," from Latinized comb. form of Greek politikos (see political).
- politics (n.)
- 1520s, "science of government," from politic (adj.), modeled on Aristotle's ta politika "affairs of state," the name of his book on governing and governments, which was in English mid-15c. as "Polettiques." Also see -ics.
Politicks is the science of good sense, applied to public affairs, and, as those are forever changing, what is wisdom to-day would be folly and perhaps, ruin to-morrow. Politicks is not a science so properly as a business. It cannot have fixed principles, from which a wise man would never swerve, unless the inconstancy of men's view of interest and the capriciousness of the tempers could be fixed. [Fisher Ames (1758-1808)]Meaning "a person's political allegiances or opinions" is from 1769.
- polity (n.)
- 1530s, from Middle French politie (early 15c.) or directly from Late Latin polita "organized government" (see policy (n.1)).
- polka (n.)
- 1844, from French polka, German Polka, probably from Czech polka, the dance, literally "Polish woman" (Polish Polka), fem. of Polak "a Pole." The word might also be an alteration of Czech pulka "half," for the half-steps of Bohemian peasant dances. Or it could be a merger of the two. The dance was in vogue first in Prague, 1835; it reached London by the spring of 1842.
Vous n'en êtes encore qu'au galop, vieil arriéré, et nous en sommes à la polka! Oui, c'est la polka que nous avons dansée à ce fameux bal Valenlino. Vous demandez ce que c'est que la polka, homme de l année dernière! La contredanse a vécu; le galop, rococo; la valse à deux temps, dans le troisième dessous; il n'y a plus que la polka, la sublime, l'enivrante polka, dont les salons raffolent, que les femmes de la haute, les banquiéres les plus cossues et les comtesses les plus choenosophoses étudient jour et nuit. ["La France Dramatique," Paris, 1841]
As a verb by 1846 (polk also was tried).
- polka dot (n.)
- 1874, from polka (n.) + dot (n.). Named for the dance, for no reason except its popularity, which led to many contemporary products and fashions taking the name. Related: Polka-dotted (1873).
- poll (n.)
- "head," early 14c., polle "hair of the head; piece of fur from the head of an animal," also "head," from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch pol "head, top." Sense extended early 14c. to "person, individual." Meaning "collection of votes" is first recorded 1620s, from notion of "counting heads;" meaning "survey of public opinion" is first recorded 1902. Poll tax, literally "head tax," is from 1690s. Literal use in English tends toward the part of the head where the hair grows.
- poll (v.1)
- "to take the votes of," 1620s, from poll (n.). Related: Polled; polling. A deed poll "deed executed by one party only," is from earlier verbal meaning "cut the hair of," because the deed was cut straight rather than indented (see indent).