- clock (n.1)
- late 14c., clokke, originally "clock with bells," probably from Middle Dutch clocke (Dutch klok) "a clock," from Old North French cloque (Old French cloke, Modern French cloche), from Medieval Latin (7c.) clocca "bell," probably from Celtic (compare Old Irish clocc, Welsh cloch, Manx clagg "a bell") and spread by Irish missionaries (unless the Celtic words are from Latin); ultimately of imitative origin.
Replaced Old English dægmæl, from dæg "day" + mæl "measure, mark" (see meal (n.1)). The Latin word was horologium; the Greeks used a water-clock (klepsydra, literally "water thief"). Image of put (or set) the clock back "return to an earlier state or system" is from 1862. Round-the-clock (adj.) is from 1943, originally in reference to air raids. To have a face that would stop a clock "be very ugly" is from 1886. (Variations from c. 1890 include break a mirror, kill chickens.)
remember I remember
That boarding house forlorn,
The little window where the smell
Of hash came in the morn.
I mind the broken looking-glass,
The mattress like a rock,
The servant-girl from County Clare,
Whose face would stop a clock.
[... etc.; "The Insurance Journal," Jan. 1886]
- clock (v.)
- "to time by the clock," 1883, from clock (n.1). The slang sense of "hit, sock" is 1941, originally Australian, probably from earlier slang clock (n.) "face" (1923). Related: Clocked; clocking.
- clock (n.2)
- "ornament pattern on a stocking," 1520s, probably identical with clock (n.1) in its older sense and meaning "bell-shaped ornament."