1650s, "trick, illusion, imposture" (senses now obsolete), from French prestige (16c.) "deceit, imposture, illusion" (in Modern French, "illusion, magic, glamour"), from Latin praestigium "delusion, illusion" (see prestigious).
From about 1815 it was used in the sense of "an illusion as to one's personal merit or importance, a flattering illusion," hence, positively, "a reputation for excellence, importance, or authority," senses probably introduced from French, often in reference to Napoleon:
When the same question was put to those who knew him and France best, they answered, 'that a peace dictated in France would have undone him ;'—'that his throne was founded on public opinion,' and 'that if the prestige,' for so they called it, 'of his glory were to be destroyed, the state of his affairs, and the character of the French people forbade him to expect that his power would long survive it.' ["Memoirs of Bonaparte's Deposition," Quarterly Review, Oct. 1814]
1540s, "practicing illusion or magic, juggling; deluding, deceptive," from Latin praestigious "full of tricks," from praestigiae "juggler's tricks," probably altered by dissimilation from praestrigiae, from praestringere "to blind, blindfold, dazzle," from prae "before" (see pre-) + stringere "to tie or bind" (see strain (v.)). Derogatory until 19c., marked as obsolete in Century Dictionary (1895); the positive meaning "having dazzling influence" is attested from 1913, from prestige. Related: Prestigiously; prestigiousness.
From c. 1300 in the general sense "legal validity," also "authoritative book; authoritative doctrine" (opposed to reason or experience); "author whose statements are regarded as correct." From mid-14c. as "right to rule or command, power to enforce obedience, power or right to command or act." In Middle English also "power derived from good reputation; power to convince people, capacity for inspiring trust." From c. 1400 as "official sanction, authorization." Meaning "persons in authority" is from 1610s; Authorities "those in charge, those with police powers" is recorded from mid-19c.
1540s, "open to view, catching the eye," from Latin conspicuus "visible, open to view; attracting attention, striking," from conspicere "to look at, observe, see, notice," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").
Meaning "obvious to the mind, forcing itself upon the attention" is from 1610s; hence "eminent, notable, distinguished." Related: Conspicuously; conspicuousness. Phrase conspicuous by its absence (1859) is said to be from Tacitus ("Annals" iii.76), in a passage about certain images: "sed præfulgebant ... eo ipso quod effigies eorum non visebantur."
Conspicuous consumption "expenditure on a lavish scale to enhance prestige" is attested by 1895 in published writing of Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Vebeln, made famous in his "The Theory of the Leisure Class" (1899).
Not only must wealth be possessed, but there must be a show of its possession. It must be made obvious to all that there is an inexhaustible reserve. Hence leisure must be made conspicuous by "conspicuous consumption" and "conspicuous waste." If only enough persons and the right persons could see it and know it, it would be highly honorific to light a cigar occasionally with a thousand-dollar bill. A man must not limit his consumption to himself and his family. He must live in a palace many times larger than he can possibly fill, and have a large retinue of servants and retainers, ostensibly to minister to his wants, but really to make clear his ability to pay. [Lester F. Ward, review of "Theory of the Leisure Class" in The American Journal of Sociology, May 1900]
c. 1200, from Old French cite "town, city" (10c., Modern French cité), from earlier citet, from Latin civitatem (nominative civitas; in Late Latin sometimes citatem) originally "citizenship, condition or rights of a citizen, membership in the community," later "community of citizens, state, commonwealth" (used, for instance of the Gaulish tribes), from civis "townsman," from PIE root *kei- (1) "to lie," also forming words for "bed, couch," and with a secondary sense of "beloved, dear."
Now "a large and important town," but originally in early Middle English a walled town, a capital or cathedral town. Distinction from town is early 14c. OED calls it "Not a native designation, but app[arently] at first a somewhat grandiose title, used instead of the OE. burh"(see borough).
Between Latin and English the sense was transferred from the inhabitants to the place. The Latin word for "city" was urbs, but a resident was civis. Civitas seems to have replaced urbs as Rome (the ultimate urbs) lost its prestige. Loss of Latin -v- is regular in French in some situations (compare alleger from alleviare; neige from nivea; jeune from juvenis. A different sound evolution from the Latin word yielded Italian citta, Catalan ciutat, Spanish ciudad, Portuguese cidade.
London is the city from 1550s. As an adjective, "pertaining to a city, urban," from c. 1300. City hall "chief municipal offices" is first recorded 1670s; to fight city hall is 1913, American English. City slicker "a smart and plausible rogue, of a kind usu. found in cities" [OED] is first recorded 1916 (see slick (adj.)). City limits is from 1825.
The newspaper city-editor, who superintends the collection and publication of local news, is from 1834, American English; hence city desk attested from 1878. Inner city first attested 1968.
c. 1300, "the human face, a face; facial appearance or expression; likeness, image," from Old French face "face, countenance, look, appearance" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *facia (source also of Italian faccia), from Latin facies "appearance, form, figure," and secondarily "visage, countenance," which probably is literally "form imposed on something" and related to facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
Replaced Old English andwlita "face, countenance" (from root of wlitan "to see, look") and ansyn, ansien, the usual word (from the root of seon "see"). Words for "face" in Indo-European commonly are based on the notion of "appearance, look," and are mostly derivatives from verbs for "to see, look" (as with the Old English words, Greek prosopon, literally "toward-look," Lithuanian veidas, from root *weid- "to see," etc.). But in some cases, as here, the word for "face" means "form, shape." In French, the use of face for "front of the head" was given up 17c. and replaced by visage (older vis), from Latin visus "sight."
From late 14c. as "outward appearance (as contrasted to some other reality);" also from late 14c. as "forward part or front of anything;" also "surface (of the earth or sea), extent (of a city)." Typographical sense of "part of the type which forms the letter" is from 1680s.
Whan she cometh hoom, she raumpeth in my face And crieth 'false coward.' [Chaucer, "Monk's Tale"]
Face to face is from mid-14c. Face time is attested from 1990. To lose face "lose prestige" (1835), is from Chinese tu lien; hence also save face (1898; see save). To show (one's) face "make or put in an appearance" is from mid-14c. (shewen the face). To make a face "change the appearance of the face in disgust, mockery, etc." is from 1560s. Two faces under one hood as a figure of duplicity is attested from mid-15c.
Two fases in a hode is neuer to tryst. ["Awake lordes," 1460]