surname, from Irish flann "red." Rhyming phrase in like Flynn is 1940s slang, said to have originated in the U.S. military, perhaps from alleged sexual exploits of Hollywood actor Errol Flynn (1909-1959).
fem. proper name, from Aramaic (Semitic) Maretha, literally "lady, mistress," fem. of mar, mara "lord, master." As the type name of one concerned with domestic affairs, it is from Luke x.40-41. Martha's Vineyard was discovered 1602 by English explorer Gabriel Archer and apparently named by him, but the identity of the Martha he had in mind is unknown now.
town in Sussex, site of the great battle in the Norman conquest of England (Oct. 14, 1066), Old English Hæstingas "The Hastings; settlement of the family or followers of a man called *Hæsta;" literally "Hæsta's People."
The Hæstingas were an important tribal group referred to in an 8th cent. Northumbrian chronicle as the gens Hestingorum which seems to have kept a separate identity as late as the early 11th cent. ["Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names"]
region or island at northernmost part of the world, Old English, from Latin, from Greek Thyle "land six days' sail north of Britain" (Strabo, quoting a lost portion of a work by Polybius, itself based on a lost account of a voyage to the north by 4c. B.C.E. geographer Pytheas). The identity of the place and the source of the name have sparked much speculation; Polybius doubted the whole thing, and since Roman times the name has been used in a transferred sense of "extreme limits of travel" (Ultima Thule).
The barbarians showed us where the sun set. For it happened in those places that the night was extremely short, lasting only two or three hours; and the sun sunk under the horizon, after a short interval reappeared at his rising. [Pytheas]
The name was given to a trading post in Greenland in 1910, site of a U.S. air base in World War II.
late Old English, from Latin Venus (plural veneres), in ancient Roman mythology, the goddess of beauty and love, especially sensual love, from venus "love, sexual desire; loveliness, beauty, charm; a beloved object," from PIE root *wen- (1) "to desire, strive for."
Applied by the Romans to Greek Aphrodite, Egyptian Hathor, etc. Applied in English to any beautiful, attractive woman by 1570s. As the name of the most brilliant planet from late 13c., from this sense in Latin (Old English called it morgensteorra and æfensteorra). The venus fly-trap (Dionæa muscipula) was discovered 1760 by Gov. Arthur Dobbs in North Carolina and description sent to Collinson in England. The Central Atlantic Coast Algonquian name for the plant, /titipiwitshik/, yielded regional American English tippity wichity.
masc. proper name, 12c., from Old English Petrus (genitive Pet(e)res, dative Pet(e)re), from Latin Petrus, from Greek Petros, literally "stone, rock" (see petrous), a translation of Syriac kefa "stone" (Latinized as Cephas), the nickname Jesus gave to apostle Simon Bar-Jona (Matthew xvi.17), historically known as St. Peter, and consequently a popular name among Christians (Italian Pietro, Spanish and Portuguese Pedro, Old French Pierres, French Pierre, etc.). As slang for "penis," attested from 1902, probably from identity of first syllable.
The common form of this very common name in medieval England was Peres (Anglo-French Piers), hence surnames Pierce, Pearson, etc. Among the diminutive forms were Parkin and Perkin.
To rob Peter to pay Paul (1510s, attested in slightly different wordings from late 14c.) might be a reference to the many churches dedicated to those two saints, and have sprung from the fairly common practice of building or enriching one church with the ruins or revenues of another. But the alliterative pairing of the two names is attested from c. 1400 with no obvious connection to the saints:
Sum medicyne is for peter þat is not good for poul, for þe diuersite of complexioun. [Lanfranc's "Chirurgia Magna," English translation, c. 1400]
common Irish surname, Gaelic Murchadh "sea-warrior." The Celtic "sea" element is also in names Muriel (q.v.), Murdoch (Old Irish Muireadhach, Old Welsh Mordoc "mariner"), etc. As colloquial for "a potato" by 1811, apparently in allusion ot it being a staple food of the Irish.
Murphy bed (1912; in full Murphy In-A-Dor Bed) is named for U.S. inventor William Lawrence Murphy (1876-1959). By happy coincidence, Murphy was an illiterate 18c.-19c. perversion of Morpheus, god of sleep. Murphy's law (1958) is used of various pessimistic aphorisms. If there ever was a real Murphy his identity is lost to history. Said to be military originally, and it probably pre-dates the earliest printed example (the 1958 citation calls it "an old military maxim").
No history of the subject would be complete without some reference to the semilegendary, almost anonymous Murphy (floreat circa 1940?) who chose to disguise his genius by stating a fundamental systems theorem in commonplace, almost pedestrian terminology. This law, known to schoolboys the world over as Jellybread always falls jelly-side down, is here restated in Murphy's own words, as it appears on the walls of most of the world's scientific laboratories:
If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will.
[John Gall, "Systemantics," 1975]
c. 1200, frensh, frenche, "pertaining to France or the French," from Old English frencisc "French," originally "of the Franks," from franca, the people name (see Frank). A similar contraction of -ish is in Dutch, Scotch, Welsh, suggesting the habit applies to the names of only the intimate neighbors.
In some provincial forms of English it could mean simply "foreign." Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex: French dressing (by 1860); French toast (1630s); French letter "condom" (c. 1856, perhaps on resemblance of sheepskin and parchment), french (v.) "perform oral sex on," and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in the phrase French novel. (In late 19c.-early 20c., a French kiss was a kiss on each cheek.) French-Canadian is from 1774; French doors is by 1847. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, this is said to be called in France filer à l'anglaise, literally "to take English leave."
1530s, "of or pertaining to Greek philosopher Plato" (429 B.C.E.-c. 347 B.C.E.), from Latin Platonicus, from Greek Platōnikos. The name is Greek Platōn, a nickname in reference to his broad shoulders (from platys "broad;" from PIE root *plat- "to spread"); his original name was Aristocles, son of Ariston. The meaning "free of sensual desire" (1630s, in Platonic love "pure spiritual affection unmixed with sexual desire," translating Latin Amor platonicus) which the word usually carries nowadays, is a Renaissance notion; it is based on Plato's writings in "Symposium" about the kind of interest Socrates took in young men and originally had no reference to women. Related: Platonically.
The bond which unites the human to the divine is Love. And Love is the longing of the Soul for Beauty ; the inextinguishable desire which like feels for like, which the divinity within us feels for the divinity revealed to us in Beauty. This is the celebrated Platonic Love, which, from having originally meant a communion of two souls, and that in a rigidly dialectical sense, has been degraded to the expression of maudlin sentiment between the sexes. Platonic love meant ideal sympathy ; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry. [George Henry Lewes, "The History of Philosophy," 1867]