Etymology
Advertisement
his (pron.)
Old English his (genitive of he), from Proto-Germanic *hisa (source also of Gothic is, Old Saxon is, German es). Originally also the neuter possessive pronoun, but in English it was replaced in that sense c. 1600 by its. In Middle English, hisis was tried for the absolute pronoun (compare her/hers), but it failed to stick. For dialectal his'n, see her.

In 16c.-17c. commonly used in place of a genitive inflection after nouns whose nominative ends in -s (for example, "When this Book became a particular book, that is, when Moses his book was divided into five parts, I cannot trace." [Donne, "Essayes in Divinity," "Exodus," 1651]). Here it is perhaps an expanded vocalized form of 's, originally -es. This tendency began in late Old English and was obsolete from c. 1750.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
horned (adj.)

"furnished with horn or horns," Old English hyrned, from source of horn (n.). The modern word probably is a new formation in Middle English. From late 14c. in reference to Moses, and the horn-like rays of light, symbols of power, that appeared on his head as he descended Mount Sinai. From 1620s in reference to cuckolds. Horned toad is from 1766; horned question is "a dilemma" (1540s).

The HORNED TOAD is frightful ; his head half the size of his body ; his jaws open enormously ; his eye lids have the form of a pointed cone, which makes them seem armed with horns, wherein are his eyes. His feet have something the air of hands. [Francis Fitzgerald, "The General Genteel Preceptor," 1747]
Related entries & more 
loner (n.)

"one who avoids company," 1946; see lone. Apparently first in U.S. baseball slang:

Ted [Williams] is likable enough in spite of his obsession with his specialty. He is something of a "loner," and he refuses to pal around with his teammates in off hours, but in the clubhouse he does his share of the talking. [Life magazine, Sept. 23, 1946]
Related entries & more 
onanism (n.)

"masturbation," also "coitus interruptus," 1727, from Onan, name of the son of Judah (Genesis xxxviii.9), who spilled his seed on the ground rather than impregnate his dead brother's wife: "And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother." The moral point of the verse was redirected by those who sought to suppress masturbation. Related: Onanist; onanistic.

Related entries & more 
Argus 
hundred-eyed giant of Greek mythology, late 14c., from Latin, from Greek Argos, literally "the bright one," from argos "shining, bright" (from PIE root *arg- "to shine; white"). His epithet was Panoptes "all-eyes." After his death, Hera transferred his eyes to the peacock's tail. Used in figurative sense of "very vigilant person."
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
maieutic (adj.)

"pertaining to the Socratic method of assisting a person, by questions, to discover conceptions latent in his mind," 1650s, from Greek maieutikos, a figurative use in philosophy of a word meaning literally "obstetric," from maieuesthai "act as a midwife," from maia "midwife" (see Maia).

By putting leading questions on general or well-known facts, Socrates, by easy steps, to the surprise and delight of his subject, would bring him to the enunciation of some principle hitherto unknown or undeveloped in his mind. This is called his Maieutic: a term which Socrates himself suggested, likening his relation to the development and birth of ideas in the mind to that mid-wife office which his mother performed for the body. Both this feature and the illustration afforded fine material for jest to Aristophanes, who, in his usual comic way, proceeded to literalize the metaphor. [Samuel Ross Winans, "Xenophon's Memorabilia of Socrates," Boston: 1890]
Related entries & more 
bowery (n.)

"farm, plantation," from Dutch bowerij "homestead farm" (from the same source as bower); a Dutch word probably little used in America outside New York, and there soon limited to one road, The Bowery, that ran from the built-up part of the city out to the plantations in middle Manhattan, attested from 1787; the city's growth soon overran it, and it was by 1840 a commercial district notorious for squalor, rowdiness, and low life. The Bowery boy as an American comic type had a heyday in the 1850s and again around 1900.

Bowery Boy, the typical New York tough of a generation or two ago, named from the street which he chiefly affected .... He rather prided himself on his uncouthness, his ignorance, and his desperado readiness to fight, but he also loved to have attention called to his courage, his gallantry to women, his patriotic enthusiasm, and his innate tenderness of heart. A fire and a thrilling melodrama called out all his energies and emotions. [Walsh, 1892]
Related entries & more 
reliability (n.)

"state or quality of being reliable," 1816, Coleridge, from reliable + -ity. In statistics, by 1910.

[Coleridge] evades the only charge brought against [Southey], by repelling one not brought against him, except by his Antijacobin patrons—and answers for his friend, as if he was playing at cross-purposes. Some people say, that Mr Southey has deserted the cause of liberty : Mr Coleridge tells us, that he has not separated from his wife. They say, that he has changed his opinions : Mr Coleridge says, that he keeps his appointments ; and has even invented a new word, reliability, to express his exemplariness in this particular. [from a review of "Biographia Literaria" in Edinburgh Review, August 1817]
Related entries & more 
behalf (n.)
c. 1300, behalve (with dative suffix), "for the sake or benefit, advantage, interest" (of someone), from Old English (him) be healfe "by (his) side," and, incorrectly, from on (his) healfe "on (his) side," from healfe "side" (see half). The word was confused with Middle English behalve, behalves (adv. and prep.) "by the side of, near."
Related entries & more 
Sunni (n.)
1620s, from Arabic, "adherent of the Sunnah; Muslim who accepts the orthodox tradition as well as the Quran," from Sunna "traditional teachings of Muhammad" (not, like the Quran, committed to writing, but preserved from his lips by his disciples or founded on his actions), literally "way, custom, course, tradition, usage." Related: Sunnite.
Related entries & more