Old English cnotta "intertwining of ropes, cords, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *knuttan- (source also of Low German knütte, Old Frisian knotta "knot," Dutch knot, Old High German knoto, German Knoten, perhaps also Old Norse knutr "knot, knob"). For pronunciation, see kn-.
Figurative sense of "difficult problem, a perplexity" was in Old English (compare Gordian knot). Symbolic of the bond of wedlock from early 13c. As an ornament of dress, first attested c. 1400. Meaning "thickened part or protuberance on tissue of a plant" is from late 14c. As "small group or cluster of persons" late 14c.
The nautical unit of measure of speed (1630s) is from the practice of attaching knotted string to the log line at equal distances (see log (n.2)). The ship's speed can be measured by the number of knots that play out while the sand glass is running.
The distance between the knots on the log-line should contain 1/120 of a mile, supposing the glass to run exactly half a minute. [Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, "A Voyage to South America" 1760]
Hence the word knot came also to be used as the equivalent of a nautical mile (in pre-World War II use in U.S. and Britain, about 6,080 feet). A speed of 10 knots will cover ten nautical miles in an hour (equivalent to a land speed of about 11.5 mph).
c. 1300, "unfold, spread out, unfurl" (a banner, etc.), from Old French desploiir (Modern French déployer) "unfold, unfasten, spread out" (of knots, sealed letters, etc.), from Latin displicare "to scatter," in Medieval Latin "to unfold," from dis- "un-, apart" (see dis-) + plicare "to fold" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait").
Properly of sails or flags (and unconnected to play); meaning "reveal, exhibit, expose to view" is late 14c.; sense of "reveal unintentionally, allow to be seen" is from c. 1600. Related: Displayed; displaying.
"expelling or having the quality of expelling flatulence," early 15c., from Latin carminativus, from past participle stem of carminare "to card," from carmen, genitive carminis, "a card for wool or flax," which is related to carrere "to card" (see card (v.2).
A medical term from the old theory of humours. The object of carminatives is to expel wind, but the theory is that they dilute and relax the gross humours from whence the wind arises, combing them out like knots in wool. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
As a noun from 1670s.
So called perhaps because the wood originally was used for wagon building and coachwork, but the sense evolution is not entirely clear. Meaning "panels lining the walls of rooms" is recorded from 1540s. Wainscoting is from 1570s.
Forms of this word were borrowed more than once into English from the continental languages, apparently suggesting a higher degree of romance or naughtiness than was available in the native words. The earliest is Middle English amorette (c. 1400, from Old French amorete "sweetheart, amorous girl"), which was obsolete by 17c. but revived or reborrowed 1825 as amourette "petty love affair." Also amorado (c. 1600, from Spanish), amoroso (1610s, Italian). They were variously applied as well to love sonnets, love-knots, amorous glances, little cupids, etc. Also compare Amaretto.
mid-15c., "foolish person," of unknown origin, perhaps related to obsolete verb fop "make a fool of," from a continental source akin to German foppen "jeer at, make a fool of." Sense of "dandy, coxcomb, man ostentatiously nice in manner and appearance" is from 1670s, perhaps given in derision by those who thought such things foolish. The 18c. was their period of greatest florescense. The junior variety was a fopling (1680s).
His was the sumptuous age of powder and patches. He was especially dainty in the matters of sword-knots, shoe-buckles, and lace ruffles. He was ablaze with jewelry, took snuff with an incomparable air out of a box studded with diamonds, and excelled in the "nice conduct of a clouded cane." [Charles J. Dunphie, "Fops and Foppery," New York, 1876]