[payment for use of property], mid-12c., in a legal sense, "compensation made periodically, with reference to time of possession and use of property," from Old French rente "payment due; profit, income" and Medieval Latin renta, both from Vulgar Latin *rendita, noun use of fem. past participle of *rendere "to render" (see render (v.)).
It came into English earlier in a more general, and now obsolete, sense of "income, revenue" (late Old English). The sense in political economy, "what is left from the produce of the soil after deducting what is necessary to support the producers, interest, seed-corn, etc.," is by 1815. Rent-free is attested from 1630s.
Rents (to think how much of evil there is in the two senses of that four-lettered word ! In the two methods of intonation of its synonym, Tear !) [Ruskin, "Fors Claveriga"]
Old English ripe, of grain, fruit, seed, a field, "ready for reaping, mature," of animals used as food, "fit for eating," from West Germanic *ripijaz (source also of Old Saxon ripi, Middle Dutch ripe, Dutch rijp, Old High German rifi, German reif); related to Old English repan "to reap" (see reap).
Usually explained as "fit for reaping," in which case it would have been originally of grains and extended to all fruit. Figurative use by c. 1200. As "full-grown, developed, finished" (a ripe age) by late 14c. The meaning "ready for some action or effect" (as in the time is ripe) is from late 14c. Of lips, the mouth, "round and full, like ripe fruit," by 1580s. Related: Ripely. The proverb soon ripe, soon rotten is attested by 1540s.
"raw recruit," 1868, a word popularized by Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads" (1892) but one of uncertain origin, perhaps from recruit and influenced by rook (n.1) in its secondary sense, suggesting "easy to cheat." Barrère ["A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant," 1890] has "Rookey (army), a recruit; from the black coat some of them wear," which suggests it is from rook (n.1). The word came into general use in American English during the Spanish-American War.
The rapid growth of a word from a single seed transplanted in a congenial soil is one of the curiosities of literature. Take a single instance. A few weeks ago there was not one American soldier in a thousand who knew there was such a word as "rookey." To-day there are few soldiers and ex-soldiers who have not substituted it for "raw recruit." [The Midland Monthly, December 1898]
laurel shrub (Laurus nobilis, source of the bay-leaf), late 14c., but meaning originally only the berry, from Old French baie (12c.) "berry, seed," from Latin baca, bacca "berry, fruit of a tree or shrub, nut" (source also of Spanish baya, Old Spanish bacca, Italian bacca "a berry"), a word of uncertain origin. De Vaan writes that connection with Greek Bakhos "Bacchus" is difficult, as the Greek word probably was borrowed from an Asian language. Some linguists compare Berber *bqa "blackberry, mulberry," and suggest a common borrowing from a lost Mediterranean language.
Extension of the word to the shrub itself is from 1520s. The leaves or sprigs were woven as wreaths for conquerors or poets, hence "honorary crown or garland bestowed as a prize for victory or excellence" (1560s). Bay-leaf is from 1630s. Bay-berry (1570s) was coined after the sense of the original word had shifted to the tree.
"the seed of a hardy leguminous vine," a well-known article of food, early or mid-17c., a false singular from Middle English pease (plural pesen), which was both single and collective (as wheat, corn) but the "s" sound was mistaken for the plural inflection. From Old English pise (West Saxon), piose (Mercian) "pea," from Late Latin pisa, variant of Latin pisum "pea," probably a loan-word from Greek pison "the pea," a word of unknown origin (Klein suggests it is from Thracian or Phrygian).
In Southern U.S. and the Caribbean, used of other legumes as well. Pea soup "soup made from peas" is recorded by 1711 (as pease-soup); the term was applied to London fogs at least since 1849. Pea-green as a hue resembling fresh peas is by 1752. Pea-shooter "toy consisting of a long straw or tube through which dried peas may be blown" is attested from 1803.
Old English plante "young tree or shrub, herb newly planted, a shoot or strip recently sprouted from seed," from Latin planta "sprout, shoot, cutting" (source of Spanish planta, French plante), which is perhaps from an unattested verb *plantare "to drive in with the feet, push into the ground with the feet," or perhaps "to level the earth," from planta "sole of the foot," from nasalized form of PIE root *plat- "to spread." German Pflanz, Irish cland, Welsh plant also are from Latin.
Broader sense of "any small vegetable life, vegetation generally" (sometimes popularly excluding trees), "an individual living being with material organization but not animal in nature" is recorded by 1550s.
Most extended usages are from the verb, on the notion of "something planted;" such as "construction for an industrial process," 1789, at first with reference to the machinery, tools, apparatus, etc., later also the building; also slang meaning "a spy" (1812). Many of these follow similar developments in the French form of the word.
1540s, "miserable person, wretch," from Latin miser (adj.) "unhappy, wretched, pitiable, in distress," a word for which "no acceptable PIE pedigree has been found" [de Vaan]. The oldest English sense now is obsolete; the main modern meaning of "money-hoarding person" ("one who in wealth conducts himself as one afflicted with poverty" - Century Dictionary) is recorded by 1560s, from the presumed unhappiness of such people. The older sense is preserved in miserable, misery, etc.
Besides general wretchedness, the Latin word connoted also "intense erotic love" (compare slang got it bad "deeply infatuated") and hence was a favorite word of Catullus. In Greek a miser was kyminopristes, literally "a cumin seed splitter." In Modern Greek, he might be called hekentabelones, literally "one who has sixty needles." The German word, filz, literally "felt," preserves the image of the felt slippers which the miser often wore in caricatures. Lettish mantrausis "miser" is literally "money-raker."
c. 1600, "shield louse (Coccus ilicis) that yields a red dye" (1590s of the tree on which the insects live), from Medieval Latin cremesinus (also source of French kermès, Italian chermes, Spanish carmes), from Arabic qirmiz "kermes," from Sanskrit krmi-ja a compound meaning "(red dye) produced by a worm."
The Sanskrit compound is krmih "worm" (from PIE root *kwrmi- "worm," source also of Lithuanian kirmis, Old Irish cruim, Albanian krimp "worm") + -ja- "produced" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). The insect lives in the Levant and southern Europe on a species of small evergreen oak (kermes oak) and in ancient Europe were the main source of red and scarlet dye. The dye is prepared from the dried bodies of pregnant females, which alive resemble small roundish grains about the size of peas and cling immobile to the tree on which they live. From this fact kermes dye was, for a long time, mistaken as being from a seed or excrescence of the tree, and the word for it in Greek was kokkos, literally "a grain, seed" (see cocco-). This was passed to Latin as coccum, coccus "berry [sic] yielding scarlet dye," in late use "scarlet color, scarlet garment."
So important was kermes (coccus) as a commercial source of scarlet dye that derivatives of the name for it have displaced the original word for "red" in many languages, such as Welsh coch (from Latin), Modern Greek kokkinos. Also compare Russian čcermnyj "purple-red," Old Church Slavonic čruminu. Compare also crimson (n.).
Kermes dyes have been found in burial wrappings in Anglo-Scandinavian York, but the use of kermes dyes seems to have been lost in Europe from the Dark Ages until early 15c. It fell out of use again with the introduction of cochineal (the word for which itself might be from coccus) from the New World.
Cloths dyed with kermes are of a deep red colour; and though much inferior in brilliancy to the scarlet cloths dyed with real Mexican cochineal, they retain the colour better and are less liable to stain. The tapestries of Brussels and other parts of Flanders, which have scarcely lost any thing of their original brilliancy, even after a lapse of 200 years, were all dyed with kermes. [W.T. Brande, "Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art," London, 1842]
"the fruit of certain trees and shrubs which have the seed enclosed in a woody covering not opening when ripe," Middle English note, from Old English hnutu, from Proto-Germanic *hnut- (source also of Old Norse hnot, Dutch noot, Old High German hnuz, German Nuss "nut"), from PIE *kneu- "nut" (source also of Latin nux; see nucleus).
Sense of "testicle" is attested by 1915 (nuts). Nut-brown "brown as a ripe, dried nut" is from c. 1300 of animals; c. 1500 of complexions of women. The mechanical nut that goes onto a bolt is first recorded 1610s, from some fancied resemblance (nut was used of other small mechanical pieces since early 15c.). The figurative nuts and bolts "fundamentals" is by 1952. The American English slang sense of "amount of money required for something" is recorded by 1912.
Meaning "crazy person, crank" is attested from 1903; British form nutter is attested by 1958. Nut-case "crazy person" is from 1959; nut-house "insane asylum" is by 1929. For more on this sense, see nuts. In slang, nut also meant "fashionable or showy young man of affected elegance" [OED], 1904.
also karat, late 15c., "a measure of the fineness of gold," from Old French carat "measure of the fineness of gold" (14c.), from Italian carato or Medieval Latin carratus, both from Arabic qirat "fruit of the carob tree," also "weight of 4 grains," from Greek keration "carob seed," also the name of a small weight of measure, literally "little horn" diminutive of keras "horn of an animal" (from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head").
Carob beans were a standard in the ancient world for weighing small quantities. The Greek measure was the equivalent of the Roman siliqua, which was one-twenty-fourth of a golden solidus of Constantine; hence karat took on a sense of "a proportion of one twenty-fourth, a twenty-fourth part," especially in expressing the fineness of gold when used as jewelry, and thus it became a measure of gold purity (1550s): 18-carat gold is eighteen parts gold, six parts alloy; 14-carat gold is 10/24ths alloy, etc.
As a measure of weight for diamonds or other precious stones, carat is attested from 1570s in English. In U.S., karat is used for "proportion of fine gold in an alloy" and carat for "measure of weight of a precious stone."