second letter of the Latin alphabet, corresponding to Greek beta, Phoenician beth, literally "house." It "has nothing of that variety of pronunciation shown by most English letters" [Century Dictionary]. The Germanic "b" is said to represent a "bh" sound in Proto-Indo-European, which continued as "bh" in Sanskrit, became "ph" in Greek (brother/Greek phrater; bear (v.)/Greek pherein) and "f" in Latin (frater, ferre).
Often indicating "second in order." B-movie is by 1939, usually said to be so called from being the second, or supporting, film in a double feature. Some film industry sources say it was so called for being the second of the two films major studios generally made in a year, and the one cast with less headline talent and released with less promotion. And early usage varies with grade-B movie, suggesting a perceived association with quality.
B-side of a gramophone single is by 1962 (flip-side is by 1949). B-girl, abbreviation of bar girl, U.S. slang for a woman paid to encourage customers at a bar to buy her drinks, is by 1936.
Its use as a photographic film was noted by 1889.As an adjective, "of or pertaining to motion pictures," by 1922; as a noun, figuratively, "motion pictures" from 1934. Abbreviated form cell "sheet of celluloid" is from 1933 (see cel).
fem. proper name, personified as a nymph by Milton in "Comus" (1634). The name is from a Welsh tale of a maiden drowned in the river Severn by her stepmother; the legend is found in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Giraldus Cambrensis. It appears to be the Romanized form of the name of the River Severn (Welsh Hafren, Habren), which is Celtic and of unknown origin; it perhaps means "boundary." Sabrina neckline is from the 1954 film "Sabrina" starring Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina-work (1871) was a millinery term for a variety of application embroidery.
1725, "the need very badly to urinate," from Latin micturitum, from past participle of micturire "to desire to urinate," desiderative of mingere "to urinate," from PIE root *meigh- "to urinate." As during the final 20 minutes of a 4-hour film after drinking a 32-ounce Mountain Dew from the snack bar and the movie ends with a drawn-out farewell scene while Frodo is standing on the pier and wavelets lap audibly on the dock the whole time as if the director was a sadist set on compounding your torment. Also used, incorrectly, for "act of urinating."
Sense of "facial characteristic" is mid-14c.; that of "any distinctive part" first recorded 1690s. Entertainment sense is from 1801; in journalism by 1855. Meaning "a feature film" is from 1913. Latin factura also is the source of Spanish hechura, Portuguese feitura, Italian fattura.
c. 1300, "opposite, contrary in position or direction, turned backward," from Old French revers "reverse, cross, opposite" (13c.) and directly from Latin reversus, past participle of revertere "turn back, turn about, come back, return" (see revert). In reference to a gear mechanism enabling a vehicle to go backward without changing the rotation of the engine, by 1875. Reverse angle (shot, etc.) in film-making is from 1934. Reverse discrimination is attested from 1962, American English. Reverse dictionary, one in which the words are arranged alphabetically by last letter to first, is by 1954.
1580s, the short "the result, the total," from short (adj.). The meaning "electrical short circuit" is by 1906 (see short circuit). The meaning "contraction of a name or phrase" is by 1845 (in for short). The general sense of "whatever is deficient in number, quality, etc." is by 1868.
By 1823 as "a short drink." The slang meaning "car" is attested from 1897; originally "street car," so called because street cars (or the rides taken in them) were "shorter" than railroad cars. By 1929 as "a short film."