1520s, "lofty with pride, haughtily contemptuous," from Latin superciliosus "haughty, arrogant," from supercilium "haughty demeanor, pride," literally "eyebrow" (via notion of raising the eyebrow to express haughtiness), from super "above" (see super-) + second element akin to cilium "eyelid," related to celare "to cover, hide," from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." Related: Superciliously; superciliousness.
Since cilium is more recent than supercilium, the former can be interpreted as a back-formation to the latter .... If indeed derived from the root *kel- 'to hide', we must still assume that a noun *kilium 'eyelid' existed, since the eyelid can 'hide' the eye, whereas the eyebrow does not have such a function. Thus, supercilium may originally have meant 'what is above the cilium'. [Michiel de Vaan, "Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages," Leiden, 2008]
1854, "condition of having capital;" from capital (n.1) + -ism. Meaning "political/economic system which encourages capitalists" is recorded from 1872, originally used disparagingly by socialists. Meaning "concentration of capital in the hands of a few; the power or influence of large capital" is from 1877.
"Capital" may be most briefly described as wealth producing more wealth; and "capitalism" as the system directing that process. This latter term came into general use during the second half of the 19th century as a word chiefly signifying the world-wide modern system of organizing production and trade by private enterprise free to seek profit and fortune by employing for wages the mass of human labour. There is no satisfactory definition of the term, though nothing is more evident than the thing. [J.L. Garvin, "Capitalism" in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1929]
1904, "pacifism, rejection of war and violence as a matter of principle," 1904, from pacific + -ism. Fowler, in 1926, wrote that the longer form was better, "but its chances of ousting the wrong form are small."
But pacificism gradually evolved a sense distinct from pacifism, "advocacy of a peaceful policy as a first resort or in a particular instance." Since the 19th century the international peace movement has included absolutists (who believe war can be totally and immediately repudiated) and moderates who see the abolition of war as a gradual process of promoting international systems and reforming nations and who believe that, until then, defensive military force may be needed to protect reforms. The use of pacificist for the latter was suggested in 1957 by British historian and nuclear-disarmament activist A.J.P. Taylor. Related: Pacificist.
early 15c., "written record," from Anglo-French memorie "note, memorandum, something written to be kept in mind" (early 15c., Old French memoire), from Latin memoria (from PIE root *(s)mer- (1) "to remember"). The more specific sense of "a notice or essay relating to something within the writer's own memory or knowledge" is from 17c. Meaning "person's written account of his or her life" is from 1670s. Related: Memoirist.
Biography, Memoir. When there is a difference between these words, it may be that memoir indicates a less complete or minute account of a person's life, or it may be that the person himself records his own recollections of the past, especially as connected with his own life; in the latter case memoir should be in the plural. [Century Dictionary]
Old English læt "occurring after the customary or expected time," originally "slow, sluggish, slack, lax, negligent," from Proto-Germanic *lata- (source also of Old Norse latr "sluggish, lazy," Middle Dutch, Old Saxon lat, Dutch laat, German laß "idle, weary," Gothic lats "weary, sluggish, lazy," latjan "to hinder"), from PIE *led- "slow, weary," from root *lē- "to let go, slacken."
From mid-13c. as "occurring in the latter part of a period of time." From c. 1400 as "being or occurring in the near, or not too distant, past; recent" (of late). From this comes the early 15c. sense "recently dead, not many years dead" (as in the late Mrs. Smith). Of menstruation, attested colloquially from 1962. Expression better late than never is attested from late 15c. As an adverb, from Old English late "slowly."
"military reinforcement, one of a newly raised body of soldiers or sailors to supply a military deficiency," 1640s, from recruit (v.), replacing earlier recrew, recrue; or from obsolete French recrute, alteration of recreue "a supply," recrue "a levy of troops" (late 16c.). This is a Picardy or Hainault dialect variant of recrue "a levy, a recruit," literally "a new growth," from Old French recreu (12c.), past participle of recreistre "grow or increase again," from re- "again" (see re-) + creistre "to grow," from Latin crescere "to grow" (from PIE root *ker- (2) "to grow").
"The French word first appeared in literary use in gazettes published in Holland, and was disapproved of by French writers in the latter part of the 17th c." [OED]. The French word also is the source of Dutch recruut, German Recrut, Swedish rekryt. The general sense of "one who has newly filled a vacancy in any body or class of persons" also is from 1640s.
1580s, "a middle ground, quality, or degree; that which holds a middle place or position," from Latin medium "the middle, midst, center; interval," noun use of neuter of adjective medius "in the middle, between; from the middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle").
Many of the secondary senses are via the notion of "intervening substance through which a force or quality is conveyed" (1590s) and "intermediate agency, channel of communication" (c. 1600). From the former, via application to air, etc., comes the sense of "one's environment or conditions" (1865). From the latter comes the sense of "a print publication" (1795) which later grew into the meaning in media.
In spiritualism, "person who conveys spiritual messages," by 1853. In painting, in reference to oil, watercolor, etc., by 1854. The notion is "liquid with which pigments are ground or mixed to give them desired fluidity." Happy medium is the "golden mean," Horace's aurea mediocritas.
1580s, perhaps from Middle Dutch blinken "to glitter," which is of uncertain origin, possibly, with German blinken "to gleam, sparkle, twinkle," from a nasalized form of base found in Old English blican "to shine, glitter" (from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn").
Middle English had blynke (c. 1300) in the sense "a brief gleam or spark," perhaps a variant of blench "to move suddenly or sharply; to raise one's eyelids" (c. 1200), perhaps from the rare Old English blencan "deceive."
Originally with a vague and shifting set of meanings, many now obsolete, having to do with motion of the eyes; in earlier use "the notion of 'glancing' predominates; in the latter, that of 'winking'" [OED]. Blink as "to wink" is attested by 1761. Meaning "cast a sudden, fleeting light" is from 1786; that of "shut the eyes momentarily and involuntarily" is from 1858. Related: Blinked; blinking. The last, as a euphemism for a stronger word, is attested by 1914.
also quarter-staff, 1540s (quarter-stroke "stroke with a quarterstaff" is attested from early 15c.), an old weapon formed from a stout pole, six to eight feet long (six-and-a-half sometimes is given as the standard length), tipped with iron, formerly a weapon characteristic of the English peasantry. From staff (n.); the quarter in it is of uncertain signification. According to one theory, favored by fencing manuals, etc., it likely is in reference to operation of the weapon:
It was grasped by one hand in the middle, and by the other between the middle and the end. In the attack the latter hand shifted from one quarter of the staff to the other, giving the weapon a rapid circular motion, which brought the ends on the adversary at unexpected points. [Century Dictionary]
Linguists tend to prefer an explanation from woodcutting, perhaps a reference to a cut of lumber known as a quarter, but contemporary evidence is wanting for either conjecture.