Etymology
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return (n.)

late 14c., "act of coming back" to a place or state, also "formal or official report of election results," from Anglo-French retorn, retourn, Old French retorne, retourne, verbal noun from retorner "turn back, turn round, return" (see return (v.)). Also in part from Medieval Latin returnum. Related: Returns.

The meaning "official report of the result of an election" is from mid-15c. The sense of "act of giving by way of recompense" is from 1540s. In ball games from 1833 (cricket); specifically in tennis from 1886. The meaning "a yield, a profit, gain" in some trade or occupation is recorded from 1620s. The sense of "a thing sent back" is from 1875.

To wish someone many happy returns of the day was in Addison (1716). The postal return address, to which an item is to be returned if it could not be delivered, is attested from 1879; return envelope, enclosed for the recipient's reply to a letter, is by 1886. The traveler's return ticket is by 1847.

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computer (n.)

1640s, "one who calculates, a reckoner, one whose occupation is to make arithmetical calculations," agent noun from compute (v.).

Meaning "calculating machine" (of any type) is from 1897; in modern use, "programmable digital electronic device for performing mathematical or logical operations," 1945 under this name (the thing itself was described by 1937 in a theoretical sense as Turing machine). ENIAC (1946) usually is considered the first.

Computer literacy is recorded from 1970; an attempt to establish computerate (adjective, on model of literate) in this sense in the early 1980s didn't catch on. Computerese "the jargon of programmers" is from 1960, as are computerize and computerization.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A New York Congressman says the use of computers to record personal data on individuals, such as their credit background, "is just frightening to me." [news article, March 17, 1968]

Earlier words for "one who calculates" include computator (c. 1600), from Latin computator; computist (late 14c.) "one skilled in calendrical or chronological reckoning."

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quack (n.1)

"medical charlatan, impudent and fraudulent pretender to medical skill," 1630s, short for quacksalver (1570s), from obsolete Dutch quacksalver (modern kwakzalver), literally "hawker of salve," from Middle Dutch quacken "to brag, boast," literally "to croak" (see quack (v.)) + salf "salve," salven "to rub with ointment" (see salve (n.)). As an adjective from 1650s.

The oldest attested form of this quack in English is as a verb, "to play the quack" (1620s). The Dutch word also is the source of German Quacksalber, Danish kvaksalver, Swedish kvacksalvare.

A quack is, by derivation, one who talks much without wisdom, and, specifically, talks of his own power to heal ; hence, any ignorant pretender to medical knowledge or skill. Empiric is a more elevated term for one who goes by mere experience in the trial of remedies, and is without knowledge of the medical sciences or of the clinical observations and opinions of others; hence, an incompetent, self-confident practitioner. A mountebank is generally a quack, but may be a pretender in any line. Charlatan (literally 'chatterer') is primarily applied, not to a person belonging to any particular profession or occupation, but to a pretentious cheat of any sort. [Century Dictionary, 1897]

 Also "one who pretends to knowledge of any kind" (1630s).

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potter (n.)

"maker of pots, one whose occupation is the making of earthenware vessels" (they also sometimes doubled as bell-founders), late Old English pottere "potter," reinforced by Old French potier (Anglo-French poter) "potter," both from the root of pot (n.1). As a surname from late 12c. An older Old English word for "potter" was crocwyrhta "crock-wright."

Potter's field "piece of ground reserved as a burying place for friendless paupers, unknown persons, and criminals" (1520s; early 14c. as potter's place) is Biblical (Matthew xxvii.7), a ground where clay suitable for pottery was dug, later purchased by high priests of Jerusalem as a burying ground for strangers, criminals, and the poor. [Purchased with the coins paid to Judas for betraying Jesus; these being considered blood money it was then known in Aramaic as Akeldema, "field of blood."]

The ancient Athenian city cemetery also was a "potterville" (Kerameikos), and there seems to have been an ancient association of potters' workshops with burial places (Argos, Rhodes, etc.; see John H. Oakley (ed.), "Athenian Potters and Painters," vol. III, 2014). Perhaps both were kept away from the inhabited districts for public safety reasons (disease on the one hand and on the other fires sparked by the kilns).

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iron curtain (n.)

1794, the name of a fire-protection device to be used in theaters, a literal iron curtain; see iron (n.) + curtain (n.).

The new and exquisitely beautiful theatre of Drury-lane has the peculiar contrivance of an iron-curtain to secure the audience from all danger, in case of fire on the stage. Miss Farren, in the occasional epilogue, delivered on opening this new theatre, pleasantly informs the spectators that, should flames burst out in the part appropriated to the representation, they may comfort themselves with thinking that nothing can be burnt but the scenery and the actors. [The Monthly Review, June 1794]

From 1819 in the figurative sense "impenetrable barrier." In reference to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, famously coined by Winston Churchill March 5, 1946, in speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, but it had been used earlier in this context (for example by U.S. bureaucrat Allen W. Dulles at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 3, 1945). The phrase had been used in the sense of "barrier at the edge of the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union" from 1920. During World War II, Goebbels used it in German (ein eiserner Vorhang) in the same sense. But its popular use in the U.S. dates from Churchill's speech.

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first (adj., adv.)

Old English fyrst "foremost, going before all others; chief, principal," also (though rarely) as an adverb, "at first, originally," superlative of fore; from Proto-Germanic *furista- "foremost" (source also of Old Saxon fuirst "first," Old High German furist, Old Norse fyrstr, Danish første, Old Frisian ferist, Middle Dutch vorste "prince," Dutch vorst "first," German Fürst "prince"), from PIE *pre-isto-, superlative of *pre-, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first, chief."

The usual Old English superlative word was not fyrst, but forma, which shows more clearly the connection to fore. Forma became Middle English firme "first, earliest," but this has not survived.

First aid is that given at the scene, pending the arrival of a doctor. First lady as an informal title for the wife of a U.S. president was in use by 1908, short for First lady of the land (by 1863 with reference to the president's wife); the earlier title was simply Lady (1841). First name is attested from mid-13c. First base "a start" in any sense (1938) is a figurative use from baseball.

First fruits is from late 14c. as "earliest productions of the soil;" 1590s as "first results" of any activity or endeavor. First love is from 1741 as "one's first experience of romantic love;" 1971 as "one's favorite occupation or pastime." First floor is from 1660s as "story built on or just above the ground" (now U.S.); 1865 as "story built next above the ground."

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work (n.)

Old English weorc, worc "something done, discrete act performed by someone, action (whether voluntary or required), proceeding, business; that which is made or manufactured, products of labor," also "physical labor, toil; skilled trade, craft, or occupation; opportunity of expending labor in some useful or remunerative way;" also "military fortification." This is from Proto-Germanic *werka- "work" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch werk, Old Norse verk, Middle Dutch warc, Old High German werah, German Werk, Gothic gawaurki), from PIE *werg-o-, a suffixed form of the root *werg- "to do."

The meaning "physical effort, exertion" is from c. 1200; that of "scholarly labor" or its productions is from c. 1200; the meaning "artistic labor" or its productions is from c. 1200. The sense of "labor as a measurable commodity" is from c. 1300. The meaning "embroidery, stitchery, needlepoint" is from late 14c.

Work of art attested by 1774 as "artistic creation," earlier (1728) "artifice, production of humans (as opposed to nature)." Work ethic recorded from 1959. To be out of work "unemployed" is from 1590s. To make clean work of is from c. 1300; to make short work of is from 1640s.

Proverbial expression many hands make light work is from c. 1300. To have (one's) work cut out for one is from 1610s; to have it prepared and prescribed, hence, to have all one can handle. Work in progress is from 1930 in a general sense, earlier as a specific term in accountancy and parliamentary procedure.

Work is less boring than amusing oneself. [Baudelaire, "Mon Coeur mis a nu," 1862]
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street (n.)

Old English stret (Mercian, Kentish), stræt (West Saxon) "street, high road," from Late Latin strata, used elliptically for via strata "paved road," from fem. past participle of Latin sternere "lay down, spread out, pave," from PIE *stre-to- "to stretch, extend," from root *stere- "to spread, extend, stretch out," from nasalized form of PIE root *stere- "to spread."

One of the few words in use in England continuously from Roman times. An early and widespread Germanic borrowing (Old Frisian strete, Old Saxon strata, Middle Dutch strate, Dutch straat, Old High German straza, German Strasse, Swedish stråt, Danish sträde "street"). The Latin is also the source of Spanish estrada, Old French estrée, Italian strada.

"The normal term in OE for a paved way or Roman road, later extended to other roads, urban streets, and in SE dialects to a street of dwellings, a straggling village or hamlet" [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]. Originally of Roman roads (Watling Street, Icknield Street). "In the Middle Ages, a road or way was merely a direction in which people rode or went, the name street being reserved for the made road" [Weekley].

Used since c. 1400 to mean "the people in the street;" modern sense of "the realm of the people as the source of political support" dates from 1931. The street for an especially important street is from 1560s (originally of London's Lombard-street). Man in the street "ordinary person, non-expert" is attested from 1831. Street people "the homeless" is from 1967; expression on the street "homeless" is from 1852. Street smarts is from 1971; street-credibility is from 1979. Street-sweeper as an occupation is from 1848.

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rest (n.1)

[sleep, repose, slumber] Old English ræste, reste "rest; a bed or couch; intermission of labor; mental peace, state of quiet or repose," from Proto-Germanic *rasto- (source also of Old Saxon resta "resting place, burial-place," Dutch rust, Old High German rasta, German Rast "rest, peace, repose"), a word of uncertain origin.

The original prehistoric signification of the Germanic noun was perhaps a measure of distance; compare Old High German rasta, which in addition to "rest" meant "league of miles," Old Norse rost "league, distance after which one rests," Gothic rasta "mile, stage of a journey." If so, perhaps a word from the nomadic period. But if the original sense was "repose," the sense was extended secondarily to "distance between two resting places."

Sense of "absence or cessation of motion" is from late 15c. The meaning "that on which anything leans for support, thing upon which something rests" is attested from 1580s, with specific senses developing later. In music, "an interval of silence," also the mark or sign denoting this, 1570s.

At rest "dead" is from mid-14c., on the notion of "last rest, the big sleep, the grave." The roadside rest stop for drivers on busy highways is by 1970. The colloquial expression give (something) a rest "stop talking about it" is by 1927, American English.

[R]est and repose apply especially to the suspended activity of the body ; ease and quiet to freedom from occupation or demands for activity, especially of the body ; tranquility and peace to the freedom of the mind from harassing cares or demands. [Century Dictionary]
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race (n.2)

[people of common descent] 1560s, "people descended from a common ancestor, class of persons allied by common ancestry," from French race, earlier razza "race, breed, lineage, family" (16c.), possibly from Italian razza, which is of unknown origin (cognate with Spanish raza, Portuguese raça). Etymologists say it has no connection with Latin radix "root," though they admit this might have influenced the "tribe, nation" sense, and race was a 15c. form of radix in Middle English (via Old French räiz, räis). Klein suggests the words derive from Arabic ra's "head, beginning, origin" (compare Hebrew rosh).

  

Original senses in English included "wines with characteristic flavor" (1520), "group of people with common occupation" (c. 1500), and "generation" (1540s). The meaning developed via the sense of "tribe, nation, or people regarded as of common stock" to "an ethnical stock, one of the great divisions of mankind having in common certain physical peculiarities" by 1774 (though as OED points out, even among anthropologists there never has been an accepted classification of these). In 19c. also "a group regarded as forming a distinctive ethnic stock" (German, Greeks, etc.).

Just being a Negro doesn't qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine. [Dick Gregory, 1964]

In mid-20c. U.S. music catalogues, it means "Negro." Old English þeode meant both "race, folk, nation" and "language;" as a verb, geþeodan meant "to unite, to join." Race-consciousness "social consciousness," whether in reference to the human race or one of the larger ethnic divisions, is attested by 1873; race-relations by 1897. Race theory "assertion that some racial groups are endowed with qualities deemed superior" is by 1894.

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