Proto-Indo-European root meaning "light, brightness."
It forms all or part of: allumette; elucidate; illumination; illustration; lea; leukemia; leuko-; light (n.) "brightness, radiant energy;" lightning; limn; link (n.2) "torch of pitch, tow, etc.;" lucent; lucid; Lucifer; luciferase; luciferous; lucifugous; lucubrate; lucubration; luculent; lumen; Luminal; luminary; luminate; luminescence; luminous; luna; lunacy; lunar; Lunarian; lunate; lunation; lunatic; lune; lunette; luni-; luster; lustrum; lux; pellucid; sublunary; translucent.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit rocate "shines;" Armenian lois "light," lusin "moon;" Greek leukos "bright, shining, white;" Latin lucere "to shine," lux "light," lucidus "clear;" Old Church Slavonic luci "light;" Lithuanian laukas "pale;" Welsh llug "gleam, glimmer;" Old Irish loche "lightning," luchair "brightness;" Hittite lukezi "is bright;" Old English leht, leoht "light, daylight; spiritual illumination," German Licht, Gothic liuhaþ "light."
1640s, first used in English by physician Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), apparently coined as Modern Latin electricus (literally "resembling amber") by English physicist William Gilbert (1540-1603) in treatise "De Magnete" (1600), from Latin electrum "amber," from Greek ēlektron "amber" (Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus), also "pale gold" (a compound of 1 part silver to 4 of gold); which is of unknown origin.
Vim illam electricam nobis placet appellare [Gilbert]
Originally the word described substances which, like amber, attract other substances when rubbed. Meaning "charged with electricity" is from 1670s; the physical force so called because it first was generated by rubbing amber. In many modern instances, the word is short for electrical. Figurative sense is attested by 1793. Electric light is from 1767. Electric toothbrush first recorded 1936; electric blanket in 1930. Electric typewriter is from 1958. Electric guitar is from 1938; electric organ coined as the name of a hypothetical future instrument in 1885.
Figurative of whiteness, fairness, purity. The Latin word has become the general word in languages across Europe: German lilie, Dutch lelie, Swedish lilja, French lis, Spanish lirio, Italian giglio, Polish lilija, Russian liliya. The French word is contracted from Latin lilius, a rare surviving nominative form in French. In Old French lilie (12c.) also existed. Related: Lilied; lilaceous.
The lily of the valley translates Latin lilium convallium (Vulgate), a literal rendition of the Hebrew term in Song of Solomon ii:1; in modern times the name was applied to a particular plant (Convallaria majalis) apparently first by 16c. German herbalists. Lily pad is from 1834, American English. For gild the lily see gilded.
1650s, "a crown," from Latin corona "a crown, a garland," in ancient Rome especially "a crown or garland bestowed for distinguished military service" (from a suffixed form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend").
With many extended senses in botany, anatomy, etc. As a brand of Cuban cigar, 1876. The brand of Mexican pale lager beer dates from 1925. The astronomical sense of "luminous circle observed around the sun during total eclipses" is from 1809. The two "crown" constellations, Corona Borealis and Corona Australis, both are Ptolemaic.
Corona Borealis "certainly is much more like that for which it is named than usually is the case with our sky figures," according to Richard Hinckley Allen ("Star-Names and Their Meaning," 1899), and he adds that to the Greeks it was stephanos, a wreath, and from Roman times on typically it was Ariadne's Crown. To Arab astronomers, however, it was Al Fakkah "the dish" (sometimes "the pauper's dish" or "the broken dish" — Latinized as Discus parvus confractus — as the celestial circle is incomplete), a word wrestled into European languages as Alphaca or Alphecca, and used as the name of the constellation's none-too-bright brightest star.
contemptuous nickname in U.S. politics for Northern Democrats who worked in the interest of the South before the Civil War, by 1833. It was taken to mean "man who allows himself to be molded," but that probably was not the original image. The source is an 1820 speech by John Randolph of Roanoke, in the wake of the Missouri Compromise.
Randolph, mocking the northerners intimidated by the South, referred to a children's game in which the players daubed their faces with dough and then looked in a mirror and scared themselves. [Daniel Walker Howe, "What Hath God Wrought," 2007]
Randolph had used the term dough-face in the sense "mask of dough" in Congressional debates as far back as February 1809 ("... it is something like dressing ourselves up in a dough-face and winding-sheet to frighten others ....").
However, the expression has been explained as referring to "the pale doughy faces of his frightened opponents" [Craigie], to a "person who is pliable and, as it were, made of dough" [Century Dictionary], or even "to liken them in timidity to female deer," which is frightened at her own shadow [The Port Folio, 1820]. Dough-faced in the sense "cowardly" is attested in a text from 1773, so there might be a convergence of senses.
c. 1400, "a sieve, a kitchen device;" by mid-15c. in the general sense of "one who or which shakes," agent noun from shake (v.).
From 1640s it was applied (with capital initial) to Christian sects whose devotional exercises gave some participants enthusiastic convulsions (compare Quaker). The best-known among the sects, originally followers of Mother Ann Lee but later based in America, were so called from 1784. The adjective with reference to furniture styles associated with these Shakers is recorded from 1866. The meaning "container for mixing cocktails, etc." is recorded from 1868 (ancient Greek had seison as the name of a kind of vase, literally "shaker"). Related: Shakeress; Shakerism. The figurative phrase movers and shakers "those with the power to shape or set the course of a society or people" is attested from 1874, though the notion of who they are perhaps has shifted:
WE are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams :
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
[from Arthur O'Shaughnessy, "Ode," 1874]
1707 as a direct phrase, but implied much earlier, and Old Norse had bikkju-sonr. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918; form sumbitch attested in writing by 1969.
Abide þou þef malicious!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]
Elsewhere, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, Mencken writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."
It was in 1934 also that the New York Daily News, with commendable frankness, in reporting a hearing in Washington at which Senator Huey P. Long featured, forsook the old-time dashes and abbreviations and printed the complete epithet "son of a bitch." [Stanley Walker, "City Editor," 1934]
common name of any lepidopterous insect active in daylight, Old English buttorfleoge, evidently butter (n.) + fly (n.), but the name is of obscure signification. Perhaps based on the old notion that the insects (or, according to Grimm, witches disguised as butterflies) consume butter or milk that is left uncovered. Or, less creatively, simply because the pale yellow color of many species' wings suggests the color of butter. Another theory connects it to the color of the insect's excrement, based on Dutch cognate boterschijte. Also see papillon.
Applied to persons from c. 1600, originally in reference to vain and gaudy attire; by 1806 in reference to transformation from early lowly state; in reference to flitting tendencies by 1873. The swimming stroke so called from 1935. As a type of mechanical nut, 1869. Butterflies "light stomach spasms caused by anxiety" is from 1908. Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel? is from Pope.
The butterfly effect is a deceptively simple insight extracted from a complex modern field. As a low-profile assistant professor in MIT's department of meteorology in 1961, [Edward] Lorenz created an early computer program to simulate weather. One day he changed one of a dozen numbers representing atmospheric conditions, from .506127 to .506. That tiny alteration utterly transformed his long-term forecast, a point Lorenz amplified in his 1972 paper, "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" [Peter Dizikes, "The Meaning of the Butterfly," The Boston Globe, June 8, 2008]
A truth known for ages to poets and philosophers (atomists) which modern science ponders as a possible fact.
1570s, common name of Dianthus, a garden plant of various colors; a word of unknown origin. It is perhaps from pink (v.) via the notion of "perforated" (scalloped) petals. Or perhaps it is from Dutch pink "small, narrow" (see pinkie), itself obscure, via the term pinck oogen "half-closed eyes," literally "small eyes," which was borrowed into English (1570s) and may have been used as a name for Dianthus, which sometimes has small dots resembling eyes.
The noun meaning "pale red color, red color of low chroma but high luminosity" is recorded by 1733 (pink-coloured is recorded from 1680s), from one of the common colors of the flowers. The adjective pink is attested by 1720. As an earlier name for such a color English had incarnation "flesh-color" (mid-14c.), and as an adjective incarnate (1530s), from Latin words for "flesh" (see incarnation) but these also had other associations and tended to drift in sense from "flesh-color, blush-color" toward "crimson, blood color."
The flower meaning led (by 1590s) to a figurative use for "the flower" or highest type or example of excellence of anything (as in Mercutio's "Nay, I am the very pinck of curtesie," Rom. & Jul. II.iv.61). Compare flour (n.). The political noun sense "person perceived as left of center but not entirely radical (i.e. red)" is attested by 1927, but the image dates to at least 1837. Pink slip "discharge notice" is attested by 1915; pink slips had various connotations in employment in the first decade of the 20th century, including a paper signed by a worker to testify he would leave the labor union or else be fired. To see pink elephants "hallucinate from alcoholism" is from 1913 in Jack London's "John Barleycorn."