Etymology
Advertisement
Sam 

masc. proper name, typically a shortening of Samuel (q.v.).

Sam Browne in reference to a type of belt with shoulder strap is by 1915, from Sir Samuel James Browne (1824-1901), the British general who invented it. Sam Hill as an American English emphatic euphemism for "Hell!" (in exasperation) is by 1839. Sam Slick as the type of the resourceful Yankee (especially in the mind of the South) is from the character created 1835 by Nova Scotian judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton in a series of popular books.

I’ll tell you how I’d work it. I’d say, “Here’s a book they’ve namesaked arter me, Sam Slick the Clockmaker, but it tante mine, and I can’t altogether jist say rightly whose it is …. Its about the wittiest book I ever seed. Its nearly all sold off, but jist a few copies I’ve kept for my old customers. The price is just 5s. 6d. but I’ll let you have it for 5s. because you’ll not get another chance to have one.” Always ax a sixpence more than the price, and then bate it, and when Blue Nose hears that, he thinks he’s got a bargain, and bites directly. I never see one on ’em yet that didn’t fall right into the trap. [from "The Clockmaker: The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville"]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
coast (v.)

late 14c., "to skirt, to go around the sides, to go along the border" of something (as a ship does the coastline), from Anglo-French costien, from the French source of coast (n.).

The meaning "sled downhill," first attested 1834 in American English, is a separate borrowing or a new development from the noun. In bicycle-riding, "descend a hill with the feet off the pedals," from 1879. Of motor vehicles, "to move without thrust from the engine," from 1896; figurative use, of persons, "not to exert oneself," by 1934. Related: Coasted; coasting.

"Coasting" consists in throwing the legs up over the handles and allowing the bicycle to rush of its own impetus down hill. It can only be done with safety where the road is perfectly smooth, hard, and free from obstructions; but, under such conditions, bicycle coasting affords one of the most glorious and exhilarating of sensations, and, next to ballooning, its motion most nearly resembles the flight of a bird. [Harper's Weekly, Dec. 20, 1879]
The reckless coasting down the long hills on the route was scarcely more defensible. Speeds of 25 to 30 miles an hour were reached in some instances. The common road is not the proper place for such exhibitions, especially in populous centres. The risk is altogether too great, both for occupants of the vehicle and for other frequenters of the highway. [account of an automobile race on the streets of New York in The Horseless Age, June 1896] 
Related entries & more 
cheek (n.)

"either of the two fleshy sides of the face below the eyes," Old English ceace, cece "jaw, jawbone," in late Old English also "the fleshy wall of the mouth," of uncertain origin, from Proto-Germanic *kaukon (source also of Middle Low German kake "jaw, jawbone," Middle Dutch kake "jaw," Dutch kaak), not found outside West Germanic, probably a substratum word.

Words for "cheek," "jaw," and "chin" tend to run together in IE languages (compare PIE *genw-, source of Greek genus "jaw, cheek," geneion "chin," and English chin); Aristotle considered the chin as the front of the "jaws" and the cheeks as the back of them. The other Old English word for "cheek" was ceafl (see jowl (n.1)).

A thousand men he [Samson] slow eek with his hond, And had no wepen but an asses cheek. [Chaucer, "Monk's Tale"]

In reference to the buttocks from c. 1600. Sense of "brazen insolence" is from 1840, perhaps from a notion akin to that which led to jaw "insolent speech," mouth off, etc. To turn the other cheek is an allusion to Matthew v.39 and Luke vi.29. Cheek-by-jowl "with cheeks close together," hence "in intimate contact" is from 1570s; earlier in same sense was cheek-by-cheek (early 14c.). In ballroom dancing, cheek-to-cheek is from 1919 (earlier it was a measurement of apples). 

Related entries & more 
fiasco (n.)

1855, theater slang for "a failure in performance;" by 1862 it had acquired the general sense of "any ignominious failure or dismal flop," on or off the stage. It comes via the French phrase faire fiasco "turn out a failure" (19c.), from Italian far fiasco "suffer a complete breakdown in performance," literally "make a bottle," from fiasco "bottle," from Late Latin flasco "bottle" (see flask).

The literal sense of the image (if it is one) is obscure today, but "the usual range of fanciful theories has been advanced" [Ayto]. Century Dictionary says "perhaps in allusion to the bursting of a bottle," Weekley pronounces it impenetrable and compares French ramasser un pelle "to come a cropper (in bicycling), literally to pick up a shovel." OED keeps its distance and lets nameless "Italian etymologists" make nebulous reference to "alleged incidents in Italian theatrical history." Klein suggests Venetian glass-crafters tossing aside imperfect pieces to be made later into common flasks. But according to an Italian dictionary, fare il fiasco used to mean "to play a game so that the one that loses will pay the fiasco," in other words, he will buy the next bottle (of wine). If the dates are not objectionable, that plausibly connects the literal sense of the word with the notion of "a costly mistake."

Related entries & more 
milk (n.)
Origin and meaning of milk

"opaque white fluid secreted by mammary glands of female mammals, suited to the nourishment of their young," Middle English milk, from Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluk- "milk" (source also of Old Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks), from *melk- "to milk," from PIE root *melg- "to wipe, to rub off," also "to stroke; to milk," in reference to the hand motion involved in milking an animal. Old Church Slavonic noun meleko (Russian moloko, Czech mleko) is considered to be adopted from Germanic.

Of milk-like plant juices or saps from c. 1200. Milk chocolate (eating chocolate made with milk solids, paler and sweeter) is recorded by 1723; milk shake was used from 1889 for a variety of concoctions, but the modern version (composed of milk, flavoring, etc., mixed by shaking) is from the 1930s. Milk tooth (1727) uses the word in its figurative sense "period of infancy," attested from 17c. To cry over spilt milk (representing anything which, once misused, cannot be recovered) is first attested 1836 in writing of Canadian humorist Thomas C. Haliburton. Milk and honey is from the Old Testament phrase describing the richness of the Promised Land (Numbers xvi.13, Old English meolc and hunie). Milk of human kindness is from "Macbeth" (1605).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
act (n.)

late 14c., "a thing done," from Latin actus "a doing; a driving, impulse, a setting in motion; a part in a play," and actum "a thing done" (originally a legal term), both from agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," figuratively "incite to action; keep in movement, stir up" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

The verb agere had a broad range of meaning in Latin, including "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law; chase; carry off, steal." The theatrical ("part of a play," 1510s) and legislative (early 15c.) senses of the noun also were in Latin.

The meaning "one of a series of performances in a variety show" is from 1890. The meaning "display of exaggerated behavior" is from 1928, extended from the theatrical sense. In the act "in the process" is from 1590s, perhaps originally from a late 16c. sense of the act as "sexual intercourse." Act of God "uncontrollable natural force" is recorded by 1726.

An act of God is an accident which arises from a cause which operates without interference or aid from man (1 Pars. on Cont. 635); the loss arising wherefrom cannot be guarded against by the ordinary exertions of human skill and prudence so as to prevent its effect. [William Wait, "General Principles of the Law," Albany, 1879]

To get into the act "participate" is from 1947; to get (one's) act together "organize one's (disorderly) life" is by 1976, perhaps euphemistic.

Related entries & more 
that (pron.)

Old English þæt, "that, so that, after that," neuter singular demonstrative pronoun ("A Man's a Man for a' that"), relative pronoun ("O thou that hearest prayer"), and demonstrative adjective ("Look at that caveman go!"), corresponding to masc. se, fem. seo. From Proto-Germanic *that, from PIE *tod-, extended form of demonstrative pronominal base *-to- (see -th (1)).

With the breakdown of the grammatical gender system, it came to be used in Middle English and Modern English for all genders. Germanic cognates include Old Saxon that, Old Frisian thet, Middle Dutch, Dutch dat "that," German der, die, das "the."

Generally more specific or emphatic than the, but in some cases they are interchangeable. From c. 1200 opposed to this as indicating something farther off. In adverbial use ("I'm that old"), in reference to something implied or previously said, c. 1200, an abbreviation of the notion of "to that extent," "to that degree." As a conjunction ("Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more") it was originally the neuter pronoun or adjective that used practically as a definite article qualifying the whole sentence.

Slang that way "in love" first recorded 1929. That-a-way "in that direction" is recorded from 1839. "Take that!" said while delivering a blow, is recorded from early 15c.

Related entries & more 
block (n.1)

"solid piece," early 14c., blok, blokke, "large solid piece of wood," usually with one or more plane faces, from Old French bloc "log, block" of wood (13c.), which is from a Germanic source such as Middle Dutch bloc "trunk of a tree," Old High German bloh (from PIE *bhlugo-, from *bhelg- "a thick plank, beam;" see balk (n.)).

Generalized by late 15c. to any solid piece. Meaning "solid mass of wood, the upper surface of which is used for some purpose" is from late 15c., originally the executioner's block where the condemned were beheaded. Meaning "stump where a slave stood to be sold at auction" is from 1842. Meaning "mold on which something is shaped, or placed to keep its shape," typically a hat or wig, is from 1570s; sense of "head" (generally disparaging) is from 1630s, perhaps an extension of this. To knock (someone's) block off "thrash, beat" is by 1923.

Meaning "grooved pulley in a wooden case" (used to transmit power and change the direction of motion by means of a rope) is from c. 1400. Hence block and tackle (1825; see tackle (n.)). The meaning in city block is 1796, from the notion of a "compact mass" of buildings.

BLOCK. A term applied in America to a square mass of houses included between four streets. It is a very useful one. [Bartlett]

Later of a portion of a city enclosed by streets, whether built up or not.

Related entries & more 
ride (v.)

Middle English riden, from Old English ridan "sit or be carried on" (as on horseback), "move forward; rock; float, sail" (class I strong verb; past tense rad, past participle riden), from Proto-Germanic *ridan (source also of Old Norse riða, Old Saxon ridan, Old Frisian rida "to ride," Middle Dutch riden, Dutch rijden, Old High German ritan, German reiten), from PIE *reidh- "to ride" (source also of Old Irish riadaim "I travel," Old Gaulish reda "chariot"). Common to Celtic and Germanic, perhaps a loan word from one to the other.

Of a ship, "to sail, float, rock," c. 1300. The meaning "heckle" is by 1912 from earlier sense of "dominate cruelly, have the mastery of, harass at will" (1580s) on the notion of "control and manage," as a rider does a horse, especially harshly or arrogantly. The verb in venery is from mid-13c.

To ride out "endure (a storm, etc.) without great damage" is from 1520s, literal and figurative. To let (something) ride "allow to pass without comment or intervention" is by 1921. To ride herd on "guard and control" is by 1897, from cattle-driving. To ride shotgun "ride in the passenger seat of an automobile" is by 1919, from the custom of having an armed man up beside the driver of a stagecoach to ward off trouble. To ride shank's mare "walk" is from 1846 (see shank (n.)). The ____ rides again cliche is from Hollywood movie titles ("Destry Rides Again," 1939).

Related entries & more 
skin (n.)

c. 1200, "animal hide" (usually dressed and tanned), from Old Norse skinn "animal hide, fur," from Proto-Germanic *skinth- (source also of Old English scinn (rare), Old High German scinten, German schinden "to flay, skin;" German dialectal schind "skin of a fruit," Flemish schinde "bark"), from PIE *sken- "to peel off, flay" (source also of Breton scant "scale of a fish," Irish scainim "I tear, I burst"), extended form of root *sek- "to cut."

Ful of fleissche Y was to fele, Now ... Me is lefte But skyn & boon. [hymn, c. 1430]

The usual Anglo-Saxon word is hide (n.1). Meaning "epidermis of a living animal or person" is attested from early 14c.; extended to fruits, vegetables, etc. late 14c. Jazz slang sense of "drum" is from 1927. Meaning "a skinhead" is from 1970. As an adjective, it formerly had a slang sense of "cheating" (1868); sense of "pornographic" is attested from 1968. Skin deep is first attested in this:

All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin-deep. [Sir Thomas Overbury, "A Wife," 1613; the poem was a main motive for his murder]

The skin of one's teeth as the narrowest of margins is attested from 1550s in the Geneva Bible literal translation of the Hebrew text in Job xix.20. To get under (someone's) skin "annoy" is from 1896. Skin-graft is from 1871. Skin merchant "recruiting officer" is from 1792.

Related entries & more 

Page 101