Etymology
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nineties (n.)

1857 as the years of someone's life between 90 and 99; from 1848 as the tenth decade of years in a given century; 1849 with reference to Fahrenheit temperature. See ninety.

Many still live who remember those days; if the old men cannot tell you the exact date, they will say: 'It were in the nineties;' (etc.) [Chambers's Journal, Nov. 1, 1856]

Related: Ninetyish "characteristic of the (eighteen-) nineties" (1909). In Britain, the naughty nineties was a popular name 1920s-30s for the 1890s, based on the notion of a relaxing of morality and mood in contrast to earlier Victorian times. In U.S., gay nineties in reference to the same decade is attested from 1927, and was the title of a regular nostalgia feature in "Life" magazine about that time.

The long, dreary blue-law Sunday afternoons were periods of the Nineties which no amount of rosy retrospect will ever be able to recall as gay, especially to a normal healthy boy to whom all activities were taboo except G. A. Henty and the bound volumes of Leslie's Weekly of the Civil War. [Life magazine, Sept. 1, 1927]
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jean (n.)

"twilled cotton cloth," mid-15c., Geayne, short for Gene fustian, from French jean fustian "fustian (a type of twilled cotton cloth) of Genoa," the Italian city, from Old French Jannes "Genoa," from Latin Genua (see Genoa). Compare obsolete jane, name of a small silver coin of Genoa that circulated in England 15c. The plural form jeans became standard by mid-19c. In the sense "trousers made of jeans" it is attested by 1908; noted as characteristic of teenagers from 1959. Not originally blue.

After sheep could be protected from the wolves, the people fared better in the matter of clothing. Flannel and linsey were woven for the wear of women and children, while jeans was woven for the men. For want of other dye-stuffs, the wool for the jeans was almost invariably colored with the bark or young shoots of the walnut; hence the inevitable "butternut" worn so extensively in the West for many years. ["History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois," 1879]
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baby (n.)

late 14c., babi, "infant of either sex," diminutive of babe (see babe) with -y (3). Meaning "childish adult person" is from c. 1600. Meaning "youngest of a group" is by 1897. As a term of endearment for one's lover it is attested perhaps as early as 1839, certainly by 1901 (OED writes, "the degree of slanginess in the nineteenth-century examples is not easily determinable"); its popularity perhaps boosted by baby vamp "a popular girl" (see vamp (n.2)), student slang from c. 1922.

Meaning "minute reflection of oneself seen in another's eyes" is from 1590s (compare pupil (n.2)). As an adjective by 1750. Baby food is from 1833. Baby blues for "blue eyes" recorded by 1892 (the phrase also was used for "postpartum depression" 1950s-60s). To empty the baby out with the bath (water) is attested by 1909 (in G.B. Shaw; compare German das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten, attested from 17c.). A baby's breath was noted for sweet smell, which also was supposed to attract cats, hence baby's breath as the name of a type of flower, attested from 1897. French bébé (19c.) is said to be from English, but there were similar words in the same sense in French dialects.

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afraid (adj.)

"impressed with fear, fearful," early 14c., originally the past participle of the now-obsolete Middle English verb afray "frighten," from Anglo-French afrayer, Old French affrai, effrei, esfrei "disturbance, fright," from esfreer (v.) "to worry, concern, trouble, disturb," from Vulgar Latin *exfridare, a hybrid word meaning literally "to take out of peace."

The first element is from Latin ex "out of" (see ex-). The second is Frankish *frithu "peace," from Proto-Germanic *frithuz "peace, consideration, forbearance" (source also of Old Saxon frithu, Old English friu, Old High German fridu "peace, truce," German Freide "peace"), from a suffixed form of PIE root *pri- "to be friendly, to love."

A rare case of an English adjective that never stands before a noun. Because it was used in the King James Bible, it acquired independent standing and thrived while affray faded, and it chased off the once more common afeared. Colloquial sense in I'm afraid "I regret to say, I suspect" (without implication of fear, as a polite introduction to a correction, admission, etc.) is first recorded 1590s.

Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone [Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes," 1820]
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Maltese 

1610s, "native or inhabitant of Malta;" 1797 (adj.) "of or pertaining to Malta, from Malta + -ese. Maltese cross is from 1754 (earlier Malta cross, 1650s), so called because it was worn by the Knights of Malta. Maltese cat is attested from 1830: any cat with fur completely or primarily gray or blue, supposedly a common trait among cats on the island, but the breeds that noted for this coloring are not associated with Malta. As a type of very small dog, known since ancient times in the Mediterranean, it is attested in English by 1803.

Strabo informs us, that "there is a town in Pachynus, a promontory of Sicily, (called Meleta,) from whence are transported many fine little dogs, called Melitae Canes. They were accounted the jewels of women; but now the said town is possessed by fishermen, and there is no such reckoning made of those tender little dogs, which are not bigger than common ferrets or weasels; yet are they not small in understanding, nor unstable in their love to men, for which cause they are also nourished tenderly for pleasure." [Capt. Thomas Brown, "Biographical Sketches and Authentic Anecdotes of Dogs," Edinburgh, 1829]
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chin (n.)

"lower extremity of the face below the mouth," Old English cin, cinn "chin," a general Germanic word (compare Old Saxon and Old High German kinni; Old Norse kinn; German Kinn "chin;" Gothic kinnus "cheek"), from PIE root *genu- (2), probably originally "jaw, jawbone," but also forming words for "chin, cheek."

The West Germanic words generally mean "chin," but there are traces of earlier use as "jaw," such as Old English cinbane "jawbone," and the words for "cheek," "chin," and "jaw" naturally overlap and interchange; compare cheek (n.), which originally meant "jaw," and Latin maxilla, which gave Italian mascella "jaw," but Spanish mejilla "cheek."

To take it on the chin "be hit hard" in a figurative sense (sometimes suggesting "ability to withstand punishment"), is from 1924, an image from pugilism. To keep (one's) chin up "remain optimistic amid adversity" is from 1913, though the image itself is older.

I discovered the other day another simple means of producing cheerfulness—raise the chin—with the chin up, the whole mental attitude is changed. If you feel a bit blue or discouraged, just raise your chin, and you will find that things look different; whereas the mere appearance of a man with his chin down suggests that he is disconsolate. [National Magazine, November 1906] 
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yellow (adj.)

Old English geolu, geolwe, "yellow," from Proto-Germanic *gelwaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German gelo, Middle Dutch ghele, Dutch geel, Middle High German gel, German gelb, Old Norse gulr, Swedish gul "yellow"), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green" and "yellow" (such as Greek khlōros "greenish-yellow," Latin helvus "yellowish, bay").

Occasionally in Middle English used of a color closer to blue-gray or gray, of frogs or hazel eyes, and to translate Latin caeruleus, glauco. Also as a noun in Old English. Meaning "light-skinned" (of blacks) first recorded 1808. Applied to Asiatics since 1787, though the first recorded reference is to Turkish words for inhabitants of India.

Yellow peril translates German die gelbe gefahr. Sense of "cowardly" is 1856, of unknown origin; the color was traditionally associated rather with jealousy and envy (17c.). Yellow-bellied "cowardly" is from 1924, probably a semi-rhyming reduplication of yellow; earlier yellow-belly was a sailor's name for a half-caste (1867) and a Texas term for Mexican soldiers (1842, based on the color of their uniforms). Yellow dog "mongrel" is attested from c. 1770; slang sense of "contemptible person" first recorded 1881. Yellow fever attested from 1748, American English (jaundice is a symptom).

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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"]
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Memorial Day 

"day on which a memorial is made," by 1819, of any anniversary date, especially a religious anniversary; see memorial (adj.). As a specific end-of-May holiday commemorating U.S. war dead, it began informally in the late 1860s and originally commemorated the Northern soldiers killed in the Civil War. It was officially so called by 1869 among veterans' organizations, but Decoration Day also was used. The Grand Army of the Republic, the main veterans' organization in the North, officially designated it Memorial Day by resolution in 1882:

That the Commander-in-Chief be requested to issue a General Order calling the attention of the officers and members of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the people at large, to the fact that the proper designation of May 30th is Memorial Day and to request that it may be always so called. [Grand Army Blue Book, Philadelphia, 1884]

The South, however, had its own Confederate Memorial Day, and there was some grumbling about the apparent appropriation of the name.

The word "Memorial" was adopted by the Maryland Confederates shortly after the war, and has been generally used throughout the South. It is distinctively Confederate in its origin and use, and I would suggest to all Confederate societies to adhere to it. The Federals' annual day of observance is known as "Decoration Day," having been made so by an act of Congress, and the 30th day of May named as the date. In Maryland there is annually a Decoration Day and a Memorial Day. The two words are expressive not only of the nature of the observance, but also of the people who participate therein. [Confederate Veteran, November 1893]
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Negro (n.)
Origin and meaning of Negro

1550s, "member of a black-skinned race of Africa," from Spanish or Portuguese negro "black," from Latin nigrum (nominative niger) "black, dark, sable, dusky" (applied to the night sky, a storm, the complexion), figuratively "gloomy, unlucky, bad, wicked," according to de Vaan a word of unknown etymology; according to Watkins, perhaps from PIE *nekw-t- "night." The Latin word also was applied to the black peoples of Africa, but the usual terms were Aethiops and Afer.

As an adjective from 1590s. Use with a capital N- became general early 20c. (e.g. 1930 in "New York Times" stylebook) in reference to U.S. citizens of African descent, but because of its perceived association with white-imposed attitudes and roles the word was ousted late 1960s in this sense by Black (q.v.).

Professor Booker T. Washington, being politely interrogated ... as to whether negroes ought to be called 'negroes' or 'members of the colored race' has replied that it has long been his own practice to write and speak of members of his race as negroes, and when using the term 'negro' as a race designation to employ the capital 'N' [Harper's Weekly, June 2, 1906]

Meaning "African-American vernacular, the English language as spoken by U.S. blacks" is from 1704. French nègre is a 16c. borrowing from Spanish negro. Older English words were Moor and blackamoor. A Middle English word for "Ethiopian" (perhaps also "a negro" generally) was blewman "blue man."

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