early 15c., "pertaining to music;" mid-15c., "tuneful, harmonious;" late 15c., "adept at making music," from Medieval Latin musicalis, from Latin musica (see music). Related: Musically. Musical box is from 1829. Children's or parlor game musical chairs is attested from 1862, hence use of musical as a modifier meaning "changing rapidly from one to another possessor" (1924).
Instrumental and vocal music, the quadrille and country-dance, occupy a portion of the time. No waltzing is however permitted. After dancing, round games follow, as Terza, "The Post," Musical Chairs, Cross Questions, all tending to amuse and promote exercise, until the partial extinguishing of the gas, at ten p.m., gives warning of approaching bedtime. [The Rev. R. Wodrow Thomson, "Ben Rhydding, the Asclepia of England," 1862]
In mid-19c. makers of musical boxes also advertised musical chairs, "playing beautiful tunes simply by the weight of the person sitting in them."
"tract of water-soaked or partially flooded land; wet, swampy ground; piece of low ground, usually more or less wet but often nearly dry at certain seasons," Middle English mersh, from Old English mersc, merisc "marsh, swamp," from Proto-Germanic *marisko (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon marsk "marsh," Middle Dutch mersch, Dutch mars, German Marsch, Danish marsk), probably from Proto-Germanic *mari- "sea" (from PIE root *mori- "body of water").
The vowel shift from -e- to -a- began in 15c. and is usual for -er- followed by a consonant: Compare darling (Middle English dereling, Old English deorling), far (Middle English fer, Old English feorr), mar (Middle English merren), hart (Middle English hert, Old English heorot). Marsh gas "methane generated by decaying matter in marshes" is attested by 1819.
Meaning "bag or hollow vessel filled with heated air or (later) hydrogen or helium so as to rise and float in the atmosphere" is 1784, after the Montgolfier brothers' flights. As a toy air- or gas-filled inflatable bag, from 1858; as "outline containing words in a comic engraving" it dates from 1844. Balloon-frame (n.) "structure of light timber fitted together to form the skeleton of a building" is from 1853.
Old English fyr "fire, a fire," from Proto-Germanic *fūr- (source also of Old Saxon fiur, Old Frisian fiur, Old Norse fürr, Middle Dutch and Dutch vuur, Old High German fiur, German Feuer "fire"), from PIE *perjos, from root *paewr- "fire." Current spelling is attested as early as 1200, but did not fully displace Middle English fier (preserved in fiery) until c. 1600.
PIE apparently had two roots for fire: *paewr- and *egni- (source of Latin ignis). The former was "inanimate," referring to fire as a substance, and the latter was "animate," referring to it as a living force (compare water (n.1)).
Brend child fuir fordredeþ ["The Proverbs of Hendyng," c. 1250]
English fire was applied to "ardent, burning" passions or feelings from mid-14c. Meaning "discharge of firearms, action of guns, etc." is from 1580s. To be on fire is from c. 1500 (in fire attested from c. 1400, as is on a flame "on fire"). To play with fire in the figurative sense "risk disaster, meddle carelessly or ignorantly with a dangerous matter" is by 1861, from the common warning to children. Phrase where's the fire?, said to one in an obvious hurry, is by 1917, American English.
Fire-bell is from 1620s; fire-alarm as a self-acting, mechanical device is from 1808 as a theoretical creation; practical versions began to appear in the early 1830s. Fire-escape (n.) is from 1788 (the original so-called was a sort of rope-ladder disguised as a small settee); fire-extinguisher is from 1826. A fire-bucket (1580s) carries water to a fire. Fire-house is from 1899; fire-hall from 1867, fire-station from 1828. Fire company "men for managing a fire-engine" is from 1744, American English. Fire brigade "firefighters organized in a body in a particular place" is from 1838. Fire department, usually a branch of local government, is from 1805. Fire-chief is from 1877; fire-ranger from 1909.
Symbolic fire and the sword is by c. 1600 (translating Latin flamma ferroque absumi); earlier yron and fyre (1560s), with suerd & flawme (mid-15c.), mid fure & mid here ("with fire and armed force"), c. 1200. Fire-breathing is from 1590s. To set the river on fire, "accomplish something surprising or remarkable" (usually with a negative and said of one considered foolish or incompetent) is by 1830, often with the name of a river, varying according to locality, but the original is set the Thames on fire (1796). The hypothetical feat was mentioned as the type of something impossibly difficult by 1720; it circulated as a theoretical possibility under some current models of chemistry c. 1792-95, which may have contributed to the rise of the expression.
[A]mong other fanciful modes of demonstrating the practicability of conducting the gas wherever it might be required, he anchored a small boat in the stream about 50 yards from the shore, to which he conveyed a pipe, having the end turned up so as to rise above the water, and forcing the gas through the pipe, lighted it just above the surface, observing to his friends "that he had now set the river on fire." ["On the Origins and Progress of Gas-lighting," in "Repertory of Patent Inventions," vol. III, London, 1827]
in geology, "formed by volcanic agencies," especially in reference to fast-moving, dense, superheated surges of ash, gas and rock in a volcanic eruption; by 1862 in reference to the rocks that result; see pyro- "fire" + clastic, indicating "broken in pieces, fragments."
The word "ash" is not a very good one to include all the mechanical accompaniments of a subaerial or subaqueous eruption, since ash seems to be restricted to a fine powder, the residuum of combustion. A word is wanting to express all such accompaniments, no matter what their size and condition may be, when they are accumulated in such mass as to form beds of "rock." We might call them perhaps "pyroclastic materials," but I have endeavoured in vain to think of an English word which should express this meaning, and believe, therefore, that the only plan will be to retain the word "ash," giving it an enlarged technical meaning, so as to include all the fragments accumulated during an igneous eruption, no matter what size or what shape they may be. [J. Beete Jukes, "The Student's Manual of Geology," Edinburgh, 1862]
"a large waterfowl proverbially noted, I know not why, for foolishness" [Johnson], Old English gos "a goose," from Proto-Germanic *gans- "goose" (source also of Old Frisian gos, Old Norse gas, Old High German gans, German Gans "goose"), from PIE *ghans- (source also of Sanskrit hamsah (masc.), hansi (fem.), "goose, swan;" Greek khen; Latin anser; Polish gęś "goose;" Lithuanian žąsis "goose;" Old Irish geiss "swan"), probably imitative of its honking.
Geese are technically distinguished from swans and from ducks by the combination of feathered lores, reticulate tarsi, stout bill high at the base, and simple hind toe. [Century Dictionary]
Spanish ganso "goose" is from a Germanic source. Loss of "n" sound before "s" is normal in English (compare tooth). Plural form geese is an example of i-mutation. Meaning "simpleton, silly or foolish person" is from early 15c. To cook (one's) goose is attested by 1845, of unknown origin; attempts to connect it to Swedish history and Greek fables are unconvincing. Goose-egg "zero" is attested by 1866 in baseball slang, from being large and round. The goose that lays golden eggs (15c.) is from Aesop.
c. 1100, "celebration of public worship," from Old French servise "act of homage; servitude; service at table; Mass, church ceremony," from Latin servitium "slavery, condition of a slave, servitude," also "slaves collectively," from servus "slave" (see serve (v.)).
Meaning "act of serving, occupation of an attendant servant" is attested from c. 1200, as is that of "assistance, help; a helpful act." From c. 1300 as "provision of food; sequence of dishes served in a meal;" from late 14c. as "service at table, attendance during a meal." Meaning "the furniture of the table" (tea service, etc.) is from mid-15c.
Meanings "state of being bound to undertake tasks for someone or at someone's direction; labor performed or undertaken for another" are mid-13c. Sense of "service or employment in a court or administration" is from c. 1300, as is that of "military service (especially by a knight); employment as a soldier;" hence "the military as an occupation" (1706).
Also in Middle English "sexual intercourse, conjugal relations" (mid-15c.; service of Venus, or flesh's service). Service industry (as distinct from production) attested from 1938. A service station originally was a gas stop that also repaired cars.
c. 1200, "illustrious, distinguished, of high rank or birth," from Old French noble "of noble bearing or birth," from Latin nobilis "well-known, famous, renowned; excellent, superior, splendid; high-born, of superior birth," earlier *gnobilis, literally "knowable," from gnoscere "to come to know" (from PIE root *gno- "to know"). The prominent Roman families, which were "well known," provided most of the Republic's public officials.
Sense of "distinguished by splendor, magnificence, or stateliness" is from late 13c. Meaning "worthy of honor or respect " is from mid-14c. Sense of "having lofty character, having high moral qualities" is from c. 1600. Noble savage is "primitive man conceived of as morally superior to civilized man;" the phrase itself is from Dryden; the idea developed in the 18c.
I am as free as Nature first made Man,
Ere the base Laws of Servitude began,
When wild in Woods the noble Savage ran.
[Dryden, "Conquest of Granada," 1672]
A noble gas (1902) is so called for its inactivity or inertness; a use of the word that had been applied in Middle English to precious stones, metals, etc., that did not alter or oxidize when exposed to air (late 14c.), with noble in the sense of "having admirable properties" (c. 1300).
city in Pennsylvania between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, from Greek, taken by William Penn to mean "brotherly love," from philos "loving" (see philo-) + adelphos "brother" (see Adelphi). Related: Philadelphian.
Also the name recalls that of the ancient city in Lydia, mentioned in the New Testament, which was so called in honor of Attalos II Philadelphos, 2c B.C.E. king of Pergamon, who founded it. His title is said to have meant "loving the brethren" or to be a reference to his affection for his brother Eumenes, whom he succeeded.
Philadelphia lawyer "clever, shrewd attorney" is attested from 1788 in London, said originally to have been applied to Andrew Hamilton, who obtained the famous acquittal of J.P. Zenger in New York on libel charges in 1735.
[C]ricket and coaching were after all popular in their day in places besides Philadelphia. It was merely that Philadelphia kept on with them longer than most places. This is a perennial Philadelphia trick, and gives to Philadelphia a sort of perpetual feeling of loss. Philadelphians are always just now getting rid of things that are picturesque, like those gas lamps on the streets, only because everybody else got rid of them long ago. [Nathaniel Burt, "The Perennial Philadelphians," 1963]
1530s, "to break wind without noise," probably altered from obsolete fist, from Middle English fisten "break wind" (see feisty) + frequentative suffix -le. Related: Fizzled; fizzling.
Meaning "make a noise as of a liquid or gas forced out a narrow aperture" is from 1859, "usually with special reference to the weakness and sudden diminution or cessation of such sound" [Century Dictionary], hence the figurative sense "prove a failure, stop abruptly after a more-or-less brilliant start." But this sense is earlier and dates to at least 1847 in American English college slang, along with the noun sense of "failure, fiasco" (1846), also originally U.S. college slang, "a failure in answering an examination by a professor." Barnhart says it is "not considered as derived from the verb." Halliwell ("Archaic and Provincial Words," 1846) has fizzle (v.) as "To do anything without noise," which might connect the college slang with the older word via some notion of mumbled and stifled performance:
In many colleges in the United States, this word is applied to a bad recitation, probably from the want of distinct articulation, which usually attends such performances. It is further explained in the Yale Banger, November 10, 1846: "This figure of a wounded snake is intended to represent what in technical language is termed a fizzle. The best judges have decided that to get just one third of the meaning right constitutes a perfect fizzle." [John Bartlett, "A Collection of College Words and Customs," Cambridge, 1851]