late 14c., translating Latin artes liberales; the name for the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, rather than immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (liberal in this sense is opposed to servile or mechanical). They were divided into the trivium — grammar, logic, rhetoric (see trivial) — and the quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy. Explained by Fowler (1926) as "the education designed for a gentleman (Latin liber a free man) & ... opposed on the one hand to technical or professional or any special training, & on the other to education that stops short before manhood is reached."
The study of [the classics] is fitly called a liberal education, because it emancipates the mind from every narrow provincialism, whether of egoism or tradition, and is the apprenticeship that every one must serve before becoming a free brother of the guild which passes the torch of life from age to age. [James Russell Lowell, "Among my Books"]
late 14c., passif, of matter, "capable of being acted upon;" of persons, "receptive;" also in the grammatical sense "expressive of being affected by some action" (opposed to active), from Old French passif "suffering, undergoing hardship" (14c.) and directly from Latin passivus "capable of feeling or suffering," from pass-, past-participle stem of pati "to suffer" (see passion).
The meaning "not active or acting" is recorded from late 15c.; the sense of "unresisting, not opposing, enduring suffering without resistance" is from 1620s. Related: Passively. As a noun, late 14c. as "a capacity in matter for being acted upon;" also in grammar, "a passive verb."
Passive resistance is attested in 1819 in Scott's "Ivanhoe" and was used throughout 19c.; it was re-coined by Gandhi c. 1906 in South Africa. Passive-aggressive with reference to behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance but avoidance of direct confrontation is attested by 1971.
early 15c., collectif, "comprehensive," from Old French collectif, from Latin collectivus, from collectus, past participle of colligere "gather together," from com- "together" (see com-) + legere "to gather" (from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather"). In grammar, from mid-15c., "expressing under a singular form a whole consisting of a plurality of individuals." From c. 1600 as "belonging to or exercised by a number of individuals jointly." Related: Collectively; collectiveness.
Collective bargaining was coined 1891 by English sociologist and social reformer Beatrice Webb; it was defined in U.S. 1935 by the Wagner Act. Collective noun is recorded from 1510s; collective security first attested 1934 in speech by Winston Churchill.
As a noun, from 1640s, "a collective noun" (singular in number but signifying an aggregate or assemblage, such as crowd, jury, society). As short for collective farm (in the USSR) it dates from 1925; collective farm itself is first attested 1919 in translations of Lenin.
alsosemi-colon, point used in punctuation, consisting of a dot above a comma, to mark a sentence somewhat more independent than that marked by a comma, 1640s, a hybrid coined from Latin-derived semi- + Greek-based colon (n.1). The mark itself was (and is) in Greek the point of interrogation. The semicolon butterfly (by 1841, American English) is so called for the silver mark on its wings.
[T]he semicolon was a Latin delicacy which the obtuse English typographer resisted. So late as 1580 and 1590 treatises on orthography do not recognize any such innovation ; the Bible of 1592, though printed with appropriate accuracy, is without a semicolon ; but in 1633 its full rights are established by Charles Butler's English Grammar. ... [I]t is evident that Shakespeare could never have used the semicolon ; a circumstance which the profound George Chalmers mourns over, opining that semicolons would often have saved the poet from his commentators. [Isaac. D'Israeli, "Amenities of Literature," 1841]
early 15c. classical correction of Middle English parfit "flawless, ideal" (c. 1300), also "complete, full, finished, lacking in no way" (late 14c.), from Old French parfit "finished, completed, ready" (11c.), from Latin perfectus "completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite," past participle of perficere "accomplish, finish, complete," from per "completely" (see per) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
Often used in English as an intensive (perfect stranger, etc.), from the notion of "complete." Grammatical sense, in reference to verb tense describing an action as completed, is from c. 1500. As a noun, late 14c. ("perfection"), from the adjective.
The difference between the Preterit and the Perfect is in English observed more strictly than in the other languages possessing corresponding tenses. The Preterit refers to some time in the past without telling anything about the connexion with the present moment, while the Perfect is a retrospective present, which connects a past occurrence with the present time, either as continued up to the present moment (inclusive time) or as having results or consequences bearing on the present moment. [Otto Jespersen, "Essentials of English Grammar," 1933]
"to question," 1847, quies, "examine a student orally," perhaps from Latin qui es? "who are you?," the first question in oral exams in Latin in old-time grammar schools.
The spelling quiz is recorded by 1886, though it was in use as a noun spelling from 1854, perhaps in this case from the slang word quiz "odd person" (1782, source of quizzical); an earlier verb from that sense was quizify "turn (someone) into a quiz" (1834). Also compare quiz (n.).
Quiz in the verbal sense of "make sport of by means of puzzling questions" is attested by 1796, from the noun, and compare quizzing glass "monocular eyeglass," attested by 1802, and quisby "queer, not quite right; bankrupt" (slang from 1807). Whether of separate origin or not, the verb and noun have grown together in English.
The sense of "scrutinize suspiciously" is by 1906. Quiz-master is by 1866 in the schoolroom sense; by 1949 in reference to a radio quiz show host. Also from the era of radio quiz shows comes quizzee (n.), 1940, and quiz-kid.
1560s, "an ellipse" in geometry, from Latin ellipsis, from Greek elleipsis "a falling short, defect, ellipse in grammar," noun of action from elleipein "to fall short, leave out," from en- "in" (see en- (1)) + leipein "to leave" (from PIE root *leikw- "to leave").
Grammatical and rhetorical sense in English first recorded 1610s: "a figure of syntax in which a part of a sentence or phrase is used for the whole, by the omission of one or more words, leaving the full form to be understood or completed by the reader or hearer."
In printing, "a mark or marks denoting the omission of letters, words, or sentences," by 1867. Dashes, asterisks, and period have been used to indicate it. In reading aloud, a short pause was proper at a grammatical ellipsis in the writing.
WHEN a word or words are omitted by the figure ellipsis, a pause is necessary where the ellipsis occurs. [Robert James Ball, "The Academic Cicero; or Exercises in Modern Oratory," Dublin, 1823]
Probably the association of the typographical symbol with a pause in speaking is why 20c. writers began to use the three periods to denote a pause or an interruption in dialogue, creating a potential confusion noted by 1939. Related: Ellipticity.
c. 1200, "separate parts of anything written" (such as the statements in the Apostles' Creed, the clauses of a statute or contract), from Old French article (13c.), from Latin articulus "a part, a member," also "a knuckle; the article in grammar," diminutive of artus "a joint" (from PIE *ar(ə)-tu-, suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together").
Meaning "literary composition in a journal, etc." (independent and on a specific topic, but part of a larger work) is recorded by 1712. The older sense is preserved in Articles of War "military regulations" (1716), Articles of Confederation (U.S. history), etc. The extended meaning "piece of property, material thing, commodity" (clothing, etc.) is attested by 1796, originally in rogue's cant.
The grammatical sense of "word used attributively, to limit the application of a noun to one individual or set of individuals" is from 1530s, from this sense in Latin articulus, translating Greek arthron "a joint," the part of speech (with different meanings in ancient Greek and modern English) so called on the notion of the "pivots" or "joints" on which the propositions in a sentence are in various ways tied together.
"systematic vowel alteration in the root of a word to indicate shades of meaning or tense," a characteristic of Indo-European languages, 1845, from German Ablaut, literally "off-sound" ("off" here denoting substitution), coined by J.P. Zweigel in 1568 from ab "off" (from Old High German aba "off, away from," from PIE root *apo- "off, away") + Laut "sound, tone" (from Old High German hlut, from Proto-Germanic *hludaz "heard, loud," from suffixed form of PIE root *kleu- "to hear"). The word was popularized by Jakob Grimm and Franz Bopp. The process is what makes strong verbs in Germanic. An example is bind/band/bond/bound + (German) Bund. Compare umlaut.
In our language, it seems to us that the uncouthness of such compounds as Upsound, Offsound, and Insound, could hardly be compensated by any advantage to be derived from their use; and we therefore purpose, in the course of this work, where any of these terms occur in the original, to retain them in their German shape. Of these terms, Ablaut and Umlaut are those which chiefly, if not alone, are used by our author. [from footnote in translation of Bopp's "Comparative Grammar," London, 1845]
1808, from Italian improvisare "to sing or speak extempore," from Latin improviso "unforeseen; not studied or prepared beforehand," ablative of improvisus "not foreseen, unexpected," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + provisus "foreseen," also "provided," past participle of providere "foresee, provide" (see provide). Also partly from French improviser.
Regarded as a foreign word and generally printed in italics in English in early 19c. Other verbs were improvisate (1825), improvisatorize (1828), the latter from improvisator "one of a class of noted extemporaneous poets of Italy" (1765), the earliest word of the group to appear in English. Related: Improvised; improvising.
The metre generally adopted for these compositions was the ottava rima, although Doni affirms that the Florentines used to improvise* in all kinds of measure.
* This new-coined verb is introduced to avoid circumlocution, for this time only: therefore I hope your readers will excuse it. I conjugate it after the regular verb to revise — improvise — improvising — improvised. ["On the Improvvisatori of Italy," in The Athenaeum, August 1808]
Our travellers have introduced among us the substantive improvisatore unaltered from the Italian; but as the verb improvisare could not be received without alteration, we lack it altogether, though the usage of the noun requires that of the verb: I here endeavor to supply the deficience by the word improvisate. [Samuel Oliver Jr., "A General, Critical Grammar of the Inglish Language," London, 1825]