Etymology
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plaster (n.)

late Old English plaster "a medicinal solid compounded for external application," from medical Latin plastrum, shortened by loss of the original prefix from Latin emplastrum "a plaster" (in the medical as well as the building sense), from Greek emplastron "salve, plaster" (used by Galen instead of the more usual emplaston), noun use of neuter of emplastos "daubed on," from en- "on" + plastos "molded," verbal adjective from plassein "to mold" (see plasma).

The use in reference to the material composed of lime, water, and sand (with or without hair for binding), used for coating walls, is recorded in English from c. 1300, via Old French plastre, from the same source, and in early use the English word often had the French spelling. The meaning "gypsum" is from late 14c.; plaster of Paris "powdered calcinated (heat-dried) gypsum," which sets rapidly and expands when mixed with water(mid-15c.) originally was made from the extensive gypsum deposits of Montmartre in Paris. Plaster saint "person who makes a hypocritical show of virtue" is by 1890.

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urchin (n.)
c. 1300, yrichon "hedgehog," from Old North French *irechon (cognate with Picard irechon, Walloon ireson, Hainaut hirchon), from Old French herichun "hedgehog" (Modern French hérisson), formed with diminutive suffix -on + Vulgar Latin *hericionem, from Latin ericius "hedgehog," enlarged form of er, originally *her, from PIE root *ghers- "to bristle" (source also of Greek kheros "hedgehog;" see horror).

Still used for "hedgehog" in non-standard speech in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Shropshire. Applied throughout 16c. to people whose appearance or behavior suggested hedgehogs, from hunchbacks (1520s) to goblins (1580s) to bad girls (1530s); meaning "poorly or raggedly clothed youngster" emerged 1550s, but was not in frequent use until after c. 1780. Sea urchin is recorded from 1590s (a 19c. Newfoundland name for them was whore's eggs); Johnson describes it as "a kind of crabfish that has prickles instead of feet."
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left (adj.)

c. 1200, "opposite of right," probably from Kentish and northern English forms of Old English *lyft "weak; foolish" (in lyft-adl "lameness, paralysis"). Compare East Frisian luf, Dutch dialectal loof "weak, worthless").

Sense of "opposite of right" is from the left being usually the weaker hand), a derived sense also found in cognate Middle Dutch and Low German luchter, luft. Compare Lithuanian kairys "left" and Lettish kreilis "left hand" both from a root that yields words for "twisted, crooked."

The usual Old English winstre/winestra "left" (adj.); "left hand," literally "friendlier," a euphemism used superstitiously to avoid invoking the unlucky forces connected with the left side (compare sinister). The Kentish word itself might have been originally a taboo replacement, if instead it represents PIE *laiwo- "considered conspicuous" (represented in Greek laios, Latin laevus, and Russian levyi). Greek also uses a euphemism for "left," aristeros "the better one" (compare also Avestan vairyastara- "to the left," from vairya- "desirable").

Meaning "being on the left-hand side" is from c. 1300. As an adverb from early 14c. For political senses, see left (n.). Used at least since c. 1600 in various senses of "irregular, illicit;" earlier proverbial sense was "opposite of what is expressed" (mid-15c.), for example over the left (shoulder) "not at all," added to a statement to negate or neglect what was just said (1705). To have two left feet "be clumsy" is attested by 1902.

Phrase out in left field "out of touch with pertinent realities" is attested from 1944, from the baseball fielding position that tends to be far removed from the play (left field in baseball attested by 1867; the fielding positions are from the point of view of the batter). The Parisian Left Bank (of the River Seine) has been associated with intellectual and artistic culture at least since 1893; Left Coast "Pacific Coast of the U.S." is by 1980s.

German link, Dutch linker "left" are said to be not directly related to these, being instead from Old High German slinc and Middle Dutch slink "left," related to Swedish linka "limp," slinka "dangle," and Old English slincan "crawl" (Modern English slink).

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cleaver (n.)

late 15c., "one who splits," agent noun from cleave (v.1). Originally "one who splits boards with a wedge instead of sawing;" attested as part of a surname from mid-14c. Meaning "butcher's long-bladed chopper" is from mid-15c. Marrow-bones and cleavers as instruments of "rough music" is from 1716.

This last ["Marrowbones and Cleaver"] is a sign in Fetter Lane, originating from a custom, now rapidly dying away, of the butcher boys serenading newly married couples with these professional instruments. Formerly, the band would consist of four cleavers, each of a different tone, or, if complete, of eight, and by beating their marrowbones skilfully against these, they obtained a sort of music somewhat after the fashion of indifferent bell-ringing. When well performed, however, and heard from a proper distance, it was not altogether unpleasant. ... The butchers of Clare market had the reputation of being the best performers. ... This music was once so common that Tom Killigrew called it the national instrument of England. [Larwood & Hotten, "The History of Signboards from the Earliest Times to the Present Day," London, 1867]
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build (v.)

Middle English bilden, from late Old English byldan "construct a house," verb form of bold "house," from Proto-Germanic *buthla- (source also of Old Saxon bodl, Old Frisian bodel "building, house"), from PIE *bhu- "to dwell," from root*bheue- "to be, exist, grow." Rare in Old English; in Middle English it won out over more common Old English timbran (see timber). Modern spelling is unexplained. Figurative use from mid-15c. Of physical things other than buildings from late 16c. Related: Builded (archaic); built; building.

In the United States, this verb is used with much more latitude than in England. There, as Fennimore Cooper puts it, everything is BUILT. The priest BUILDS up a flock; the speculator a fortune; the lawyer a reputation; the landlord a town; and the tailor, as in England, BUILDS up a suit of clothes. A fire is BUILT instead of made, and the expression is even extended to individuals, to be BUILT being used with the meaning of formed. [Farmer, "Slang and Its Analogues," 1890]
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echidna (n.)

Australian egg-laying hedgehog-like mammal, 1810, said to have been named by Cuvier, usually explained as from Greek ekhidna "snake, viper" (also used metaphorically of a treacherous wife or friend), from ekhis "snake," from PIE *angwhi- "snake, eel" (source also of Norwegian igle, Old High German egala, German Egel "leech," Latin anguis "serpent, snake").

But this sense is difficult to reconcile with this animal (unless it is a reference to the ant-eating tongue). The name perhaps belongs to Latin echinus, Greek ekhinos "sea-urchin," originally "hedgehog" (in Greek also "sharp points"), which Watkins explains as "snake-eater," from ekhis "snake." The 1810 Encyclopaedia Britannica gives as the animal's alternative name "porcupine ant-eater." Or, more likely, the name refers to Echidna as the name of a serpent-nymph in Greek mythology, "a beautiful woman in the upper part of her body; but instead of legs and feet, she had from the waist downward, the form of a serpent," in which case the animal was so named for its mixed characteristics (early naturalists doubted whether it was mammal or amphibian).

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romance (n.)

c. 1300, romaunce, "a story, written or recited, in verse, telling of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc.," often one designed principally for entertainment, from Old French romanz "verse narrative" (Modern French roman), also "the vulgar language," originally an adverb, "in the vernacular language," from Vulgar Latin *romanice scribere "to write in a Romance language" (one developed from Latin instead of Frankish), from Latin Romanicus "of or in the Roman style," from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).

The sense evolution is because medieval vernacular tales (as opposed to Latin texts) usually told chivalric adventures full of marvelous incidents and heroic deeds. "The spelling with -aunce, -ance was very early adopted in English, probably on the analogy of abstract sbs." [OED].

In reference to literary works, in Middle English often meaning ones written in French but also applied to native compositions. The literary sense was extended by 1660s to "a love story, the class of literature consisting of love stories and romantic fiction." Meaning "imaginative, adventurous quality" first recorded 1801; that of "love affair" is from 1916. Romance novel is attested by 1820. Compare Romance (adj.).

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sister (n.)
mid-13c., from Old English sweostor, swuster "sister," or a Scandinavian cognate (Old Norse systir, Swedish syster, Danish søster), in either case from Proto-Germanic *swestr- (source also of Old Saxon swestar, Old Frisian swester, Middle Dutch suster, Dutch zuster, Old High German swester, German Schwester, Gothic swistar).

These are from PIE *swesor, one of the most persistent and unchanging PIE root words, recognizable in almost every modern Indo-European language (Sanskrit svasar-, Avestan shanhar-, Latin soror, Old Church Slavonic, Russian sestra, Lithuanian sesuo, Old Irish siur, Welsh chwaer, Greek eor). French soeur "a sister" (11c., instead of *sereur) is directly from Latin soror, a rare case of a borrowing from the nominative case.

According to Klein's sources, probably from PIE roots *swe- "one's own" + *ser- "woman." For vowel evolution, see bury. Used of nuns in Old English; of a woman in general from 1906; of a black woman from 1926; and in the sense of "fellow feminist" from 1912. Meaning "female fellow-Christian" is from mid-15c. Sister act "variety act by two or more sisters" is from vaudeville (1908).
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pussy (n.2)

slang for "female pudenda," by 1879, but probably older; perhaps from Old Norse puss "pocket, pouch" (compare Low German puse "vulva"), or perhaps instead from the cat word (see pussy (n.1)) on the notion of "soft, warm, furry thing;" compare French le chat, which also has a double meaning, feline and genital. Earlier uses are difficult to distinguish from pussy (n.1), e.g.:

The word pussie is now used of a woman [Philip Stubbes, "The Anatomie of Abuses," 1583]

And songs such as "Puss in a Corner" (1690, attributed to D'Urfey) clearly play on the double sense of the word for ribald effect. But the absence of pussy in Grose and other early slang works argues against the vaginal sense being generally known before late 19c., as does its frequent use as a term of endearment in mainstream literature, as in:

"What do you think, pussy?" said her father to Eva. [Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," 1852]

Pussy-whipped "hen-pecked" is attested by 1956 (Middle English had cunt-beaten "impotent," in reference to a man, mid-15c.).

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any (adj., pron.)

"one, a or an, some," Old English ænig (adjective, pronoun) "any, anyone," literally "one-y," from Proto-Germanic *ainagas (source also of Old Saxon enig, Old Norse einigr, Old Frisian enich, Dutch enig, German einig), from PIE root *oi-no- "one, unique." The -y may have diminutive force here.

As a noun, late 12c.; as an adverb, "in any degree," c. 1400. Emphatic form any old______ (British variant: any bloody ______) is recorded from 1896. At any rate is recorded from 1847. Among the large family of compounds beginning with any-, anykyn "any kind" (c. 1300) did not survive, and Anywhen (1831) is rarely used, but OED calls it "common in Southern [English] dialects."

[A]ani refers to single entities, amounts, etc., occurring at random or chosen at random, as being convenient, suitable, to one's liking, etc. It is frequently emphatic and generalizing, having the force of 'any whatever, any at all' and 'any and every'. It is common in questions, conditional clauses, and negative statements, but not in affirmative statements (where som is used instead). [The Middle English Compendium]
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