c. 1300, "to touch, to handle," from Old French taster "to taste, sample by mouth; enjoy" (13c.), earlier "to feel, touch, pat, stroke" (12c., Modern French tâter), from Vulgar Latin *tastare, apparently an alteration (perhaps by influence of gustare) of taxtare, a frequentative form of Latin taxare "evaluate, handle" (see tax (v.)). Meaning "to take a little food or drink" is from c. 1300; that of "to perceive by sense of taste" is recorded from mid-14c. Of substances, "to have a certain taste or flavor," it is attested from 1550s (replaced native smack (v.3) in this sense). Another PIE root in this sense was *geus- "to taste; to choose."
The Hindus recognized six principal varieties of taste with sixty-three possible mixtures ... the Greeks eight .... These included the four that are now regarded as fundamental, namely 'sweet,' 'bitter,' 'acid,' 'salt.' ... The others were 'pungent' (Gk. drimys, Skt. katuka-), 'astringent' (Gk. stryphnos, Skt. kasaya-), and, for the Greeks, 'rough, harsh' (austeros), 'oily, greasy' (liparos), with the occasional addition of 'winy' (oinodes). [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]
Sense of "to know by experience" is from 1520s. Related: Tasted; tasting. Taste buds is from 1879; also taste goblets.
c. 1600, "group of students," in U.S. especially "number of pupils in a school or college of the same grade," from French classe (14c.), from Latin classis "a class, a division; army, fleet," especially "any one of the six orders into which Servius Tullius divided the Roman people for the purpose of taxation;" traditionally originally "the people of Rome under arms" (a sense attested in English from 1650s), and thus akin to calare "to call (to arms)," from PIE root *kele- (2) "to shout." In early use in English also in Latin form classis.
Meaning "an order or rank of persons, a number of persons having certain characteristics in common" is from 1660s. School and university sense of "course, lecture" (1650s) is from the notion of a form or lecture reserved to scholars who had attained a certain level. Natural history sense "group of related plants or animals" is from 1753. Meaning "high quality" is from 1874. Meaning "a division of society according to status" (with upper, lower, etc.) is from 1763. Class-consciousness (1903) is from German Klassenbewusst.
The fault, the evil, in a class society is when privilege exists without responsibility and duty. The evil of the classless society is that it tends to equalize the responsibility, to atomize it into responsibility of the whole population—and therefore everyone becomes equally irresponsible. [T.S. Eliot, BBC interview with Leslie Paul, 1958]
"mortuary, place where bodies of persons found dead are taken to be claimed by family or friends," 1821, from French Morgue, originally a specific building in Paris where bodies were exposed for identification:
There is, in the most populous part of the French metropolis, an establishment entitled La Morgue, destined for the reception and exposition of bodies drowned in the Seine, and caught in nets, which are placed in different parts of the river for that purpose. The object of this exposition is, that the deceased may be recognised by their friends or relatives, and receive the rights of sepulture accordingly. The Morgue is open at all hours of the day, to passengers of every description, and often displays at a time, five or six horrible carcasses stretched, without covering, on an inclined platform, and subjected to the promiscuous gaze of the mob. ["American Review," January 1811]
Before that it was the place where new prisoners were displayed to keepers to establish their identification. Thus the name is believed to be probably from French morgue "haughtiness, pride," originally "a sad expression, solemn look," from Old French morguer "look solemnly," from Vulgar Latin *murricare "to make a face, pout," from *murrum "muzzle, snout." The 1768 Dictionnaire Royal François-Anglois Et Anglois-François defines French morgue both as "A proud, big, haughty or stately look, stare, surliness, or surly look" and "A little gratel room wherein a new prisoner is set, and must continue some hours, that the Jailer's ordinary servants may the better take notice of his face."
Adopted 1880s as a general term in U.S., replacing earlier dead house, etc. In newspaper slang, "collection of pre-written obituary material of living persons" (1898), thence extended generally to "library of clips, photos, etc." (1918).
as a deprecatory term first recorded in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but a similar noun cotton-picker meaning "contemptible person" dates to around 1919, perhaps with racist overtones that have faded over the years. Before mechanization, cotton picking was the most difficult labor on a plantation.
I drove out to a number of the farms near Denison and found many very young white children working all day in the hot sun picking and dragging sacks of cotton. In one field the labor corps consisted of one woman and six children, one of them 5 years, one 6 years, one 7 years, one 9 years, and two about 11. The father was plowing. The 5 and 6 year olds worked all day as did the rest. The 7-year-old said he picked 50 pounds a day and the 9 year old 75 pounds. (A good picker averages several hundred a day.) School begins late on account of the cotton picking, but the children nearly all prefer school to the picking. Picking hours are long, hot, and deadly monotonous. While the very young children seem to enjoy it, very soon their distaste for it grows into all-absorbing hatred for all work. ["Field Notes of Lewis W. Hine, Child-Labor Conditions in Texas," report to U.S. Congressional Commission on Industrial Relations, 1916]
large province of eastern Canada, probably from Portuguese Lavrador, which is of uncertain origin. Among the theories advanced, W.F. Ganong identifies as "The generally accepted and altogether probable one" that "it was originally 'Terra Laboratoris,' land of the laborer because Cortereal brought fifty men thence to Europe, who were described as well fitted for slaves. This is sustained by all the evidence of old maps." Gasper Cortereal was a Portuguese navigator who explored the coast for the Portuguese crown in 1500 and brought home captives. He returned for more in 1501, but was never heard from again. But a Portuguese map of 1520 has the name Lavrador applied to Greenland, while the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland is called Bacalhaos, which is "codfish" in Basque.
[Labrador] is not used in Cartier's narratives, though it appears in the title of the 1598 edition of his first narrative. It is supposed to have been added by the translator. There are, at least, six theories as to the origin of this word. [W.F. Ganong, "The Cartography of the Gulf of St. Lawrence," 1887]
One of them [Room] is that the sense of the name is "landholder" and is a reference to 15c. Portuguese explorer João Fernandes, called Llavrador, who was a landholder in the Azores and had sailed as far as Iceland and Greenland. John Cabot met Fernandes when he was in Spain and Portugal in the spring of 1498, recruiting sailors for an Atlantic voyage, and he advised Cabot that this was a good way to get to Asia. The breed of retriever dog so called from 1815. Related: Labradorian.
"act of setting; state or condition of being set" (originally of the sun or another heavenly body), mid-14c., from set (v.) or its identical past participle. Old English had set "seat," in plural "camp; stable," but OED finds it "doubtful whether this survived beyond OE." Compare set (n.1).
Disparate senses collect under this word because of the many meanings given the verb. The sense of "manner or position in which something is set" is by 1530s, hence "general movement, direction, drift, tendency, inclination" (of mind, character, policy, etc.), by 1560s.
The meaning "permanent change of shape caused by pressure; a bend, warp, kink" is by 1812; that of "action of hardening," by 1837. Hence "action or result of fixing the hair when damp so that it holds the desired style" (1933).
"Something that has been set" (1510s), hence the use in tennis, "set of six games which counts as a unit" (1570s) and set-point "state of the game at which one side or player needs only one point to win the set" (by 1928).
The theatrical meaning "scenery for an individual scene in a play, etc.," is by 1859, from the past-participle adjective. It later was extended in movie and television production to the place or area where filming takes place.
Set (n.1) and set (n.2) are not always distinguished in dictionaries; OED has them as two entries, Century Dictionary as one. The difference of opinion seems to be whether the set meaning "group, grouping" (here (n.2)) is a borrowing of the unrelated French word that sounds like the native English one, or a borrowing of the sense only, which was absorbed into the English word.
Old English elles "in another manner, other, otherwise, besides, different," from Proto-Germanic *aljaz (source also of Gothic aljis "other," Old High German eli-lenti, Old English el-lende, both meaning "in a foreign land;" see also Alsace), an adverbial genitive of the neuter of PIE root *al- "beyond" (source also of Greek allos "other," Latin alius). As a quasi-adjective, synonymous with other, from 1660s; the nuances of usage are often arbitrary.
Productive of a number of handy compounds that somehow never got traction or have been suffered to fall from use: elsehow (1660s) "somehow or other;" elsewards (adv.), 1882, "somewhere else;" Old English elsewhat (pron.) "something else, anything else;" elsewhen (adv.), early 15c., "at another time; elsewhence (c. 1600); elsewho (1540s). Among the survivors are elsewhere, elsewise. Menacing or else, with omitted but implied threat, is implied by 1814:
In Tynedale, Buccleuch seized upon no less than thirty-six English freebooters, and put them to death without mercy. The wrath of Elizabeth waxed uncontrollable. "I marvel," are her own royal expressions, "how the king thinks me so base-minded as to sit down with such dishonourable treatment. Let him know we will be satisfied, or else"—Some of James's ancestors would have bid her
"Choke in thy threat. We can say or as loud."
[Sir Walter Scott, "The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland," 1814]
type of tall tree native to western Asia, southern Europe, and eastern U.S., also the large "nut" that it produces, 1560s, from chesten nut (1510s), with superfluous nut (n.) + Middle English chasteine, from Old French chastain (12c., Modern French châtaigne), from Latin castanea "chestnut, chestnut tree," from Greek kastaneia, which the Greeks explained as either "nut from Castanea" in Pontus, or "nut from Castana" in Thessaly, but probably both places are named for the trees, not the other way around, and the word is borrowed from a language of Asia Minor (compare Armenian kask "chestnut," kaskeni "chestnut tree"). In reference to the dark reddish-brown color, 1650s. Applied to the horse-chestnut by 1832.
Slang sense of "venerable joke or story" is from 1885, explained by U.S. actor Joseph Jefferson ("Lippincott's Monthly Magazine," January 1888) as probably abstracted from the 1816 melodrama "The Broken Sword" by William Dimond where an oft-repeated story involving a chestnut tree figures in an exchange between the characters "Captain Zavior" and "Pablo":
Zav. Let me see—aye! it is exactly six years since, that peace being restored to Spain, and my ship paid off, my kind brother offer'd me a snug hammock in the dwelling of my forefathers;—I mounted a mule at Barcelona, and trotted away for my native mountains. At the dawn of the fourth day's journey, I entered the wood of Collares, when, suddenly from the thick boughs of a cork-tree—
Pab. [Jumping up.] A chesnut, Captain, a chesnut!
Zav. Bah! you booby, I say, a cork.
Pab. And I swear, a chesnut—Captain! this is the twenty-seventh time I have heard you relate this story, and you invariably said, a chesnut, till now.
Zav. Did I? Well, a chesnut be it then. But, take your seat again.
Jefferson traced the connection through William Warren (1812-1888), "the veteran comedian of Boston" (and Jefferson's cousin) who often played Pablo in the melodrama.
1932 (as an adjective from 1938), from race (n.2) + -ist. Racism (q.v.) is in use by 1928, originally in the context of fascist theories, and common from 1936. These words replaced earlier racialism (1882) and racialist (1910), both often used early 20c. in a British or South African context. There are isolated uses of racism from c. 1900.
Returning recently from a six months' visit to Europe, the Rev. John LaFarge, noted Catholic writer, warned at a dinner given in his honor that the destructive forces of "racism" are increasing in the United States, and that they could cause irreparable harm among the American people if immediate steps are not taken to combat them.
Father LaFarge said that American racism is directed principally against Negroes, Jews, and foreigners. He described it as "the pale but venomous cousin" of Nazi racism. Like its Nazi counterpart, he added, it has erected impassable barriers between extensive regions and large groups of people, has formed its own myths and moulded its own social institutions, and above all has come consistently into conflict with Christian teachings. [Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life, vol. XVII, No. 2, Feb. 1939]
Earlier, race hatred (1852 of the Balkans, 1858 of British India, 1861 of white and black in America), race prejudice (1867 of English in India, 1869 of white and black in America, 1870 of the English toward Irish) were used, and, especially in 19c. U.S. political contexts, negrophobia. Anglo-Saxonism as "belief in the superiority of the English race" had been used (disparagingly) from 1860. Anti-Negro (adj.) is attested in British and American English from 1819.