Etymology
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fiasco (n.)

1855, theater slang for "a failure in performance;" by 1862 it had acquired the general sense of "any ignominious failure or dismal flop," on or off the stage. It comes via the French phrase faire fiasco "turn out a failure" (19c.), from Italian far fiasco "suffer a complete breakdown in performance," literally "make a bottle," from fiasco "bottle," from Late Latin flasco "bottle" (see flask).

The literal sense of the image (if it is one) is obscure today, but "the usual range of fanciful theories has been advanced" [Ayto]. Century Dictionary says "perhaps in allusion to the bursting of a bottle," Weekley pronounces it impenetrable and compares French ramasser un pelle "to come a cropper (in bicycling), literally to pick up a shovel." OED keeps its distance and lets nameless "Italian etymologists" make nebulous reference to "alleged incidents in Italian theatrical history." Klein suggests Venetian glass-crafters tossing aside imperfect pieces to be made later into common flasks. But according to an Italian dictionary, fare il fiasco used to mean "to play a game so that the one that loses will pay the fiasco," in other words, he will buy the next bottle (of wine). If the dates are not objectionable, that plausibly connects the literal sense of the word with the notion of "a costly mistake."

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milk (n.)
Origin and meaning of milk

"opaque white fluid secreted by mammary glands of female mammals, suited to the nourishment of their young," Middle English milk, from Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluk- "milk" (source also of Old Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks), from *melk- "to milk," from PIE root *melg- "to wipe, to rub off," also "to stroke; to milk," in reference to the hand motion involved in milking an animal. Old Church Slavonic noun meleko (Russian moloko, Czech mleko) is considered to be adopted from Germanic.

Of milk-like plant juices or saps from c. 1200. Milk chocolate (eating chocolate made with milk solids, paler and sweeter) is recorded by 1723; milk shake was used from 1889 for a variety of concoctions, but the modern version (composed of milk, flavoring, etc., mixed by shaking) is from the 1930s. Milk tooth (1727) uses the word in its figurative sense "period of infancy," attested from 17c. To cry over spilt milk (representing anything which, once misused, cannot be recovered) is first attested 1836 in writing of Canadian humorist Thomas C. Haliburton. Milk and honey is from the Old Testament phrase describing the richness of the Promised Land (Numbers xvi.13, Old English meolc and hunie). Milk of human kindness is from "Macbeth" (1605).

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that (pron.)

Old English þæt, "that, so that, after that," neuter singular demonstrative pronoun ("A Man's a Man for a' that"), relative pronoun ("O thou that hearest prayer"), and demonstrative adjective ("Look at that caveman go!"), corresponding to masc. se, fem. seo. From Proto-Germanic *that, from PIE *tod-, extended form of demonstrative pronominal base *-to- (see -th (1)).

With the breakdown of the grammatical gender system, it came to be used in Middle English and Modern English for all genders. Germanic cognates include Old Saxon that, Old Frisian thet, Middle Dutch, Dutch dat "that," German der, die, das "the."

Generally more specific or emphatic than the, but in some cases they are interchangeable. From c. 1200 opposed to this as indicating something farther off. In adverbial use ("I'm that old"), in reference to something implied or previously said, c. 1200, an abbreviation of the notion of "to that extent," "to that degree." As a conjunction ("Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more") it was originally the neuter pronoun or adjective that used practically as a definite article qualifying the whole sentence.

Slang that way "in love" first recorded 1929. That-a-way "in that direction" is recorded from 1839. "Take that!" said while delivering a blow, is recorded from early 15c.

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block (n.1)

"solid piece," early 14c., blok, blokke, "large solid piece of wood," usually with one or more plane faces, from Old French bloc "log, block" of wood (13c.), which is from a Germanic source such as Middle Dutch bloc "trunk of a tree," Old High German bloh (from PIE *bhlugo-, from *bhelg- "a thick plank, beam;" see balk (n.)).

Generalized by late 15c. to any solid piece. Meaning "solid mass of wood, the upper surface of which is used for some purpose" is from late 15c., originally the executioner's block where the condemned were beheaded. Meaning "stump where a slave stood to be sold at auction" is from 1842. Meaning "mold on which something is shaped, or placed to keep its shape," typically a hat or wig, is from 1570s; sense of "head" (generally disparaging) is from 1630s, perhaps an extension of this. To knock (someone's) block off "thrash, beat" is by 1923.

Meaning "grooved pulley in a wooden case" (used to transmit power and change the direction of motion by means of a rope) is from c. 1400. Hence block and tackle (1825; see tackle (n.)). The meaning in city block is 1796, from the notion of a "compact mass" of buildings.

BLOCK. A term applied in America to a square mass of houses included between four streets. It is a very useful one. [Bartlett]

Later of a portion of a city enclosed by streets, whether built up or not.

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ride (v.)

Middle English riden, from Old English ridan "sit or be carried on" (as on horseback), "move forward; rock; float, sail" (class I strong verb; past tense rad, past participle riden), from Proto-Germanic *ridan (source also of Old Norse riða, Old Saxon ridan, Old Frisian rida "to ride," Middle Dutch riden, Dutch rijden, Old High German ritan, German reiten), from PIE *reidh- "to ride" (source also of Old Irish riadaim "I travel," Old Gaulish reda "chariot"). Common to Celtic and Germanic, perhaps a loan word from one to the other.

Of a ship, "to sail, float, rock," c. 1300. The meaning "heckle" is by 1912 from earlier sense of "dominate cruelly, have the mastery of, harass at will" (1580s) on the notion of "control and manage," as a rider does a horse, especially harshly or arrogantly. The verb in venery is from mid-13c.

To ride out "endure (a storm, etc.) without great damage" is from 1520s, literal and figurative. To let (something) ride "allow to pass without comment or intervention" is by 1921. To ride herd on "guard and control" is by 1897, from cattle-driving. To ride shotgun "ride in the passenger seat of an automobile" is by 1919, from the custom of having an armed man up beside the driver of a stagecoach to ward off trouble. To ride shank's mare "walk" is from 1846 (see shank (n.)). The ____ rides again cliche is from Hollywood movie titles ("Destry Rides Again," 1939).

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skin (n.)

c. 1200, "animal hide" (usually dressed and tanned), from Old Norse skinn "animal hide, fur," from Proto-Germanic *skinth- (source also of Old English scinn (rare), Old High German scinten, German schinden "to flay, skin;" German dialectal schind "skin of a fruit," Flemish schinde "bark"), from PIE *sken- "to peel off, flay" (source also of Breton scant "scale of a fish," Irish scainim "I tear, I burst"), extended form of root *sek- "to cut."

Ful of fleissche Y was to fele, Now ... Me is lefte But skyn & boon. [hymn, c. 1430]

The usual Anglo-Saxon word is hide (n.1). Meaning "epidermis of a living animal or person" is attested from early 14c.; extended to fruits, vegetables, etc. late 14c. Jazz slang sense of "drum" is from 1927. Meaning "a skinhead" is from 1970. As an adjective, it formerly had a slang sense of "cheating" (1868); sense of "pornographic" is attested from 1968. Skin deep is first attested in this:

All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin-deep. [Sir Thomas Overbury, "A Wife," 1613; the poem was a main motive for his murder]

The skin of one's teeth as the narrowest of margins is attested from 1550s in the Geneva Bible literal translation of the Hebrew text in Job xix.20. To get under (someone's) skin "annoy" is from 1896. Skin-graft is from 1871. Skin merchant "recruiting officer" is from 1792.

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castle (n.)

late Old English castel "village" (this sense from a biblical usage in Vulgar Latin); later "large building or series of connected buildings fortified for defense, fortress, stronghold" (late Old English), in this sense from Old North French castel (Old French chastel, 12c.; Modern French château), from Latin castellum "a castle, fort, citadel, stronghold; fortified village," diminutive of castrum "fort," from Proto-Italic *kastro- "part, share;" cognate with Old Irish cather, Welsh caer "town" (probably related to castrare via notion of "cut off," from PIE root *kes- "to cut"). In early bibles, castle was used to translate Greek kome "village."

Latin castrum in its plural castra was used for "military encampment, military post" and thus it came into Old English as ceaster and formed the -caster and -chester in place names. Spanish alcazar "castle" is from Arabic al-qasr, from Latin castrum. Castles in Spain "visionary project, vague imagination of possible wealth" translates 14c. French chastel en Espaigne (the imaginary castles sometimes stood in Brie, Asia, or Albania) and probably reflects the hopes of landless knights to establish themselves abroad. The statement that an (English) man's home is his castle is from 16c.

THAT the house of every man is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injuries and violence, as for his repose .... [Edward Coke, "Semaynes Case," 1604]
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cut (n.)

mid-15c., "a certain length" of something; 1520s, "gash, incision, opening made by an edged instrument," from cut (v.).

Meaning "piece cut off" (especially of meat) is from 1590s. Figurative sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s. Meaning "an excision or omission of a part" is from c. 1600. Sense of "a reduction" is by 1881. Meaning "manner in which a thing is cut" is from 1570s, hence "fashion, style, make" (1580s).

Dialectal or local sense of "a creek or inlet" is from 1620s. Meaning "channel or trench made by cutting or digging" is from 1730. Meaning "block or stamp on which a picture is engraved" is from 1640s. Sense of "act of cutting a deck of cards" is from 1590s. Cinematic sense of "a quick transition from one shot to the next" is by 1933. Meaning "share" (of profit, loot, etc.) is by 1918.

Meaning "phonograph recording" is by 1949; the verb in the sense "make a recording" is by 1937, from the literal sense in reference to the mechanical process of making sound recordings.

Instead of a cutting tool actually operated by the sound vibrations from the voices or instruments of performing artists, the panatrope records are cut by a tool that is operated electrically. ["The New Electric Phonograph," in Popular Science, February 1926]. 

A cut above "a degree better than" is from 1818. Cold-cuts "cooked meats sliced and served cold" (1945) translates German kalter Aufschnitt.

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rack (n.1)

c. 1300, "grating or open frame with bars or pegs upon which things are hung or placed," especially for kitchen use, possibly from Middle Dutch rec "framework," literally "something stretched out, related to recken (modern rekken) "stretch out," cognate with Old English reccan "to stretch out," from Proto-Germanic *rak- (source also of Old Saxon rekkian, Old Frisian reza, Old Norse rekja, Old High German recchen, German recken, Gothic uf-rakjan "to stretch out"), from PIE root *reg- "to move in a straight line."

Or it might have developed from the Old English verb. The sense of "frame on which clothes or skins are stretched to dry" is by early 14c. The sense of "framework above a manger for holding hay or other fodder for livestock" is from mid-14c. As the name of a type of instrument of torture by early 15c., perhaps from German rackbank, originally an implement for stretching leather, etc. Sense of "punishment by the rack" is by 1580s.

Mechanical meaning "metal bar with teeth on one edge" is from 1797 (see pinion). Meaning "set of antlers" is first attested 1945, American English; hence slang sense of "a woman's breasts" (especially if large), by 1991. Meaning "framework for displaying clothes" is from 1948; hence off the rack (1951) of clothing, as opposed to tailored.

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sell (v.)

Middle English sellen, from Old English sellan "to give (something to someone), furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise," from Proto-Germanic *saljanan "offer up, deliver" (source also of Old Norse selja "to hand over, deliver, sell;" Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen "to give, hand over, sell;" Gothic saljan "to offer a sacrifice"), ultimately from PIE root *sel- (3) "to take, grasp."

Meaning "to give up for money,  accept a price or reward for" had emerged by late Old English, but in Chaucer selle still can mean "to give." Students of Old English learn early that the word they encounter that looks like sell usually means "give." An Old English word for "to sell" was bebycgan, from bycgan "to buy."

The meaning "betray for gain" is from c. 1200. Slang meaning "to swindle" is from 1590s. To sell off "dispose of by sale, sell all of" is by 1700. To sell one's soul "make a contract with the devil," often figurative, is from c. 1570. Sell-by in reference to dates stamped on perishable packaged foods is from 1972. To sell like hot cakes is from 1839. To sell (someone) down the river figuratively is by 1927, probably from or with recollection of slavery days, on notion of sale from the Upper South to the cotton plantations of the Deep South (attested in this literal sense since 1851).

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