Etymology
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town (n.)
Old English tun "enclosure, garden, field, yard; farm, manor; homestead, dwelling house, mansion;" later "group of houses, village, farm," from Proto-Germanic *tunaz, *tunan "fortified place" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian tun "fence, hedge," Middle Dutch tuun "fence," Dutch tuin "garden," Old High German zun, German Zaun "fence, hedge"), an early borrowing from Celtic *dunon "hill, hill-fort" (source also of Old Irish dun, Welsh din "fortress, fortified place, camp," dinas "city," Gaulish-Latin -dunum in place names), from PIE *dhu-no- "enclosed, fortified place, hill-fort," from root *dheue- "to close, finish, come full circle" (see down (n.2)).

Meaning "inhabited place larger than a village" (mid-12c.) arose after the Norman conquest from the use of this word to correspond to French ville. The modern word is partially a generic term, applicable to cities of great size as well as places intermediate between a city and a village; such use is unusual, the only parallel is perhaps Latin oppidium, which occasionally was applied even to Rome or Athens (each of which was more properly an urbs).

First record of town hall is from late 15c. Town ball, version of baseball, is recorded from 1852. Town car (1907) originally was a motor car with an enclosed passenger compartment and open driver's seat. On the town "living the high life" is from 1712. Go to town "do (something) energetically" is first recorded 1933. Man about town "one constantly seen at public and private functions" is attested from 1734.
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Viking (n.)

Scandinavian pirate, 1801, vikingr, in "The History of the Anglo-Saxons" by English historian Sharon H. Turner; he suggested the second element might be connected to king: But this later was dismissed as incorrect. The form viking is attested in 1820, in Jamieson's notes to "The Bruce."

The name by which the pirates were at first distinguished was Vikingr, which perhaps originally meant kings of the bays. It was in bays that they ambushed, to dart upon the passing voyager. [Turner]

The word is a historians' revival; it was not used in Middle English, but it was reintroduced from Old Norse vikingr "freebooter, sea-rover, pirate, viking," which usually is explained as meaning properly "one who came from the fjords," from vik "creek, inlet, small bay" (cognate with Old English wic, Middle High German wich "bay," and second element in Reykjavik).

But Old English wicing and Old Frisian wizing are almost 300 years older than the earliest attestation of the Old Norse word, and probably derive from wic "village, camp" (large temporary camps were a feature of the Viking raids), related to Latin vicus "village, habitation" (from PIE root *weik- (1) "clan").

The connection between the Norse and Old English words is still much debated. The period of Viking activity was roughly 8c. to 11c. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the raiding armies generally were referred to as þa Deniscan "the Danes," while those who settled in England were identified by their place of settlement. Old Norse viking (n.) meant "freebooting voyage, piracy;" one would "go on a viking" (fara í viking).

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ethnic (adj.)

late 15c. (earlier ethnical, early 15c.) "pagan, heathen," from Late Latin ethnicus, from Greek ethnikos "of or for a nation, national," by some writers (Polybius, etc.) "adopted to the genius or customs of a people, peculiar to a people," and among the grammarians "suited to the manners or language of foreigners," from ethnos "band of people living together, nation, people, tribe, caste," also used of swarms or flocks of animals, properly "people of one's own kind," from PIE *swedh-no-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e-, third person pronoun and reflexive, also forming words referring to the social group (see idiom). Earlier in English as a noun, "a heathen, pagan, one who is not a Christian or Jew" (c. 1400). In modern noun use, "member of an ethnic group," from 1945.

In Septuagint, Greek ta ethne translates Hebrew goyim, plural of goy "nation," especially of non-Israelites, hence especially "gentile nation, foreign nation not worshipping the true God" (see goy), and ethnikos is used by ecclesiastical writers in a sense of "savoring of the nature of pagans, alien to the worship of the true God," and as a noun "the pagan, the gentile." The classical sense of "peculiar to a race or nation" in English is attested from 1851, a return to the word's original meaning; that of "different cultural groups" is 1935; and that of "racial, cultural or national minority group" is American English 1945. Ethnic cleansing is attested from 1991.

Although the term 'ethnic cleansing' has come into English usage only recently, its verbal correlates in Czech, French, German, and Polish go back much further. [Jerry Z. Muller, "Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism," Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008]
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rise (v.)

Middle English risen, from Old English risan "to rise from sleep, get out of bed; stand up, rise to one's feet; get up from table; rise together; be fit, be proper" (typically gerisan, arisan; a class I strong verb; past tense ras, past participle risen), from Proto-Germanic *us-rīsanan "to go up" (source also of Old Norse risa, Old Saxon risan, Old Frisian risa, "to rise; arise, happen," Gothic urreisan "to rise," Old High German risan "to rise, flow," German reisen "to travel," originally "to rise for a journey"). OED writes, "No related terms have been traced outside of Teutonic"; Boutkan suggests an origin in a lost European substrate language.

From late 12c. as "to rise from the dead," also "rebel, revolt, stand up in opposition." It is attested from c. 1200 in the senses of "move from a lower to a higher position, move upward; increase in number or amount; rise in fortune, prosper; become prominent;" also, of heavenly bodies, "appear above the horizon." To rise and shine "get up, get out of bed" is by 1916 (earlier it was a religious expression). Of seas, rivers, etc., "increase in height," c. 1300.

The meaning "come into existence, originate; result (from)" is by mid-13c. From early 14c. as "occur, happen, come to pass; take place." From 1540s of sound, "ascend in pitch." Also from 1540s of dough. It seems not to have been used of heat or temperature in Middle English; that sense may have developed from the use of the verb in reference to the behavior of fluid in a thermometer or barometer (1650s). Related to raise (v.). Related: Rose; risen.

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fact (n.)

1530s, "action, a thing performed, anything done, a deed," good or evil but in 16c.-17c. commonly "evil deed, crime;" from Latin factum "an event, occurrence, deed, achievement," in Medieval Latin also "state, condition, circumstance" (source also of Old French fait, Spanish hecho, Italian fatto), etymologically "a thing done," noun use of neuter of factus, past participle of facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

An earlier adaptation of the Old French word that also became feat. The older senses are mostly obsolete but somewhat preserved in such phrases as after the fact, originally legal, "after the crime." Also compare matter-of-fact.

The modern, empirical, sense of "thing known to be true, a real state of things, what has really occurred or is actually the case," as distinguished from statement or belief, is from 1630s, from the notion of "something that has actually occurred." The particular concept of the scientific, empirical fact ("a truth known by observation or authentic testimony") emerged in English 1660s, via Hooke, Boyle, etc., in The Royal Society, as part of the creation of the modern vocabulary of knowledge (along with theory, hypothesis, etc.); in early 18c. it was associated with the philosophical writings of Hume. Middle English thus lacked the noun and the idea of it; the closest expression being perhaps thing proved (c.1500).

Hence facts "real state of things;" in fact "in reality" (1707). By 1729, fact was being used of "something presented as a fact but which might be or is false."

By fact is also often meant a true statement, a truth, or truth in general ; but this seems to be a mere inexactness of language .... Fact, as being special, is sometimes opposed to truth, as being universal ; and in such cases there is an implication that facts are minute matters ascertained by research, and often inferior in their importance for the formation of general opinions, or for the general description of phenomena, to other matters which are of familiar experience. [Century Dictionary]

Facts of life is by 1854 as "the stark realities of existence;" by 1913 it had also acquired a more specific sense of "knowledge of human sexual functions." The alliterative pairing of facts and figures for "precise information" is by 1727.

Facts and Figures are the most stubborn Evidences; they neither yield to the most persuasive Eloquence, nor bend to the most imperious Authority. [Abel Boyer, "The Political State of Great Britain," 1727]

Facts are stubborn things is in an 1822 translation of the popular novel "Gil Blas" (earlier English translations have facts speak for themselves).

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contrary (adj.)

mid-14c., "opposite, opposed, at the opposite point or in the opposite direction; extremely unlike, most unlike," from Anglo-French contrarie, Old French contrarie, and directly from Latin contrarius "opposite, opposed; contrary, reverse," from contra "against" (see contra). Meaning "given to contradiction, perverse, intractable" is from late 14c.; sense of "adverse, unfavorable" is from late 14c. Related: Contrarily.

As a noun from late 13c., "one of a pair of characters, propositions, terms, etc., the most different possible within the same class." The phrase on the contrary "in precise or extreme opposition to what has been said" is attested from c. 1400 as in the contrary.

If we take the statement All men are mortal, its contrary is Not all men are mortal, its converse is All mortal beings are men, & its opposite is No men are mortal. The contrary, however, does not exclude the opposite, but includes it as its most extreme form. Thus This is white has only one opposite, This is black, but many contraries, as This is not white, This is coloured, This is dirty, This is black; & whether the last form is called the contrary, or more emphatically the opposite, is usually indifferent. But to apply the opposite to a mere contrary (e.g. to I did not hit him in relation to I hit him, which has no opposite), or to the converse (e.g. to He hit me in relation to I hit him, to which it is neither contrary nor opposite), is a looseness that may easily result in misunderstanding; the temptation to go wrong is intelligible when it is remembered that with certain types of sentence (A exceeds B) the converse & the opposite are identical (B exceeds A). [Fowler]
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move (v.)

late 13c., meven, in various senses (see below), from Anglo-French mover, Old French movoir "to move, get moving, set out; set in motion; introduce" (Modern French mouvoir), from Latin movere "move, set in motion; remove; disturb" (past participle motus, frequentative motare), from PIE root *meue- "to push away."

Of the physical meanings, the earliest in English (late 13c.) is the intransitive one of "change one's place or posture, stir, shift; move the body; move from one's place, change position. That of "to go (from one place to another), journey, travel; set out, proceed" is from c. 1300. The transitive sense of "cause to change place or position; shift; dislodge; set in motion" is from late 14c., as is that of "impart motion to, impel; set or sustain in motion." The intransitive sense of "pass from place to place; journey; travel; change position continuously or occasionally" is from c. 1300.

The emotional, figurative, and non-material senses also are mostly from Middle English: The earliest is "excite to action; influence; induce; incite; arouse; awaken" the senses or mental faculties or emotions (late 13c.); specifically "affect (someone) emotionally, rouse to pity or tenderness" by early 14c. Hence also "influence (someone, to do something), guide, prompt or impel toward some action" (late 14c.).

The sense of "propose; bring forward; offer formally; submit," as a motion for consideration by a deliberative assembly" is by early 15c. Sense of "to change one's place of residence" is from 1707. In chess, checkers, and similar games, "to change the position of a piece in the course of play," late 15c. Commercial sense of "sell, cause to be sold" is by 1900.

The policeman's order to move on is attested by 1831. To move heaven and earth "make extraordinary efforts" is by 1798. Related: Moved;moving.

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common (adj.)
Origin and meaning of common

c. 1300, "belonging to all, owned or used jointly, general, of a public nature or character," from Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public" (9c., Modern French commun), from Latin communis "in common, public, shared by all or many; general, not specific; familiar, not pretentious." This is from a reconstructed PIE compound *ko-moin-i- "held in common," compound adjective formed from *ko- "together" + *moi-n-, suffixed form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move," hence literally "shared by all."

The second element of the compound also is the source of Latin munia "duties, public duties, functions," those related to munia "office." Perhaps reinforced in Old French by the Germanic form of PIE *ko-moin-i- (compare German gemein, Old English gemne "common, public, general, universal;" see mean (adj.)), which came to French via Frankish.

Used disparagingly of women and criminals since c. 1300. Meaning "pertaining equally to or proceeding equally from two or more" is from c. 1400. Meaning "usual, not exceptional, of frequent occurrence" is from late 14c. Sense of "not distinguished, belonging to the general mass" is from c. 1400; of things, "ordinary, not excellent," late 14c.

Common pleas is 13c., from Anglo-French communs plets, hearing civil actions by one subject against another as opposed to pleas of the crown. Common prayer is that done in public in unity with other worshipers; contrasted with private prayer. Common stock is attested from 1888. Common speech (late 14c.) is the vernacular, as opposed to Latin. Common good (late 14c.) translates Latin bonum publicum "the common weal." The college common room (1660s) is one to which all members have common access. 

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-or 

word-forming element making nouns of quality, state, or condition, from Middle English -our, from Old French -our (Modern French -eur), from Latin -orem (nominative -or), a suffix added to past participle verbal stems. Also in some cases from Latin -atorem (nominative -ator).

In U.S., via Noah Webster, -or is nearly universal (but not in glamour), while in Britain -our is used in most cases (but with many exceptions: author, error, tenor, senator, ancestor, horror etc.). The -our form predominated after c. 1300, but Mencken reports that the first three folios of Shakespeare's plays used both spellings indiscriminately and with equal frequency; only in the Fourth Folio of 1685 does -our become consistent.

A partial revival of -or on the Latin model took place from 16c. (governour began to lose its -u- 16c. and it was gone by 19c.), and also among phonetic spellers in both England and America (John Wesley wrote that -or was "a fashionable impropriety" in England in 1791).

Webster criticized the habit of deleting -u- in -our words in his first speller ("A Grammatical Institute of the English Language," commonly called the Blue-Black Speller) in 1783. His own deletion of the -u- began with the revision of 1804, and was enshrined in the influential "Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language" (1806), which also established in the U.S. -ic for British -ick and -er for -re, along with many other attempts at reformed spelling which never caught on (such as masheen for machine). His attempt to justify them on the grounds of etymology and the custom of great writers does not hold up.

Fowler notes the British drop the -u- when forming adjectives ending in -orous (humorous) and derivatives in -ation and -ize, in which cases the Latin origin is respected (such as vaporize). When the Americans began to consistently spell it one way, however, the British reflexively hardened their insistence on the other. "The American abolition of -our in such words as honour and favour has probably retarded rather than quickened English progress in the same direction." [Fowler]

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play (v.)

Middle English pleien, from Old English plegan, plegian "move lightly and quickly, occupy or busy oneself, amuse oneself; engage in active exercise; frolic; engage in children's play; make sport of, mock; perform music," from Proto-West Germanic *plegōjanan "occupy oneself about" (source also of Old Saxon plegan "vouch for, take charge of," Old Frisian plega "tend to," Middle Dutch pleyen "to rejoice, be glad," German pflegen "take care of, cultivate"), which is apparently connected to the root of plight (v.), but the ultimate etymology is uncertain and the phonetic development is difficult to explain.

Meaning "to take part in" a martial or athletic game is from c. 1200. It has been opposed to work (v.) since late 14c. Meaning "perform or act on the stage" (transitive) is by late 14c., as are the senses of "take the role of" and "make a pretense of, make believe" and "act thoughtlessly or wantonly." Sense of "put forward, move, throw, lay on the table, etc." in the course of a game or contest is by 1560s of chess pieces, 1670s of playing cards. Sense of "operate or cause to operate with continuous or repeated action" is from 1590s. Meaning "to cause (a recording) to reproduce what is on it" is by 1903, probably from the "make music" sense. Related: Played; playing.

Many expressions are from the stage, sports and games, or music, and it is not always easy to say which is from which. To play up "emphasize" is from 1909 (perhaps originally "play music more vigorously"); to play down "minimize" is from 1930; to play along "pretend to agree or cooperate" is from 1929. To play fair "be nice" is from mid-15c. To play house as a children's activity is from 1958.

To play for keeps is from 1861, originally of marbles or other children's games with tokens. To play (something) safe is from 1911; to play favorites is attested from 1902.  To play second fiddle in the figurative sense is from 1809 ("Gil Blas"). To play into the hands (of someone) "act in such a way as to give the advantage to one's opponent or a third party" is from 1705. For play the _______ card see card (n.1). For play the field see field (n.). To play with oneself "masturbate" is from 1896 (to play with "have sexual intercourse with" is from mid-13c.). Playing-card "one of a pack of cards used for playing games" is from 1540s.

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