Etymology
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bracket (n.)

1570s, bragget, "architectural support, supporting piece projecting from a vertical surface," probably from French braguette, originally "codpiece armor" (16c.), from a fancied resemblance of architectural supports to that article of attire (Spanish cognate bragueta meant both "codpiece" and "projecting moulding in architecture"), diminutive of brague "knee pants," ultimately from Gaulish *braca "pants," itself perhaps from Germanic (compare Old English broc "garment for the legs and trunk;" see breeches).

The architectural meaning also might be directly from the "breeches" sense, on the notion of two limbs or of appliances used in pairs. The senses have been affected by Latin brachium "arm." The typographical bracket ("marks used to enclose a note, reference, explanation, etc.;" each was formerly a crotchet) is in use by 1750, so called for its resemblance to double supports in carpentry (a sense attested from 1610s). The meaning "position of being enclosed or bracketed with others" as of equal standing is from 1880.

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crane (n.)

large grallatorial bird with very long legs, beak, and neck, Old English cran, common Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon krano, Old High German krano, German Kranich, and, with unexplained change of consonant, Old Norse trani, Danish trane), from PIE *gere-no-, suffixed form of root *gere- (2) "to cry hoarsely," also the name of the crane (cognates: Greek geranos, Latin grus, Welsh garan, Lithuanian garnys "heron, stork"). Thus the name is perhaps an echo of its cry in ancient ears.

Misapplied to herons and storks. The gray European crane was "formerly abundant in marshy places in Great Britain, and prized as food" [OED], but was extinct there through much of 20c.

Use for "machine with a long arm for moving weights" is attested from late 13c. (a sense also in equivalent words in German, French, and Greek). The constellation was one of the 11 added to Ptolemy's list in the 1610s by Flemish cartographer Petrus Plancius after Europeans began to explore the Southern Hemisphere.

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shield (n.)

Middle English sheld, "frame or rounded plate of wood, metal, etc., carried by an warrior on the arm or in the hand as defense," from Old English scield, scild "shield; protector, defender," originally "board," from Proto-Germanic *skelduz (source also of Old Norse skjöldr, Old Saxon skild, Middle Dutch scilt, Dutch schild, German Schild, Gothic skildus), from *skel- "divide, split, separate," from PIE root *skel- (1) "to cut."

The IE sense evolution of that proposal is uncertain; the ancient notion is perhaps a flat piece of wood made by splitting a log, but Boutkan writes, "it seems more probable to me that the word designated a means of protection, i.e. a separation between the fighter and the enemy."

Shield usually meant a larger defensive device, covering much of the body, as opposed to a buckler. Shield volcano (1911) translates German Schildvulkan (1910). The plate tectonics sense of shield as "large, stable mass of Achaean rock forming a continental nucleus" is by 1906, translating Suess (1888).

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creek (n.)

mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (compare dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").

Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). In U.S. commonly pronounced and formerly sometimes spelled crick. Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own.

Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble" (often especially "pregnant") is attested by 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol," or perhaps a cleaned-up version of the older up shit creek in the same sense.

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mouse (n.)

Middle English mous, from Old English mus "small rodent," also "muscle of the arm" (compare muscle (n.)); from Proto-Germanic *mus (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Danish, Swedish mus, Dutch muis, German Maus "mouse"), from PIE *mus-, the old Indo-European name of the mouse, retained in several language families (source also of Sanskrit mus "mouse, rat," Old Persian mush "mouse," Old Church Slavonic mysu, Latin mus, Lithuanian muse "mouse," Greek mys "mouse, muscle").

Plural form mice (Old English mys) shows effects of i-mutation. As a type of something timid or weak, from late 14c. Contrasted with man (n.) from 1620s (nor man nor mouse). Meaning "black eye" (or other discolored lump on the body) is from 1842. Computer sense of "small device moved by the hand over a flat surface to maneuver a cursor or arrow on a display screen" is from 1965, though the word was applied to other things resembling a mouse in shape since 1750, mainly in nautical use.

Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus [Horace]
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livid (adj.)

early 15c., "of a bluish-leaden color," from Old French livide (13c.) and directly from Latin lividus "of a bluish color, black-and-blue," figuratively "envious, spiteful, malicious," from livere "be bluish," earlier *slivere, from PIE *sliwo-, suffixed form of root *sleiə- "bluish" (source also of Old Church Slavonic and Russian sliva "plum;" Lithuanian slyvas "plum;" Old Irish li, Welsh lliw "color, splendor," Old English sla "sloe").

Somehow it has come to be associated with "pale, colorless." The sense of "furiously angry" (1912) is from the notion of being livid with rage. Perhaps this is the key to the meaning shift. Rage makes some dark-red-faced; purple with rage is not uncommon in old novels (" 'My money! ye pirate! or I'll strangle you.' And he advanced upon him purple with rage, and shot out his long threatening arm, and brown fingers working in the air.") while it makes others go pale, also a figure in old novels ("At this juncture, the door opened, and, pale with rage, her eyes flashing fire, Lady Audley stood before them.")

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cubit (n.)

ancient unit of measure (usually from 18 to 22 inches) based on the forearm from elbow to fingertip, early 14c., from Latin cubitum, cubitus "the elbow, the forearm," generally regarded as a derivative of PIE *keu(b)- "to bend," but de Vaan finds this dubious based on the sense of the proposed cognates and the sound changes involved. Also compare cubicle.

It seems much safer to assume that cubitus 'elbow' is a specific instance of the ppp. cubitus of the verb cubare 'to lie down'. People lie down on their elbow if they sleep on their side, and the Romans even reclined when dining. It matters little whether the original meaning was 'forearm' or 'the elbow joint'. One may even suggest that the verb cubitare 'to lie down' ... is not (only) a frequentative to cubare, but (also) arose as a denominative 'to rest on the elbow' to cubitus. [de Vaan]

Such a measure, known by a word meaning "forearm" or the like, was known to many peoples (compare Greek pekhys, Hebrew ammah, English ell).

The word also was used in English in the "forearm, part of the arm from the elbow downward" sense (early 15c.); hence cubital "as long as a cubit" (mid-15c.), also "pertaining to the forearm" (1610s).

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yard (n.2)

measure of length, Old English gerd (Mercian), gierd (West Saxon) "rod, staff, stick; measure of length," from West Germanic *gazdijo, from Proto-Germanic *gazdjo "stick, rod" (source also of Old Saxon gerda, Old Frisian ierde, Dutch gard "rod;" Old High German garta, German gerte "switch, twig," Old Norse gaddr "spike, sting, nail"), from PIE root *ghazdh-o- "rod, staff, pole" (source also of Latin hasta "shaft, staff"). The nautical yard-arm retains the original sense of "stick."

Originally in Anglo-Saxon times a land measure of roughly 5 meters (a length later called rod, pole, or perch). Modern measure of "three feet" is attested from late 14c. (earlier rough equivalent was the ell of 45 inches, and the verge). In Middle English and after, the word also was a euphemism for "penis" (as in "Love's Labour's Lost," V.ii.676). Slang meaning "one hundred dollars" first attested 1926, American English. Middle English yerd (Old English gierd) also was "yard-land, yard of land," a varying measure but often about 30 acres or a quarter of a hide.

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muscle (n.)

"contractible animal tissue consisting of bundles of fibers," late 14c., "a muscle of the body," from Latin musculus "a muscle," literally "a little mouse," diminutive of mus "mouse" (see mouse (n.)).

So called because the shape and movement of some muscles (notably biceps) were thought to resemble mice. The analogy was made in Greek, too, where mys is both "mouse" and "muscle," and its combining form gives the medical prefix myo-. Compare also Old Church Slavonic mysi "mouse," mysica "arm;" German Maus "mouse; muscle," Arabic 'adalah "muscle," 'adal "field mouse;" Cornish logodenfer "calf of the leg," literally "mouse of the leg." In Middle English, lacerte, from the Latin word for "lizard," also was used as a word for a muscle.

Musclez & lacertez bene one selfe þing, Bot þe muscle is said to þe fourme of mouse & lacert to þe fourme of a lizard. [Guy de Chauliac, "Grande Chirurgie," c. 1425]

Hence muscular and mousy are relatives, and a Middle English word for "muscular" was lacertous, "lizardy." Figurative sense of "muscle, strength, brawn" is by 1850; that of "force, violence, threat of violence" is 1930, American English. Muscle car "hot rod" is from 1969.

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fox (n.)

Old English fox "a fox," from Proto-Germanic *fuhsaz "fox" (cognates Old Saxon vohs, Middle Dutch and Dutch vos, Old High German fuhs, German Fuchs, Old Norse foa, Gothic fauho), from Proto-Germanic *fuh-, from PIE *puk- "tail" (source also of Sanskrit puccha- "tail").

The bushy tail also inspired words for "fox" in Welsh (llwynog, from llwyn "bush"); Spanish (raposa, from rabo "tail"); and Lithuanian (uodegis, from uodega "tail"). Metaphoric extension to "clever person" was in late Old English. Meaning "sexually attractive woman" is from 1940s; but foxy in this sense is recorded from 1895. A fox-tail was anciently one of the badges of a fool (late 14c.).

A late Old English translation of the Medicina de Quadrupedibus of Sextus Placitus advises, for women "who suffer troubles in their inward places, work for them into a salve a foxes limbs and his grease, with old oil and with tar; apply to the womens places; quickly it healeth the troubles." It also recommends, for sexual intercourse without irritation, "the extremest end of a foxes tail hung upon the arm." Rubbing a fox's testicles on warts was supposed a means to get rid of them.

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