"a stick or staff used in beating, a war-club, staff used to strike the ball in certain games," c. 1200, from rare Old English batt "cudgel," a western England word at first, probably from Welsh or another Celtic source (compare Irish and Gaelic bat, bata "staff, cudgel"), later reinforced and influenced by Old French batte "pestle," from Late Latin battre "to beat;" all from PIE root *bhat- "to strike." As a kind of wooden paddle used to play cricket (later baseball), it is attested from 1706.
A Middle English sense of "a lump, piece, chunk" (mid-14c.) was used in reference to bread, clay, wool, and survives in brickbat and batting (n.1).
The phrase right off the bat (1866), also hot from the bat (1870), probably represent a baseball metaphor, but cricket or some other use of a bat might as easily be the source--there is an early citation from Australia (in an article about slang): "Well, it is a vice you'd better get rid of then. Refined conversation is a mark of culture. Let me hear that kid use slang again, and I'll give it to him right off the bat. I'll wipe up the floor with him. I'll ---" ["The Australian Journal," November 1888].
also shmuck, "contemptible person," 1892, from East Yiddish shmok, literally "penis," probably from Old Polish smok "grass snake, dragon," and likely not the same word as German Schmuck "jewelry, adornments," which is related to Low German smuck "supple, tidy, trim, elegant," and to Old Norse smjuga "slip, step through" (see smock).
In Jewish homes, the word was "regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo" [Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yiddish," 1968] and Lenny Bruce wrote that saying it on stage got him arrested on the West Coast "by a Yiddish undercover agent who had been placed in the club several nights running to determine if my use of Yiddish terms was a cover for profanity." Euphemized as schmoe, which was the source of Al Capp's cartoon strip creature the shmoo.
"[A]dditional associative effects from German schmuck 'jewels, decoration' cannot be excluded (cross-linguistically commonplace slang: cf. Eng. 'family jewels')" [Mark R.V. Southern, "Contagious Couplings: Transmission of Expressives in Yiddish Echo Phrases," 2005]. But the English phrase refers to the testicles and is a play on words, the "family" element being the essential ones. Words for "decoration" seem not to be among the productive sources of European "penis" slang terms.
Old English Gota (plural Gotan) "a member of the Germanic people who lived in Eastern Europe c.100 C.E.," from Late Latin Gothus (plural Gothi), from Greek Gothos (plural Gothoi), from Gothic *Gutos, which is preserved in Gothic gutþiuda "Gothic people," the first element cognate with Old Norse gotar "men" (the second meaning "people; see Dutch). "The sense 'men' is usually taken to be the secondary one, but as the etymology of the word is unknown, this is uncertain" [Gordon]. The unetymological -th- in the modern English word is from Late Latin.
They entered history in 3c. C.E. on the lower Danube and later invaded the Roman Empire and were converted to Arian Christianity. Used in sense of "rude or uncivilized person; savage despoiler" (1660s) in reference to their fifth-century sacking of Roman cities (compare vandal, and French gothique, still with a sense of "barbarous, rude, cruel"). In 19c., in reference to living persons, it meant "a Gothicist" (1812), that is, "an admirer of the Gothic style, especially in architecture." Modern use as an adjective in reference to a subculture style (typically with lower-case g-) is from 1986, short for Gothic in this sense.
By 1982, when the legendary Batcave club opened in London, the music press had begun to use the term gothic rock to describe the music and fandom around which a new postpunk subculture was forming. [Lauren M.E. Goodlad & Michael Bibby, "Goth: Undead Subculture," 2007]
Old English hus "dwelling, shelter, building designed to be used as a residence," from Proto-Germanic *hūsan (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian hus, Dutch huis, German Haus), of unknown origin, perhaps connected to the root of hide (v.) [OED]. In Gothic only in gudhus "temple," literally "god-house;" the usual word for "house" in Gothic being according to OED razn.
Meaning "family, including ancestors and descendants, especially if noble" is from c. 1000. Zodiac sense is first attested late 14c. The legislative sense (1540s) is transferred from the building in which the body meets. Meaning "audience in a theater" is from 1660s (transferred from the theater itself, playhouse). Meaning "place of business" is 1580s. The specialized college and university sense (1530s) also applies to both buildings and students collectively, a double sense found earlier in reference to religious orders (late 14c.). As a dance club DJ music style, probably from the Warehouse, a Chicago nightclub where the style is said to have originated.
To play house is from 1871; as suggestive of "have sex, shack up," 1968. House arrest first attested 1936. House-painter is from 1680s. House-raising (n.) is from 1704. On the house "free" is from 1889. House and home have been alliteratively paired since c. 1200.
And the Prophet Isaiah the sonne of Amos came to him, and saide vnto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not liue. [II Kings xx.1, version of 1611]
"all right, correct," 1839, only survivor of a slang fad in Boston and New York c. 1838-9 for abbreviations of common phrases with deliberate, jocular misspellings (such as K.G. for "no go," as if spelled "know go;" N.C. for "'nuff ced;" K.Y. for "know yuse"). In the case of O.K., the abbreviation is of "oll korrect."
Probably further popularized by use as an election slogan by the O.K. Club, New York boosters of Democratic president Martin Van Buren's 1840 re-election bid, in allusion to his nickname Old Kinderhook, from his birth in the N.Y. village of Kinderhook. Van Buren lost, the word stuck, in part because it filled a need for a quick way to write an approval on a document, bill, etc.
Spelled out as okeh, 1919, by Woodrow Wilson, on assumption that it represented Choctaw okeh "it is so" (a theory which lacks historical documentation); this spelling was ousted quickly by okay after the appearance of that form in 1929. Greek immigrants to America who returned home early 20c. having picked up U.S. speech mannerisms were known in Greece as okay-boys, among other things.
The noun is first attested 1841, "endorsement, approval, authorization" (especially as indicated by the letters O.K.); the verb, "to approve, agree to, sanction," is by 1888. Okey-doke is student slang first attested 1932.
masc. proper name, attested by 1218, probably via Anglo-French Jake, Jaikes, from Old French Jacques (which was a diminutive of Latin Jacobus; see Jacob), but in English the name always has been regarded as a familiar form of John, and some have argued that it is a native formation. In Middle English spelled Jakke, Jacke, etc., and pronounced as two syllables ("Jackie").
In England, Jack became a generic name applied familiarly or contemptuously to anybody (especially a young man of the lower classes) from late 14c. Later used especially of sailors (1650s; Jack-tar is from 1781); Jack-ashore (adj.) "drinking and in high spirits, recklessly spending" (1875) also is an image from sailors (1840 as a book title). In U.S., as a generic name addressed to an unknown stranger, attested from 1889. Every man Jack "everyone" is from 1812. Also see jack (n.).
Used in male personifications from 15c.; first record of jack-of-all-trades "person handy at any kind of work or business" is from 1610s; Jack Frost is from 1826; Jack-nasty "a sneak or sloven" is from 1833 (Jack-nasty-face, a sea-term for a common sailor, is from 1788). Jack Sprat for a small, light man is from 1560s (his opposite was Jack Weight). Jack-pudding "comical clown, buffoon" is from 1640s. Jack-Spaniard is from 1703 as a Spaniard, 1833 as "a hornet" in the West Indies. Other personifications listed in Farmer & Henley include jack-snip "a botching tailor," Jack-in-office "overbearing petty official" (1680s), Jack-on-both-sides "a neutral," Jack-out-of-doors "a vagrant" (1630s), jack-sauce "impudent fellow" (1590s).
The U.S. plant jack-in-the-pulpit (Indian turnip) is attested by 1833. Jack the Ripper was active in London 1888. The Scottish form is Jock (compare jockey (n.)). Alliterative coupling of Jack and Jill is from 15c. (Iakke and Gylle, Ienken and Iulyan). Jack Ketch for "hangman, executioner" (1670s) is said to be from the name of a public executioner in the time of James II (compare Derrick); it also was used as a verb meaning "to hang."
"inhabit of India or South Asia; pertaining to India," c. 1300 (noun and adjective), from Late Latin indianus, from India (see India). Applied to the aboriginal native inhabitants of the Americas from at least 1553 as a noun (1610s as an adjective), reflecting Spanish and Portuguese use, on the mistaken notion that America was the eastern end of Asia (it was also used occasionally 18c.-19c. of inhabitants of the Philippines and indigenous peoples of Australia and New Zealand). The Old English adjective was Indisc, and Indish (adj.) was common in 16c.
Red Indian, to distinguish the native Americans from inhabitants of India, is first attested 1831 in British English (Carlyle) but was not commonly used in North America. Hugh Rawson ("Wicked Words") writes that "Indian is unusual among ethnic terms for not having much pejorative value until comparatively recently." A few phrases, most of them U.S., impugn honesty or intelligence, such as Indian gift:
An Indian gift is a proverbial expression, signifying a present for which an equivalent return is expected. [Thomas Hutchinson, "History of Massachusetts Bay," 1765]
Hence Indian giver "one who gives a gift and then asks for it back" (1848). Also compare Indian summer. Indian elephant is from c. 1600; Indian corn is from 1620s; to walk Indian file is from 1758. Indian club is from 1824 as a weapon, 1825 as exercise equipment (clubs were noted in Lewis & Clark, etc., as characteristic weapons of native warriors in the American West). Indian-head (adj.) in reference to U.S. copper pennies with a portrait of an Indian in profile, from 1862.
"collection of matching things," mid-15c., sette, sete, earlier "religious sect" (late 14c.), in part from Middle English set, past participle of setten (see set (v.)) and in part from Old French sette, sete "sequence," a variant of secte "religious community," from Medieval Latin secta "retinue," from Latin secta "a following" (see sect).
Skeat first proposed that set (n.), in the sense of "a number of things or persons belonging together" ultimately was a corruption of the source of sect, influenced by set (v.) in subsequent developments as if meaning "a number set together." Thus this noun set was in Middle English earliest in the sense of "religious sect," which also likely developed some modern meanings, such as "group of people" (mid-15c.), especially "persons customarily or officially associated" (1680s); "group of persons with shared status, habits, or affinities" (1777).
The meaning "a number of things having a resemblance or natural affinity; complete collection of pieces to be used together" is by 1560s. Hence, "collection of volumes by one author" (1590s), "complete apparatus for some purpose" (1891, of telephones, radio, etc.).
Meaning "group of pieces musicians perform at a club during 45 minutes" (more or less) is from c. 1925, though it is found in a similar sense from 1580s. Set-piece is from 1846 as "grouping of people in a work of visual art;" from 1932 in reference to literary works.
The word sett is a variant, preserved in old law and "now prevalent in many technical senses" [OED].
in the sports sense, 1879, originally in cricket, "taking three wickets on three consecutive deliveries;" extended to other sports c. 1909, especially ice hockey ("In an earlier contest we had handed Army a 6-2 defeat at West Point as Billy Sloane performed hockey's spectacular 'hat trick' by scoring three goals" ["Princeton Alumni Weekly," Feb. 10, 1941]). So called allegedly because it entitled the bowler to receive a hat from his club commemorating the feat (or entitled him to pass the hat for a cash collection), but the term probably has been influenced by the image of a conjurer pulling objects from his hat (an act attested by 1876). The term was used earlier for a different sort of magic trick:
Place a glass of liquor on the table, put a hat over it, and say, "I will engage to drink every drop of that liquor, and yet I'll not touch the hat." You then get under the table; and after giving three knocks, you make a noise with your mouth, as if you were swallowing the liquor. Then, getting from under the table, say "Now, gentlemen, be pleased to look." Some one, eager to see if you have drunk the liquor, will raise the hat; when you instantly take the glass and swallow the contents, saying, "Gentlemen I have fulfilled my promise: you are all witnesses that I did not touch the hat." ["Wit and Wisdom," London, 1860]
"round object, compact spherical body," also "a ball used in a game," c. 1200, probably from an unrecorded Old English *beal, *beall (evidenced by the diminutive bealluc "testicle"), or from cognate Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (source also of Dutch bal, Flemish bal, Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell."
The meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. (compare ballocks). Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. The meaning "rounded missile used in warfare" is from late 14c.
The meaning "a game played with a ball" is from mid-14c. The baseball sense of "pitch that does not cross the plate within the strike zone" is by 1889, probably short for high ball, low ball, etc.
Ball-point pen is by 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is attested from c. 1900. Many phrases are from sports: To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c. 1400. To be on the ball is from 1912; to keep (one's) eye on the ball in the figurative sense is by 1907, probably ultimately on golf, where it was oft-repeated advice. Figurative use of ball in (someone's) court is by 1956, from tennis.
The head must necessarily be steady, for it is most important that you should keep your eye fixedly on the ball from the moment that the club-head is lifted from the ground until the ball is actually struck. "Keep your eye on the ball," should be your companion text to "Slow back." [Horace G. Hutchinson, "Hints on the Game of Golf," 1886]
Once a meeting is over, someone will be expected to do something. Make sure it is someone else. This is known as keeping the ball in their court. [Shepherd Mead, "How to Get Rich in TV Without Really Trying," 1956]