1820 in the political sense, "local attachment as opposed to national unity," from provincial + -ism. Meaning "a certain narrowness of localism of thought or interest; lack of polish or enlightenment," reflecting manners or modes of a certain province or of provinces generally (as opposed to the big city or the capital) is by 1836. Sense of "a local word or usage or expression" is from 1770.
To me provincialism stood, and stands, for the sum-total of all false values; it is the estimation of people for what they have, or pretend to have, and not for what they are. Artificial classifications, rigid lines of demarkation that bear no relation whatsoever to intrinsic merit, seem to belong to its very essence, while contempt for intelligence, suspicion and fear of independent thought, appear to be necessary passports to provincial popularity. [Vera Brittain, "Testament of Youth"]
"practicing beggary, living by alms or doles" (in reference to orders of friars), late 15c., mendicaunt, from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans) present participle of mendicare "to beg, ask alms," from mendicus "beggar," originally "cripple" (connection via cripples who must beg), from menda "fault, physical defect," from PIE root *mend- "physical defect, fault" (see amend (v.)).
Meaning "reduced to beggary, begging" is from 1610s. The older word in Middle English in relation to religious orders was mendinant (mid-14c.), from Old French mendinant, present participle of mendiner "to beg," from the same Latin source. The mendicant orders (freurs mendicantes or begging friars, principally the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians) were those religious orders which originally depended for support on the alms they received.
"in case that; granting, allowing, or supposing that; on condition that;" also "although, notwithstanding that," Old English gif (initial g- in Old English pronounced with a sound close to Modern English -y-) "if, whether, so," from Proto-Germanic *ja-ba (source also of Old Saxon, Old Norse ef, Old Frisian gef, Old High German ibu, German ob, Dutch of "if, whether"), of uncertain origin or relation. Perhaps from PIE pronominal stem *i- [Watkins]; but Klein, OED suggest it probably originally from an oblique case of a noun meaning "doubt" (compare Old High German iba "condition, stipulation, doubt," Old Norse if "doubt, hesitation," Swedish jäf "exception, challenge"). As a noun from 1510s.
"female parent, a woman in relation to her child," Middle English moder, from Old English modor, from Proto-Germanic *mōdēr (source also of Old Saxon modar, Old Frisian moder, Old Norse moðir, Danish moder, Dutch moeder, Old High German muoter, German Mutter), from PIE *mater- "mother" (source also of Latin māter, Old Irish mathir, Lithuanian motė, Sanskrit matar-, Greek mētēr, Old Church Slavonic mati), "[b]ased ultimately on the baby-talk form *mā- (2); with the kinship term suffix *-ter-" [Watkins]. Spelling with -th- dates from early 16c., though that pronunciation is probably older (see father (n.)).
Sense of "that which has given birth to anything" is from late Old English; as a familiar term of address to an elderly woman, especially of the lower class, by c. 1200.
Mother Nature as a personification is attested from c. 1600; mother earth as an expression of the earth as the giver of life is from 1580s. Mother tongue "one's native language" is attested from late 14c. Mother country "a country in relation to its colonies" is from 1580s. Mother-love "such affection as is shown by a mother" is by 1854. Mother-wit "native wit, common sense" is from mid-15c.
Mother of all ________ (1991), is Gulf War slang, from Saddam Hussein's use in reference to the coming battle; it is an Arabic idiom (as well as an English one), for instance Ayesha, second wife of Muhammad, is known as Mother of Believers; the figure is attested in English in 19c. (Virginia is called mother of commonwealths from 1849). Mother Carey's chickens is late 18c. sailors' nickname for storm petrels, or for snowflakes.
"arranged or disposed in a rank or row; forming part of a series; coming in regular succession," 1840, from series + -al (1). French sérial also seems to originate around 1840. Popularized in English in reference to Dickens' novels, which were first published over time in periodicals (as opposed to all at once in a book). The word was found to be useful to English and from the 1850s it was given wide application.
Serial number, indicating position in a series, first recorded 1866, originally of papers, packages, etc.; of soldiers from 1918. Serial killer is first attested 1981 (in relation to John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy), though serial had been used in connection with murders since the early 1960s. Related: Serially.
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]
late 14c., perspectif, "the science of optics," from Old French perspective and directly from Medieval Latin perspectiva ars "science of optics," from fem. of perspectivus "of sight, optical" from Latin perspectus "clearly perceived," past participle of perspicere "inspect, look through, look closely at," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). The English word is also attested from early 15c. as an adjective, "pertaining to the science of optics."
The sense of "the art of drawing solid objects on a flat surface so as to give appearance of distance or depth" is attested by 1590s, probably by influence of Italian prospettiva, an artists' term. The meaning "proper or just proportion, appropriate relation in the mind of the parts of a subject to one another" is recorded by c. 1600, hence the figurative meaning "mental outlook over time" (1762).
"North African, Berber, one of the race dwelling in Barbary," late 14c., from Old French More, from Medieval Latin Morus, from Latin Maurus "inhabitant of Mauretania" (Roman northwest Africa, a region now corresponding to northern Algeria and Morocco), from Greek Mauros, perhaps a native name, or else cognate with mauros "black" (but this adjective only appears in late Greek and may as well be from the people's name as the reverse).
Also applied to the Arabic conquerors of Spain. Being a dark people in relation to Europeans, their name in the Middle Ages was a synonym for "Negro;" later (16c.-17c.); being the nearest Muslims to Western Europe, it was used indiscriminately of Muslims (Persians, Arabs, etc.) but especially those in India. Cognate with Dutch Moor, German Mohr, Danish Maurer, Spanish Moro, Italian Moro. Related: Mooress.
c. 1200, "regular food," from Old French diete (13c.) "diet, pittance, fare," from Medieval Latin dieta "parliamentary assembly," also "a day's work; daily food allowance, food," from Latin diaeta "prescribed way of life," from Greek diaita, originally "way of life, regimen, dwelling," related to diaitasthai "lead one's life," and from diaitan, originally "separate, select" (food and drink), frequentative of *diainysthai "take apart," from dia "apart" (see dia-) + ainysthai "take," from PIE root *ai- (1) "to give, allot."
From late 14c. as "customary way of eating," also "food considered in relation to its quantity and effects," and "a course of food regulated by a physician or by medical rules," often a restriction of food or certain foods; hence to put (someone) on a diet (mid-15c.). The adjective in the sense of "slimming, having reduced calories" (Diet Coke, etc.) is attested by 1963, originally in American English.
Old English side "flanks of a person, the long part or aspect of anything," from Proto-Germanic *sīdō (source also of Old Saxon sida, Old Norse siða, Danish side, Swedish sida, Middle Dutch side, Dutch zidje, Old High German sita, German Seite), from adjective *sithas "long" (source of Old English sid "long, broad, spacious," Old Norse siðr "long, hanging down"), from PIE root *se- "long, late" (see soiree).
Original sense preserved in countryside. Figurative sense of "position or attitude of a person or set of persons in relation to another" (as in choosing sides) first recorded mid-13c. Meaning "one of the parties in a transaction" is from late 14c.; sense in a sporting contest or game is from 1690s. Meaning "music on one side of a phonograph record" is first attested 1936. Phrase side by side "close together and abreast" is recorded from c. 1200. Side-splitting "affecting with compulsive laughter" is attested by 1825.