c. 1200, lode, lade "that which is laid upon a person or beast, burden," a sense extension from Old English lad "a way, a course, a carrying; a street, watercourse; maintenance, support," from Proto-Germanic *laitho (source also of Old High German leita, German leite, Old Norse leið "way, road, course"), from PIE root *leit- (2) "to go forth" (see lead (v.1)).
It seems to have expanded its range of senses in early Middle English, supplanting words based on lade (v.), to which it is not etymologically connected. The older senses went with the spelling lode (q.v.). The spelling is modern. Meaning "amount customarily loaded at one time" is from c. 1300; meaning "a quantity of strong drink taken" is from 1590s. Meaning "the charge of a firearm" is from 1690s.
Meaning "a great amount or number" (often loads) is from c.1600. Figurative sense of "burden weighing on the mind, heart, or soul" is first attested 1590s. Meaning "amount (of work, etc.) to be done by one person" is attested in compounds from 1939 (first was workload). Colloquial loads "lots, heaps" is attested from c. 1600. Phrase take a load off (one's) feet "sit down, relax" is from 1914, American English. Get a load of "take a look at" is American English colloquial, attested from 1929.
Old English læppa (plural læppan) "skirt or flap of a garment," from Proto-Germanic *lapp- (source also of Old Frisian lappa, Old Saxon lappo, Middle Dutch lappe, Dutch lap, Old High German lappa, German Lappen "rag, shred," Old Norse leppr "patch, rag"), of uncertain origin.
Sense of "lower front part of a shirt or skirt" led to that of "upper legs of seated person" (c. 1300). Used figuratively ("bosom, breast, place where someone or something is held and cherished") from late 14c., as in lap of luxury (which is first recorded 1802). To drop or dump something in someone's lap "shift a burden" is from 1962. From 15c.-17c. the word (often in plural) was a euphemism for "female pudendum," but this is not the source of lap dance, which is first recorded 1993.
To lap dance, you undress, sit your client down, order him to stay still and fully clothed, then hover over him, making a motion that you have perfected by watching Mister Softee ice cream dispensers. [Anthony Lane, review of "Showgirls," New Yorker, Oct. 16, 1995]
Lap-clap was old slang for "an act of coition" (c. 1600), in warning expressions to youth often paired with lip-clip "a kiss." Also compare slang Lapland "the society of women."
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).
plural of man (n.). In common with German Männer, etc., it shows effects of i-mutation. Used as an indefinite pronoun ("one, people, they") from late Old English. Men's liberation first attested 1970. Men's room "a lavatory for men" is by 1908, American English. Earlier it had a more general sense:
men's room, n. "One end of this [cook and dining] room is partitioned off for a men's room, where the crew sit evenings, smoking, reading, singing, grinding their axes, telling stories, etc., before climbing the ladder to their night's rest in the bunk room ... For many years women have been employed in [logging] camps as cooks, hence the name men's room, for the crew are not allowed in the cook room except at meal time." [quoted in "Some Lumber and Other Words," in Dialect Notes, vol. II, part VI, 1904]
Menswear (also men's wear) "clothes for men" is by 1906. To separate the men from the boys in a figurative sense "distinguish the manly, mature, capable, etc. in a group from the rest" is from 1943; earliest uses tend to credit it to U.S. aviators in World War II.
One of the most expressive G.I. terms to come out of the late strife was "that's where they separate the men from the boys" — so stated by American aviators leaning from their cockpits to observe a beach-landing under fire on some Pacific island far below. ["Arts Magazine," 1947]
Old English elles "in another manner, other, otherwise, besides, different," from Proto-Germanic *aljaz (source also of Gothic aljis "other," Old High German eli-lenti, Old English el-lende, both meaning "in a foreign land;" see also Alsace), an adverbial genitive of the neuter of PIE root *al- "beyond" (source also of Greek allos "other," Latin alius). As a quasi-adjective, synonymous with other, from 1660s; the nuances of usage are often arbitrary.
Productive of a number of handy compounds that somehow never got traction or have been suffered to fall from use: elsehow (1660s) "somehow or other;" elsewards (adv.), 1882, "somewhere else;" Old English elsewhat (pron.) "something else, anything else;" elsewhen (adv.), early 15c., "at another time; elsewhence (c. 1600); elsewho (1540s). Among the survivors are elsewhere, elsewise. Menacing or else, with omitted but implied threat, is implied by 1814:
In Tynedale, Buccleuch seized upon no less than thirty-six English freebooters, and put them to death without mercy. The wrath of Elizabeth waxed uncontrollable. "I marvel," are her own royal expressions, "how the king thinks me so base-minded as to sit down with such dishonourable treatment. Let him know we will be satisfied, or else"—Some of James's ancestors would have bid her
"Choke in thy threat. We can say or as loud."
[Sir Walter Scott, "The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland," 1814]
mid-14c., auctor, autour, autor "father, creator, one who brings about, one who makes or creates" someone or something, from Old French auctor, acteor "author, originator, creator, instigator" (12c., Modern French auteur) and directly from Latin auctor "promoter, producer, father, progenitor; builder, founder; trustworthy writer, authority; historian; performer, doer; responsible person, teacher," literally "one who causes to grow," agent noun from auctus, past participle of augere "to increase," from PIE root *aug- (1) "to increase."
From late 14c. as "a writer, one who sets forth written statements, original composer of a writing" (as distinguished from a compiler, translator, copyist, etc.). Also from late 14c. as "source of authoritative information or opinion," now archaic but the sense behind authority, etc. In Middle English the word was sometimes confused with actor. The -t- changed to -th- 16c., on model of change in Medieval Latin, on mistaken assumption of Greek origin and confusion with authentic.
...[W]riting means revealing oneself to excess .... This is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why even night is not night enough. ... I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room of a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp. Food would be brought and always put down far away from my room, outside the cellar's outermost door. The walk to my food, in my dressing gown, through the vaulted cellars, would be my only exercise. I would then return to my table, eat slowly and with deliberation, then start writing again at once. And how I would write! From what depths I would drag it up! [Franz Kafka, "Letters to Felice," 1913]
Old English lagu (plural laga, combining form lah-) "ordinance, rule prescribed by authority, regulation; district governed by the same laws;" also sometimes "right, legal privilege," from Old Norse *lagu "law," collective plural of lag "layer, measure, stroke," literally "something laid down, that which is fixed or set."
Rare in Old English, it ousted the more usual ae and also gesetnes, which also were etymologically "something placed or set."
In physics, "a proposition which expresses the regular order of things," from 1660s. Law and order have been coupled since 1796. To lay down the law (1752) is pleonastic (the "law" in the figure is biblical law, laid down from the pulpit). Poor laws provided for the support of paupers at public expense; sumptuary laws restrained excesses in apparel, food, or luxuries.
It is more common for Indo-European languages to use different words for "a specific law" and for "law" in the general sense of "institution or body of laws," for example Latin lex "a law," ius "a right," especially "legal right, law."
Indo-European words for "a law" are most commonly from verbs for "to put, place, set, lay," such as Greek thesmos (from tithemi "to put, place"), Old English dom (from PIE *dhe- "to put, place, set"), Lithuanian įstatymas (from statyti "cause to stand, set up, establish"), Polish ustawa (from stać "stand"). Also compare Old English gesetnes (above), statute, from Latin statuere; German Gesetz "law," from Old High German gisatzida "a fixing, determination, assessment," with sezzen (modern German setzen) "to make sit, set, put."
Words for "law" in the general sense mostly mean etymologically "what is right" and often are connected with adjectives for "right" (themselves often figurative uses of words for "straight," "upright," "true," "fitting," or "usage, custom." Such are Greek nomos (as in numismatic); French droit, Spanish derecho, from Latin directus; Polish prawo, Russian pravo (from Old Church Slavonic pravŭ "straight," in the daughter languages "right"); also Old Norse rettr, Old English riht, Dutch recht, German Recht (see right (adj.1)).
[L]earn to obey good laws before you seek to alter bad ones [Ruskin, "Fors Clavigera"]