late 14c., pakken, "to put together in a pack, bundle (something) up," from pack (n.), possibly influenced by Anglo-French empaker (late 13c.) and Medieval Latin paccare "pack," both of which are from Germanic (compare Middle Dutch packen).
Meaning "pack compactly, cram or crowd together" is from mid-15c. Sense of "to fill (a container) with things arranged more or less methodically" is from late 15c. Meaning "to go away, leave" is from mid-15c. Meaning "to force or press down or together firmly" (of dirt, snow, etc.) is by 1850.
Some senses suggesting "make secret arrangement, manipulate so as to serve one's purposes" are from an Elizabethan mispronunciation of pact, as in pack the cards (1590s) "arrange the deck so as to give one undue advantage." The sense of "to carry or convey in a pack" (1805) led to the general sense of "to carry in any manner;" hence "to be capable of delivering" (a punch, etc.), attested from 1921, and pack heat "carry a gun," 1940s underworld slang. To pack it up "give up, finish" is by 1942. Related: Packed; packing.
"rectangular wooden container," usually with a lid, Old English box, also the name of a type of shrub, from Late Latin buxis, from Greek pyxis "boxwood," pyxion "writing table, box," made of boxwood, from pyxos "box tree," which is of uncertain origin. Beekes suggests a loan-word from Italy, as that is where the tree is native. Dutch bus, German Büchse "box; barrel of a gun," also are Latin loan-words.
Meaning "compartment at a theater" is from c. 1600 (box seat in the theatrical sense is by 1850). Meaning "pigeon-hole at a post office" is from 1832. Meaning "television" is from 1950 (earlier "gramophone player," 1924). Meaning "station of a player in baseball" is from 1881. Graphics sense "space enclosed within borders and rules" is from 1929. Slang meaning "vulva" is attested 17c., according to "Dictionary of American Slang;" modern use seems to date from c. World War II, perhaps originally Australian, on notion of "box of tricks." Box lunch (n.) attested from 1899. The box set "multiple-album, CD or cassette issue of the work of an artist" is attested by 1955. To think or act outside the box "contrary to convention" is attested by 1994.
by 1910, American English underworld slang, from hobo slang, "naive young boy," but especially "a catamite;" specifically "a young male kept as a sexual companion, especially by an older tramp," from Yiddish genzel, from German Gänslein "gosling, young goose" (see goose (n.)). The secondary, non-sexual meaning "young hoodlum" seems to be entirely traceable to Dashiell Hammett, who sneaked it into "The Maltese Falcon" (1929) while warring with his editor over the book's racy language:
"Another thing," Spade repeated, glaring at the boy: "Keep that gunsel away from me while you're making up your mind. I'll kill him."
The context implies some connection with gun and a sense of "gunman," and evidently that is what the editor believed it to mean. The word was retained in the script of the 1941 movie made from the book, so evidently the Motion Picture Production Code censors didn't know it either.
The relationship between Kasper Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet) and his young hit-man companion, Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook, Jr.), is made fairly clear in the movie, but the overt mention of sexual perversion would have been deleted if the censors hadn't made the same mistaken assumption as Hammett's editor. [Hugh Rawson, "Wicked Words," 1989, p.184]
late 14c., "to strike out with the foot," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Norse kikna "bend backwards, sink at the knees." "The doubts OED has about the Scandinavian origin of kick are probably unfounded" [Liberman]. Older sources guessed it to be from Celtic. Earliest in the biblical phrase that is now usually rendered as kick against the pricks. Related: Kicked; kicking.
Transitive sense "give a blow with the foot" is from 1580s. Meaning "to strike in recoiling" (as a gun, etc.) is from 1832. Figurative sense of "complain, protest, manifest strong objection, rebel against" (late 14c.) probably is at least in part from the Bible verse. Slang sense of "die" is attested from 1725 (kick the wind was slang for "be hanged," 1590s; see also bucket). Meaning "to end one's drug habit" is from 1936.
Kick in "to break (something) down" is from 1876, sense of "contribute" is from 1908, American English; kick out "expel" is from 1690s. To kick around (intransitive) "wander about" is from 1839; transitive sense of "treat contemptuously" is from 1871 on the notion of "kick in all directions." To be kicked upstairs "removed from action by ostensible promotion" is from 1750. To kick oneself in self-reproach is from 1891. The children's game of kick the can is attested from 1891.
early 14c., savete, "freedom or immunity from harm or danger; an unharmed or uninjured state or condition," from Old French sauvete, salvete "safety, safeguard; salvation; security, surety," earlier salvetet (11c., Modern French sauveté), from Medieval Latin salvitatem (nominative salvitas) "safety," from Latin salvus "uninjured, in good health, safe" (from PIE root *sol- "whole, well-kept"). From late 14c. as "means or instrument of safety, a safeguard."
The meaning "trigger-lock on a gun" is attested by 1881, perhaps short for safety-lock (1877), etc. As a North American football position, by 1931; as a type of score against one's own team, 1881.
Safety-valve, which diminishes the risk of explosion, is from 1797; figurative sense recorded from 1818. Safety-net in literal sense (in machinery) is by 1916, later of aerial circus performances (1920s); figurative use is by 1950. Safety-bicycle as a name for the modern type, with low, equal-sized wheels and a driving mechanism, is by 1866. Safety-razor is by 1877. A safety-belt (1840) was at first for window washers and firefighters; it was used of restraining straps for airplane pilots by 1911, extended to automobiles by 1948. Safety first as an accident-prevention slogan first recorded 1873.
Safety first, and saving of fuel second, should be the rule in steam engineering. [Scientific American, June 15, 1861]
late Old English cæppe "hood, head-covering, cape," a general Germanic borrowing (compare Old Frisian and Middle Dutch kappe, Old High German chappa) from Late Latin cappa "a cape, hooded cloak" (source of Spanish capa, Old North French cape, French chape), a word of uncertain origin. Possibly a shortened from capitulare "headdress," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
The Late Latin word apparently originally meant "a woman's head-covering," but the sense was transferred to "hood of a cloak," then to "cloak" itself, though the various senses co-existed. Old English took in two forms of the Late Latin word, one meaning "head-covering," the other "ecclesiastical dress" (see cape (n.1)). In most Romance languages, a diminutive of Late Latin cappa has become the usual word for "head-covering" (such as French chapeau).
Meaning "soft, small, close-fitted head covering" in English is from early 13c., originally for women; extended to men late 14c. Extended to cap-like coverings on the ends of anything (such as hubcap) from mid-15c. Meaning "contraceptive device" is first recorded 1916.
Meaning "cap-shaped piece of copper lined with gunpowder and used to ignite a firearm" is by 1825, hence cap-gun (1855); extended to paper version used in toy pistols, 1872 (cap-pistol is from 1879).
Figurative thinking cap is from 1839 (considering cap is 1650s). Cap and bells (1781) was the insignia of a fool; cap and gown (1732) of a scholar. To set one's cap at or for (1773) means "use measures to gain the regard or affection of," usually in reference to a woman seeking a man's courtship.
1707 as a direct phrase, but implied much earlier, and Old Norse had bikkju-sonr. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918; form sumbitch attested in writing by 1969.
Abide þou þef malicious!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]
Elsewhere, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, Mencken writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."
It was in 1934 also that the New York Daily News, with commendable frankness, in reporting a hearing in Washington at which Senator Huey P. Long featured, forsook the old-time dashes and abbreviations and printed the complete epithet "son of a bitch." [Stanley Walker, "City Editor," 1934]
"a split, an opening, narrow fracture," mid-15c., earlier "a splitting sound; a fart; the sound of a trumpet" (late 14c.), probably from crack (v.).
Meaning "sharp, resounding blow" is from 1836. Meaning "rock cocaine" is first attested 1985. The superstition that it is bad luck to step on sidewalk cracks has been traced to c. 1890. Meaning "try, attempt" first attested 1830, nautical, probably a hunting metaphor, from slang sense of "fire a gun."
At their head, apart from the rest, was a black bull, who appeared to be their leader; he came roaring along, his tail straight an [sic] end, and at times tossing up the earth with his horns. I never felt such a desire to have a crack at any thing in all my life. He drew nigh the place where I was standing; I raised my beautiful Betsey to my shoulder, took deliberate aim, blazed away, and he roared, and suddenly stopped. ["A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, Written by Himself," Philadelphia, 1834]
Adjectival meaning "top-notch, superior, excellent, first rate" (as in a crack shot) is slang from 1793, perhaps from earlier verbal sense of "do any thing with quickness or smartness" [Johnson], or from the verb in the sense of "speak boastingly" and suggesting "having qualities to be proud of" [Century Dictionary]. Grose (1796) has "THE CRACK, or ALL THE CRACK. The fashionable theme, the go." To fall or slip through the cracks figuratively, "escape notice," is by 1975. Crack-brained "demented" is attested from 1630s. The biblical crack of doom is in reference to the sound (Old English translates it as swegdynna maest).
"a member of the Christian denomination known as the Religious Society of Friends," 1651, said to have been applied to them in 1650 by Justice Bennett at Derby, from George Fox's admonition to his followers to "tremble at the Word of the Lord;" but the word was used earlier of foreign sects given to fits of shaking during religious fervor, and that is likely the source here. Either way, it never was an official name of the Religious Society of Friends.
The word in a literal sense of "one who or that which trembles" is attested from early 15c., an agent noun from quake (v.). The notion of "trembling" in religious awe is in Old English; quaking (n.) meaning "fear and reverence" especially in religion is attested from mid-14c.
There is not a word in the Scripture, to put David's condition into rime and meeter: sometimes he quaked and trembled, and lay roaring all the day long, that he watered his bed with his tears: and how can you sing these conditions (but dishonour the Lord) and say all your bones quake, your flesh trembled, and that you water your bed with your tears? when you live in pride and haughtiness, and pleasure, and wantonness .... ["A Brief Discovery of a threefold estate of Antichrist Now Extant in the world, etc.," an early Quaker work, London, 1653]
Figuratively, as an adjective, in reference to plain or drab colors (such as were worn by members of the sect) is by 1775. A Quaker gun (1809, American English), originally a log painted black and propped up to resemble the barrel of a cannon to deceive the enemy from a distance, is so called for the sect's noted pacifism. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been known as the Quaker City at least since 1824. Related: Quakerish; Quakeress ("a female Quaker"); Quakerism; Quakerdom; Quakerly.