c. 1300, of lords, "entitled to feudal allegiance and service," from Anglo-French lige (late 13c.), Old French lige "liege-lord," noun use of an adjective meaning "free, giving or receiving fidelity" (corresponding to Medieval Latin ligius, legius), a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Late Latin laeticus "cultivated by serfs," from laetus "serf, semi-free colonist," which probably is from Proto-Germanic *lethigaz "freed" (source also of Old English læt "half-freedman, serf;" Old High German laz, Old Frisian lethar "freedman;" Middle Dutch ledich "idle, unemployed"), from extended form of PIE root *lē- "to let go, slacken." Or the Middle English word might be directly from Old High German leidig "free," on the notion of "free from obligation to service except as vassal to one lord," but this reverses the notion contained in the word.
From late 14c. of vassals, "bound to render feudal allegiance and service." The dual sense of the adjective reflects the reciprocal relationship it describes: protection in exchange for service. Hence, liege-man "a vassal sworn to the service and support of a lord, who in turn is obliged to protect him" (mid-14c.).
c. 1200, "the following of a wrong scent by hounds" (a sense now obsolete but in one phrase); early 14c., "debauchery, extravagance, wanton living," from Anglo-French rioute, Old French riot, riote (12c.) "dispute, quarrel, (tedious) talk, chattering, argument, domestic strife," also a euphemism for "sexual intercourse," of uncertain origin. Compare Italian riotta (Medieval Latin riota) "quarrel, dispute, uproar, riot." Perhaps from Latin rugire "to roar."
The meaning "civil disorder, violent disturbance of the peace, public disturbance arising from wanton and disorderly conduct" is attested by late 14c. The meaning "something spectacularly successful" first recorded 1909 in theater slang. The sense of "vivid display of colors" is by 1891.
To run riot "act or move without control or restraint" is by 1520s, a figurative extension of the oldest Middle English meaning of the word, in reference to hounds following the wrong scent. The Riot Act, part of which must be read to a mob before active measures can be taken, was passed 1714 (1 Geo. I, st.2, c.5). Riot girl and alternative form riot grrl first recorded 1992.
Latin liber (from Proto-Italic *lufro-) was originally "the inner bark of trees," and perhaps is from PIE *lubh-ro- "leaf, rind," a derivative of the PIE root *leub(h)- "to strip, to peel" (see leaf (n.)). Comparing Albanian labë "rind, cork;" Lithuanian luobas "bast," Latvian luobas "peel," Russian lub "bast," de Vaan writes that, "for want of a better alternative, we may surmise that liber is cognate with *lubh- and goes back to a PIE word or a European word 'leaf, rind.'"
The equivalent word in most Romance languages survives only in the sense "bookseller's shop" (French libraire, Italian libraria). Old English had bochord, literally "book hoard." As an adjective, Blount (1656) has librarious.
"impressed with fear, fearful," early 14c., originally the past participle of the now-obsolete Middle English verb afray "frighten," from Anglo-French afrayer, Old French affrai, effrei, esfrei "disturbance, fright," from esfreer (v.) "to worry, concern, trouble, disturb," from Vulgar Latin *exfridare, a hybrid word meaning literally "to take out of peace."
The first element is from Latin ex "out of" (see ex-). The second is Frankish *frithu "peace," from Proto-Germanic *frithuz "peace, consideration, forbearance" (source also of Old Saxon frithu, Old English friu, Old High German fridu "peace, truce," German Freide "peace"), from a suffixed form of PIE root *pri- "to be friendly, to love."
A rare case of an English adjective that never stands before a noun. Because it was used in the King James Bible, it acquired independent standing and thrived while affray faded, and it chased off the once more common afeared. Colloquial sense in I'm afraid "I regret to say, I suspect" (without implication of fear, as a polite introduction to a correction, admission, etc.) is first recorded 1590s.
Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone [Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes," 1820]
late 12c., "one who commits robbery, one who steals, plunders, or strips unlawfully by violence," from Anglo-French robbere, Old French robeor, agent noun from rober "to rob, steal, pillage, ransack, rape" (see rob).
Robber baron in the "corrupt, greedy financier" sense is attested from 1870s, from a comparison of Gilded Age capitalists to medieval European warlords (the phrase is attested in the historical sense from 1831).
It is the attempt of the more shrewd to take advantage of the less shrewd. It is the attempt of the strong to oppress the weak. It is the old robber baron in his castle descending, after men have planted their crops, and stealing them. [Henry Ward Beecher, sermon, "Truthfulness," 1871]
Regulation by combination means that the railroad managers are feudal lords and that you are their serfs. It means that every car load of grain or other produce of your fields and shops that passes over the New York Central shall pay heavy toll for right of transit to Vanderbilt, the robber baron of our modern feudalism, who dominates that way. [W.C. Flagg, testimony to Congress, 1874]
Perhaps the English word originally is from a derivative of Old French garbe/jarbe "sheaf of wheat, bundle of sheaves," though the sense connection is difficult. This word is from Proto-Germanic *garba- (source also of Dutch garf, German garbe "sheaf"), from PIE *ghrebh- (1) "to seize, reach" (see grab (v.)).
"In modern American usage garbage is generally restricted to mean kitchen and vegetable wastes" [Craigie]. Used figuratively for "worthless, offensive stuff" from 1590s. Garbage can is from 1901. Garbage collector "trash man" is from 1872; Australian shortening garbo attested from 1953. Garbology "study of waste as a social science" is by 1976; garbologist is from 1965.
As a noun, "the Britons," also "the Welsh language," both from Old English. The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in Old Church Slavonic as vlachu, and applied to the Rumanians, hence Wallachia. Among the English, Welsh was used disparagingly of inferior or substitute things (such as Welsh cricket "louse" (1590s); Welsh comb "thumb and four fingers" (1796), and compare welch (v.)). Welsh rabbit is from 1725, also perverted by folk-etymology as Welsh rarebit (1785).
"terminal part of the leg of a vertebrate animal," Old English fot "foot," from Proto-Germanic *fōts (source also of Old Frisian fot, Old Saxon fot, Old Norse fotr, Danish fod, Swedish fot, Dutch voet, Old High German fuoz, German Fuß, Gothic fotus "foot"), from PIE root *ped- "foot." Plural form feet is an instance of i-mutation.
The linear measure was in Old English (the exact length has varied over time), this being considered the length of a man's foot; a unit of measure used widely and anciently. In this sense the plural is often foot. The current inch and foot are implied from measurements in 12c. English churches (Flinders Petrie, "Inductive Metrology"), but the most usual length of a "foot" in medieval England was the foot of 13.2 inches common throughout the ancient Mediterranean. The Anglo-Saxon foot apparently was between the two. All three correspond to units used by the Romans, and possibly all three lengths were picked up by the Anglo-Saxons from the Romano-Britons. "That the Saxon units should descend to mediæval times is most probable, as the Normans were a ruling, and not a working, class." [Flinders Petrie, 1877]. The medieval Paul's Foot (late 14c.) was a measuring standard cut into the base of a column at the old St. Paul's cathedral in London. The metrical foot (late Old English, translating Latin pes, Greek pous in the same sense) is commonly taken to represent one rise and one fall of a foot: keeping time according to some, dancing according to others.
In Middle English also "a person" (c. 1200), hence non-foot "nobody." Meaning "bottom or lowest part of anything eminent or upright" is from c. 1200. Of a bed, grave, etc., from c. 1300. On foot "by walking" is from c. 1300. To get off on the wrong foot is from 1905 (the right foot is by 1907); to put one's best foot foremost first recorded 1849 (Shakespeare has the better foot before, 1596); Middle English had evil-foot (adv.) "through mischance, unluckily." To put one's foot in (one's) mouth "say something stupid" is attested by 1942; the expression put (one's) foot in something "make a mess of it" is from 1823. To have one foot in the grave "be near death" is from 1844. Colloquial exclamation my foot! expressing "contemptuous contradiction" [OED] is attested by 1923, probably euphemistic for my ass in the same sense, which dates to 1796 (also see eyewash).
1797, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.
The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, which was a different form of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro, which used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, who sprinkled their works with a symbol like a numeral 7 to indicate the word and.
In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."
"pail or open vessel for drawing and carrying water and other liquids," mid-13c., from Anglo-French buquet "bucket, pail," from Old French buquet "bucket," which is from Frankish or some other Germanic source, or a diminutive of cognate Old English buc "pitcher, bulging vessel," originally "belly" (buckets were formerly of leather as well as wood), both from West Germanic *buh- (source also of Dutch buik, Old High German buh, German Bauch "belly"), possibly from a variant of PIE root *beu-, *bheu- "to grow, swell" (see bull (n.2)).
To kick the bucket "die" (1785) perhaps is from an unrelated bucket "beam on which something may be hung or carried" (1570s), from French buquet "balance," a beam from which slaughtered animals were hung (by the heels or hooves). This was perhaps reinforced by the notion of suicide by hanging after standing on an upturned bucket; but Farmer calls attention to bucket "a Norfolk term for a pulley." Bucket list "list of experiences or achievements one hopes to have or accomplish during one's remaining life," is by 2007, probably based on kicking the bucket as "dying," but the phrase was used earlier in algorithm sorting.