Etymology
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public (adj.)

late 14c., publike, "open to general observation," from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus "of the people; of the state; done for the state," also "common, general, of or belonging to the people at large; ordinary, vulgar," and as a noun, "a commonwealth; public property." This Latin word was altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes "adult population, adult;" see pubis) from Old Latin poplicus "pertaining to the people," from populus "people" (see people (n.)).

Attested in English from early 15c. as "of or pertaining to the people at large" and from late 15c. as "pertaining to public affairs." The meaning "open to all in the community, to be shared or participated in by people at large" is from 1540s in English. An Old English adjective in this sense was folclic. The sense of "done or made by or on behalf of the community as a whole" is by 1550s; that of "regarding or directed to the interests of the community at large, patriotic" is from c. 1600.

Public relations "the management of the relationship between a company or corporation and the general public" is recorded by 1913 (with an isolated use by Thomas Jefferson in 1807). Public office "position held by a public official" is from 1821; public service is from 1570s; public interest "the common well-being" is from 1670s. Public enemy, one considered a nuisance to the general community, is attested from 1756. Public sector attested from 1949. Public funds (1713) are the funded debts of a government.

Public woman "prostitute" is by 1580s, on the notion of "open for the use of all." For public house, see pub.

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opinion (n.)

early 14c., opinioun, "a judgment formed or a conclusion reached, especially one based on evidence that does not produce knowledge or certainty," from Old French opinion "opinion, view, judgements founded upon probabilities" (12c.), from Latin opinionem (nominative opinio) "opinion, conjecture, fancy, belief, what one thinks; appreciation, esteem," from stem of opinari "think, judge, suppose, opine," from PIE *op- (2) "to choose" (see option).

Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. [Milton, "Areopagitica"]

The word always has tended toward "a judgment or view regarded as influenced more by sentiment or feeling than reason." The meaning "formal statement by a judge or other professional" is from late 15c. The specific sense of "the estimate one forms of the character or qualities of persons or things" is by c. 1500. Public opinion, "the prevailing view in a given community on any matter of general interest or concern," is by 1735.

Middle English, perhaps reflecting the era's concern for obtaining knowledge through learned disputation, had opinional "characterized by likelihood rather than certainty" and opinial "based on probable but not certain evidence" (both mid-15c.).

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lyceum (n.)

1580s, Latin form of Greek lykeion, name of a grove or garden with covered walks in the eastern suburb of ancient Athens, also the site of an athletic facility. Aristotle taught there. The name is from the neuter of Lykeios, an epithet of Apollo under which he had a temple nearby, which probably meant or was understood to mean "wolfish" (the exact legend appears to have become muddled), from lykos "wolf" (see wolf (n.)). Frazer (Pausanias) notes "The same epithet was applied to Apollo at Sicyon and Argos," and adds that "Wolves were dear to Apollo ... and they frequently appear in the myths told of him," and lists several.

But what gives the Lyceum its chief interest is that here, pacing the shady walks of the gymnasium, Aristotle expounded to his disciples that philosophy which was destined to influence so profoundly the course of European thought for two thousand years. [Frazer, "Pausanias's Description of Greece"]

Hence lycée, name given in France to secondary schools maintained by the state (a pupil is a lycéen). In England, early 19c., lyceum was the name taken by a number of literary societies (based on a similar use in late 18c. French); in U.S., after c. 1820, it was taken by institutes that sponsored popular lectures in science and literature, and their halls. Related: Lyceal

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special (adj.)

c. 1200, "given or granted in unusual circumstances, exceptional;" also "specific" as opposed to general or common; from Old French special, especial "special, particular, unusual" (12c., Modern French spécial) and directly from Latin specialis "individual, particular" (source also of Spanish especial, Italian speziale), from species "appearance, kind, sort" (see species).

Meaning "marked off from others by some distinguishing quality; dear, favored" is recorded from c. 1300. Also from c. 1300 is the sense of "selected for an important task; specially chosen." From mid-14c. as "extraordinary, distinguished, having a distinctive character," on the notion of "used for special occasions;" hence "excellent; precious."

From late 14c. as "individual, particular; characteristic." The meaning "limited as to function, operation, or purpose" is from 14c., but developed especially in the 19c. Special effects first attested 1951. Special interest in U.S. political sense is from 1910. Special pleading is recorded by 1680s, a term that had a sound legal meaning once but now is used generally and imprecisely. Special education in reference to those whose learning is impeded by some mental or physical handicap is from 1972.

Special pleading. (a) The allegation of special or new matter, as distinguished from a direct denial of matter previously alleged on the other side. ... (c) In popular use, the specious but unsound or unfair argumentation of one whose aim is victory rather than truth. [Century Dictionary]
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commune (n.)

1792, in a French context, "a community organized and self-governed for local interest, subordinate to the state," from French commune "small territorial divisions set up after the Revolution," from commune "free city, group of citizens" (12c.), from Medieval Latin communia, literally "that which is common," noun use of neuter plural of Latin adjective communis "common, general" (see common (adj.)).

I am not aware that any English word precisely corresponds to the general term of the original. In France every association of human dwellings forms a commune, and every commune is governed by a Maire and a Conseil municipal. In other words, the mancipium, or municipal privilege, which belongs in England to chartered corporations alone, is alike extended to every commune into which the cantons and departments of France were divided at the Revolution. [translator's note (Henry Reeve) to 1838 English edition of de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"] 

The English word sometimes was used in reference to the idealistic communities formed in U.S. c. 1840s, inspired by Fourier and Owen, and was used in late 1960s of hippie settlements established along similar lines.

The Commune of Paris usurped the government during the Reign of Terror. The word later was applied to a government on communalistic principles set up in Paris in 1871 upon the withdrawal of the Germans, which was quickly suppressed by national troops. Adherents of the 1871 government were Communards. Communer is from or based on French communier.

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Anglo-Saxon (n.)

Old English Angli Saxones (plural), from Latin Anglo-Saxones, in which Anglo- is an adjective, thus literally "English Saxons," as opposed to those of the Continent (now called Old Saxons). Properly in reference to the Saxons of ancient Wessex, Essex, Middlesex, and Sussex.

I am a suthern man, I can not geste 'rum, ram, ruf' by letter. [Chaucer, "Parson's Prologue and Tale"]

After the Norman-French invasion of 1066, the peoples of the island were distinguished as English and French, but after a few generations all were English, and Latin-speaking scribes, who knew and cared little about Germanic history, began to use Anglo-Saxones to refer to the pre-1066 inhabitants and their descendants. When interest in Old English writing revived late 16c., the word was extended to the language we now call Old English.

In the last years of the reign of Elizabeth, Camden revived the use of the old name Anglosaxones, and, probably for the first time, used lingua Anglosaxonica for the language of England before the Norman conquest. He explains that Anglosaxones means the Saxons of England, in contradistinction to those of the continent; and, in his English Remains, he, accordingly, renders it by "English Saxons." Throughout the seventeenth century, and even later, "English Saxon" continued to be the name ordinarily applied by philologists to the language of king Alfred, but, in the eighteenth century, this gave place to "Anglo-Saxon." [Henry Bradley, in "Cambridge History of English Literature," 1907]

It has been used rhetorically for "English" in an ethnological sense from 1832, and revisioned as Angle + Saxon.

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me (pron.)

a pronoun of the first person in oblique cases, Old English me (dative), me, mec (accusative); oblique cases of I, from Proto-Germanic *meke (accusative), *mes (dative), source also of Old Frisian mi/mir, Old Saxon mi, Middle Dutch mi, Dutch mij, Old High German mih/mir, German mich/mir, Old Norse mik/mer, Gothic mik/mis; from PIE root *me-, oblique form of the personal pronoun of the first person singular (nominative *eg; see I); source also of Sanskrit, Avestan mam, Greek eme, Latin me, mihi, Old Irish me, Welsh mi "me," Old Church Slavonic me, Hittite ammuk.

Erroneous or vulgar use for nominative (such as it is me) is attested from c. 1500. The dative is preserved in obsolete meseems, methinks and expressions such as sing me a song ("dative of interest"). Reflexively, "myself, for myself, to myself" from late Old English. The expression me too indicating the speaker shares another person's experience or opinion, or that the speaker wants the same as another is getting, is attested by 1745. In the 1880s it was a derisive nickname of U.S. politician Thomas C. Platt of New York, implying that he was a mere echo and puppet of fellow U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling, and in mid-20c. it often was a derogatory term, especially in U.S. politics (me-too-ism).

The political "me-too-ism," abjectly displayed by the "conservatives" of today toward their brazenly socialistic adversaries, is only the result and the feeble reflection of the ethical "me-too-ism" displayed by the philosophers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, by the alleged champions of reason, toward the Witch Doctors of morality. [Ayn Rand, "For the New Intellectual," 1961]

The #MeToo movement calling attention to and opposing sexual harassment and assault, became prominent in October 2017.

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guild (n.)

also gild, early 13c., yilde (spelling later influenced by Old Norse gildi "guild, brotherhood"), a semantic fusion of Old English gegield "guild, brotherhood," and gield "service, offering; payment, tribute; compensation," from Proto-Germanic *geldja- "payment, contribution" (source also of Old Frisian geld "money," Old Saxon geld "payment, sacrifice, reward," Old High German gelt "payment, tribute;" see yield (v.)).

The connecting sense is of a contribution or payment to join a protective or trade society. But some look to the alternative prehistoric sense of "sacrifice," as if in worship, and see the word as meaning a combination for religious purposes, either Christian or pagan. The Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for Masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime.

The earliest reference was to sacred banquets (Tacit: Germania 21-2) for which a contribution had to be paid, and which furthermore accounts for the meaning 'fraternity' of the formation *geldja-. In medieval times the economically oriented fraternities, the guilds, adopted this word, but it could still be used in reference to religious fraternities .... The contribution to the banquets, *gelda-, acquired a legal meaning 'recompense', but also the meaning 'money, currency' in general. [Dirk Boutkan, "Old Frisian Etymological Dictionary"]

Continental guilds of merchants, incorporated in each town or city and holding exclusive rights of doing business there, arrived after the Conquest. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (compare Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose 14c., as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.

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egomania (n.)

"obsessive self-centeredness," 1825 (in a letter of English critic William Sidney Walker, published in 1852), from ego + mania. Not in common use before 1890s, where it translated German Ich-Sucht.

[The egomaniac, as opposed to the megalomaniac,] does not regard it as necessary to dream of himself as occupying some invented social position. He does not require the world or its appreciation to justify in his own eyes himself as the sole object of his own interest. He does not see the world at all. Other people simply do not exist for him. The whole 'non-Ego' appears in his consciousness merely as a vague shadow or a thin cloud. The idea does not even occur to him that he is something out of the common, that he is superior to other people, and for this reason either admired or hated ; he is alone in the world ; more than that, he alone is the world and everything else, men, animals, things are unimportant accessories, not worth thinking about. [Max Nordau, "Degeneration," English translation, 1895]

Nordau's book was much-read, debated, and cited at the time and the word was associated with him (e.g. The Agora, July 1895).

Walker's use aside, its infrequent print appearance before 1895 seems to have been largely in the side of medicine that dealt with psychological matters:

The most frequent, yet the most extraordinary of these perversions of temper, are seen in young females. It is a species of aberration of the intellect, but short of insanity, real enough, but exaggerated, fictitious, factitious, and real at the same time. It frequently has its origin in dyspepsia, hysteria, or other malady, and in emotion of various kinds, such as disappointment, vexation, &c. Its object is frequently to excite and to maintain a state of active sympathy and attention, for which there, is as it were, a perpetual, morbid, and jealous thirst. It was rather aptly designated, by the clever relative of one patient, an ego-mania. [Marshall Hall, M.D., "Practical Observations and Suggestions in Medicine," London, 1845]
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bag (n.)

"small sack," c. 1200, bagge, probably from Old Norse baggi "pack, bundle," or a similar Scandinavian source. OED rejects connection to other Germanic words for "bellows, belly" as without evidence and finds a Celtic origin untenable. In some senses perhaps from Old French bague, which is also from Germanic.

As disparaging slang for "woman" it dates from 1924 in modern use (but various specialized senses of this are much older, and compare baggage). Meaning "person's area of interest or expertise" is 1964, from African-American vernacular, from jazz sense of "category," probably via notion of putting something in a bag. Meaning "fold of loose skin under the eye" is by 1867. Related: bags.

To be left holding the bag (and presumably nothing else), "cheated, swindled" is attested by 1793. Many figurative senses, such as the verb meaning "to kill game" (1814) and its colloquial extension to "catch, seize, steal" (1818) are from the notion of the game bag (late 15c.) into which the product of the hunt was placed. This also probably explains modern slang in the bag "assured, certain" (1922, American English).

To let the cat out of the bag "reveal the secret" is from 1760. The source is probably the French expression Acheter chat en poche "buy a cat in a bag," which is attested in 18c. French and explained in Bailey's "Universal Etymological English Dictionary" (1736), under the entry for To buy a pig in a poke as "to buy a Thing without looking at it, or enquiring into the Value of it." (Similar expressions are found in Italian and German; and in English, Wyclif (late 14c.) has To bye a catte in þo sakke is bot litel charge). Thus to let the cat out of the bag would be to inadvertently reveal the hidden truth of a matter one is attempting to pass off as something better or different, which is in line with the earliest uses in English.

Sir Joseph letteth the cat out of the bag, and sheweth principles inimical to the cause of true philosophy, by wishing to make great men Fellows, instead of wise men ["Peter Pindar," "Peter's Prophecy," 1788]
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