late 14c., "relation of incidents" (true or false), from Old French estoire, estorie "story; chronicle, history" (12c., Modern French histoire), from Latin historia "narrative of past events, account, tale, story," from Greek historia "a learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of one's inquiries; knowledge, account, historical account, record, narrative," from historein "be witness or expert; give testimony, recount; find out, search, inquire," and histōr "knowing, expert; witness," both ultimately from PIE *wid-tor-, from root *weid- "to see," hence "to know."
It is thus related to Greek idein "to see," and to eidenai "to know." Beekes writes of histōr that "The word itself, but especially the derivations ... that arose in Ionic, have spread over the Hellenic and Hellenistic world together with Ionic science and philosophy."
In Middle English, not differentiated from story (n.1); sense of "narrative record of past events" probably first attested late 15c. Meaning "the recorded events of the past" is from late 15c. As a branch of knowledge, from late 15c. Meaning "a historical play or drama" is from 1590s. Sense of "systematic account (without reference to time) of a set of natural phenomena" (1560s) is now obsolete except in natural history (as late as the 1880s published county histories in the U.S. routinely included natural history chapters, with lists of birds and fishes and illustrations of local slugs and freshwater clams). Meaning "an eventful career, a past worthy of note" (a woman with a history) is from 1852. To make history "be notably engaged in public events" is from 1862.
History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us. [Johan Huizinga, "The Task of the Cultural Historian"]
History is more or less bunk [Henry Ford, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1916]
One difference between history and imaginative literature ... is that history neither anticipates nor satisfies our curiosity, whereas literature does. [Guy Davenport, "Wheel Ruts," 1996]
alsosemi-colon, point used in punctuation, consisting of a dot above a comma, to mark a sentence somewhat more independent than that marked by a comma, 1640s, a hybrid coined from Latin-derived semi- + Greek-based colon (n.1). The mark itself was (and is) in Greek the point of interrogation. The semicolon butterfly (by 1841, American English) is so called for the silver mark on its wings.
[T]he semicolon was a Latin delicacy which the obtuse English typographer resisted. So late as 1580 and 1590 treatises on orthography do not recognize any such innovation ; the Bible of 1592, though printed with appropriate accuracy, is without a semicolon ; but in 1633 its full rights are established by Charles Butler's English Grammar. ... [I]t is evident that Shakespeare could never have used the semicolon ; a circumstance which the profound George Chalmers mourns over, opining that semicolons would often have saved the poet from his commentators. [Isaac. D'Israeli, "Amenities of Literature," 1841]
Meaning "prose works (not dramatic) of the imagination" is from 1590s, at first often including plays and poems. Narrower sense of "the part of literature comprising novels and short stories based on imagined scenes or characters" is by early 19c. The legal sense (fiction of law) is from 1580s. A writer of fiction could be a fictionist (1827). The related Latin words included the literal notion "worked by hand," as well as the figurative senses of "invented in the mind; artificial, not natural": Latin fictilis "made of clay, earthen;" fictor "molder, sculptor" (also borrowed 17c. in English), but also of Ulysses as "master of deceit;" fictum "a deception, falsehood; fiction."
1590s, in a now-obsolete meaning "mischievous, malicious;" also in 17c., "careless, incautious; unreliable, not to be trusted," from un- (1) "not" + canny (q.v.) in its old Scots and Northern English sense of "skillful, prudent, lucky" (it is a doublet of cunning).
Canny had also a sense of "superstitiously lucky; skilled in magic." In Wright's "English Dialect Dictionary" (1900) the first sense of uncanny as used in Scotland and the North is "awkward, unskilful; careless; imprudent; inconvenient." The second is "Unearthly, ghostly, dangerous from supernatural causes ; ominous, unlucky ; of a person : possessed of supernatural powers".
From 1773, uncanny appears in popular literature from the North (Robert Fergusson, Scott), with reference to persons and in a sense of "not quite safe to trust or deal with through association with the supernatural." By 1843 it had a general sense in English of "having a supernatural character, weird, mysterious, strange." (OED notes this as "Common from c 1850"; Borges considers it untranslatable but notes that German unheimlich answers to it.)
The Scottish writers also use it with the meanings "unpleasantly hard; dangerous, unsafe."
c. 1300, romaunce, "a story, written or recited, in verse, telling of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc.," often one designed principally for entertainment, from Old French romanz "verse narrative" (Modern French roman), also "the vulgar language," originally an adverb, "in the vernacular language," from Vulgar Latin *romanice scribere "to write in a Romance language" (one developed from Latin instead of Frankish), from Latin Romanicus "of or in the Roman style," from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).
The sense evolution is because medieval vernacular tales (as opposed to Latin texts) usually told chivalric adventures full of marvelous incidents and heroic deeds. "The spelling with -aunce, -ance was very early adopted in English, probably on the analogy of abstract sbs." [OED].
In reference to literary works, in Middle English often meaning ones written in French but also applied to native compositions. The literary sense was extended by 1660s to "a love story, the class of literature consisting of love stories and romantic fiction." Meaning "imaginative, adventurous quality" first recorded 1801; that of "love affair" is from 1916. Romance novel is attested by 1820. Compare Romance (adj.).
slang for "female pudenda," by 1879, but probably older; perhaps from Old Norse puss "pocket, pouch" (compare Low German puse "vulva"), or perhaps instead from the cat word (see pussy (n.1)) on the notion of "soft, warm, furry thing;" compare French le chat, which also has a double meaning, feline and genital. Earlier uses are difficult to distinguish from pussy (n.1), e.g.:
The word pussie is now used of a woman [Philip Stubbes, "The Anatomie of Abuses," 1583]
And songs such as "Puss in a Corner" (1690, attributed to D'Urfey) clearly play on the double sense of the word for ribald effect. But the absence of pussy in Grose and other early slang works argues against the vaginal sense being generally known before late 19c., as does its frequent use as a term of endearment in mainstream literature, as in:
"What do you think, pussy?" said her father to Eva. [Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," 1852]
Pussy-whipped "hen-pecked" is attested by 1956 (Middle English had cunt-beaten "impotent," in reference to a man, mid-15c.).
mountainous district in central Peloponnesus, a Latinized form of Greek Arkadia, which is traditionally from Arkas (genitive Arkadas), son of Zeus, name of the founder and first ruler of Arcadia.
The idealized Arcadia of later pastoral romance, "the home of piping shepherds and coy shepherdesses, where rustic simplicity and plenty satisfied the ambition of untutored hearts, and where ambition and its crimes were unknown" [John Mahaffy, "History of Classical Greek Literature," 1880] seems to have been inspired by "Arcadia," a description of shepherd life in prose and verse by Italian Renaissance poet Iacopo Sannazaro, published in 1502, which went through 60 editions in the century. It is exemplified in English by Sir Philip Sidney's poem, published in 1590, and in Spanish by Lope de Vega's, printed in 1598. Classical Arcadia, Mahaffy writes:
was only famed for the marketable valour of its hardy mountaineers, of whom the Tegeans had held their own even against the power of Sparta, and obtained an honourable place in her army. It was also noted for rude and primitive cults, of which later men praised the simplicity and homely piety—at times also, the stern gloominess, which did not shrink from the offering of human blood. ["Rambles and Studies in Greece," 1887]
Poetic Arcady is from 1580s.
c. 1200, manere, "kind, sort, variety," from Anglo-French manere, Old French maniere "fashion, method, manner, way; appearance, bearing; custom" (12c., Modern French manière), from Vulgar Latin *manaria (source of Spanish manera, Portuguese maneira, Italian maniera), from fem. of Latin manuarius "belonging to the hand," from manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand"). The French word also was borrowed by Dutch (manier), German (manier), Swedish (maner).
Meaning "customary practice" is from c. 1300. Senses of "way of doing something; a personal habit or way of doing; way of conducting oneself toward others" are from c. 1300. Meaning "specific nature, form, way something happens" is mid-14c.
Of literature, art, etc., "way in which a work is made or executed," from 1660s. Most figurative meanings derive from the original sense "method of handling" which was extended when the word was used to translate Latin modus "method."
Phrase manner of speaking is recorded from 1530s. To the manner born ("Hamlet" I iv.15) sometimes is used incorrectly; it means "accustomed by birth to be subject to the practice," but the noun is sometimes understood as manor (which formerly also was spelled manner).
1540s, "epic poem," also "a book of an epic" (suitable for recitation at one time), from French rhapsodie, from Latin rhapsodia, from Greek rhapsōidia "verse composition, recitation of epic poetry; a book, a lay, a canto," from rhapsōdos "reciter of epic poems," literally "one who stitches or strings songs together," from stem of rhaptein "to stitch, sew, weave" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend") + ōidē "song" (see ode).
According to Beekes, the notion in the Greek word is "originally 'who sews a poem together', referring to the uninterrupted sequence of epic verses as opposed to the strophic compositions of lyrics." William Mure ["Language and Literature of Antient Greece," 1850] writes that the Homeric rhapsōidia "originally applied to the portions of the poems habitually allotted to different performers in the order of recital, afterwards transferred to the twenty-four books, or cantos, into which each work was permanently divided by the Alexandrian grammarians."
The word had various specific or extended senses 16c.-17c., mostly now obsolete or archaic. Among them was "miscellaneous collection, confused mass (of things)," thus "literary work consisting of miscellaneous or disconnected pieces, a rambling composition." This, now obsolete, might be the path of the word to the meaning "an exalted or exaggeratedly enthusiastic expression of sentiment or feeling, speech or writing with more enthusiasm than accuracy or logical connection of ideas" (1630s). The meaning "sprightly musical composition" is recorded by 1850s.
[I]n general, as now used, the term classical includes the composers active in instrumental music from somewhere about 1700 to say 1830. Hence the list includes among the great names those of Bach, his sons, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Clementi, Dussek, Pleyel, Cramer, etc. The next step beyond the term classical is "modern romantic," the composers of which school may be taken to include all the writers for pianoforte from about 1829 (when Mendelssohn published the first "Songs without Words") down to the present. The term romantic in this sense means strongly marked, extraordinary, intending to tell stories and the like. ["Music, Its Ideals and Methods," W.S.B. Mathews, 1897]
But already by 1880s it was acknowledged the term had a double sense: Music that had withstood the test of time, as well as music of a style contrasted to "romantic." Later (early 20c.) it was contrasted to jazz (in this sense more often with reference to the orchestras than to the music itself). Still later it stood in contrast to popular music generally (mid-20c.). Classical history is the history of ancient Greece and Rome; ancient history is the history of mankind from the earliest reliable records to the fall of Rome (476 C.E.). Related: Classically.