Etymology
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yard-arm (n.)
also yardarm, 1550s, from yard (n.2) in the nautical sense (attested from Old English) + arm (n.1). In 19c. British naval custom, it was permissible to begin drinking when the sun was over the yard-arm.
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Potsdam 

town in Germany, first recorded 993 as Poztupimi; the name is Slavic, the first element is po "by near," the second element evidently was influenced by Dutch names in -dam. The Potsdam Conference of the victorious Allies in World War II was held July 17-Aug. 2, 1945, to decide the fate of Germany. During the Cold War, the town was in the Soviet sector and the bridge there across the Havel was one of the restricted border crossings between East Germany and West Berlin. The Americans and the Soviets used it for the exchange of captured spies. 

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defoliate (v.)

"deprive of leaves, strip the leaves from," 1793, perhaps a back-formation from defoliation. Earlier in this sense was defoil (c. 1600), which was identical in form with a verb meaning "to trample underfoot." Related: Defoliated; defoliating.

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Indian Ocean 
first attested 1515 in Modern Latin (Oceanus Orientalis Indicus), named for India, which projects into it; earlier it was the Eastern Ocean, as opposed to the Western Ocean (Atlantic) before the Pacific was surmised.
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Icknield Way 
prehistoric trackway from Norfolk to Dorset, Old English Iccenhilde, Icenhylte (903), which is of unknown meaning and origin. There was a Romano-British Iceni tribe in modern Norfolk. The name was transferred 12c. to the ancient Roman road from Burton on the Water to Templeborough.
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phoenix (n.)

mythical bird of great beauty worshiped in Egypt, Old English and Old French fenix, from Medieval Latin phenix, from Latin phoenix, from Greek phoinix. The bird was the only one of its kind, ans after living 500 or 600 years in the Arabian wilderness, "built for itself a funeral pile of spices and aromatic gums, lighted the pile with the fanning of its wings, and was burned upon it, but from its ashes revived in the freshness of youth" [Century Dictionary]. 

Ðone wudu weardaþ wundrum fæger
fugel feþrum se is fenix hatan
["Phoenix," c.900]

Compare Phoenician, which seems to be unrelated. Forms in ph- begin to appear in English late 15c. and the spelling was assimilated to Greek in 16c. (see ph). Figurative sense of "that which rises from the ashes of what was destroyed" is attested from 1590s.

The constellation was one of the 11 added to Ptolemy's list in the 1610s by Flemish cartographer Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) after Europeans began to explore the Southern Hemisphere. The city in Arizona, U.S., was so called because it was founded in 1867 on the site of an ancient Native American settlement.

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-itis 
word-forming element in medicine denoting "diseases characterized by inflammation" (of the specified part), Modern Latin, from Greek -itis, feminine of adjectival suffix -ites "pertaining to." Feminine because it was used with an implied nosos "disease," a feminine noun; especially in arthritis (nosos) "(disease) of the joints." Arthritis (16c.) was one of the earliest appearances of the suffix in English and from it the suffix was abstracted in other uses.
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laser (n.)
1960, acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation," on pattern of maser (1955). A corresponding verb, lase, was coined by 1962. Related: Lasered; lasering. Laser disc recorded from 1980. Earlier laser was the name of a type of gum-resin from North Africa used medicinally (1570s), from Latin; still earlier it was an Old English and Middle English name for some weed, probably cockle.
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needfire (n.)

1630s, "fire produced by the friction of one piece of wood upon another or of a rope upon a stick of wood," from need (n.) + fire (n.).

From ancient times peculiar virtue was attributed to fire thus obtained, which was supposed to have great efficacy in overcoming the enchantment to which disease, such as that of cattle, was ascribed. The superstition survived in the Highlands of Scotland until a recent date. [Century Dictionary]
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indorse (v.)
see endorse. Indorser was old slang for "a sodomite" (1785).
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