early 14c., originally a legal term meaning "formally laid down, decreed or legislated by authority" (opposed to natural), from Old French positif (13c.) and directly from Latin positivus "settled by agreement, positive" (opposed to naturalis "natural"), from positus, past participle of ponere "put, place" (see position (n.)).
The sense of "absolute" is from mid-15c. Meaning in philosophy of "dealing only with facts" is from 1590s. Sense broadened to "expressed without qualification" (1590s), then, of persons, "confident in opinion" (1660s). The meaning "possessing definite characters of its own" is by 1610s. The mathematical use for "greater than zero" is by 1704. Psychological sense of "concentrating on what is constructive and good" is recorded from 1916. Positive thinking is attested from 1953. The sense in electricity is from 1755.
There are probably no two bodies differing in nature which are not capable of exhibiting electrical phaenomena, either by contact, pressure, or friction ; but the first substances in which the property was observed, were vitreous and resinous bodies ; and hence the different states were called states of resinous and vitreous electricity ; and resinous bodies bear the same relation to flint glass, as silk. The terms, negative and positive electricity, have been likewise adopted, on the idea, that the phaenomena depend upon a peculiar subtile fluid, which becomes in excess in the vitreous, and deficient in the resinous bodies ; and which is conceived by its motion and transfer, to produce the electrical phaenomena. [Sir Humphry Davy, "Elements of Chemical Philosophy," London, 1812]
[to repose; to cease from action] Middle English resten, from Old English ræstan, restan "take repose by lying down; lie in death or in the grave; cease from motion, work, or performance; be still or motionless; be undisturbed, be free from what disquiets; stand or lie as upon a support or basis," from Proto-Germanic *rastejanan (source also of Old Saxon restian, Old Frisian resta, Middle Dutch rasten, Dutch rusten, Old High German reston, German rasten, Swedish rasta, Danish raste "to rest"), a word of doubtful etymology (compare rest (n.1)).
Transitive senses "give repose to; lay or place, as on a support or basis" are from early 13c. Meaning "cease from, have intermission" is late 14c., also "rely on for support." In law, "voluntarily end the presentation of evidence to allow presentation of counter-evidence by the opposing party," by 1905. Related: Rested; resting.
To rest up "recover one's strength" is by 1895, American English. To rest in "remain confident or hopeful in" is by late 14c., biblical. Resting place "place safe from toil or danger" is from mid-14c.
Rest signifies primarily to cease from action or work, but naturally by extension to be refreshed by doing so, and further to be refreshed by sleeping. Repose does not necessarily imply previous work, but does imply quietness, and generally a reclining position, while we may rest in a standing position. [Century Dictionary]
"having a surface so smooth as to cause sliding," c. 1500, slipperie, with -y (2) + Middle English sliper (adj.) "not affording firm footing or hold," from Old English slipor "slippery, having a smooth surface" (see slip (v.)).
The metaphoric sense of "deceitful, untrustworthy, that cannot be depended upon or trusted" is from 1550s. Alternative slippy is attested from 1540s. Related: Slipperily; slipperiness. Middle English also had slipperness, slipornysse, (early 15c., in medical writing, "looseness of the bowels"), directly from sliper. Scott (1821) has slippiness.
In a figurative sense, slippery slope "course beginning with a small step but leading to disaster or destruction" is attested by 1844. Slippery slope as a figure of peril, or a difficult path up, is by 1825.
The slippery elm (1748) of eastern North America (also moose or red elm) is so called for its mucilaginous inner bark, used officinally as a demulcent.
"Stand back ! if you would not bring certain destruction on her and yourself. Do you not see that the chasm is opening wider?" exclaimed Rupert Wyvill, returning almost ere Rosalind had missed him, pushing Edred aside as he spoke, who, half maddened at the sight of his cousin's risk, was on the point of leaping down from the brow of the cliff on the crumbling, slippery slope—an act which would have ensured the destruction of all. [Miss Ellen Pickering, "Who Shall be Heir?" 1840]
c. 1300, devis, "intent, desire; an expressed intent or desire; a plan or design; a literary composition," from Old French devis "division, separation; disposition, wish, desire; coat of arms, emblem; a bequest in a will, act of bequeathing," from deviser "arrange, plan, contrive," literally "dispose in portions," from Vulgar Latin *divisare, frequentative of Latin dividere "to divide" (see divide (v.)).
The basic sense is "method by which something is divided," which arose in Old French and led to the range of modern meanings via the notion of "something invented or fitted to a particular use or purpose," hence "an invention; a constructed tool; inventiveness; a contriving, a plan or scheme."
In English from c. 1400 as "artistic design, work of art; ornament," hence especially "a representation of some object or scene, accompanied by a motto or legend, used as an expression of the bearer's aspirations or principles." Also from c. 1400 as "mechanical contrivance," such as a large crossbow fitted with a crank. From mid-15c. as "a bequest in a will." Since c. 1996 the word has come to be used especially for "hand-held or mobile computing or electronic instrument."
We live in a kind of world and in an age of the world where devices of all sorts are growing in complexity, where, therefore, the necessity for alertness and self-mastery in the control of device is ever more urgent. If we are democrats we know that especial perils beset us, both because of the confusion of our aims and because it is easier for the mob than for the individual to mistake appetite for reason, and advantage for right. [Hartley Burr Alexander, "'Liberty and Democracy,' and Other Essays in War-Time," 1918]
by 1912, American English, first attested in baseball slang; as a type of music, attested by 1915. Perhaps ultimately from slang jasm(1860) "energy, vitality, spirit," perhaps especially in a woman. This is perhaps from earlier gism in the same sense (1842).
By the end of the 1800s, "gism" meant not only "vitality" but also "virility," leading to the word being used as slang for "semen." But — and this is significant — although a similar evolution happened to the word "jazz," which became slang for the act of sex, that did not happen until 1918 at the earliest. That is, the sexual connotation was not part of the origin of the word, but something added later. [Lewis Porter, "Where Did 'Jazz,' the Word, Come From?" http://wbgo.org Feb. 26, 2018]
Meaning "rubbish, unnecessary talk or ornamentation" is from 1918. Slang all that jazz "et cetera" first recorded 1939. Further observations from Porter's summation of the research:
"Jazz" seems to have originated among white Americans, and the earliest printed uses are in California baseball writing, where it means "lively, energetic." (The word still carries this meaning, as in "Let’s jazz this up!") The earliest known usage occurs on April 2, 1912, in an article discovered by researcher George A. Thompson, and sent to me courtesy of [Professor Gerald ] Cohen.
... By 1915, jazz was being applied to a new kind of music in Chicago. It seems to have been first applied to Tom Brown's all-white band, which hailed from New Orleans. This was followed by many printed references to jazz as a musical style.
"a conceited, narrow-minded pragmatical person; a dull, precise person; one who cultivates or affects propriety and offends or bores others," 1753, originally in reference to theological scruples (1704), a word of unknown origin.
It could be related to earlier appearances of the same word meaning "a dandy, coxcomb, fop" (1670s), "thief" (c. 1600; in forms prigger, prigman recorded from 1560s). Century Dictionary speculates the modern word is "perhaps a later application (of the "thief" sense) in the general sense, among "the profession," of 'a smart fellow.' " Also compare thieves' cant prig "a tinker" (1560s). In Middle English a prig was a kind of small nail used in roofing or tiling (14c.), perhaps from prick.
A p[rig] is wise beyond his years in all the things that do not matter. A p. cracks nuts with a steam hammer: that is, calls in the first principles of morality to decide whether he may, or must, do something of as little importance as drinking a glass of beer. On the whole, one may, perhaps, say that all his different characteristics come from the combination, in varying proportions, of three things—the desire to do his duty, the belief that he knows better than other people, & blindness to the difference in value between different things. [quoted in Fowler, 1926, who writes that it can be found in "an anonymous volume of essays"]
a kind of Indian dish or the sauce used upon it, 1590s (as carriel), probably adopted into English via Portuguese caril and its plural caris, and ultimately derived from mingling of various south Indian (Dravidian) words including Middle Kannada, Middle Tamil and Malayalam kari, often indicating something "black in color" or "burnt," and thus applied broadly to spices and meats. In modern Indian cookery, "curry" refers to spice blends with turmeric as their key ingredient; spice blends without turmeric are called masala.
Of European dishes spiced after the Indian style, 1747 in British English. As the spice blend used in making the sauce, 1780. Extended to exotic, spicy sauces from outside of India (Thai curry, Indonesian curry, etc.) by 1680s. The verb meaning "flavor with curry" is by 1839.
The Murraya koenigii or Bergera koenigii is called curry tree, in English by 1822, probably through one of the south Indian languages. The kari name of the plant comes from the perceived blackness of the leaves (compare the Sanskrit name of the tree, krshnaneembapatram "black neem leaf.")
The Middle English term curry, cury, curye, etc. meaning "cookery; culinary art; concoction" (late 14c.) is unrelated to the Dravidian word or its eventual adoption into English. This word is from Old French queverie, "cookery; culinary art," ultimately from Latin coquus "cook."
Bot folk a cury may miscuke, that knawledge wantis,
And has na colouris for to cover thair awne kindly fautis
[William Dunbar, Treatis of the Twa Mariit Women and the Wedo, ca. 1508]
"a talisman, charm, thing supposed to bring good luck to its possessor," also "person whose presence is supposed to be a cause of good fortune," 1881, from provincial French mascotte "sorcerer's charm, 'faerie friend,' good luck piece" (19c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from or related to Provençal mascoto "sorcery, fetish" (a Narbonnese manuscript of 1233 has mascotto "procuress, enchantment, bewitchment in gambling"), from masco "witch," from Old Provençal masca, itself of unknown origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare" (see mask (n.)).
Popularized by French composer Edmond Audran's 1880 comic operetta "La Mascotte," about a household "fairy" who gives luck to an Italian peasant, which was performed in a toned-down translation in England from fall 1881. In reference to animals (later costumed characters) representing sports teams, by 1889.
For the edification of readers not versed in baseball lore it should be stated that the mascot has become quite an important institution among the professional teams of America. He may be a boy possessed of some special attainment or physical peculiarity, or he may be a bull-pup with a prominent patch over his left eye. It matters not whether a mascot be brute or human, so long as his presence upon the players' bench insures a victory—in the minds of the players—to the team with which he has cast his fortunes and in whose favor he exercises the influence he is supposed to have with Dame Fortune. [Harry Clay Palmer, ed., "Athletic Sports in America, England, and Australia," New York, 1889]
Scandinavian pirate, 1801, vikingr, in "The History of the Anglo-Saxons" by English historian Sharon H. Turner; he suggested the second element might be connected to king: But this later was dismissed as incorrect. The form viking is attested in 1820, in Jamieson's notes to "The Bruce."
The name by which the pirates were at first distinguished was Vikingr, which perhaps originally meant kings of the bays. It was in bays that they ambushed, to dart upon the passing voyager. [Turner]
The word is a historians' revival; it was not used in Middle English, but it was reintroduced from Old Norse vikingr "freebooter, sea-rover, pirate, viking," which usually is explained as meaning properly "one who came from the fjords," from vik "creek, inlet, small bay" (cognate with Old English wic, Middle High German wich "bay," and second element in Reykjavik).
But Old English wicing and Old Frisian wizing are almost 300 years older than the earliest attestation of the Old Norse word, and probably derive from wic "village, camp" (large temporary camps were a feature of the Viking raids), related to Latin vicus "village, habitation" (from PIE root *weik- (1) "clan").
The connection between the Norse and Old English words is still much debated. The period of Viking activity was roughly 8c. to 11c. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the raiding armies generally were referred to as þa Deniscan "the Danes," while those who settled in England were identified by their place of settlement. Old Norse viking (n.) meant "freebooting voyage, piracy;" one would "go on a viking" (fara í viking).
1867, "calf or yearling found without an owner's brand," a word from the great cattle ranches of the American West, so called for Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner who was notoriously negligent in branding his calves.
All neat stock found running at large in this State, without a mother, and upon which there is neither mark nor brand, shall be deemed a maverick, and shall be sold to the highest bidder for cash, at such time and place, and under such rules and regulations, as the round-up commissioners of the district shall prescribe. [act to amend the General Statutes of the State of Colorado, approved April 8, 1885]
The family name is an old one in Boston, and a different Samuel Maverick was killed in the Boston Massacre. The sense of "individualist, unconventional person" is said to be attested by 1886, via the notion of "masterless," but its modern popularity seems to date to the late 1930s and the career of Maury Maverick (1895-1954) of Texas, grandson of Samuel the rancher and a Democratic congressman 1935-1939 famous for his liberal independent streak, who also coined gobbledygook.
"The Crisis" (April 1939) wrote that "During his stormy career in Washington Maverick became known as the one dependable liberal among the southerners. He recognized the broad problems of our nation, refusing to allow his vision to be limited by sectional prejudices, or racial or economic bugaboos. He was the only southern congressman to vote for the Gavagan federal anti-lynching bill. Not only did he vote for it, but he made a speech on the floor of the House in support of it."