early 15c., percussioun, "a striking, a blow; internal injury, contusion," from Latin percussionem (nominative percussio) "a beating, striking; a beat as a measure of time," noun of action from past participle stem of percutere "to strike hard, beat, smite; strike through and through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + quatere "to strike, shake" (see quash).
In reference to musical instruments sounded by a stroke or blow, attested by 1776 (instrument of percussion). In medical diagnosis, "a method of striking or tapping the surface of the body to determine the condition of the organs in the region struck," by 1781.
The art of percussion, besides, although very simple in appearance, requires long practice, and a dexterity which few men can acquire. The slightest difference in the angle under which the fingers strike the thorax, may lead one to suspect a difference of sound which in reality does not exist. ["Laennec's New System of Diagnosis," in Quarterly Journal of Foreign Medicine and Surgery, November 1819]
late 14c., rafle, "game played with dice, a throw of the dice" (senses now obsolete), from Old French rafle "dice game," also "plundering," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a Germanic source (compare Middle Dutch raffel "dice game," Old Frisian hreppa "to move," Old Norse hreppa "to reach, get," Swedish rafs "rubbish," Old High German raspon "to scrape together, snatch up in haste," German raffen "to snatch away, sweep off"), from Proto-Germanic *khrap- "to pluck out, snatch off." The notion would be "to sweep up (the stakes), to snatch (the winnings)." Diez connects the French word with the Germanic root, but OED is against this.
The meaning "method of sale by chance or lottery, form of lottery in which an article is assigned by the drawing of lots to one person among several who have paid for the chance" is recorded by 1766.
also grape-vine, 1736, from grape + vine. Meaning "a rumor; a secret or unconventional method of spreading information" (1863) is from the use of grapevine telegraph as "secret source of information and rumor" in the American Civil War; in reference to Southerners under northern occupation but also in reference to black communities and runaway slaves.
The false reports touching rebel movements, which incessantly circulated in Nashville, brings us to the consideration of the "grapevine telegraph"—a peculiar institution of rebel generation, devised for the duplex purpose of "firing the Southern heart," and to annoy the "Yankees." It is worthy of attention, as one of the signs of the times, expressing the spirit of lying which war engenders. But it is no more than just to say that there is often so little difference between the "grapevine" and the associated press telegraph, that they might as well be identical. ["Rosecrans' Campaign with the Fourteenth Corps," Cincinnati, 1863]
late Old English cæppe "hood, head-covering, cape," a general Germanic borrowing (compare Old Frisian and Middle Dutch kappe, Old High German chappa) from Late Latin cappa "a cape, hooded cloak" (source of Spanish capa, Old North French cape, French chape), a word of uncertain origin. Possibly a shortened from capitulare "headdress," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
The Late Latin word apparently originally meant "a woman's head-covering," but the sense was transferred to "hood of a cloak," then to "cloak" itself, though the various senses co-existed. Old English took in two forms of the Late Latin word, one meaning "head-covering," the other "ecclesiastical dress" (see cape (n.1)). In most Romance languages, a diminutive of Late Latin cappa has become the usual word for "head-covering" (such as French chapeau).
The meaning "soft, small, close-fitted head covering" in English is from early 13c., originally for women; extended to men late 14c.; extended to cap-like coverings on the ends of anything (as in hubcap) from mid-15c. The meaning "contraceptive device" is by 1916.
The meaning "cap-shaped piece of copper lined with gunpowder and used to ignite a firearm" is by 1825, hence cap-gun (1855); extended to paper strips used in toy pistols by 1872 (cap-pistol is from 1879).
Figurative thinking cap is from 1839 (considering cap is 1650s). Cap and bells (1781) was the insignia of a fool; cap and gown (1732) of a scholar. To set one's cap at or for (1773) means "use measures to gain the regard or affection of," usually in reference to a woman seeking a man's courtship.
"that point, place, or state which is halfway between extremes;" c. 1300, originally in music, "a tone intermediate between two other tones," from Old French meien "middle, means, intermediary," noun use of adjective from Late Latin medianus "of or that is in the middle," from Latin medius "in the middle," from PIE root *medhyo- "middle."
The modern range of senses in English mostly appeared late 14c.: "course of action; method, way of attaining an end" (as in ways and means;by means of; by all means; by no means); also "the golden mean, moderation;" and "something physically between two extremes." The mathematical sense, "a quantity having a value intermediate between the values of other quantities, the average obtained by adding several quantities together and dividing the sum by their number" is from mid-15c. Some senses reflect confusion with mean (adj.1).
"a busy rumour" [Rowe], 1620s (earlier "a fancy," c. 1600), figurative use from buzz (v.). The literal sense of "a humming sound" is from 1640s. A "buzz" was the characteristic sound of an airplane in early 20c.; hence verbal sense "fly swiftly," by 1928; by 1940 especially in military use, "fly low over a surface as a warning signal" (for example that target practice is about to begin):
The patrol aircraft shall employ the method of warning known as "buzzing" which consists of low flight by the airplane and repeated opening and closing of the throttle. [1941 Supplement to the Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America," Chap. II, Corps of Engineers, War Department, p. 3434, etc. ]
The meaning "pleasant sense of intoxication" is recorded by 1935. The children's game of counting off with 7 or multiples of it replaced by buzz is attested from 1864 and is mentioned in "Little Women" (1868). To give (someone) a buzz (by 1922) is from the buzz that announced a call on old telephone systems (1913). Buzz bomb "V1 rocket" is from 1944.
1781, coined by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) from utility + -arian on the model of + unitarian, etc. One guided by the doctrine of the greatest happiness for the greatest number. From 1802 as an adjective; in the general sense "having regard to utility rather than beauty," from 1847.
[Bentham] had a phrase, expressive of the view he took of all moral speculations to which his method had not been applied, or (which he considered as the same thing) not founded on a recognition of utility as the moral standard ; this phrase was "vague generalities." Whatever presented itself to him in such a shape, he dismissed as unworthy of notice, or dwelt upon only to denounce as absurd. He did not heed, or rather the nature of his mind prevented it from occurring to him, that these generalities contained the whole unanalyzed experience of the human race. [John Stuart Mill, "The Works of Jeremy Bentham," London and Westminster Review, August 1838]
"strong, stimulating, cold American drink," first attested 1806; H.L. Mencken lists seven versions of its origin, perhaps the most durable traces it to French coquetier "egg-cup" (15c.; in English cocktay). In New Orleans, c. 1795, Antoine Amédée Peychaud, an apothecary (and inventor of Peychaud bitters) held Masonic social gatherings at his pharmacy, where he mixed brandy toddies with his own bitters and served them in an egg-cup. On this theory, the drink took the name of the cup.
Ayto ("Diner's Dictionary") derives it from cocktail "horse with a docked tail" (one cut short, which makes it stand up somewhat like a cock's comb) because such a method of dressing the tail was given to ordinary horses, the word came to be extended to "horse of mixed pedigree" (not a thoroughbred) by 1800, and this, it is surmised, was extended to the drink on the notion of "adulteration, mixture."
Used from 1920s of any mix of substances (fruit, Molotov). Cocktail party attested by 1907.
late 14c., "that which is hidden from human understanding;" early 15c., "that which is hidden from general knowledge;" from Latin secretum "secrecy; a mystery; a thing hidden; secret conversation," also "retirement, solitude," noun from secretus "set apart, withdrawn; hidden, concealed, private." This is a past-participle adjective from secernere "to set apart, part, divide; exclude," from se- "without, apart," properly "on one's own" (see se-) + cernere "to separate" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish").
The meaning "something studiously hidden or concealed; what is not or should not be revealed" in English is from mid-15c. The sense of "key or principle by which some difficulty is solved" is from 1738, perhaps via the notion of "method or process hidden from the uninitiated" (late 15c.).
The alternative form secre, from an Old French variant form of secret, was common 14c.-16c. and seems to have been more frequent originally. It also was a variant of the adjective.
Open secret "matter or fact which is known to many; a secret which all who care to may learn" is from 1828. To keep (a) secret is from mid-15c. Secrets "parts of the body which propriety requires to be concealed" is by 1530s.
late 13c., passen (transitive), "to go by (something)," also "to cross over," from Old French passer "to pass" (11c.), from Vulgar Latin *passare "to step, walk, pass" (source also of Spanish pasar, Italian passare), from Latin passus "step, pace" (from PIE root *pete- "to spread").
Intransitive sense of "to go on, to move forward, make one's way" is attested from c. 1300. The figurative sense of "to experience, undergo" (as in pass the time) is recorded from late 14c. Sense of "to go through an examination successfully" is from early 15c. Meaning "decline to do something" is attested from 1869, originally in cards (euchre). In football, hockey, soccer, etc., the meaning "to transfer the ball or puck to another player" is from c. 1865. Related: Passed; passing.
The meaning "to be thought to be something one is not" (especially in a racial sense) is from 1935, from pass oneself off(as), which is attested by 1809. The general verb sense of "to be accepted as equivalent" is from 1590s. Pass up "decline, refuse" is attested from 1896. Pass the buck is from 1865, said to be poker slang reference to the buck horn-handled knife that was passed around to signify whose turn it was to deal. Pass the hat "seek contributions" is from 1762. Pass-fail as a grading method is attested from 1955, American English.