1680s as the name of a type of steel-gray metal, from German kobold "household goblin" (13c.), which became also a Harz Mountains silver miners' term for rock laced with arsenic and sulfur (according to OED so called because it degraded the ore and made the miners ill), from Middle High German kobe "hut, shed" + *holt "goblin," from hold "gracious, friendly," a euphemistic word for a troublesome being.
The metallic element (closely resembling nickel but much rarer) was extracted from this rock. It was known to Paracelsus, but discovery is usually credited to the Swede George Brandt (1733), who gave it the name. Extended to a blue color 1835 (a mineral containing it had been used as a blue coloring for glass since 16c.). Compare nickel. Related: Cobaltic; cobaltous.
"to deprive (a word or phrase) of its meaning," 1900, from weasel (n.); so used because the weasel sucks out the contents of eggs, leaving the shell intact. Both this and weasel-word are first attested in "The Stained-Glass Political Platform," a short story by Stewart Chaplin, first printed in Century Magazine, June 1900:
"Why, weasel words are words that suck all the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks an egg and leaves the shell. If you heft the egg afterward it's as light as a feather, and not very filling when you're hungry; but a basketful of them would make quite a show, and would bamboozle the unwary."
They were picked up at once in American political slang. The sense of "extricate oneself (from a difficult place) like a weasel" is first recorded 1925; that of "to evade and equivocate" is from 1956. Related: Weasled; weasling.
fore-and-aft rigged vessel, originally with but two masts, 1716, perhaps from a New England verb related to Scottish scon "to send over water, to skip stones." Skeat relates this dialectal verb to shunt. The spelling probably was influenced by Dutch, but Dutch schoener is a loan-word from English, as are German Schoner, French schooner, Swedish skonert. The type of ship itself is said to have been first built in Gloucester, Mass., shipyard.
The rig characteristic of a schooner has been defined as consisting essentially of two gaff sails, the after sail not being smaller than the fore, and a head sail set on a bowsprit. [OED]
Meaning "tall beer glass" is by 1879, of unknown origin or connection to the sailing ship word (the ships are not noted for their size); OED calls it a "fanciful use" of it.
diminutive suffix, first attested late 12c. in proper names adopted from Flanders and Holland. As it is not found in Old English it probably is from Middle Dutch -kin, properly a double-diminutive, from -k + -in. Equivalent to German -chen. Also borrowed in Old French as -quin, where it usually has a bad sense.
This suffix, which is almost barren in French, has been more largely developed in the Picard patois, which uses it for new forms, such as verquin, a shabby little glass (verre); painequin, a bad little loaf (pain); Pierrequin poor little Pierre, &c. ["An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1878]
Used in later Middle English with common nouns. In some words it is directly from Dutch or Flemish.
"picture transferred from a specially prepared paper to some other surface," by 1909, shortening of decalcomania (1864), from French décalcomanie, from décalquer (18c.) "transferring of a tracing from specially prepared paper to glass, porcelain, etc." (in vogue in France 1840s, England 1862-64), from de- "off" (see de-) + calquer "to press," from Italian calcare, from Latin calcare "to tread on, press," from calx (1) "heel" (see calcaneus).
Time was when there were only printers employed in making the sheets that were stuck on the ware, giving the old-time term of "plain print." This form of decoration was succeeded a few years ago by the decalcomania or "decal." This "decal" is an imported sheet, lithographed, and the little sprigs, flowers and scenes are cut out and stuck on the ware. [Brick, the Leading Clay Journal, April 1909]
"a drama sung" [Klein], "a form of extended dramatic composition in which music is essential and predominant," 1640s, from Italian opera, literally "a work, labor, composition," from Latin opera "work, effort" (Latin plural regarded as feminine singular), secondary (abstract) noun from operari "to work," from opus (genitive operis) "a work" (from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance"). Explained in "Elson's Music Dictionary" as, "a form of musical composition evolved shortly before 1600, by some enthusiastic Florentine amateurs who sought to bring back the Greek plays to the modern stage."
No good opera plot can be sensible. ... People do not sing when they are feeling sensible. [W.H. Auden, 1961]
As a branch of dramatic art, it is attested from 1759. First record of opera glass "small binoculars to aid vision at the theater" is from 1738. Opera-house, "theater devoted chiefly to opera performances," is from 1720.
"open large-mouthed vessel," mid-14c., from Old Norse bikarr or Middle Dutch beker "goblet," probably (with Old Saxon bikeri, Old High German behhari, German Becher) from Medieval Latin bicarium, which is probably a diminutive of Greek bikos "earthenware jug, wine jar, vase with handles," also a unit of measure, a word of uncertain origin.
It is sometimes said to be a Semitic word, perhaps a borrowing from Syrian buqa "a two-handed vase or jug," or from Egyptian b:k.t "oil flask." The form has been assimilated in English to beak. Originally a drinking vessel; attested by 1877 in reference to a similar glass vessel used in scientific laboratories.
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
[Keats, from "Ode to a Nightingale"]
mid-14c., celynge, "act of paneling a room," noun formed (with -ing) from Middle English verb ceil "put a cover or ceiling over," later "cover (walls) with wainscoting, panels, etc." (early 15c.); from Old French celer "conceal," also "cover with paneling" (12c.), from Latin celare "to hide" (from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save"). Probably influenced by Latin caelum "heaven, sky" (see celestial).
Extended to the paneling itself from late 14c., then to lath-and-plaster work. The meaning "interior overhead surface of a room" is attested by 1530s; by late 19c. the meaning "wainscoting" was only in provincial English. Figurative sense of "upper limit" is from 1934.
Colloquial figurative phrase hit the ceiling "lose one's temper, get explosively angry" is attested by 1908; earlier it meant "to fail" (by 1900, originally U.S. college slang). Glass ceiling in the figurative sense of "invisible barrier that prevents women from advancing" in management, etc., is attested from 1988.
c. 1200 (early 12c. as a surname), masoun, "stoneworker, builder in stone, one who dresses, lays, or carves stone," from Old French masson, maçon "stone mason" (Old North French machun), probaby from Frankish *makjo or some other Germanic source (compare Old High German steinmezzo "stone mason," Modern German Steinmetz, with second element related to mahhon "to make"); from PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit."
But it also might be from, or influenced by, Medieval Latin machio, matio (7c.) which is said by Isidore to be derived from machina (see machine (n.)). The medieval word also might be from the root of Latin maceria "wall." Meaning "a member of the fraternity of freemasons" is attested from early 15c. in Anglo-French. The Mason jar (by 1868), a type of molded glass jar with an airtight screw lid, used for home preserves, is named for John L. Mason of New York, who patented it in 1858.
"simple earthen or glass cylindrical vessel," early 15c., possibly from rare Old French jarre "liquid measure smaller than a barrel," or more likely from Medieval Latin jarra (13c.) or Spanish or Catalan jarra (13c.), all ultimately from Arabic jarrah "earthen water vessel, ewer" (whence also Provençal jarra, Italian giarra), a general word in the 13c. Mediterranean sea-trade, which is from Persian jarrah "a jar, earthen water-vessel." Originally in English a large container used for importing olive oil.
In Britain in the 15th to 17th centuries, oil-lamps were overall not often used, because the oil was too expensive. Usage increased in the 17th century despite the expense. Olive oil was the most-often-used type of oil in the oil-lamps until the 18th century. The indications are good that no country or region exported more oil to Britain than southern Spain did in the 15th-17th centuries, with southern Italy coming second. ["English Words of Arabic Ancestry"]