mid-15c., "cord, lace, or ribbon of fine material worn as an ornament or token of victory," from Old French cordon "ribbon, cord," diminutive of corde "cord" (see cord). Military sense of "a line of troops or military posts guarding a place" is by 1758.
The original sense is preserved in cordon bleu (1727) "the highest distinction," literally "blue ribbon," for the sky-blue ribbon worn by the old French order of Knights-grand-cross of the Holy Ghost (the highest order of chivalry under the Bourbons). Extended figuratively to other persons of distinction, especially, in jocular use, to a first-rate cook.
Cordon sanitaire (1857) is French, a line of troops or military posts set around an infected district to keep the disease from spreading.
early 13c., from Old French empereor "emperor, leader, ruler" (11c.; accusative; nominative emperere; Modern French empereur), from Latin imperatorem (nominative imperator) "commander, emperor," from past participle stem of imperare "to command" (see empire).
Originally a title conferred by vote of the Roman army on a successful general, later by the Senate on Julius and Augustus Caesar and adopted by their successors except Tiberius and Claudius. In the Middle Ages, applied to rulers of China, Japan, etc.; non-historical European application in English had been only to the Holy Roman Emperors (who in German documents are called kaiser), from late 13c., until in 1804 Napoleon took the title "Emperor of the French."
mid-15c., prophane, "un-ecclesiastical, secular, not devoted to sacred purposes, unhallowed," from Old French prophane, profane (12c.) and directly from Latin profanus (in Medieval Latin often prophanus) "unholy, not sacred, not consecrated;" of persons "not initiated" (whence, in Late Latin, "ignorant, unlearned"), also "wicked, impious."
According to Lewis & Short, de Vaan, etc., this is from the phrase pro fano, literally "out in front of the temple" (here perhaps with a sense of "not admitted into the temple (with the initiates)," from pro "before" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before") + fano, ablative of fanum "temple" (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts). The sense of "irreverent toward God or holy things" is from 1550s. Related: Profanely.
late 13c., "thing that rolls, roller for moving heavy objects;" late 14c., "a rolling pin," agent noun from roll (v.). The sense of "heavy cylinder for smoothing the ground is from 1520s.
Meaning "hair-curler" is attested from 1795; as a printer's tool, by 1790; as a device for applying paint, etc. to a flat surface, by 1955. The meaning "long, heavy, swelling wave" is by 1829. In combinations, it often means "done on or by means of roller-skates," for example roller derby (by 1936; see derby); roller hockey (1926); roller-disco (1978). Disparaging religious term holy roller is attested from 1842, American English, from the alleged rolling in the church aisles done by those in the Spirit.
"long, tedious, complicated story," by 1905, from Yiddish Megillah (as in a gantse Megillah "a whole megillah"), literally "roll, scroll," collective name of the five Old Testament books appointed to be read on certain feast days, from Hebrew meghillah, from galal "he rolled, unfolded." The slang use is in reference to the length of the text. The use of the word in English in reference to the holy books is from 1650s.
Jonas used to laugh. "What do I care for the Goyim," he said, but Isaac was different. He would talk thee a Megillah about Equality and Brotherhood,—one would have thought, he was reading something aloud out of the newspaper,—and what he meant was that the Yüd and the Goy were now alike. [Martha Wolfenstein, "A Renegade," Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1905]
masc. proper name, name of the Hebrew prophet and lawgiver, Middle English Moises, from Latin, from Greek Mouses, from Hebrew Mosheh, which is of unknown origin.
Most scholars see in it the Hebraization of Egyptian mes, mesu 'child, son,' which is often used in theophorous names. According to this derivation the words of Pharaoh's daughter in Ex. 2:10, 'For out of the water I drew him' are not the explanation of the Hebrew name Mosheh, but express the idea that the Egyptian name given by Pharaoh's daughter resembles in sound, and therefore, reminds us of, the Hebrew verb mashah 'he drew out,' which is suggestive of the words spoken by Pharaoh's daughter. [Ernest Klein, "A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language"]
As an expletive or oath, Oh, Moses, 1840; Holy Moses is attested by 1877.
early 14c., creyme, "the rich and buttery part of milk," from Old French cresme, craime, creme "chrism, holy oil" (13c., Modern French crème). This word is a blend of Late Latin chrisma "ointment" (from Greek khrisma "unguent;" from PIE root *ghrei- "to rub") and Late Latin cramum "cream," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Gaulish. The French word replaced Old English ream; it was re-borrowed 19c. as creme.
From early 15c. as "dish or confection made from or resembling cream." The figurative sense of "most excellent element or part" is from 1580s. It is attested from 1660s as "any part that separates from the rest and rises to the surface" and also in its application to substances resembling cream. Cream-cheese is from 1580s. Cream-soda is attested by from 1854. Cream-colored (also cream-coloured) "having the pale, yellowish-white color of cream," is from 1707.
The signification, qualifications, and methods of administration have been much debated. Figurative sense "any ceremonial ablution as a sign of purification, dedication, etc." is from late 14c. Old English used fulluht in this sense (John the Baptist was Iohannes se Fulluhtere).
Phrase baptism of fire "a soldier's first experience of battle" (1857) translates French baptême de feu; the phrase originally was ecclesiastical Greek baptisma pyros and meant "the grace of the Holy Spirit as imparted through baptism;" later it was used of martyrdom, especially by burning.
1540s, "clean, free from dirt," from Anglo-French neit, French net "clear, pure" (12c.), from Latin nitidus "well-favored, elegant, trim," literally "gleaming," from nitere "to shine," from PIE root *nei- "to shine" (source also of Middle Irish niam "gleam, splendor," niamda "shining;" Old Irish noib "holy," niab "strength;" Welsh nwyfiant "gleam, splendor").
From 1540s as "well-shaped, well-proportioned; characterized by nicety of appearance." Meaning "inclined to be tidy" is from 1570s; sense of "in good order" is from 1590s. Of liquor, "straight, undiluted," c. 1800, from meaning "unadulterated" (of wine), which is first attested 1570s. Informal sense of "very good, desirable" is noted by 1934 in American English, but in many earlier senses in English since 17c. neat seems to be simply a vague commendatory word; variant neato is teenager slang, by 1968. Related: Neatly; neatness.
bird of the family Columbidae, early Middle English douve, 12c., probably from Old English dufe- (found only in compounds), from Proto-Germanic *dubon (source also of Old Saxon duba, Old Norse dufa, Swedish duva, Middle Dutch duve, Dutch duif, Old High German tuba, German Taube, Gothic -dubo), perhaps related to words for "dive," but the application is not clear unless it be somehow in reference to its flight.
Originally applied to all pigeons, now mostly restricted to the turtle dove. A symbol of gentleness, innocence, and tender affection from early Christian times, also of the Holy Spirit (as in Genesis viii.8-12), and of peace and deliverance from anxiety. A term of endearment since late 14c. Political meaning "person who advocates peace" attested by 1917, from the Christian dove of peace. Middle English also had dovesse "female dove" (early 15c.).