"bell-ringer, one employed to ring church or processional bells," early 15c. (c. 1200 as a surname), agent noun from ring (v.1). An early 13c. text has belle ringestre "nun who rings the convent bell."
In quoits (and by extension, horseshoes), "a throw cast so as to encircle the pin," from 1863, from ring (v.2).
Expression be a dead ringer for "resemble closely" (1891) preserves ringer in the horse-racing slang sense of "a fast horse entered fraudulently in a race in place of a slow one." The verb to ring in reference to this is attested from 1812, possibly from British ring in "substitute, exchange," via ring the changes, "substitute counterfeit money for good," a pun on ring the changes in the sense of "play the regular series of variations in a peal of bells" (1610s). The meaning "an expert" is recorded from 1918, Australian slang, from earlier meaning "man who shears the most sheep per day" (1871).
a Middle English merger of Old English line "cable, rope; series, row, row of letters; rule, direction," and Old French ligne "guideline, cord, string; lineage, descent" (12c.), both from Latin linea "linen thread, string, plumb-line," also "a mark, bound, limit, goal; line of descent," short for linea restis "linen cord," and similar phrases, from fem. of lineus (adj.) "of linen," from linum "linen" (see linen).
The earliest sense in Middle English was "cord used by builders for taking measurements;" extended late 14c. to "a thread-like mark" (from sense "cord used by builders for making things level," mid-14c.), also "track, course, direction." Meaning "limit, boundary" (of a county, etc.) is from 1590s. The mathematical sense of "length without breadth" is from 1550s. From 1530s as "a crease of the face or palm of the hand." From 1580s as "the equator."
Sense of "things or people arranged in a straight line" is from 1550s. Now considered American English, where British English uses queue (n.), but the sense appears earliest in English writers. Sense of "chronologically continuous series of persons" (a line of kings, etc.) is from late 14c.
Meaning "one's occupation, branch of business" is from 1630s, according to OED probably from misunderstood KJV translation of II Corinthians x.16, "And not to boast in another mans line of things made ready to our hand," where line translates Greek kanon which probably meant "boundary, limit;" the phrase "in another man's line" being parenthetical.
Commercial meaning "class of goods in stock" is from 1930, so called from being goods received by the merchant on a line in the specific sense "order given to an agent" for particular goods (1834). Insurance underwriting sense is from 1899. Line of credit is from 1958.
Meaning "series of public conveyances" (coaches, later ships) is from 1786; meaning "continuous part of a railroad" is from 1825. Meaning "telegraph wire between stations" is from 1847 (later "telephone wire"). Meaning "cord bearing hooks used in fishing" is from c. 1300. Meaning "policy or set of policies of a political faction" is 1892, American English, from notion of a procession of followers; this is the sense in the political party line, and, deteriorated, it is the slang line that means "glib and plausible talk meant to deceive."
In British army, the Line (1802) is the regular, numbered troops, as distinguished from guards, auxiliaries, militia, etc. In the Navy (1704) it refers to the battle line (the sense in ship of the line, which is attested from 1706).
Dutch lijn, Old High German lina, German Leine, Old Norse lina "a cord, rope," are likewise from Latin. Spanish and Italian have the word in the learned form linea. In continental measurements, a subdivision of an inch (one-tenth or one-twelfth in England), attested in English from 1660s but never common. Also see lines.
To get a line on "acquire information about" is from 1903. To lay it on the line is from 1929 as "to pay money;" by 1954 as "speak plainly." End of the line "as far as one can go" is from 1948. One's line of work, meaning "pursuit, interest" is from 1957, earlier line of country (1861). Line-drawing is from 1891. A line-storm (1850) is a type supposed to happen in the 10 days or two weeks around the times the sun crosses the equator.
"1 more than ten; the number which is one more than ten; a symbol representing this number;" c. 1200, elleovene, from Old English enleofan, endleofan, literally "one left" (over ten), from Proto-Germanic *ainlif- (compare Old Saxon elleban, Old Frisian andlova, Dutch elf, Old High German einlif, German elf, Old Norse ellifu, Gothic ainlif), a compound of *ain "one" (see one) + from PIE root *leikw- "to leave."
FIREFLY: Give me a number from 1 to 10.
Viking survivors who escaped an Anglo-Saxon victory were daroþa laf "the leavings of spears," while hamora laf "the leavings of hammers" was an Old English kenning for "swords" (both from "The Battle of Brunanburh"). Twelve reflects the same formation. Outside Germanic the only instance of this formation is in Lithuanian, which uses -lika "left over" and continues the series to 19 (vienuo-lika "eleven," dvy-lika "twelve," try-lika "thirteen," keturio-lika "fourteen," etc.). Meaning "a team or side" in cricket or football is from 1743.
Twilight zone is from 1901 in a literal sense, a part of the sky lit by twilight; from 1909 in extended senses in references to topics or cases where authority or behavior is unclear. In the 1909 novel "In the Twilight Zone," the reference is to mulatto heritage. "She was in the twilight zone between the races where each might claim her ...." The U.S. TV series of that name is from 1959.
"fantastic series or medley of illusive or terrifying figures or images," 1802, the name of a magic lantern exhibition brought to London in 1802 by Parisian showman Paul de Philipstal. The name is an alteration of French phantasmagorie, which is said to have been coined 1801 by French dramatist Louis-Sébastien Mercier as though to mean "crowd of phantoms," from Greek phantasma "image, phantom, apparition" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine").
The second element appears to be a French form of Greek agora "assembly. "But the inventor of the word prob. only wanted a mouth-filling and startling term, and may have fixed on -agoria without any reference to the Greek lexicon" [OED]. The transferred meaning "shifting scene of many elements" is attested from 1822. Related: Phantasmagorical.
In Philipstal's 'phantasmagoria' the figures were made rapidly to increase and decrease in size, to advance and retreat, dissolve, vanish, and pass into each other, in a manner then considered marvellous. [OED]
"single combat with lances by riders on horseback," c. 1300, from Old French joste "a jounst, single combat" (12c., Modern French joute), from joster "fight with, engage in single combat" (see joust (v.)). The sport was popular with Anglo-Norman knights; the usual form in Middle English and Old French was plural, in reference to a series of contests and the accompanying revelry.
These early tournaments were very rough affairs, in every sense, quite unlike the chivalrous contests of later days; the rival parties fought in groups, and it was considered not only fair but commendable to hold off until you saw some of your adversaries getting tired and then to join in the attack on them; the object was not to break a lance in the most approved style, but frankly to disable as many opponents as possible for the sake of obtaining their horses, arms, and ransoms. [L.F. Salzman, "English Life in the Middle Ages," Oxford, 1950]
"principal line of a railway," 1841, from main (adj.) + line (n.). Meaning "affluent area of residence" is by 1917, originally (with capitals) that west of Philadelphia, from the "main line" of the Pennsylvania Railroad which added local stops to a string of backwater towns west of the city late 19c. that helped turn them into fashionable suburbs.
The Main Line, Philadelphia's most famous suburban district, was deliberately conceived in the 1870's and 1880's by the [Pennsylvania] Railroad, which built high-toned housing developments, ran hotels, more or less forced its executives to plunk their estates out there, and created a whole series of somewhat spurious Welsh towns along the railroad tracks. ... Now everybody assumes these all date from 1682, like the Robertses; but as Chestnut Hill people like to say, "nobody but Welsh peasants lived on the Main Line till the Railroad built it up." [Nathaniel Burt, "The Perennial Philadelphians," 1963]
The original station stops were, in order out from the city, Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Paoli. The train line for commuters along it is the Paoli Local.
c. 1200, renge, "row or line of persons" (especially hunters or soldiers), from Old French reng, renge "a row, line, rank," from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hringaz "circle, ring, something curved" (from nasalized form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend"). In some cases the Middle English word is from Old French range "range, rank," a variant of reng.
The general sense of "line, row" is attested from early 14c.; the meaning "row of mountains" is by 1705. The meaning "scope, extent" is by late 15c.; that of "area over which animals seek food" is from 1620s, from the verb. Specific U.S. sense of "series of townships six miles in width" is from 1785. Sense of "distance a gun can send a bullet" is recorded from 1590s; meaning "place used for shooting practice" is from 1862. The cooking appliance has been so called since mid-15c., for reasons unknown. Originally it was a stove built into a fireplace with openings on top for multiple operations. Range-finder "instrument for measuring the distance of an object" is attested from 1872.
also metre, "poetic measure, metrical scheme, arrangement of language in a series of rhythmic movements," Old English meter "meter, versification," from Latin mētrum, from Greek metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").
The word was possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use), from Old French metre, with a specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from Latin mētrum.
In the first place, observe, that all great poets intend their work to be read by simple people, and expect no help in it from them ; but intend only to give them help, in expressing what otherwise they could never have found words for. Therefore a true master poet invariably calculates on his verse being first read as prose would be ; and on the reader's being pleasantly surprised by finding that he has fallen unawares into music. [Ruskin, "Elements of English Prosody, for use in St. George's Schools," 1880]