mid-14c., "authority entrusted to someone, delegated authority or power," from Old French commission and directly from Latin commissionem (nominative commissio) "act of committing," in Medieval Latin "delegation of business," noun of action from past participle stem of committere "to unite, connect, combine; to bring together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission).
Meaning "document delegating authority" is from early 15c.; meaning "body of persons charged with authority for the performance of certain special duties" is from late 15c. Sense of "anything entrusted to anyone to perform" is from 1560s; sense of "act of committing or doing" is from 1590s.
Naval sense "period of active service of a warship" is by 1882 (in commission "under the command of an officer" is from 1733). Hence out of commission "laid up in a navy yard or in reserve" (1878), subsequently extended to other machinery, and, figuratively, to persons or human qualities by 1917.
In commercial use, "authority delegated by another for the purchase and sale of goods," 1620s. Meaning "allowance made or percentage given to an agent for transacting business" is from 1725.
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.
in biology, "division of a cell nucleus," 1905, from Greek meiosis "a lessening," from meioun "to lessen," from meion "less," from PIE root *mei- (2) "small."
Earlier (1580s) it was a rhetorical term, a figure of speech "weak or negative expression used for a positive and forcible one, so that it may be made all the more emphatic," as when one says "not bad" meaning "very good" or "don't mind if I do" meaning "I really would like to," or this example from "Mark Twain":
"YOUNG AUTHOR." — Yes Agassiz does recommend authors to eat fish, because the phosphorus in it makes brains. So far you are correct. But I cannot help you to a decision about the amount you need to eat,—at least, not with certainty. If the specimen composition you send is about your fair usual average, I should judge that perhaps a couple of whales would be all you would want for the present. Not the largest kind, but simply good, middling-sized whales.
Related: meiotic; meiotically.
"pertaining to the state of consciousness when awaking from sleep," 1897, coined by English man of letters Frederic W. H. Myers (1843-1901) from hypno- "sleep" + second element from Greek pompe "sending away," from pempein "to send" (see pomp).
Hypnagogic — Illusions hypnagogiques (Maury) are the vivid illusions of sight or sound—"faces in the dark," etc.—which sometimes accompany the oncoming of sleep. To similar illusions accompanying the departure of sleep, as when a dream-figure persists for a few moments into waking life, I have given the name hypnopompic. [F.W.H. Myers, "Glossary of Terms used in Psychical Research," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. xii, 1896-97, supplement]
By hypnagogic paramnesia I mean a false memory occurring in the antechamber of sleep, but not necessarily before sleep. Mr. Myers' invention of the word "hypnopompic" seems to me unnecessary except for pedantic reasons. I take the condition of consciousness to be almost the same whether the sleep is coming on or passing away. In the dream I have recorded it is even impossible to say whether the phenomenon is "hypnagogic" or "hypnopompic"; in such a case the twilight consciousness is as much conditioned by the sleep that is passing away as by the sleep that is coming on. [H. Ellis, "A Note on Hypnagogic Paramnesia," in Mind, vol. vi, 1897]
"raptorial nocturnal bird of prey of the family Strigidæ," Middle English oule, from Old English ule "owl," from Proto-Germanic *uwwalon- (source also of Middle Dutch, Dutch uil, Old High German uwila, German Eule, Old Norse ugla), a diminutive of PIE root *u(wa)l-, which is imitative of a wail or an owl's hoot (compare howl and Latin ulula "owl;" also see ululation).
The bird was used in proverbs and figures of speech in reference to its nocturnal habits, but also in Middle English for ugliness (late 14c.), spiritual blindness (c. 1400), and maliciousness (mid-15c.). It was a name for Satan in early 15c. The association with gravity and wisdom comes later, after the revival of classical learning: A small, brown type of owl is common on the Acropolis and about Athens and was hence taken in ancient times as an emblem of the city and by extension of its patron deity, Athene, goddess of wisdom. Hence also the saying bring (or send) owls to Athens "perform unnecessary labor."
By 1895 in reference to a person whose pleasure or business is to be up at night. Owl-flight "twilight" is from late 15c. The name of the trickster Till Eulenspiegel (literally "owl-mirror") of the popular German tales was rendered in English as Owlglass when they were first translated c. 1560; Jonson and Scott use the half-translated Owl-spiegle.
Old English sceotan "to hurl missiles, cast; strike, hit, push; run, rush; send forth swiftly; wound with missiles" (class II strong verb; past tense sceat, past participle scoten), from Proto-Germanic *skeutanan (source also of Old Saxon skiotan, Old Norse skjota "to shoot with (a weapon); shoot, launch, push, shove quickly," Old Frisian skiata, Middle Dutch skieten, Dutch schieten, Old High German skiozan, German schießen), from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, chase, throw."
In reference to pool playing, from 1926. Meaning "to strive (for)" is from 1967, American English. Sense of "descend (a river) quickly" is from 1610s. Meaning "to inject by means of a hypodermic needle" is attested from 1914. Meaning "photograph" (especially a movie) is from 1890. As an interjection, an arbitrary euphemistic alteration of shit, it is recorded from 1934.
Shoot the breeze "chat" is attested by 1938 (as shooting the breeze), perhaps originally U.S. military slang. Shoot-'em-up (adj.) in reference to violent entertainment (Western movies, etc.) is from 1942. Shoot to kill is attested from 1867. Shoot the cat "to vomit" is from 1785. To shoot the moon originally meant "depart by night with ones goods to escape back rent" (c. 1823).
O, 'tis cash makes such crowds to the gin shops roam,
And 'tis cash often causes a rumpus at home ;
'Tis when short of cash people oft shoot the moon ;
And 'tis cash always keeps our pipes in tune.
Cash! cash! &c.
["The Melodist and Mirthful Olio, An Elegant Collection of the Most Popular Songs," vol. IV, London, 1829]
"nonsense," 1900, short for bunkum, phonetic spelling of Buncombe, a county in North Carolina. The usual story (attested by 1841) of its origin is this: At the close of the protracted Missouri statehood debates in the U.S. Congress, supposedly on Feb. 25, 1820, North Carolina Rep. Felix Walker (1753-1828) began what promised to be a "long, dull, irrelevant speech," and he resisted calls to cut it short by saying he was bound to say something that could appear in the newspapers in the home district and prove he was on the job. "I shall not be speaking to the House," he confessed, "but to Buncombe." Thus Bunkum has been American English slang for "nonsense" since 1841 (it is attested from 1838 as generic for "a U.S. Representative's home district").
MR. WALKER, of North Carolina, rose then to address the Committee on the question [of Missouri statehood]; but the question was called for so clamorously and so perseveringly that Mr. W. could proceed no farther than to move that the committee rise. [Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 16th Congress, 1st Session, p. 1539]
"Well, when a critter talks for talk sake, jist to have a speech in the paper to send to home, and not for any other airthly puppus but electioneering, our folks call it Bunkum." [Thomas Chandler Haliburton, "Sam Slick in England," 1858]
Old English col "charcoal; live coal, piece of wood or other combustible substance, either burning or having been burned," from Proto-Germanic *kula(n) (source also of Old Frisian kole, Middle Dutch cole, Dutch kool, Old High German chol, German Kohle, Old Norse kol), from PIE root *g(e)u-lo- "live coal" (source also of Irish gual "coal").
Meaning "solid mineral consisting of fossilized carbon, combustible and used as fuel," is from mid-13c. The thing itself is mentioned 370 B.C.E. by Theophrastus in his treatise "On Stones" under the name lithos anthrakos (see anthrax). Traditionally good luck, coal was given as a New Year's gift in England, said to guarantee a warm hearth for the coming year.
The phrase drag (or rake) over the coals was a reference to the treatment meted out to heretics by Christians. To carry coals "do dirty work," also "submit to insult" is from 1520s.
To carry coals to Newcastle "add to that of which there is already an abundance, do unnecessary labor " (c. 1600) is a local variant on an ancient class of expression: Latin had in litus harenas fundere "pour sand on the beach," in silvam ligna ferre "carry wood to the woods;" Greek glauk eis Athenas "owls to Athens." Newcastle is in the midst of a great coal-producing region. The ancient view is not necessarily the modern one. A historian, noting that the medieval English exported manufactured cloth to the Low Countries, where weaving was a major industry, writes, "it is always sensible to send coals to Newcastle or owls to Athens if you can be sure of underselling the locals" [George D. Painter, "William Caxton," 1976]
1737, "shaded walk serving as a promenade," generalized from The Mall, name of a broad, tree-lined promenade in St. James's Park, London (so called from 1670s, earlier Maill, 1640s), which was so called because it formerly was an open alley that was used to play pall-mall.
This was a once-popular game played with a wooden ball in a kind of smooth alley boarded in at each side, in which the ball was struck with a mallet to send it through an iron arch placed at the end of the alley. The game's name is from French pallemaille, from Italian pallamaglio, from palla "ball" (see balloon (n.)) + maglio "mallet" (from Latin malleus "a hammer, mallet," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). Modern sense of "enclosed shopping gallery" is from 1962 (from 1951 in reference to city streets set aside for pedestrians only). Mall rat "one who frequents a mall" is from 1985 (see rat (n.)).
The short history of malls goes like this: In 1954, Victor Gruen's Northland Center, often credited as the first modern shopping mall (though earlier examples existed), opens in Southfield, Michigan. The suburban location is fitting because the rise of the automobile, helped along by the Federal-Aid Highway Act, led to the widespread creation of large shopping centers away from urban centers. This, among other factors, nearly killed downtowns, and malls reigned supreme for some 40 years. By the 1990s, however, a new urbanism movement revived the urban shopping experience and eroded the dominance of malls. Next, the rise of big box stores and online shopping sounded the death knell for mall culture. [Steven Kurutz, "An Ode to Shopping Malls," New York Times, July 26, 2017]