Etymology
Advertisement
flower (n.)

c. 1200, flour, also flur, flor, floer, floyer, flowre, "the blossom of a plant; a flowering plant," from Old French flor "flower, blossom; heyday, prime; fine flour; elite; innocence, virginity" (12c., Modern French fleur), from Latin florem (nominative flos) "flower" (source of Italian fiore, Spanish flor), from PIE root *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom."

From late 14c. in English as "blossoming time," also, figuratively, "prime of life, height of one's glory or prosperity, state of anything that may be likened to the flowering state of a plant." As "the best, the most excellent; the best of its class or kind; embodiment of an ideal," early 13c. (of persons, mid-13c. of things); for example flour of milk "cream" (early 14c.); especially "wheat meal after bran and other coarse elements have been removed, the best part of wheat" (mid-13c.). Modern spelling and full differentiation from flour (n.) is from late 14c.

In the "blossom of a plant" sense it ousted its Old English cognate blostm (see blossom (n.)). Also used from Middle English as a symbol of transitoriness (early 14c.); "a beautiful woman" (c. 1300); "virginity" (early 14c.). Flower-box is from 1818. Flower-arrangement is from 1873. Flower child "gentle hippie" is from 1967.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
third (adj., n.)

"next in order after the second; an ordinal numeral; being one of three equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" late Old English metathesis of þridda, from Proto-Germanic *thridja- (source also of Old Frisian thredda, Old Saxon thriddio, Middle Low German drudde, Dutch derde, Old High German dritto, German dritte, Old Norse þriðe, Danish tredie, Swedish tredje, Gothic þridja), from PIE *tri-tyo- (source also of Sanskrit trtiyas, Avestan thritya, Greek tritos, Latin tertius (source of Italian terzo, Spanish tercio, French tiers), Old Church Slavonic tretiji, Lithuanian trečias, Old Irish triss, Welsh tryde), suffixed form of root *trei- (see three).

Metathesis of thrid into third is attested from c. 950 in Northumbrian (compare wright), but overall thrid was prevalent up to 16c. The noun meaning "third part of anything" is recorded from late 14c. Third rail in electric railway sense is recorded from 1890. Third World War as a possibility first recorded 1947. Third-rate "of poor quality" is from 1814, ultimately from classification of ships (1640s); third class in railway travel is from 1839. Third Reich (1930) is a partial translation of German drittes Reich (1923). Third party in law, insurance, etc., is from 1818.

Related entries & more 
lozenge (n.)

early 14c., "plane figure having four equal sides and two acute and two obtuse angles," from Old French losenge "rhombus shape, diamond-shape" (as an ornamental motif in heraldry, etc.); "small square cake; windowpane," etc., a word used for many flat quadrilateral things (Modern French losange). It has cognates in Spanish losange, Catalan llosange, Italian lozanga, but the origin is disputed.

Probably from a pre-Roman Celtic language, perhaps Iberian *lausa or Gaulish *lausa "flat stone" (compare Provençal lausa, Spanish losa, Catalan llosa, Portuguese lousa "slab, tombstone"). From late 14c. as "diamond-shaped cake or wafer;" specific sense "small cake or tablet (originally diamond-shaped) of medicine and sugar, etc., meant to be held in the mouth and dissolved" is from 1520s.

The related words in Continental languages often have a sense "flattery, deceit" (compare Old French losengier "to praise unduly," losenge "flattery, false praise; deceitful friendliness"), which comes probably via the notion of square flat slabs of tombstones and their fulsome epithets. Some of this made its way into Middle English via French. Chaucer uses losenger "flatterer, deceiver;" losengerye "flattery."

Related entries & more 
touch (v.)

late 13c., "make deliberate physical contact with," from Old French tochier "to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with" (11c., Modern French toucher), from Vulgar Latin *toccare "to knock, strike" as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare), perhaps of imitative origin. Related: Touched; touching.

From c. 1300 in the transitive sense "bring into physical contact," also "pertain to." Other senses attested from 14c. are "perceive by physical contact, examine by sense of touch," also "be or come into physical contact with; come to rest on; border on, be contiguous with;" also "use the sense of touch," and "mention, describe." From early 14c. as "affect or move mentally or emotionally," with notion of to "touch" the heart or mind. Also from early 14c. as "have sexual contact with." Meaning "to get or borrow money" first recorded 1760.

Touch-and-go (adj.) is recorded from 1812, apparently from the name of a tag-like game, first recorded 1650s (however, despite the coincidence, this in no way suggests an acronym origin for tag). Touch football is first attested 1933. Touch-me-not (1590s) translates Latin noli-me-tangere.

Related entries & more 
mafia (n.)

1875, from Italian Mafia "Sicilian secret society of criminals" (the prevailing sense outside Sicily), earlier, "spirit of hostility to the law and its ministers." A member is a mafioso (1870), fem. mafiosa, plural mafiosi, and this may be the older word in this sense. Arabic is often cited as the ultimate source (the Arabs ruled Sicily for more than two centuries in the Middle Ages), but which Arabic word is a matter of disagreement.

The most likely origin of the actual meaning of mafioso and its derivative mafia — as suggested by the nineteenth-century Sicilian ethnographer Giuseppe Pitrè — is a play by Placido Rizzoto, I Mafiusi della Vicaria, first performed in 1863. ... The play concerns a group of prisoners in the Palermo jail who command particular respect: although individualistic and quarrelsome, they are members of an association with distinct patterns of behavior (including an initiation ritual) and a hierarchy, which claims it can influence the political and administrative system of the island. [Diego Gambetta, "The Sicilian Mafia," Harvard, 1993]

The immediate source of mafioso, then, would be 19c. Sicilian mafiusu, "signifying a bully, arrogant but also fearless, enterprising, and proud" [Gambetta], who favors as the Arabic source an adjective from marfud "rejected."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
admiral (n.)

c. 1200, amiral, admirail, "Saracen commander or chieftain," from Old French amirail (12c.) "Saracen military commander; any military commander," ultimately from medieval Arabic amir "military commander," probably via Medieval Latin use of the word for "Muslim military leader."

Amiral de la mer "commander of a fleet of ships" is in late 13c. Anglo-French documents. Meaning "highest-ranking naval officer" in English is from early 15c. The extension of the word's meaning from "commander on land" to "commander at sea" likely began in 12c. Sicily with Medieval Latin amiratus and then spread to the continent, but the word also continued to mean "Muslim military commander" in Europe in the Middle Ages. The Arabic word was later Englished as emir.

As amīr is constantly followed by -al- in all such titles, amīr-al- was naturally assumed by Christian writers as a substantive word, and variously Latinized .... [OED]

Also in Old French and Middle English further conformed to familiar patterns as amirauld, amiraunt. The unetymological -d- probably is from influence of Latin ad-mirabilis (see admire). Italian form almiraglio, Spanish almirante are from confusion with Arabic words in al-. As the name of a type of butterfly from 1720, according to OED possibly a corruption of admirable.

Related entries & more 
John 
masc. proper name, Middle English Jon, Jan (mid-12c.), from Old French Jan, Jean, Jehan (Modern French Jean), from Medieval Latin Johannes, an alteration of Late Latin Joannes, from Greek Ioannes, from Hebrew Yohanan (longer form y'hohanan), said to mean literally "Jehovah has favored" or "Jah is gracious," from hanan "he was gracious."

Greek conformed the Hebrew ending to its own customs. The -h- in English was inserted in imitation of the Medieval Latin form. Old English had the Biblical name as Iohannes. As the name of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, it was one of the most frequent Christian given names, and in England by early 14c. it rivaled William in popularity and was used generically (in Middle English especially of priests) and as an appellative (as in John Barleycorn, John Bull, John Q. Public). Somehow it also became the characteristic name of a Chinaman (1818).

The Latin name also is the source of French Jean, Spanish Juan, Italian Giovanni, Portuguese João, also Dutch Jan, Hans, German Johann, Russian Ivan. Welsh form was Ieuan, Efan (see Evan), but Ioan was adopted for the Welsh Authorized Version of the Bible, hence frequency of Jones as a Welsh surname.
Related entries & more 
pass (v.)

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.

Related entries & more 
Welsh (adj.)
Old English Wielisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish) "foreign; British (not Anglo-Saxon), Welsh; not free, servile," from Wealh, Walh "Celt, Briton, Welshman, non-Germanic foreigner;" in Tolkien's definition, "common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech," but also applied in Germanic languages to speakers of Latin, hence Old High German Walh, Walah "Celt, Roman, Gaulish," and Old Norse Val-land "France," Valir "Gauls, non-Germanic inhabitants of France" (Danish vælsk "Italian, French, southern"); from Proto-Germanic *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic tribal name represented by Latin Volcæ (Caesar) "ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul."

As a noun, "the Britons," also "the Welsh language," both from Old English. The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in Old Church Slavonic as vlachu, and applied to the Rumanians, hence Wallachia. Among the English, Welsh was used disparagingly of inferior or substitute things (such as Welsh cricket "louse" (1590s); Welsh comb "thumb and four fingers" (1796), and compare welch (v.)). Welsh rabbit is from 1725, also perverted by folk-etymology as Welsh rarebit (1785).
Related entries & more 
ph 

consonantal digraph now in English usually representing the sound of -f-, originally it was the combination used by Romans to represent Greek letter phi (cognate with Sanskrit -bh-, Germanic -b-), which at first was an aspirated "p," later probably the same sound as German -pf-. But by 2c. B.C.E. had become a simple sound made by blowing through the lips (bilabial spirant).

Roman "f," like modern English "f," was dentilabial; by c. 400, however, the sounds had become identical and in some Romanic languages (Italian, Spanish), -ph- regularly was replaced by -f-. This tendency took hold in Old French and Middle English, but with the revival of classical learning the older words subsequently were altered back to -ph- (except fancy and fantastic), and due to overcorrection in this some non-Greek words in -f- began to appear confusedly in -ph-, though these forms generally have not survived (nephew is an exception). The modern slang fad for replacing f- with ph- (as in phat) seems to date to the 1960s and phone phreak (see phreak), where it might have been suggested by the spelling of (tele)phone.

Related entries & more 

Page 155