"currying favor," by 1946 (as arse-kissing), apparently from or popularized by military slang in World War II. Ass-kisser is by 1943. Grose's 1788 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" has "A kiss mine arse fellow," defined as "a sycophant." As for the verbal phrase, the Towneley Plays, c. 1460, has Cain telling off Abel with "Com kis myne ars." A 1668 book of "Songs Alamode, Composed by the most Refined Wits of this Age" has a song with the line "And thou maist kiss mine Arse," and of course the Miller's Tale.
In early 20c. American-English ass-licker may have been more common than ass-kisser, at least in print sources, perhaps from German influence. "Leck mich im Arsch" is at least 18c., the title of a Mozart party song, the phrase having been branded into the minds of German readers by Goethe in "Götz von Berlichingen" (1773), where it is the hero's dramatic reply to a call to surrender. (E.g. the reply of Tjaden to the bullying NCO in "All Quiet on the Western Front," where Remarque euphemistically describes it as "dem bekanntesten Klassikerzitat.")
1797, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once-common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) sometimes were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.
The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, a different system of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro. It used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, in whose works a symbol resembling a numeral 7 indicates the word and.
In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."
late 13c. (late 12c. as a surname), "seed of the mustard plant crushed and used as a condiment paste or for medicinal purposes," from Old French mostarde "mustard; mustard plant" (Modern French moutarde), from moust "must," from Latin mustum "new wine" (see must (n.1)); so called because it was originally prepared by adding must to the ground seeds of the plant to make a paste. As the name of the plant itself, by mid-14c. in English. As a color name, it is attested from 1848.
Mustard-pot is attested from early 15c. Mustard gas, World War I poison (first used by the Germans at Ypres, 1917), so called for its color and smell and burning effect on eyes and lungs; chemical name is dichlordiethyl sulfide; it contains no mustard and is an atomized liquid, not a gas. To cut the mustard (1907, usually in negative) is probably from slang mustard "genuine article, best thing" (1903) on notion of "that which enhances flavor."
I'm not headlined in the bills, but I'm the mustard in the salad dressing just the same. [O. Henry, "Cabbages and Kings," 1904]
flying mouse-like mammal (order Chiroptera), 1570s, a dialectal alteration of Middle English bakke (early 14c.), which is probably related to Old Swedish natbakka, Old Danish nathbakkæ "night bat," and Old Norse leðrblaka "bat," literally "leather flapper," from Proto-Germanic *blak-, from PIE root *bhlag- "to strike" (see flagellum).
If so, the original sense of the animal name likely was "flapper." The shift from -k- to -t- may have come through confusion of bakke with Latin blatta "moth, nocturnal insect."
The Old English word for the animal was hreremus, from hreran "to shake" (see rare (adj.2)), and rattle-mouse, an old dialectal word for "bat," is attested from late 16c. Flitter-mouse (1540s) occasionally is used in English (with variants flinder-mouse, flicker-mouse) in imitation of German fledermaus "bat," from Old High German fledaron "to flutter."
As a contemptuous term for an old woman, it is perhaps a suggestion of witchcraft (compare fly-by-night), or from bat as "prostitute who plies her trade by night" [Farmer, who calls it "old slang" and finds French equivalent "night swallow" (hirondelle de nuit) "more poetic"].
"a large waterfowl proverbially noted, I know not why, for foolishness" [Johnson], Old English gos "a goose," from Proto-Germanic *gans- "goose" (source also of Old Frisian gos, Old Norse gas, Old High German gans, German Gans "goose"), from PIE *ghans- (source also of Sanskrit hamsah (masc.), hansi (fem.), "goose, swan;" Greek khen; Latin anser; Polish gęś "goose;" Lithuanian žąsis "goose;" Old Irish geiss "swan"), probably imitative of its honking.
Geese are technically distinguished from swans and from ducks by the combination of feathered lores, reticulate tarsi, stout bill high at the base, and simple hind toe. [Century Dictionary]
Spanish ganso "goose" is from a Germanic source. Loss of "n" sound before "s" is normal in English (compare tooth). Plural form geese is an example of i-mutation. Meaning "simpleton, silly or foolish person" is from early 15c. To cook (one's) goose is attested by 1845, of unknown origin; attempts to connect it to Swedish history and Greek fables are unconvincing. Goose-egg "zero" is attested by 1866 in baseball slang, from being large and round. The goose that lays golden eggs (15c.) is from Aesop.
c. 1200, "the following of a wrong scent by hounds" (a sense now obsolete but in one phrase); early 14c., "debauchery, extravagance, wanton living," from Anglo-French rioute, Old French riot, riote (12c.) "dispute, quarrel, (tedious) talk, chattering, argument, domestic strife," also a euphemism for "sexual intercourse," of uncertain origin. Compare Italian riotta (Medieval Latin riota) "quarrel, dispute, uproar, riot." Perhaps from Latin rugire "to roar."
The meaning "civil disorder, violent disturbance of the peace, public disturbance arising from wanton and disorderly conduct" is attested by late 14c. The meaning "something spectacularly successful" first recorded 1909 in theater slang. The sense of "vivid display of colors" is by 1891.
To run riot "act or move without control or restraint" is by 1520s, a figurative extension of the oldest Middle English meaning of the word, in reference to hounds following the wrong scent. The Riot Act, part of which must be read to a mob before active measures can be taken, was passed 1714 (1 Geo. I, st.2, c.5). Riot girl and alternative form riot grrl first recorded 1992.
Middle English mille, "building fitted to grind grain," Old English mylen "a mill" (10c.), an early Germanic borrowing from Late Latin molina, molinum "mill" (source of French moulin, Spanish molino), originally fem. and neuter of molinus "pertaining to a mill," from Latin mola "mill, millstone," related to molere "to grind," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." The -n- gradually was lost in English but survives in the surname Milner. Also from Late Latin molina, directly or indirectly, are German Mühle, Old Saxon mulin, Old Norse mylna, Danish mølle, Old Church Slavonic mulinu.
The meaning "mechanical device for grinding grain for food" is from 1550s. The broader sense of "machine for grinding or pulverizing any solid substance" is attested from 1670s. Other types of manufacturing machines driven by wind or water, that transform raw material by a process other than grinding began to be called mills by early 15c. Sense of "large building fitted with machinery for manufacturing" is from c. 1500. In old slang also "a typewriter" (1913); "a boxing match or other pugilistic bout" (1819).
initial sound-cluster, containing the exceptions to the general rule that sc- or sk- in Modern English indicates a word not from Old English (whose sc- regularly becomes sh-). Words often are found in pairs, especially in dialect and slang, one in scr-, one in shr- (or schr-); a prominent surviving example is shred and screed, the same Old English word surviving in two forms now much different in meaning.
OED also notes that "Many English words beginning with scr- agree more or less closely in meaning with other words differing from them in form only by the absence of the initial s" (such as crunch/scrunch, scringe, an alternative form of cringe, etc.)
It does not appear that these coincidences are due to any one general cause ..., but it is probable that the existence of many pairs of synonyms with scr- and cr- produced a tendency to change cr-, in words expressive of sounds or physical movements, into scr- so as to render the word echoic or phonetically symbolic. [OED]
early 13c., "scales, apparatus for weighing by comparison of mass," from Old French balance "balance, scales for weighing" (12c.), also in figurative sense; from Medieval Latin bilancia, from Late Latin bilanx, from Latin (libra) bilanx "(scale) having two pans," possibly from Latin bis "twice" (from PIE root *dwo- "two") + lanx "dish, plate, scale of a balance," which is of uncertain origin.
The accounting sense "arithmetical difference between the two sides of an account" is from 1580s; the meaning "sum necessary to balance the two sides of an account" is from 1620s. The meaning "what remains or is left over" is by 1788, originally in commercial slang. The sense of "physical equipoise" is from 1660s; that of "general harmony between parts" is from 1732.
Many figurative uses are from the Middle English image of the scales in the hands of personified Justice, Fortune, Fate, etc.; thus in (the) balance "at risk, in jeopardy or danger" (c. 1300). Balance of power in the geopolitical sense "distribution of forces among nations so that one may not dominate another" is from 1701. Balance of trade "difference between the value of exports from a country and the value of imports into it" is from 1660s.