late 14c., nasti, "foul, filthy, dirty, unclean," literally or figuratively, a word of uncertain origin. Middle English Compendium says from Old Norse (compare Swedish dialectal and Danish naskug, nasket "dirty, nasty") with Middle English adjectival suffix -i. There was a variant nasky in early Modern English.
Barnhart suggests Old French nastre "miserly, envious, malicious, spiteful," shortened form of villenastre "infamous, bad," from vilain "villain" (see villain) + -astre, pejorative suffix, from Latin -aster. Another alternative etymology [mentioned in OED] is from Dutch nestig "dirty," literally "like a bird's nest."
From c. 1600 as "indecent, obscene" ("morally filthy"). Of weather, "foul, stormy," from 1630s; of things generally, "unpleasant, offensive; troublesome, annoying," from 1705. Of people, "ill-tempered, mean," from 1825. The noun meaning "something nasty" is from 1935. Related: Nastily; nastiness.
Nasty, in England frequently meaning ill-tempered or cross-grained (Slang Dictionary, p. 186), and in this sense admitted into good society, denotes in America something disgusting in point of smell, taste, or even moral character, and is not considered a proper word to be used in the presence of ladies. [M. Schele De Vere, "Americanisms," 1872]
"an emperor, a ruler, a dictator," late 14c., cesar, from Cæsar, originally a surname of the Julian gens in Rome, elevated to a title after Caius Julius Caesar (100 B.C.E.-44 B.C.E.) became dictator; it was used as a title of emperors down to Hadrian (138 C.E.). The name is of uncertain origin; Pliny derives it from caesaries "head of hair," because the future dictator was born with a full one; Century Dictionary suggests Latin caesius "bluish-gray" (of the eyes), also used as a proper name. Also compare caesarian.
Old English had casere, which would have yielded modern *coser, but it was replaced in Middle English by keiser (c. 1200), from Norse or Low German, and later by the French or Latin form of the name. Cæsar also is the root of German Kaiser and Russian tsar (see czar). He competes as progenitor of words for "king" with Charlemagne (Latin Carolus), as in Lithuanian karalius, Polish krol.
The use in reference to "temporal power as the object of obedience" (contrasted with God) is from Matthew xxii.21. Caesar's wife (1570s) as the figure of a person who should be above suspicion is from Plutarch. In U.S. slang c. 1900, a sheriff was Great Seizer.
Middle English rod, rodde, "a stick of wood," especially a straight cutting from a woody plant, stripped of twigs, and having a particular purpose" (walking stick, wand of office, instrument of punishment), from Old English rodd "a rod, pole," which is probably cognate with Old Norse rudda "club," from Proto-Germanic *rudd- "stick, club," from PIE *reudh- "to clear land." Other sources formerly consider it to correspond to the continental words under rood.
As a long, tapering elastic pole for fishing, from mid-15c. Figurative sense of "offshoot" (mid-15c.) led to Biblical meaning "scion, tribe." As an instrument of punishment, attested from mid-12c.; also used figuratively for "any sort of correction or punishment" (14c.). In mechanics, "any bar slender in proportion to its length" (1728).
As a unit of linear measure (5½ yards or 16½ feet, also called perch or pole) attested from late 14c., from the pole used to mark it off. As a measure of land area, "a square perch," from late 14c., the usual measure in brickwork. Meaning "light-sensitive cell in a retina" is by 1837, so-called for their shape. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1902; that of "handgun, pistol, revolver" is by 1903.
"quadruped of the genus Canis," Old English docga, a late, rare word, used in at least one Middle English source in reference specifically to a powerful breed of canine; other early Middle English uses tend to be depreciatory or abusive. Its origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology.
The word forced out Old English hund (the general Germanic and Indo-European word, from root from PIE root *kwon-) by 16c. and subsequently was picked up in many continental languages (French dogue (16c.), Danish dogge, German Dogge (16c.)). The common Spanish word for "dog," perro, also is a mystery word of unknown origin, perhaps from Iberian. A group of Slavic "dog" words (Old Church Slavonic pisu, Polish pies, Serbo-Croatian pas) likewise is of unknown origin.
In reference to persons, by c. 1200 in abuse or contempt as "a mean, worthless fellow, currish, sneaking scoundrel." Playfully abusive sense of "rakish man," especially if young, "a sport, a gallant" is from 1610s. Slang meaning "ugly woman" is from 1930s; that of "sexually aggressive man" is from 1950s.
Many expressions — a dog's life (c. 1600), go to the dogs (1610s), dog-cheap (1520s), etc. — reflect the earlier hard use of the animals as hunting accessories, not pets. In ancient times, "the dog" was the worst throw in dice (attested in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, where the word for "the lucky player" was literally "the dog-killer"), which plausibly explains the Greek word for "danger," kindynos, which appears to be "play the dog" (but Beekes is against this).
Notwithstanding, as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds. [Princess Elizabeth, 1550]
Meaning "something poor or mediocre, a failure" is by 1936 in U.S. slang. From late 14c. as the name for a heavy metal clamp of some kind. Dog's age "a long time" is by 1836. Adjectival phrase dog-eat-dog "ruthlessly competitive" is by 1850s. Phrase put on the dog "get dressed up" (1934) may be from comparison of dog collars to the stiff stand-up shirt collars that in the 1890s were the height of male fashion (and were known as dog-collars from at least 1883).
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from Hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war;
[Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"]
late 14c., babi, "infant of either sex," diminutive of babe (see babe) with -y (3). Meaning "childish adult person" is from c. 1600. Meaning "youngest of a group" is by 1897. As a term of endearment for one's lover it is attested perhaps as early as 1839, certainly by 1901 (OED writes, "the degree of slanginess in the nineteenth-century examples is not easily determinable"); its popularity perhaps boosted by baby vamp "a popular girl" (see vamp (n.2)), student slang from c. 1922.
Meaning "minute reflection of oneself seen in another's eyes" is from 1590s (compare pupil (n.2)). As an adjective by 1750. Baby food is from 1833. Baby blues for "blue eyes" recorded by 1892 (the phrase also was used for "postpartum depression" 1950s-60s). To empty the baby out with the bath (water) is attested by 1909 (in G.B. Shaw; compare German das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten, attested from 17c.). A baby's breath was noted for sweet smell, which also was supposed to attract cats, hence baby's breath as the name of a type of flower, attested from 1897. French bébé (19c.) is said to be from English, but there were similar words in the same sense in French dialects.
"excellent, fine, good, valuable," canting slang, 1560s, also rome, "fine," said to be from Romany rom "male, husband" (see Romany). A very common 16c. cant word (opposed to queer), as in rum kicks "Breeches of gold or silver brocade, or richly laced with gold or silver" [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785].
By 1774 it also had come to mean rather the opposite: "odd, strange, bad, queer, spurious," perhaps because it had been so often used approvingly by rogues in reference to one another. Or perhaps this is a different word. This was the main sense after c. 1800.
Rom (or rum) and quier (or queer) enter largely into combination, thus--rom = gallant, fine, clever, excellent, strong; rom-bouse = wine or strong drink; rum-bite = a clever trick or fraud; rum-blowen = a handsome mistress; rum-bung = a full purse; rum-diver = a clever pickpocket; rum-padder = a well-mounted highwayman, etc.: also queere = base, roguish; queer-bung = an empty purse; queer-cole = bad money; queer-diver = a bungling pickpocket; queer-ken = a prison; queer-mort = a foundered whore, and so forth. [John S. Farmer, "Musa Pedestris," 1896]
c. 1500, "strange, peculiar, odd, eccentric," from Scottish, perhaps from Low German (Brunswick dialect) queer "oblique, off-center," which is related to German quer "oblique, perverse, odd," from Old High German twerh "oblique" (from PIE root *terkw- "to twist"). For the suggested sense evolution, compare cross (adj.). But OED is against this etymology on grounds of timing and sense.
The meaning "appearing, feeling, or behaving otherwise than is usual or normal" is by 1781. The colloquial sense of "open to suspicion, doubtful as to honesty" is by 1740. As a slang noun, "counterfeit money," by 1812; to shove the queer (1859) was "to pass counterfeit money. Queer Street (1811) was the imaginary place where persons in difficulties and shady characters lived, hence, in cant generally, "contrary to one's wishes."
Sense of "homosexual" is attested by 1922; the noun in this sense is 1935, from the adjective. Related: Queerly. Queer studies as an academic discipline is attested from 1994.
Among the entries in the 1811 "Lexicon Balatronicum" are: Queer as Dick's Hatband "Out of order without knowing one's disease"; Queer Bitch "An odd out of the way fellow"; Queer Ken "A prison"; Queer Mort "A diseased strumpet"; Queer Rooster "An informer that pretends to be sleeping and thereby overhears the conversation of thieves in nightcellars."
c. 1300 (mid-12c. in surnames), "small axe with a short handle," designed to be used by one hand, from Old French hachete "small combat-axe, hatchet," diminutive of hache "axe, battle-axe, pickaxe," possibly from Frankish *happja or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hapjo- (source also of Old High German happa "sickle, scythe").
This is perhaps from PIE root *kop- "to beat, strike" (source also of Greek kopis "knife," koptein "to strike, smite," komma "piece cut off;" Lithuanian kaplys "hatchet," kapti, kapiu "to hew, fell;" Old Church Slavonic skopiti "castrate," Russian kopat' "to hack, hew, dig;" Albanian kep "to hew").
Hatchet-face in reference to one with sharp and prominent features is from 1650s. In Middle English, hatch itself was used in a sense "battle-axe." In 14c., hang up (one's) hatchet meant "stop what one is doing." Phrase bury the hatchet "lay aside instruments of war, forget injuries and make peace" (1754) is from a Native American peacemaking custom described from 1680. Hatchet-man was originally California slang for "hired Chinese assassin" (1880), later extended figuratively to journalists who attacked the reputation of a public figure (1944).
Old English hefig "heavy, having much weight; important, grave; oppressive; slow, dull," from Proto-Germanic *hafiga "containing something; having weight" (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German hebig, Old Norse hofugr, Middle Dutch hevich, Dutch hevig), from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Jazz slang sense of "profound, serious" is from 1937 but would have been comprehensible to an Anglo-Saxon. Heavy industry recorded from 1932. Heavy metal attested by 1839 in chemistry; in nautical jargon from at least 1744 in sense "large-caliber guns on a ship."
While we undervalue the nicely-balanced weight of broadsides which have lately been brought forward with all the grave precision of Cocker, we are well aware of the decided advantages of heavy metal. [United Services Journal, London, 1830]
As a type of rock music, from 1972. Most other Germanic languages use as their primary word for this their equivalent of Middle English swere, Old English swær "heavy, sad; oppressive, grievous; sluggish, inactive, weak" (but never in a physical sense; see serious); for example, Dutch zwaar, Old High German suari, German schwer. The English word died out in the Middle Ages.
"very large, unusually large for its type," 1882, a reference to Jumbo, name of the London Zoo's huge elephant (acquired from France, said to have been captured as a baby in Abyssinia in 1861), sold February 1882 to U.S. circus showman P.T. Barnum amid great excitement in America and great outcry in England, both fanned by Barnum.
"I tell you conscientiously that no idea of the immensity of the animal can be formed. It is a fact that he is simply beyond comparison. The largest elephants I ever saw are mere dwarfs by the side of Jumbo." [P.T. Barnum, interview, "Philadelphia Press," April 22, 1882]
The name is perhaps from slang jumbo "clumsy, unwieldy fellow" (1823), which itself is possibly from a word for "elephant" in a West African language (compare Kongo nzamba). OED suggests it is possibly the second element in Mumbo Jumbo. Century Dictionary says "The name was given as having an African semblance." As a product size, by 1886 (cigars). Jumbo jet attested by 1964. Jumbo was accidentally killed near St. Thomas, Ontario, Sept. 15, 1885, struck by a freight train while the circus was loading up to travel.