also locofoco, American English, said to date from 1834 in the sense "self-igniting cigar or friction match," of obscure origin. The first element is apparently a misapprehension of the loco- in locomotive ("a word just then becoming familiar" [Century Dictionary]) as "self-, self-moving-." The second element is perhaps a jingling reduplication of this, or somehow from Spanish fuego "fire."
Better remembered, if at all, as a political term: During a heated Democratic party meeting in Tammany Hall c. 1835, the opposition doused the gaslights to break it up, and the radical delegates used loco-foco matches to relight them. When it was publicized, the name loco-foco entered U.S. political jargon (by 1837) and down to the Civil War was applied, usually disparagingly, to a radical faction of the Democratic Party (but by the Whigs to all Democrats).
mid-13c., aquiten, "repay, reciprocate, reward or retaliate for" (a good or bad deed); c. 1300 as "satisfy a debt; redeem (a pledge)," from Old French aquiter, acquiter "pay, pay up, settle a claim" (12c., Modern French acquitter), from a- "to" (see ad-) + quite "free, clear," from Medieval Latin quitus, quittus, from Latin quietus "free" (in Medieval Latin "free from war, debts, etc."), also "calm, resting" (from PIE root *kweie- "to rest, be quiet"). Also in part from Medieval Latin acquitare.
From mid-14c. as "relieve (someone) of an obligation, release from a pledge," hence the meanings "set (an accused person) free from charges, pronounce not guilty," and "discharge one's duty; behave or conduct oneself" (for better or worse), all of which date to late 14c. The notion in the word is "to release or discharge," from an obligation or from accusation, guilt, censure, or suspicion. Related: Acquitted; acquitting.
name given to various chronic skin diseases, later in more restricted use, 1530s, probably from leprous + -y (4). First used in Coverdale Bible, where it renders Hebrew cara'ath, which apparently was a comprehensive term for skin diseases. Also known as Hansen's disease (1938) for Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) who in 1871 discovered the bacillus that causes it.
The Middle English name for the disease was leper (mid-13c.), from Old French liepre and Latin lepra (see leper). But as the sense of this shifted after late 14c. to mean "person with leprosy," English began coining new nouns for the disease: lepri, leprosity, lepruse all date from mid-15c. but are now obsolete. A place for their treatment is a leprosarium (1846) or leprosary (1869, from French).
1815, "free from local, provincial, or national prejudices and attachments," from cosmopolite "citizen of the world" (q.v.) on model of metropolitan. From 1833 as "belonging to all parts of the world, limited to no place or society." Meaning "composed of people of all nations, multi-ethnic" is from 1840. The U.S. women's magazine of the same name was first published in 1886.
As a noun, "one who is at home all over the world, a cosmopolite," 1640s. As the name of a vodka-based cocktail popular in 1990s (due to "Sex and the City" TV program) from late 1980s (the drink itself seems to date to the 1970s).
Cosmopolitanism in reference to an ideology that considers all humans as a single community is recorded by 1828. It took on a negative tinge in mid-20c., suggesting an undermining of indigenous and national societies and often tied to the supposed influence of the Jews.
"a long time," 1821, often in phrases indicating something rarely occurring. Compare at the Greek calends (from an ancient Roman phrase alluding to the fact that the Greeks had nothing corresponding to the Roman calends), and the native in the reign of Queen Dick and Saint Geoffrey's Day "Never, there being no saint of that name," reported in Grose (1788). Nevermass "date which never comes" is from 1540s. Blue moon is suggested earliest in this couplet from 1528:
Yf they say the mone is blewe,
We must beleve that it is true.
Though this might refer to calendrical calculations by the Church. Thus the general "rareness" sense of the term is difficult to disentangle from the specific calendrical one (commonly misinterpreted as "second full moon in a calendar month," but actually a quarterly calculation). In either case, the sense of blue here is obscure. Literal blue moons do sometimes occur under extreme atmospheric conditions.
late 14c., "book of permanent tables of astronomical data," attested in Anglo-Latin from mid-13c., via Old French almanach or directly from Medieval Latin almanachus, a word of uncertain origin and the subject of much speculation. The Latin word is often said to be ultimately from Arabic somehow, but an exact phonological and semantic fit is wanting.
OED connects it to a supposed Spanish-Arabic al-manakh "calendar, almanac," which is possibly ultimately from Late Greek almenichiakon "calendar," which itself is said to be of Coptic origin. The author of English words of Arabic Ancestry makes a detailed case "that the word almanac was pseudo-Arabic and was generated within the circle of astronomers in Paris in the mid 13th century."
One-year versions, showing correspondence of days of the week and month, ecclesiastical calendars, etc., date from 16c.; "astrological and weather predictions appear in 16-17th c.; the 'useful statistics' are a modern feature" [OED].
also GI, 1936 as an adjective meaning "U.S. Army equipment," American English, apparently an abbreviation of Government Issue, and applied to anything associated with servicemen. Transferred noun sense of "U.S. Army soldier" arose during World War II (first recorded 1943), apparently from the jocular notion that the men themselves were manufactured by the government.
An earlier G.I. (1908) was an abbreviation of galvanized iron, especially in G.I. can, a type of metal trash can; the term was picked up by U.S. soldiers in World War I as slang for a similar-looking type of German artillery shells. But it is highly unlikely that this G.I. came to mean "soldier." No two sources seem to agree on the entire etymology, but none backs the widespread notion that it stands for *General Infantry. GI Joe "any U.S. soldier" attested from 1942 (date in OED is a typo).
flowering plant in the mint family, used for thousands of years in medicine and cookery, 1771, from Spanish or American Spanish oregano, from Latin origanus, origanum, from Greek oreiganon, from oros "mountain" (see oread) + ganos "brightness, ornament." In Europe, the dried leaves of wild marjoram; in southwestern America, the name is given to a different, and more pungent, shrub, also known as Mexican oregano.
A staple of Italian cooking, its modern American popularity is said to date to World War II; a 1957 food industry publication in the U.S. says of oregano, "Here is a spice that was unheard of in 99 out of 100 households just a few years ago." Its rise seems to coincide with the popularity of pizza. The older form of the word in English was the Latin-derived origanum (c. 1300), also origan (early 15c., from Old French). Late Old English had it as organe.
Old English belt "belt; girdle; broad, flat strip or strap of material used to encircle the waist," from Proto-Germanic *baltjaz (source also of Old High German balz, Old Norse balti, Swedish bälte), an early Germanic borrowing from Latin balteus "girdle, sword belt," which is said by Varro to be an Etruscan word.
The transferred sense of "broad stripe encircling something with its ends joined" is from 1660s; that of "broad strip or tract" of any sort, without notion of encircling (as in Bible belt) is by 1808. As a mark of rank or distinction, mid-14c.; references to boxing championship belts date from 1812. The mechanical sense is from 1795.
Below the belt "unfair" (1889) is from pugilism. To get something under (one's) belt was originally literal, to get it into one's stomach (1839), figurative use of that us by 1931. To tighten (one's) belt "endure privation" is from 1887.
Old English butere "butter, the fatty part of milk," obtained from cream by churning, general West Germanic (compare Old Frisian, Old High German butera, German Butter, Dutch boter), an early loan-word from Latin butyrum "butter" (source of Italian burro, Old French burre, French beurre), from Greek boutyron. This is apparently "cow-cheese," from bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow") + tyros "cheese" (from PIE root *teue- "to swell"); but this might be a folk etymology of a Scythian word.
The product was used from an early date in India, Iran and northern Europe, but not in ancient Greece and Rome. Herodotus described it (along with cannabis) among the oddities of the Scythians. In old chemistry, applied to certain substances of buttery consistency. Butter-knife, a small, dull knife used for cutting butter at the table, is attested from 1818.