"natural elevation rising more or less abruptly and attaining a conspicuous height," c. 1200, from Old French montaigne (Modern French montagne), from Vulgar Latin *montanea "mountain, mountain region," noun use of fem. of *montaneus "of a mountain, mountainous," from Latin montanus "mountainous, of mountains," from mons (genitive montis) "mountain" (from PIE root *men- (2) "to project").
Until 18c., applied to a fairly low elevation if it was prominent (such as Sussex Downs or the hills around Paris); compare hill (n.). As an adjective, "of or situated on a mountain," from late 14c.
Mountain dew "raw and inferior whiskey" is attested by 1839; earlier a type of Scotch whiskey (1816); Jamieson's 1825 "Supplement" to his Scottish dictionary defines it specifically as "A cant term for Highland whisky that has paid no duty." Mountain-climber is recorded from 1839; mountain-climbing from 1836. Mountain laurel is from 1754; mountain-lion "puma" is from 1849, American English; the mountain goat of the Western U.S. is so called by 1841 (by 1827 as Rocky Mountain goat).
mid-15c., dekke, "covering extending from side to side over part of a ship," from a nautical use of Middle Dutch dec, decke "roof, covering," from Proto-Germanic *thakam (source also of thatch (n.)), from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover."
Sense extended early in English from "covering" to "platform of a ship." Meaning "pack of cards necessary to play a game" is from 1590s, perhaps because they were stacked like decks of a ship. Tape-deck (1949) is in reference to the flat surface of old reel-to-reel tape recorders.
Deck-chair (1844) so called because they were used on ocean liners. On deck (by 1740) was in nautical use especially "ready for action or duty;" extended sense in baseball, of a batter waiting a turn at the plate, is by 1867. To clear the deck (1852) is to prepare a ship for action; it is perhaps a translation of French débarasser le pont.
c. 1200, servaunt, "male or female personal or domestic attendant, one owing duty of service to a master or lord, one employed by another and subject to his orders," from Old French servant "servant; foot-soldier," noun use of servant "serving, waiting," present participle of servir "to attend, wait upon" (see serve (v.)).
From early 14c. as "a slave," also used of bees. In North American colonies and in U.S., it was the usual designation for "slave" 17c.-18c. (in 14c.-15c. and later in Biblical translations the word often was used to render Latin servus, Greek doulos "slave").
Also in Middle English "professed lover, one devoted to the service of a lady" (mid-14c.). In 14c.-16c. sometimes confused with sergeant. Public servant is attested from 1670s. Wyclif (late 14c.) has servauntesse "female slave, maidservant, handmaiden."
mid-13c., "attempt to clear (someone) from blame, find excuses for," from Old French escuser (12c., Modern French excuser) "apologize, make excuses; pardon, exonerate," from Latin excusare "excuse, apologize, make an excuse for, plead as an excuse; release from a charge; decline, refuse, excuse the refusal of" (source also of Spanish excusar, Italian scusare), from ex "out, away" (see ex-) + causa "accusation, legal action" (see cause (n.)).
Sense of "forgive, pardon, accept another's plea of excuse" is from early 14c. Meaning "to obtain exemption or release from an obligation or duty; beg to be excused" is from mid-14c. in English, as is the sense "defend (someone or something) as right." Sense of "serve as justification for" is from 1530s. Related: Excused; excusing. Excuse me as a mild apology or statement of polite disagreement is from c. 1600.
mid-14c., "country, territory, region, political or administrative division of a country," from Old French province "province, part of a country; administrative region for friars" (13c.) and directly from Latin provincia "territory outside Italy under Roman domination," also "a public office; public duty," a word of uncertain origin. It commonly is explained as pro- "before" + vincere "to conquer" (from nasalized form of PIE root *weik- (3) "to fight, conquer"); but this does not suit the earliest Latin usages. Compare Provence. Meaning "one's particular business or expertise" is from 1620s.
Originally, a country of considerable extent which, being reduced under Roman dominion, was remodeled, subjected to the rule of a governor sent from Rome, and charged with such taxes and contributions as the Romans saw fit to impose. The earliest Roman province was Sicily. [Century Dictionary]
1630s, also corvet, "wooden ship of war, flush-decked, frigate-rigged, and having only one tier of guns," from French corvette "small, fast frigate" (15c.), perhaps from Middle Dutch korver "pursuit ship," or Middle Low German korf meaning both a kind of boat and a basket, or from Latin corbita (navis) "slow-sailing ship of burden, grain ship" from corbis "basket" (OED, but Gamillscheg is against this).
In late 19c. a class of cruiser-like ships in the British navy; in World War II a fast naval escort vessel used in convoy duty. The U.S. sports car was so named September 1952, after the type of warship, on a suggestion by Myron Scott, employee of Campbell-Ewald, Chevrolet's advertising agency. Italian corvetta, Spanish corbeta are French loan-words.
"marriage with more than one spouse," 1590s, from Late Latin polygamia, from Late Greek polygamia "polygamy," from polygamos "often married," from polys "many" (see poly-) + gamos "marriage" (see gamete). The word is not etymologically restricted to marriage of one man and multiple women (technically polygyny), but often used as if it were. Related: Polygamist; polygamize.
In Christian countries, when a man has more wives than one, or a woman more husbands than one, at the same time, he or she is punishable for polygamy ; but if there was a separate marriage with each the first marriage would be valid notwithstanding the subsequent ones, and the later ones would be void. The offense of contracting the subsequent marriage is now termed bigamy. But polygamy in the form of polygyny is allowed in some countries, especially among Mohammedans, and was held a matter of faith and duty by the Mormons. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
late 13c., "a gift, a reward, a favor bestowed freely;" c. 1300, "goodness, virtue; beauty; ; excellence; knightly prowess, strength, valor, chivalry," early 14c., "a helpful act, an act of generosity, a good deed," also "liberality in giving, generosity, munificence," from Anglo-French bountee, Old French bonte "goodness" (12c., Modern French bonté), from Latin bonitatem (nominative bonitas) "goodness," from bonus "good" (see bonus).
Sense of "gift bestowed by a sovereign or the state" led to extended senses of "premium or gratuity to a military recruit" (1702) and "reward for killing or taking a criminal or enemy" (1764) or dangerous animal (1847). Bounty-jumper "one who enlists in the military, collects the bounty, and flees without reporting for duty" is from the American Civil War (by 1864). Bounty-hunter is from 1893, American English, originally in reference to wild animals.
I do ... promise, that there shall be paid ... the following several and respective premiums and Bounties for the prisoners and Scalps of the Enemy Indians that shall be taken or killed .... ["Papers of the Governor of Pennsylvania," 1764]
mid-13c., pite, "compassion, kindness, generosity of spirit;" c. 1300 "disposition to mercy, quality of being merciful," also "a feeling of sympathy and compassion aroused by the sorrow or suffering of another," from Old French pite, pitet "pity, mercy, compassion, care, tenderness; pitiful state, wretched condition" (11c., Modern French pitié), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "piety, loyalty, duty" (see piety). Replaced Old English mildheortness, literally "mild-heartness," itself a loan-translation of Latin misericordia.
It is some comfort to receive commiseration or condolence ; it gives one strength to receive sympathy from a loving heart ; it is irksome to need compassion ; it galls us to be pitied. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
Middle English pity also could mean "devout obedience to God" (mid-14c.), and pity and piety were not fully distinguished until 17c. Transferred sense of "grounds or cause for pity, matter or source of grief or regret" is from late 14c.
"'white' person, person of European descent," 1828, also whity, from white (adj.) + -y (2) and -y (3). Earlier as an adjective, and Whitey-brown was a 19c. descriptive color name, used to describe, among other things, mulatto skin.
Negro troops doing provost duty in Norfolk; keeping the white people in order. On a visit to Norfolk one can see white Southerners, arrested for sundry misdemeanors, working on the public streets, under negro guards. ... It is quite a change to see, in Norfolk, negroes forcing white men to work, at the point of the bayonet; calling out to them: "No loaf'n dar!" "Move quicker, Sah!" "Hurry up dar, Old Whitey!" and similar orders. Tables turned! [diary of Lieut. S. Millett Thompson, 13th New Hampshire Volunteer regiment, U.S. Army, Jan. 25, 1864; diary published 1888 by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.]