"fine, soft, loose earth," Old English molde "earth, sand, dust, soil; land, country, world," from Proto-Germanic *mulda (source also of Old Frisian molde "earth, soil," Old Norse mold "earth," Middle Dutch moude, Dutch moude, Old High German molta "dust, earth," Gothic mulda "dust"), from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." Specifically, since late (Christian) Old English, "the earth of the grave." Also, from c. 1300 as "earth as the substance out of which God made man; the 'dust' to which human flesh returns."
The proper spelling is mold, like gold (which is exactly parallel phonetically); but mould has long been in use, and is still commonly preferred in Great Britain. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
name of various silver or gold coins in use in several European countries, late 14c., from Old French ducat (late 14c.), Italian ducato (12c.), Medieval Latin ducatus "coin," originally "duchy," from dux (genitive ducis) "duke," from PIE root *deuk- "to lead."
Apparently so called for the name or effigy of Roger II of Sicily, Duke of Apulia, which first issued the coins (c. 1140). Byzantine emperor Constantine X had the Greek form doux struck on his coins during his reign (1059-1067). Over the years it was a unit of currency of varying value in Holland, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Venice, etc. It remained popular as English slang for "money" or "ticket" from its prominence in "The Merchant of Venice."
1520s, "firmly fixed in place or station" (replacing earlier steadfast), from stead + adjectival suffix -y (2), perhaps on model of Middle Dutch, Middle Low German stadig. Old English had stæððig "grave, serious," and stedig "barren," but neither seems to be the direct source of the modern word. Old Norse cognate stoðugr "steady, stable" was closer in sense. As an adverb from c. 1600.
Originally of things; of persons or minds from c. 1600. Meaning "working at an even rate" is first recorded in 1540s. Steady progress is etymologically a contradiction in terms. Steady state first attested 1885; as a cosmological theory (propounded by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle), it is attested from 1948. Related: Steadily.
silver-white fluid metallic element, late 14c., from Medieval Latin mercurius, from Latin Mercurius (see Mercury). Prepared in ancient times from cinnabar, it was one of the seven metals (bodies terrestrial) known to the ancients, which were coupled in astrology and alchemy with the seven known heavenly bodies. This one probably was associated with the planet for its mobility. The others were Sun/gold, Moon/silver, Mars/iron, Saturn/lead, Jupiter/tin, Venus/copper.
The Greek name for it was hydrargyros "liquid silver," which gives the element its symbol, Hg. Compare quicksilver, which is its popular name. It has a freezing point of -39° C. The use of the word in reference to temperature or state of the atmosphere (by 1756) is from its use in thermometers and barometers.
"unit of money or weight," late Old English marc, a unit of weight (chiefly for gold or silver) equal to about eight ounces, probably from Old Norse mörk "unit of weight," cognate with German Mark and probably ultimately a derivative of mark (n.1), perhaps in a sense of "imprinted weight or coin." It was a unit of account in England into 18c., perhaps originally introduced by the Danes, but never the name of a particular coin.
The word is found in all the Germanic and Romanic languages (compare Old Frisian merk, Dutch mark, Medieval Latin marca, French marc (11c.), Spanish and Italian marco); in English it was used from 18c. in reference to various continental coinages, especially the silver money of Germany first issued 1875.
mid-13c., of gold, "unalloyed;" c. 1300 "unmixed, unadulterated; homogeneous," also "total, complete, absolute; bare, mere," also "sexually pure, virgin, chaste" (late 12c. as a surname, and Old English had purlamb "lamb without a blemish"), from Old French pur "pure, simple, absolute, unalloyed," figuratively "simple, sheer, mere" (12c.), from Latin purus "clean, clear; unmixed; unadorned; chaste, undefiled."
This is conjectured to be from PIE root *peue- "to purify, cleanse" (source also of Latin putus "clear, pure;" Sanskrit pavate "purifies, cleanses," putah "pure;" Middle Irish ur "fresh, new;" Old High German fowen "to sift").
It replaced Old English hlutor. The meaning "free from moral corruption" is recorded from mid-14c. In reference to bloodlines, attested from late 15c. In music, "mathematically perfect," by 1872.
Old English wir "metal drawn out into a fine thread," from Proto-Germanic *wira- (source also of Old Norse viravirka "filigree work," Swedish vira "to twist," Old High German wiara "fine gold work"), from PIE root *wei- "to turn, twist, plait."
A wire as marking the finish line of a racecourse is attested from 1883; hence the figurative down to the wire. Wire-puller in the political sense is by 1842, American English, on the image of pulling the wires that work a puppet; the image itself in politics is older:
The ministerial majority being thus reduced to five in a house of five hundred and eighty-three, Lord John Russell and Lord Melbourne respectively announce the breaking up of the administration, and the curtain falls on the first act of the political farce, to the infinite annoyance and surprise of the prime wire-puller in the puppet-show. [British and Foreign Review, vol. IX, July-October 1839]
an undecomposable elementary substance having certain recognizable qualities (opacity, conductivity, plasticity, high specific gravity, etc.), mid-13c., from Old French metal "metal; material, substance, stuff" (12c.), from Latin metallum "metal, mineral; mine, quarry," from Greek metallon "metal, ore" (senses found only in post-classical texts, via the notion of "what is got by mining"); originally "mine, quarry-pit," probably a back-formation from metalleuein "to mine, to quarry," a word of unknown origin. Perhaps related somehow to metallan "to seek after," but Beekes finds this "hardly convincing."
The concept was based on the metals known from antiquity: gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin. As an adjective, "of or covered with metal," from late 14c. As short for heavy metal (rock music) by 1980. Metal-work "work, especially artistic work, in metal" is by 1724.
"superfluous, exceeding what is natural or necessary," c. 1600, from Latin redundantem (nominative redundans), present participle of redundare, literally "overflow, pour over; be over-full;" figuratively "be in excess," from re- "again" (see re-) + undare "rise in waves," from unda "a wave" (from PIE *unda-, nasalized form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet").
Also sometimes in 17c. in a more positive sense, "abounding to excess or fullness, exuberant, plentiful," e.g. in "Paradise Lost," though what he meant by it here is anyone's guess:
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires that on the grass
Of persons, in employment situations by 1928, chiefly British. Related: Redundantly. As a verb, redund has been tried at least once (1904); the etymological corresponding verb is the Frenchified redound.
c. 1200 (as a surname), from Old French grifon "a bird of prey," also "fabulous bird of Greek mythology" (with head and wings of an eagle, body and hind quarters of a lion, believed to inhabit Scythia and guard its gold), named for its hooked beak, from Late Latin gryphus, misspelling of grypus, variant of gryps (genitive grypos) "griffin," from Greek gryps (genitive grypos) "a griffin or dragon," literally "curved, hook-nosed" (opposed to simos).
Klein suggests a Semitic source, "through the medium of the Hittites," and cites Hebrew kerubh "a winged angel," Akkadian karibu, epithet of the bull-colossus (see cherub). The same or an identical word was used in mid-19c. Louisiana to mean "mulatto" (especially one one-quarter or two-fifths white) and in British India from 1793 to mean "newly arrived European," probably via notion of "strange hybrid animal."