"'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.]
"one-twelfth part of a year; one of the twelve parts into which the calendar year is arbitrarily divided," Old English monað, from Proto-Germanic *menoth- (source also of Old Saxon manoth, Old Frisian monath, Middle Dutch manet, Dutch maand, Old High German manod, German Monat, Old Norse manaðr, Gothic menoþs "month"), which is related to *menon- "moon" (see moon (n.)). Originally the month was the interval between one new moon and the next (a sense attested from late Old English).
Its cognates mean only "month" in the Romance languages, but in Germanic they generally continue to do double duty. The development of the calendrical meaning for words from this root in Greek (mēn) and Latin (mensis) was accompanied by the creation of new words for "moon" (selēnē, luna). The phrase a month of Sundays "a very long time" is from 1832 (roughly 7 and a half months but never used literally).
Middle English nede, from Old English nied (West Saxon), ned (Mercian) "what is required, wanted, or desired; necessity, compulsion, the constraint of unavoidable circumstances; duty; hardship, emergency, trouble, time of peril or distress; errand, business," originally "violence, force," from Proto-Germanic *nauthiz/*naudiz (source also of Old Saxon nod, Old Norse nauðr "distress, emergency, need," Old Frisian ned, "force, violence; danger, anxiety, fear; need," Middle Dutch, Dutch nood "need, want, distress, peril," Old High German not, German Not "need, distress, necessity, hardship," Gothic nauþs "need").
This is apparently from a root *nauti- "death, to be exhausted," source also of Old English ne, neo, Old Norse na, Gothic naus "corpse;" Old Irish naunae "famine, shortage," Old Cornish naun "corpse;" Old Church Slavonic navi "corpse," nazda, Russian nuzda, Polish nędza "misery, distress;" Old Prussian nowis "corpse," nautin "need, distress," nawe "death;" Lithuanian novyti "to torture, kill," nove "death." As it is attested only in Germanic, Celtic, and Balto-Slavic, it might be non-PIE, from a regional substrate language.
From 12c. as "lack of something that is necessary or important; state or condition of needing something;" also "a necessary act, required work or duty." Meaning "extreme poverty, destitution, want of means of subsistence" is from early 14c.
The more common Old English word for "need, necessity, want" was ðearf, but they were connected via a notion of "trouble, pain," and the two formed a compound, niedðearf "need, necessity, compulsion, thing needed." Nied also might have been influenced by Old English neod "desire, longing," which often was spelled the same. Nied was common in Old English compounds, such as niedfaru "compulsory journey," a euphemism for "death;" niedhæmed "rape" (the second element being an Old English word meaning "sexual intercourse"); niedling "slave."
"abstain from food," Old English fæstan "to fast" (as a religious duty), also "to make firm; establish, confirm, pledge," from Proto-Germanic *fastanan "to hold, guard," extended to the religious act "observe abstinence" (source also of Old Frisian festia, Old High German fasten, German fasten, Old Norse fasta "abstain from food"), from the same root as fast (adj.).
The original meaning in prehistoric Germanic was "hold firmly," and the sense evolved via "have firm control of oneself," to "hold oneself to observance" (compare Gothic fastan "to keep, observe," also "to fast"). Perhaps the Germanic sense shifted through use of the native words to translate Medieval Latin observare in its sense "to fast," or it might have been a loan-translation of a Greek expression brought to the Goths by Arian missionaries and spread from them to other Germanic peoples. The verb in the sense "to make fast" continued in Middle English, but was superseded by fasten. Related: Fasted; fasting.
late 14c., "organized association of persons invested with certain powers and rights or engaged in some common duty or pursuit," especially "body of scholars and students within an endowed institution of learning," also "resident body of ecclesiastics supported by an endowment," from Old French college "collegiate body" (14c.) and directly from Latin collegium "community, society, guild," literally "association of collegae," plural of collega "partner in office," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see com-) + leg-, stem of legare "to choose," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather."
At first, any corporate group (the general sense is preserved in U.S. electoral college, the Vatican's college of cardinals, etc.). In the academic sense, colleges operated within universities (as still at Oxford and Cambridge), but in Scotland, and later in U.S. and Canada some universities had only one college, and there college came to be used for "incorporated and endowed institution of learning of the highest grade," and eventually "any degree-giving educational institution" (c. 1800). College-widow is attested by 1878.
1550s, Liturgy, "the service of the Holy Eucharist," from French liturgie (16c.) or directly from Late Latin/Medieval Latin liturgia "public service, public worship," from Greek leitourgia "a liturgy; public duty, ministration, ministry," from leitourgos "one who performs a public ceremony or service, public servant," from leito- "public" (from laos "people;" compare leiton "public hall," leite "priestess;" see lay (adj.)) + -ourgos "that works," from ergon "work" (from PIE root *werg- "to do"). Meaning "collective formulas for the conduct of divine service in Christian churches" is from 1590s. Related: Liturgist; liturgics.
In ancient Greece, particularly at Athens, a form of personal service to the state which citizens possessing property to a certain amount were bound, when called upon, to perform at their own cost. These liturgies were ordinary, including the presentation of dramatic performances, musical and poetic contests, etc., the celebration of some festivals, and other public functions entailing expense upon the incumbent; or extraordinary, as the fitting out of a trireme In case of war. [Century Dictionary]
Middle English fere, from Old English fær "calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack," from Proto-Germanic *feraz "danger" (source also of Old Saxon far "ambush," Old Norse far "harm, distress, deception," Dutch gevaar, German Gefahr "danger"), from PIE *pēr-, a lengthened form of the verbal root *per- (3) "to try, risk."
The sense of "state of being afraid, uneasiness caused by possible danger" developed by late 12c. Some Old English words for "fear" as we now use it were fyrhto, fyrhto; as a verb, ondrædan. Meaning "feeling of dread and reverence for God" is from c. 1400. To put the fear of God (into someone) "intimidate, cause to cower" is by 1888, from the common religious phrase; the extended use was often at first in colonial contexts:
Thus then we seek to put "the fear of God" into the natives at the point of the bayonet, and excuse ourselves for the bloody work on the plea of the benefits which we intend to confer afterwards. [Felix Adler, "The Religion of Duty," 1905]
c. 1200, "man ordained in the ministry, a priest, an ecclesiastic," from Old English cleric and Old French clerc "clergyman, priest; scholar, student," both from Church Latin clericus "a priest," noun use of adjective meaning "priestly, belonging to the clerus" (see cleric).
Modern bureaucratic usage is a reminder of the time when clergy alone could read and write and were employed as scribes and account-keepers by secular authorities. In late Old English the word also can mean "king's scribe; keeper of accounts." And by c. 1200 clerk took on a secondary sense in Middle English (as the cognate word did in Old French) of "man of letters, anyone who can read or write."
This led to the senses "assistant in a public or private business" (c. 1500), originally a keeper of accounts, also "officer of a court, municipality, etc. whose duty it is to keep its records and perform its routine business" (1520s), and later, especially in American English, "a retail salesman" (1790). Meaning "an employee who registers guests in a hotel" is by 1879.
mid-13c., "a post in government or administration, an employment to which certain duties are attached, secular position of authority or responsibility," from Anglo-French and Old French ofice "place or function; divine service" (12c. in Old French) and directly from Latin officium "a service, kindness, favor; an obligatory service, official duty, function, business; ceremonial observance" (in Medieval Latin, "church service").
The Latin word was contracted from opificium, literally "work-doing," from ops (genitive opis) "power, might, abundance, means" (related to opus "work," from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance") + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
Of ecclesiastical positions from late 14c. From c. 1300 as "official employment" in general, also "ecclesiastical service or mass; the prescribed order and form of church services." Meaning "building or room for conducting business" is from late 14c. Meaning "a government or civic department" is from mid-15c. From 1727 as "a privy."
Office hours "hours of work in an office" is attested from 1841. Office furniture, the type used or commonly found in offices, is by 1839. The political office-holder is by 1818. Office-party, one held for the members of a staff, is by 1950. Middle English had office of life "state of being alive" (late 14c.), translating Latin vite officio.
c. 1300, "young man;" also "youthful knight, novice in arms," from Old French bacheler, bachelor, bachelier (11c.) "knight bachelor," a young squire in training for knighthood, also "young man; unmarried man," and a university title. Of uncertain origin.
Perhaps from Medieval Latin baccalarius "vassal farmer, adult serf without a landholding," one who helps or tends a baccalaria "field or land in the lord's demesne" (according to old French sources, perhaps from an alteration of vacca "a cow" and originally "grazing land" [Kitchin]). But Wedgwood points out that the baccalarii "were reckoned as rustici, and were bound to certain duty work for their lord. There is no appearance in the passages cited of their having had any military character whatever." (He favored a Celtic origin).
Or perhaps from Latin baculum "a stick," because the squire would practice with a staff, not a sword. "Perhaps several independent words have become confused in form" [Century Dictionary].
The meaning in English expanded by early 14c. to "young unmarried man," late 14c. to "one who has taken the lowest degree in a university." Bachelor party as a pre-wedding ritual is by 1882.