Middle English hony, from Old English hunig "honey," from Proto-Germanic *hunang- (source also of Old Norse hunang, Swedish honung, Old Saxon honeg, Old Frisian hunig, Middle Dutch honich, Dutch honig, Old High German honang, German Honig "honey"), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a PIE *k(e)neko- denoting yellow, golden, or brownish colors (compare Sanskrit kancan- "golden," Welsh canecon "gold," Greek knēkos "yellowish"), or perhaps from a substratum word. Finnish hunaja is a Germanic loan-word.
The more common Indo-European word is represented in Germanic by the Gothic word for "honey," miliþ (from PIE root *melit- "honey"). A term of endearment from at least mid-14c.; extended form honey-bunch attested by 1904. Meaning "anything good of its kind" is 1888, American English. Honey-locust, North American tree, so called from 1743, said to be named from a sweet pulp made by Native Americans from the tree's beans.
c. 1300, "a wedge, a wedge-shaped piece used for some purpose," from Old French coing (12c.) "a wedge; stamp; piece of money;" usually "corner, angle," from Latin cuneus "a wedge," which is of unknown origin.
The die for stamping metal was wedge-shaped, and by late 14c. the English word came to mean "thing stamped, piece of metal converted into money by being impressed with official marks or characters" (a sense that already had developed in Old French). Meaning "coined money collectively, specie" is from late 14c.
Compare quoin, which split off from this word 16c., taking the architectural sense. Modern French coin is "corner, angle, nook."
The custom of striking coins as money began in western Asia Minor in 7c. B.C.E.; Greek tradition and Herodotus credit the Lydians with being first to make and use coins of silver and gold. Coin-operated (adj.), of machinery, is attested from 1890. Coin collector is attested from 1795.
of hair, "of a golden or light golden-brown color," late 15c., from Old French blont "fair, blond" (12c.), from the same source as Medieval Latin blundus "yellow," but of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Frankish *blund or another Germanic source (compare Dutch, German, Danish blond).
If it is a Germanic word, it is possibly related to Old English blonden-feax "gray-haired," from blondan, blandan "to mix" (see blend (v.)). According to Littré, the original sense of the French word was "a colour midway between golden and light chestnut," which might account for the notion of "mixed." [But Century Dictionary finds this "hardly probable."]
Old English beblonden meant "dyed," so it is also possible that the root meaning of blonde, if it is Germanic, may be "dyed," as ancient Teutonic warriors were noted for dying their hair. Du Cange, however, writes that blundus was a vulgar pronunciation of Latin flavus "yellow." Another guess (discounted by German etymologists), is that it represents a Vulgar Latin *albundus, from alba "white."
The word was reintroduced into English 17c. from French, and was until recently still felt as French, hence blonde (with French feminine ending) for females. Italian biondo, Spanish blondo, Old Provençal blon are said to be ultimately of Germanic origin.
Fair hair was much esteemed by both the Greeks and Romans, and so they not only dyed and gold-dusted theirs ..., but also went so far as to gild the hair of their statues, as notably those of Venus de Medici and Apollo. In the time of Ovid (A.U.C. 711) much fair hair was imported from Germany, by the Romans, as it was considered quite the fashionable color. Those Roman ladies who did not choose to wear wigs of this hue, were accustomed to powder theirs freely with gold dust, so as to give it the fashionable yellow tint. [C. Henry Leonard, "The Hair," 1879]
late 14c., of a voice, "pure, clear;" mid-15c., of abstract things, "absolute, sheer;" from Old French mier "pure" (of gold), "entire, total, complete," and directly from Latin merus "unmixed" (of wine), "pure; bare, naked;" figuratively "true, real, genuine," according to some sources probably originally "clear, bright," from PIE *mer- "to gleam, glimmer, sparkle" (source also of Old English amerian "to purify," Old Irish emer "not clear," Sanskrit maricih "ray, beam," Greek marmarein "to gleam, glimmer"). But de Vaan writes "there is no compelling reason to derive 'pure' from 'shining,'" and compares Hittite marri "just so, gratuitously," and suggests the source is a PIE *merH-o- "remaining, pure."
The English sense of "nothing less than, in the fullest sense absolute" (mid-15c., surviving now only in vestiges such as mere folly) existed for centuries alongside the apparently opposite sense of "nothing more than" (1580s, as in a mere dream).
1620s, "of the taste of vinegar," from French acide (16c.) or directly from Latin acidus "sour, sharp, tart" (also figurative, "disagreeable," etc.), adjective of state from acere "to be sour, be sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").
Figurative use in English ("sour, sharp, biting") is from 1775; the word was applied to intense colors by 1916; an acid dye (1888) involves an acid bath. Acid rain "highly acidity in rain caused by atmospheric pollution" is recorded by 1859 in reference to England. Acid drop as a kind of hard sugar candy flavored with tartaric acid is by 1835, with drop (n.) in the "lozenge" sense.
Acid test is American English, 1881, in literal use a quick way to distinguish gold from similar metals by application of nitric acid. Fowler wrote (1920) that it was then in vogue in the figurative sense and "became familiar through a conspicuous use of it during the war by President Wilson."
"one of a class of spiritual beings, attendants and messengers of God," a c. 1300 fusion of Old English engel (with hard -g-) and Old French angele. Both are from Late Latin angelus, from Greek angelos, literally "messenger, envoy, one that announces," in the New Testament "divine messenger," which is possibly related to angaros "mounted courier," both from an unknown Oriental word (Watkins compares Sanskrit ajira- "swift;" Klein suggests Semitic sources).
The Greek word was used in Scriptural translations for Hebrew mal'akh (yehowah) "messenger (of Jehovah)," from base l-'-k "to send." An Old English word for it was aerendgast, literally "errand-spirit."
Of persons, "one who is loving, gracious, or lovely," by 1590s. The medieval English gold coin (a new issue of the noble, first struck 1465 by Edward VI) was so called for the image of archangel Michael slaying the dragon, which was stamped on it. It was the coin given to patients who had been "touched" for the King's Evil. Angel food cake is from 1881; angel dust "phencyclidine" is from 1968.
c. 1300, souder, from Old French soudier, soldier "one who serves in the army for pay," from Medieval Latin soldarius "a soldier" (source also of Spanish soldado, Italian soldato), literally "one having pay," from Late Latin soldum, extended sense of accusative of Latin solidus, name of a Roman gold coin, properly "coin of thick or solid metal," not of thin plate (see solid (adj.)).
The -l- has been regular in English since mid-14c., in imitation of Latin. Willie and Joe always say sojer in the Bill Mauldin World War II cartoons, and this seems to mirror 16c.-17c. spellings sojar, soger, sojour. Modern French soldat is borrowed from Italian and displaced the older French word; one of many military (and other) terms picked up during the Italian Wars in early 16c.; such as alert, arsenal, colonel, infantrie, sentinel.
Old slang names for military men circa early 19c. include mud-crusher "infantryman," cat-shooter "volunteer," fly-slicer "cavalryman," jolly gravel-grinder "marine."
mid-13c., "unblemished, refined, pure, free of impurities," also "of high quality, choice," from Old French fin "perfected, of highest quality" (12c.), a back-formation from finire or else from Latin finis "that which divides, a boundary, limit, border, end" (see finish (v.)); hence "acme, peak, height," as in finis boni "the highest good." The English word is from c. 1300 as "rich, valuable, costly;" also in a moral sense "true, genuine; faithful, constant." From late 14c. as "expertly fashioned, well or skillfully made," also, of cloth, "delicately wrought." Of weapons or edges, "sharp" from c. 1400. In reference to quality of gold and silver, late 15c.
In French, the main meaning remains "delicate, intricately skillful;" in English since c. 1300 fine has been also a general broad expression of admiration or approval, the equivalent of French beau (as in fine arts, "those which appeal to the mind and the imagination," 1767, translating French beaux-arts). Related: Finer; finest. Fine print is from 1861 as "type small and close-set;" by 1934 in the extended sense "qualifications and limitations of a deal."
also earring, Old English earhring, "a ring or other ornament, with or without precious stones, worn at the ear," from ear (n.1) + hring (see ring (n.)). Another Old English word was earspinl. Now including any sort of ornament in the ear; the pendant sort originally were ear-drops (1720). Worn by Romanized Britons and Anglo-Saxons alike; their use declined throughout Europe in the Middle Ages but was reintroduced in England 16c., but after 17c. they were worn there almost exclusively by women.
The two groups which had formerly a near monopoly on male earrings were Gypsies and sailors. Both has the usual traditions about eyesight, but it was also said that sailors' earrings would save them from drowning, while others argued that should a sailor be drowned and washed up on some foreign shore, his gold earrings would pay for a proper Christian burial. ["Dictionary of English Folklore"]
used in reference to various qualities and things associated with 19c. French emperors of that name, especially Napoleon I (Bonaparte), 1769-1821. The given name (Italian Napoleone) is attested from 13c., said to be from a St. Napoleone of Alexandria, a 4c. martyr. It has been folk-etymologized as "lion of Naples" or "nose of a lion."
The name was applied to a gold coin issued by the government of Napoleon I, bearing his image, worth 20 francs. As the name of a 12-pound artillery piece, it is in use in U.S. military from 1857, from Napoleon III (1808-1873), under whose rule it was designed. As a type of boot, by 1860; as a card game, by 1876; as a type of rich cake, from 1892; as a type of good brandy, from 1930. The name also was applied by 1821 to anyone thought to have achieved domination in any field by ambition and ruthlessness. Napoleon complex in reference to aggressiveness by short people is attested by 1930. Related: Napoleonic; Napoleonism.