Etymology
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nineties (n.)

1857 as the years of someone's life between 90 and 99; from 1848 as the tenth decade of years in a given century; 1849 with reference to Fahrenheit temperature. See ninety.

Many still live who remember those days; if the old men cannot tell you the exact date, they will say: 'It were in the nineties;' (etc.) [Chambers's Journal, Nov. 1, 1856]

Related: Ninetyish "characteristic of the (eighteen-) nineties" (1909). In Britain, the naughty nineties was a popular name 1920s-30s for the 1890s, based on the notion of a relaxing of morality and mood in contrast to earlier Victorian times. In U.S., gay nineties in reference to the same decade is attested from 1927, and was the title of a regular nostalgia feature in "Life" magazine about that time.

The long, dreary blue-law Sunday afternoons were periods of the Nineties which no amount of rosy retrospect will ever be able to recall as gay, especially to a normal healthy boy to whom all activities were taboo except G. A. Henty and the bound volumes of Leslie's Weekly of the Civil War. [Life magazine, Sept. 1, 1927]
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now (adv.)

Middle English nou, from Old English nu "at the present time, at this moment, immediately; now that," also used as an interjection and as an introductory word; from Proto-Germanic *nu (source also of Old Norse nu, Dutch nu, Old Frisian nu, German nun, Gothic nu "now"), from PIE *nu "now" (source also of Sanskrit and Avestan nu, Old Persian nuram, Hittite nuwa, Greek nu, nun, Latin nunc, Old Church Slavonic nyne, Lithuanian , Old Irish nu-). Perhaps originally "newly, recently," and related to the root of new.

Since Old English often merely emphatic, without a temporal sense (as in now then, which is attested from early 13c.). As a noun, "the present time," from late 14c. The adjective meaning "up to date" was revived by 1967, but the word was used also as an adjective with the sense of "current" from late 14c. through 18c. Now and then "occasionally, at one time and another" is from mid-15c.; now or never attested from early 13c. (nu oþer neure).

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dumdum (n.)

type of metal-cased bullet which expands on impact, 1897, named for Dum-Dum arsenal in Bengal. British army soldiers made them to use against fanatical charges by tribesmen. Outlawed by international declaration, 1899. The place name is literally "hill, mound, battery," cognate with Persian damdama.

It was to stop these fanatics [Ghazi] — and that firstclass fighting man Fuzzy-Wuzzy, of the Soudan and of Somaliland—that the thing known as the Dum-Dum bullet was invented. No ordinary bullet, unless it hits them in a vital part or breaks a leg, will be sufficient to put the brake on these magnificently brave people. ["For Foreign Service: Hints on Soldiering in the Shiny East," London, 1915]
Pile on the brown man's burden
And if ye rouse his hate,
Meet his old fashioned reasons
With Maxims up-to-date;
With shells and dum dum bullets
A hundred times make plain,
The brown man's loss must ever
Imply the white man's gain.
[Henry Labouchère, from "The Brown Man's Burden," 1899]
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push (v.)

c. 1300, pushen, "to shove, move onward, strike with a thrusting motion, thrust forcibly against for the purpose of impelling," from Old French poulser (Modern French pousser), from Latin pulsare "to beat, strike, push," frequentative of pellere (past participle pulsus) "to push, drive, beat" (from PIE root *pel- (5) "to thrust, strike, drive").

Transitive meaning "urge, incite, press" is by 1570s; that of "promote, advance or extend by persistence or diligent effort" is from 1714; intransitive sense of "make one's way with force and persistence (against obstacles, etc.)" is by 1718. The meaning "approach a certain age" is from 1937. For palatization of -s-, OED compares brush (n.1); quash. Related: Pushed; pushing.

To push up daisies "be dead and buried" is from World War I, but variants with the same meaning date back to 1842.

"Pushing up the daisies now," said a soldier of his dead comrade. [The American Florist, vol. xlviii, March 31, 1917]

To push (someone) around "bully, browbeat, domineer" is by 1923. To push (one's) luck is from 1754. To push the envelope in the figurative sense is by late 1980s.

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sell (v.)

Old English sellan "to give, furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise," from Proto-Germanic *saljanan "offer up, deliver" (source also of Old Norse selja "to hand over, deliver, sell;" Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen "to give, hand over, sell;" Gothic saljan "to offer a sacrifice"), ultimately from PIE root *sel- (3) "to take, grasp."

Meaning "to give up for money" had emerged by c. 1000, but in Chaucer selle still can mean "to give." Students of Old English learn early that the word that looks like sell usually means "give." An Old English word for "to sell" was bebycgan, from bycgan "to buy."

Slang meaning "to swindle" is from 1590s. The noun phrase hard sell is recorded from 1952. To sell one's soul is from c. 1570. Sell-by date is from 1972. To sell like hot cakes is from 1839. Selling-point attested from 1959.

To sell (someone) down the river figuratively is by 1927, probably from or with recollection of slavery days, on notion of sale from the Upper South to the cotton plantations of the Deep South (attested in this literal sense since 1851).

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Sirius (n.)

brightest star by magnitude, late 14c., from Latin Sirius "the Dog Star," from Greek Seirios, said to mean literally "scorching" or "the scorcher." But other related Greek words seem to derive from this use, and the name might be a folk-etymologized borrowing from some other language. An Egyptian name for it was Sothis. Beekes suggests it is from PIE root *twei- "to agitate, shake, toss; excite; sparkle" if the original meaning of the star-name is "sparkling, flickering."

The connection of the star with scorching heat is from its ancient heliacal rising at the summer solstice (see dog days). Related: Sirian. The constellation Canis Major seems to have grown from the star, not the other way.

Homer made much of it as [Kyōn], but his Dog doubtless was limited to the star Sirius, as among the ancients generally till, at some unknown date, the constellation was formed as we have it, — indeed till long afterwards, for we find many allusions to the Dog in which we are uncertain whether the constellation or its lucida is referred to. [Richard Hinckley Allen, Canis Major in "Star Names and Their Meanings," London: 1899]
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troll (v.)

late 14c., "to go about, stroll," later (early 15c.) "roll from side to side, trundle," probably from Old French troller, a hunting term, "wander, to go in quest of game without purpose" (Modern French trôler), from a Germanic source (compare Old High German trollen "to walk with short steps"), from Proto-Germanic *truzlanan.

Sense of "sing in a full, rolling voice" (first attested 1570s) and that of "fish with a moving line" (c. 1600) both are extended technical uses from the general sense of "roll, trundle," the former from "sing in the manner of a catch or round," the latter perhaps confused with trail or trawl. Figurative sense of "to lure on as with a moving bait, entice, allure" is from 1560s. Meaning "to cruise in search of sexual encounters" is recorded from 1967, originally in homosexual slang.

The internet sense (everyone seems to have his own definition of it) seems to date to the late 1980s or early 1990s and the Newsgroups era, and the verbal use is perhaps older than the noun. It seems to combine troll (v.) in the "fish with a moving line" sense (itself confused with trawl) and troll (n.1) "troublesome imp supposed to live underground."

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fat (adj.)

Old English fætt "fat, fatted, plump, obese," originally a contracted past participle of fættian "to cram, stuff," from Proto-Germanic *faitida "fatted," from verb *faitjan "to fatten," from *faita- "plump, fat" (source also of Old Frisian fatt, Old Norse feitr, Dutch vet, German feist "fat"), from PIE *poid- "to abound in water, milk, fat, etc." (source also of Greek piduein "to gush forth"), from root *peie- "to be fat, swell" (source also of Sanskrit payate "swells, exuberates," pituh "juice, sap, resin;" Lithuanian pienas "milk;" Greek pion "fat; wealthy;" Latin pinguis "fat").

Meaning "abounding in comforts, prosperous" is late 14c. Teen slang meaning "attractive, up to date" (also later phat) is attested from 1951. Fat cat "privileged and rich person" is from 1928; fat chance "no chance at all" attested from 1905, perhaps ironic (the expression is found earlier in the sense "good opportunity"). Fathead is from 1842; fat-witted is from 1590s; fatso is first recorded 1943. Expression the fat is in the fire originally meant "the plan has failed" (1560s).

Spanish gordo "fat, thick," is from Latin gurdus "stupid, doltish; heavy, clumsy," which also is the source of French gourd "stiff, benumbed" (12c.), engourdir "to dull, stupefy, benumb" (13c.).

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ph 

consonantal digraph now in English usually representing the sound of -f-, originally it was the combination used by Romans to represent Greek letter phi (cognate with Sanskrit -bh-, Germanic -b-), which at first was an aspirated "p," later probably the same sound as German -pf-. But by 2c. B.C.E. had become a simple sound made by blowing through the lips (bilabial spirant).

Roman "f," like modern English "f," was dentilabial; by c. 400, however, the sounds had become identical and in some Romanic languages (Italian, Spanish), -ph- regularly was replaced by -f-. This tendency took hold in Old French and Middle English, but with the revival of classical learning the older words subsequently were altered back to -ph- (except fancy and fantastic), and due to overcorrection in this some non-Greek words in -f- began to appear confusedly in -ph-, though these forms generally have not survived (nephew is an exception). The modern slang fad for replacing f- with ph- (as in phat) seems to date to the 1960s and phone phreak (see phreak), where it might have been suggested by the spelling of (tele)phone.

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paint (v.)

mid-13c., peinten, "represent (someone or something) in paint;" c. 1300, "decorate (something or someone) with drawings or pictures;" early 14c., "put color or stain on the surface of; coat or cover with a color or colors;" from Old French peintier "to paint," from peint, past participle of peindre "to paint," from Latin pingere "to paint, represent in a picture, stain; embroider, tattoo," from a nasalized form of PIE root *peig- "to cut, mark by incision."

The sense evolution between PIE and Latin was, presumably, "decorate with cut marks" to "decorate" to "decorate with color." Compare Sanskrit pingah "reddish," pesalah "adorned, decorated, lovely;" Old Church Slavonic pegu "variegated;" Greek poikilos "variegated;" Old High German fehjan "to adorn;" Old Church Slavonic pisati, Lithuanian piešiu, piešti "to write." Probably also representing the "cutting" branch of the family is Old English feol (see file (n.2)).

From late 14c. as "represent persons and things in pictures or drawing, portray." To paint the town (red) "go on a boisterous or disorderly spree" is by 1884; to paint (someone or something) black "represent it as wicked or evil" is from 1590s. Adjective paint-by-numbers "simple" is attested by 1970; the art-for-beginners kits themselves date to c. 1953.

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