"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.
late Old English agan, from earlier ongean (prep.) "toward; opposite, against, contrary to; in exchange for," as an adverb "in the opposite direction, back, to or toward a former place or position," from on "on" (see on (prep.) and compare a- (1)) + -gegn "against, toward." This is from the Germanic root *gagina (source also of Old Norse gegn "straight, direct;" Danish igen "against;" Old Frisian jen, Old High German gegin, German gegen "against, toward," entgegen "against, in opposition to").
In Old English, eft (see eftsoons) was the main word for "again," but this often was strengthened by ongean, which became the principal word by 13c. Norse influence is responsible for the hard -g-. It was differentiated from against (q.v.) 16c. in southern writers, again becoming an adverb only, and against taking over as preposition and conjunction, but again clung to all senses in northern and Scottish dialect (where against was not adopted). Of action, "in return," early 13c.; of action or fact, "once more," late 14c.
1520s, "low G, lowest note in the medieval musical scale" (the system of notation devised by Guido d'Arezzo), a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter, used in medieval music notation to indicate the note below the A which began the classical scale, + ut (now do), the low note on the six-note musical scale that took names from syllables sung to those notes in a Latin sapphic hymn for St. John the Baptist's Day:
Ut queant laxisresonare fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve pollutis labiis reatum,
The ut being the conjunction "that." Gamut also was used for "range of notes of a voice or instrument" (1630s), also "the whole musical scale," hence the figurative sense of "entire scale or range" of anything, first recorded 1620s. When the modern octave scale was set early 16c., si was added, changed to ti in Britain and U.S. to keep the syllables as different from each other as possible. Ut later was replaced by more sonorous do (n.). See also solmization.
1520s, the earliest recorded sense is "mistress;" the allusion to grass is not clear, but it commonly was believed to refer to casual bedding (compare bastard and German Strohwitwe, literally "straw-widow," and compare the expression give (a woman) a grass gown "roll her playfully on the grass" (1580s), also euphemistic for the loss of virginity). Revived late 18c. as "one that pretends to have been married, but never was, yet has children;" in early 19c. use it could mean "married woman whose husband is absent" (and often presumed, but not certainly known to be, dead), also often applied to a divorced or discarded wife or an unmarried woman who has had a child. Both euphemistic and suggestive.
[G]rasse wydowes ... be yet as seuerall as a barbours chayre and neuer take but one at onys. [More, 1528]
GRASS WIDOW, s. a forsaken fair one, whose nuptials, not celebrated in a church, were consummated, in all pastoral simplicity, on the green turf. [Rev. Robert Forby, "Vocabulary of East Anglia," London, 1830]
Old English giefan (West Saxon) "to give, bestow, deliver to another; allot, grant; commit, devote, entrust," class V strong verb (past tense geaf, past participle giefen), from Proto-Germanic *geban (source also of Old Frisian jeva, Middle Dutch gheven, Dutch geven, Old High German geban, German geben, Gothic giban), from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive." It became yiven in Middle English, but changed to guttural "g" by influence of Old Norse gefa "to give," Old Danish givæ.
Meaning "to yield to pressure" is from 1570s. Give in "yield" is from 1610s; give out is mid-14c. as "publish, announce;" meaning "run out, break down" is from 1520s. Give up "surrender, resign, quit" is mid-12c. To give (someone) a cold seems to reflect the old belief that one could be cured of disease by deliberately infecting others. What gives? "what is happening?" is attested from 1940. To not give a (some thing regarded as trivial and valueless) is from c. 1300 (early examples were a straw, a grass, a mite).
1857, American English, a Midwestern word for "to talk aimlessly and boastingly; to indulge in 'high falutin'," according to Farmer (1890), who seems to have been the only British lexicographer to notice it. He says it was based on blow (v.1) on the model of deviate, etc.
It seems to have been felt as outdated slang already by late 19c. ("It was a pleasure for him to hear the Doctor talk, or, as it was inelegantly expressed in the phrase of the period, 'bloviate' ...." ["Overland Monthly," San Francisco, 1872, describing a scene from 1860]), but it enjoyed a revival early 1920s during the presidency of Warren G. Harding, who wrote a notoriously ornate and incomprehensible prose (e.e. cummings eulogized him as "The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors") at which time the word took on its connection with political speech; it faded again thereafter, but, with its derivative, bloviation, it enjoyed a revival in the 2000 U.S. election season that continued through the era of blogging.
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]
In Latin assimilated to following -c-, -f-, -g-, -p-, and often -r- and -m-. In Old French the prefix appears in the full Latin form only "in learned adoptions of old Latin compounds" [OED], and in popular use it was represented by sous-, sou-; as in French souvenir from Latin subvenire, souscrire (Old French souzescrire) from subscribere, etc.
The original meaning is now obscured in many words from Latin (suggest, suspect, subject, etc.). The prefix is active in Modern English, sometimes meaning "subordinate" (as in subcontractor); "inferior" (17c., as in subhuman); "smaller" (18c.); "a part or division of" (c. 1800, as in subcontinent).
"put down, quiet, assuage, pacify," Middle English alegen, from Old English alecgan "to put, place, put down; remit, give up, suppress, abolish; diminish, lessen," from a- "down, aside" (see a- (1)) + lecgan "to lay" (see lay (v.)). A common Germanic compound (cognates: Gothic uslagjan "lay down," Old High German irleccan, German erlegen "to bring down").
Early Middle English pronunciations of -y- and -g- were not always distinct, and the word was confused in Middle English with various senses of Romanic-derived alloy (v.) and especially a now-obsolete verb allege "to alleviate, lighten" (from Latin alleviare, from ad "to" + levis "light" in weight; from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight").
Amid the overlapping of meanings that thus arose, there was developed a perplexing network of uses of allay and allege, that belong entirely to no one of the original vbs., but combine the senses of two or more of them. [OED]
Hence the senses "lighten, alleviate; mix, temper, weaken." The confusion with the Latin words probably also accounts for the unetymological double -l-, attested from 17c. Related: Allayed; allaying.
Meaning "discharge of blood or other fluid from the body" is from 1520s; sense of "offspring, children" is from late 14c. Meaning "outcome of an action, consequence, result" is attested from late 14c., probably from this sense in French. Meaning "action of sending into publication or circulation" is from 1833.
Legal sense developed from the notion of "end or result of pleadings in a suit (by presentation of the point to be determined by trial)," hence "the controversy over facts in a trial" (early 14c., Anglo-French) and transferred sense "point of contention between two parties" (early 15c.) and the general sense "an important point to be decided" (1836). Hence also the verbal phrase take issue with (1797, earlier join issue, 1690s) "take up an affirmative or negative position in a dispute with another." To have issues "have unresolved conflicts" is by 1990.