Etymology
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philosopher (n.)

early 14c., philosophre, "scholar, learned person, wise person; one devoted to the search for universal truth, a student of metaphysical and moral sciences," replacing Old English philosophe, from Latin philosophus "philosopher," from Greek philosophos "philosopher, sage, one who speculates on the nature of things and truth," literally "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" (see philo-) + sophos "wise; a sage" (see sophist). The form with -er is from an Anglo-French or Old French variant of philosophe with an agent-noun ending. Fem. forms were philosophress (1630s), philosophess (1660s).

Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty. [Klein]

Philosopher in the Middle Ages also could be "alchemist, magician, diviner," hence Philosophers' stone (late 14c., translating Medieval Latin lapis philosophorum, early 12c.), a reputed solid substance supposed by alchemists to change baser metals into gold or silver; also identified with the elixir and thus given the attribute of prolonging life indefinitely and curing wounds and disease. In French pierre philosophale, in German der Stein der Weisen.

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fetish (n.)

"material object regarded with awe as having mysterious powers or being the representative of a deity that may be worshipped through it," 1610s, fatisso, from Portuguese feitiço "charm, sorcery, allurement," noun use of an adjective meaning "artificial."

The Portuguese adjective is from Latin facticius "made by art, artificial," from facere "to make, do, produce" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put;" compare French factice "artificial," restored from Old French faitise, from Latin facticius). Via the French word, Middle English had fetis, fetice (adj.) "cleverly made, neat, elegant" (of things), "handsome, pretty, neat" (of persons). But in the Middle Ages the Romanic derivatives of the word took on magical senses; compare Portuguese feiticeria "sorcery, witchcraft," feiticeiro "sorcerer, wizard." Latin facticius in Spanish has become hechizo "artificial, imitated," also "bewitchment, fascination."

The specific Portuguese use of the word that brought it to English probably began among Portuguese sailors and traders who used the word as a name for charms and talismans worshipped by the inhabitants of the Guinea coast of Africa. It was picked up and popularized in anthropology by Charles de Brosses' "Du culte des dieux fétiches" (1760), which influenced the word's spelling in English (French fétiche also is borrowed 18c. from the Portuguese word).

Any material image of a religious idea is an idol; a material object in which force is supposed to be concentrated is a Fetish; a material object, or a class of material objects, plants, or animals, which is regarded by man with superstitious respect, and between whom and man there is supposed to exist an invisible but effective force, is a Totem. [J. Fitzgerald Lee, "The Greater Exodus," London, 1903]

Figurative sense of "something irrationally revered, object of blind devotion" appears to be an extension made by the New England Transcendentalists (1837). For sexual sense (1897), see fetishism.

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adamant (n.)

"a very hard stone," mid-14c., adamant, adamaunt, from Old French adamant "diamond; magnet" or directly from Latin adamantem (nominative adamas) "adamant, hardest iron, steel," also used figuratively, of character, from Greek adamas (genitive adamantos), the name of a hypothetical hardest material.

It is a noun use of an adjective meaning "unbreakable, inflexible," which was metaphoric of anything unalterable (such as Hades) and is of uncertain origin. It is perhaps literally "invincible, indomitable," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + daman "to conquer, to tame," from PIE root *deme- "to constrain, force, break (horses)," for which see tame (adj.). "But semantically, the etymology is rather strange," according to Beekes, who suggests it might be a foreign word altered in Greek by folk etymology, and compares Akkadian (Semitic) adamu.

Applied in antiquity to a metal resembling gold (Plato), white sapphire (Pliny), magnet (Ovid, perhaps through confusion with Latin adamare "to love passionately"), steel, emery stone, and especially diamond, which is a variant of this word. "The name has thus always been of indefinite and fluctuating sense" [Century Dictionary]. The word had been in Old English as aðamans, but the modern word is a re-borrowing.

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leaf (n.)

Old English leaf "leaf of a plant, foliage; page of a book, sheet of paper," from Proto-Germanic *lauba- (source also of Old Saxon lof, Old Norse lauf, Old Frisian laf, Dutch loof, Old High German loub, German Laub "foliage, leaves," Gothic laufs "leaf, foliage"), perhaps from PIE *leub(h)- "to peel off, strip or break off" ((source also of Old Irish luib, "herb," lub-gort "garden;" Albanian labë "rind, cork;" Lithuanian luba "plank, board;" Russian lob "forehead, brow," Czech leb "skull;" Lithuanian luobas "bast," Latvian luobas "peel," Russian lub "bast;" Old Norse lyf "medicinal herbs," Old English lybb "poison; magic").

Related to lodge and lobby; for another PIE root see folio. Extended late 14c. to very thin sheets of metal (especially gold). Compare Lithuanian lapas "leaf," from a root also in Greek lepos "bark," lepein "to peel off." Also applied to flat and relatively broad surfaces, especially of flexible or mounted attachments; meaning "hinged flap on the side of a table" is from 1550s. To turn over a (new) leaf (1590s; 1570s as turn the leaf) "begin a new and better course of life" is a reference to the book sense. Among insects, leaf-hopper is from 1847; leaf-cutter from 1816.

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hard (adj.)

Old English heard "solid and firm, not soft," also, "difficult to endure, carried on with great exertion," also, of persons, "severe, rigorous, harsh, cruel," from Proto-Germanic *hardu- (source also of Old Saxon hard, Old Frisian herd, Dutch hard, Old Norse harðr "hard," Old High German harto "extremely, very," German hart, Gothic hardus "hard"), from PIE *kortu-, suffixed form of root *kar- "hard."

Meaning "difficult to do" is from c. 1200. Of water, in reference to the presence of mineral salts, 1650s; of consonants, 1775. Hard of hearing preserves obsolete Middle English sense of "having difficulty in doing something." In the sense "strong, spiritous, fermented" from 1789 (as in hard cider, etc.), and this use probably is the origin of that in hard drugs (1955). Hard facts is from 1853; hard news in journalism is from 1918. Hard copy (as opposed to computer record) is from 1964; hard disk is from 1978; the computer hard drive is from 1983. Hard times "period of poverty" is from 1705. Hard money (1706) is specie, silver or gold coin, as opposed to paper. Hence 19c. U.S. hard (n.) "one who advocates the use of metallic money as the national currency" (1844). To play hard to get is from 1945. Hard rock as a pop music style recorded from 1967. To do something the hard way is from 1907.

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sovereign (n.)

late 13c., soverain, "superior, ruler, master, one who is superior to or has power over another," from Old French soverain "sovereign, lord, ruler," noun use of adjective meaning "highest, supreme, chief" (see sovereign (adj.)). Specifically by c. 1300 as "a king or queen, a ruler of a realm." Also of Church authorities and heads of orders or houses as well as local civic officials.

Middle English had a tendency to add an unetymological -t to it, as in pheasant, tyrant. The meaning "gold coin worth 22s 6d" is attested from late 15c.; the value of it changed 1817 to 1 pound. In the political writings of 17c.-18c. it often has a sense of "the populace as the source of political power, the community in its collective and legislative capacity" and can be opposed to monarch.

Should it be argued, that a government like this, where the sovereignty resides in the whole body of the people, is a democracy ; it may be answered, that the right of sovereignty in all nations is unalienable and indivisible, and does and can reside nowhere else ; but, not to recur to a principle so general, the exercise, as well as the right of sovereignty, in Rome, resided in the people, but the government was not a democracy. In America, the right of sovereignty resides indisputably in the body of the people, and they have the whole property of land. [John Adams, "Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America," 1787-88]


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tawdry (adj.)

"no longer fresh or elegant but worn as if it were so; in cheap and ostentatious imitation of what is rich or costly," 1670s, adjective use of noun tawdry "silk necktie for women" (1610s), shortened from tawdry lace (1540s), an alteration (with adhesion of the -t- from Saint) of St. Audrey's lace, a necktie or ribbon sold at the annual fair at Ely on Oct. 17 commemorating St. Audrey (queen of Northumbria, died 679). Her association with lace necklaces is that she supposedly died of a throat tumor, which, according to Bede, she considered God's punishment for her youthful stylishness:

"I know of a surety that I deservedly bear the weight of my trouble on my neck, for I remember that, when I was a young maiden, I bore on it the needless weight of necklaces; and therefore I believe the Divine goodness would have me endure the pain in my neck, that so I may be absolved from the guilt of my needless levity, having now, instead of gold and pearls, the fiery heat of a tumour rising on my neck." [A.M. Sellar translation, 1907]

Related: Tawdriness.

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pipsqueak (n.)

also pip-squeak, contemptuous name for an insignificant person, 1910, from the trivial noise a young or weak creature makes. In World War I it was the soldier's slang name for a small German shell "which makes both a pip and a squeak when it comes over the trenches" [Farrow, "Dictionary of Military Terms," 1918]. Pip and Squeak (and later Wilfred), the beloved English comic strip animals, debuted May 1919 in the children's section of the Daily Mirror. To squeeze (something) until the pips squeak "exact the maximum from" is attested by 1918, from pip (n.1).  

The grossest spectacle was provided by Sir Eric Geddes in the Guildhall at Cambridge. An earlier speech in which, in a moment of injudicious candour, he had cast doubts on the possibility of extracting from Germany the whole cost of the war had been the object of serious suspicion, and he had therefore a reputation to regain. "We will get out of her all you can squeeze out of a lemon and a bit more," the penitent shouted, "I will squeeze her until you can hear the pips squeak" ; his policy was to take every bit of property belonging to Germans in neutral and Allied countries, and all her gold and silver and her jewels, and the contents of her picture-galleries and libraries, to sell the proceeds for the Allies' benefit. [John Maynard Keynes, "The Economic Consequences of Peace," 1919]
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forty (adj., n.)

"1 more than thirty-nine, twice twenty; the number which is one more than thirty-nine; a symbol representing this number;" early 12c., feowerti, from Old English feowertig, Northumbrian feuortig "forty," from feower "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four") + tig "group of ten" (see -ty (1)). Compare Old Saxon fiwartig, Old Frisian fiuwertich, Dutch veertig, Old High German fiorzug, German vierzig, Old Norse fjorir tigir, Gothic fidwor tigjus.

[T]he number 40 must have been used very frequently by Mesha's scribe as a round number. It is probably often used in that way in the Bible where it is remarkably frequent, esp. in reference to periods of days or years. ... How it came to be so used is not quite certain, but it may have originated, partly at any rate, in the idea that 40 years constituted a generation or the period at the end of which a man attains maturity, an idea common, it would seem, to the Greeks, the Israelites, and the Arabs. ["The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia," James Orr, ed., Chicago, 1915]

Forty winks "short sleep" is attested from 1821; in early use associated with, and perhaps coined by, English eccentric and lifestyle reformer William Kitchiner M.D. (1775-1827). Forty-niner in U.S. history was an adventurer to California (usually from one of the eastern states) in search of fortune during the gold rush of 1849.

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silver (n.)

"rare white metal, harder than gold, softer than copper, valued for its luster and malleability," Middle English silver, from Old English seolfor, Mercian sylfur, Northumbrian sulfer, "the metal silver; silver coin, money," from Proto-Germanic *silabur- (source also of Old Saxon silvbar, Old Frisian selover, Old Norse silfr, Middle Dutch silver, Dutch zilver, Old High German silabar, German silber "silver; money," Gothic silubr "silver"), which is of uncertain origin.

It seems to be Germanic/Balto-Slavic (source also of Old Church Slavonic s(u)rebo, Russian serebro, Polish srebro, Lithuanian sidabras "silver"), but has long been presumed to be a Wanderwort (a loan-word that has spread among several languages) displacing the usual IE word for the metal (represented by Latin argentum; see argent).

Basque zilharr "silver" usually is considered a loan-word from West Germanic, but the Germanic form lately has been compared to old Celtic words used in Spain, and because the rest of Celtic uses the argentum word, this suggests the borrowing might be in the other direction, and Germanic word might be from "a Hispano-Celtic innovation due to an Iberian donor language. In this connection, the old comparison of Basque zilharr is attractive" [Boutkan].

From c. 1300 as "articles, plates, etc. of silver, silverware." As a color name from late 15c. Chemical abbreviation Ag is from Latin argentum "silver."

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