Etymology
Advertisement
crotchet (n.)

early 14c., "small hook;" mid-15c. "a staff with a hook at the end," from Old French crochet (pronounced "crotchet") "small hook; canine tooth" (12c.), diminutive of croc "hook," from Old Norse krokr "hook," which is of obscure origin but perhaps related to the widespread group of Germanic kr- words meaning "bent, hooked."

As a curved surgical instrument with a sharp hook, from 1750. Figurative use in musical notation for "quarter note" is from mid-15c., from the shape of the notes. Also from 1670s in now-obsolete sense "one of the pair of marks now called 'brackets.'"

Meaning "whimsical fancy, singular opinion," especially one held by someone who has no competency to form a sound one, is from 1570s; the sense is uncertain, perhaps it is the same mechanical image in extended senses of crank; but other authorities link it to the musical notation one (think: "too many notes").

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pen-driver (n.)

jocular or slighting term for a clerk or author, by 1820, from pen (n.1) + driver. Earlier was quill-driver (by 1760).

The Author goes on, and tells us, "that the two thousand hogs were not driven into the sea by evil spirits, but by the two madmen, who, in one of their frantic fits, frightened them into it."— But is it not more than intimated that the men were restored to their right mind before the hogs took to their heels? Besides, that two madmen should drive two thousand such ungovernable creatures as hogs one way, does, I think, exceed the belief of any hog-driver on the road, if not of the pen-driver in his closet. [introduction to "Beelzebub Driving and Drowning his Hogs," a sermon on Mark v.12, 13, by James Burgess, 1820]
Related entries & more 
Cheshire 

1086, Cestre Scire, from Chester + scir "district" (see shire). Cheshire cat and its proverbial grin are attested from 1770, but the signification is obscure.

I made a pun the other day, and palmed it upon Holcroft, who grinned like a Cheshire cat. (Why do cats grin in Cheshire?—Because it was once a county palatine, and the cats cannot help laughing whenever they think of it, though I see no great joke in it.) I said that Holcroft, on being asked who were the best dramatic writers of the day, replied, "HOOK AND I." Mr Hook is author of several pieces, Tekeli, &c. You know what hooks and eyes are, don't you? They are what little boys do up their breeches with. [Charles Lamb, letter to Thomas Manning, Feb. 26, 1808]
Related entries & more 
top (adj.)

"being at the top," 1590s, from top (n.1). Top dollar "high price" is from 1942. Top-drawer (1920) is from British expression out of the top drawer "upper-class." Top ten in popular music is from 1945 ("Billboard"). The top dog is the one uppermost in a fight, from 1868 in figurative use, opposed to the underdog.

But if the under dog in the social fight runs away with a bone in violation of superior force, the top dog runs after him bellowing, "Thou shalt not steal," and all the other top dogs unite in bellowing, "This is divine law and not dog law;" the verdict of the top dog so far as law, religion, and other forms of brute force are concerned settles the question. [Van Buren Denslow, "Modern Thinkers: What They Think and Why," 1880]
Related entries & more 
rent (n.1)

[payment for use of property], mid-12c., in a legal sense, "compensation made periodically, with reference to time of possession and use of property," from Old French rente "payment due; profit, income" and Medieval Latin renta, both from Vulgar Latin *rendita, noun use of fem. past participle of *rendere "to render" (see render (v.)).

It came into English earlier in a more general, and now obsolete, sense of "income, revenue" (late Old English). The sense in political economy, "what is left from the produce of the soil after deducting what is necessary to support the producers, interest, seed-corn, etc.," is by 1815. Rent-free is attested from 1630s.

Rents (to think how much of evil there is in the two senses of that four-lettered word ! In the two methods of intonation of its synonym, Tear !) [Ruskin, "Fors Claveriga"]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
greyhound (n.)

Old English grighund (West Saxon), greghund (Anglian) "greyhound," probably from grig- "bitch," a word of unknown etymology, + hund "dog" (see hound (n.)).

The first element in the name apparently has nothing to do with color, as most of the hounds are not gray, but the exact sense of it must have been early forgotten, as it has been long associated with the color in popular imagination. In some Middle English forms it appears to be conformed to Grew, an old word for "Greek" (from Old French Griu). The Old Norse form of the word is preserved in Hjalti's couplet that almost sparked war between pagans and Christians in early Iceland:

Vilkat goð geyja
grey þykkjumk Freyja
[translation "I will not blaspheme the gods,
but I think Freyja is a bitch"]
Related entries & more 
execution (n.)

late 14c., "a carrying out, a putting into effect; enforcement; performance (of a law, statute, etc.), the carrying out (of a plan, etc.)," from Anglo-French execucioun (late 13c.), Old French execucion "a carrying out" (of an order, etc.), from Latin executionem (nominative executio) "an accomplishing," noun of action from past-participle stem of exequi/exsequi "to follow out" (see execute).

Specific sense of "act of putting to death" (mid-14c.) is from Middle English legal phrases such as don execution of deth "carry out a sentence of death." Literal meaning "action of carrying something into effect" is from late 14c. John McKay, coach of the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers (U.S. football team), when asked by a reporter what he thought of his team's execution, replied, "I think it would be a good idea." Executor and executioner were formerly used indifferently, because both are carrying out legal orders.

Related entries & more 
speech (n.)

Old English spæc "act of speaking; power of speaking; manner of speaking; statement, discourse, narrative, formal utterance; language," variant of spræc, from Proto-Germanic *sprek-, *spek- (source also of Danish sprog, Old Saxon spraca, Old Frisian spreke, Dutch spraak, Old High German sprahha, German Sprache "speech;" see speak (v.))

The spr- forms were extinct in English by 1200. Meaning "address delivered to an audience" first recorded 1580s.

And I honor the man who is willing to sink
Half his present repute for the freedom to think,
And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or weak,
Will risk t' other half for the freedom to speak,
Caring naught for what vengeance the mob has in store,
Let that mob be the upper ten thousand or lower.
[James Russell Lowell, "A Fable for Critics," 1848]
But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. ... I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country. [Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., dissent to "Abrams v. United States," 1919]
Related entries & more 
dissent (v.)

mid-15c., dissenten, "express a different or contrary opinion or feeling, withhold approval or consent," from Old French dissentir (15c.) and directly from Latin dissentire "differ in sentiments, disagree, be at odds, contradict, quarrel," from dis- "differently" (see dis-) + sentire "to feel, think" (see sense (n.)). Ecclesiastical sense of "refuse to be bound by the doctrines or rules of an established church" is from 1550s. Related: Dissented; dissenting.

The noun is 1580s, "difference of opinion with regard to religious doctrine or worship," from the verb. From 1650s as "the act of dissenting, refusal to be bound by what is contrary to one's own judgment" (the opposite of consent). From 1660s as "a declaration of disagreement." By 1772 in the specific sense of "refusal to conform to an established church." 

Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime. [Jacob Bronowski "Science and Human Values," 1956]
Related entries & more 
study (v.)

early 12c., "to strive toward, devote oneself to, cultivate" (translating Latin occupatur), from Old French estudiier "to study, apply oneself, show zeal for; examine" (13c., Modern French étudier), from Medieval Latin studiare, from Latin studium "study, application," originally "eagerness," from studere "to be diligent," from PIE *(s)teu- (1) "to push, stick, knock, beat" (see steep (adj.)). The notion appears to be "pressing forward, thrusting toward," hence "strive after."

Martha swanc and becarcade to geforðigene þan Hælende and his þeowen þa lichamlice behefðen. Seo studdede emb þa uterlice þing. [Homily for the Feast of the Virgin Mary, c.1125]

From c. 1300 as "apply oneself to the acquisition of learning, pursue a formal course of study," also "read a book or writings intently or meditatively." From mid-14c. as "reflect, muse, think, ponder." Meaning "regard attentively" is from 1660s. Related: Studied; studying.

Related entries & more 

Page 19