also yegg-man, 1901, a word popular in the first decade of the 20th century and meaning vaguely "hobo burglar; safe-breaker; criminal beggar."
The great majority [of the Chicago criminal population] are what certain detectives call "Yegg-men," which is a term, by the way, that the detectives would do well to define. As far as I can discover it means tramp-thieves, but the average tramp seldom uses the word. Hoboes that break safes in country post-offices come under the Yegg-men classification. [McClure's Magazine, February 1901]
Popularized by the Pinkerton agency detectives. The 1900 "Proceedings of the 26th annual convention of the American Bankers' Association," whose members were protected by the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, reported a letter dated Nov. 23 or 24, 1899, returning $540, taken earlier that year, to the Scandinavian-American Bank of St. Paul, Minn., noting that the thieves had been so hounded by detectives that they gave up the gains and advised the bank to advertise that it was a member of the American Bankers Association, because "the American Bankers Association is too tough for poor 'grafters.'" The letter supposedly was signed "John Yegg," but this was said to be a pseudonym and the report identified the man arrested later in the case as William Barrett.
1550s, "line of battle in close ranks," from Latin phalanx "compact body of heavily armed men in battle array," or directly from Greek phalanx (genitive phalangos) "line of battle, battle array," also "finger or toe bone," originally "round piece of wood, trunk, log," a word of unknown origin. Perhaps from PIE root *bhelg- "plank, beam" (source of Old English balca "balk;" see balk (n.)).
In anatomy, originally the whole row of finger joints, which fit together like infantry in close order. Figurative sense of "number of persons banded together in a common cause" is attested from 1600 (compare Spanish Falangist, member of a fascist organization founded in 1933).
The celebrated Macedonian phalanx was normally drawn up sixteen ranks deep, the men being clad in armor, bearing shields, and armed with swords and with spears from 21 to 24 feet long. In array the shields formed a continuous bulwark, and the ranks were placed at such intervals that five spears which were borne pointed forward and upward protected every man in the front rank. The phalanx on smooth ground, and with its flanks and rear adequately protected, was practically invincible; but it was cumbrous and slow in movement, and if once broken could only with great difficulty be reformed. [Century Dictionary]
1940, a French word brought into English by John Buchan (Baron Tweedsmuir) and picked up by philosopher C.E.M. Joad because they found no adequate word in English for one "who spreads with clarity, vividness, force and accuracy, the knowledge obtained by and the wisdom derived from others" [Joad, 1948], vulgarize already being in use in the pejorative sense; see vulgar.
It has been pre-eminently the age of the vulgarisateur in the best sense of that word. I think the tendency wholly admirable. Lord Rutherford used to say that no conclusion which he ever reached was of any use to him until he could put it into plain English, into language understood by the ordinary man. Attempts to present the history of the world as an interrelated intelligible process, or to give a bird's-eye view of the long march of the sciences, may be faulty in detail, with many arbitrary judgments, but they do furnish principles of interpretation which enable the reader to find at any rate one way in the world of thought—perhaps a little later to make his own way. In this task the vulgarisateur may be preparing the soil for a rich future harvest, just as the work of the Sophists cleared the ground for Plato. [John Buchan, "Memory Hold-the-Door," 1940]
late 14c., salade, "raw herbs cut up and variously dressed," from Old French salade (14c.) and Medieval Latin salata, both from Vulgar Latin *salata, literally "salted," short for herba salata "salted vegetables" (vegetables seasoned with brine, a popular Roman dish), from fem. past participle of *salare "to salt," from Latin sal (genitive salis) "salt" (from PIE root *sal- "salt").
Dutch salade, German Salat, Swedish salat, Russian salat are from Romanic languages. Later extended to dishes composed of meat chopped and mixed with uncooked herbs and variously seasoned (chicken salad, etc.). In reference to the raw herbs and vegetables themselves, in U.S. it is colloquially limited to lettuce (by 1838).
Salad oil "olive oil used for dressing salads," is by 1550s. Salad-fork is by 1808. Salad bar is attested by 1940, American English. Salad days "time of youthful inexperience" (perhaps on notion of "green") was used by Shakespeare ("Antony and Cleopatra," 1606) and owes its survival, if not its existence, to him.
Whether the point is that youth, like salad, is raw, or that salad is highly flavoured & youth loves high flavours, or that innocent herbs are youth's food as milk is babes' & meat is men's, few of those who use the phrase could perhaps tell us ; if so, it is fitter for parrots' than for human speech. [Fowler]
c. 1600, from Latin (animal) insectum "(animal) with a notched or divided body," literally "cut into," noun use of neuter past participle of insectare "to cut into, to cut up," from in- "into" (from PIE root *en "in") + secare "to cut" (from PIE root *sek- "to cut"). The Latin word is Pliny's loan-translation of Greek entomon "insect" (see entomology), which was Aristotle's term for this class of life, in reference to their "notched" bodies.
First in English in 1601 in Holland's translation of Pliny. In zoology, in reference to a class of animals, 1753. Translations of Aristotle's term also form the usual word for "insect" in Welsh (trychfil, from trychu "cut" + mil "animal"), Serbo-Croatian (zareznik, from rezati "cut"), Russian (nasekomoe, from sekat "cut"), etc. Insectarian "one who eats insects" is attested from 1893.
Among the adjectival forms that have been tried in English (and mostly rejected by disuse) are insectile (1620s), insectic (1767), insective (1834), insectual (1849), insectine (1853), insecty (1859), insectan (1888).
It is curious that in the eyes of the Anglo-Saxon naturalists, the frog, the toad, the lizard or eft (efte), and other reptiles, were usually placed under the head of insects ; and this odd classification was preserved to rather a late period. [Thomas Wright, "Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies," 1884]
"detached, kept apart, divided from the rest," c. 1600, from separate (v.) or from Latin separatus. Separate also was used as a past-participle adjective in Middle English, "cut off from the main body," also, of a spouse, "estranged." The meaning "individual, particular" is from 1670s, on the notion of "withdrawn or divided from something else," hence "peculiar to one but not others."
Separate but equal in reference to U.S. segregation policies on railroads, etc. is attested by 1890 (Henry W. Grady); it was used in 1870s of medical courses for women at universities. Separate development, official name of apartheid in South Africa, is from 1955. Related: Separately (1550s); separateness.
Frequently the colored coach is little better than a cattle car. Generally one half the smoking car is reserved for the colored car. Often only a cloth curtain or partition run half way up separates this so-called colored car from the smoke, obscene language, and foul air of the smokers' half of the car. All classes and conditions of colored humanity, from the most cultured and refined to the most degraded and filthy, without regard to sex, good breeding or ability to pay for better accommodation, are crowded into this separate, but equal (?) half car. [Rev. Norman B. Wood, "The White Side of a Black Subject," 1897]
c. 1300, "fixed payment (usually in exchange for taxes collected, etc.), fixed rent," from Old French ferme "a rent, lease" (13c.), from Medieval Latin firma "fixed payment," from Latin firmare "to fix, settle, confirm, strengthen," from firmus "strong; stable," figuratively "constant, trusty" (from suffixed form of PIE root *dher- "to hold firmly, support").
Sense of "tract of leased land" is first recorded early 14c.; that of "cultivated land" (leased or not) is 1520s. A word of confused history, but there is agreement that "the purely agricultural sense is comparatively modern" [Century Dictionary]. There is a set of Old English words that appear to be related in sound and sense; if these, too, are from Latin it would be a very early borrowing. Some books strenuously defend a theory that the Anglo-Saxon words are original (perhaps related to feorh "life").
Phrase buy the farm "die in battle," is from at least World War II, perhaps a cynical reference to the draftee's dream of getting out of the war and going home, in many cases to a peaceful farmstead. The simple term buy it as slang for "suffer a mishap," especially "to die" is attested by 1825, and seems to have been picked up in airmen's jargon. Meanwhile fetch the farm is prisoner slang from at least 1879 for "get sent to the infirmary," with reference to the better diet and lighter duties there.
1884, Tabloid, "small tablet of medicine," trademark name (by Burroughs, Wellcome and Co.) for compressed or concentrated chemicals and drugs, a hybrid formed from tablet + Greek-derived suffix -oid. By 1898, it was being used figuratively to mean a compressed form or dose of anything, hence tabloid journalism (1901), and newspapers that typified it (1917), so called for having short, condensed news articles and/or for being small in size. Associated originally with Alfred C. Harmsworth, editor and proprietor of the London Daily Mail.
Mr. Harmsworth entered a printing office twenty years ago as office-boy, and today owns thirty periodicals besides The Mail. Upon a friendly challenge from Mr. Pulitzer of The New York World, the English journalist issued the first number of The World for the new century in the ideal form. The size of the page was reduced to four columns and the general make-up was similar in appearance to that of one of the weekly magazines. Current news was presented in condensed and tabulated form, of which the editor says: "The world enters today upon the twentieth or time-saving century. I claim that by my system of condensed or tabloid journalism hundreds of working hours can be saved each year." ["The Twentieth Century Newspaper," in The Social Gospel, February 1901]
c. 1200, "a Roman legion," from Old French legion "squad, band, company, Roman legion," from Latin legionem (nominative legio) "Roman legion, body of soldiers, a levy of troops," from legere "to gather; to choose, pick out, select," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." Tucker writes that "The common sense is 'pick,'" but it is unclear whether the use here is "picking up or picking out." Roughly 3,000 to 6,000 men, under Marius usually with attached cavalry. "The legions were numbered in the order of their levy, but were often known by particular names" [Lewis].
The great power of the Roman legion was due to its rigid discipline and its tactical formation in battle, which was so open and flexible as to enable it to meet every emergency without surprise or derangement.
Generalized sense of "a large number of persons" (c. 1300) is due to translations of the allusive phrase in Mark v.9. Of modern military bodies from 1590s. American Legion, U.S. association of ex-servicemen, founded in 1919. Legion of Honor is French légion d'honneur, an order of distinction founded by Napoleon in 1802. Foreign Legion is French légion étrangère "body of foreign volunteers in a modern army," originally Polish, Belgian, etc. units in French army; they traditionally served in colonies or distant expeditions. Related: Legionary.
"insincere, trifling, or deceptive talk," 1914. Popularly associated with roughly contemporary bullshit (n.) in the same sense, and in modern use often felt as a shortened form of it. There seems to have been an identical Middle English word meaning "false talk, fraud," apparently from Old French bole "deception, trick, scheming, intrigue," and perhaps related to modern Icelandic bull "nonsense."
Sais christ to ypocrites ... yee ar ... al ful wit wickednes, tresun, and bull. ["Cursor Mundi," Northumbrian, early 14c.]
There also was an early Modern English verb bull meaning "to mock, cheat," which dates from 1530s. Bull session is attested from 1920.
Also of uncertain connection with the bull that means "a gross inconsistency in language, a ludicrous blunder involving a contradiction in terms" (1630s), said by the English to be characteristic of the Irish, and thus often called an Irish bull. Sydney Smith defined it as "an apparent congruity, and real incongruity of ideas, suddenly discovered." Three examples attributed to Sir Boyle Roche: "Why should we do anything for posterity, for what, in the name of goodness, has posterity done for us?" ... "It would surely be better, Mr. Speaker, to give up not only a part, but, if necessary, even the whole of our Constitution, to preserve the remainder." ... "The best way to avoid danger is to meet it plump."