(plural shmoon), comic strip creature, a fabulous animal ready to fulfill man's wants, 1948; invented by U.S. cartoonist Al Capp (Alfred Caplin, 1909-1979); the name perhaps based on schmoe. It was a U.S. fad for a couple of years after its debut.
powerful explosive consisting of a mixture of nitroglycerine with an absorbent, 1867, from Swedish dynamit, coined 1867 by its inventor, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), from Greek dynamis "power" (see dynamic (adj.)) + -ite (2). Figurative sense of "something potentially dangerous" is from 1922. Positive sense of "dynamic and excellent" by mid-1960s, perhaps originally African-American vernacular.
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
[T.S. Eliot, from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"]
As a noun, "a short, hurried run," by 1620s.
Old English Scottas (plural) "inhabitants of Ireland, Irishmen," from Late Latin Scotti (c. 400), a name of uncertain origin, perhaps from Celtic (but answering to no known tribal name; Irish Scots appears to be a Latin borrowing). The name followed the Irish tribe which invaded Scotland 6c. C.E. after the Romans withdrew from Britain, and after the time of Alfred the Great the Old English word described only the Irish who had settled in the northwest of Britain.
The Latin sense shift in auster, if it is indeed the same word other Indo-European languages use for "east," for which Latin uses oriens (see Orient (n.)), perhaps is based on a false assumption about the orientation of the Italian peninsula, "with shift through 'southeast' explained by the diagonal position of the axis of Italy" [Buck]; see Walde, Alois, "Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch," 3rd. ed., vol. I, p.87; Ernout, Alfred, and Meillet, Alfred, "Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine," 2nd. ed., p.94. Or perhaps the connection is more ancient, and from PIE root *aus- "to shine," source of aurora, which also produces words for "burning," with reference to the "hot" south wind that blows into Italy. Thus auster "(hot) south wind," metaphorically extended to "south."
1878, geestring, "loincloth worn by an American Indian," originally the string that holds it up, etymology unknown. The spelling with G (1882) is perhaps from influence of violin string tuned to a G (in this sense G string is first recorded 1831), the lowest and heaviest of the violin strings. First used of women's attire 1936, with reference to strip-teasers.
I AM the spirit of the silver "G":
I am silvered sadness,
I am moonlit gladness,
I am that fine madness
Of reverence half, and half of ecstasy
[from "Spirit of the 'G' String," Alfred L. Donaldson, in "Songs of My Violin," 1901]
Old English slæpan "to be or fall asleep; be dormant or inactive" (class VII strong verb; past tense slep, past participle slæpen), from Proto-Germanic *slēpanan (source also of Old Saxon slapan, Old Frisian slepa, Middle Dutch slapen, Dutch slapen, Old High German slafen, German schlafen, Gothic slepan "to sleep"), from PIE *sleb- "to be weak, sleep," which perhaps is connected to PIE root *sleg- "be slack, be languid," the source of slack (adj.). Sleep with "do the sex act with" is in Old English:
Gif hwa fæmnan beswice unbeweddode, and hire mid slæpe ... [Laws of King Alfred, c. 900]
Related: Slept; sleeping. Sleep around is attested by 1928.
symbol of artistic or intellectual aloofness, by 1889, from French tour d'ivoire, used in 1837 by critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) with reference to the poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), whom he accused of excessive aloofness.
Et Vigny, plus secret, comme en sa tour d'ivoire, avant midi rentrait. [Sainte-Beuve, "Pensées d'Août, à M. Villemain," 1837]
Used earlier as a type of a wonder or a symbol of "the ideal." The literal image is perhaps from Song of Solomon [vii:4]:
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. [KJV]