fem. proper name, an assibilated form of Mag, pet form of Margaret. Also used as the name of a barn-owl and a magpie.
MADGE. The private parts of a woman. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, 1785]
"child" (of either gender or any age), "son or daughter," Old English bearn "child, son, descendant," from Proto-Germanic *barnan (source also of Old Saxon barn, Old Frisian bern, Old High German barn "child;" lost in modern German and Dutch), from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children."
Originally a general English word, in modern English restricted to northern England and Scottish from c. 1700. This was the English form of the original Germanic word for "child" (see child). Dutch, Old High German kind, German Kind are from a prehistoric *gen-to-m "born," from the same root as Latin gignere (see genus and compare kind (n.)). Middle English had bairn-team "brood of children."
"stack of hay," Old English muga, muwa "a heap (of grain, pease, etc.), swath of corn; crowd of people," earlier muha, from Proto-Germanic *mugon (source also of Old Norse mugr "a heap," mostr "crowd"), of uncertain origin. Meaning "place in a barn where hay or sheaves of grain are stored" is by 1755.
royal officer, especially one charged with care of horses, 1590s, short for groom of the equirrie, from esquiry "stables" (1550s), from French escuerie (Modern French écurie), perhaps from Medieval Latin scuria "stable," from Old High German scura "barn" (German Scheuer); or else from Old French escuier "groom," from Vulgar Latin *scutarius "shield-bearer." In either case, the spelling was influenced by Latin equus "horse," which is unrelated.
"grass mown," Old English heg (Anglian), hieg, hig (West Saxon) "grass cut or mown for fodder," from Proto-Germanic *haujam (source also of Old Norse hey, Old Frisian ha, Middle Dutch hoy, German Heu, Gothic hawi "hay"), literally "that which is cut," or "that which can be mowed" (from PIE *kau- "to hew, strike;" source also of Old English heawan "to cut;" see hew).
Slang phrase hit the hay (pre-1880) was originally "to sleep in a barn;" hay in the general figurative sense of "bedding" is from 1903; roll in the hay (n.) is from 1941.
early 14c., bernak; earlier in Anglo-Latin, bernekke, early 13c., "species of northern European wild goose;" as a type of "shellfish" found in clusters on submerged wood, first recorded 1580s. Of unknown origin despite intense speculation.
The earliest form looks like "bare neck," and one of the Middle English synonyms was balled cote, but this might be folk etymology. The word is often said to be from a Celtic source (compare Breton bernik, a kind of shellfish), but the application to the goose predates that of the shellfish, and the word seems to have arisen in English.
The goose nests in the Arctic in summer and returns to Europe in the winter, hence the mystery surrounding its reproduction. It was believed in ancient superstition (and as recently as late 17c.) to hatch or develop from the barnacle's shell, possibly because the crustacean's feathery stalks resemble goose down. Some versions of the fable had the barnacles growing on trees and dropping into the sea to become geese. Compare German Entenmuschel "barnacle," literally "duck-mussel."
For I tolde hem, that in oure Countree weren Trees, that beren a Fruyt, that becomen Briddes fleeynge; and tho that fellen in the Water, lyven; and thei that fallen on the Erthe, dyen anon: and thei ben right gode to Mannes mete. And here of had thei als gret marvaylle, that sume of hem trowed it were an impossible thing to be. [Sir John Mandeville, "Voiage and Travaile," mid-14c.]
The scientific name of the crustacean, Cirripedes, is from Greek cirri "curls of hair" + pedes "feet." Meaning "person holding tenaciously to an office or position, useless or incompetent jobholder" is from c. 1600.