in reference to a a dark red type of cherry widely grown in the U.S., 1889, said to have been developed 1870s and named for Ah Bing, Chinese orchard foreman for Oregon fruit-grower Seth Lewelling.
"a stone-fruit," one with a fleshy or soft outer part and a hard nut or stone at the center (as a plum, cherry, apricot, or peach), 1753, from Modern Latin drupa "stone-fruit," from Latin drupa (oliva) "wrinkled olive," from Greek dryppa, short for drypepes "tree-ripened," from drys "tree" (from PIE root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast," with specialized senses "wood, tree") + pepon "ripe" (from PIE root *pekw- "to cook, ripen").
late 14c., "poisonous substance" (a sense now archaic), from Latin virus "poison, sap of plants, slimy liquid, a potent juice," from Proto-Italic *weis-o-(s-) "poison," which is probably from a PIE root *ueis-, perhaps originally meaning "to melt away, to flow," used of foul or malodorous fluids, but with specialization in some languages to "poisonous fluid" (source also of Sanskrit visam "venom, poison," visah "poisonous;" Avestan vish- "poison;" Latin viscum "sticky substance, birdlime;" Greek ios "poison," ixos "mistletoe, birdlime;" Old Church Slavonic višnja "cherry;" Old Irish fi "poison;" Welsh gwy "poison").
The meaning "agent that causes infectious disease" emerged by 1790s gradually out of the earlier use in reference to venereal disease (by 1728); the modern scientific use dates to the 1880s. The computer sense is from 1972.
VIRUS (among Physicians) a kind of watery stinking Matter, which issues out of Ulcers, being endued with eating and malignant Qualities. [Bailey's dictionary, 1770]
c. 1300, transitive, "to stop the breath by preventing air from entering the windpipe;" late 14c., "to make to suffocate, deprive of the power of drawing breath," of persons as well as swallowed objects; a shortening of acheken (c. 1200), from Old English aceocian "to choke, suffocate," probably from root of ceoke "jaw, cheek" (see cheek (n.)), with intensive a-.
Intransitive sense from c. 1400. Meaning "gasp for breath" is from early 15c. Figurative use from c. 1400, in early use often with reference to weeds stifling the growth of useful plants (a Biblical image). Meaning "to fail in the clutch" is attested by 1976, American English. Related: Choked; choking.
The North American choke-cherry (1785) supposedly was so called for its astringent qualities: compare choke-apple "crab-apple" (1610s); and choke-pear (1530s) "kind of pear with an astringent taste" (also with a figurative sense, defined by Johnson as "Any aspersion or sarcasm, by which another person is put to silence)." Choked up "overcome with emotion and unable to speak" is attested by 1896. The baseball batting sense is by 1907.
"blossom of a plant," c. 1200, a northern word, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse blomi "flower, blossom," also collectively "flowers and foliage on trees;" from Proto-Germanic *blomon (source also of Old Saxon blomo, Middle Dutch bloeme, Dutch bloem, Old High German bluomo, German Blume, Gothic bloma), from PIE *bhle- (source also of Old Irish blath "blossom, flower," Latin flos "flower," florere "to blossom, flourish"), extended form of root *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom." Related to Old English blowan "to flower" (see blow (v.2)).
Not extended like 'flower' to a whole 'flowering plant', and expressing a more delicate notion than 'blossom', which is more commonly florescence bearing promise of fruit, while 'bloom' is florescence thought of as the culminating beauty of the plant. Cherry trees are said to be in blossom, hyacinths in bloom. [OED]
Transferred sense, of persons, "pre-eminence, superiority," is from c. 1300; meaning "state of greatest loveliness" is from early 14c.; that of "blush on the cheeks" is from 1752. Old English had cognate bloma, but only in the figurative sense of "state of greatest beauty;" the main word in Old English for "flower" was blostm (see blossom (n.)).
"of a bright, warm color resembling that of blood or of the highest part of the primery rainbow" [Century Dictionary], Middle English rēd, redde, read, reid, from Old English rēad, used of various shades of purple, crimson, scarlet, pink, etc.; also red clothes, dye, ink, wine, or paint, also "having a ruddy or reddish complexion; red-haired, red-bearded;" from Proto-Germanic *rauthan (source also of Old Norse rauðr, Danish rød, Old Saxon rod, Old Frisian rad, Middle Dutch root, Dutch rood, German rot, Gothic rauþs).
This is reconstructed to be from a PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy," the only color for which a definite common PIE root word has been found. It also is the root of native ruddy, rust, and, via Latin, ruby, rubric, russet, etc.
Along with dead, bread (n.), lead (n.1), its long vowel shortened in or after Middle English. The surname Read, Reid, Reade, etc. represents the old form of the adjective and retains the original Old English long vowel pronunciation. It corresponds to Brown, Black, White; Red itself being rare as a surname. As the color designation of Native Americans in English from 1580s.
In fixed comparisons, red as blood (Old English), roses (mid-13c.), cherry (c. 1400). From Old English as the color characteristic of inflammation, blistering, etc. Of the complexion, lips, etc., "ruddy, rosy, red" (c. 1200); also of person with a healthy complexion or skin color; to be red in the face as a result of powerful emotion or agitation is by c. 1200; to see red "get angry" is an American English expression attested by 1898.
Red as the characteristic color of "British possessions" on a map is attested from 1885. Red-white-and-blue in reference to American patriotism, from the colors of the flag, is from 1840; in a British context, in reference to the Union flag, 1852.
Red rover, the children's game, attested from 1891. Red ball signifying "express" in railroad jargon is by 1904, originally (1899) a system of moving and tracking freight cars. Red dog, type of U.S. football pass rush, is recorded from 1959 (earlier "lowest grade of flour produced in a mill," by 1889). Red meat, that which is ordinarily served or preferred undercooked, is from 1808; the food of wild beasts, hence its figurative use for something that satisfies a basic appetite (by 1792; popular from late 20c.).
Red shift in spectography is first recorded 1923. Red carpet "sumptuous welcome" is from 1934, but the custom for dignitaries is described as far back as Aeschylus ("Agamemnon"); it also was the name of a type of English moth. Red ant is from 1660s.