Etymology
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curry (v.)

late 13c., "to rub down a horse," from Anglo-French curreier "to curry-comb a horse," from Old French correier "put in order, prepare, curry," from con-, intensive prefix (see com-), + reier "arrange," from a Germanic source (see ready). Related: Curried; currying.

To curry favor "flatter, seek favor by officious show of courtesy or kindness" is an early 16c. folk-etymology alteration of curry favel (c. 1400) from Old French correier fauvel "to be false, hypocritical," literally "to curry the chestnut horse," chestnut horses in medieval French allegories being symbols of cunning and deceit. Compare German den falben (hengst) streichen "to flatter, cajole," literally "to stroke the dun-colored horse."

Old French fauvel (later fauveau) "fallow, dun," though the exact color intended in the early uses is vague, is a diminutive of fauve "fawn-colored horse, dark-colored thing, dull," for which see Fauvist. The secondary sense here is entangled with similar-sounding Old French favele "lying, deception," from Latin fabella, diminutive of fabula (see fable (n.)). In Middle English, favel was a common name for a horse, while the identical favel or fauvel (from Old French favele) meant "flattery, insincerity; duplicity, guile, intrigue," and was the name of a character in "Piers Plowman."

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polenta (n.)

Old English polente, "a kind of barley meal," from Latin pollenta, polenta, literally "peeled barley," related to pollen "powder, fine flour" (see pollen), but the ultimate origin is uncertain. English later reborrowed it 19c. from Italian polenta (from the Latin word) for "porridge made of corn (maize)," a principal food in northern Italy, originally made from chestnut meal.

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mast (n.2)

"fallen nuts or acorns serving as food for animals." Old English mæst, the collective name for the fruit of the beech, oak, chestnut, and other forest trees, especially serving as food for swine, from Proto-Germanic *masto (source also of Dutch, Old High German, German mast "mast;" Old English verb mæsten "to fatten, feed"), perhaps from PIE *mad-sta-, from root *mad- "moist, wet," also used of various qualities of food (source also of Sanskrit madati "it bubbles, gladdens," medah "fat, marrow;" Latin madere "be sodden, be drunk;" Middle Persian mast "drunk;" Old English mete "food," Old High German muos "meal, mush-like food," Gothic mats "food").

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dusk (n.)

"partial darkness, state between light and darkness, twilight," 1620s, from an earlier adjective dusk, from Middle English dosc (c. 1200) "obscure, not bright; tending to darkness, shadowy," having more to do with color than light, which is of uncertain origin, not found in Old English. Middle English also had it as a verb, dusken "to become dark." The Middle English noun was dusknesse "darkness" (late 14c.).

Perhaps it is from a Northumbrian variant of Old English dox "dark-haired, dark from the absence of light," with transposition of -k- and -s-, (compare colloquial ax for ask). But OED notes that "few of our words in -sk are of OE origin." Old English dox is from PIE *dus-ko- "dark-colored" (source also of Swedish duska "be misty," Latin fuscus "dark," Sanskrit dhusarah "dust-colored;" also compare Old English dosan "chestnut-brown," Old Saxon dosan, Old High German tusin "pale yellow").

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red (n.)

 "the color red; red pigment; ruddiness; red wine," mid-13c., from red (adj.1). Compare Old High German roti, German röthe "redness, red," from the adjective in German. As "a person with red hair" from early 14c. In finance, in the red for "overdrawn, losing money" is by 1926, from the color formerly conventional for recording debts and balances in accounts.

Red is one of the most general color-names, and embraces colors ranging in hue from rose aniline to scarlet iodide of mercury and red lead. A red yellower than vermillion is called scarlet; one much more purple is called crimson. A very dark red, if pure or crimson, is called maroon; if brownish, chestnut or chocolate. A pale red — that is, one of low chroma and high luminosity — is called a pink, ranging from rose-pink, or pale crimson, to salmon-pink, or pale scarlet. [Century Dictionary]
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main line (n.)

"principal line of a railway," 1841, from main (adj.) + line (n.). Meaning "affluent area of residence" is by 1917, originally (with capitals) that west of Philadelphia, from the "main line" of the Pennsylvania Railroad which added local stops to a string of backwater towns west of the city late 19c. that helped turn them into fashionable suburbs.

The Main Line, Philadelphia's most famous suburban district, was deliberately conceived in the 1870's and 1880's by the [Pennsylvania] Railroad, which built high-toned housing developments, ran hotels, more or less forced its executives to plunk their estates out there, and created a whole series of somewhat spurious Welsh towns along the railroad tracks. ... Now everybody assumes these all date from 1682, like the Robertses; but as Chestnut Hill people like to say, "nobody but Welsh peasants lived on the Main Line till the Railroad built it up." [Nathaniel Burt, "The Perennial Philadelphians," 1963]

The original station stops were, in order out from the city, Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Paoli. The train line for commuters along it is the Paoli Local.

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cake (n.)

early 13c., "flat or comparatively thin mass of baked dough," from Old Norse kaka "cake," from West Germanic *kokon- (source also of Middle Dutch koke, Dutch koek "a cake, gingerbread, dumpling," Old High German kuohho, German Kuchen "a cake, a tart"). Not believed to be related to Latin coquere "to cook," as formerly supposed. Replaced its Old English cognate, coecel.

What man, I trow ye raue, Wolde ye bothe eate your cake and haue your cake? ["The Proverbs & Epigrams of John Heywood," 1562]

Extended mid-15c. to any flat, rounded mass. From early 15c. extended to "a light composition of flour, sugar, butter and other ingredients baked in any form." To take the cake "win all, rank first" (often ironic) is from 1847, American English; piece of cake "something easy" is from 1936. The let them eat cake story is found in Rousseau's "Confessions," in reference to an incident c. 1740, long before Marie Antoinette, though it has been associated with her since c. 1870; it apparently was a chestnut in the French royal family that had been told of other princesses and queens before her.

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blond (adj.)

of hair, "of a golden or light golden-brown color," late 15c., from Old French blont "fair, blond" (12c.), from the same source as Medieval Latin blundus "yellow," but of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Frankish *blund or another Germanic source (compare Dutch, German, Danish blond).

If it is a Germanic word, it is possibly related to Old English blonden-feax "gray-haired," from blondan, blandan "to mix" (see blend (v.)). According to Littré, the original sense of the French word was "a colour midway between golden and light chestnut," which might account for the notion of "mixed." [But Century Dictionary finds this "hardly probable."]

Old English beblonden meant "dyed," so it is also possible that the root meaning of blonde, if it is Germanic, may be "dyed," as ancient Teutonic warriors were noted for dying their hair. Du Cange, however, writes that blundus was a vulgar pronunciation of Latin flavus "yellow." Another guess (discounted by German etymologists), is that it represents a Vulgar Latin *albundus, from alba "white."

The word was reintroduced into English 17c. from French, and was until recently still felt as French, hence blonde (with French feminine ending) for females. Italian biondo, Spanish blondo, Old Provençal blon are said to be ultimately of Germanic origin.

Fair hair was much esteemed by both the Greeks and Romans, and so they not only dyed and gold-dusted theirs ..., but also went so far as to gild the hair of their statues, as notably those of Venus de Medici and Apollo. In the time of Ovid (A.U.C. 711) much fair hair was imported from Germany, by the Romans, as it was considered quite the fashionable color. Those Roman ladies who did not choose to wear wigs of this hue, were accustomed to powder theirs freely with gold dust, so as to give it the fashionable yellow tint. [C. Henry Leonard, "The Hair," 1879]
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