plural of man (n.). In common with German Männer, etc., it shows effects of i-mutation. Used as an indefinite pronoun ("one, people, they") from late Old English. Men's liberation first attested 1970. Men's room "a lavatory for men" is by 1908, American English. Earlier it had a more general sense:
men's room, n. "One end of this [cook and dining] room is partitioned off for a men's room, where the crew sit evenings, smoking, reading, singing, grinding their axes, telling stories, etc., before climbing the ladder to their night's rest in the bunk room ... For many years women have been employed in [logging] camps as cooks, hence the name men's room, for the crew are not allowed in the cook room except at meal time." [quoted in "Some Lumber and Other Words," in Dialect Notes, vol. II, part VI, 1904]
Menswear (also men's wear) "clothes for men" is by 1906. To separate the men from the boys in a figurative sense "distinguish the manly, mature, capable, etc. in a group from the rest" is from 1943; earliest uses tend to credit it to U.S. aviators in World War II.
One of the most expressive G.I. terms to come out of the late strife was "that's where they separate the men from the boys" — so stated by American aviators leaning from their cockpits to observe a beach-landing under fire on some Pacific island far below. ["Arts Magazine," 1947]
late 15c., "a kind of thin, worsted wool yarn used in embroidery and fancy work," of unknown origin. Hence crewel-work, kind of embroidery done by crewel, usually upon linen (1849).
Skelton was an early variant form. The noun use of Greek skeletos passed into Late Latin (sceletus), hence French squelette and rare English skelet (1560s), Spanish esqueleto, Italian scheletro. The meaning "bare outline" is first recorded c. 1600; hence skeleton crew (1778), skeleton key, etc. Phrase skeleton in the closet "source of secret shame to a person or family" is from 1812 (the image is perhaps from the Bluebeard fable).
In reference to dark eyes, often as a mark of beauty, from 1660s. Black-eyed is from 1590s of women, of peas from 1728. The black-eyed Susan as a flower (various species) so called from 1881, for its appearance. It also was the title of a poem by John Gay (1685-1732), which led to a popular mid-19c. British stage play of the same name.
All in the Downs the fleet was moored,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard,
"Oh! where shall I my true love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William sails among the crew?"
1650s, "mop made of rope or yarn," used for cleaning the deck of a ship, etc., from swabber (c. 1600) "mop for cleaning a ship's deck," from Dutch zwabber, akin to West Frisian swabber "mop," from Proto-Germanic *swabb-, a word perhaps of imitative origin and denoting back-and-forth motion, especially in liquid.
Non-nautical meaning "anything used for mopping up" is from 1787; as "cloth or sponge on a handle to cleanse the mouth of the sick, etc.," from 1854. The slang meaning "a sailor" is attested by 1798, is short for swabber "member of a ship's crew assigned to swab decks" (1590s), which by c. 1600 was being used in a broader sense of "one who behaves like a low-ranking sailor, one fit only to use a swab."
Meaning "offense of habitually starting legal suits" is from 1640s. The sense has been somewhat confused with that of Middle English baratri "combat, fighting" (c. 1400), from Old Norse baratta "fight, contest strife." This was an active word in Middle English, with forms such as baraten "to disturb the peace" (mid-15c.); baratour "inciter to riot, bully" (late 14c., mid-13c. as a surname).
Barataria Bay, Louisiana, U.S., is from Spanish baratear "to cheat, deceive," cognate of the French word; the bay so called in reference to the difficulty of its entry passages.
WATER LOGGED, the state of a ship when, by receiving a great quantity of water into her hold, by leaking, &c., she has become heavy and inactive upon the sea, so as to yield without resistance to the efforts of every wave rushing over her decks. As, in this dangerous situation, the center of gravity is no longer fixed, but fluctuating from place to place, the stability of the ship is utterly lost. She is therefore almost totally deprived of the use of her sails, which would operate to overset her, or press the head under water. Hence there is no resource for the crew, except to free her by the pumps, or to abandon her by the boats as soon as possible. [William Falconer, "An Universal Dictionary of the Marine," London, 1784]
The verb waterlog (1779) appears to be a back-formation.
"subject (someone) to cruel horseplay," 1850, American English student slang, from earlier nautical sense of "harass with work, punish by keeping at unpleasant and unnecessary hard labor" (1840), perhaps from hawze "terrify, frighten, confound" (1670s), from French haser "irritate, annoy" (mid-15c.), which is of unknown origin. Related: Hazed; hazing.
All hands were called to "come up and see it rain," and kept on deck hour after hour in a drenching rain, standing round the deck so far apart as to prevent our talking with one another, with our tarpaulins and oil-cloth jackets on, picking old rope to pieces or laying up gaskets and robands. This was often done, too, when we were lying in port with two anchors down, and no necessity for more than one man on deck as a look-out. This is what is called "hazing" a crew, and "working their old iron up." [Richard H. Dana, "Two Years before the Mast," 1840]