Etymology
Advertisement
cucking-stool (n.)
The Cucking-stool was a means adopted for the punishment of scolds and incorrigible women by ducking them in the water, after having secured them in a chair or stool, fixed at the end of a long pole, serving as a lever by which they were immersed in some muddy or stinking pond. [Willis's Current Notes, February 1851]

early 13c., from verbal noun from cuck "to void excrement," from Old Norse kuka "feces," from PIE root *kakka- "to defecate." So called because they sometimes resembled the old close stool of the pre-plumbing days, a portable indoor toilet that looked like a chair with a box under the seat. Old folk etymology made the first element a corruption of cotquean. For second element, see stool. Also known as trebucket and castigatory, it was used on fraudulent tradesmen, in addition to disorderly women, either for public exposure to ridicule or for ducking.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
thug (n.)

1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover."

The thugs roamed about the country in bands of from 10 to 100, usually in the disguise of peddlers or pilgrims, gaining the confidence of other travelers, whom they strangled, when a favorable opportunity presented itself, with a handkerchief, an unwound turban, or a noosed cord. The shedding of blood was seldom resorted to. The motive of the thugs was not so much lust of plunder as a certain religious fanaticism. The bodies of their victims were hidden in graves dug with a consecrated pickax, and of their spoil one third was devoted to the goddess Kali, whom they worshiped. [Century Dictionary]

The more correct Indian name is phanseegur (from phansi "noose"), and the activity was described in English as far back as c. 1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence by century's end. Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat, violent lowbrow" is from 1839.

Related entries & more 
quack (n.1)

"medical charlatan, impudent and fraudulent pretender to medical skill," 1630s, short for quacksalver (1570s), from obsolete Dutch quacksalver (modern kwakzalver), literally "hawker of salve," from Middle Dutch quacken "to brag, boast," literally "to croak" (see quack (v.)) + salf "salve," salven "to rub with ointment" (see salve (n.)). As an adjective from 1650s.

The oldest attested form of this quack in English is as a verb, "to play the quack" (1620s). The Dutch word also is the source of German Quacksalber, Danish kvaksalver, Swedish kvacksalvare.

A quack is, by derivation, one who talks much without wisdom, and, specifically, talks of his own power to heal ; hence, any ignorant pretender to medical knowledge or skill. Empiric is a more elevated term for one who goes by mere experience in the trial of remedies, and is without knowledge of the medical sciences or of the clinical observations and opinions of others; hence, an incompetent, self-confident practitioner. A mountebank is generally a quack, but may be a pretender in any line. Charlatan (literally 'chatterer') is primarily applied, not to a person belonging to any particular profession or occupation, but to a pretentious cheat of any sort. [Century Dictionary, 1897]

 Also "one who pretends to knowledge of any kind" (1630s).

Related entries & more 
banana (n.)

edible fruit of an endogenous plant of the tropics, 1590s; in reference to the plant itself, 1690s; borrowed by Spanish or Portuguese from a West African word, possibly Wolof banana. The plant seems to be native to Southeast Asia and the East Indies; it was introduced in Africa in prehistoric times and brought to the New World from Africa in 1516.

Banana-skin is from 1851, banana-peel from 1874, both originally with reference to them being left carelessly on the ground and liable to cause a pratfall when trodden upon. The nuisance was a frequent complaint in cities, and there seems to have been a regular insurance scam targeting streetcar lines in the 1890s.

The companies that have paid damages for fraudulent claims are the Manhattan Elevated Company, New York; West End Street Railway, Boston; Chicago City Railway Company, Chicago; Illinois Central Railroad Company, Chicago. The alleged injury was the same in each case, paralysis of the lower limbs, caused by slipping on a banana peel. [Street Railway Review, Jan. 15, 1895]

Banana split is attested from 1905. Banana oil "nonsense" is slang from c. 1910; probably from earlier use as the name of a chemical substance (also called banana liquid and essence of banana) used by 1873, one of the earliest artificial flavorings. Top banana, second banana, etc. are 1950s, from show business slang use of banana for "comedian," especially in a burlesque show.

Related entries & more 
nutmeg (n.)

"hard aromatic seed of the fruit of a tree found in the East Indies," used as a spice on cookery, c. 1300, note-mug, from Old North French or Anglo-French *noiz mugue, from Old French nois muguete, an unexplained alteration of nois muscade "nut smelling like musk," from nois "nut" (from Latin nux, from PIE *kneu- "nut;" see nucleus) + Latin muscada, fem. of muscat "musky" (see muscat). Probably influenced in English by Medieval Latin nux maga (compare unaltered Dutch muskaatnoot, German muscatnuß, Swedish muskotnöt).

American English colloquial wooden nutmeg "anything false or fraudulent" is from 1827; Connecticut is called the Nutmeg State "in allusion to the story that wooden nutmegs are there manufactured for exportation." [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1859]

At a dinner party, the other day, during a little playful discussion of Yankee character, a bland and benevolent-looking old gentleman at my side informed me that he had come to the conclusion that the wooden-nutmeg story was neither more nor less than a mischievous satire. "For," said he, "there would be such an amount of minute carving required to make a successful imitation of the nutmeg, that the deception would hardly pay the workman. For myself, I do not believe the cheat was ever practised." I thanked him in the name of my country for the justice done her, and assured him that the story of the Yankee having whittled a large lot of unsaleable shoe-pegs into melon seeds, and sold them to the Canadians, was also a base fabrication of our enemies. [Grace Greenwood, "Haps and Mishaps of a Tour in Europe in 1853"]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement

Page 2