"state or character of being perspicacious; keenness of sight, clearness of understanding," 1540s, from French perspicacité (15c.) and directly from Late Latin perspicacitas "sharp-sightedness, discernment," from Latin perspicax "sharp-sighted, having the power of seeing through," from perspicere "look through, look closely at," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). An earlier word was perspicience "ability to see all things, infinite vision" (c. 1400).
1550s, "the number of 10,000," also "an indefinitely great number," from French myriade and directly from Late Latin myrias (genitive myriadis) "ten thousand," from Greek myrias (genitive myriados) "a number of ten thousand; countless numbers," from myrios (plural myrioi) "innumerable, countless, infinite; boundless," as a definite number, "ten thousand" ("the greatest number in Greek expressed by one word," Liddell & Scott say), of unknown origin; perhaps from PIE *meue- "abundant" (source also of Hittite muri- "cluster of grapes," Latin muto "penis," Middle Irish moth "penis"). Beekes offers "no etymology." The numerically specific use is usually in translations from Greek or Latin.
1846, "one who theoretically rejects and ignores all forms of religion based on revelation;" see secularism + -ist. More specifically by 1851 as "one who maintains that public education and civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element."
The religionist is noticeably the slave of inherited associations, and always thinks, more or less, within the fetters of the Bible. The Secularist, standing on independent grounds, determines for himself what should be the attitude of man towards the Infinite Personality on the part of those discerning His existence. [George Jacob Holyoake, "Secularism Distinguished from Unitarianism," 1855]
Earlier as "one of the secular clergy" (1716). Related: Secularistic.
late 14c., "foresight, prudent anticipation, timely care or preparation," from Old French providence "divine providence, foresight" (12c.) and directly from Latin providentia "foresight, precaution, foreknowledge," abstract noun from present-participle stem of providere "look ahead, prepare, supply, act with foresight," which is from pro "ahead" (see pro-) + videre "to see" (from PIE root *weid- "to see").
Providence (usually capitalized) "God as beneficent caretaker of his creatures," is recorded c. 1600, from earlier use of the word for "God's beneficent care, guardianship, or guidance" (late 14c., short for divine providence, etc.). The noun in classical Latin occasionally was used as the name of a goddess and in Late Latin as "God; the government of the world by God's infinite wisdom and foresight."
in the figurative sense "wildly irresponsible person, potent person or thing freed from usual restraint," by 1896; in the literal sense an object of dread on old warships; the figurative use probably arose from a celebrated scene in a popular late novel by Victor Hugo:
You can reason with a bull dog, astonish a bull, fascinate a boa, frighten a tiger, soften a lion; no resource with such a monster as a loose cannon. You cannot kill it, it is dead; and at the same time it lives. It lives with a sinister life which comes from the infinite. It is moved by the ship, which is moved by the sea, which is moved by the wind. This exterminator is a plaything. [Victor Hugo, "Ninety Three," 1874]
Old English wir "metal drawn out into a fine thread," from Proto-Germanic *wira- (source also of Old Norse viravirka "filigree work," Swedish vira "to twist," Old High German wiara "fine gold work"), from PIE root *wei- "to turn, twist, plait."
A wire as marking the finish line of a racecourse is attested from 1883; hence the figurative down to the wire. Wire-puller in the political sense is by 1842, American English, on the image of pulling the wires that work a puppet; the image itself in politics is older:
The ministerial majority being thus reduced to five in a house of five hundred and eighty-three, Lord John Russell and Lord Melbourne respectively announce the breaking up of the administration, and the curtain falls on the first act of the political farce, to the infinite annoyance and surprise of the prime wire-puller in the puppet-show. [British and Foreign Review, vol. IX, July-October 1839]