masc. proper name, biblical patriarch, from Hebrew Noach, literally "rest." Phrase Noah's ark in reference to the ark in which, according to Genesis, Noah saved his family and many animals, is attested from 1610s. As a child's toy representing Noah's ark, by 1841.
The adjective Noachian, in reference to the flood legend, is from 1670s, reflecting the Hebrew pronunciation. Noachical is from 1660s; Noachic from 1773.
fem. proper name, from French Hélène, from Latin Helena, from Greek Helenē, fem. proper name, probably fem. of helenos "the bright one." In Greek legend, the sister of Castor and Pollux and wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Her elopement with Paris was the cause of the Trojan War. Among the top 10 popular names for girl babies in the U.S. born between 1890 and 1934.
"parti-colored, variegated with spots of different colors," late 14c. (early 14c. in surnames), as if it were the past participle of a verb form of the Middle English noun pie "magpie" (see pie (n.2)), in reference to the bird's black and white plumage. Earliest use is in reference to the pyed freres, an order of friars who wore black and white. Also in pied piper (1845, in Browning's poem based on the German legend; used allusively by 1939).
1709, "ancient Scandinavian legend of considerable length," an antiquarians' revival to describe the medieval prose narratives of Iceland and Norway, from Old Norse saga "saga, story," cognate with Old English sagu "a saying" (see saw (n.2)).
Properly a long narrative composition of Iceland or Norway in the Middle Ages featuring heroic adventure and fantastic journeys, or one that has their characteristics. The extended meaning "long, convoluted story" is by 1857.
1590s, Mephastophilus, the name of the evil spirit to whom Faust sold his soul in the old legend, from German (1587), a word of unknown origin. The older, Greek-like form is apparently a folk-etymology. According to the speculation of eminent Göthe scholar K.J. Schröer (1886) it is a compound of Hebrew mephitz "destroyer" + tophel "liar" (short for tophel sheqer, literally "falsehood plasterer;" see Job xiii.4). Klein writes that the names of devils in the Middle Ages "are in most cases derived from Hebrew." Related: Mephistophelian.
masc. proper name, Church Latin Christophoros, from Ecclesiastical Greek khristophoros, literally "Christ-bearing;" from phoros "bearer," from pherein "to carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children." In medieval legend he was a giant (one of the rare virtuous ones) who aided travellers by carrying them across a river. Medallions with his image (called Christophers) worn by travelers are known from the Middle Ages (Chaucer's Yeoman had one). Not a common name in medieval England.
fem. proper name, personified as a nymph by Milton in "Comus" (1634). The name is from a Welsh tale of a maiden drowned in the river Severn by her stepmother; the legend is found in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Giraldus Cambrensis. It appears to be the Romanized form of the name of the River Severn (Welsh Hafren, Habren), which is Celtic and of unknown origin; it perhaps means "boundary." Sabrina neckline is from the 1954 film "Sabrina" starring Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina-work (1871) was a millinery term for a variety of application embroidery.
coined 1958 by San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen during the heyday of -nik suffixes in the wake of Sputnik. From Beat generation (1952), associated with beat (n.) in its meaning "rhythm (especially in jazz)" as well as beat (adj.) "worn out, exhausted," and Century Dictionary (1902) has slang beat (n.) "a worthless, dishonest, shiftless fellow." Originator Jack Kerouac in 1958 connected it with beatitude.
The origins of the word beat are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than the feeling of weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of the mind. [New York Times Magazine, Oct. 2, 1952]
"Beat" is old carny slang. According to Beat Movement legend (and it is a movement with a deep inventory of legend), Ginsberg and Kerouac picked it up from a character named Herbert Huncke, a gay street hustler and drug addict from Chicago who began hanging around Times Square in 1939 (and who introduced William Burroughs to heroin, an important cultural moment). The term has nothing to do with music; it names the condition of being beaten down, poor, exhausted, at the bottom of the world. [Louis Menand, New Yorker, Oct. 1, 2007]