Etymology
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Caucasian (adj.)

1807, of or pertaining to the Caucasus Mountains (q.v.), with -ian. Applied to the "white" race 1795 (in Latin) by German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), who in his pioneering treatise on anthropology distinguished mankind into five races: Mongolian, Ethiopian, Malay, (Native) American, and Caucasian. In the latter group he included nearly all Europeans (except Lapps and Finns), Armenians, Persians, and Hindus, as well as Arabs and Jews. His attempt at division was based on physical similarities in skulls.

Blumenbach had a solitary Georgian skull; and that skull was the finest in his collection: that of a Greek being the next. Hence it was taken as the type of the skull of the more organised divisions of our species. More than this, it gave its name to the type, and introduced term Caucasian. Never has a single head done more harm to science than was done in the way of posthumous mischief by the head of this well-shaped female from Georgia. [Robert Gordon Latham, M.D., "The Natural History of the Varieties of Man," London, 1850]

The word has long since been abandoned as a historical/anthropological term. Compare Aryan.

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hammerhead (adj.)

also hammer-head, 1560s, "head of a hammer," from hammer (n.) + head (n.). From 1796 (American English) in reference to a kind of shark, so called for its broad, transverse head. The animal is referred to as hammer-headed shark from 1752 and hammer-fish from 1745. The older name for it was balance-fish; there was a full specimen and a head of another under that name in the Royal Society Museum by 1681:

He hath his Name not unaptly from the ſhape of his Head, very different from that of all other Fiſhes, being ſpread out horizontally, like the Beam of a Balance; his eyes ſtanding at the two extremes, as the iron Hooks do at the end of the Beam. He grows sometimes to the length of four or five yards: but this is a young one. [Nehemiah Grew, M.D., "Catalogue & Deſcription Of the Natural and Artificial Rarities Belonging to the Royal Society And preſerved at Greſham Colledge. Whereunto is Subjoyned the Comparative Anatomy of Stomachs and Guts. By the ſame author" London, 1681 ]

Compare French requin marteau, Italian pesce martello, etc. The Greeks named it for the cross-bar of a yoke (zygon) and called it zygania. "According to Xenocrates, and to Philotinus ap. Galen vi. 727, it is tough and indigestible, but may be eaten pickled" [Thompson].

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beard (n.)

"close growth of hair on the chin and lower face, normally characteristic of an adult male" (that of the upper lip being distinguished in Modern English as the mustache), Old English beard "beard," from Proto-Germanic *bard (source also of Old Frisian berd, Middle Dutch baert, Old High German bart, German bart), said in Pokorny to be from a PIE root *bhardhā- "beard" (source also of Old Church Slavonic brada, Russia boroda, Lithuanian barzda, Old Prussian bordus, and perhaps Latin barba "beard"), but Boutkan rejects this on phonetic grounds and suggests a non-IE substrate word. Old French berd is from Germanic.

The Greek and Roman Churches have long disputed about the beard. While the Romanists have at different times practised shaving, the Greeks, on the contrary, have strenuously defended the cause of long beards. Leo III. (795 AD) was the first shaved Pope. Pope Gregory IV., after the lapse of only 30 years, fulminated a Bull against bearded priests. In the 12th century the prescription of the beard was extended to the laity. Pope Honorius III. to disguise his disfigured lip, allowed his beard to grow. Henry I. of England was so much moved by a sermon directed against his beard that he resigned it to the barber. Frederick Barbarossa is said to have been equally tractable. [Tom Robinson, M.D., "Beards," St. James's Magazine, 1881]

Pubic hair sense is from 1600s (but neþir berd "pubic hair" is from late 14c.); in the 1811 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," the phrase beard-splitter is defined as, "A man much given to wenching" (compare beaver in the slang genital sense).

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forty (adj., n.)

"1 more than thirty-nine, twice twenty; the number which is one more than thirty-nine; a symbol representing this number;" early 12c., feowerti, from Old English feowertig, Northumbrian feuortig "forty," from feower "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four") + tig "group of ten" (see -ty (1)). Compare Old Saxon fiwartig, Old Frisian fiuwertich, Dutch veertig, Old High German fiorzug, German vierzig, Old Norse fjorir tigir, Gothic fidwor tigjus.

[T]he number 40 must have been used very frequently by Mesha's scribe as a round number. It is probably often used in that way in the Bible where it is remarkably frequent, esp. in reference to periods of days or years. ... How it came to be so used is not quite certain, but it may have originated, partly at any rate, in the idea that 40 years constituted a generation or the period at the end of which a man attains maturity, an idea common, it would seem, to the Greeks, the Israelites, and the Arabs. ["The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia," James Orr, ed., Chicago, 1915]

Forty winks "short sleep" is attested from 1821; in early use associated with, and perhaps coined by, English eccentric and lifestyle reformer William Kitchiner M.D. (1775-1827). Forty-niner in U.S. history was an adventurer to California (usually from one of the eastern states) in search of fortune during the gold rush of 1849.

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white (adj.)

Old English hwit "bright, radiant; clear, fair," also as a noun (see separate entry), from Proto-Germanic *hweit- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian hwit, Old Norse hvitr, Dutch wit, Old High German hwiz, German weiß, Gothic hveits), from PIE *kweid-o-, suffixed form of root *kweit- "white; to shine" (source also of Sanskrit svetah "white;" Old Church Slavonic sviteti "to shine," svetu "light;" Lithuanian šviesti "to shine," švaityti "to brighten").

As a surname, originally with reference to fair hair or complexion, it is one of the oldest in English, being well-established before the Conquest. Meaning "morally pure" was in Old English. Association with royalist causes is late 18c. Slang sense of "honorable, fair" is 1877, American English; in Middle English it meant "gracious, friendly, favorable." The racial sense "of those races (chiefly European or of European extraction) characterized by light complexion" is recorded from c. 1600; meaning "characteristic of or pertaining to white people" is from 1852, American English. White supremacy attested from 1868, American English [John H. Van Evrie, M.D., "White Supremacy and Negro Subordination," New York, 1868]; white flight is from 1966, American English.

White way "brightly illuminated street in a big city" is from 1908. White flag of truce or surrender is from c. 1600. White lie is attested from 1741. White Christmas is attested from 1847. White House as the name of the U.S. presidential residence is recorded from 1811. White water "river rapids" is recorded from 1580s. White Russian "language of Byelorussia" is recorded from 1850; the mixed drink is from c. 1978. Astronomical white dwarf is from 1924. White witch, one who used the power for good, is from 1620s.

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egomania (n.)

"obsessive self-centeredness," 1825 (in a letter of English critic William Sidney Walker, published in 1852), from ego + mania. Not in common use before 1890s, where it translated German Ich-Sucht.

[The egomaniac, as opposed to the megalomaniac,] does not regard it as necessary to dream of himself as occupying some invented social position. He does not require the world or its appreciation to justify in his own eyes himself as the sole object of his own interest. He does not see the world at all. Other people simply do not exist for him. The whole 'non-Ego' appears in his consciousness merely as a vague shadow or a thin cloud. The idea does not even occur to him that he is something out of the common, that he is superior to other people, and for this reason either admired or hated ; he is alone in the world ; more than that, he alone is the world and everything else, men, animals, things are unimportant accessories, not worth thinking about. [Max Nordau, "Degeneration," English translation, 1895]

Nordau's book was much-read, debated, and cited at the time and the word was associated with him (e.g. The Agora, July 1895).

Walker's use aside, its infrequent print appearance before 1895 seems to have been largely in the side of medicine that dealt with psychological matters:

The most frequent, yet the most extraordinary of these perversions of temper, are seen in young females. It is a species of aberration of the intellect, but short of insanity, real enough, but exaggerated, fictitious, factitious, and real at the same time. It frequently has its origin in dyspepsia, hysteria, or other malady, and in emotion of various kinds, such as disappointment, vexation, &c. Its object is frequently to excite and to maintain a state of active sympathy and attention, for which there, is as it were, a perpetual, morbid, and jealous thirst. It was rather aptly designated, by the clever relative of one patient, an ego-mania. [Marshall Hall, M.D., "Practical Observations and Suggestions in Medicine," London, 1845]
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hypochondria (n.)

"unfounded belief that one is sick," by 1816; a narrowing from the earlier sense "depression or melancholy without real cause" (1660s); from Middle English medical term ipocondrie "lateral regions of the upper abdomen" (late 14c.). This is from Late Latin hypochondria, from Greek hypokhondria (neuter plural of hypokhondrios), from hypo- "under" (see hypo-) + khondros "cartilage" (in this case, of the false ribs); see chondro-.

The sense "morbid melancholy" reflects the ancient belief that the viscera of the hypochondria (liver, gall bladder, spleen) were the seat of melancholy and the source of the vapors that caused such feelings. The attempt to put it on a scientific bases passes through hypochondriasis. Also see hype (n.). The poet Cowper is an oft-cited example in late 18c. literature. The focus of sense on the particular symptom "unfounded belief that one is sick" seems to begin 1790s with William Cullen, M.D., professor of physic in the University of Edinburgh, who made a specialty of the topic:

A languor, listlessness, or want of resolution and activity, with respect to all undertakings; a disposition to seriousness, sadness, and timidity; as to all future events, an apprehension of the worst or most unhappy state of them; and, therefore, often upon slight grounds an apprehension of great evil. Such persons are particularly attentive to the state of their own health, to every the smallest change of feeling in their bodies; and from any unusual sensation, perhaps of the slightest kind, they apprehend great danger, and even death itself. In respect to these feelings and fears, there is commonly the most obstinate belief and persuasion. [Cullen, "First Lines of the Practice of Physic," Edinburgh, 1791]

Though to Cullen the clinical definition of hypochondria also included physical symptoms and pains as well as these mental delusions. As the old medical beliefs faded, the word dropped from clinical use but remained in popular use for "groundless morbid fear for one's health." In the 1830s hypochondria could mean merely "morbid melancholy," also "apprehension of evil respecting health, without sufficient cause," and "upper abdomen."

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