"magnificent tomb," early 15c., from Latin mausoleum, from Greek Mausoleion, name of the massive marble tomb adorned with sculpture built 353 B.C.E. at Halicarnassus (Greek city in Asia Minor) for Mausolos, Persian satrap who made himself king of Caria. It was built by his wife (and sister), Artemisia. Counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, it was destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. General sense of "any stately burial-place" (now usually one designed to contain a number of tombs) is from c. 1600. Related: Mausolean.
1540s, figurative, "destruction, overthrow;" 1610s, literal, "action of pulling down or destroying (a structure); fact of being demolished," from French demolition "demolition; defeat, rout" (14c.), from Latin demolitionem (nominative demolitio), noun of action from past-participle stem of demoliri "to tear down," from de "down" (see de-) + moliri "build, construct," from moles (genitive molis) "massive structure" (see mole (n.3)).
Mencken noted demolition engineer for "house-wrecker" by 1936. Demolition derby is recorded from 1956, American English, defined by OED as "a contest in which old cars are battered into one another, the last one running being declared the winner."
Log cabin (1770) was the typical dwelling of the poor in antebellum U.S. history in the well-timbered region that was then the West. It has been a figure of the honest pioneer since the 1840 presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison (the original application was derisive and either way it was inaccurate). Falling off a log as a type of something easy to do is from 1839.
1550s "massive monumental stone structure of polygonl plan, the sides of which slope in planes to a common apex," also a geometrical solid resembling this, (earlier in Latin form piramis, late 14c., or nativized in Middle English as piram), from French pyramide (Old French piramide "obelisk, stela," 12c.), from Latin pyramides, plural of pyramis "one of the pyramids of Egypt," from Greek pyramis (plural pyramides) "a pyramid," which is apparently an alteration of Egyptian pimar "pyramid."
Greek pyramis also meant "kind of cake of roasted wheat-grains preserved in honey," and in this sense is said to derive from pyros "wheat" on the model of sesamis. According to some old sources the Egyptian pyramids were so called from their resemblance to the form of the cake, but Beekes points out that "the form of the cake is actually unknown."
Figurative of anything with a broad base and a small tip. Financial senses are by 1911. Related: Pyramidal (late 14c., piramidal).
Bavarian capital, German München, from root of Mönch "monk" (see monk); founded 1158 as a market town by Benedictine monks. In allusions to "appeasement" it is from the meeting of German, British, French and Italian representatives there on Sept. 29, 1938, which resulted in the cession of Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for Hitler's pledges.
During the flight [from Munich] Daladier sat silent and morose, worried about the reception he would receive at Le Bourget, about how the French would react to his having betrayed Czechoslovakia and France's promises. As the plane circled for landing, he and others saw a massive crowd awaiting them. Expecting jeers, hisses, rotten fruit, and maybe worse, Daladier declared stolidly: 'They are going to mob me, I suppose. ... I appreciate their feelings,' and insisted on absorbing their wrath by being the first off the plane. But as he stood dumbfounded on the gangplank, thousands surged forward carrying flags and flowers, shouting 'Hurrah for France! Hurrah for England! Hurrah for peace!' Daladier turned back to Léger and cursed, 'The God-damned fools!' [Benjamin F. Martin, "France in 1938"]
Old English great "big, tall, thick, stout, massive; coarse," from West Germanic *grauta- "coarse, thick" (source also of Old Saxon grot, Old Frisian grat, Dutch groot, German groß "great"). If the original sense was "coarse," it is perhaps from PIE root *ghreu- "to rub, grind," via the notion of "coarse grain," then "coarse," then "great;" but "the connextion is not free from difficulty" [OED].
It took over much of the sense of Middle English mickle, and itself now is largely superseded by big and large except in reference to non-material things. In the sense of "excellent, wonderful" great is attested from 1848.
Great White Way "Broadway in New York City" is from 1901, in reference to brilliant street illumination. The Great Lakes of North America so called by 1726, perhaps 1690s. Great Spirit "high deity of the North American Indians," 1703, originally translates Ojibwa kitchi manitou. The Great War originally (1887) referred to the Napoleonic Wars, later (1914) to what we now call World War I (see world).
"The Great War" — as, until the fall of France, the British continued to call the First World War in order to avoid admitting to themselves that they were now again engaged in a war of the same magnitude. [Arnold Toynbee, "Experiences," 1969]
Also formerly with a verb form, Old English greatian "to become enlarged," Middle English greaten "to become larger, increase, grow; become visibly pregnant," which became archaic after 17c.