1831, "heavyweight horseman," later "boxer or wrestler of a certain weight" (1896), from earlier welter "heavyweight horseman or boxer" (1804), possibly from welt (v.) "beat severely" (c. 1400).
... but at the end of the first German mile, Nature gave way, and this excellent mare was obliged to "knock under" to the extraordinary exertions she had made, and to the welter weight she carried, upwards of 13 stone. [The Sporting Magazine, September 1831]
Old English cnotta "intertwining of ropes, cords, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *knuttan- (source also of Low German knütte, Old Frisian knotta "knot," Dutch knot, Old High German knoto, German Knoten, perhaps also Old Norse knutr "knot, knob"). For pronunciation, see kn-.
Figurative sense of "difficult problem, a perplexity" was in Old English (compare Gordian knot). Symbolic of the bond of wedlock from early 13c. As an ornament of dress, first attested c. 1400. Meaning "thickened part or protuberance on tissue of a plant" is from late 14c. As "small group or cluster of persons" late 14c.
The nautical unit of measure of speed (1630s) is from the practice of attaching knotted string to the log line at equal distances (see log (n.2)). The ship's speed can be measured by the number of knots that play out while the sand glass is running.
The distance between the knots on the log-line should contain 1/120 of a mile, supposing the glass to run exactly half a minute. [Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, "A Voyage to South America" 1760]
Hence the word knot came also to be used as the equivalent of a nautical mile (in pre-World War II use in U.S. and Britain, about 6,080 feet). A speed of 10 knots will cover ten nautical miles in an hour (equivalent to a land speed of about 11.5 mph).
Meaning "from one's own or accustomed place" is from c. 1300; that of "from one state or condition to another" is from mid-14c.; that of "from one's possession (give away, throw away) is from c. 1400. Colloquial use for "without delay" (fire away, also right away) is from earlier sense of "onward in time" (16c.). Meaning "at such a distance" (a mile away) is by 1712. Intensive use (as in away back) is American English, attested by 1818. Of sporting events played at the other team's field or court, by 1893.
c. 1400, frowntere, "front line of an army;" early 15c., fronture, "borderland, part of a country which faces another," from Old French frontiere "boundary-line of a country," also "frontier fortress; front rank of an army" (13c.), noun use of adjective frontier "facing, neighboring," from front "brow" (see front (n.)). In reference to North America, "part of the country which is at the edge of its settled regions" from 1670s. Later it was given a specific sense:
What is the frontier? ... In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. [F.J. Turner, "The Frontier in American History," 1920]
1540s, "of or pertaining to Miletus, ancient city of Caria on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor." From 1590s in reference to Ireland or the Irish, a different word, from Milesius, a legendary king of Spain, whose two sons were said to have conquered and reorganized Ireland in ancient times.
"dense, low shrub thicket," 1850, American English, from Spanish chaparro "evergreen oak," perhaps from Basque txapar "little thicket," diminutive of sapar "heath, thicket."
In Spain, a chaparral is a bush of a species of oak. The termination al signifies a place abounding in; as, chaparral, a place of oak-bushes, almendral, an almond orchard; parral, a vineyard; cafetal, a coffee plantation, etc., etc.
This word, chaparral, has been introduced into the language since our acquisition of Texas and New Mexico, where these bushes abound. It is a series of thickets, of various sizes, from one hundred yards to a mile through, with bushes and briars, all covered with thorns, and so closely entwined together as almost to prevent the passage of any thing larger than a wolf or hare. [John Russell Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1859]
Earliest attested sense in English is now-obsolete meaning "male member, penis" (c. 1400). Modern sense is from the notion of within the verge (c. 1500, also as Anglo-French dedeinz la verge), i.e. "subject to the Lord High Steward's authority" (as symbolized by the rod of office), originally a 12-mile radius round the king's court. Sense shifted to "the outermost edge of an expanse or area." Meaning "point at which something happens" (as in on the verge of) is first attested c. 1600. "A very curious sense development." [Weekley]
name of a large venomous snake of sub-Saharan Africa, attested by 1859, from Zulu (i)mamba or Swahili mamba.
"Now about snakes. I have never forgotten your quiet, dignified unbelief in my snake histories, and have taken every opportunity of finding out all I can about them; more particularly of the 'mamba' or chasing snake. It is a most vicious creature, and will chase you a mile. You must ride hard if one makes for you. It reaches sixteen or eighteen feet, and has the power of erecting itself on its tail when in pursuit of its object; then throwing itself down and rushing on twenty yards or so, and then reaiing up again: and so on, till it comes to some bush or tree, round which it throws its strong tail, and then strikes right and left at its enemies." [Journal of the Society of Arts, March 11, 1859]
"Originally the distance between successive stations of the shouters and runners employed to estimate distances" [Century Dictionary]. According to Barnhart, the Greek word might literally mean "fixed standard of length" (from stadios "firm, fixed," from PIE root *sta- "to stand"), or it may be from spadion, from span "to draw up, pull," with form influenced by stadios.