early 15c., trophe, "an overwhelming victory;" 1510s, "a spoil or prize of war," from Old French trophée (15c.) from Latin trophaeum "a sign of victory, monument," originally tropaeum, from Greek tropaion "monument of an enemy's defeat," noun use of neuter of adjective tropaios "of defeat, causing a rout," from trope "a rout," originally "a turning" (of the enemy); from PIE root *trep- "to turn."
In ancient Greece, spoils or arms taken in battle and set up on the field and dedicated to a god. Figurative extension to any token or memorial of victory is first recorded 1560s. As "a symbolic representation of a classical trophy" from 1630s.
Trophy wife "a second, attractive and generally younger, wife of a successful man who acquires her as a status symbol" was a trending phrase in media from 1988 ("Fortune" magazine did a cover story on it in 1989), but is older in isolated instances.
Variations on this theme ['convenience-wife'] include the HOSTESS-WIFE of a businessman who entertains extensively and seeks a higher-level, home-branch version of his secretary; the TROPHY-WIFE — the woman who was hard to get because of birth or wealth or beauty — to be kept on exhibition like a mammoth tusk or prime Picasso ... [Phyllis I. Rosenteur, excerpt from "The Single Women," published in Philadelphia Daily News, Dec. 12, 1961]
The excerpt distinguishes the trophy wife from the "showcase wife," "chosen for her pulchritude and constantly displayed in public places, dripping mink and dangling diamonds," which seems more to suit the later use of trophy wife.
1809, a collection of sculptures and marbles (especially from the frieze of the Parthenon) brought from Greece to England and sold to the British government by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (1766-1841).
The removal of the marbles, many of which were torn violently from their original positions upon the Parthenon, to the further damage of that monument, was in itself an act of vandalism; but their transportation to England at a time when Greece was accessible with difficulty opened the eyes of the world to the preeminence of Greek work. It was one of the first steps toward securing an accurate knowledge of Hellenic ideals, and has thus influenced contemporary civilization. [Century Dictionary]
The place is in Scotland, literally "little Ireland," from Ealg, an early Gaelic name for Ireland, with diminutive suffix -in. "The name would have denoted a colony of Scots who had emigrated here from Ireland ..." [Room].
Watkins suggests it is perhaps from PIE root *teue- "to swell," but Beekes writes that it is probably a Pre-Greek (non-IE) word. He writes that Latin tumulus "earth-hill" and Armenian t'umb "landfill, earthen wall" "may contain the same Pre-Greek/Mediterranean word," and suggests further connections to Middle Irish tomm "small hill," Middle Welsh tom "dung, mound."
The final -b began to be silent about the time of the spelling shift (compare lamb, dumb). Modern French tombeau is from Vulgar Latin diminutive *tumbellus. The Tombs, slang for "New York City prison" is recorded from 1840.
Old English cros "instrument of Christ's crucifixion; symbol of Christianity" (mid-10c.), probably from Old Norse or another Scandinavian source, picked up by the Norse from Old Irish cros, from Latin crux (accusative crucem, genitive crucis) "stake, cross" on which criminals were impaled or hanged (originally a tall, round pole); hence, figuratively, "torture, trouble, misery;" see crux. Also from Latin crux are Italian croce, French croix, Spanish and Portuguese cruz, Dutch kruis, German Kreuz.
The modern word is the northern England form and has predominated. Middle English also had two other forms of the same word, arriving from the continent by different paths: cruche, crouche (c. 1200) was from Medieval Latin, with pronunciation as in Italian croce (compare Crouchmas "festival of the Invention of the Cross," late 14c.). Later, especially in southern England, the form crois, croice, from Old French, was the common one (compare croisade, the older form of crusade). The Old English word was rood.
By c. 1200 as "ornamental likeness of the cross, something resembling or in the form of a cross; sign of the cross made with the right hand or with fingers." From mid-14c. as "small cross with a human figure attached; a crucifix;" late 14c. as "outdoor structure or monument in the form of a cross." Also late 14c. as "a cross formed by two lines drawn or cut on a surface; two lines intersecting at right angles; the shape of a cross without regard to religious signification." From late 12c. as a surname.
From c. 1200 in English in the figurative sense "the burden of a Christian; any suffering voluntarily borne for Christ's sake; a trial or affliction; penance in Christ's name," from Matthew x.38, xvi.24, etc. Theological sense "crucifixion and death of Christ as a necessary part of his mission" is from late 14c.
As "a mixing of breeds in the production of animals" from 1760, hence broadly "a mixture of the characteristics of two different things" (1796). In pugilism, 1906, from the motion of the blow, crossing over the opponent's lead (1880s as a verb; cross-counter (n.) is from 1883). As "accidental contact of two wires belonging to different circuits," 1870.