c. 1400, "absence of storm or wind," from the adjective or from Old French calme, carme "stillness, quiet, tranquility," or directly from Old Italian (see calm (adj.)). Figurative sense "peaceful manner, mild bearing" is from early 15c.; that of "freedom from agitation or passion" is from 1540s.
Aftir the calm, the trouble sone Mot folowe. ["Romance of the Rose," c. 1400]
c. 1200, from Old English æmettig, of persons, "at leisure, not occupied; unmarried" (senses now obsolete), also, of receptacles, "containing nothing," of places, "unoccupied," from æmetta "leisure."
Watkins explains it as from Proto-Germanic *e-mot-ja-, with a prefix of uncertain meaning + Germanic *mot- "ability, leisure," possibly from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." A sense evolution from "at leisure" to "containing nothing, unoccupied" is found in several languages, such as Modern Greek adeios "empty," originally "freedom from fear," from deios "fear." "The adj. adeios must have been applied first to persons who enjoyed freedom from duties, leisure, and so were unoccupied, whence it was extended to objects that were unoccupied" [Buck].
The -p- is a euphonic insertion. Of words, etc., "destitute of force or effect," mid-14c. Related: Emptier. The figurative sense of empty-nester is attested by 1960.
"positive statement or assertion," often a mere saying but with implied authority, 1660s, from Latin dictum "thing said (a saying, bon-mot, prophecy, etc.), an order, a command," neuter of dictus, past participle of dicere "to say, speak" (from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly"). In legal use, a judge's expression of opinion without argument, which is not the formal resolution of a case or determination of the court.
popular dance, 1936, from Haitian or Dominican Creole méringue, from French méringue (see meringue), perhaps on the notion of "a mixture."
The Spanish word for this style of dance and music, merengue, literally means "meringue (the sweet dessert)" -- although it is unclear exactly how the dance might have come to be called "The Meringue." ["Spanish Word Histories and Mysteries," American Heritage Dictionaries, 2007]
Méringuer vient du mot créole "méringue". Méringue désigne une danse lascive, introduite depuis quelque temps en Haïti, et qui remplace, avec avantage pour quelques-uns, le respectable carabinier de nos pères. [footnote in Alcibiade Fleury-Battier, "Sous les Bambous," Paris, 1881]
1763, "blind alley, dead end," from French impasse "impassable road; blind alley; impasse" (18c.), from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + passe "a passing," from passer "to pass" (see pass (v.)). Figurative use (c. 1840) is perhaps from its use in whist. Supposedly coined by Voltaire as a euphemism for cul de sac.
... dans l'impasse de St Thomas du Louvre; car j'appelle impasse, Messieurs, ce que vous appelez cul-de-sac: je trouve qu'une rue ne ressemble ni à un cul ni à un sac: je vous prie de vous servir du mot d'impasse, qui est noble, sonore, intelligible, nécessaire, au lieu de celui de cul, ... (etc.) [Voltaire, "A Messieurs Les Parisiens"]
"substitution of a vulgar or derogatory word or expression for a dignified or normal one," 1873, from Greek dys- "bad, abnormal, difficult" (see dys-) + phēmē "speech, voice, utterance, a speaking," from phanai "speak" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"); Greek dysphemia meant "ill language, words of ill omen"). The opposite of euphemism. Rediscovered 1933 from French formation dysphémisme (1927, Carnoy).
The French psychologist Albert J. Carnoy gave an extensive definition in his study Le Science du Mot, which in translation runs: "Dysphemism is unpitying, brutal, mocking. It is also a reaction against pedantry, rigidity and pretentiousness, but also against nobility and dignity in language" (1927, xxii, 351). [Geoffrey L. Hughes, "An Encyclopedia of Swearing," 2006]
"female parent, a woman in relation to her child," Middle English moder, from Old English modor, from Proto-Germanic *mōdēr (source also of Old Saxon modar, Old Frisian moder, Old Norse moðir, Danish moder, Dutch moeder, Old High German muoter, German Mutter), from PIE *mater- "mother" (source also of Latin māter, Old Irish mathir, Lithuanian motė, Sanskrit matar-, Greek mētēr, Old Church Slavonic mati), "[b]ased ultimately on the baby-talk form *mā- (2); with the kinship term suffix *-ter-" [Watkins]. Spelling with -th- dates from early 16c., though that pronunciation is probably older (see father (n.)).
Sense of "that which has given birth to anything" is from late Old English; as a familiar term of address to an elderly woman, especially of the lower class, by c. 1200.
Mother Nature as a personification is attested from c. 1600; mother earth as an expression of the earth as the giver of life is from 1580s. Mother tongue "one's native language" is attested from late 14c. Mother country "a country in relation to its colonies" is from 1580s. Mother-love "such affection as is shown by a mother" is by 1854. Mother-wit "native wit, common sense" is from mid-15c.
Mother of all ________ (1991), is Gulf War slang, from Saddam Hussein's use in reference to the coming battle; it is an Arabic idiom (as well as an English one), for instance Ayesha, second wife of Muhammad, is known as Mother of Believers; the figure is attested in English in 19c. (Virginia is called mother of commonwealths from 1849). Mother Carey's chickens is late 18c. sailors' nickname for storm petrels, or for snowflakes.
1580s, "word or phrase on an emblem explaining or emphasizing its symbolic significance; phrase or short sentence inscribed on something used to indicate the tenor of that to which it is attached," from Italian motto "a saying, legend attached to a heraldic design," from Late Latin muttum "a grunt; a word," from Latin muttire "to mutter, mumble, murmur" (see mutter). Meaning "proverbial pithy maxim adopted by someone as a rule of conduct" is from 1796. Motto-kiss "candy wrapped in fancy paper having a motto or scrap of poetry enclosed with it" is from 1858.