1900 in the biological sense, "individual or form which has arisen by or undergone (genetic) mutation," from Latin mutantem (nominative mutans) "changing," present participle of mutare "to change" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"). In the science fiction sense, it is attested by 1954. As an adjective from 1903.
The meaning "obnoxious person" is from 1630s. The plural lice (Old English lys) shows effects of i-mutation. Grose ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785] has louse ladder "A stitch fallen in a stocking."
Old English fællan (Mercian), fyllan (West Saxon) "make fall, cause to fall," also "strike down, demolish, kill," from Proto-Germanic *falljanan "strike down, cause to fall" (source also of Old Frisian falla, Old Saxon fellian, Dutch fellen, Old High German fellen, German fällen, Old Norse fella, Danish fælde), causative of *fallanan (source of Old English feallan; see fall (v.)), showing i-mutation. Related: Felled; feller; felling.
Old English toð (plural teð), from Proto-Germanic *tanthu- (source also of Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Dutch tand, Old Norse tönn, Old Frisian toth, Old High German zand, German Zahn, Gothic tunþus), from PIE root *dent- "tooth." Plural teeth is an instance of i-mutation.
The loss of -n- before spirants is regular in Old English, Old Frisian, and Old Saxon: compare goose (n.), five, mouth (n.). Also thought, from stem of think; couth from the stem of can (v.1); us from *uns.
Application to tooth-like parts of other objects (saws, combs, etc.) first recorded 1520s. Tooth and nail as weapons is from 1530s. The tooth-fairy is attested from 1964.
1798, "of or belonging to the Isle of Man," between England and Ireland, earlier Manks (1620s), metathesized and contracted from Maniske (1570s) "of the Isle of Man," from Old Norse *manskr, from Man (from Old Irish Manu "Isle of Man") + suffix -iskr "ish." As a noun, 1680s as "native or inhabitant of Man," from 1670s in reference to the Celtic language spoken there (extinct since mid-20c). Manx cat, without a tail, is attested by 1843; the natural mutation arose among cats there and took root in a limited gene pool.
"a large waterfowl proverbially noted, I know not why, for foolishness" [Johnson], Old English gos "a goose," from Proto-Germanic *gans- "goose" (source also of Old Frisian gos, Old Norse gas, Old High German gans, German Gans "goose"), from PIE *ghans- (source also of Sanskrit hamsah (masc.), hansi (fem.), "goose, swan;" Greek khen; Latin anser; Polish gęś "goose;" Lithuanian žąsis "goose;" Old Irish geiss "swan"), probably imitative of its honking.
Geese are technically distinguished from swans and from ducks by the combination of feathered lores, reticulate tarsi, stout bill high at the base, and simple hind toe. [Century Dictionary]
Spanish ganso "goose" is from a Germanic source. Loss of "n" sound before "s" is normal in English (compare tooth). Plural form geese is an example of i-mutation. Meaning "simpleton, silly or foolish person" is from early 15c. To cook (one's) goose is attested by 1845, of unknown origin; attempts to connect it to Swedish history and Greek fables are unconvincing. Goose-egg "zero" is attested by 1866 in baseball slang, from being large and round. The goose that lays golden eggs (15c.) is from Aesop.
Middle English mous, from Old English mus "small rodent," also "muscle of the arm" (compare muscle (n.)); from Proto-Germanic *mus (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Danish, Swedish mus, Dutch muis, German Maus "mouse"), from PIE *mus-, the old Indo-European name of the mouse, retained in several language families (source also of Sanskrit mus "mouse, rat," Old Persian mush "mouse," Old Church Slavonic mysu, Latin mus, Lithuanian muse "mouse," Greek mys "mouse, muscle").
Plural form mice (Old English mys) shows effects of i-mutation. As a type of something timid or weak, from late 14c. Contrasted with man (n.) from 1620s (nor man nor mouse). Meaning "black eye" (or other discolored lump on the body) is from 1842. Computer sense of "small device moved by the hand over a flat surface to maneuver a cursor or arrow on a display screen" is from 1965, though the word was applied to other things resembling a mouse in shape since 1750, mainly in nautical use.
Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus [Horace]
"intoxicating liquor made by malt fermentation," Old English ealu "ale, beer," from Proto-Germanic *aluth- (source also of Old Saxon alo, Old Norse öl), which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a PIE root meaning "bitter" (source also of Latin alumen "alum"), or from PIE *alu-t "ale," from root *alu-, which has connotations of "sorcery, magic, possession, and intoxication" [Watkins]. The word was borrowed from Germanic into Lithuanian (alus) and Old Church Slavonic (olu).
In the fifteenth century, and until the seventeenth, ale stood for the unhopped fermented malt liquor which had long been the native drink of these islands. Beer was the hopped malt liquor introduced from the Low Countries in the fifteenth century and popular first of all in the towns. By the eighteenth century, however, all malt liquor was hopped and there had been a silent mutation in the meaning of the two terms. For a time the terms became synonymous, in fact, but local habits of nomenclature still continued to perpetuate what had been a real difference: 'beer' was the malt liquor which tended to be found in towns, 'ale' was the term in general use in the country districts. [Peter Mathias, "The Brewing Industry in England," Cambridge University Press, 1959]
Meaning "festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk" was in Old English (see bridal).
suffix forming the genitive or possessive singular case of most Modern English nouns; its use gradually was extended in Middle English from Old English -es, the most common genitive inflection of masculine and neuter nouns (such as dæg "day," genitive dæges "day's"). The "-es" pronunciation is retained after a sibilant.
Old English also had genitives in -e, -re, -an, as well as "mutation-genitives" (boc "book," plural bec), and the -es form never was used in plural (where -a, -ra, -na prevailed), thus avoiding the verbal ambiguity of words like kings'.
In Middle English, both the possessive singular and the common plural forms were regularly spelled es, and when the e was dropped in pronunciation and from the written word, the habit grew up of writing an apostrophe in place of the lost e in the possessive singular to distinguish it from the plural. Later the apostrophe, which had come to be looked upon as the sign of the possessive, was carried over into the plural, but was written after the s to differentiate that form from the possessive singular. By a process of popular interpretation, the 's was supposed to be a contraction for his, and in some cases the his was actually "restored." [Samuel C. Earle, et al, "Sentences and their Elements," New York: Macmillan, 1911]
As a suffix forming some adverbs, it represents the genitive singular ending of Old English masculine and neuter nouns and some adjectives.
plural of man (n.). In common with German Männer, etc., it shows effects of i-mutation. Used as an indefinite pronoun ("one, people, they") from late Old English. Men's liberation first attested 1970. Men's room "a lavatory for men" is by 1908, American English. Earlier it had a more general sense:
men's room, n. "One end of this [cook and dining] room is partitioned off for a men's room, where the crew sit evenings, smoking, reading, singing, grinding their axes, telling stories, etc., before climbing the ladder to their night's rest in the bunk room ... For many years women have been employed in [logging] camps as cooks, hence the name men's room, for the crew are not allowed in the cook room except at meal time." [quoted in "Some Lumber and Other Words," in Dialect Notes, vol. II, part VI, 1904]
Menswear (also men's wear) "clothes for men" is by 1906. To separate the men from the boys in a figurative sense "distinguish the manly, mature, capable, etc. in a group from the rest" is from 1943; earliest uses tend to credit it to U.S. aviators in World War II.
One of the most expressive G.I. terms to come out of the late strife was "that's where they separate the men from the boys" — so stated by American aviators leaning from their cockpits to observe a beach-landing under fire on some Pacific island far below. ["Arts Magazine," 1947]