loose gown opening in front worn by women 17c.-18c. (also the name of a type of loose cloak worn by women c. 1850), 1670s, a corruption of French manteau "cloak, mantle," from Old French mantel (see mantle); form influenced in English by Mantua, name of the city in Italy. Mantua-maker (1690s) became by mid-18c. the general term for "dressmaker."
[The mantua-maker's] business is to make Night-Gowns, Mantuas, and Petticoats, Rob de Chambres, &c for the Ladies. She is Sister to the Taylor, and like him, must be a perfect Connoisieur in Dress and Fashions; and like the Stay-Maker, she must keep the Secrets she is entrusted with, as much as a woman can .... She must learn to flatter all Complexions, praise all Shapes, and, in a word, ought to be compleat Mistress of the Art of Dissimulation. It requires a vast Stock of Patience to bear the Tempers of most of their Customers, and no small Share of Ingenuity to execute their innumerable Whims. [R. Campbell, "The London Tradesman," 1747]
late 14c., (late late 13c. in surnames and place names), cobelere "one who mends shoes," of uncertain origin. It and cobble (v.) "evidently go together etymologically" [OED], but the historical record presents some difficulties. "The cobbler should stick to his last" (ne sutor ultra crepidam) is from the anecdote of Greek painter Apelles.
On one occasion a cobbler noticed a fault in the painting of a shoe, and remarking upon it to a person standing by, passed on. As soon as the man was out of sight Apelles came from his hiding-place, examined the painting, found that the cobbler's criticism was just, and at once corrected the error. ... The cobbler came by again and soon discovered that the fault he had pointed out had been remedied; and, emboldened by the success of his criticism, began to express his opinion pretty freely about the painting of the leg! This was too much for the patience of the artist, who rushed from his hiding place and told the cobbler to stick to his shoes. [William Edward Winks, "Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers," London, 1883]
[The tale is variously told, and the quote is variously reported: Pliny ("Natural History" XXXV.x.36) has ne supra crepidam judicaret, while Valerius Maximus (VIII.xiii.3) gives supra plantam ascendere vetuit. The version cited here confessedly is for the sake of the book name]
Old English ordel, ordal, "trial by physical test," literally "judgment, verdict," from Proto-Germanic noun *uz-dailjam "a portioning out, judgment" (source also of Old Saxon urdeli, Old Frisian urdel, Dutch oordeel, German urteil "judgment"), literally "that which is dealt out" (by the gods), from *uzdailijan "to share out," related to Old English adælan "to deal out," from *uz‑ "out" + PIE *dail- "to divide," Northern Indo-European extended form of root *da- "to divide." It is rare in Middle English, and perhaps the modern word is a 16c. reborrowing from Medieval Latin or French, both of which got it from Germanic.
The notion is of the kind of arduous physical test (such as walking blindfolded and barefoot between red-hot plowshares) that was believed to determine a person's guilt or innocence by immediate judgment of the deity, an ancient Teutonic mode of trial. They were abolished in England in the reign of Henry III. English retains a more exact sense of the word; its cognates in German, etc., have been generalized as "judicial decision."
Metaphoric extension to "severe trial, test of courage or patience, anything which tests character or endurance" is attested from 1650s. The prefix or- survives in English only in this word, but was common in Old English and other Germanic languages (Gothic ur-, Old Norse or-, etc.) and originally was an adverb and preposition meaning "out."
late 14c., spydyr, spither, from earlier spiþre, spiþur, spiþer (mid-14c.), from Old English spiðra, from Proto-Germanic *spin-thron- (cognate with Danish spinder), literally "spinner," from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin" + formative or agential *-thro. The connection with the root is more transparent in other Germanic cognates (such as Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Middle High German, German spinne, Dutch spin "spider").
The male is commonly much smaller than the female, and in impregnating the female runs great risk of being devoured. The difference in sizes is as if the human female should be some 60 or 70 feet tall. [Century Dictionary]
Not the common word in Old or Middle English, which identified the creatures as loppe (Chaucer's usual word), lobbe. Old English also had atorcoppe (Middle English attercop, literally "poison-head"), and (from Latin aranea), renge; Middle English had araine, "spider," via Old French from the same Latin word; see arachnid). Another Old English word was gangewifre "a weaver as he goes."
In literature, often a figure of cunning, skill, and industry as well as venomous predation; in 17c. English used figuratively for venomousness and thread-spinning but also sensitivity (to vibrations), lurking, independence. As the name for a type of two-pack solitaire, it is attested from 1890, probably based on resemblance of the layout of the decks in the original form of the game (see "Tarbart," "Games of Patience," 1901, p. 49). Spider crab is from 1710, used of various species; spider monkey is from 1764, so called for its long limbs.