"loose trousers, commonly buttoned below the knee," 1851, named for U.S. feminist reformer Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894), who promoted them as part of an attempt to make women's dress more practical. The original Bloomer costume was a short skirt, loose trousers buttoned round the ankle, and a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat.
The failure of the Bloomer dress seems to have arisen from the mixed character it assumed, and the unpleasant confusion of ideas it occasioned. It partook of the man's the woman's and the child's. A bold assumption of a full male dress, as by Madame Dudevant and Miss Weber, and such as is worn at pleasure by ladies, traveling or on excursions, anywhere on the continent of Europe, would have had a much better chance of tolerance and success. ["The Illustrated Manners Book, A Manual of Good Behavior and Polite Accomplishment," New York, 1855]
The surname is attested from c. 1200 and said to mean "iron-worker," from Old English bloma (see bloom (n.2)).
"1 more than thirty-nine, twice twenty; the number which is one more than thirty-nine; a symbol representing this number;" early 12c., feowerti, from Old English feowertig, Northumbrian feuortig "forty," from feower "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four") + tig "group of ten" (see -ty (1)). Compare Old Saxon fiwartig, Old Frisian fiuwertich, Dutch veertig, Old High German fiorzug, German vierzig, Old Norse fjorir tigir, Gothic fidwor tigjus.
[T]he number 40 must have been used very frequently by Mesha's scribe as a round number. It is probably often used in that way in the Bible where it is remarkably frequent, esp. in reference to periods of days or years. ... How it came to be so used is not quite certain, but it may have originated, partly at any rate, in the idea that 40 years constituted a generation or the period at the end of which a man attains maturity, an idea common, it would seem, to the Greeks, the Israelites, and the Arabs. ["The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia," James Orr, ed., Chicago, 1915]
Forty winks "short sleep" is attested from 1821; in early use associated with, and perhaps coined by, English eccentric and lifestyle reformer William Kitchiner M.D. (1775-1827). Forty-niner in U.S. history was an adventurer to California (usually from one of the eastern states) in search of fortune during the gold rush of 1849.