also jack-in-a-box, 1560s, a name for a sharp or cheat, "who deceived tradesmen by substituting empty boxes for others full of money" [Robert Nares, "A Glossary of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions," London, 1905]. See Jack + box (n.1). As a type of toy involving a figure on a spring inside a box, it is attested by 1702. Also it has been used variously to mean "peddler who sells wares from a temporary stall" (1690s), "an unborn child," a type of gambling game, a hermit crab, a large wooden male screw, the sacrament, and various mechanical devices.
Middle English shriven "make confession; administer the sacrament of penance to," from Old English scrifan "assign, prescribe, ordain, decree; impose penance, hear confession; have regard for, care for," apparently originally "to write" (strong, past tense scraf, past participle scrifen), from Proto-Germanic *skriban (source also of Old Saxon scriban, Old Frisian skriva "write; impose penance;" Old Dutch scrivan, Dutch schrijven, German schreiben "to write, draw, paint;" Danish skrifte "confess"), an early borrowing from Latin scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut"), which in Old English and Scandinavian developed further to "confess, hear or receive confession."
"matter of any kind," literally "a body," (plural corpora), late 14c., "body," from Latin corpus, literally "body" (see corporeal). The sense of "body of a person" (mid-15c. in English) and "collection of facts or things" (1727 in English) both were present in Latin.
Also used in various medical phrases, such as corpus callosum (1706, literally "tough body"), corpus luteum (1788, literally "yellow body"). Corpus Christi (late 14c.), feast of the Blessed Sacrament, is kept on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. The city in Texas is named after the bay, which was so called by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, who discovered it on Corpus Christi day in 1519.
"initiatory sacrament of the Christian faith, consisting in immersion in or application of water by an authorized administrator," c. 1300, bapteme, from Old French batesme, bapteme "baptism" (11c., Modern French baptême), from Latin baptismus, from Greek baptismos, noun of action from baptizein (see baptize). The -s- was restored in late 14c.
The signification, qualifications, and methods of administration have been much debated. The figurative sense of "any ceremonial ablution as a sign of purification, dedication, etc." is from late 14c. Old English used fulluht in this sense (John the Baptist was Iohannes se Fulluhtere).
Phrase baptism of fire "a soldier's first experience of battle" (1857) translates French baptême de feu; the phrase originally was ecclesiastical Greek baptisma pyros and meant "the grace of the Holy Spirit as imparted through baptism;" later it was used of martyrdom, especially by burning.
early 14c., misterie, in a theological sense, "religious truth via divine revelation, hidden spiritual significance, mystical truth," from Anglo-French *misterie, Old French mistere "secret, mystery, hidden meaning" (Modern French mystère) and directly from Latin mysterium "secret rite, secret worship; a sacrament, a secret thing."
This is from Greek mystērion (usually in plural mysteria) "secret rite or doctrine (known and practiced by certain initiated persons only), consisting of purifications, sacrificial offerings, processions, songs, etc.," from mystēs "one who has been initiated," from myein "to close, shut" (see mute (adj.)); perhaps referring to the lips (in secrecy) or to the eyes (only initiates were allowed to see the sacred rites).
The Greek word was used in Septuagint for "secret counsel of God," translated in Vulgate as sacramentum. Non-theological use in English, "a hidden or secret thing; a fact, matter, etc., of which the meaning explanation, or cause is unknown," is from late 14c. In reference to the ancient rites of Greece, Egypt, etc. it is attested from 1640s. Meaning "detective story" is recorded by 1908. Mystery meat, slang for "unidentifiable meat served in a military mess, student dining hall, etc." is by 1949, probably from World War II armed services.
c. 1300, receiven, "take into one's possession, accept possession of," also in reference to the sacrament, from Old North French receivre (Old French recoivre) "seize, take hold of, pick up; welcome, accept," from Latin recipere "regain, take back, bring back, carry back, recover; take to oneself, take in, admit," from re- "back," though the exact sense here is obscure (see re-) + -cipere, combining form of capere "to take" (from PIE root *kap- "to grasp").
From c. 1300 as "welcome (in a specified manner)." From early 14c. as "catch in the manner of a receptacle." From mid-14c. as "obtain as one's reward." From late 14c. as "accept as authoritative or true;" also late 14c. as "have a blow or wound inflicted." Radio and (later) television sense is attested from 1908. Related: Received; receiving. Receiving line is by 1933.
Other obsolete English verbs from the same Latin word in different forms included recept "to receive, take in" (early 15c., recepten, from Old French recepter, variant of receter and Latin receptus). Also compare receipt, which also had a verb form in Middle English, receiten.