Etymology
Advertisement
smear (v.)

Old English smerian, smierwan "to anoint or rub with grease, oil, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *smerwjan "to spread grease on" (source also of Old Norse smyrja "to anoint, rub with ointment," Danish smøre, Swedish smörja, Dutch smeren, Old High German smirwen "apply salve, smear," German schmieren "to smear;" Old Norse smör "butter"), from PIE *smeru- "grease" (source also of Greek myron "unguent, balsam," Old Irish smi(u)r "marrow," Old English smeoru "fat, grease, ointment, tallow, lard, suet," Lithuanian smarsas "fat").

Figurative sense of "assault a public reputation" is by 1835; especially "dishonor or besmirch with unsubstantiated charges." Related: Smeared; smearing. Smear-word, one used regardless of its literal meaning but invested with invective, is from 1938.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
grapeshot (n.)

also grape-shot, 1747, from grape + shot (n.). So called for its appearance. Originally simply grape (1680s), a collective singular. The whiff of grapeshot was popularized in English from 1837, from Carlyle's history of the French Revolution (in which book it was a chapter title). It seems to be his.

The Nobles of France, valorous, chivalrous as of old, will rally round us with one heart;—and as for this which you call Third Estate, and which we call canaille of unwashed Sansculottes, of Patelins, Scribblers, factious Spouters,—brave Broglie, "with a whiff of grapeshot (salve de canons)," if need be, will give quick account of it. [Carlyle, "French Revolution"]
Related entries & more 
greaser (n.)

early 14c. (as a surname), "one who smears salve on a sheep," agent noun from grease (v.). As a contemptuous American English slang for "native Mexican or Latin American," first attested 1848, a term from the Mexican-American War; supposedly so called from unclean appearance, but contemporary sources sometimes explain it otherwise: an 1848 account of the war defines it as "friendly Mexican," and adds:

It may here be necessary to explain, as the terms are frequently made use of, that mocho is a low Spanish word for a foot-soldier, and the term greaser we suppose is a corruption of word grazier, the class of péons or labourers of the country. [Samuel C. Ried Jr., "The Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch's Texas Rangers," Philadelphia, 1848]

Greaseball in same sense is from 1934 (earlier it was World War I slang for "an army cook," and from 1922 for "mechanic").

Related entries & more 
soap (n.)

Old English sape "soap, salve" (originally a reddish hair dye used by Germanic warriors to give a frightening appearance), from Proto-Germanic *saipon "dripping thing, resin" (source also of Middle Low German sepe, West Frisian sjippe, Dutch zeep, Old High German seiffa, German seife "soap," Old High German seifar "foam," Old English sipian "to drip"), from PIE *soi-bon-, from root *seib- "to pour out, drip, trickle" (perhaps also the source also of Latin sebum "tallow, suet, grease").

Romans and Greeks used oil to clean skin; the Romance words for "soap" (Italian sapone, French savon, Spanish jabon) are from Late Latin sapo "pomade for coloring the hair" (first mentioned in Pliny), which is a Germanic loan-word, as is Finnish saippua. The meaning "flattery" is recorded from 1853.

Soap opera is recorded from 1939, as a disparaging reference to daytime radio dramas sponsored by soap manufacturers. 

Related entries & more 
plaster (n.)

late Old English plaster "a medicinal solid compounded for external application," from medical Latin plastrum, shortened by loss of the original prefix from Latin emplastrum "a plaster" (in the medical as well as the building sense), from Greek emplastron "salve, plaster" (used by Galen instead of the more usual emplaston), noun use of neuter of emplastos "daubed on," from en- "on" + plastos "molded," verbal adjective from plassein "to mold" (see plasma).

The use in reference to the material composed of lime, water, and sand (with or without hair for binding), used for coating walls, is recorded in English from c. 1300, via Old French plastre, from the same source, and in early use the English word often had the French spelling. The meaning "gypsum" is from late 14c.; plaster of Paris "powdered calcinated (heat-dried) gypsum," which sets rapidly and expands when mixed with water(mid-15c.) originally was made from the extensive gypsum deposits of Montmartre in Paris. Plaster saint "person who makes a hypocritical show of virtue" is by 1890.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
fox (n.)
Old English fox "a fox," from Proto-Germanic *fuhsaz "fox" (cognates Old Saxon vohs, Middle Dutch and Dutch vos, Old High German fuhs, German Fuchs, Old Norse foa, Gothic fauho), from Proto-Germanic *fuh-, from PIE *puk- "tail" (source also of Sanskrit puccha- "tail").

The bushy tail also inspired words for "fox" in Welsh (llwynog, from llwyn "bush"); Spanish (raposa, from rabo "tail"); and Lithuanian (uodegis, from uodega "tail"). Metaphoric extension to "clever person" was in late Old English. Meaning "sexually attractive woman" is from 1940s; but foxy in this sense is recorded from 1895. A fox-tail was anciently one of the badges of a fool (late 14c.).

A late Old English translation of the Medicina de Quadrupedibus of Sextus Placitus advises, for women "who suffer troubles in their inward places, work for them into a salve a foxes limbs and his grease, with old oil and with tar; apply to the womens places; quickly it healeth the troubles." It also recommends, for sexual intercourse without irritation, "the extremest end of a foxes tail hung upon the arm." Rubbing a fox's testicles on warts was supposed a means to get rid of them.
Related entries & more 

Page 2