"long, tedious, complicated story," by 1905, from Yiddish Megillah (as in a gantse Megillah "a whole megillah"), literally "roll, scroll," collective name of the five Old Testament books appointed to be read on certain feast days, from Hebrew meghillah, from galal "he rolled, unfolded." The slang use is in reference to the length of the text. The use of the word in English in reference to the holy books is from 1650s.
Jonas used to laugh. "What do I care for the Goyim," he said, but Isaac was different. He would talk thee a Megillah about Equality and Brotherhood,—one would have thought, he was reading something aloud out of the newspaper,—and what he meant was that the Yüd and the Goy were now alike. [Martha Wolfenstein, "A Renegade," Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1905]
"open large-mouthed vessel," mid-14c., from Old Norse bikarr or Middle Dutch beker "goblet," probably (with Old Saxon bikeri, Old High German behhari, German Becher) from Medieval Latin bicarium, which is probably a diminutive of Greek bikos "earthenware jug, wine jar, vase with handles," also a measure, of uncertain origin. Sometimes said to be a Semitic word, perhaps a borrowing from Syrian buqa "a two-handed vase or jug," or from Egyptian b:k.t "oil flask." Form assimilated in English to beak. Originally a drinking vessel; the word is used from 1877 in reference to a similar glass vessel used in scientific laboratories.
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
[Keats, from "Ode to a Nightingale"]
early 13c., preien, "ask earnestly, beg (someone)," also (c. 1300) in a religious sense, "pray to a god or saint," from Old French preier "to pray" (c. 900, Modern French prier), from Vulgar Latin *precare (also source of Italian pregare), from Latin precari "ask earnestly, beg, entreat," from *prex (plural preces, genitive precis) "prayer, request, entreaty," from PIE root *prek- "to ask, request, entreat."
From early 14c. as "to invite." The deferential parenthetical expression I pray you, "please, if you will," attested from late 14c. (from c. 1300 as I pray thee), was contracted to pray in 16c. Related: Prayed; praying.
Praying mantis attested from 1809 (praying locust is from 1752; praying insect by 1816; see mantis). The Gardener's Monthly of July 1861 lists other names for it as camel cricket, soothsayer, and rear horse.
2nd nominative singular personal pronoun, Old English þu, from Proto-Germanic *thu (source also of Old Frisian thu, Middle Dutch and Middle Low German du, Old High German and German du, Old Norse þu, Gothic þu), from PIE *tu-, second person singular pronoun (source also of Latin tu, Irish tu, Welsh ti, Greek su, Lithuanian tu, Old Church Slavonic ty, Sanskrit twa-m).
Superseded in Middle English by plural form you (from a different root), but retained in certain dialects (e.g. early Quakers). The plural at first was used in addressing superior individuals, later also (to err on the side of propriety) strangers, and ultimately all equals. By c. 1450 the use of thou to address inferiors gave it a tinge of insult unless addressed by parents to children, or intimates to one another. Hence the verb meaning "to use 'thou' to a person" (mid-15c.).
Avaunt, caitiff, dost thou thou me! I am come of good kin, I tell thee!
["Hickscorner," c. 1530]
A brief history of the second person pronoun in English can be found here.
"narrow track worn or cut in the ground," as by a passing wheeled vehicle, 1570s, probably from Middle English route "way, a road, space for passage" (see route (n.)); though OED finds this "improbable." If so, it is a doublet of route.
Of the lines on the face by 1620s. The figurative meaning "narrow, monotonous routine; habitual mode of behavior or procedure" is attested by 1839 (Carlyle); earlier figurative use was as an obstacle to rapid transit (1705).
Enter an OLD LADY.
[Bosola] You come from painting now.
Old Lady. From what?
Bos. Why, from your scurvy face-physic.
To behold thee not painted, inclines somewhat near
A miracle: these in thy face here, were deep ruts,
And foul sloughs, the last progress.
There was a lady in France, that having the small-pox,
Flay'd the skin off her face, to make it more level;
And whereas before she looked like a nutmeg-grater,
After she resembled an abortive hedgehog.
[Webster, "The Duchess of Malfi"]
The verb meaning "mark with or as with ruts" is by c. 1600. Related: Rutted; rutting.
slang for "nothing," 1933 (Hemingway), from Spanish nada "nothing," from Latin (res) nata "small, insignificant thing," literally "(thing) born," from natus, past participle of nasci "to be born" (Old Latin gnasci), from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."
First in Hemingway's "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," set in a Spanish cafe, in which the word figures largely:
What did he fear? It was not fear or dread. It was nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.
The distribution of the different forms of the word in Europe reflects the spread of use of the beverage. The modern English form, along with French thé, Spanish te, German Tee, etc., derive via Dutch thee from the Amoy form, reflecting the role of the Dutch as the chief importers of the leaves (through the Dutch East India Company, from 1610). Meanwhile, Russian chai, Persian cha, Greek tsai, Arabic shay, and Turkish çay all came overland from the Mandarin form.
First known in Paris 1635, the practice of drinking tea was first introduced to England 1644. Meaning "afternoon meal at which tea is served" is from 1738. Slang meaning "marijuana" (which sometimes was brewed in hot water) is attested from 1935, felt as obsolete by late 1960s. Tea ball is from 1895.
1510s, "permission granted by authority, licence," from French tolération (15c.), from Latin tolerationem (nominative toleratio) "a bearing, supporting, enduring," noun of action from past-participle stem of tolerare "to endure, sustain, support, suffer," literally "to bear" (from PIE *tele- "to bear, carry;" see extol).
Meaning "forbearance, sufferance" is from 1580s. The specific religious sense is from 1609; as in Act of Toleration (1689), statute granting freedom of religious worship (with conditions) to dissenting Protestants in England. In this it means "recognition of the right of private judgment in matters of faith and worship; liberty granted by the government to preach and worship as one pleases; equality under the law without regard to religion."
If any man err from the right way, it is his own misfortune, no injury to thee; nor therefore art thou to punish him in the things of this life because thou supposest he will be miserable in that which is to come. Nobody, therefore, in fine, neither single persons nor churches, nay, nor even commonwealths, have any just title to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of each other upon pretence of religion. [John Locke, "Letter Concerning Toleration," 1689]
Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance. [James Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments," 1785]
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. [Karl Popper, "The Open Society and Its Enemies," 1962]