1580s, "one who cultivates one of the fine arts," from French artiste (14c.), from Italian artista, from Medieval Latin artista, from Latin ars (see art (n.)).
Originally especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but also used 17c. for "one skilled in any art or craft" (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Since mid-18c. especially of "one who practices the arts of design or visual arts."
late 14c., "one of the nine Muses of classical mythology," daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, protectors of the arts; from Old French Muse and directly from Latin Musa, from Greek Mousa, "the Muse," also "music, song," ultimately from PIE root *men- (1) "to think." Meaning "inspiring goddess of a particular poet" (with a lower-case m-) is from late 14c.
The traditional names and specialties of the nine Muses are: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (love poetry, lyric art), Euterpe (music, especially flute), Melpomene (tragedy), Polymnia (hymns), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), Urania (astronomy).
1670s, "commentary between two choric songs in a Greek tragedy," also "an incidental narrative or digression within a story, poem, etc.," from French épisode or directly from Greek epeisodion "an episode," literally "an addition," noun use of neuter of epeisodios "coming in besides," from epi "in addition" (see epi-) + eisodos "a coming in, entrance" (from PIE root *en "in").
The second element is a compound of eis "into" + hodos "a way, path; a journey; a method, system," a word of uncertain origin (see Exodus). Transferred sense of "outstanding incident, experience" first recorded in English 1773. Transferred by 1930s to individual broadcasts of serial radio programs.
late 14c., "of comedy in the classical sense, pertaining to comedy as distinct from tragedy," from Latin comicus "of comedy, represented in comedy, in comic style," from Greek komikos "of or pertaining to comedy," from komos (see comedy). Meaning "intentionally funny, raising mirth" is first recorded 1791, and comedic (1630s) has since picked up the older sense of the word.
Speaking of the masters of the comedic spirit (if I call it, as he does, the Comic Spirit, this darkened generation will suppose me to refer to the animal spirits of tomfools and merryandrews) .... [G.B. Shaw, 1897]
Something that is comic has comedy as its aim or origin; something is comical if the effect is comedy, whether intended or not. Comic relief is attested from 1817.
1560s, in drama, "person who speaks the prologue and explains or comments on events on stage," from Latin chorus "a dance in a circle, the persons singing and dancing, the chorus of a tragedy," from Greek khoros "round dance; dancing-place; band of dancers; company of persons in a play, under a leader, who take part in dialogue with the actors and sing their sentiments at intervals."
The Greek word is of uncertain origin, because the original sense is unknown. Perhaps it is from PIE root *gher- (1) "to grasp, enclose," if the original sense of the Greek word is "enclosed dancing floor," or *gher- (2) "to like, want," if the original notion is "to rejoice."
Extension from dance to voice is because Attic drama arose from tales inserted in the intervals of the dance. In Attic tragedy, the khoros (of 12 or 15 (tragic) or 24 (comedic) persons) gave expression, between the acts, to the moral and religious sentiments evoked by the actions of the play. English 16c. theater adopted a stripped-down version of this.
When a Poet wished to bring out a piece, he asked a Chorus from the Archon, and the expenses, being great, were defrayed by some rich citizen (the khoregos): it was furnished by the Tribe and trained originally by the Poet himself [Liddell & Scott]
The meaning "an organized company of singers" is from 1650s. Meaning "the refrain of a song" (which the audience joins in singing) is from 1590s; that of "a song to be sung by a (large) chorus" is from 1744. Meaning "main part of a modern popular song" (as distinguished from the verse, q.v.) is by 1926, originally in jazz. As a verb, 1703, from the noun. Chorus girl "young woman who sings and dances in a stage chorus" is by 1852.
late 14c., "narrative with a happy ending; any composition intended for amusement," from Old French comedie (14c.), "a poem" (not in the theatrical sense) and directly from Latin comoedia, from Greek kōmōidia "a comedy, amusing spectacle," probably [Beekes] from kōmōidos "actor or singer in the revels," from kōmos "revel, carousal, merry-making, festival" + aoidos "singer, poet," from aeidein "to sing," which is related to ōidē (see ode).
The passage on the nature of comedy in the Poetic of Aristotle is unfortunately lost, but if we can trust stray hints on the subject, his definition of comedy (which applied mainly to Menander) ran parallel to that of tragedy, and described the art as a purification of certain affections of our nature, not by terror and pity, but by laughter and ridicule. [Rev. J.P. Mahaffy, "A History of Classical Greek Literature," London, 1895]
The origin of Greek komos is uncertain; perhaps it is from a PIE *komso- "praise," and cognate with Sanskrit samsa "praise, judgment." Beekes suggests Pre-Greek. The old derivation from kome "village" is not now regarded.
The classical sense of the word was "amusing play or performance with a happy ending," which is similar to the modern one, but in the Middle Ages the word meant poems and stories generally (albeit ones with happy endings), such as Dante's "Commedia." The revival of learning 16c. recovered the ancient comedies and shifted the sense of the word to "branch of drama addressing primarily the humorous and ridiculous" (opposed to tragedy). In 18c. this was somewhat restricted to "humorous, but not grossly comical, drama" (opposed to farce).
Comedy aims at entertaining by the fidelity with which it presents life as we know it, farce at raising laughter by the outrageous absurdity of the situation or characters exhibited, & burlesque at tickling the fancy of the audience by caricaturing plays or actors with whose style it is familiar. [Fowler]
Meaning "comic play or drama" is from 1550s (the first modern comedy in English was said to be Nicholas Udall's "Roister Doister"). Extended sense "humorous or comic incident or events in life" is from 1560s. Generalized sense of "quality of being amusing" dates from 1877.