Etymology
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Excalibur (n.)
King Arthur's sword, c. 1300, from Old French Escalibor, corruption of Caliburn, in Geoffrey of Monmouth (c.1140) Caliburnus, apparently from Welsh Caledvwlch probably a variant of the legendary Irish sword name Caladbolg which might mean literally "hard-belly," i.e. "voracious." For first element, see callus; for second, see belly (n.).
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ravening (adj.)

"voracious, savage," late 14c., present-participle adjective from an extinct verb ravine, raven "to prey, to plunder, devour greedily" (mid-14c.), from Old French raviner, ravinier "to seize, pillage" (see raven (v.)). It is etymologically related to ravenous, but not to raven (n.). Related: Raveningly.

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ravenous (adj.)

late 14c., ravinous, "obsessed with plundering, extremely greedy," from Old French ravinos, ravinous, of people, "rapacious, violent," of water, "swift-flowing," from raviner "to seize, pillage; to sweep down, cascade," from ravine "violent rush, robbery," from Latin rapina "act of robbery, plundering" (see rapine). Meaning "voracious, furiously hungry" is from early 15c. (compare ravening). Related: Ravenously; ravenousness.

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cormorant (n.)

"large, black swimming and diving bird," early 14c., cormeraunt, from Old French cormarenc (12c., Modern French cormoran), from Late Latin corvus marinus "sea raven" + Germanic suffix -enc, -ing. The -t in English probably is from confusion with words in -ant. See corvine + marine (adj.). The birds are proverbially voracious, hence the word was applied to greedy or gluttonous persons (1530s).

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cockroach (n.)

popular name of a troublesome, voracious insect genus, 1620s, folk etymology (as if from cock (n.1) + roach; compare cockchafer) of Spanish cucaracha "chafer, beetle," from cuca "kind of caterpillar." Folk etymology also holds that the first element is from caca "excrement," perhaps because of the insect's offensive smell.

A certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch, the which creeping into Chests they eat and defile with their ill-sented dung [Capt. John Smith, "Virginia," 1624].
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Tasmania (n.)
1853, named for Dutch navigator Abel Tasman (1603-1659), who discovered it in 1642. It was called by him Van Diemen's Land for the Dutch governor-general of the East Indies. The Tasmanian devil so called at least since 1829, from its propensity for killing young lambs (other voracious fish or animals also have been named devil).
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greedy (adj.)

Old English grædig (West Saxon), gredig (Anglian) "voracious, hungry," also "covetous, eager to obtain," from Proto-Germanic *grædagaz (source also of Old Saxon gradag "greedy," Old Norse graðr "greed, hunger," Danish graadig, Dutch gretig, Old High German gratag "greedy," Gothic gredags "hungry"), from *græduz (source also of Gothic gredus "hunger," Old English grædum "eagerly"), possibly from PIE root *gher- (2) "to like, want" (source of Sanskrit grdh "to be greedy").

In Greek, the word was philargyros, literally "money-loving." A German word for it is habsüchtig, from haben "to have" + sucht "sickness, disease," with sense tending toward "passion for."

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shark (n.)

by 1560s, perhaps mid-15c., if an isolated instance in a diary in Middle English Compendium is the same word, of uncertain origin.

The meaning "dishonest person who preys on others," though attested from 1599 (sharker "artful swindler" in this sense is from 1594), may be the original sense, later transferred to the large, voracious marine fish. If so, it is possibly from German Schorck, a variant of Schurke "scoundrel, villain," agent noun of Middle High German schürgen (German schüren) "to poke, stir."

On an old theory, the English word is from a Mayan word, xoc, which might have meant "shark." Northern Europeans seem not to have been familiar with the larger sort of sharks before voyages to the tropics began. A slightly earlier name for it in English was tiburon, from Spanish tiburón (1520s), which probably is from a native word from South America, such as Tupi uperu "shark" (source also of Portuguese tubarão, Catalan tauró).

Middle English had hound-fish (early 14c.), which probably was used of dogfish and other small sharks. The general Germanic word seems to be represented by Old Norse har (Norwegian hai, Danis haj, Dutch haai, German Hai, also borrowed in Finnish, Latvian), which is of unknown origin. French requin is literally "grimacer," from Norman requin, from Old French reschignier "to bare the teeth, grimace." An ancient Greek word for a shark was karkharias, from karkharos "sharp, jagged, biting." Latin used squalus, from the root of English whale (n.); Lithuanian ryklys is literally "swallower."

The English word was applied (or re-applied) to voracious or predatory persons, on the image of the fish, from 1707 (originally of pick-pockets); loan shark is attested from 1905. Sharkskin (1851) was used for binding books, etc. As the name of a type of fabric held to resemble it, it is recorded from 1932.

There is the ordinary Brown Shark, or sea attorney, so called by sailors; a grasping, rapacious varlet, that in spite of the hard knocks received from it, often snapped viciously at our steering oar. [Herman Melville, "Mardi"]
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culture (n.)
Origin and meaning of culture

mid-15c., "the tilling of land, act of preparing the earth for crops," from Latin cultura "a cultivating, agriculture," figuratively "care, culture, an honoring," from past participle stem of colere "to tend, guard; to till, cultivate" (see colony). Meaning "the cultivation or rearing of a crop, act of promoting growth in plants" (1620s) was transferred to fish, oysters, etc., by 1796, then to "production of bacteria or other microorganisms in a suitable environment" (1880), then "product of such a culture" (1884).

The figurative sense of "cultivation through education, systematic improvement and refinement of the mind" is attested by c. 1500; Century Dictionary writes that it was, "Not common before the nineteenth century, except with strong consciousness of the metaphor involved, though used in Latin by Cicero." Meaning "learning and taste, the intellectual side of civilization" is by 1805; the closely related sense of "collective customs and achievements of a people, a particular form of collective intellectual development" is by 1867.

For without culture or holiness, which are always the gift of a very few, a man may renounce wealth or any other external thing, but he cannot renounce hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge. Culture is the sanctity of the intellect. [William Butler Yeats, journal, 7 March, 1909]

Slang culture vulture "one voracious for culture" is from 1947. Culture shock "disorientation experienced when a person moves to a different cultural environment or an unfamiliar way of life" is attested by 1940. Ironic or contemptuous spelling kulchur is attested from 1940 (Pound), and compare kultur.

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wolf (n.)

Old English wulf "wolf, wolfish person, devil," from Proto-Germanic *wulfaz (source also of Old Saxon wulf, Old Norse ulfr, Old Frisian, Dutch, Old High German, German wolf, Gothic wulfs), from PIE root *wlkwo- "wolf" (source also of Sanskrit vrkas, Avestan vehrka-; Albanian ul'k; Old Church Slavonic vluku; Russian volcica; Lithuanian vilkas "wolf;" Old Persian Varkana- "Hyrcania," district southeast of the Caspian Sea, literally "wolf-land;" probably also Greek lykos, Latin lupus).

This manne can litle skyl ... to saue himself harmlesse from the perilous accidentes of this world, keping ye wulf from the doore (as they cal it). ["The Institution of a Gentleman," 1555]

Probably extinct in England from the end of the 15th century; in Scotland from the early 18th. Wolves as a symbol of lust are ancient, such as Roman slang lupa "whore," literally "she-wolf" (preserved in Spanish loba, Italian lupa, French louve). The equation of "wolf" and "prostitute, sexually voracious female" persisted into 12c., but by Elizabethan times wolves had become primarily symbolic of male lust. The specific use of wolf for "sexually aggressive male" first recorded 1847; wolf-whistle attested by 1945, American English, at first associated with sailors. The image of a wolf in sheep's skin is attested from c. 1400. See here for a discussion of "wolf" in Indo-European history. The wolf-spider so called for prowling and leaping on its prey rather than waiting in a web.

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