"itch for doing something," 1560s, from Latinized form of Greek kakoēthēs "ill-habit, wickedness, itch for doing (something)," from kakos "bad" (from PIE root *kakka- "to defecate") + ēthē- "disposition, character" (see ethos). Most famously, in Juvenal's insanabile scribendi cacoethes "incurable passion for writing."
Old English deorcnysse "absence of light," from dark (adj.) + -ness. The 10c. Anglo-Saxon treatise on astronomy uses þeostrum for "darkness." Figurative use for "sinfulness, wickedness" is from early 14c. From late 14c. as "obscurity," also "secrecy, concealment," also "blindness," physical, mental, or spiritual.
As a class of crime in common law, also from c. 1300, from Anglo-French. The exact definition changed over time and place, and even the distinction from misdemeanor or trespass is not always observed. In old use often a crime involving forfeiture of lands, goods, or a fee or a crime punishable by death. Variously used in the U.S.; often the sense is "crime punishable by death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary."
1530s, "enormous wickedness," from French atrocité or directly from Latin atrocitatem (nominative atrocitas) "cruelty, fierceness, harshness," noun of quality from atrox "fierce, cruel, frightful," from PIE *atro-ek-, from root *ater- "fire" + root *okw- "to see;" thus "of fiery or threatening appearance." The meaning "an atrocious deed" is from 1793.
c. 1300, "any infectious or contagious disease, fatal epidemic," from Old French pestilence "plague, epidemic" (12c.) and directly from Latin pestilentia "a plague, an unwholesome atmosphere," noun of condition from pestilentem (nominative pestilens) "infected, unwholesome, noxious," from pestis "deadly disease, plague" (see pest).
Also in Middle English "wickedness, evil, sin, a vice, that which is morally pestilential."
The Chauvinist is a man who can only express his patriotic feelings in terms of hatred to other countries. There are still to be found in France certain people who can only show the excellence of French institutions by exhibiting the wickedness of the English. [The Home and Foreign Review, October 1863]
"breach of faith or trust, base treachery," 1590s, from French perfidie (16c.), from Latin perfidia "faithlessness, falsehood, treachery," from perfidus "faithless," from phrase per fidem decipere "to deceive through trustingness," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + fidem (nominative fides) "faith" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade").
[C]ombinations of wickedness would overwhelm the world by the advantage which licentious principles afford, did not those who have long practiced perfidy grow faithless to each other. [Samuel Johnson, "Life of Waller"]