flowering plant genus, 1550s, from French anemone (16c., corrected from Old French anemoine) and directly from Latin anemone, from Greek anemonē "wind flower," literally "daughter of the wind," from anemos "wind" (cognate with Latin anima, from PIE root *ane- "to breathe") + -one feminine patronymic suffix.
According to Asa Gray it was so called because it was thought to open only when the wind blows. Klein suggests the flower name perhaps originally is from Hebrew (compare na'aman, in nit'e na'amanim, literally "plants of pleasantness," in Isaiah xvii.10, from na'em "was pleasant").
In zoology, the word was applied to a type of sea creature from 1773 (probably short for sea anemone, which is by 1742). Related: Anemonic. Greek akalēphē "sea-anemone," also "stinging nettle," is of uncertain origin.
Sea anemones are eaten, fried in oil, throughout the Mediterranean and in northern France, under such names as cul de cheval, cul d'âne, pisseuse, etc. ... The Abbé Dicquemare (Phil. Trans. lxv, p. 219, 1775) considers the large A. crassicornis the best of its kind; it should be boiled in sea-water, when it becomes firm and palatable and tastes like warm crab. It fetched a high price in Bordeaux in Rondelet's time. [D'Arcy Thompson, "A Glossary of Greek Fishes"]
"either of the two fleshy sides of the face below the eyes," Old English ceace, cece "jaw, jawbone," in late Old English also "the fleshy wall of the mouth," of uncertain origin, from Proto-Germanic *kaukon (source also of Middle Low German kake "jaw, jawbone," Middle Dutch kake "jaw," Dutch kaak), not found outside West Germanic, probably a substrate word.
Words for "cheek," "jaw," and "chin" tend to run together in IE languages (compare PIE *genw-, source of Greek genus "jaw, cheek," geneion "chin," and English chin); Aristotle considered the chin as the front of the "jaws" and the cheeks as the back of them. The other Old English word for "cheek" was ceafl (see jowl (n.1)).
A thousand men he [Samson] slow eek with his hond, And had no wepen but an asses cheek. [Chaucer, "Monk's Tale"]
In reference to the buttocks from c. 1600. The sense of "brazen insolence" is from 1840, perhaps from a notion akin to that which led to jaw "insolent speech," mouth off, etc. To turn the other cheek is an allusion to Matthew v.39 and Luke vi.29. Cheek-by-jowl "with cheeks close together," hence "in intimate contact" is from 1570s; earlier in same sense was cheek-by-cheek (early 14c.). In ballroom dancing, cheek-to-cheek is from 1919 (earlier it was a measurement of apples).
common name of plants of the genus Daucus, cultivated from ancient times for their large, tapering, edible root, c. 1500, karette, from French carrotte, from Latin carota, from Greek karōton "carrot," probably from PIE *kre-, from root *ker- (1) "horn; head," and so called for its horn-like shape. A Middle English name for the wild carrot was dauke (late 14c.), from Latin.
The plant originally was white-rooted and was a medicinal plant to the ancients, who used it as an aphrodisiac and to prevent poisoning. Not entirely distinguished from parsnips in ancient times. A purple-rooted variety existed perhaps as early as 7c. in Afghanistan and was introduced in Europe by Arabs c. 1100. It was cultivated into the modern orange root 16c.-17c. in the Netherlands. Thus the word's use as a color name is not recorded before 1670s in English; originally it referred to yellowish-red hair.
The theory that carrots are good for the eyesight may have begun in ancient times, but it was "much embroidered in the Second World War, when, in order to encourage the consumption of carrots, one of the few foodstuffs not in short supply, the British authorities put it about that pilots of night-fighter aircraft consumed vast quantities to enable them to see in the dark." [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"]
"tree or shrub of the genus Quercus," Middle English oke, from Old English ac "oak tree" and in part from cognate Old Norse eik, both from Proto-Germanic *aiks (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian ek, Middle Dutch eike, Dutch eik, Old High German eih, German Eiche, Swedish ek, Danish eg), a word of uncertain origin with no certain cognates outside Germanic.
The usual Indo-European base for "oak" (*deru-) has become Modern English tree (n.). In Greek and Celtic, meanwhile, words for "oak" are from the Indo-European root for "tree." All this probably reflects the importance of the oak, the monarch of the forest, to ancient Indo-Europeans. Likewise, as there were no oaks in Iceland, the Old Norse word eik came to be used by the viking settlers there for "tree" in general.
In English the word is used in Biblical translations to render Hebrew elah (probably usually "terebinth tree") and four other words. The form in Middle English was very uncertain (oc, oek, hokke, ake, eoke, aike, hock, etc.). Oak-gall "excrescence produced by an oak tree in reaction to insects," used in making ink, is by 1712.
Jove's own tree,
That holds the woods in awful sovereignty,
Requires a depth of lodging in the ground ;
High as his topmost boughs to heaven ascend,
So low his roots to hell's dominion tend.
[Dryden, translating Virgil]
c. 1300, "kind, sort, class, a class or kind of persons or things sharing certain traits," from Old French gendre, genre "kind, species; character; gender" (12c., Modern French genre), from stem of Latin genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, family; kind, rank, order; species," also "(male or female) sex," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.
The unetymological -d- is a phonetic accretion in Old French (compare sound (n.1)). Also used in Latin to translate Aristotle's Greek grammatical term genos. The grammatical sense is attested in English from late 14c. Jespersen ("Philosophy of Grammar," 1924) defines grammatical gender by reference to the Indo-European distinction of masculine, feminine, neuter, "whether the division be based on the natural division into two sexes, or on that between animate and inanimate, or on something else."
The "male-or-female sex" sense of the word is attested in English from early 15c. As sex (n.) took on erotic qualities in 20c., gender came to be the usual English word for "sex of a human being," in which use it was at first regarded as colloquial or humorous. Later often in feminist writing with reference to social attributes as much as biological qualities; this sense first attested 1963. Gender-bender is from 1977, popularized from 1980, with reference to pop star David Bowie.
large American coniferous tree, 1857, from Modern Latin tree genus name given 1847 by Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher (1804-1849), originally to a different tree, the coast redwood, apparently in honor of Sequoya (a.k.a. George Guess, 1760-1843), the Cherokee man who invented a system of writing for his people's language, whose name is from Cherokee (Iroquoian) Sikwayi, a word of unknown etymology.
Endlicher was a specialist in conifers, and he also was a philologist. But he never gave an etymology of this name and a search of his papers discovered no mention of Sequoya or the Cherokee writing system, and the connection is an assumption that some botanists have challenged, though no better candidate for a source has been found.
The giant sequoia was unseen by Europeans until 1833 and unknown to scientists until 1852. In May 1855, a pair of American botanists named it Taxodium giganteum, but that name was deemed inappropriate for scientific reasons. English botanist John Lindley, who had never been to California, in 1853 named it Wellingtonia in honor of the Duke of Wellington. "As high as Wellington towers above his contemporaries, as high towers this California tree above the forest surrounding it. Therefore, it shall bear for all time to come the name Wellingtonia gigantea." This sat poorly with the Americans, and much ink was spilled until a French botanist provided the solution by transferring Endlicher's name. In Britain it is still popularly called Wellingtonia.
The more usual Greek word seems to have been polypous (also pōlyps), from polys "many" + pous, but for this word Thompson ["Glossary of Greek Fishes," 1947] suggests folk-etymology and a non-Hellenic origin.
The classically correct Greek plural (had the word been used in this sense in ancient Greek) would be octopodes. Octopi (1817) regards the -us in this word as the Latin noun ending that takes -i in plural. Like many modern scientific names of creatures, it was formed in Modern Latin from Greek elements, so it might be allowed to partake of Latin grammar in forming the plural. But it probably is best to let such words follow the grammar of the language that uses them, and octopuses probably works best in English (unless one wishes also to sanction diplodoci for the dinosaurs).
Used figuratively since at least 1882 of powers having far-reaching influence (usually as considered harmful and destructive). To the ancients, the octopus was crafty and dangerous, thrifty (stores food in its nest), and proverbial of clever and adaptable men, based on the animal's instinct of changing color when frightened or for disguise.
It also was thought to be amphibious and to climb trees near shores to steal grapes and olives (the giant ones were said to raid whole warehouses). Thompson writes that "the eggs look remarkably like ripe olives; hence the story."
ruminant mammal of the genus Ovis, as a domestic species, one of the animals most useful to humans, Old English sceap, scep, Northumbrian scap, from West Germanic *skæpan (source also of Old Saxon scap, Old Frisian skep, Middle Low German schap, Middle Dutch scaep, Dutch schaap, Old High German scaf, German Schaf), a word of unknown origin. Not found in Scandinavian (Danish has faar for "sheep") or Gothic (which uses lamb), and with no known cognates outside Germanic. The more usual Indo-European word for the animal is represented in English by ewe.
The plural was leveled with the singular in Old English, but Old Northumbrian had a plural scipo. It has been used from Old English times as a type of timidity and figuratively of those under the guidance of God. The meaning "stupid, timid person" is attested from 1540s.
The image of the wolf in sheep's clothing was in Old English (from Matthew vii.15); that of separating the sheep from the goats is from Matthew xxv.33; the phrase itself by 1570s. To count sheep in a bid to induce sleep is recorded from 1854 but seems not to have been commonly written about until 1870s. It might simply be a type of a tedious activity, but an account of shepherd life from Australia from 1849 ["Sidney's Emigrant's Journal"] describes the night-shepherd ("hut-keeper") taking a count of the sheep regularly at the end of his shift to protect against being answerable for any animals later lost or killed.
Sheep's eyes "loving looks" is attested from 1520s (compare West Frisian skiepseach, Dutch schaapsoog, German Schafsauge). A sheep-biter was "an ill-trained mongrel, a dog that worries sheep" (1540s) and had extended senses: a mutton-monger" (1590s); and "a whore-monger" (1610s, i.e. one who "chases mutton"); hence Shakespeare's sheep-biting "thieving, sneaky." An old London chronicle c. 1450 has went to sheep-wash for "were slain."
general common name of birds of the genus Corvus (the larger sort being sometimes called ravens), Old English crawe, which is held to be imitative of the bird's cry. Compare Old Saxon kraia, Dutch kraai, Old High German chraja, German Kräke.
Noted for sagacity and sociability. The British and North American species are very similar. Phrase as the crow flies "in a straight line" is from 1810; the image is attested in different form from 1800.
American English figurative phrase eat crow "do or accept what one vehemently dislikes and has opposed defiantly, accept things which, though not unbearable, are yet scarcely to be wished for," is attested by 1870 (originally often eat boiled crow), and seems to be based on the notion that the bird is edible when boiled but hardly agreeable.
There was an oft-reprinted mid-19c. joke about a man who, to settle a bet that he could eat anything, agrees to eat a boiled crow. As he with great difficulty swallows the first to mouthfuls, he says to the onlookers, "I can eat crow, but I don't hanker arter it." The joke is attested by 1854 (Walter Etecroue turns up 1361 in the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London).
I tried my best to eat crow, but it was too tough for me. "How do you like it?" said the old man, as, with a desperate effort, he wrenched off a mouthful from a leg. "I am like the man," said I, "who was once placed in the same position: 'I ken eat crow, but hang me if I hanker arter it.'" "Well," says the captain, "it is somewhat hard; but try some of the soup and dumplings and don t condemn crow-meat from this trial, for you shot the grandfather and grandmother of the flock: no wonder they are tough; shoot a young one next time." "No more crow-meat for me, thank you," said I. [James G. Swan, "The Northwest Coast, or Three Years' Residence in Washington Territory," New York, 1857]
The image of a crow's foot for the wrinkles appearing with age at the corner of the eye is from late 14c. ("So longe mote ye lyve Til crowes feet be growen under youre ye." [Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, c. 1385]).
"quadruped of the genus Canis," Old English docga, a late, rare word, used in at least one Middle English source in reference specifically to a powerful breed of canine; other early Middle English uses tend to be depreciatory or abusive. Its origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology.
The word forced out Old English hund (the general Germanic and Indo-European word, from root from PIE root *kwon-) by 16c. and subsequently was picked up in many continental languages (French dogue (16c.), Danish dogge, German Dogge (16c.). The common Spanish word for "dog," perro, also is a mystery word of unknown origin, perhaps from Iberian. A group of Slavic "dog" words (Old Church Slavonic pisu, Polish pies, Serbo-Croatian pas) likewise is of unknown origin.
In reference to persons, by c. 1200 in abuse or contempt as "a mean, worthless fellow, currish, sneaking scoundrel." Playfully abusive sense of "rakish man," especially if young, "a sport, a gallant" is from 1610s. Slang meaning "ugly woman" is from 1930s; that of "sexually aggressive man" is from 1950s.
Many expressions — a dog's life (c. 1600), go to the dogs (1610s), dog-cheap (1520s), etc. — reflect the earlier hard use of the animals as hunting accessories, not pets. In ancient times, "the dog" was the worst throw in dice (attested in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, where the word for "the lucky player" was literally "the dog-killer"), which plausibly explains the Greek word for "danger," kindynos, which appears to be "play the dog" (but Beekes is against this).
Notwithstanding, as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds. [Princess Elizabeth, 1550]
Meaning "something poor or mediocre, a failure" is by 1936 in U.S. slang. From late 14c. as the name for a heavy metal clamp of some kind. Dog's age "a long time" is by 1836. Adjectival phrase dog-eat-dog "ruthlessly competitive" is by 1850s. Phrase put on the dog "get dressed up" (1934) may be from comparison of dog collars to the stiff stand-up shirt collars that in the 1890s were the height of male fashion (and were known as dog-collars from at least 1883).
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from Hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war;
[Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"]