[I]n English law, a peculiar form of theft, which is distinguished from the ordinary crime in two points:— (1) It is committed by a person who is in the position of clerk or servant to the owner of the property stolen; and (2) the property when stolen is in the possession of such clerk or servant. The definition of embezzlement as a special form of theft arose out of the difficulties caused by the legal doctrine that to constitute larceny the property must be taken out of the possession of the owner. Servants and others were thus able to steal with impunity goods entrusted to them by their masters. A statute of Henry VIII. (1529) was passed to meet this case; and it enacted that it should be felony in servants to convert to their own use caskets, jewels, money, goods or chattels delivered to them by their masters. [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910]
c. 1200, "of wide application, generic, affecting or involving all" (as opposed to special or specific), from Old French general (12c.) and directly from Latin generalis "relating to all, of a whole class, generic" (contrasted with specialis), from genus (genitive generis) "stock, kind" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups).
What is common is of frequent occurrence. What is general admits of comparatively few exceptions: the general opinion (the opinion of the majority); the general welfare. [J.H.A. Günther, "English Synonyms Explained & Illustrated," Groningen, Netherlands, 1904]
Used in forming titles from late 14c. with the sense "having general authority or jurisdiction, chief." Phrase in general "without exception, in one body; as a rule, generally, not specifically" is from late 14c. General rule, one applying to an art or science as a whole, is from c. 1400. General store attested by 1810, American English, in reference to the range of goods sold; a general hospital (1737) is one not restricted to one class of persons or type of disease.
early 13c., "subordinate place of worship added to or forming part of a large church or cathedral, separately dedicated and devoted to special services," from Old French chapele (12c., Modern French chapelle), from Medieval Latin capella, cappella "chapel, sanctuary for relics," literally "little cape," diminutive of Late Latin cappa "cape" (see cap (n.)).
By tradition, the name is originally in reference to the sanctuary in France in which the miraculous cape of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of France, was preserved. (While serving Rome as a soldier deployed in Gaul, Martin cut his military coat in half to share it with a ragged beggar. That night, Martin dreamed Christ wearing the half-cloak; the half Martin kept was the relic.) The other theory is that it comes from Medieval Latin capella in a literal sense of "canopy, hood" and is a reference to the "covering" of the altar when Mass is said.
The word spread to most European languages (German Kapelle, Italian cappella, etc.). In English from 17c. it was used also of places of worship other than those of the established church.
Middle English blessen, from Old English bletsian, bledsian, Northumbrian bloedsian "to consecrate by a religious rite, make holy, give thanks," from Proto-Germanic *blodison "hallow with blood, mark with blood," from *blotham "blood" (see blood (n.)). Originally a blood sprinkling on pagan altars.
This word was chosen in Old English bibles to translate Latin benedicere and Greek eulogein, both of which have a ground sense of "to speak well of, to praise," but were used in Scripture to translate Hebrew brk "to bend (the knee), worship, praise, invoke blessings." L.R. Palmer ("The Latin Language") writes, "There is nothing surprising in the semantic development of a word denoting originally a special ritual act into the more generalized meanings to 'sacrifice,' 'worship,' 'bless,' " and he compares Latin immolare (see immolate).
The meaning shifted in late Old English toward "pronounce or make happy, prosperous, or fortunate" by resemblance to unrelated bliss. The meaning "invoke or pronounce God's blessing upon" is from early 14c. No cognates in other languages. Related: Blessed; blessing.
mid-14c., "authority entrusted to someone, delegated authority or power," from Old French commission and directly from Latin commissionem (nominative commissio) "act of committing," in Medieval Latin "delegation of business," noun of action from past participle stem of committere "to unite, connect, combine; to bring together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission).
Meaning "document delegating authority" is from early 15c.; meaning "body of persons charged with authority for the performance of certain special duties" is from late 15c. Sense of "anything entrusted to anyone to perform" is from 1560s; sense of "act of committing or doing" is from 1590s.
Naval sense "period of active service of a warship" is by 1882 (in commission "under the command of an officer" is from 1733). Hence out of commission "laid up in a navy yard or in reserve" (1878), subsequently extended to other machinery, and, figuratively, to persons or human qualities by 1917.
In commercial use, "authority delegated by another for the purchase and sale of goods," 1620s. Meaning "allowance made or percentage given to an agent for transacting business" is from 1725.
early 15c., "existing apart, independent, not together," a sense now obsolete, also "a small number of; particular, special;" from Anglo-French several, from Old French seperalis "separate," from Medieval Latin separalis "separable," from Latin separ "separate, different," a back-formation from separare "to pull apart," from se- "apart" (see secret (n.)) + parare "make ready, prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").
Compare Anglo-Latin severalis, a variant of separalis. The meaning "various, diverse, different" (as in went their several ways) is attested from c. 1500; that of "more than one" is from 1530s, growing out of legal meanings of the word, "belonging or assigned distributively to certain individuals" (mid-15c.), etc. Also used by mid-17c. as "a vague numeral" (OED), in which any notion of "different" appears to have been lost. Related: Severalty; severality; severalfold. Jocular ordinal form severalth is attested from 1902 in colloquial American English (see -th (2)).
Here we are all, by day; by night we're hurled
By dreams, each one into a several world
Old English felan "to touch or have a sensory experience of; perceive, sense (something)," in late Old English "have a mental perception," from Proto-Germanic *foljanan (source also of Old Saxon gifolian, Old Frisian fela, Dutch voelen, Old High German vuolen, German fühlen "to feel," Old Norse falma "to grope"), which is of uncertain origin, possibly from a PIE *pal- "to touch, feel, shake, strike softly" (source also of Greek psallein "to pluck" the harp), or from PIE root *pel- (5) "to thrust, strike, drive."
In Germanic languages, the specific word for "perceive by sense of touch" has tended to evolve to apply to the emotions. The connecting notion might be "perceive through senses which are not referred to any special organ." Sense of "be conscious of a tactile sensation, sense pain, pleasure, illness, etc.; have an emotional experience or reaction," developed by c. 1200, also "have an opinion or conviction;" that of "to react with sympathy or compassion" is from mid-14c. Meaning "to try by touch" is from early 14c. From late 14c. as "know (something) beforehand, to have foreknowledge of." To feel like "want to" attested from 1829.
a special use of grand (adj.) in genealogical compounds, originally with the sense of "a generation older than," first attested c. 1200, in Anglo-French graund dame "grandmother," also grandsire (late 13c.), from such use of Old French grand-, which perhaps is modeled on Latin avunculus magnus "great uncle." The partly-Englished grandmother, grandfather are from 15c. Other such words in European languages are formed with the adjectives for "old" or "best" (Danish bedstefar) or as diminutives or pet names (Greek pappos, Welsh taid). The French formation also is the model for such words in German and Dutch. Spanish abuelo is from Latin avus "grandfather" (from PIE *awo- "adult male relative other than the father;" see uncle), via Vulgar Latin *aviolus, a diminutive or adjective substitution for the noun.
The extension of the sense to corresponding relationships of descent, "a generation younger than" (grandson, granddaughter) is from Elizabethan times. The inherited PIE root, *nepot- "grandchild" (see nephew) has shifted to "nephew; niece" in English and other languages (Spanish nieto, nieta). Old English used suna sunu ("son's son"), dohtor sunu ("son's daughter").
"anything that guides or directs in an intricate case," 1590s, a special use of a revised spelling of clew "a ball of thread or yarn" (q.v.). The word, which is native Germanic, in Middle English was clewe, also cleue; some words borrowed from Old French in -ue, -eu also were spelled -ew in Middle English, such as blew, imbew, but these later were reformed to -ue, and this process was extended to native words (hue, true, clue) which had ended in a vowel and -w. The spelling clue is first attested mid-15c.
The sense shift is originally in reference to the clew of thread given by Ariadne to Theseus to use as a guide out of the Labyrinth in Greek mythology. The purely figurative sense of "that which points the way," without regard to labyrinths, is from 1620s. As something which a bewildered person does not have, by 1948.
Thus hardy Theseus, with intrepid Feet,
Travers'd the dang'rous Labyrinth of Crete;
But still the wandring Passes forc'd his Stay,
Till Ariadne's Clue unwinds the Way
The board game (originally Cluedo) was launched in 1949 in Britain.
c. 1200, professioun, "vows taken upon entering a religious order," from Old French profession (12c.) and directly from Latin professionem (nominative professio) "public declaration," noun of action from past-participle stem of profiteri "declare openly" (see profess).
The meaning "any solemn declaration" is from mid-14c. Meaning "occupation one professes to be skilled in, a calling" is from early 15c.; meaning "body of persons engaged in some occupation" is from 1610; as a euphemism for "prostitution" (compare oldest profession) it is recorded from 1888.
Formerly theology, law, and medicine were specifically known as the professions; but, as the applications of science and learning are extended to other departments of affairs, other vocations also receive the name. The word implies professed attainments in special knowledge, as distinguished from mere skill; a practical dealing with affairs, as distinguished from mere study or investigation; and an application of such knowledge to uses for others as a vocation, as distinguished from its pursuit for one's own purposes. In professions strictly so called a preliminary examination as to qualifications is usually demanded by law or usage, and a license or other official authority founded thereon required. [Century Dictionary]