c. 1300, "flat, smooth," from Old French plain "flat, smooth, even" (12c.), from Latin planus "flat, even, level" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). Sense of "explicit, clear, evident" is from late 14c.; that of "free from obstruction" is mid-14c.; meaning "simple, sincere, ordinary" is recorded from late 14c., especially of dress, "unembellished, without decoration, unadorned." Of words, speech, etc., "direct and to the point," late 14c. As an adverb from late 14c.
In reference to the dress and speech of Quakers, it is recorded from 1824; of Amish and Mennonites, from 1894 (in the Dutch regions of Pennsylvania Plain with the capital is shorthand adjective for "Amish and Old Order Mennonite"). Of appearance, as a euphemism for "ill-favored, ugly" it dates from 1749. Of envelopes from 1913.
Plain English is from c. 1500. Plain dealer "one who speaks his opinions candidly; one who is frank, honest, and open" is from 1570s, marked "Now rare" in OED 2nd edition, though it survives since 1842 as the name of the main newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio. To be as plain as the nose on (one's) face "obvious" is from 1690s.
"The name of the machine in which the axe descends in grooves from a considerable height so that the stroke is certain and the head instantly severed from the body." [Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, January 1793], 1791, from French guillotine, named in recognition of French physician Joseph Guillotin (1738-1814), who as a deputy to the National Assembly (1789) proposed, for humanitarian and efficiency reasons, that capital punishment be carried out by beheading quickly and cleanly on a machine, which was built in 1791 and first used the next year. Similar devices on similar principles had been used in the Middle Ages. The verb is attested by 1794. Related: Guillotined; guillotining.
This is the product of Guillotin's endeavors, ... which product popular gratitude or levity christens by a feminine derivative name, as if it were his daughter: La Guillotine! ... Unfortunate Doctor! For two-and-twenty years he, unguillotined, shall hear nothing but guillotine, see nothing but guillotine; then dying, shall through long centuries wander, as it were, a disconsolate ghost, on the wrong side of Styx and Lethe; his name like to outlive Cæsar's. [Carlyle, "French Revolution"]
Bavarian capital, German München, from root of Mönch "monk" (see monk); founded 1158 as a market town by Benedictine monks. In allusions to "appeasement" it is from the meeting of German, British, French and Italian representatives there on Sept. 29, 1938, which resulted in the cession of Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for Hitler's pledges.
During the flight [from Munich] Daladier sat silent and morose, worried about the reception he would receive at Le Bourget, about how the French would react to his having betrayed Czechoslovakia and France's promises. As the plane circled for landing, he and others saw a massive crowd awaiting them. Expecting jeers, hisses, rotten fruit, and maybe worse, Daladier declared stolidly: 'They are going to mob me, I suppose. ... I appreciate their feelings,' and insisted on absorbing their wrath by being the first off the plane. But as he stood dumbfounded on the gangplank, thousands surged forward carrying flags and flowers, shouting 'Hurrah for France! Hurrah for England! Hurrah for peace!' Daladier turned back to Léger and cursed, 'The God-damned fools!' [Benjamin F. Martin, "France in 1938"]
chief city and capital of England, Latin Londinium (Tacitus, c. 115), according to the "Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names," "unexplained." It is often said to be "place belonging to a man named *Londinos," a supposed Celtic personal name meaning "the wild one," "but this etymology is rejected in an emphatic footnote in Jackson 1953 (p. 308), and we have as yet nothing to put in its place" [Margaret Gelling, "Signposts to the Past: Place-Names and the History of England," Chichester, 1978]. Its mythical history is told in Layamon's "Brut" (c. 1200).
In late Old English often with -burg, -wic, or -ceaster. As an adjective, Old English had Lundenisc, but this seems to have fallen from use, and modern Londonish (1838) probably is a re-coinage. Also Londony (1884); Londonesque (1852); Londinensian (George Meredith); Londonian (1824, marked "rare" in OED).
London Bridge the children's singing game is attested from 1827. London broil "large flank steak broiled then cut in thin slices" attested 1930s, American English; London fog first attested 1785.
Old English gieldan (West Saxon), geldan (Anglian) "to pay, pay for; reward, render; worship, serve, sacrifice to" (class III strong verb; past tense geald, past participle golden), from Proto-Germanic *geldan "pay" (source also of Old Saxon geldan "to be worth," Old Norse gjaldo "to repay, return," Middle Dutch ghelden, Dutch gelden "to cost, be worth, concern," Old High German geltan, German gelten "to be worth," Gothic fra-gildan "to repay, requite"). This is from PIE *gheldh- "to pay," a root found only in Balto-Slavic and Germanic (and Old Church Slavonic žledo, Lithuanian geliuoti might be Germanic loan-words).
"[T]he only generally surviving senses on the Continent are 'to be worth; to be valid, to concern, apply to,' which are not represented at all in the English word" [OED]; sense development in English comes via use of this word to translate Latin reddere, French rendre. Sense of "give in return for labor or capital invested" is from early 14c. Intransitive sense of "give oneself up, submit, surrender (to a foe)" is from c. 1300. Related to Middle Low German and Middle Dutch gelt, Dutch geld, German Geld "money." Related: Yielded; yielding.
1797, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once-common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) sometimes were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.
The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, a different system of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro. It used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, in whose works a symbol resembling a numeral 7 indicates the word and.
In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."
1640s, of textile fabric, "downy, fuzzy," later "flimsy, unsubstantial" (1660s), a word of unknown origin. One theory is that it is a corruption of Silesia, the German region, where thin linen or cotton fabric was made for export. Silesia, in reference to cloth, is attested in English from 1670s; and sleasie, sleazy as an abbreviated form is attested from late 17c., but OED finds the evidence to be against "any original connexion." The sense of "sordid, squalid" is from 1941. Related: Sleazily; sleaziness.
"Slesie linnen, so calld becaus brought from the province of Silesia, or as the Germans call it Schlesia, wher the capital city Breslaw is maintaind by this manufacture, which is the chief if not the only merchandize of that place." [from notes on Lansdowne manuscripts by antiquarian Bishop White Kennett (1660-1728), quoted in Halliwell]
A day is a more magnificent cloth than any muslin, the mechanism that makes it is infinitely cunninger, and you shall not conceal the sleazy, fraudulent, rotten hours you have slipped into the piece, nor fear that any honest thread, or straighter steel, or more inflexible shaft, will not testify in the web. [Emerson, "The Conduct of Life," 1860]
Old English heafod "top of the body," also "upper end of a slope," also "chief person, leader, ruler; capital city," from Proto-Germanic *haubid (source also of Old Saxon hobid, Old Norse hofuð, Old Frisian haved, Middle Dutch hovet, Dutch hoofd, Old High German houbit, German Haupt, Gothic haubiþ "head"), from PIE root *kaput- "head."
Modern spelling is early 15c., representing what was then a long vowel (as in heat) and remained after pronunciation shifted. Of rounded tops of plants from late 14c. Meaning "origin of a river" is mid-14c. Meaning "obverse of a coin" (the side with the portrait) is from 1680s; meaning "foam on a mug of beer" is first attested 1540s; meaning "toilet" is from 1748, based on location of crew toilet in the bow (or head) of a ship.
Synechdochic use for "person" (as in head count) is first attested late 13c.; of cattle, etc., in this sense from 1510s. As a height measure of persons, from c. 1300. Meaning "drug addict" (usually in a compound with the preferred drug as the first element) is from 1911.
To be over (one's) head "beyond one's comprehension" is by 1620s. To give head "perform fellatio" is from 1950s. Phrase heads will roll "people will be punished" (1930) translates Adolf Hitler. Head case "eccentric or insane person" is from 1966. Head game "mental manipulation" attested by 1972.
early 15c., securite, "state or condition of being safe from danger or harm;" mid-15c., "freedom from care or anxiety" (a sense now archaic), from Old French securite and directly from Latin securitas "freedom from care," from securus "free from care" (see secure (adj.)).
This form replaced the earlier sikerte (early 15c.), which represents an earlier borrowing of the Latin word; earlier in English in the sense of "security" was sikerhede (early 13c.); sikernesse (c. 1200). Sir Thomas Browne uses securement; Francis Bacon and Mrs. Browning have secureness. Surety is a doublet, via French.
The meaning "something which secures, that which makes safe" is from 1580s. The specific legal sense of "something pledged as a guarantee of fulfillment of an obligation" is from mid-15c. (originally a guarantee of good behavior).
The meaning "safety of a state, person, etc." is by 1941. By 1965 Security, with the capital, was generic or shorthand for "security officials; a state's security department or ministry."
The legal sense of "property in bonds" is from mid-15c.; that of "document held by a creditor as evidence of debt or property and proof of right to payment" is from 1680s. Security-check (n.) is by 1945. Phrase security blanket in figurative sense is attested by 1966, in reference to the crib blanket carried by the character Linus in the popular "Peanuts" newspaper comic strip (the blanket, and the strip, from 1956).
a fusion of Old English hon "suspend" (transitive, class VII strong verb; past tense heng, past participle hangen), and Old English hangian "be suspended" (intransitive, weak, past tense hangode); also probably influenced by Old Norse hengja "suspend," and hanga "be suspended." All from Proto-Germanic *hanhan (transitive), *hanganan (intransitive) "to hang" (source also of Old Frisian hangia, Dutch hangen, German hängen), from PIE *konk- "to hang" (source also of Gothic hahan, Hittite gang- "to hang," Sanskrit sankate "wavers," Latin cunctari "to delay;" see also second element in Stonehenge).
As a method of execution, in late Old English (but originally specifically of crucifixion). Meaning "to come to a standstill" (especially in hung jury) is from 1848, American English. Hung emerged as past participle 16c. in northern England dialect, and hanged endured only in legal language (which tends to be conservative) in reference to capital punishment and in metaphors extended from it (I'll be hanged).
Teen slang sense of "spend time" first recorded 1951; hang around "idle, loiter" is from 1828, American English; also compare hang out. To hang back "be reluctant to proceed" is from 1580s; phrase hang an arse "hesitate, hold back" is from 1590s. Verbal phrase hang fire (1781) originally was used of guns that were slow in communicating the fire through the vent to the charge. To let it all hang out "be relaxed and uninhibited" is from 1967.