coffee (n.)

"drink made from the ground and roasted seeds of a tree originally native to Arabia and Abyssinia," c. 1600, from Dutch koffie, from Turkish kahveh, from Arabic qahwah "coffee," which Arab etymologists connected with a word meaning "wine," but it is perhaps rather from the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, a home of the plant (coffee in Kaffa is called būno, which itself was borrowed into Arabic as bunn "raw coffee").

The early forms of the word in English indicate a derivation from Arabic or Turkish: chaoua (1598), cahve, kahui, etc. French café, German Kaffe are via Italian caffè.

The first coffee-house in Mecca dates to the 1510s; the beverage was in Turkey by the 1530s. It appeared in Europe c. 1515-1519 and was introduced to England by 1650. By 1675 the country had more than 3,000 coffee houses and coffee had replaced beer as a breakfast drink, but its use there declined 18c. with the introduction of cheaper tea. In the American colonies, however, the tax on tea kept coffee popular.

Meaning "a light meal at which coffee is served" is from 1774. As a shade or color resembling coffee, 1815. Coffee-bean is from 1680s. Coffee-mill is from 1690s; coffee-spoon is from 1703; coffee-pot is from 1705; coffee-cup is from 1762. Coffee-shop is from 1838. Coffee-cake is from 1850 as "cake in which coffee is an ingredient." Coffee break attested from 1952, at first often in glossy magazine advertisements by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau.

Did you drink a cup of coffee on company time this morning? Chances are that you did—for the midmorning coffee break is rapidly becoming a standard fixture in American offices and factories. [The Kiplinger Magazine, March 1952]
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equity (n.)

early 14c., equite, "quality of being equal or fair, impartiality;" late 14c., "that which is equally right or just to all concerned," from Old French equite (13c.), from Latin aequitatem (nominative aequitas) "the uniform relation of one thing to others, equality, conformity, symmetry;" also "just or equitable conduct toward others," from aequus "even, just, equal" (see equal (adj.)).

In law, "fairness in the adjustment of conflicting interests; the settlement of controversies by the dictates of good conscience" (natural equity), late 14c., from Roman naturalis aequitas, the general principles of justice which corrected or supplemented the legal codes ("governed by benevolence, while justitia yields to another only what is strictly due," Lewis & Short).

Hence, in England and U.S., also "justice based on such principles, the system of jurisprudence as to what is fair and what is not," and "a court or jurisdiction in which these doctrines are applied" (1590s).

The Latin word also meant "a quiet, tranquil state of mind; moderation, evenness of temper."

The L. æquitas was somewhat influenced in meaning by being adopted as the ordinary rendering of Gr. ἐπιεικεια ...,which meant reasonableness and moderation in the exercise of one's rights, and the disposition to avoid insisting on them too rigorously. [OED]

From 1620s as "an equitable right, that to which one is justly entitled," especially a right recognized by courts of equity that is not provided for in the common or statute law (such as certain property rights of wives). Equities, "the ordinary shares of a limited company," carrying certain rights to assets and profits, is attested by 1904.

By 1980s it had taken on extended senses in sociology, e.g.: "allocating benefits in various policy fields in such a way as to provide groups, persons, and places with at least a minimum level of benefits so as to satisfy basic needs" [Stuart S. Nagel, "Equity as a Policy Goal," 1983].

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fire (n.)

Old English fyr "fire, a fire," from Proto-Germanic *fūr- (source also of Old Saxon fiur, Old Frisian fiur, Old Norse fürr, Middle Dutch and Dutch vuur, Old High German fiur, German Feuer "fire"), from PIE *perjos, from root *paewr- "fire." Current spelling is attested as early as 1200, but did not fully displace Middle English fier (preserved in fiery) until c. 1600.

PIE apparently had two roots for fire: *paewr- and *egni- (source of Latin ignis). The former was "inanimate," referring to fire as a substance, and the latter was "animate," referring to it as a living force (compare water (n.1)).

Brend child fuir fordredeþ ["The Proverbs of Hendyng," c. 1250]

English fire was applied to "ardent, burning" passions or feelings from mid-14c. Meaning "discharge of firearms, action of guns, etc." is from 1580s. To be on fire is from c. 1500 (in fire attested from c. 1400, as is on a flame "on fire"). To play with fire in the figurative sense "risk disaster, meddle carelessly or ignorantly with a dangerous matter" is by 1861, from the common warning to children. Phrase where's the fire?, said to one in an obvious hurry, is by 1917, American English.

Fire-bell is from 1620s; fire-alarm as a self-acting, mechanical device is from 1808 as a theoretical creation; practical versions began to appear in the early 1830s. Fire-escape (n.) is from 1788 (the original so-called was a sort of rope-ladder disguised as a small settee); fire-extinguisher is from 1826. A fire-bucket (1580s) carries water to a fire. Fire-house is from 1899; fire-hall from 1867, fire-station from 1828. Fire company "men for managing a fire-engine" is from 1744, American English. Fire brigade "firefighters organized in a body in a particular place" is from 1838. Fire department, usually a branch of local government, is from 1805. Fire-chief is from 1877; fire-ranger from 1909.

Symbolic fire and the sword is by c. 1600 (translating Latin flamma ferroque absumi); earlier yron and fyre (1560s), with suerd & flawme (mid-15c.), mid fure & mid here ("with fire and armed force"), c. 1200. Fire-breathing is from 1590s. To set the river on fire, "accomplish something surprising or remarkable" (usually with a negative and said of one considered foolish or incompetent) is by 1830, often with the name of a river, varying according to locality, but the original is set the Thames on fire (1796). The hypothetical feat was mentioned as the type of something impossibly difficult by 1720; it circulated as a theoretical possibility under some current models of chemistry c. 1792-95, which may have contributed to the rise of the expression.

[A]mong other fanciful modes of demonstrating the practicability of conducting the gas wherever it might be required, he anchored a small boat in the stream about 50 yards from the shore, to which he conveyed a pipe, having the end turned up so as to rise above the water, and forcing the gas through the pipe, lighted it just above the surface, observing to his friends "that he had now set the river on fire." ["On the Origins and Progress of Gas-lighting," in "Repertory of Patent Inventions," vol. III, London, 1827]
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