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]
coined 1899 in German as a trademark name by German chemist Heinrich Dreser, from Latin Spiraea (ulmaria) "meadow-sweet," the plant in whose flowers or leaves the processed acid in the medicine is naturally found, + common chemical ending -in (see -ine (2)). Spiraea (Tournefort, 1700) is from Latinized form of Greek speiraia "meadow-sweet," so called from the shape of its follicles (see spiral (adj.)). The initial -a- is to acknowledge acetylation; Dreser said the word was a contraction of acetylierte spirsäure, the German name of the acid, which now is obsolete, replaced by salicylic acid.
Die Bezeichnung Aspirin ist abgeleitet aus "Spirsäure" — alter Name der Salicylsäure und A = Acetyl; statt: Acetylirte Spirsäure, kurzweg "Aspirin". [H, Dreser, "Pharmakologisches über Aspirin (Acetylsalicylsäure)," in "Archiv für die Gesammte Physiologie des Menschen und der Thiere," 1899, p.307]
The custom of giving commercial names to medicinal products began in Germany in the late 19th century, when nascent pharmaceutical firms were discovering medical uses for common, easily made chemicals. To discourage competitors they would market the substance under a short trademarked name a doctor could remember, rather than the long chemical compound word. German law required prescriptions to be filled exactly as written.
early 14c., "plane figure having four equal sides and two acute and two obtuse angles," from Old French losenge "rhombus shape, diamond-shape" (as an ornamental motif in heraldry, etc.); "small square cake; windowpane," etc., a word used for many flat quadrilateral things (Modern French losange). It has cognates in Spanish losange, Catalan llosange, Italian lozanga, but the origin is disputed.
Probably from a pre-Roman Celtic language, perhaps Iberian *lausa or Gaulish *lausa "flat stone" (compare Provençal lausa, Spanish losa, Catalan llosa, Portuguese lousa "slab, tombstone"). From late 14c. as "diamond-shaped cake or wafer;" specific sense "small cake or tablet (originally diamond-shaped) of medicine and sugar, etc., meant to be held in the mouth and dissolved" is from 1520s.
The related words in Continental languages often have a sense "flattery, deceit" (compare Old French losengier "to praise unduly," losenge "flattery, false praise; deceitful friendliness"), which comes probably via the notion of square flat slabs of tombstones and their fulsome epithets. Some of this made its way into Middle English via French. Chaucer uses losenger "flatterer, deceiver;" losengerye "flattery."
1884, Tabloid, "small tablet of medicine," trademark name (by Burroughs, Wellcome and Co.) for compressed or concentrated chemicals and drugs, a hybrid formed from tablet + Greek-derived suffix -oid. By 1898, it was being used figuratively to mean a compressed form or dose of anything, hence tabloid journalism (1901), and newspapers that typified it (1917), so called for having short, condensed news articles and/or for being small in size. Associated originally with Alfred C. Harmsworth, editor and proprietor of the London Daily Mail.
Mr. Harmsworth entered a printing office twenty years ago as office-boy, and today owns thirty periodicals besides The Mail. Upon a friendly challenge from Mr. Pulitzer of The New York World, the English journalist issued the first number of The World for the new century in the ideal form. The size of the page was reduced to four columns and the general make-up was similar in appearance to that of one of the weekly magazines. Current news was presented in condensed and tabulated form, of which the editor says: "The world enters today upon the twentieth or time-saving century. I claim that by my system of condensed or tabloid journalism hundreds of working hours can be saved each year." ["The Twentieth Century Newspaper," in The Social Gospel, February 1901]
c. 1200, "free from duplicity, upright, guileless; blameless, innocently harmless," also "ignorant, uneducated; unsophisticated; simple-minded, foolish," from Old French simple (12c.) "plain, decent; friendly, sweet; naive, foolish, stupid," hence "wretched, miserable," from Latin simplus from PIE compound *sm-plo-, from root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with" + *-plo- "-fold."
Sense of "free from pride, humble, meek" is mid-13c. As "consisting of only one substance or ingredient" (opposite of composite or compounded) it dates from late 14c.; as "easily done" (opposite of complicated) it dates from late 15c.
From mid-14c. as "unqualified; mere; sheer;" also "clear, straightforward; easily understood." From late 14c. as "single, individual; whole." From late 14c. of clothing, etc., "modest, plain, unadorned," and of food, "plain, not sumptuous." In medicine, of fractures, etc., "lacking complications," late 14c. As a law term, "lacking additional legal stipulations, unlimited," from mid-14c.
In Middle English with wider senses than recently, such as "inadequate, insufficient; weak, feeble; mere; few; sad, downcast; mournful; of little value; low in price; impoverished, destitute;" of hair, "straight, not curly." As noun, "an innocent or a guileless person; a humble or modest person" (late 14c.), also "an uncompounded substance." From c. 1500 as "ignorant people."
early 13c., "what befalls one; state of affairs," from Old French cas "an event, happening, situation, quarrel, trial," from Latin casus "a chance, occasion, opportunity; accident, mishap," literally "a falling," from cas-, past participle stem of cadere "to fall, sink, settle down, decline, perish" (used widely: of the setting of heavenly bodies, the fall of Troy, suicides), from PIE root *kad- "to fall."
The notion is of "that which falls" as "that which happens" (compare befall). From its general nature, the word has taken on widespread extended and transferred meanings. Meaning "instance, example" is from c. 1300. Meaning "actual state of affairs" is from c. 1400. In law, "an instance of litigation" (late 14c.); in medicine, "an instance of a disease" (late 14c.).
The grammatical sense, "one of the forms which make up the inflections of a noun" (late 14c.) also was in Latin, translating Greek ptōsis "declension," literally "a falling." "A noun in the nominative singular ..., or a verb in the present indicative ...,
is conceived as standing straight. Then it falls, or is bent, or
declines into various positions" [Gilbert Murray, "Greek Studies"]
U.S. slang meaning "person" (especially one peculiar or remarkable in any way) is from 1848. Meaning "incident or series of events requiring police investigation" is from 1838. In case "in the event" is recorded from mid-14c. Case-history is from 1879, originally medical; case-study "study of a particular case" is from 1879, originally legal; case-law "law as settled by previous court cases" is from 1861.
c. 1300, melancolie, malencolie, "mental disorder characterized by sullenness, gloom, irritability, and propensity to causeless and violent anger," from Old French melancolie "black bile; ill disposition, anger, annoyance" (13c.), from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholia "sadness," literally (excess of) "black bile," from melas (genitive melanos) "black" (see melano-) + khole "bile" (see cholera).
Old medicine attributed mental depression to unnatural or excess "black bile," a secretion of the spleen and one of the body's four "humors," which help form and nourish the body unless altered or present in excessive amounts. The word also was used in Middle English for "sorrow, gloom" (brought on by love, disappointment, etc.), by mid-14c. As belief in the old physiology of humors faded out in the 18c. the word remained with a sense of "a gloomy state of mind," particularly when habitual or prolonged.
The Latin word also is the source of Spanish melancolia, Italian melancolia, German Melancholie, Danish melankoli, etc. Old French variant malencolie (also in Middle English) is by false association with mal "sickness."
When I go musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.
When I lie waking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so sad as melancholy.
[Robert Burton, from "Anatomy of Melancholy," 17c.]
[people of common descent] 1560s, "people descended from a common ancestor, class of persons allied by common ancestry," from French race, earlier razza "race, breed, lineage, family" (16c.), possibly from Italian razza, which is of unknown origin (cognate with Spanish raza, Portugueseraça). Etymologists say it has no connection with Latin radix "root," though they admit this might have influenced the "tribe, nation" sense, and race was a 15c. form of radix in Middle English (via Old French räiz, räis). Klein suggests the words derive from Arabic ra's "head, beginning, origin" (compare Hebrew rosh).
Original senses in English included "wines with characteristic flavor" (1520), "group of people with common occupation" (c. 1500), and "generation" (1540s). The meaning developed via the sense of "tribe, nation, or people regarded as of common stock" to "an ethnical stock, one of the great divisions of mankind having in common certain physical peculiarities" by 1774 (though as OED points out, even among anthropologists there never has been an accepted classification of these). In 19c. also "a group regarded as forming a distinctive ethnic stock" (German, Greeks, etc.).
Just being a Negro doesn't qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine. [Dick Gregory, 1964]
In mid-20c. U.S. music catalogues, it means "Negro." Old English þeode meant both "race, folk, nation" and "language;" as a verb, geþeodan meant "to unite, to join." Race-consciousness "social consciousness," whether in reference to the human race or one of the larger ethnic divisions, is attested by 1873; race-relations by 1897. Race theory "assertion that some racial groups are endowed with qualities deemed superior" is by 1894.
c. 1200, poisoun, "a deadly potion or substance," also figuratively, "spiritually corrupting ideas; evil intentions," from Old French poison, puison (12c., Modern French poison) "a drink," especially a medical drink, later "a (magic) potion, poisonous drink" (14c.), from Latin potionem (nominative potio) "a drinking, a drink," also "poisonous drink" (Cicero), from potare "to drink" (from PIE root *po(i)- "to drink").
A doublet of potion. For similar form evolution from Latin to French, compare raison from rationem, trahison from traditionem. The more usual Indo-European word for this is represented in English by virus. The Old English word was ator (see attercop) or lybb (cognate with Old Norse lyf "medicinal herbs;" see leaf (n.)).
For sense evolution, compare Old French enerber, enherber "to kill with poisonous plants." In many Germanic languages "poison" is named by a word equivalent to English gift (such as Old High German gift, German Gift, Danish and Swedish gift; Dutch gift, vergift). This shift might have been partly euphemistic, partly by influence of Greek dosis "a portion prescribed," literally "a giving," used by Galen and other Greek physicians to mean an amount of medicine (see dose (n.)).
Of persons detested or regarded as exerting baleful influence, by 1910. The slang meaning "alcoholic drink" is by 1805 in American English (potus as a past-participle adjective in Latin meant "drunken").
As an adjective from 1520s; with plant names from 18c. Poison ivy is recorded by 1784 for a shrub-vine of North America causing an itching rash on contact; poison oak for poison ivy or related species is by 1743. Poison sumac (1817), causing an even more severe rash, is a swamp-border tree noted for the brilliant red of its leaves in fall. Poison gas is recorded from 1915. Poison-pen (letter) was popularized 1913 by a notorious criminal case in Pennsylvania, U.S.; the phrase dates to 1898.
"fine, minute, loose, uncompacted particles," c. 1300, poudre, "ash, cinders; dust of the earth;" early 14c. of any pulverized substance; from Old French poudre "dust, powder; ashes; powdered substance" (13c.), earlier pouldre (11c.), from Latin pulverem (nominative pulvis) "dust, powder" (source also of Spanish polvo, Italian polve; see pulverize).
The insertion of the unetymological -d- was common in French (compare meddle, tender (adj.), remainder). German has it as a doublet; Puder via French and Pulver from Latin. From mid-14c. specifically as "medicinal powder;" specialized sense of "gunpowder" is from late 14c. In the sense "powdered cosmetic," it is recorded from 1570s.
Powder keg "small barrel for holding gunpowder" is by 1820; the figurative sense ("something likely to explode easily") is by 1895. Powder room, euphemistic for "women's lavatory," is attested from 1936. Earlier it meant "place where gunpowder is stored on a warship" (1620s). Powder monkey "boy employed on ships to carry powder from the magazines to the guns" is from 1680s. Powder blue (1650s) was smalt used in laundering; as a color name from 1894.
The phrase take a powder "scram, vanish," is from 1920; it was a common phrase as a doctor's instruction, so perhaps the notion is of taking a laxative medicine or a sleeping powder, with the result that one has to leave in a hurry (or, on another guess, from a magician's magical powder, which makes things disappear).
Avis dropped an exhausted little heap onto her aunt's bed. She put her hand over her heart and said piteously, "Oh, Aunt Joyce, I mustn't ever do that again. My heart's going awful fast. I shall have to take a powder. Wasn't it fun though-" Avis' dark eyes flashed. [from "The Evolution of Avis" in The Connecticut School Journal, Jan. 9, 1902]
When the wife of your breast has confessed she has drest
On just triple the sum you allowed her,
And has run up long bills for her frocks and her frills—
Take a powder, my friend, take a powder.
[from "The Panacaea," in Punch, Dec. 14, 1901]
Powder in the wind (c. 1300, meaning powdered spices) was a Middle English image of something highly valued but flawed in some way that renders it impermanent or doomed to loss (of virtues without humility, etc.).