"travel on foot," c. 1200, a merger of two verbs, 1. Old English wealcan "to toss, roll, move round" (past tense weolc, past participle wealcen), and 2. wealcian "to roll up, curl," from Proto-Germanic *welk- (source also of Old Norse valka "to drag about," Danish valke "to full" (cloth), Middle Dutch walken "to knead, press, full" (cloth), Old High German walchan "to knead," German walken "to full"), perhaps ultimately from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve."
The shift in sense is perhaps from a colloquial use of the Old English word or via the sense of "to full cloth" (by treading on it), though this sense does not appear until after the change in meaning. In 13c. it is used of snakes and the passage of time, and in 15c. of wheeled carts. "Rarely is there so specific a word as NE walk, clearly distinguished from both go and run" [Buck]. Meaning "to go away" is recorded from mid-15c. Transitive meaning "to exercise a dog (or horse)" is from late 15c.; meaning "to escort (someone) in a walk" is from 1620s. Meaning "move (a heavy object) by turning and shoving it in a manner suggesting walking" is by 1890. To walk it off, of an injury, etc., is from 1741. Related: Walked; walking.
The earlier Middle English word was interesse (late 14c.), from Anglo-French interesse "what one has a legal concern in," from Medieval Latin interesse "compensation for loss," noun use of Latin interresse (compare German Interesse, from the same Medieval Latin source).
Financial sense of "money paid for the use of money lent" (1520s) earlier was distinguished from usury (illegal under Church law) by being in reference to "compensation due from a defaulting debtor." Sense of "personal or selfish consideration" is from 1620s. Meaning "business in which several people are interested" is from 1670s. Meaning "curiosity, feeling that something concerns one, appreciative or sympathetic regard" is first attested 1771. Interest group is attested from 1907; interest rate by 1868.
c. 1200, "spiritual credit" (for good works, etc.); c. 1300, "spiritual reward," from Old French merite "wages, pay, reward; thanks; merit, moral worth, that which assures divine pity" (12c.) and directly from Latin meritum "a merit, service, kindness, benefit, favor; worth, value, importance," neuter of meritus, past participle of merere, mereri "to earn, deserve, acquire, gain," from PIE root *(s)mer- (2) "to get a share of something."
Sense of "worthiness, excellence," is from early 14c.; from late 14c. as "state or fact of deserving, condition or conduct that deserves either reward or punishment;" also "a reward, benefit." Etymologically it is merely "that which one deserves," and the Latin word was used of rewards or punishments, but in English it has typically meant "state or fact of deserving well."
Merits, in law, is "the right and wrong of the case, essential facts and principles" (as distinguished from questions of procedure, etc.). In civil service promotion, the merit system is attested by 1880 (opposed to the spoils system); the phrase was used earlier in other contexts. Merit-monger (1550s, Latimer) was a common 16c.-17c. term of theological contempt for one who believes that human merit entitles man to divine rewards.
1520s, "concise statement of a principle" (especially in reference to the "Aphorisms of Hippocrates"), from French aphorisme (corrected from Old French aufforisme, 14c.), from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos "definition; short, pithy sentence," from aphorizein "to mark off, divide," from apo "from" (see apo-) + horizein "to bound" (see horizon).
General sense of "short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import" (e.g. "life is short, and art is long") is from 1580s in English. Distinguished from an axiom, which is a statement of self-evident truth; an epigram is like an aphorism, but lacking in general import. Maxim and saying can be used as synonyms for aphorism, but maxims tend to be practical and sayings tend to be more commonplace and have an author's name attached.
[F]or aphorisms, except they should be ridiculous, cannot be made but of the pith and heart of sciences ; for discourse of illustration is cut off ; recitals of examples are cut off ; discourse of connexion and order is cut off ; descriptions of practice are cut off. So there remaineth nothing to fill the aphorisms but some good quantity of observation : and therefore no man can suffice, nor in reason will attempt, to write aphorisms, but he that is sound and grounded. [Francis Bacon, "The Advancement of Learning," 1605]
c. 1500 (implied in swamwatyr "swamp-water"), of uncertain origin, perhaps [Barnhart] a dialectal survival from an Old English cognate of Old Norse svöppr "sponge, fungus," from Proto-Germanic *swampuz; but traditionally connected with Middle English sompe "morass, swamp," which probably is from Middle Dutch somp or Middle Low German sump "swamp" (see sump). All of these likely are ultimately related to each other, from PIE *swombho- "spongy; mushroom," via the notion of "spongy ground."
[B]y swamps then in general is to be understood any low grounds subject to inundations, distinguished from marshes, in having a large growth of timber, and much underwood, canes, reeds, wythes, vines, briers, and such like, so matted together, that they are in a great measure impenetrable to man or beast .... [Bernard Romans, "A Concise History of East and West Florida," 1775]
More popular in U.S. (swamp (n.) by itself is first attested 1624 in Capt. John Smith's description of Virginia). Swamp-oak is from 1680s, American English. Swamp Yankee "rural, rustic New Englander" is attested from 1941. Thornton's "American Glossary" (1912) has swamp-angel "dweller in a swamp," swamp-law "might makes right."
late 13c., "musical instrument, mechanical apparatus for producing musical sounds," from Old French instrument, enstrument "means, device; musical instrument" (14c., earlier estrument, 13c.) and directly from Latin instrumentum "a tool, an implement; means, furtherance; apparatus, furniture; ornament, dress, embellishment; a commission, authorization; a document," from instruere "arrange, prepare, set in order; inform, teach," literally "to build, erect," from in- "on" (from PIE root *en "in") + struere "to pile, build" (from PIE *streu-, extended form of root *stere- "to spread").
The word in other Germanic languages also is from French. In English the meaning "a means, an agency" is from mid-14c. The sense of "hand-tool, implement, utensil, something used to produce a mechanical effect" is from early 14c. "Now usually distinguished from a tool, as being used for more delicate work or for artistic or scientific purposes" [OED]. The legal meaning "written document by which formal expression is given to a legal act" is from early 15c. Formerly also used of body parts or organs with special functions.
In wyfhode I wol vse myn Instrument As frely as my makere hath it sent. [Chaucer, "Wife of Bath's Prologue"]
The meaning "a flat strip" (late 14c.) is from French. In Middle English, this was sometimes distinguished by the spelling bande, bonde, but with loss of terminal -e the words have fully merged via the notion of "flat strip of flexible material used to wind around something."
Meaning "broad stripe of color, ray of colored light" is from late 14c.; the electronics sense of "range of frequencies or wavelengths" is from 1922. Most of the figurative senses ("legal or moral commitment; captivity, imprisonment," etc.) have passed into bond (n.), which originally was a phonetic variant of this band. The Middle English form of the word is retained in heraldic bend (n.2) "broad diagonal stripe on a coat-of-arms."
"long pole on a ship, secured as the lower end to the keel, to support the yards, sails, and rigging in general," Old English mæst, from Proto-Germanic *mastaz (source also of Old Norse mastr, Middle Dutch maste, Dutch, Danish mast, German Mast), from PIE *mazdo- "a pole, rod" (source also of Latin malus "mast," Old Irish matan "club," Irish maide "a stick," Old Church Slavonic mostu "bridge").
The single mast of an old ship was the boundary between the quarters of the officers and those of the crew, hence before the mast "serving as an ordinary seaman" in the title of Dana's book, etc.
In all large vessels the masts are composed of several lengths, called lower mast, topmast, and topgallantmast. The royalmast is now made in one piece with the topgallantmast. A mast consisting of a single length is called a pole-mast. In a full-rigged ship with three masts, each of three pieces, the masts are distinguished as the foremast, the mainmast, and the mizzenmast; and the pieces as the foremast (proper), foretopmast, foretopgallantmast, etc. In vessels with two masts, they are called the foremast and mainmast; in vessels with four masts, the aftermast is called the spanker-mast or jigger-mast. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
c. 1400, reguler, "belonging to or subject to a religious or monastic rule," from Old French reguler "ecclesiastical" (Modern French régulier) and directly from Late Latin regularis "containing rules for guidance," from Latin regula "rule, straight piece of wood" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line"). The classical -a- was restored 16c.
In earliest use, the opposite of secular. Extended from late 16c. to shapes, verbs, etc., that followed predictable, proper, or uniform patterns. From 1590s as "marked or distinguished by steadiness or uniformity in action or practice;" hence, of persons, "pursuing a definite course, observing a universal principle in action or conduct" (c. 1600).
The sense of "normal, conformed or conforming to established customs" is from 1630s. The meaning "orderly, well-behaved" is from 1705. By 1756 as "recurring at repeated or fixed times," especially at short, uniform intervals. The military sense of "properly and permanently organized, constituting part of a standing army" is by 1706. The colloquial meaning "real, genuine, thorough" is from 1821.
Old English borrowed Latin regula and nativized it as regol "rule, regulation, canon, law, standard, pattern;" hence regolsticca "ruler" (instrument); regollic (adj.) "canonical, regular."
1807, of or pertaining to the Caucasus Mountains (q.v.), with -ian. Applied to the "white" race 1795 (in Latin) by German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), who in his pioneering treatise on anthropology distinguished mankind into five races: Mongolian, Ethiopian, Malay, (Native) American, and Caucasian. In the latter group he included nearly all Europeans (except Lapps and Finns), Armenians, Persians, and Hindus, as well as Arabs and Jews. His attempt at division was based on physical similarities in skulls.
Blumenbach had a solitary Georgian skull; and that skull was the finest in his collection: that of a Greek being the next. Hence it was taken as the type of the skull of the more organised divisions of our species. More than this, it gave its name to the type, and introduced term Caucasian. Never has a single head done more harm to science than was done in the way of posthumous mischief by the head of this well-shaped female from Georgia. [Robert Gordon Latham, M.D., "The Natural History of the Varieties of Man," London, 1850]
The word has long since been abandoned as a historical/anthropological term. Compare Aryan.