Etymology
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degree (n.)

c. 1200, "a step, a stair," also "a position in a hierarchy," and "a stage of progress, a single movement toward an end," from Old French degré (12c.) "a step (of a stair), pace, degree (of relationship), academic degree; rank, status, position," which is said to be from Vulgar Latin *degradus "a step," from Latin de- "down" (see de-) + gradus "a step; a step climbed;" figuratively "a step toward something, a degree of something rising by stages" (from PIE root *ghredh- "to walk, go").

A word of wide use in Middle English; in 14c. it also meant "way, manner; condition, state, standing." Most extended senses in Middle English are from the notion of a hierarchy of steps. Genealogical sense of "a certain remove in the line of blood" is from mid-14c.; educational sense of "an academic rank conferred by diploma" is from late 14c. By degrees "gradually, by stages" is from late 14c.

Other transferred senses are from the notion of "one of a number of subdivisions of something extended in space or time," hence "intensive quality, measure, extent." The meaning "1/360th of a circle" is from late 14c. (The division of the circle into 360 degrees was known in Babylon and Egypt; the number is perhaps from the daily motion of the sun through the zodiac in the course of a year.) From 1540s as "a measure of heat;" the specific use as a unit of temperature on a thermometer is by 1727. In reference to crime, by 1670s as "one of certain distinctions of culpability;" in U.S. use by 1821 as "one of the phases of the same kind of crime."

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ranch (n.)

1808, "country house," from American Spanish rancho "small farm, group of farm huts," from Spanish rancho "small farm, hamlet," earlier "mess-room," originally, "group of people who eat together," from ranchear "to lodge or station," from Old French ranger "install in position," from rang "row, line," from Frankish *hring or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *hringaz "circle, ring, something curved" (from nasalized form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend"). The evolution would seem to be from "group of people who eat together" to "group of people who work and live together." The earlier form of the word in English was rancheria (c. 1600).

The sense of "large stock-farm and herding establishment" is by 1847. In Spanish America, the rancho was a herding operation, distinguished from the hacienda, a cultivated farm or plantation. Meanwhile, back at the ranch as a cliche narration for scene shifts in old Western serials and movies is by 1957.

Ranch-house "principle dwelling house on a ranch" is attested from 1862. By 1947 it was the name given to the modernistic type of low, long homes popular among U.S. suburban builders and buyers after World War II, hence ranch, of houses, "single-story, split-level" (adj.); as a noun, "a modern ranch-style house," by 1952, also rancher (1955); diminutive ranchette is attested by 1948.

Ranch dressing is from 1970, originally in reference to popular Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing Mix, sold by mail order.

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mixed (adj.)

mid-15c., also mixte, "consisting of different elements or parts," from Latin mixtus, past participle of miscēre "to mix, mingle, blend" (from PIE root *meik- "to mix," also see mix (v.)). From 1550s as "not comprised in one class or kind, indiscriminate." Of government from 1530s.

Mixed blessing, one with some unpleasant elements, is by 1849. Mixed marriage is from 1690s, originally in a religious context; racial sense was in use by 1942 in U.S., though mixed breed in reference to mulattoes is found by 1775. Mixed motives is by 1736; mixed feelings by 1782. Mixed bag "heterogeneous collection" is by 1895, from the hunting term for an assortment of game birds killed in one outing. Mixed up is from 1884 as "confused," from 1862 as "involved, implicated" (see mix-up). Mixed metaphor, "an expression in which two or more metaphors are confused," is by 1753.

Mixed drink in the modern liquor sense is recorded by 1868; the thing itself is older; Bartlett (1859) lists sixty names "given to the various compounds or mixtures of spirituous liquors and wines served up in fashionable bar rooms in the United States," all from a single advertisement. The list includes Tippe na Pecco, Moral suasion, Vox populi, Jewett's fancy, Ne plus ultra, Shambro, Virginia fancy, Stone wall, Smasher, Slingflip, Pig and whistle, Cocktail, Phlegm-cutter, Switchel flip, Tip and Ty, Ching-ching, Fiscal agent, Slip ticket, Epicure's punch.

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carpet (n.)

late 13c.,carpet, carpete, "coarse cloth;" mid-14c., "tablecloth, bedspread;" from Old French carpite "heavy decorated cloth, a carpet" (Modern French carpette), from Medieval Latin or Old Italian carpita "thick woolen cloth," probably from Latin carpere "to card, pluck" (from PIE root *kerp- "to gather, pluck, harvest"). Thus it is so called because it was made from unraveled, shredded, "plucked" fabric. The English word is attested from 15c. in reference to floor coverings, and since 18c. this has been the main sense. The smaller sort is a rug.

Formerly the carpet (usually in a single piece, like the Persian carpet) was also used (as it still is in the East) for covering beds, couches, tables, etc., and in hangings. [Century Dictionary]

From 16c.-19c., by association with luxury, ladies' boudoirs, and drawing rooms, it was used as an adjective, often with a tinge of contempt, in reference to men, as in carpet-knight, 1570s, one who has seen no military service in the field; carpet-monger, 1590s, a lover of ease and pleasure, i.e. one more at home on a carpet.

On the carpet "summoned for reprimand" is by 1900, U.S. colloquial (but compare carpet (v.) "call (someone) to be reprimanded," 1823, British servants' slang). This may have merged with older on the carpet "up for consideration" (1726) literally "on the tablecloth," with the word's older sense, hence "a subject for investigation." To sweep or push something under the carpet in the figurative sense is recorded by 1953.

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simple (adj.)

c. 1200, "free from duplicity, upright, guileless; blameless, innocently harmless," also "ignorant, uneducated; unsophisticated; simple-minded, foolish," also as a surname, from Old French simple (12c.) "plain, decent; friendly, sweet; naive, foolish, stupid," hence also "wretched, miserable," from Latin simplus or simplex, "simple, plain, unmixed," literally "one-fold" (see simplex).

The sense evolution is from the notion of "without parts" or "having few parts," hence "free from complexity or complication." Compare the similar sense evolution of silly. The extended senses in Latin simplex were "without dissimulation, open, frank, guileless, direct, ingenuous," sometimes "too straightforward, too blunt," but Latin seems not to have had the "simple-minded" meaning.

The sense of "free from pride, humble, meek" is from mid-13c. As "consisting of only one substance or ingredient" (opposite of composite or compounded) it dates from late 14c.; as "easily done, presenting no difficulty or obstacles" (opposite of complicated) it dates from late 15c.; that sense also was in Latin.

From mid-14c. as "unqualified; mere; sheer," a sense also found in Latin; 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.

The Middle English word had senses that have been lost, including "inadequate, insufficient; weak, feeble; mere; few; sad, downcast; mournful; of little value; low in price; impoverished, destitute," and, of hair, "straight, not curly."

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trophy (n.)

early 15c., trophe, "an overwhelming victory;" 1510s, "a spoil or prize of war," from Old French trophée (15c.) from Latin trophaeum "a sign of victory, monument," originally tropaeum, from Greek tropaion "monument of an enemy's defeat," noun use of neuter of adjective tropaios "of defeat, causing a rout," from trope "a rout," originally "a turning" (of the enemy); from PIE root *trep- "to turn."

In ancient Greece, spoils or arms taken in battle and set up on the field and dedicated to a god. Figurative extension to any token or memorial of victory is first recorded 1560s. As "a symbolic representation of a classical trophy" from 1630s.

Trophy wife "a second, attractive and generally younger, wife of a successful man who acquires her as a status symbol" was a trending phrase in media from 1988 ("Fortune" magazine did a cover story on it in 1989), but is older in isolated instances.

Variations on this theme ['convenience-wife'] include the HOSTESS-WIFE of a businessman who entertains extensively and seeks  a higher-level, home-branch version of his secretary; the TROPHY-WIFE — the woman who was hard to get because of birth or wealth or beauty — to be kept on exhibition like a mammoth tusk or prime Picasso ... [Phyllis I. Rosenteur, excerpt from "The Single Women," published in Philadelphia Daily News, Dec. 12, 1961]

The excerpt distinguishes the trophy wife from the "showcase wife," "chosen for her pulchritude and constantly displayed in public places, dripping mink and dangling diamonds," which seems more to suit the later use of trophy wife.

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pace (n.)

late 13c., "a step in walking," also "rate of motion; the space traveled by the foot in one completed movement in walking," from Old French pas "a step, pace, trace," and directly from Latin passus, passum "a step, pace, stride," noun use of past participle of pandere "to stretch (the leg), spread out," probably from PIE *pat-no-, nasalized variant form of root *pete- "to spread."

It also was, from late 14c., a lineal measurement of vague and variable extent, representing the space naturally traversed by the adult human foot in walking. In some places and situations it was reckoned as the distance from the place where either foot is taken up, in walking, to that where the same foot is set down again (a great pace), usually 5 feet or a little less. The pace of a single step (military pace) is about 2.5 feet.

To keep pace (with) "maintain the same speed, advance at an equal rate" is from 1580s. Pace-setter "one who establishes trends in fashion," is by 1895; it also had literal meanings.

It is customary for the contractor to employ some expert as a pace setter. A man who can thin an acre of beets a day commands as high as $2.00 per day as a pace setter. The other employees are paid in the proportion their work bears to that of the pace setter. The weak, lazy and unskillful get the smallest wage. Besides that the contractor runs a commissary department and feeds the gang. They sleep in tents or in the shade of trees near where they work. [report on Oxnard, Calif., beet harvesting in "The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer," May 13, 1899] 
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-s (1)

suffix forming almost all Modern English plural forms of nouns, gradually extended in Middle English as -es from Old English -as, the nominative plural and accusative plural ending of certain "strong" masculine nouns (such as dæg "day," nominative/accusative plural dagas "days"). The commonest Germanic declension, traceable back to the original PIE inflection system, it is also the source of the Dutch -s plurals and (by rhotacism) Scandinavian -r plurals (such as Swedish dagar).

Much more uniform today than originally; Old English also had a numerous category of "weak" nouns that formed their plurals in -an, and other strong nouns that formed plurals with -u. Quirk and Wrenn, in their Old English grammar, estimate that 45 percent of the nouns a student will encounter will be masculine, nearly four-fifths of them with genitive singular -es and nominative/accusative plural in -as. Less than half, but still the largest chunk.

The triumphs of -'s possessives and -s plurals represent common patterns in language: using only a handful of suffixes to do many jobs (such as -ing), and the most common variant squeezing out the competition. To further muddy the waters, it's been extended in slang since 1936 to singulars (such as ducks,sweets,babes) as an affectionate or diminutive suffix.

Old English single-syllable collectives (sheep, folk) as well as weights, measures, and units of time did not use -s. The use of it in these cases began in Middle English, but the older custom is preserved in many traditional dialects (ten pound of butter; more than seven year ago; etc.).

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a- (1)

prefix or inseparable particle, a conglomerate of various Germanic and Latin elements.

In words derived from Old English, it commonly represents Old English an "on, in, into" (see on (prep.)), as in alive, above, asleep, aback, abroad, afoot, ashore, ahead, abed, aside, obsolete arank "in rank and file," etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns, with the notion "in, at; engaged in." In this use it is identical to a (2).

It also can represent Middle English of (prep.) "off, from," as in anew, afresh, akin, abreast. Or it can be a reduced form of the Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware.

Or it can be the Old English intensive a-, originally ar- (cognate with German er- and probably implying originally "motion away from"), as in abide, arise, awake, ashamed, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. Such words sometimes were refashioned in early modern English as though the prefix were Latin (accursed, allay, affright are examples).

In words from Romanic languages, often it represents reduced forms of Latin ad "to, toward; for" (see ad-), or ab "from, away, off" (see ab-); both of which by about 7c. had been reduced to a in the ancestor of Old French. In a few cases it represents Latin ex.

[I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]
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home (n.)

Old English ham "dwelling place, house, abode, fixed residence; estate; village; region, country," from Proto-Germanic *haimaz "home" (source also of Old Frisian hem "home, village," Old Norse heimr "residence, world," heima "home," Danish hjem, Middle Dutch heem, German heim "home," Gothic haims "village"), from PIE *(t)koimo-, suffixed form of root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home." As an adjective from 1550s. The old Germanic sense of "village" is preserved in place names and in hamlet.

'Home' in the full range and feeling of [Modern English] home is a conception that belongs distinctively to the word home and some of its Gmc. cognates and is not covered by any single word in most of the IE languages. [Buck]

Slang phrase make (oneself) at home "become comfortable in a place one does not live" dates from 1892 (at home "at one's ease" is from 1510s). To keep the home fires burning is a song title from 1914. To be nothing to write home about "unremarkable" is from 1907. Home movie is from 1919; home computer is from 1967. Home stretch (1841) is from horse racing (see stretch (n.)). Home economics as a school course first attested 1899; the phrase itself by 1879 (as "household management" is the original literal sense of economy, the phrase is etymologically redundant).

Home as the goal in a sport or game is from 1778. Home base in baseball attested by 1856; home plate by 1867. Home team in sports is from 1869; home field "grounds belonging to the local team" is from 1802 (the 1800 citation in OED 2nd ed. print is a date typo, as it refers to baseball in Spokane Falls). Home-field advantage attested from 1955.

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