"movable barrier, commonly on hinges, for closing a passage into a building, room, or other enclosure," c. 1200, a Middle English merger of two Old English words, both with the general sense of "door, gate": dor (neuter; plural doru) "large door, gate," and duru (fem., plural dura) "door, gate, wicket." The difference (no longer felt in Old English) was that the former came from a singular form, the latter from a plural.
Both are from Proto-Germanic *dur-, plural *dures (source also of Old Saxon duru, Old Norse dyrr, Danish dr, Old Frisian dure, dore, dure, Old High German turi, German Tür). This is from PIE root *dhwer- "door, doorway."
Middle English had both dure and dor; the form dore predominated by 16c. but was supplanted later by door. The oldest forms of the word in IE languages frequently are dual or plural, leading to speculation that houses of the original Indo-Europeans had doors with two swinging halves.
Figurative sense of "means of opportunity or facility for" was in Old English. Phrase door to door "house to house" is from c. 1300; as an adjective, in reference to sales, by 1902.
A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of. [Ogden Nash]
"tear apart, cut open or off," c. 1400, rippen, "pull out sutures," probably from a North Sea Germanic language (compare Flemish rippen "strip off roughly," Frisian rippe "to tear, rip;" also Middle Dutch reppen, rippen "to rip") or else from a Scandinavian source (compare Swedish reppa, Danish rippe "to tear, rip"). Likely most or all of them are from a Proto-Germanic *rupjan- (from PIE root *reup-, *reub- "to snatch"). "Of somewhat obscure origin and history; it is not quite certain that all the senses really belong to the same word" [OED].
The meaning "to slash with a sharp instrument" is from 1570s. Intransitive sense of "be torn or split open" is by 1840. Related: Ripped; ripping. In old U.S. slang, "to utter strong language" (1772), often with out; hence "break forth with sudden violence." The meaning "to move with slashing force" (1798) is the sense in let her rip "allow something to go or continue unrestrained," an American English colloquial phrase attested by 1846.
At another time, when a charge was ordered one of the officers could not think of the word, and he shouted—'Let 'er rip!'—when the whole line burst out with a yell—'Let 'er rip!' and dashed in among the Mexicans, laughing and shouting this new battle cry. [from an account of Illinois volunteers in the Mexican-American War, in the Pensacola Gazette, March 29, 1851]
In garments we rip along the line at which they were sewed ; we tear the texture of the cloth; we say, "It is not torn; it is only ripped." More broadly, rip, especially with up, stands for a cutting open or apart with a quick, deep strike: as, to rip up a body or a sack of meal. Rend implies great force or violence. [Century Dictionary]
1520s, "oblique or diagonal line," from French biais "a slant, a slope, an oblique," also figuratively, "an expedient, means" (13c., originally in Old French a past-participle adjective, "sideways, askance, against the grain"), a word of unknown origin. Probably it came to French from Old Provençal biais, which has cognates in Old Catalan and Sardinian, and is possibly via Vulgar Latin *(e)bigassius from Greek epikarsios "athwart, crosswise, at an angle," from epi "upon" (see epi-) + karsios "oblique" (from PIE *krs-yo-, suffixed form of root *sker- (1) "to cut").
In the old game of bowls, it was a technical term used in reference to balls made with a greater weight on one side (1560s), causing them to curve toward one side; hence the figurative use "a one-sided tendency of the mind" (1570s), and, at first especially in law, "undue propensity or prejudice."
The bias of education, the bias of class-relationships, the bias of nationality, the political bias, the theological bias—these, added to the constitutional sympathies and antipathies, have much more influence in determining beliefs on social questions than has the small amount of evidence collected. [Herbert Spencer, "The Study of Sociology," 1873]
For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections colour and infect the understanding. [Francis Bacon, "Novum Organum," 1620]
1510s, "purpose, design," from Latin institutum "an ordinance; a purpose; a custom; precedents; principal components," literally "thing set up," noun use of neuter past participle of instituere "to set up, put in place; arrange; found, establish" (see institute (v.)).
From 1540s in English as "an established law." The sense of "an organization or society devoted to some specific work," especially literary or scientific, is from 1828, from French use in Institut national des Sciences et des Arts (established 1795); Dutch instituut, German Institut also are from French. The specialized (mostly U.S.) sense "traveling academy for teachers in a district" is from 1839.
A "Teachers' Institute" is a meeting composed of teachers of Common Schools, assembled for the purpose of improvement in the studies they are to teach, and in the principles by which they are to govern. It is the design of a Teachers' Institute to bring together those who are actually engaged in teaching Common Schools, or who propose to become so, in order that they may be formed into classes and that these classes, under able instructers, may be exercised, questioned and drilled, in the same manner that the classes of a good Common School are exercised, questioned and drilled. [Horace Mann, secretary's report to the Boston Board of Education, Sept. 1, 1845]
"excellent, fine, good, valuable," canting slang, 1560s, also rome, "fine," said to be from Romany rom "male, husband" (see Romany). A very common 16c. cant word (opposed to queer), as in rum kicks "Breeches of gold or silver brocade, or richly laced with gold or silver" [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785].
By 1774 it also had come to mean rather the opposite: "odd, strange, bad, queer, spurious," perhaps because it had been so often used approvingly by rogues in reference to one another. Or perhaps this is a different word. This was the main sense after c. 1800.
Rom (or rum) and quier (or queer) enter largely into combination, thus--rom = gallant, fine, clever, excellent, strong; rom-bouse = wine or strong drink; rum-bite = a clever trick or fraud; rum-blowen = a handsome mistress; rum-bung = a full purse; rum-diver = a clever pickpocket; rum-padder = a well-mounted highwayman, etc.: also queere = base, roguish; queer-bung = an empty purse; queer-cole = bad money; queer-diver = a bungling pickpocket; queer-ken = a prison; queer-mort = a foundered whore, and so forth. [John S. Farmer, "Musa Pedestris," 1896]
c. 1300, "falsehood, fictitious narrative; a lie, pretense," from Old French fable "story, fable, tale; drama, play, fiction; lie, falsehood" (12c.), from Latin fabula "story, story with a lesson, tale, narrative, account; the common talk, news," literally "that which is told," from fari "speak, tell," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say."
Restricted sense of "animal story" (early 14c.) comes from the popularity of Aesop's tales. In modern folklore terms, defined as "a short, comic tale making a moral point about human nature, usually through animal characters behaving in human ways" ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore"].
The fable which is naturally and truly composed, so as to satisfy the imagination, ere it addresses the understanding, beautiful though strange as a wild-flower, is to the wise man an apothegm, and admits of his most generous interpretation. When we read that Bacchus made the Tyrrhenian mariners mad, so that they leapt into the sea, mistaking it for a meadow full of flowers, and so became dolphins, we are not concerned about the historical truth of this, but rather a higher poetical truth. We seem to hear the music of a thought, and care not If the understanding be not gratified. [Thoreau, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers"]
1560s, in reference to a class of Protestants that arose in 16th century England, originally generally, "opponent of Anglican hierarchy," later applied opprobriously to "person in the Church of England who seeks further reformation" (1570s), and thus to a member of any faith or sect or party that advocates purity of doctrine or practice (used of Muslims from 1610s). Probably formed from purity. As an adjective from 1580s.
What [William] Perkins, and the whole Puritan movement after him, sought was to replace the personal pride of birth and status with the professional's or craftsman's pride of doing one's best in one's particular calling. The good Christian society needs the best of kings, magistrates, and citizens. Perkins most emphasized the work ethic from Genesis: "In the swaete of thy browe shalt thou eate thy breade." [E. Digby Baltzell, "Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia," 1979]
In its original sense, the word was largely historical from 19c.; the extended use in reference to anyone deemed overly strict in matters of religion and morals is from 1590s. The original Puritans developed into a political party in the reign of Charles I and gradually gained the ascendancy but lost it on Cromwell's death. During their early struggles many settled in Massachusetts.
late Old English hyttan, hittan "come upon, meet with, fall in with, 'hit' upon," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse hitta "to light upon, meet with," also "to hit, strike;" Swedish hitta "to find," Danish and Norwegian hitte "to hit, find," from Proto-Germanic *hitjan, which is of uncertain origin. Meaning shifted in late Old English period to "strike, come into forcible contact" via the notion of "to reach with a blow or missile," and the word displaced Old English slean (modern slay) in this sense. Original sense survives in phrases such as hit it off (1780, earlier in same sense hit it, 1630s) and is revived in slang hit on (1970s).
To hit the bottle "drink alcohol" is from 1933 (hit the booze in the same sense is from 1889, and hit the pipe "smoke opium" is also late 19c.). To figuratively hit the nail on the head (1570s) is from archery. To hit the hay "go to bed" is from 1912. Hit the road "leave" is from 1873; hit the bricks is from 1909, originally trade union jargon meaning "go out on strike." To hit (someone) up "request something" is from 1917. To not know what hit (one) is from 1923. Related: Hitting.
"fabled marine or amphibian creature having the upper body in the form of a woman and the lower in the form of a fish, with human attributes," "usually working harm, with or without malignant intent, to mortals with whom she might be thrown into relation" [Century Dictionary]; mid-14c., meremayde, literally "maid of the sea," from Middle English mere "sea, lake" (see mere (n.1)) + maid.
Old English had equivalent merewif "water-witch" (see wife), meremenn "mermaid, siren" (compare Middle Dutch meer-minne, Old High German meri-min), which became Middle English mere-min (c. 1200) and was shortened to mere "siren, mermaid" (early 13c.); the later mermaid might be a re-expansion of this. Tail-less in northern Europe; the fishy form is a medieval influence from the classical siren, and mermaids sometimes were said to lure sailors to destruction with song.
A favorite sign of taverns and inns at least since early 15c. (in reference to the inn on Bread Street, Cheapside, London). Mermaid pie (1660s) was "a sucking pig baked whole in a crust." Mermaid's purse for "egg-case of a skate, ray, or shark" is by 1825, perhaps originally Scottish, as it is first attested in Jamieson.
early 14c., "margin of the land;" earlier "rib as a part of the body" (early 12c.), from Old French coste "rib, side, flank; slope, incline;" later "coast, shore" (12c., Modern French côte), from Latin costa "a rib," perhaps related to a root word for "bone" (compare Old Church Slavonic kosti "bone," and PIE root *ost-), but de Vaan dismisses this and calls it "an isolated word without etymology."
Latin costa developed a secondary sense in Medieval Latin of "the shore," via notion of the "side" of the land, as well as "side of a hill," and this passed into Romanic (Italian costa "coast, side," Spanish cuesta "slope," costa "coast"), but only in the Germanic languages that borrowed it is it fully specialized in this sense (Dutch kust, Swedish kust, German Küste, Danish kyst).
French also used this word for "hillside, slope," which led to the English verb meaning "a slide or sled down a snowy or icy hillside," first attested 1775 in American English. Expression the coast is clear (16c.) is an image of landing on a shore unguarded by enemies; to clear the coast (1520s) was to make it suitable for landing.