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.
Middle English prede, from late Old English pryto, Kentish prede, Mercian pride "unreasonable self-esteem, especially as one of the deadly sins; haughtiness, overbearing treatment of others; pomp, love of display," from prud (see proud (adj.)).
There is debate whether Scandinavian cognates (Old Norse pryði, Old Swedish prydhe, Danish pryd, etc.) are borrowed from Old French (which got it from Germanic) or from Old English.
In Middle English sometimes also positive, "proper pride, personal honor, good repute; exalted position; splendor," also "prowess or spirit in an animal." Used in reference to the erect penis from 15c. Meaning "that which makes a person or people most proud" is from c. 1300. First applied to groups of lions in a late 15c. book of terms, but not commonly so used until 20c. Paired with prejudice from 1610s.
Pride goþ befor contricioun, & befor falling þe spirit shall ben enhauncid. [Proverbs xvi.18, Wycliffe Bible, 1382]
Another late Old English/Middle English word for "pride, haughtiness, presumption" was orgol, orgel, which survived into 16c. as orgul, orgueil, from Old French orgoill (11c.), which is supposedly from a Germanic word meaning "renowned."
by 1910, American English underworld slang, from hobo slang, "naive young boy," but especially "a catamite;" specifically "a young male kept as a sexual companion, especially by an older tramp," from Yiddish genzel, from German Gänslein "gosling, young goose" (see goose (n.)). The secondary, non-sexual meaning "young hoodlum" seems to be entirely traceable to Dashiell Hammett, who sneaked it into "The Maltese Falcon" (1929) while warring with his editor over the book's racy language:
"Another thing," Spade repeated, glaring at the boy: "Keep that gunsel away from me while you're making up your mind. I'll kill him."
The context implies some connection with gun and a sense of "gunman," and evidently that is what the editor believed it to mean. The word was retained in the script of the 1941 movie made from the book, so evidently the Motion Picture Production Code censors didn't know it either.
The relationship between Kasper Gutman (Sidney Greenstreet) and his young hit-man companion, Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook, Jr.), is made fairly clear in the movie, but the overt mention of sexual perversion would have been deleted if the censors hadn't made the same mistaken assumption as Hammett's editor. [Hugh Rawson, "Wicked Words," 1989, p.184]
1680s, "pertaining to muscles," from Latin musculus (see muscle (n.)) + -ar. Earlier in same sense was musculous (early 15c., from Latin musculosus). Meaning "brawny, strong, having well-developed muscles" is from 1736. Muscular Christianity (1857) is originally in reference to philosophy of Anglican clergyman and novelist Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), who rejected the term. Muscular dystrophy is attested from 1877.
You have used that, to me, painful, if not offensive, term, 'Muscular Christianity.' My dear Sir, I know of no Christianity save one, which is the likeness of Christ, and the same for all men, viz., to be transformed into Christ's likeness, and to consecrate to His service, as far as may be, all the powers of body, soul, and spirit, regenerate and purified in His Spirit. All I wish to do is, to say to the strong and healthy man, even though he be not very learned, or wise, or even delicate-minded--in the aesthetic sense: 'You, too, can serve God with the powers which He has given you. He will call you to account for them, just as much as he will call the parson, or the devout lady.' [letter, Oct. 19, 1858, to a clergyman who in a review had called him a "muscular Christian"]
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]
Middle English, representing the merger or mutual influence of two words, one from Old English, one from an Old French form of the same Germanic word, and both ultimately from a PIE root meaning "cattle."
The Old English word is feoh "livestock, cattle; movable property; possessions in livestock, goods, or money; riches, treasure, wealth; money as a medium of exchange or payment," from Proto-Germanic *fehu (source also of Old Saxon fehu, Old High German fihu, German Vieh "cattle," Gothic faihu "money, fortune"). This is from PIE *peku- "cattle" (source also of Sanskrit pasu, Lithuanian pekus "cattle;" Latin pecu "cattle," pecunia "money, property").
The other word is Anglo-French fee, from Old French fieu, a variant of fief "possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment" (see fief), which apparently is a Germanic compound in which the first element is cognate with Old English feoh.
Via Anglo-French come the legal senses "estate in land or tenements held on condition of feudal homage; land, property, possession" (c. 1300). Hence fee-simple (late 14c.) "absolute ownership," as opposed to fee-tail (early 15c.) "entailed ownership," inheritance limited to some particular class of heirs (second element from Old French taillir "to cut, to limit").
The feudal sense was extended from landholdings to inheritable offices of service to a feudal lord (late 14c.; in Anglo-French late 13c.), for example forester of fe "a forester by heritable right." As these often were offices of profit, the word came to be used for "remuneration for service in office" (late 14c.), hence, "payment for (any kind of) work or services" (late 14c.). From late 14c. as "a sum paid for a privilege" (originally admission to a guild); early 15c. as "money payment or charge exacted for a licence, etc."