late 14c., patin, "a wooden shoe or clog," later especially a thick-soled shoe worn by women to make them seem taller, from Old French patin "clog, type of shoe" (13c.), probably from pate "paw, foot," from Gallo-Roman *pauta, ultimately perhaps imitative of the sound made by a paw. The immediate source has been sought in Celtic [Barnhart] and Germanic [OED], but evidence is wanting. Likely cognates include Provençal pauta, Catalan pote, Middle Dutch and Dutch poot, German Pfote "paw." Also "an ice-skate" (1610s).
From the beginning of the eighteenth century, a peculiar device was used for the same purpose, formed of an iron ring with two or more uprights, supporting a wooden sole which was thus lifted several inches above the ground. This ringed patten has been used in England until a recent time, but has been little known in the United States. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
"contrivance for catching unawares," late Old English træppe, treppe "snare, trap," from Proto-Germanic *trep- (source also of Middle Dutch trappe "trap, snare"), related to Germanic words for "stair, step, tread" (Middle Dutch, Middle Low German trappe, treppe, German Treppe "step, stair," English tread (v.)).
This is probably literally "that on or into which one steps," from PIE *dreb-, an extended form of a root *der- (1), base of words meaning "to run, walk, step." The English word is probably akin to Old French trape, Spanish trampa "trap, pit, snare," but the exact relationship is uncertain.
The sense of "deceitful practice, device or contrivance to betray one" is recorded from c. 1400. The meaning "U-shaped section of a drain pipe" is from 1833. Slang meaning "mouth" is from 1776. Speed trap is by 1908. Trap-door "door in a floor or ceiling" (often hidden and leading to a passageway or secret place) is attested from late 14c. (trappe-dore).
late 14c., "a call to arms in the face of danger or an enemy," from Old French alarme (14c.), from Italian all'arme "to arms!" (literally "to the arms"); this is a contraction of phrase alle arme.
Alle is itself a contraction of a "to" (from Latin ad; see ad-) + le, from Latin illas, fem. accusative plural of ille "the" (see le); with arme, from Latin arma "weapons" (including armor), literally "tools, implements (of war)," from PIE root *ar- "to fit together."
The interjection came to be used as the word for the call or warning (compare alert). It was extended 16c. to "any sound to warn of danger or to arouse," and to the device that gives it. From mid-15c. as "a state of fearful surprise;" the weakened sense of "apprehension, unease" is from 1833. The variant alarum (mid-15c.) is due to the rolling -r- in the vocalized form. Sometimes in early years it was Englished as all-arm. Alarm clock is attested from 1690s (as A Larum clock).
1640s, "one who calculates, a reckoner, one whose occupation is to make arithmetical calculations," agent noun from compute (v.).
Meaning "calculating machine" (of any type) is from 1897; in modern use, "programmable digital electronic device for performing mathematical or logical operations," 1945 under this name (the thing itself was described by 1937 in a theoretical sense as Turing machine). ENIAC (1946) usually is considered the first.
Computer literacy is recorded from 1970; an attempt to establish computerate (adjective, on model of literate) in this sense in the early 1980s didn't catch on. Computerese "the jargon of programmers" is from 1960, as are computerize and computerization.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A New York Congressman says the use of computers to record personal data on individuals, such as their credit background, "is just frightening to me." [news article, March 17, 1968]
Earlier words for "one who calculates" include computator (c. 1600), from Latin computator; computist (late 14c.) "one skilled in calendrical or chronological reckoning."
"design stamped on wax," especially an impressed figure attached to a document as evidence of authenticity, c. 1200, sel, sele, from Old French seel, seal "seal on a letter" (Modern French sceau), from Vulgar Latin *sigellum (source of Italian suggello, Spanish sello; also Old Frisian and Middle High German sigel, German Siegel), from Latin sigillum "small picture, engraved figure, seal," diminutive of signum "identifying mark, sign" (see sign (n.)).
An earlier borrowing directly from Latin is represented by Old English insigel. The use for "engraved device of some hard material used for imprinting a seal" (technically a matrix) is by c. 1300. Extended senses are via the notion of a seal used to mark and close a document to insure its secrecy (c. 1300). The meaning "an identifying mark" is from mid-14c.; especially one confirming goods and measures as conforming to standard. The technical sense of "what prevents the escape of a gas or liquid" is by 1853.
also knuckle-head, "stupid person," 1890, American English, from knuckle (n.) + head (n.).
"That infernal knuckle-head at the camp ought to have reported before now," he thought to himself, as he smoked. [Charles H. Shinn, "The Quicksands of Toro," in Belford's Magazine, vol. v, June-November 1890, New York]
From 1869 as the name of a part in a type of mechanical coupling device. Popularized in the "stupid person" sense from 1942, from character R.F. Knucklehead, star of "Don't" posters hung up at U.S. Army Air Force training fields.
Everything Knucklehead does is wrong and ends in disaster. He endures one spectacular crash after another so that the students at the Gulf Coast Air Force Training Center may profit by his mistakes, and it looks now as if there will be no let-up in his agony. [Life magazine, May 25, 1942]
"musical instrument having a long tube with seven holes and a mouthpiece," early 15c. (earlier recordys, mid-14c.), from record (v.) in an archaic sense of "quietly sing or repeat a tune, practice a tune," used mostly of birds. Darwin, writing of birds in "The Descent of Man," says, "The young males continue practising, or as the bird-catchers say, recording, for ten or eleven months."
The musical instrument was known to Shakespeare and Milton ("In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood/Of flutes and soft recorders," "Paradise Lost"), but the name, and the device, were rarely heard by mid-1800s (it is marked "obsolete" in Century Dictionary, 1895), ousted by the flute, but both enjoyed revival after 1911 as an easy-to-play instrument for musical beginners.
Seynte Aldelme diede in this tyme havynge in habite and in use instrumentes of the arte off musike, as in harpes, pipes, recordres. [Higden's "Polychronicon," 15c. translation]
Old English lamb, lomb, Northumbrian lemb "lamb," from Proto-Germanic *lambaz (source also of Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Gothic lamb, Middle Dutch, Dutch lam, Middle High German lamp, German Lamm "lamb"). Common to the Germanic languages, but with no certain cognates outside them. The -b has probably been silent since 13c.
The Old English plural was sometimes lambru. A symbol of Christ (Lamb of God), typified by the paschal lamb, from late Old English. Applied to gentle or innocent persons (especially young Church members) from late Old English; from mid-15c. of persons easy to cheat ("fleece"). Also sometimes used ironically for cruel or rough characters (such as Kirke's Lambs in Monmouth's rebellion, 1684-86, "an ironical allusion to the device of the Paschal Lamb on their flag" [OED]); Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") say "specifically applied to Nottingham roughs, and hence to bludgeon men at elections." Diminutive form lambie is attested from 1718. Lamb's-wool is from 1550s as a noun, 1825 (also lambswool) as an adjective.
c. 1300 (mid 13c. in surnames), porte, "a gate, an entrance to a place, a portal; the gate of a town or fortress," also in names of specific gates, from Old French porte "gate, entrance," from Latin porta "a city gate, a gate; door, entrance," akin to portus "harbor," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over." Old English also had occasional port in this sense, from Latin, but the Middle English word seems to be a new borrowing via French.
The meaning "porthole, an opening in the side of a ship" is attested from mid-14c.; in old warships, an embrasure in the side of the ship through which cannons are pointed. The medical sense of "place where something enters the body" is by 1908 probably short for portal. In computers, "place where signals enter or leave a data-transmission system," by 1979, from earlier use in electronics (1953) for "pair of terminals where a signal enters or leaves a network or device," which also probably is short for portal.
late 14c., "formal authorization, official permission, permit, privilege," from Old French licence "freedom, liberty, power, possibility; permission," (12c.), from Latin licentia "freedom, liberty; unrestrained liberty, wantonness, presumption," from licentem (nominative licens), present participle of licere "to be allowed, be lawful," from PIE root *leik- "to offer, bargain, make a bid" (possibly source also of Lettish likstu "I come to terms").
Meaning "formal (usually written) permission from authority to do something" (marry, hunt, drive, etc.) is first attested early 15c. Meaning "excessive liberty, disregard of propriety" in English is from mid-15c. In Middle English spelled licence, licens, lisence, lissens, licance. There have been attempts to confine license to verbal use and licence to noun use (compare advise/advice, devise/device, and see note in OED); in the U.S., license tends to serve as both verb and noun.
Poetic licence "intentional deviation from recognized form or rule" is from 1733, earlier as lycence poetycall (1530). The licence-plate is from 1870 (of dogs and wagons before automobiles); licence-number is by 1903.