tradition (n.)

late 14c., "statement, belief, or practice handed down from generation to generation," especially "belief or practice based on Mosaic law," from Old French tradicion "transmission, presentation, handing over" (late 13c.) and directly from Latin traditionem (nominative traditio) "a delivering up, surrender, a handing down, a giving up" (also "a teaching, instruction," and "a saying handed down from former times"). This is a noun of action from past-participle stem of tradere "deliver, hand over," from trans- "over" (see trans-) + dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give"). The word is a doublet of treason (q.v.). Meaning "a long-established custom" is from 1590s. The notion is of customs, ways, beliefs, doctrines, etc. "handed down" from one generation to the next.

Tradition is not solely, or even primarily, the maintenance of certain dogmatic beliefs; these beliefs have come to take their living form in the course of the formation of a tradition. What I mean by tradition involves all those habitual actions, habits and customs, from the most significant religious rite to our conventional way of greeting a stranger, which represent the blood kinship of 'the same people living in the same place'. ... We become conscious of these items, or conscious of their importance, usually only after they have begun to fall into desuetude, as we are aware of the leaves of a tree when the autumn wind begins to blow them off—when they have separately ceased to be vital. Energy may be wasted at that point in a frantic endeavour to collect the leaves as they fall and gum them onto the branches: but the sound tree will put forth new leaves, and the dry tree should be put to the axe. [T.S. Eliot, "After Strange Gods"]
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billion (n.)

1680s, from French billion (originally byllion in Chuquet's unpublished "Le Triparty en la Science des Nombres," 1484; copied by De la Roche, 1520); see bi- "two" + million. A million million in Britain and Germany (numeration by groups of sixes), which was the original sense; subsequently altered in French to "a thousand million" (numeration by groups of threes) and picked up in that form in U.S., "due in part to French influence after the Revolutionary War" [David E. Smith, "History of Mathematics," 1925]. France reverted to the original meaning in 1948. British usage is truer to the etymology, but U.S. sense is said to be increasingly common there in technical writing.

In Italian arithmetics from the last quarter of the fifteenth century the words bilione or duilione, trilione, quadrilione or quattrilione, quintilione, cinquilione, or quinquilione, sestione or sestilione, settilione, ottilione, noeilione and decilione occur as common abbreviations of due volte millioni, tre volte millione, etc. In other countries these words came into use much later, although one French writer, Nicolas Chuquet, mentions them as early as 1484, in a book not printed until 1881. The Italians had, besides, another system of numeration, proceeding by powers of a thousand. The French, who like other northern peoples, took most if not all their knowledge of modern or Arabic arithmetic from the Italians, early confounded the two systems of Italian numeration, counting in powers of a thousand, but adopting the names which properly belong to powers of a million. [Century Dictionary]

For a time in Britain gillion (1961), based on giga-, was tried as "a thousand million" to avoid ambiguity. Compare milliard.

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melt (v.)

Middle English melten, from Old English meltan (intransitive) "become liquid through heat" (class III strong verb; past tense mealt, past participle molten), from Proto-Germanic *meltanan; fused with Old English gemæltan (Anglian), gemyltan (West Saxon) "make liquid, reduce from a solid to a fluid state by means of heat" (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *gamaltijan (source also of Old Norse melta "to digest").

Both Germanic words are from PIE *meldh- (source also of Sanskrit mrduh "soft, mild," Greek meldein "to melt, make liquid," Latin mollis "soft, mild"), from root *mel- (1) "soft." Also in Middle English "dissolve" (of salt, sugar, etc.), "corrode" (of iron), "putrefy" (of flesh). Meaning "pass imperceptibly from one thing into another" is by 1781. Related: Melted; melting.

Figurative use "to diminish, wane; be touched, grow tender" is by c. 1200; transitive sense of "soften" (to love, pity, tenderness) is by early 14c. Of food, to melt in (one's) mouth is from 1690s. Melting point "degree of temperature at which a solid body melts" is by 1807. Melting pot is from early 15c.; figurative use from 1855; popularized with reference to immigrant assimilation in the United States by the play "The Melting Pot" by Israel Zangwill (1908):

DAVID Yes, East and West, and North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross—how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with his purging flame! Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God. Ah, Vera, What is the glory of Rome and Jerusalem where all nations and races come to worship and look back, compared with the glory of America where all races and nations come to labour and look forward!
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pun (n.)

"a Conceit arising from the use of two Words that agree in the Sound, but differ in the Sense" [Addison]; "An expression in which the use of a word in two different applications, or the use of two different words pronounced alike or nearly alike, presents an odd or ludicrous idea" [Century Dictionary]; 1660s (first attested in Dryden), a word of uncertain origin.

Perhaps from pundigron, meaning the same thing (though attested first a few years later), itself a word of uncertain etymology, perhaps a humorous alteration of Italian puntiglio "equivocation, trivial objection," diminutive of Latin punctum "point." This is pure speculation. Punnet was another early form.

Pun was prob. one of the clipped words, such as cit, mob, nob, snob, which came into fashionable slang at or after the Restoration. [OED]

 The verb, "to make puns," also is attested from 1660s, first in Dryden. Related: Punned; punning.

At the revival of learning, and the spread of what we may term the refinement of society, punning was one of the few accomplishments at which the fine ladies and gentlemen aimed. From the twelfth to the sixteenth century, it was at its greatest height. The conversation of the witty gallants, and ladies, and even of the clowns and other inferior characters, in the comedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, which we may be sure was painted from the life, is full of puns and plays upon words. The unavoidable result of such an excess was a surfeit, and the consequent dégout, which lasted for more than a century. Like other diseases, it broke out again subsequently with redoubled virulence, and made great havoc in the reign of Queen Anne. [Larwood & Hotten, "The History of Signboards from the Earliest Times to the Present Day," London, 1867] 
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leprechaun (n.)

c. 1600, from Irish lupracan, metathesis of Old Irish luchorpan, which traditionally is explained as literally "a very small body," from lu "little, small" (from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight") + corpan, diminutive of corp "body," from Latin corpus "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance"). However, Celtic linguistic scholarship has recently found a different explanation and connected the word to Latin Lupercalia:

New research by Simon Rodway, Michael Clarke and Jacopo Bisagni, published in the journal Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, traces them back to the Roman Luperci. The Luperci were bands of aristocratic youths who ran naked through ancient Rome in the festival of Lupercalia on the 15 February. In the fifth century A.D. St Augustine of Hippo compared the Luperci with the Greek werewolves who were believed to change from men into wolves by swimming through a lake in Arcadia. Two centuries later Irish scholars misunderstood Augustine. They thought he meant that the Luperci were an ancient non-human race. Because they could swim they were supposed to have survived Noah's Flood and taken refuge in Ireland. So in medieval Irish legends the leprechauns or 'little Luperci' still lived under water. The wolf connection was soon forgotten and eventually the 'little Lupercus' became the familiar land-dwelling leprechaun of modern Irish folklore and tourism. [Patrick Sims-Williams, Professor of Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth University, Wales, cited at Languagelog]

Commonly spelled lubrican in 17c. English; "Century Dictionary" (1902) has it under leprechawn. Variant leithbragan probably is Irish folk etymology, from leith "half" + brog "brogue," because the spirit was "supposed to be always employed in making or mending a single shoe."

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coffee (n.)

"drink made from the ground and roasted seeds of a tree originally native to Arabia and Abyssinia," c. 1600, from Dutch koffie, from Turkish kahveh, from Arabic qahwah "coffee," which Arab etymologists connected with a word meaning "wine," but it is perhaps rather from the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, a home of the plant (coffee in Kaffa is called būno, which itself was borrowed into Arabic as bunn "raw coffee").

The early forms of the word in English indicate a derivation from Arabic or Turkish: chaoua (1598), cahve, kahui, etc. French café, German Kaffe are via Italian caffè.

The first coffee-house in Mecca dates to the 1510s; the beverage was in Turkey by the 1530s. It appeared in Europe c. 1515-1519 and was introduced to England by 1650. By 1675 the country had more than 3,000 coffee houses and coffee had replaced beer as a breakfast drink, but its use there declined 18c. with the introduction of cheaper tea. In the American colonies, however, the tax on tea kept coffee popular.

Meaning "a light meal at which coffee is served" is from 1774. As a shade or color resembling coffee, 1815. Coffee-bean is from 1680s. Coffee-mill is from 1690s; coffee-spoon is from 1703; coffee-pot is from 1705; coffee-cup is from 1762. Coffee-shop is from 1838. Coffee-cake is from 1850 as "cake in which coffee is an ingredient." Coffee break attested from 1952, at first often in glossy magazine advertisements by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau.

Did you drink a cup of coffee on company time this morning? Chances are that you did—for the midmorning coffee break is rapidly becoming a standard fixture in American offices and factories. [The Kiplinger Magazine, March 1952]
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pink (n., adj.)

1570s, common name of Dianthus, a garden plant of various colors; a word of unknown origin. It is perhaps from pink (v.) via the notion of "perforated" (scalloped) petals. Or perhaps it is from Dutch pink "small, narrow" (see pinkie), itself obscure, via the term pinck oogen "half-closed eyes," literally "small eyes," which was borrowed into English (1570s) and may have been used as a name for Dianthus, which sometimes has small dots resembling eyes.

The noun meaning "pale red color, red color of low chroma but high luminosity" is recorded by 1733 (pink-coloured is recorded from 1680s), from one of the common colors of the flowers.  The adjective pink is attested by 1720. As an earlier name for such a color English had incarnation "flesh-color" (mid-14c.), and as an adjective incarnate (1530s), from Latin words for "flesh" (see incarnation) but these also had other associations and tended to drift in sense from "flesh-color, blush-color" toward "crimson, blood color."

The flower meaning led (by 1590s) to a figurative use for "the flower" or highest type or example of excellence of anything (as in Mercutio's "Nay, I am the very pinck of curtesie," Rom. & Jul. II.iv.61). Compare flour (n.). The political noun sense "person perceived as left of center but not entirely radical (i.e. red)" is attested by 1927, but the image dates to at least 1837. Pink slip "discharge notice" is attested by 1915; pink slips had various connotations in employment in the first decade of the 20th century, including a paper signed by a worker to testify he would leave the labor union or else be fired. To see pink elephants "hallucinate from alcoholism" is from 1913 in Jack London's "John Barleycorn."

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put (v.)

Middle English putten, from late Old English *putian, "to thrust, push, shove" (someone or something; a sense now obsolete), also "to move or a thing physically so as to place it in some situation," implied in putung "instigation, an urging," literally "a putting;" related to pytan "put out, thrust out" (of eyes), probably from a Germanic stem that also produced Danish putte "to put," Swedish dialectal putta; Middle Dutch pote "scion, plant," Dutch poten "to plant," Old Norse pota "to poke."

Obsolete past tense form putted is attested 14c.-15c. From c. 1300 as "to hurl, cast, propel," especially "to throw with an upward and forward motion of the arm" (Will. Putstan is attested as a name from 1296). From mid-14c. in the figurative sense of "bring (someone) into some specified state or condition;" late 14c. as "subject (someone to something)," as in put to death, c. 1400; put to shame, mid-15c. From mid-14c. as "make a declaration, express in speech or writing," hence "express or state (in a particular way)," 1690s, also "propose or place before someone for consideration."

To put (something) back is from 1530s as "to hinder, delay;" 1816 as "restore to the original place or position." To put (something) down "end by force or authority" (a rebellion, etc.) is from mid-14c. To put upon (someone) "play a trick on, impose on" is from 1690s. To put up with "tolerate, accept, bear or suffer without protest or resentment" (1755) is perhaps from put up "to take up" (one's lodgings, etc.), 1727. To put (someone) up in the transitive sense of "lodge and entertain" is by 1766. To put (someone) on "deceive" is from 1958. To put upon (someone) "play a trick on, deceive, impose on" is from 1690s.

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