1580s, "handy, dexterous, having special manual ability," apparently from East Anglian dialectal cliver "expert at seizing," perhaps from East Frisian klüfer "skillful," or Norwegian dialectic klover "ready, skillful," and perhaps influenced by Old English clifer "claw, hand" (early usages seem to refer to dexterity). Or perhaps akin to Old Norse kleyfr "easy to split," from Proto-Germanic *klaubri‑ from PIE root *gleubh- "to tear apart, cleave." Extension to intellect is first recorded 1704.
This is a low word, scarcely ever used but in burlesque or conversation; and applied to any thing a man likes, without a settled meaning. [Johnson, 1755]
The meaning has narrowed since, but clever also often in old use and dialect meant "well-shaped, attractive-looking" and in late 18c. and 19c. American English sometimes "good-natured, agreeable." Related: Cleverly; cleverness.
used by U.S. scholar Brander Matthews in 1906 in "American Character;" popularized 1907 by U.S. humorist Frank Gelett Burgess. Originally mocking excessive praise printed on book jackets, and probably derisively imitative.
Gelett Burgess ... then entertained the guests with some characteristic flashes of Burgessian humor. Referring to the word "blurb" on the wrapper of his book he said: "To 'blurb' is to make a sound like a publisher. The blurb was invented by Frank A. Munsey when he wrote on the front of his magazine in red ink 'I consider this number of Munsey's the hottest pie that ever came out of my bakery.' ... A blurb is a check drawn on Fame, and it is seldom honored.["] [Publishers' Weekly, May 18, 1907]
Burgess occasionally wrote for Munsey's popular magazine, but the origin story in the joke shouldn't be taken seriously.
late 14c., "appointed governor of a province; chosen leader of a body of persons," from Old French president and directly from Latin praesidentum (nominative praesidens) "president, governor," noun use of present participle of praesidere "to act as head or chief" (see preside). In Middle English of heads of religious houses, hospitals, almshouses, colleges and universities.
First use for "chief executive officer of a republic" is in U.S. Constitution (1787), from earlier American use for "officer in charge of the Continental Congress" (1774), earlier of individual colonies (Virginia, 1608), a sense derived from that of "chosen head of a meeting or group of persons," which is from Middle English. During and immediately after the Revolution the chief magistrates of certain states (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina) took the title, which eventually reverted to governor.
It had been used of chief officers of banks from 1781. Slang shortening prez is recorded from 1883. Fem. form presidentess is attested from 1763.
Old English stand "a pause, delay, state of rest or inaction," from the root of stand (v.). Compare Dutch and German stand (n.). Sense of "action of standing or coming to a position" is attested from late 14c., especially in reference to fighting (1590s). Sense of "state of being unable to proceed" is from 1590s.
Meaning "place of standing, position" is from early 14c.; figurative sense is from 1590s. Meaning "raised platform for a hunter or sportsman" is attested from c. 1400. Meaning "raised platform for spectators at an open-air event" is from 1610s; meaning "piece of furniture on which something is to be set" is from 1690s. Sense of "stall or booth" is first recorded c. 1500. Military meaning "complete set" (of arms, colors, etc.) is from 1721, often a collective singular. Sense of "standing growth" (usually of of trees) is 1868, American English. Theatrical sense of "each stop made on a performance tour" is from 1896. The word formerly also was slang for "an erection" (1867).
also grape-vine, 1736, from grape + vine. Meaning "a rumor; a secret or unconventional method of spreading information" (1863) is from the use of grapevine telegraph as "secret source of information and rumor" in the American Civil War; in reference to Southerners under northern occupation but also in reference to black communities and runaway slaves.
The false reports touching rebel movements, which incessantly circulated in Nashville, brings us to the consideration of the "grapevine telegraph"—a peculiar institution of rebel generation, devised for the duplex purpose of "firing the Southern heart," and to annoy the "Yankees." It is worthy of attention, as one of the signs of the times, expressing the spirit of lying which war engenders. But it is no more than just to say that there is often so little difference between the "grapevine" and the associated press telegraph, that they might as well be identical. ["Rosecrans' Campaign with the Fourteenth Corps," Cincinnati, 1863]
c. 1300, snouen, "to fall as snow," from the noun, replacing Old English sniwan, which would have yielded modern snew (which lingered as a parallel form until 17c., longer in Yorkshire), from the Proto-Germanic source of snow (n.). The Old English verb is cognate with Middle Dutch sneuuwen, Dutch sneeuwen, Old Norse snjova, Swedish snöga.
Also þikke as snow þat snew,
Or al so hail þat stormes blew.
[Robert Mannyng of Brunne, transl. Wace's "Chronicle," c. 1330]
The transitive sense of "cause to snow" is by mid-14c. The figurative sense of "overwhelm; surround, cover, and imprison" (as heavy snows can bury livestock in the field) is 1880, American English, in phrase to snow (someone) under. Snow job "strong, persistent persuasion in a cause known to be dubious" (1943) is World War II armed forces slang, probably from the same image.
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
"of or pertaining to the local self-government or corporation of a city or town," 1540s, from French municipal, from Latin municipalis "pertaining to a citizen of a free town, of a free town," also "of a petty town, provincial," from municipium "community, municipality, free town, city whose citizens have the privileges of Roman citizens but are governed by their own laws," from municeps "native, citizen, inhabitant of a free town."
The second element is -cipere, combining form of capere "assume, take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." The first element is from munus (plural munia) "service performed for the community, duty, work," also "public spectacle paid for by the magistrate, (gladiatorial) entertainment, gift," from Old Latin moenus "service, duty, burden," from Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task," from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move," with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and functions or obligations within a society as regulated by custom or law.
As cognates in related senses, de Vaan lists Sanskrit meni- "revenge," Avestan maeini- "punishment, castigation," Old Persian yau-maini- "power of revenge," Middle Welsh tramwy, tremynu "to cross, pass," Old Irish moin "value, treasure," Welsh mwyn "value," Lithuanian mainas "exchange," Old Church Slavonic mena "exchange, substitution," Gothic gamains, Old High German gimeins "common." "A municeps is one who 'takes an obligation,' communis 'who partakes in the duties'" [de Vaan]
mid-14c., diamaunt, diamond, "extremely hard and refractive precious stone made of pure or nearly pure carbon," from Old French diamant, from Medieval Latin diamantem (nominative diamas), from Vulgar Latin *adiamantem (which was subsequently altered by influence of the many Greek words in dia-), from Latin adamantem (nominative adamans) "the hardest metal," later, "diamond," from Greek adamas (genitive adamantos), name of a hypothetical hardest material, noun use of an adjective meaning "unbreakable, inflexible," a word of uncertain origin (see adamant (n.)).
From early 15c. as "person of great worth" (a sense also in Latin). From late 15c. as "geometric figure of four equal straight lines forming two acute and two obtuse angles." From 1590s as "playing-card stamped with one or more red diamonds." In baseball, "square space enclosed within the four bases," is American English, by 1875. As an adjective "resembling, consisting of, or set with diamonds," from 1550s.
Middle English bench, from Old English benc "long seat," especially one without a back, from Proto-Germanic *bankon(source also of Old Frisian bank "bench," Old Norse bekkr, Danish bænk, Middle Dutch banc, Old High German banch). The group is cognate with bank (n.2) "natural earthen incline beside a body of water," and perhaps the original notion is "man-made earthwork used as a seat."
Used from late 14c. of a merchant's table. From c. 1300 in reference to the seat where judges sat in court, hence, by metonymy, "judges collectively, office of a judge." Hence also bencher "senior member of an inn of court" (1580s). The sporting sense "reserve of players" (in baseball, North American football, etc.) is by 1909, from a literal sense in reference to where players sit when not in action (attested by 1889). A bench-warrant (1690s) is one issued by a judge, as opposed to one issued by an ordinary justice or magistrate.