Etymology
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owl (n.)

"raptorial nocturnal bird of prey of the family Strigidæ," Middle English oule, from Old English ule "owl," from Proto-Germanic *uwwalon- (source also of Middle Dutch, Dutch uil, Old High German uwila, German Eule, Old Norse ugla), a diminutive of PIE root *u(wa)l-, which is imitative of a wail or an owl's hoot (compare howl and Latin ulula "owl;" also see ululation).

The bird was used in proverbs and figures of speech in reference to its nocturnal habits, but also in Middle English for ugliness (late 14c.), spiritual blindness (c. 1400), and maliciousness (mid-15c.). It was a name for Satan in early 15c. The association with gravity and wisdom comes later, after the revival of classical learning: A small, brown type of owl is common on the Acropolis and about Athens and was hence taken in ancient times as an emblem of the city and by extension of its patron deity, Athene, goddess of wisdom. Hence also the saying bring (or send) owls to Athens "perform unnecessary labor."

By 1895 in reference to a person whose pleasure or business is to be up at night. Owl-flight "twilight" is from late 15c. The name of the trickster Till Eulenspiegel (literally "owl-mirror") of the popular German tales was rendered in English as Owlglass when they were first translated c. 1560; Jonson and Scott use the half-translated Owl-spiegle.

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company (n.)

mid-12c., "large group of people," from Old French compagnie "society, friendship, intimacy; body of soldiers" (12c.), from Late Latin companio, literally "bread fellow, messmate," from Latin com "with, together" (see com-) + panis "bread," from PIE root *pa- "to feed." Abbreviation co. dates from 1670s. 

Meaning "companionship, consort of persons one with another, intimate association" is from late 13c. Meaning "person or persons associated with another in any way" is from c. 1300. In Middle English the word also could mean "sexual union, intercourse" (c. 1300).

From late 14c. as "a number of persons united to perform or carry out anything jointly," which developed a commercial sense of "business association" by 1550s, the word having been used in reference to trade guilds from late 14c. Meaning "subdivision of an infantry regiment" (in 19c. usually 60 to 100 men, commanded by a captain) is from c. 1400. 

Meaning "person or persons with whom one voluntarily associates" is from c. 1600; phrase keep company "consort" is from 1560s (bear company in the same sense is from c. 1300). Expression two's company "two persons are just right" (for conversation, etc.), is attested from 1849; the following line varies: but three is none (or not), 1849; three's trumpery (1864); three's a crowd (1856). 

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mission (n.)

1590s, "a sending abroad" (as an agent), originally of Jesuits, from Latin missionem (nominative missio) "act of sending, a dispatching; a release, a setting at liberty; discharge from service, dismissal," noun of action from past-participle stem of mittere "to release, let go; send, throw," which de Vaan traces to a PIE *m(e)ith- "to exchange, remove," also source of Sanskrit methete, mimetha "to become hostile, quarrel," Gothic in-maidjan "to change;" he writes, "From original 'exchange', the meaning developed to 'give, bestow' ... and 'let go, send'."

Meaning "an organized effort for the spread of religion or for enlightenment of a community" is by 1640s; that of "a missionary post or station" is by 1769. The diplomatic sense of "body of persons sent to a foreign land on commercial or political business" is from 1620s; in American English, sometimes "a foreign legation or embassy, the office of a foreign envoy" (1805).

General sense of "that for which one is sent or commissioned" is from 1670s; meaning "that for which a person or thing is destined" (as in man on a mission, one's mission in life) is by 1805. Meaning "dispatch of an aircraft on a military operation" (by 1929, American English) was extended to spacecraft flights (1962), hence, mission control "team on the ground responsible for directing a spacecraft and its crew" (1964). As a style of furniture, said to be imitative of furniture in the buildings of original Spanish missions to western North America, it is attested from 1900.

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Macbeth 

masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.

It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
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thing (n.)

Old English þing "meeting, assembly, council, discussion," later "entity, being, matter" (subject of deliberation in an assembly), also "act, deed, event, material object, body, being, creature," from Proto-Germanic *thinga- "assembly" (source also of Old Frisian thing "assembly, council, suit, matter, thing," Middle Dutch dinc "court-day, suit, plea, concern, affair, thing," Dutch ding "thing," Old High German ding "public assembly for judgment and business, lawsuit," German Ding "affair, matter, thing," Old Norse þing "public assembly"). The Germanic word is perhaps literally "appointed time," from a PIE *tenk- (1), from root *ten- "stretch," perhaps on notion of "stretch of time for a meeting or assembly."

The sense "meeting, assembly" did not survive Old English. For sense evolution, compare French chose, Spanish cosa "thing," from Latin causa "judicial process, lawsuit, case;" Latin res "affair, thing," also "case at law, cause." Old sense is preserved in second element of hustings and in Icelandic Althing, the nation's general assembly.

Of persons, often pityingly, from late 13c. Used colloquially since c. 1600 to indicate things the speaker can't name at the moment, often with various meaningless suffixes (see thingamajig).

Things "personal possessions" is from c. 1300. The thing "what's stylish or fashionable" is recorded from 1762. Phrase do your thing "follow your particular predilection," though associated with hippie-speak of 1960s is attested from 1841.

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art (n.)
Origin and meaning of art

early 13c., "skill as a result of learning or practice," from Old French art (10c.), from Latin artem (nominative ars) "work of art; practical skill; a business, craft," from PIE *ar(ə)-ti- (source also of Sanskrit rtih "manner, mode;" Greek artizein "to prepare"), suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together." Etymologically akin to Latin arma "weapons."

In Middle English usually with a sense of "skill in scholarship and learning" (c. 1300), especially in the seven sciences, or liberal arts. This sense remains in Bachelor of Arts, etc. Meaning "human workmanship" (as opposed to nature) is from late 14c. Meaning "system of rules and traditions for performing certain actions" is from late 15c. Sense of "skill in cunning and trickery" first attested late 16c. (the sense in artful, artless). Meaning "skill in creative arts" is first recorded 1610s; especially of painting, sculpture, etc., from 1660s.

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truths, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned. The revolt of individualism came because the tradition had become degraded, or rather because a spurious copy had been accepted in its stead. [William Butler Yeats, journal, 1909]

Expression art for art's sake (1824) translates French l'art pour l'art. First record of art critic is from 1847. Arts and crafts "decorative design and handcraft" first attested in the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, founded in London, 1888.

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euphemism (n.)
Origin and meaning of euphemism

1650s, from Greek euphemismos "use of a favorable word in place of an inauspicious one, superstitious avoidance of words of ill-omen during religious ceremonies," also of substitutions such as Eumenides for the Furies. This is from euphemizein "speak with fair words, use words of good omen," from eu- "good, well" (see eu-) + phēmē "speech, voice, utterance, a speaking," from phanai "speak" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"). See also Euxine, and compare Greek Greek aristeros "the better one," a euphemism for "the left (hand)." In English, a rhetorical term at first; broader sense of "choosing a less distasteful word or phrase than the one meant" is first attested 1793. Related: Euphemistic; euphemistically.

All the ancients, but most of all the Athenians, were careful not to use ill-omened words; so they called the prison 'the chamber,' and the executioner 'the public man,' and the Furies (Erinyes) they called 'Eumenides' ('the kindly ones') or 'the Venerable Goddesses.' " [Helladius of Antinoopolis, 4 c. C.E., quoted by Photius]
Thus, in our dialect, a vicious man is a man of pleasure, a sharper is one that plays the whole game, a lady is said to have an affair, a gentleman to be a gallant, a rogue in business to be one that knows the world. By this means, we have no such things as sots, debauchees, whores, rogues, or the like, in the beau monde, who may enjoy their vices without incurring disagreeable appellations. [George Berkeley, "Alciphron or the Minute Philosopher," 1732]
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house (n.)

Old English hus "dwelling, shelter, building designed to be used as a residence," from Proto-Germanic *hūsan (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian hus, Dutch huis, German Haus), of unknown origin, perhaps connected to the root of hide (v.) [OED]. In Gothic only in gudhus "temple," literally "god-house;" the usual word for "house" in Gothic being according to OED razn.

Meaning "family, including ancestors and descendants, especially if noble" is from c. 1000. Zodiac sense is first attested late 14c. The legislative sense (1540s) is transferred from the building in which the body meets. Meaning "audience in a theater" is from 1660s (transferred from the theater itself, playhouse). Meaning "place of business" is 1580s. The specialized college and university sense (1530s) also applies to both buildings and students collectively, a double sense found earlier in reference to religious orders (late 14c.). As a dance club DJ music style, probably from the Warehouse, a Chicago nightclub where the style is said to have originated.

To play house is from 1871; as suggestive of "have sex, shack up," 1968. House arrest first attested 1936. House-painter is from 1680s. House-raising (n.) is from 1704. On the house "free" is from 1889. House and home have been alliteratively paired since c. 1200.

And the Prophet Isaiah the sonne of Amos came to him, and saide vnto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not liue. [II Kings xx.1, version of 1611]
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letter (n.1)
c. 1200, "graphic symbol, alphabetic sign, written character conveying information about sound in speech," from Old French letre "character, letter; missive, note," in plural, "literature, writing, learning" (10c., Modern French lettre), from Latin littera (also litera) "letter of the alphabet," also "an epistle, writing, document; literature, great books; science, learning;" a word of uncertain origin.

According to Watkins, perhaps via Etruscan from Greek diphthera "tablet" (with change of d- to l- as in lachrymose), from a hypothetical root *deph- "to stamp." In this sense it replaced Old English bocstæf, literally "book staff" (compare German Buchstabe "letter, character," from Old High German buohstab, from Proto-Germanic *bok-staba-m).

Latin littera also meant "a writing, document, record," and in plural litteræ "a letter, epistle, missive communication in writing," a sense passed through French and attested in English letter since early 13c. (replacing Old English ærendgewrit "written message," literally "errand-writing"). The Latin plural also meant "literature, books," and figuratively "learning, liberal education, schooling" (see letters).

The custom of giving the school letter as an achievement award in sports, attested by 1908, is said to have originated with University of Chicago football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. Earlier in reference to colleges it meant "university degree or honor that adds initials to a name" (1888). Expression to the letter "precisely" is from 1520s (earlier after the letter, mid-14c.). Letter-quality (adj.) "suitable for (business) letters" is from 1977. For letters patent (with French word order) see patent (n.).
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panel (n.)

early 14c., "a piece of cloth," especially a rectangular piece, from Old French panel "piece of cloth, piece, saddle cushion" (Modern French panneau), from Vulgar Latin *pannellus, diminutive of Latin pannus "piece of cloth" (see pane).

Anglo-French legalese sense of "piece of parchment (cloth) listing the names of those summoned to serve upon a jury" led by late 14c. to the meaning "a jury selected for a trial." General sense of "persons called on to advise, judge, discuss," etc. is from 1570s. Sense of "more or less distinct part of the surface of a wall, door, etc." is recorded from c. 1600.

Panel-house (said to be from 1840s; popular from 1870s) was old slang for a disreputable place (typically a bordello) with panneled rooms. At least one panel could be slid back to allow for thefts from customers and other cheats. Hence panel-thief, panel-game, etc.

The requisites for a "panel house" in the proper sense, are,—a crafty, cunning street walker; a not less cunning and at the same time sturdy scoundrel—known in the slang of the business as a "Badger," and a room prepared specially for the purpose by having a small invisible opening, generally a noiselessly opening panel in the partition or entrance door, by which access to the place can be had from an adjoining room. These three requisites obtained, it becomes the duty of the panel-thief to find the fourth in any "greenhorn" that can be picked up on the streets and induced to come into the apartment. ["The Dark Side of New York Life and its Criminal Classes," 1873]
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