Etymology
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dinner (n.)

c. 1300, "first big meal of the day" (eaten between 9 a.m. and noon), from Old French disner "breakfast" (11c.), noun use of infinitive disner (Modern French dîner) "take the first meal of the day," from stem of Gallo-Roman *desjunare "to break one's fast," from Vulgar Latin *disjejunare, from dis- "undo, do the opposite of" (see dis-) + Late Latin jejunare "to fast," from Latin iejunus "fasting, hungry, not partaking of food" (see jejune).

Always used in English for the main meal of the day, but the time of that has gradually shifted later.

In medieval and modern Europe the common practice, down to the middle of the eighteenth century, was to take this meal about midday, or in more primitive times even as early as 9 or 10 A.M. In France, under the old régime, the dinner-hour was at 2 or 3 in the afternoon; but when the Constituent Assembly moved to Paris, since it sat until 4 or 5 o'clock, the hour for dining was postponed. The custom of dining at 6 o'clock or later has since become common, except in the country, where early dinner is still the general practice. [Century Dictionary, 1897]

The change from midday to evening began with the fashionable classes. Compare dinette.

Dinner-time is attested from late 14c.; dinner-hour is from 1750. Dinner-table is from 1784; dinner-jacket from 1852; dinner-party by 1780. Childish reduplication din-din is attested from 1905.

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nice (adj.)
Origin and meaning of nice

late 13c., "foolish, ignorant, frivolous, senseless," from Old French nice (12c.) "careless, clumsy; weak; poor, needy; simple, stupid, silly, foolish," from Latin nescius "ignorant, unaware," literally "not-knowing," from ne- "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + stem of scire "to know" (see science). "The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj." [Weekley] -- from "timid, faint-hearted" (pre-1300); to "fussy, fastidious" (late 14c.); to "dainty, delicate" (c. 1400); to "precise, careful" (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to "agreeable, delightful" (1769); to "kind, thoughtful" (1830).

In many examples from the 16th and 17th centuries it is difficult to say in what particular sense the writer intended it to be taken. [OED]

By 1926, it was pronounced "too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness." [Fowler]

"I am sure," cried Catherine, "I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?" "Very true," said Henry, "and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything." [Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey," 1803]

For sense evolution, compare fond, innocent, lewd, also silly.

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town (n.)
Old English tun "enclosure, garden, field, yard; farm, manor; homestead, dwelling house, mansion;" later "group of houses, village, farm," from Proto-Germanic *tunaz, *tunan "fortified place" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian tun "fence, hedge," Middle Dutch tuun "fence," Dutch tuin "garden," Old High German zun, German Zaun "fence, hedge"), an early borrowing from Celtic *dunon "hill, hill-fort" (source also of Old Irish dun, Welsh din "fortress, fortified place, camp," dinas "city," Gaulish-Latin -dunum in place names), from PIE *dhu-no- "enclosed, fortified place, hill-fort," from root *dheue- "to close, finish, come full circle" (see down (n.2)).

Meaning "inhabited place larger than a village" (mid-12c.) arose after the Norman conquest from the use of this word to correspond to French ville. The modern word is partially a generic term, applicable to cities of great size as well as places intermediate between a city and a village; such use is unusual, the only parallel is perhaps Latin oppidium, which occasionally was applied even to Rome or Athens (each of which was more properly an urbs).

First record of town hall is from late 15c. Town ball, version of baseball, is recorded from 1852. Town car (1907) originally was a motor car with an enclosed passenger compartment and open driver's seat. On the town "living the high life" is from 1712. Go to town "do (something) energetically" is first recorded 1933. Man about town "one constantly seen at public and private functions" is attested from 1734.
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troll (n.1)

supernatural being in Scandinavian mythology and folklore, 1610s (with an isolated use mid-14c.), from Old Norse troll "giant being not of the human race, evil spirit, monster." Some speculate that it originally meant "creature that walks clumsily," and derives from Proto-Germanic *truzlan, from *truzlanan (see troll (v.)). But it seems to have been a general supernatural word, such as Swedish trolla "to charm, bewitch;" Old Norse trolldomr "witchcraft."

The old sagas tell of the troll-bull, a supernatural being in the form of a bull, as well as boar-trolls. There were troll-maidens, troll-wives, and troll-women; the trollman, a magician or wizard, and the troll-drum, used in Lappish magic rites. The word was popularized in literary English by 19c. antiquarians, but it has been current in the Shetlands and Orkneys since Viking times. The first record of the word in modern English is from a court document from the Shetlands, regarding a certain Catherine, who, among other things, was accused of "airt and pairt of witchcraft and sorcerie, in hanting and seeing the Trollis ryse out of the kyrk yeard of Hildiswick."

Originally conceived as a race of malevolent giants, they have suffered the same fate as the Celtic Danann and by 19c. were regarded by peasants in in Denmark and Sweden as dwarfs and imps supposed to live in caves or under the ground.

They are obliging and neighbourly; freely lending and borrowing, and elsewise keeping up a friendly intercourse with mankind. But they have a sad propensity to thieving, not only stealing provisions, but even women and children. [Thomas Keightley, "The Fairy Mythology," London, 1850]
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a- (1)

prefix or inseparable particle, a relic of various Germanic and Latin elements.

In words derived from Old English, it commonly represents Old English an "on, in, into" (see on (prep.)), as in alive, above, asleep, aback, abroad, afoot, ashore, ahead, abed, aside, obsolete arank "in rank and file," etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns, with the notion "in, at; engaged in." In this use it is identical to a (2).

It also can represent Middle English of (prep.) "off, from," as in anew, afresh, akin, abreast. Or it can be a reduced form of the Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware.

Or it can be the Old English intensive a-, originally ar- (cognate with German er- and probably implying originally "motion away from"), as in abide, arise, awake, ashamed, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. Such words sometimes were refashioned in early modern English as though the prefix were Latin (accursed, allay, affright are examples).

In words from Romanic languages, often it represents reduced forms of Latin ad "to, toward; for" (see ad-), or ab "from, away, off" (see ab-); both of which by about 7c. had been reduced to a in the ancestor of Old French. In a few cases it represents Latin ex.

[I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]
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Anglo-Saxon (n.)

Old English Angli Saxones (plural), from Latin Anglo-Saxones, in which Anglo- is an adjective, thus literally "English Saxons," as opposed to those of the Continent (now called Old Saxons). Properly in reference to the Saxons of ancient Wessex, Essex, Middlesex, and Sussex.

I am a suthern man, I can not geste 'rum, ram, ruf' by letter. [Chaucer, "Parson's Prologue and Tale"]

After the Norman-French invasion of 1066, the peoples of the island were distinguished as English and French, but after a few generations all were English, and Latin-speaking scribes, who knew and cared little about Germanic history, began to use Anglo-Saxones to refer to the pre-1066 inhabitants and their descendants. When interest in Old English writing revived late 16c., the word was extended to the language we now call Old English.

In the last years of the reign of Elizabeth, Camden revived the use of the old name Anglosaxones, and, probably for the first time, used lingua Anglosaxonica for the language of England before the Norman conquest. He explains that Anglosaxones means the Saxons of England, in contradistinction to those of the continent; and, in his English Remains, he, accordingly, renders it by "English Saxons." Throughout the seventeenth century, and even later, "English Saxon" continued to be the name ordinarily applied by philologists to the language of king Alfred, but, in the eighteenth century, this gave place to "Anglo-Saxon." [Henry Bradley, in "Cambridge History of English Literature," 1907]

It has been used rhetorically for "English" in an ethnological sense from 1832, and revisioned as Angle + Saxon.

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shit (v.)
Origin and meaning of shit

Old English scitan, from Proto-Germanic *skit- (source also of North Frisian skitj, Dutch schijten, German scheissen), from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split." The notion is of "separation" from the body (compare Latin excrementum, from excernere "to separate," Old English scearn "dung, muck," from scieran "to cut, shear;" see sharn). It is thus a cousin to science and conscience.

"Shit" is not an acronym. The notion that it is a recent word might be partly because it was taboo from c. 1600 and rarely appeared in print (neither Shakespeare nor the KJV has it), and even in "vulgar" publications of the late 18c. it is disguised by dashes. It drew the wrath of censors as late as 1922 ("Ulysses" and "The Enormous Room"), scandalized magazine subscribers in 1957 (a Hemingway story in Atlantic Monthly) and was omitted from some dictionaries as recently as 1970 ("Webster's New World").

Extensive slang usage; meaning "to lie, to tease" is from 1934; that of "to disrespect" is from 1903. Shite, now a jocular or slightly euphemistic and chiefly British variant of the noun, formerly a dialectal variant, reflects the vowel in the Old English verb (compare German scheissen); the modern verb has been influenced by the noun. Shat is a humorous past tense form, not etymological, first recorded 18c. To shit bricks "be very frightened" attested by 1961. The connection between fear and involuntary defecation has generated expressions in English since 14c. (the image also is in Latin), and probably also is behind scared shitless (1936).

Alle þe filþ of his magh ['maw'] salle breste out atte his fondament for drede. ["Cursor Mundi," early 14c.]
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P 

sixteenth letter of the English alphabet, descended from the Greek pi; the form of it is a pi with the second limb curved around to meet the first. A rare letter in the initial position in Germanic, in part because by Grimm's Law PIE p- became Germanic f-; even including the early Latin borrowings in Old English, "P" has only a little over 4 pages in J.R. Clark Hall's "Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary," compared to 31 pages for B and more than 36 for F. But it now is the third-most-common initial letter in the English vocabulary, and with C and S comprises nearly a third of the dictionary, a testimony to the flood of words that have entered the language since 1066 from Latin, Greek, and French, especially those in pre- and pro-.

Between -m- and another consonant, an unetymological -p- sometimes is inserted (Hampstead, Thompson) to indicate that the -m- is sounded as in words such as Simpson. To mind one's Ps and Qs (1779), possibly is from confusion of these letters among children learning to write. Another theory traces it to old-time tavern-keepers tracking their patrons' bar tabs in pints and quarts. But see also to be P and Q (1610s), "to be excellent," a slang or provincial phrase said to derive from prime quality.

P-wave is from 1908 in geology, the p representing primary (adj.). The U.S. Navy World War II PT boat (1942) stands for patrol torpedo.

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past (n.)

c. 1500, "times gone by, the time that has preceded the present," from past (adj.). Meaning "a past life, career, or history" is attested by 1836.

The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet,
The only sweet thing that is not also fleet.
[Edward Thomas, from "Early one morning"]
AMERICA does not repel the past, or what it has produced under its forms or amid other politics or the idea of castes or the old religions .... accepts the lesson with calmness ... is not so impatient as has been supposed that the slough still sticks to opinions and manners and literature while the life which served its requirements has passed into the new life of the new forms ... perceives that the corpse is slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms of the house ... perceives that it waits a little while in the door ... that it was fittest for its days ... that its action has descended to the stalwart and wellshaped heir who approaches ... and that he shall be fittest for his days. [Whitman, opening of the preface to "Leaves of Grass," 1855]
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [George Santayana, "The Life of Reason," 1905]
The past is never dead. It's not even past. [Faulkner, "Requiem for a Nun," 1950]
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boilerplate (n.)

1831, "iron rolled in large, flat plates for use in making steam boilers," from boiler + plate (n.). In newspaper (and now information technology) slang, the sense of "unit of writing that can be used over and over without change" is attested by 1887. The connecting notion probably is the permanence of the prepared plate compared to set type: From the 1870s to the 1950s, publicity items were cast or stamped in metal ready for the printing press and distributed to country newspapers as filler. An early provider was the American Press Association (1882). The largest supplier later was Western Newspaper Union.

An older name for it was plate-matter "type cast in a number of stereotype plates for insertion in different newspapers" (1878). Plate (n.) is attested by 1824 in printing as "a cast of a page of composed movable types." 

WITHIN the past ten years, "plate matter" has become more and more popular among out-of-town papers, and the more enterprising are discarding the ready prints and are using plate matter instead. For a long time there was a prejudice against "Boiler Plates," but editors of small, and even of prosperous papers, began to discover that better matter was going out in the plates than they could afford, individually, to pay for. It was found that the reading public did not care, so long as the reading columns were bright and newsy, whether they were set up in the local office or in New York. ["The Journalist Souvenir," 1887]
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