"in a state of decline or decay (from a former condition of excellence)," 1837 (Carlyle), from French décadent, back-formation from décadence (see decadence). In reference to literary (later, other artistic) schools that believed, or affected to believe, they lived in an age of artistic decadence, 1885 in French, 1888 in English. Usually in a bad sense:
Bread, supposedly the staff of life, has become one of our most decadent foods — doughy, gummy, and without the aroma, flavor, texture, taste and appearance that is typical of good bread. ["College and University Business" 1960]
Beckoning sense of "desirable and satisfying to self-indulgence" begins c. 1970 in commercial publications in reference to desserts.
As a noun, "one whose artistic or literary work is supposed to show marks of decadence," 1889 (from 1887 as a French word in English), originally in a French context.
On the subject of poetry I am bound to signalize one of those grotesque, unexpected apparitions which would appear to be constitutional to our country [i.e. France] .... I refer to the recent appearance of a literary clique of madmen or idlers, the self-named décadents. I own I am almost ashamed to occupy your time with this unworthy subject, which I should not have thought fit to introduce had not our newspapers and even our reviews taken the décadents to task, and were it not that they have furnished chroniqueurs short of copy with matter for articles, and that the serious Temps itself has taken up their trashy nonsense. [The Athenaeum, Jan. 1, 1887]
dance style, 1893, from two + step (n.); so called for the time signature of the music (as distinguished from the three-step waltz). But as the positions taken by the dancers involved direct contact, it was highly scandalous in its day and enormously popular.
A certain Division of an Auxiliary gave a dance not long since. I went and looked on. What did they dance? Two-step, two-step and two-step. How did they dance? When we used to waltz, we clasped arms easily, took a nice, respectable position, and danced in a poetry of motion. Now, girls, how do you two-step? In nine cases out of ten the dear girl reposes her head on the young man's shoulder, or else their faces press each other. He presses her to his breast as closely as possible, and actually carries her around. Disgraceful? I should say so. Do you wonder at the ministers preaching on dancing as a sin, when it looks like this to a woman like myself who believes in dancing and has danced all her life? Mothers, as you love your girls, forbid them to dance after this manner. [letter in the ladies' section of Locomotive Engineers' Monthly Journal, March 1898]
To the Two Step may be accredited, serious injury to the Waltz, awkward and immodest positions assumed in round dancing, also as being a prominent factor in overcrowding the profession and causing a general depression in the business of the legitimate Master of Dancing. [The Director, March 1898]
Middle English aboute, from Old English abutan (adv., prep.), earlier onbutan "on the outside of; around the circumference of, enveloping; in the vicinity of, near; hither and thither, from place to place," also "with a rotating or spinning motion," in late Old English "near in time, number, degree, etc., approximately;" a compound or contraction of on (see on; also see a- (1)) + be "by" (see by) + utan "outside," from ut (see out (adv.)).
By c. 1300 it had developed senses of "around, in a circular course, round and round; on every side, so as to surround; in every direction;" also "engaged in" (Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?), and gradually it forced out Old English ymbe, ymbutan (from PIE root *ambhi- "around") in the sense "round about, in the neighborhood of."
From mid-13c. as "in the matter, in connection with." From early 14c. as "in partial rotation, so as to face in a different direction." From late 14c. as "near at hand, about one's person." "In a circuitous course," hence "on the move" (late 13c.), and in Middle English "be about to do, be busy in preparation for," hence its use as a future participle in (to be) about to "in readiness, intending." Abouts (late 14c.), with adverbial genitive, still found in hereabouts, etc., probably is a northern dialectal form.
To bring about "cause or affect" and to come about "happen" are from late 14c. About face as a military command (short for right about face) is first attested 1861, American English.
"worthless person" (especially a young hoodlum or petty criminal), 1917, probably from punk kid "criminal's apprentice," U.S. underworld slang attested by 1904 (with overtones of "catamite"). Ultimately from punk (adj.) "inferior, bad" (q.v.), or else from punk "prostitute, harlot, strumpet," attested by 1590s, of unknown origin. Related: Punkling. For the possible sense shift from "harlot" to "homosexual," compare the possibility in gay.
By 1923 used generally for "young boy, inexperienced person" (originally in show business, as in punk day, circus slang from 1930, "day when children are admitted free"). The verb meaning "to back out of" is by 1920.
The "young criminal" sense no doubt is the inspiration in punk rock — loud, fast, aggressive, and outrageous — which is attested by 1971 (in a Dave Marsh article in Creem, referring to Rudi "Question Mark" Martinez); widely popularized in 1976.
If you looked different, people tried to intimidate you all the time. It was the same kind of crap you had to put up with as a hippie, when people started growing long hair. Only now it was the guys with the long hair yelling at you. You think they would have learned something. I had this extreme parrot red hair and I got hassled so much I carried a sign that said "FUCK YOU ASSHOLE." I got so tired of yelling it, I would just hold up the sign. [Bobby Startup, Philadelphia punk DJ, Philadelphia Weekly, Oct. 10, 2001]
Old English weorc, worc "something done, discrete act performed by someone, action (whether voluntary or required), proceeding, business; that which is made or manufactured, products of labor," also "physical labor, toil; skilled trade, craft, or occupation; opportunity of expending labor in some useful or remunerative way;" also "military fortification," from Proto-Germanic *werka- "work" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch werk, Old Norse verk, Middle Dutch warc, Old High German werah, German Werk, Gothic gawaurki), from PIE *werg-o-, suffixed form of root *werg- "to do."
Meaning "physical effort, exertion" is from c. 1200; meaning "scholarly labor" or its productions is from c. 1200; meaning "artistic labor" or its productions is from c. 1200. Meaning "labor as a measurable commodity" is from c. 1300. Meaning "embroidery, stitchery, needlepoint" is from late 14c.
Work of art attested by 1774 as "artistic creation," earlier (1728) "artifice, production of humans (as opposed to nature)." Work ethic recorded from 1959. To be out of work "unemployed" is from 1590s. To make clean work of is from c. 1300; to make short work of is from 1640s.
Proverbial expression many hands make light work is from c. 1300. To have (one's) work cut out for one is from 1610s; to have it prepared and prescribed, hence, to have all one can handle. Work in progress is from 1930 in a general sense, earlier as a specific term in accountancy and parliamentary procedure.
Work is less boring than amusing oneself. [Baudelaire, "Mon Coeur mis a nu," 1862]
Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions. [attributed to Mark Twain]
also gild, early 13c., yilde (spelling later influenced by Old Norse gildi "guild, brotherhood"), a semantic fusion of Old English gegield "guild, brotherhood," and gield "service, offering; payment, tribute; compensation," from Proto-Germanic *geldja- "payment, contribution" (source also of Old Frisian geld "money," Old Saxon geld "payment, sacrifice, reward," Old High German gelt "payment, tribute;" see yield (v.)).
The connecting sense is of a contribution or payment to join a protective or trade society. But some look to the alternative prehistoric sense of "sacrifice," as if in worship, and see the word as meaning a combination for religious purposes, either Christian or pagan. The Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for Masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime.
The earliest reference was to sacred banquets (Tacit: Germania 21-2) for which a contribution had to be paid, and which furthermore accounts for the meaning 'fraternity' of the formation *geldja-. In medieval times the economically oriented fraternities, the guilds, adopted this word, but it could still be used in reference to religious fraternities .... The contribution to the banquets, *gelda-, acquired a legal meaning 'recompense', but also the meaning 'money, currency' in general. [Dirk Boutkan, "Old Frisian Etymological Dictionary"]
Continental guilds of merchants, incorporated in each town or city and holding exclusive rights of doing business there, arrived after the Conquest. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (compare Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose 14c., as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.
Old English pytt (Kentish *pet), "natural or man-made depression in the ground, water hole, well; grave," from Proto-Germanic *putt- "pool, puddle" (source also of Old Frisian pet, Old Saxon putti, Old Norse pyttr, Middle Dutch putte, Dutch put, Old High German pfuzza, German Pfütze "pool, puddle"), an early borrowing from Latin puteus "well, pit, shaft."
The Latin word is perhaps from PIE root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp," but there are phonetic and sense objections.
Short u makes it impossible to directly derive puteus from paviō 'to strike'. It might be related to putāre 'to prune', but this is semantically less attractive, and the suffix -eus can then hardly be interpreted as indicating a material. Therefore, puteus may well be a loanword. [de Vaan]
Meaning "abode of evil spirits, hell" is attested from late 12c. Meaning "very small depression or dent in the surface of an object" is from early 15c. The anatomical sense of "natural depression or hollow in some part of the body" is by late 13c,; the pit of the stomach (1650s) is so called from the slight depression there between the ribs; earlier words for it were breast-pit (late 14c.), heart-pit (c. 1300).
The meaning "part of a theater on the floor of the house, lower than the stage," is from 1640s; the sense of "that part of the floor of an exchange where business is carried on" is by 1903, American English. The pit dug under a large engine or other piece of machinery to allow workers to examine or repair it is attested by 1839; this later was extended in auto racing to "area at the side of a track where cars are serviced and repaired" (by 1912).
late 14c., "pertaining or belonging to oneself, not shared, peculiar to an individual only;" of a thing, "not open to the public, for the use of privileged persons;" of a religious rule, "not shared by Christians generally, distinctive;" from Latin privatus "set apart (from what is public), belonging to oneself (not to the state), peculiar, personal," used in contrast to publicus, communis.
This is a past-participle adjective from the verb privare "to bereave, deprive, rob, strip" of anything; "to free, release, deliver" from anything, from privus "one's own, individual," from Proto-Italic *prei-wo- "separate, individual," from PIE *prai-, *prei- "in front of, before," from root *per- (1) "forward." The semantic shift would be from "being in front" to "being separate."
Old English in this sense had syndrig. Of persons, "not holding public office or employment," recorded from early 15c. Of communications, "meant to be secret or confidential," 1550s. In private "privily" is from 1580s. Related: Privately.
Private school "school owned and run by individuals, not by the government, and run for profit" is by 1650s. Private parts "the pudenda" is from 1785 (privete "the sexual parts" is from late 14c.).
Private property "property of persons in their individual, personal, or private capacity," as distinguished from property of the state or public or for public use, is by 1680s. Private enterprise "business or commercial activity privately owned and free from direct state control" is recorded by 1797; private sector "part of an economy, industry, etc. that is free from state control" is from 1948.
Private eye "private detective, person engaged unofficially in obtaining secret information for or guarding the private interests of those who employ him" is recorded from 1938, American English (Chandler). Private detective "detective who is not a member of an official police force" is by 1856.
early 15c., "a playing card," from Old French carte (14c.), from Medieval Latin carta/charta "a card, paper; a writing, a charter," from Latin charta "leaf of paper, a writing, tablet," from Greek khartēs "layer of papyrus," which is probably from Egyptian. Form influenced by Italian cognate carta "paper, leaf of paper." Compare chart (n.). The shift in English from -t to -d is unexplained.
Sense of "playing cards" also is oldest in French. Sense in English extended by 1590s to similar small, flat, stiff pieces of paper. As "small piece of cardboard upon which is written or printed the name, address, etc. of the person presenting it" is from 1795, visiting-cards for social calls, business-cards announcing one's profession. Meaning "printed ornamental greetings for special occasions" is from 1862.
Application to clever or original persons (1836, originally with an adjective, as in smart card) is from the playing-card sense, via expressions such as sure card "an expedient certain to attain an object" (c. 1560).
Card-sharper "professional cheat at cards" is from 1859. House of cards in the figurative sense "any insecure or flimsy scheme" is from 1640s, first attested in Milton, from children's play. To (figuratively) have a card up (one's) sleeve is from 1898. To play the _______ card (for political advantage) is from 1886, originally the Orange card, meaning "appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment."
Cards are first mentioned in Spain in 1371, described in detail in Switzerland in 1377, and by 1380 reliably reported from places as far apart as Florence, Basle, Regensburg, Brabant, Paris, and Barcelona. References are also claimed for earlier dates, but these are relatively sparse and do not withstand scrutiny. [David Parlett, "A History of Card Games"]
Old English open "not closed down, raised up" (of gates, eyelids, etc.), also "exposed, evident, well-known, public," often in a bad sense, "notorious, shameless;" from Proto-Germanic *upana-, literally "put or set up" (source also of Old Norse opinn, Swedish öppen, Danish aaben, Old Saxon opan, Old Frisian epen, Old High German offan, German offen "open"), from PIE root *upo "under," also "up from under," hence also "over." Related to up, and throughout Germanic the word has the appearance of a past participle of *up (v.), but no such verb has been found. The source of words for "open" in many Indo-European languages seems to be an opposite of the word for "closed, shut" (such as Gothic uslukan).
Of physical spaces, "unobstructed, unencumbered," c. 1200; of rooms with unclosed entrances, c. 1300; of wounds, late 14c. Transferred sense of "frank, candid" is attested from early 14c. Of shops, etc., "available for business," it dates from 1824.
Open-door in reference to international trading policies is attested from 1856. Open season is recorded by 1895 of game; figuratively (of persons) by 1914. Open book in the figurative sense of "person easy to understand" is from 1853. Open house "hospitality for all visitors" is first recorded 1824. Open-and-shut "simple, straightforward" first recorded 1841 in New Orleans. Open-faced, of sandwiches, etc., "without an upper layer of bread, etc.," by 1934. Open marriage, one in which the partners sleep with whomever they please, is by 1972. Open road (1817, American English) originally meant a public one; romanticized sense of "traveling as an expression of personal freedom" first recorded 1856, in Whitman.