"structure consisting of one large, unhewn stone slab resting on two or more stones placed erect in the earth," such that a person may walk under it, 1859, from French dolmin applied 1796 by French general and antiquarian Théophile Malo Corret de La Tour d'Auvergne (1743-1800), perhaps from Cornish tolmen, literally "hole of stone," from Celtic men "stone."
Some suggest the first element may be Breton taol "table," a loan-word from Latin tabula "board, plank," but OED says the Breton form of this compound would be taolvean. "There is reason to think that this [tolmen] is the word inexactly reproduced by Latour d'Auvergne as dolmin, and misapplied by him and succeeding French archaeologists to the cromlech" [OED]. See cromlech, which is the same idea but arranged as one of a circle. Related: Dolmenic.
"principal street of a (U.S.) town," 1810, from main (adj.) + street. Used allusively to indicate "mediocrity, small-town materialism" from late 19c., a sense reinforced by the publication of Sinclair Lewis's novel "Main Street" (1920).
But a village in a country which is taking pains to become altogether standardized and pure, which aspires to succeed Victorian England as the chief mediocrity of the world, is no longer merely provincial, no longer downy and restful in its leaf-shadowed ignorance. It is a force seeking to dominate the earth, to drain the hills and sea of color, to set Dante at boosting Gopher Prairie, and to dress the high gods in Klassy Kollege Klothes. Sure of itself, it bullies other civilizations, as a traveling salesman in a brown derby conquers the wisdom of China and tacks advertisements of cigarettes over arches for centuries dedicate to the sayings of Confucius. ["Main Street"]
1630s, "the 1,000-year period of Christ's anticipated rule on Earth" (Revelation xx.1-5); from Modern Latin millennium, from Latin mille "thousand" (see million) + annus "year" (see annual); formed on analogy of biennium, triennium, etc. For vowel change, see biennial. General (non-theological) sense of "an aggregate of 1,000 years, a period or interval of 1,000 years" is attested by 1711. Meaning "the year 2000 A.D." is attested by 1970.
[T]he men of the modern world—up to a generation ago anyway—saw 2000 as a millennial year in the light of science. Men were then to be freed of want, misery, and disease; reason and advanced technology would rule; all would finally be for the best in what would then be the undoubted best of all possible worlds. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 1962]
Old English botm, bodan "ground, soil, foundation, lowest or deepest part of anything," from Proto-Germanic *buthm- (source also of Old Frisian boden "soil," Old Norse botn, Dutch bodem, Old High German bodam, German Boden "ground, earth, soil"). This is perhaps from PIE root *bhudhno- "bottom" (source also of Sanskrit budhnah, Avestan buna- "bottom," Greek pythmen "foundation," Latin fundus "bottom, piece of land, farm," Old Irish bond "sole of the foot").
Meaning "fundamental character, essence" is from 1570s; to get to the bottom of some matter is from 1773. Meaning "posterior of a person" (the sitting part) is from 1794. Bottoms up as a call to finish one's drink is from 1875. Bottom dollar "the last dollar one has" is from 1857. To do or feel something from the bottom of (one's) heart is from 1540s. Bottom-feeder, originally of fishes, is from 1866.
early 15c., "eccentric circle or orbit," originally a term in Ptolemaic astronomy, "circle or orbit not having the Earth precisely at its center," from French eccentrique and directly from Medieval Latin eccentricus (noun and adjective), from Greek ekkentros "out of the center" (as opposed to concentric), from ek "out" (see ex-) + kentron "center" (see center (n.)). Meaning "odd or whimsical person" is attested by 1817 (S.W. Ryley, "The Itinerant, or Memoirs of an Actor").
June 4 .—Died in the streets in Newcastle, William Barron, an eccentric, well known for many years by the name of Billy Pea-pudding. [John Sykes, "Local Records, or Historical Register of Remarkable Events which have Occurred Exclusively in the Counties of Durham and Northumberland, Town and County of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and Berwick Upon Tweed," Newcastle, 1824]
1590s, from Greek, "daughters of the Hesperus," name given to the nymphs (variously numbered but originally three) who tended the garden with the golden apples. Their name has been mistakenly transferred to the garden itself.
The Gardens of the Hesperides with the golden apples were believed to exist in some island in the ocean, or, as it was sometimes thought, in the islands on the north or west coast of Africa. They were far-famed in antiquity; for it was there that springs of nectar flowed by the couch of Zeus, and there that the earth displayed the rarest blessings of the gods; it was another Eden. As knowledge increased with regard to western lands, it became necessary to move this paradise farther and farther out into the Western Ocean. [Alexander Murray, "Manual of Mythology," 1888]
Related: Hesperidean; Hesperidian.
early 14c., "froth, foam, thin layer atop liquid" (implied in scomour "scummer, shallow ladle for removing scum"), from Middle Dutch schume "foam, froth," from Proto-Germanic *skuma- (source also of Old Norse skum, Old High German scum, German Schaum "foam, froth"), which is perhaps from PIE root *(s)keu- "to cover, conceal" on the notion of "that which covers the water."
Especially (late 14c.) "impure foam or extraneous substance that rises to the surface when liquid boils." Hence any sort of impure froth, and the sense deteriorated to "film of dirt," then simply "dirt, filth." The meaning "lowest class of humanity" is from 1580s; scum of the Earth is attested by 1712. The Germanic word was adopted in Romanic (Old French escume, Modern French écume, Spanish escuma, Italian schiuma). As a verb, "remove the scum from," late 14c.
c. 1300, occean, "the vast body of water on the surface of the globe," from Old French occean "ocean" (12c., Modern French océan), from Latin oceanus, from Greek ōkeanos, the great river or sea surrounding the disk of the Earth (as opposed to the Mediterranean), a word of unknown origin; Beekes suggests it is Pre-Greek. Personified as Oceanus, son of Uranus and Gaia and husband of Tethys.
In early times, when the only known land masses were Eurasia and Africa, the ocean was an endless river that flowed around them. Until c. 1650, commonly ocean sea, translating Latin mare oceanum. Application to individual bodies of water began 14c. (occean Atlantyke, 1387); five of them are usually reckoned, but this is arbitrary. The English word also occasionally was applied to smaller subdivisions, such as German Ocean "North Sea."
"to burn superficially or slightly, but so as to change the color or injure the texture," early 14c., scorchen, perhaps an alteration of scorcnen "make dry, parch; become singed" (late 12c.), itself a word of obscure origin, perhaps from Old Norse skorpna "to be shriveled," which is cognate with Old English scrimman "to shrink, dry up."
The old derivation is from Old French escorchier "to strip off the skin," from Vulgar Latin *excorticare "to flay," from ex- (see ex-) + Latin cortex (genitive corticis) "cork;" but OED and Century Dictionary find this not likely based on the sense difference. That word came into English separately as scorchen "strip the skin from" (mid-15c.).
Scorched earth military strategy is by 1937, said to be a translation of Chinese jiaotu, in reference to tactics to stem the Japanese advance into China. The tactics themselves are much older.
1712, "belonging to a prehistoric age," see old + world. Meaning "of or pertaining to Eurasia and Africa," as opposed to the Americas, is by 1877. The noun phrase Old World in this sense is by 1590s. The division of the earth into Old World and New World among Europeans dates to 1503 and Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci's use of Latin Mundus Novus for the lands of the western hemisphere found by Columbus and others, indicating they were not part of Asia.
The Known World is usually divided into four Parts, Europe, Asia, Africk and America. But it is a most unequal Division, and I think it more rational to divide it thus. Viz. the Known World, first into two Parts, the Old and the New World; then the Old World into three, Europe, Asia, and Africa; and the New into two, the Northern and Southern America. [Guy Miege, "A New Cosmography, or Survey of the Whole World," London, 1682]