"contractible animal tissue consisting of bundles of fibers," late 14c., "a muscle of the body," from Latin musculus "a muscle," literally "a little mouse," diminutive of mus "mouse" (see mouse (n.)).
So called because the shape and movement of some muscles (notably biceps) were thought to resemble mice. The analogy was made in Greek, too, where mys is both "mouse" and "muscle," and its combining form gives the medical prefix myo-. Compare also Old Church Slavonic mysi "mouse," mysica "arm;" German Maus "mouse; muscle," Arabic 'adalah "muscle," 'adal "field mouse;" Cornish logodenfer "calf of the leg," literally "mouse of the leg." In Middle English, lacerte, from the Latin word for "lizard," also was used as a word for a muscle.
Musclez & lacertez bene one selfe þing, Bot þe muscle is said to þe fourme of mouse & lacert to þe fourme of a lizard. [Guy de Chauliac, "Grande Chirurgie," c. 1425]
Hence muscular and mousy are relatives, and a Middle English word for "muscular" was lacertous, "lizardy." Figurative sense of "muscle, strength, brawn" is by 1850; that of "force, violence, threat of violence" is 1930, American English. Muscle car "hot rod" is from 1969.
late 14c., "irregular shaped lump; body of unshaped, coherent matter," from Old French masse "lump, heap, pile; crowd, large amount; ingot, bar" (11c.), and directly from Latin massa "kneaded dough, lump, that which adheres together like dough," probably from Greek maza "barley cake, lump, mass, ball," which is related to massein "to knead," from PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit."
The sense in English was extended 1580s to "a large quantity, amount, or number." Meaning "bulk" in general is from c. 1600. As "the bulk or greater part of anything" from 1620s. Strict sense in physics, "quantity of a portion of matter expressed in pounds or grams" is from 1704.
As an adjective, "of, involving, or composed of masses of people; done on a large scale," from 1733, first attested in American English mass meeting "public assembly persons in mass or of all classes to consider or listen to the discussion of some matter of common interest." Mass culture is from 1916 in sociology (earlier in biology); mass hysteria is from 1914; mass movement is from 1897; mass grave is from 1918; mass murder from 1880.
late 13c., "affected with periodic insanity dependent on the changes of the moon," from Old French lunatique "insane," or directly from Late Latin lunaticus "moon-struck," from Latin luna "moon" (see luna).
Compare Old English monseoc "lunatic," literally "moon-sick;" Middle High German lune "humor, temper, mood, whim, fancy" (German Laune), from Latin luna. Compare also New Testament Greek selēniazomai "be epileptic," from selēnē "moon." Lunatic fringe (1913) apparently was coined by U.S. politician Theodore Roosevelt.
Then, among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it — the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements. [Theodore Roosevelt, autobiography, 1913].
Earlier it was a term for a type of hairstyle worn over the forehead (1877). Lunatic soup (1918) was slang for "alcoholic drink" or in reference to drinking several different alcoholic drinks together.
also Al-Qaeda; name of a loosely structured jihadist movement founded c. 1989 by Osama bin Laden; from Arabic, literally "the base." A common Arabic term among Muslim radicals from the wider Islamic world who came to Afghanistan in 1980s and fought alongside local rebels against the Soviets, and who regarded themselves and their struggle not merely in Afghan terms but as the "base" or foundation of a wider jihad and revival in Islam. Used by Bin Laden's mentor, Abdallah Azzam, who referred to the "vanguard" which "constitutes the strong foundation [al-qaida al-sulbah] for the expected society." In U.S., the term first turns up in a CIA report in 1996.
Every Muslim, from the moment they realise the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews, and hates Christians. This is a part of our belief and our religion. For as long as I can remember, I have felt tormented and at war, and have felt hatred and animosity for Americans. [Osama bin Laden, interview aired on Al-Jazeera, December 1998]
1818 as a purely geographical term, "relating to or of the nature of a continent," from continent (n.) + -al (1). In reference to the European mainland (as opposed to Great Britain), recorded from 1760. Continental breakfast (the kind eaten on the continent as opposed to the kind eaten in Britain) is attested by 1855.
As "pertaining to the government and affairs of the 13 revolutionary British American colonies," from 1774; the Continental Congress was so called from 1775.
Continental divide "line across a continent such that the drainage on one side feeds into one ocean or sea and that on the other feeds into a different body of water," was in use by 1865; continental slope "slope between the outer edge of the continental shelf and the ocean floor" is from 1849. Continental shelf "area of shallow sea around a continent, geologically part of the continent" is first attested 1888.
Continental drift "gradual movement of the continents across the earth's surface through geological time" (1925) is a translation of German Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c. 1950.
1796 in the abstract metaphysical sense "belief that reality is made up only of ideas," from ideal (adj.) + -ism. Probably formed on model of French idéalisme. Meaning "tendency to represent things in an ideal form" is from 1829. Meaning "pursuit of the ideal, a striving after the perfect state" (of truth, purity, justice, etc.).
In the philosophical sense the Germans have refined it into absolute (Hegel), subjective (Fichte), objective (von Schelling), and transcendental (Kant).
That the glory of this world in the end is appearance leaves the world more glorious, if we feel it is a show of some fuller splendour : but the sensuous curtain is a deception and a cheat, if it hides some colourless movement of atoms, some spectral woof of impalpable abstractions, or unearthly ballet of bloodless categories. Though dragged to such conclusions, we can not embrace them. Our principles may be true, but they are not reality. They no more make that Whole which commands our devotion, than some shredded dissection of human tatters is that warm and breathing beauty of flesh which our hearts found delightful. [F.H. Bradley, "Principles of Logic," 1883]
late 14c., mocioun, "process of moving; change of place, continuous variation of position;" also "suggestion, proposal or proposition formally made," from Old French mocion "movement, motion; change, alteration" (13c., Modern French motion) and directly from Latin motionem (nominative motio) "a moving, a motion; an emotion," from past-participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").
From c. 1400 in legal sense of "application to a court or judge." To be in motion "in a state of motion" is from c. 1600; to set in motion "set working" is from 1590s. To go through the motions in the figurative sense of "pretend, do in a perfunctory manner" is by 1816 from the notion of "simulate the motions of." Motion picture is attested from 1896; motion sickness by 1942.
Rev. G.S. White said : The Presbytery does not favour the proposition of the Richmond Convention, and thinks the appointment of the Committee unnecessary; yet I suppose, that like the man who had nothing to eat, yet always spread the table, and sat down, and went through the motions—so we, according to our brother, are in honour bound, to appoint the Committee and go through the motions!—[Laughter] [The Presbyterian Magazine, May, 1858]
"right of each citizen to liberty, equality, etc.," 1721, American English, from civil in the sense "pertaining to the citizen in his relations to the organized commonwealth or to his fellow citizens." Specifically of black U.S. citizens from 1866, in reference to the Civil Rights Bill, an act of Congress which conferred citizenship upon all persons born in the United States, not subjects of other powers, "of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery." Civil Rights Movement in reference to the drive for racial equality that began in U.S. in mid-1950s is attested by 1963.
Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. [Lyndon Johnson, speech introducing Voting Rights Act, March 15, 1965]
c. 1300, "a beating, whipping; the beating of a drum," from beat (v.). As "throb of the heart" from 1755. Meaning "regular route travelled by someone" is attested from 1731, also "a track made by animals" (1736), from the sense of the "beat" of the feet on the ground (late Old English), or perhaps that in beat the bushes to flush game (c. 1400), or beat the bounds (1560s). Extended to journalism by 1875. Musical sense is by 1842, perhaps from the hand motion of the conductor and the notion of "beating the time":
It is usual, in beating the time of a piece of music, to mark or signalize the commencement of every measure by a downward movement or beat of the hand, or of any other article that may be used for the purpose .... ["Godfrey Weber's General Music Teacher," 1842]
Earlier in music it meant a sort of grace note:
BEAT, in music, a transient grace note, struck immediately before the note it is intended to ornament. The beat always lies half a note beneath its principal, and should be heard so closely upon it, that they may almost seem to be struck together. ["The British Encyclopedia," London, 1809]
Old English sped "success, a successful course; prosperity, riches, wealth; luck; opportunity, advancement," from Proto-Germanic *spodiz (source also of Old Saxon spod "success," Dutch spoed "haste, speed," Old High German spuot "success," Old Saxon spodian "to cause to succeed," Middle Dutch spoeden, Old High German spuoten "to haste"), from PIE *spo-ti-, from root *spes- or *speh- "prosperity" (source also of Hittite išpai- "get full, be satiated;" Sanskrit sphira "fat," sphayate "increases;" Latin spes "hope," sperare "to hope;" Old Church Slavonic spechu "endeavor," spĕti "to succeed," Russian spet' "to ripen;" Lithuanian spėju, spėti "to have leisure;" Old English spōwan "to prosper").
Meaning "rapidity of movement, quickness, swiftness" emerged in late Old English (at first usually adverbially, in dative plural, as in spedum feran). Meaning "rate of motion or progress" (whether fast or slow) is from c. 1200. Meaning "gear of a machine" is attested from 1866. Meaning "methamphetamine, or a related drug," first attested 1967, from its effect on users.
Speed limit is from 1879 (originally of locomotives); speed-trap is from 1908. Speed bump is 1975; figurative sense is 1990s. Full speed is recorded from late 14c. Speed reading first attested 1965. Speedball "mix of cocaine and morphine or heroin" is recorded from 1909.