Etymology
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collective (adj.)

early 15c., collectif, "comprehensive," from Old French collectif, from Latin collectivus, from collectus, past participle of colligere "gather together," from com- "together" (see com-) + legere "to gather" (from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather"). In grammar, from mid-15c., "expressing under a singular form a whole consisting of a plurality of individuals." From c. 1600 as "belonging to or exercised by a number of individuals jointly." Related: Collectively; collectiveness.

Collective bargaining was coined 1891 by English sociologist and social reformer Beatrice Webb; it was defined in U.S. 1935 by the Wagner Act. Collective noun is recorded from 1510s; collective security first attested 1934 in speech by Winston Churchill.

As a noun, from 1640s, "a collective noun" (singular in number but signifying an aggregate or assemblage, such as crowd, jury, society). As short for collective farm (in the USSR) it dates from 1925; collective farm itself is first attested 1919 in translations of Lenin.

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galaxy (n.)

late 14c., from French galaxie or directly from Late Latin galaxias "the Milky Way" as a feature in the night sky (in classical Latin via lactea or circulus lacteus), from Greek galaxias (adj.), in galaxias kyklos, literally "milky circle," from gala (genitive galaktos) "milk" (from PIE root *g(a)lag- "milk").

The technical astronomical sense in reference to the discrete stellar aggregate including the sun and all visible stars emerged by 1848. Figurative sense of "brilliant assembly of persons" is from 1580s. Milky Way is a translation of Latin via lactea.

See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt. [Chaucer, "House of Fame"]

Originally ours was the only one known. Astronomers began to speculate by mid-19c. that some of the spiral nebulae they could see in telescopes were actually immense and immensely distant structures the size and shape of the Milky Way. But the matter was not settled in the affirmative until the 1920s.

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cycle (n.)

late 14c., cicle, "perpetual circulating period of time, on the completion of which certain phenomena return in the same order," especially and originally in reference to astronomical phenomena, from Old French cicle and directly from Late Latin cyclus, from Greek kyklos "circle, wheel, any circular body," also "circular motion, cycle of events," from PIE kw(e)-kwl-o-, a suffixed, reduplicated form of the root *kwel- (1) "to revolve, move round."

From 1660s as "any recurring round of operations or events" (as in life cycle). From 1821 as "single complete period in a cycle." Extended by 1842 to "any long period of years, an age." In literary use, "the aggregate of the legends or traditions around some real or mythical event or character" (1835).

By 1884 as "recurring series of oscillations or operations in an engine, etc." From 1870 as short for motorcycle; by 1881 as short for bicycle or tricycle.

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position (n.)

late 14c., posicioun, as a term in logic and philosophy, "statement of belief, the laying down of a proposition or thesis," from Old French posicion "position, supposition" (Modern French position) and directly from Latin positionem (nominative positio) "act or fact of placing, situation, position, affirmation," noun of state from past-participle stem of ponere "put, place." Watkins tentatively identifies this as from PIE *po-s(i)nere, from *apo- "off, away" (see apo-) + *sinere "to leave, let" (see site). But de Vaan identifies it as from Proto-Italic *posine-, from PIE *tkine- "to build, live," from root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home" (see home (n.)).

The meaning "place occupied by a person or thing" especially a proper or appropriate place, is from 1540s; hence "status, standing, social rank" (1832); "official station, employment" (1890). The meaning "manner in which some physical thing is arranged or posed, aggregate of the spatial relations of a body or figure to other such bodies or figures" is recorded by 1703; specifically in reference to dance steps, 1778, to sexual intercourse, 1883. Military sense of "place occupied or to be occupied" is by 1781.

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sum (n.)
c. 1300, summe, "quantity or amount of money," from Anglo-French and Old French summe, somme "amount, total; collection; essential point; summing up, conclusion" (13c., Modern French somme), from Latin summa "the top, summit; chief place, highest rank; main thing, chief point, essence, gist; an amount (of money)," noun use (via phrases such as summa pars, summa res) of fem. of summus "highest, uppermost," from PIE *sup-mos-, suffixed form of root *uper "over."

The sense development from "highest" to "total number, the whole" probably is via the Roman custom of adding up a stack of figures from the bottom and writing the sum at the top, rather than at the bottom as now (compare the bottom line).

General sense of "numerical quantity" of anything, "a total number" is from late 14c. Meaning "essence of a writing or speech" also is attested from mid-14c. Meaning "aggregate of two or more numbers" is from early 15c.; sense of "arithmetical problem to be solved" is from 1803. Sum-total is attested from late 14c., from Medieval Latin summa totalis.
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number (n.)

c. 1300, "sum, aggregate of a collection," from Anglo-French noumbre, Old French nombre and directly from Latin numerus "a number, quantity," from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take."

Meaning "written symbol or figure of arithmetic value" is from late 14c. Meaning "single (numbered) issue of a magazine" is from 1795. Colloquial sense of "a person or thing" is by 1894. Meaning "dialing combination to reach a particular telephone receiver" is from 1879; hence wrong number (1886). The modern meaning "musical selection" (1885) is from vaudeville theater programs, where acts were marked by a number. Earlier numbers meant "metrical sound or utterance, measured or harmonic expression" (late 15c.) and, from 1580s, "poetical measure, poetry, verse."

Number one "oneself" is from 1704 (mock-Italian form numero uno attested from 1973); the biblical Book of Numbers (c. 1400, Latin Numeri, Greek Arithmoi) is so called because it begins with a census of the Israelites. Childish slang number one and number two for "urination" and "defecation" attested from 1902. Number cruncher is 1966, of machines; 1971 of persons. To get or have (someone's) number "have someone figured out" is attested from 1853; to say one's number is up (1806) meaning "one's time has come" is a reference to the numbers on a lottery, draft, etc. The numbers "illegal lottery" is from 1897, American English.

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pot (n.1)

"deep, circular vessel," from late Old English pott and Old French pot "pot, container, mortar" (also in erotic senses), both from a general Low Germanic (Old Frisian pott, Middle Dutch pot) and Romanic word from Vulgar Latin *pottus, which is of uncertain origin, said by Barnhart and OED to be unconnected to Late Latin potus "drinking cup." Similar Celtic words are said to be borrowed from English and French.

Specifically as a drinking vessel from Middle English. Slang meaning "large sum of money staked on a bet" is attested from 1823; that of "aggregate stakes in a card game" is from 1847, American English.

Pot roast "meat (generally beef) cooked in a pot with little water and allowed to become brown, as if roasted," is from 1881. Pot-plant is by 1816 as "plant grown in a pot." The phrase go to pot "be ruined or wasted" (16c.) suggests cooking, perhaps meat cut up for the pot. In phrases, the pot calls the kettle black-arse (said of one who blames another for what he himself is also guilty of) is from c. 1700; shit or get off the pot is traced by Partridge to Canadian armed forces in World War II. To keep the pot boiling "provide the necessities of life" is from 1650s.

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empire (n.)

mid-14c., "territory subject to an emperor's rule;" in general "realm, dominion;" late 14c. as "authority of an emperor, supreme power in governing; imperial power," in Middle English generally of the Roman Empire.

From Old French empire "rule, authority, kingdom, imperial rule" (11c.), from Latin imperium "a rule, a command; authority, control, power; supreme power, sole dominion; military authority; a dominion, realm," from imperare "to command," from assimilated form of in- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + parare "to order, prepare" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").

Not etymologically restricted to "territory ruled by an emperor," but used that way. The Empire, meaning "the British Empire," first recorded 1772 (it officially devolved into "The Commonwealth" in 1931); before that it meant the Holy Roman Empire (1670s).

[P]roperly an empire is an aggregate of conquered, colonized, or confederated states, each with its own government subordinate or tributary to that of the empire as a whole. [Century Dictionary] 

Empire as the name of a style (especially in reference to a style of dresses with high waistlines) is by 1860, in reference to the affected classicism prevailing in France during the reign of Napoleon I (1804-15). Second Empire is in reference to the rule of Napoleon III of France (1852-70). New York has been called the Empire State since 1834.

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person (n.)
Origin and meaning of person

c. 1200, persoun, "an individual, a human being," from Old French persone "human being, anyone, person" (12c., Modern French personne) and directly from Latin persona "human being, person, personage; a part in a drama, assumed character," originally "a mask, a false face," such as those of wood or clay, covering the whole head, worn by the actors in later Roman theater. OED offers the general 19c. explanation of persona as "related to" Latin personare "to sound through" (i.e. the mask as something spoken through and perhaps amplifying the voice), "but the long o makes a difficulty ...." Klein and Barnhart say it is possibly borrowed from Etruscan phersu "mask." De Vaan has no entry for it.

From mid-13c. as "one of the persons of the Trinity," a theological use in Church Latin of the classical word. Meanings "one's physical being, the living body; external appearance" are from late 14c. In grammar, "one of the relations which a subject may have to a verb," from 1510s. In legal use, "corporate body or corporation other than the state and having rights and duties before the law," 15c., short for person aggregate (c. 1400), person corporate (mid-15c.).

The use of -person to replace -man in compounds for the sake of gender neutrality or to avoid allegations of sexism is recorded by 1971 (in chairperson). In person "by bodily presence" is from 1560s. Person-to-person is attested by 1919, originally of telephone calls.

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language (n.)
Origin and meaning of language

late 13c., langage "words, what is said, conversation, talk," from Old French langage "speech, words, oratory; a tribe, people, nation" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *linguaticum, from Latin lingua "tongue," also "speech, language," from PIE root *dnghu- "tongue."

The -u- is an Anglo-French insertion (see gu-); it was not originally pronounced. Meaning "manner of expression" (vulgar language, etc.) is from c. 1300. Meaning "a language," as English, French, Arabic, etc., is from c. 1300; Century Dictionary (1897) defines this as: "The whole body of uttered signs employed and understood by a given community as expressions of its thoughts; the aggregate of words, and of methods of their combination into sentences, used in a community for communication and record and for carrying on the processes of thought." Boutkan (2005) writes: "In general, language unity exists as long as the language is capable of carrying out common innovations, but this does not preclude profound differences among dialects."

In Middle English the word also was used of dialects:

Mercii, þat beeþ men of myddel Engelond[,] vnderstondeþ bettre þe side langages, norþerne and souþerne, þan norþerne and souþerne vnderstondeþ eiþer oþer. [Bartholomew Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum," c. 1240, translated by John of Trevisa c. 1398]
In oþir inglis was it drawin, And turnid ic haue it til ur awin Language of the norþin lede, Þat can na noþir inglis rede. ["Cursor Mundi," early 14c.]

 Language barrier attested from 1885. 

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