island in the Greater Antilles group of the West Indies, Spanish, literally "rich harbor;" see port (n.1) + rich (adj.). The name was given in 1493 by Christopher Columbus to the large bay on the north side of the island; he called the island itself San Juan. Over time the name of the bay became the name of the island and the name of the island was taken by the town that grew up at the bay. Often spelled Porto Rico in 19c.; the current spelling was made official in 1932.
1867, American English, originally Kuklux Klan, a made-up name, supposedly from Greek kuklos, kyklos "circle" (see cycle (n.)) + English clan. Originally an organization of former Confederate officers and soldiers, it was put down by the U.S. military in the 1870s. Revived 1915 as a national racist Protestant fraternal organization, it grew to prominence but fractured in the 1930s. It had a smaller national revival 1950s as an anti-civil rights group, later with anti-government leanings. In late 19c. often simply Kuklux.
also Laocoön name of a Trojan priest of Apollo, from Latin Laocoon, from Greek Laukoun, from laos "people" (see lay (adj.)) + koeo "I mark, perceive."
Laocoön, n. A famous piece of antique sculpture representing a priest of that time and his two sons in the folds of two enormous serpents. The skill and diligence with which the old man and lads support the serpents and keep them up in their work have been justly regarded as one of the noblest artistic illustrations of the mastery of human intelligence over brute inertia. [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
name of a region in north central India, from Sanskrit gondavana, from vana "forest" + Gonda, Sanskrit name of a Dravidian people, said to mean literally "fleshy navel, outie belly-button."
The name was extended by geologists to a series of sedimentary rocks found there (1873), then to identical rocks in other places. Because the fossils found in this series were used by geologists to reconstruct the map of the supercontinent which broke up into the modern southern continents of the globe about 180 million years ago, this was called Gondwanaland (1896), from German, where it was coined by German geologist Eduard Suess in 1885.
1930s, from Dempster-Dumpster trash-hauling mechanism, patented by Dempster Brothers and probably named from dump (v.) with the surname in mind. Dumpster diving attested from 1979. Dumpster fire, in figurative reference to a situation that is calamitous, foul, and unfixable (and possibly not worth the trouble of attempting to fix) or a person perceived as a walking cascade of failures and bad decisions, emerged into popularity in 2015, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The surname (late 13c.) is a fem. form (but, like Baxter, probably used also of men) of Deemer, a North of England and Manx term for "a judge;" see deem (v.).
region near Los Angeles, named for the ranch that once stood there, which was named by Deida Wilcox, wife of Horace H. Wilcox, Kansas City real estate man, when they moved there in 1886. They began selling off building lots in 1891 and the village was incorporated in 1903. Once a quiet farming community, by 1910 barns were being converted into movie studios. The name was used generically for "American movies" from 1926, three years after the giant sign was set up, originally reading Hollywoodland, another real estate developer's promotion.
fem. proper name, fem. of Harry.
We think that gentlemen lose a particle of their respect for young ladies who allow their names to be abbreviated into such cognomens as Kate, Madge, Bess, Nell, &c. Surely it is more lady-like to be called Catharine, Margaret, Eliza, or Ellen. We have heard the beautiful name Virginia degraded into Jinny; and Harriet called Hatty, or even Hadge. [Eliza Leslie, "Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book," Philadelphia, 1839]
Nautical slang Harriet Lane "preserved meat" (1896) is the name of the victim of a notorious murder in which it was alleged the killer chopped up her body.
masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.
It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
a name of the moon goddess, equivalent to Latin Luna, from Greek selēnē "the moon; name of the moon goddess," related to selas "light, brightness, bright flame, flash of an eye." This is reconstructed to be from PIE root *swel- (2) "to shine, beam" (source also of Sanskrit svargah "heaven," Lithuanian svilti "to singe," Old English swelan "to be burnt up," Middle Low German swelan "to smolder") and to be related to swelter and sultry.
Daughter of Hyperion and Theia, sister of Helios. Related: Selenian "of or pertaining to the moon as a world and its supposed inhabitants," 1660s. Another early word for "moon-man, supposed inhabitant of the moon" is selenite (1640s); Greek had selēnitai "moon-dwellers, the men in the moon" (Lucian).
Mexican province, briefly an independent nation and now a U.S. state, from Spanish Texas, Tejas, earlier pronounced "ta-shas," originally an ethnic name, from Caddo (eastern Texas Indian tribe) taysha "friends, allies," written by the Spanish as a plural. Related: Texan. The alternative form Texian is attested from 1835 and was the prevailing form in U.S. newspapers before 1844.
The baseball Texas-leaguer "ball popped up just over the head of the infielders and falling too close for outfielders to catch" is recorded from 1905, named for the minor league that operated in Texas from 1902 (one theory is that outfielders played unusually deep in Texas because hit balls bounced hard off the hard, sun-baked ground).