major native tribe or confederation, originally of what is now the southeastern U.S., 1725, named for creek, the geographical feature, and abbreviated from Ochese Creek Indians, from the place in Georgia (now Ocmulgee River) where the English first encountered them. The native name is Muskogee, a word of uncertain origin.
American English name for the seven-star asterism (known in England as the plough; see Charles's Wain) in the constellation Ursa Major, 1845; attested 1833 as simply the Dipper (sometimes Great Dipper, its companion constellation always being the Little Dipper). See dipper.
also school-marm, "female school teacher," 1834, American English colloquial, in the popular countrified humor writing of "Major Jack Downing" of Maine (Seba Smith); a variant of school-ma'am (1828), from school (n.1) + ma'am. See R. Used figuratively from 1887 in reference to patronizing and priggish instruction.
School-mistress "woman who teaches in a school" is attested from c. 1500 (mid-14c. as a surname, scole-maistres). School-dame (1650s) was generally "an old woman who keeps a school for small children."
in music, "third note of the diatonic scale" (the one which determines whether the scale is major or minor), 1753, from Italian mediante, from Late Latin mediantem (nominative medians) "dividing in the middle," present participle of mediare "to be in the middle," from Latin medius "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle"). So called from being midway between the tonic and the dominant.
"principal officer of a municipality, chief magistrate of a city or borough," c. 1300, mair, meir (mid-13c. as a surname), from Old French maire "head of a city or town government" (13c.), originally "greater, superior" (adj.), from Latin maior, major, comparative of magnus "great, large, big" (of size), "abundant" (of quantity), "great, considerable" (of value), "strong, powerful" (of force); of persons, "elder, aged," also, figuratively, "great, mighty, grand, important," from PIE *mag-no-, from root *meg- "great."
Mayoress is attested from late 15c. as "the wife of a mayor;" by 1863 as "woman holding the office of mayor."
early 14c., Menour, "a Franciscan," from Latin Fratres Minores "lesser brethren," name chosen by the order's founder, St. Francis, for the sake of humility; see minor (adj.). From c. 1400 as "minor premise of a syllogism." From 1610s as "person of either sex who is under legal age for the performance of certain acts" (Latin used minores (plural) for "the young"). Musical sense is from 1797 (see the adjective). Academic meaning "secondary subject of study, subject of study with fewer credits than a major" is from 1890; as a verb in this sense by 1905.
member of a major U.S. street gang, founded in South Central Los Angeles 1971, the name supposedly originally was cribs, partly a reference to the youth of most of the original members, and when they began carrying "pimp canes" it was altered to Crip, which has been attested in U.S. slang as a shortening of cripple (n.) since 1918.
"the beaten dog in a fight," 1887, from under + dog (n.). Compare top dog "dominant person in a situation or hierarchy" (see top (adj.)). Its opposite, overdog, is attested by 1908.
I'm a poor underdog
But tonight I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.
[from "Canis Major," Robert Frost, 1928]
1590s, "a constellation, a group of stars," from Greek asterismos "a marking with stars," from aster "star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star"). Originally any grouping of stars, whether a constellation or not; in modern use usually the latter. The "Big Dipper" is an asterism; Ursa Major is the constellation which contains it. Other examples are the "Summer Triangle," "the sickle" of Leo, "the teapot" of Sagittarius.
1778, "slope," from French rampe, a back-formation from Old French verb ramper "to climb, scale, mount;" see ramp (v.). Meaning "road on or off a major highway" is from 1952, American English. Older sense (now obsolete or archaic) was "a leap, spring, bound" (1670s); earlier still, "a climbing plant" (late 15c.).