"to make fun of, to banter," 1845 (intransitive), 1852 (transitive), American English; according to "Dictionary of American Slang," the earliest example is capitalized, hence it is probably from the familiar version of the proper name Joshua. Perhaps it was taken as a typical name of an old farmer.
If those dates are correct, the word was in use earlier than the career of U.S. humorist Josh Billings, pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885), who did not begin to write and lecture until 1860; but his popularity after 1869 may have influence that of the word, or even re-coined it, as it does not seem to have been much in print before 1875.
About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment. ["Josh Billings"]
Related: Joshed; joshing.
1955, verbal noun from surf (v.). The surfing craze went nationwide in U.S. from California in 1963. Surf-board is from 1826, originally in a Hawaiian and Polynesian context. Surf music attested from 1963.
It is highly amusing to a stranger to go out into the south part of this town, some day when the sea is rolling in heavily over the reef, and to observe there the evolutions and rapid career of a company of surf-players. The sport is so attractive and full of wild excitement to Hawaiians, and withal so healthful, that I cannot but hope it will be many years before civilization shall look it out of countenance, or make it disreputable to indulge in this manly, though it be dangerous, exercise. [the Rev. Henry T. Cheever, "Life in the Sandwich Islands," New York, 1851]
"The basis of surfing music is a rock and roll bass beat figuration, coupled with a raunch-type weird-sounding lead guitar plus wailing saxes. Surfing music has to sound untrained with a certain rough flavor to appeal to the teenagers." [music publisher Murray Wilson, quoted in Billboard, June 29, 1963]
fem. proper name, Danish shortened form of Katherine. Rare before 1928; a top-10 name for girls born in the U.S. 1951-1968.
The modern pejorative use in reference to a person regarded as ignorant, meddlesome, entitled, racist, or generally negative, is attested by 2005, originally often with reference to meanness or stupidity, and exploded in popularity 2018, with more emphasis on the racism and privilege. Its use as rhetorical shorthand probably was encouraged, if not inspired by, the 2004 movie "Mean Girls" (screenplay by Tina Fey) and by U.S. comedian Dane Cook's 2005 stand-up act, both of which produced memes and Twitter references. Claims that it originated in African-American circles are unsupported.
Beth Harpaz's 2001 book "Girls in the Van," about Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign, reports that Clinton's assistants Karen Dunn and Karen Finney were known as The Karens. Finney went on to a career as a commentator, and some of the earliest abstract uses of Karen in the late 2000s are as the personification of a liberal do-gooder.
1702; plural of humanity (n.), which had been used in English from late 15c. in a sense "class of studies concerned with human culture" (opposed variously and at different times to divinity or sciences). Latin literae humaniores, the "more human studies" (literally "letters") are fondly believed to have been so called because they were those branches of literature (ancient classics, rhetoric, poetry) which tended to humanize or refine by their influence, but the distinction was rather of secular topics as opposed to divine ones (literae divinae).
From the late Middle Ages, the singular word humanity served to distinguish classical studies from natural sciences on one side and sacred studies (divinity) on the other side. ... The term's modern career is not well charted. But by the eighteenth century humanity in its academic sense seems to have fallen out of widespread use, except in Scottish universities (where it meant the study of Latin). Its revival as a plural in the course of the following century apparently arose from a need for a label for the multiple new 'liberal studies' or 'culture studies' entering university curricula. [James Turner, "Philology," 2014]
c. 1500, "times gone by, the time that has preceded the present," from past (adj.). Meaning "a past life, career, or history" is attested by 1836.
The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet,
The only sweet thing that is not also fleet.
[Edward Thomas, from "Early one morning"]
AMERICA does not repel the past, or what it has produced under its forms or amid other politics or the idea of castes or the old religions .... accepts the lesson with calmness ... is not so impatient as has been supposed that the slough still sticks to opinions and manners and literature while the life which served its requirements has passed into the new life of the new forms ... perceives that the corpse is slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms of the house ... perceives that it waits a little while in the door ... that it was fittest for its days ... that its action has descended to the stalwart and wellshaped heir who approaches ... and that he shall be fittest for his days. [Whitman, opening of the preface to "Leaves of Grass," 1855]
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [George Santayana, "The Life of Reason," 1905]
[T]he past cannot be presented; we cannot know what we are not. [Thoreau]
The past is never dead. It's not even past. [Faulkner, "Requiem for a Nun," 1950]
late 14c., "relation of incidents" (true or false), from Old French estoire, estorie "story; chronicle, history" (12c., Modern French histoire), from Latin historia "narrative of past events, account, tale, story," from Greek historia "a learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of one's inquiries; knowledge, account, historical account, record, narrative," from historein "be witness or expert; give testimony, recount; find out, search, inquire," and histōr "knowing, expert; witness," both ultimately from PIE *wid-tor-, from root *weid- "to see," hence "to know."
It is thus related to Greek idein "to see," and to eidenai "to know." Beekes writes of histōr that "The word itself, but especially the derivations ... that arose in Ionic, have spread over the Hellenic and Hellenistic world together with Ionic science and philosophy."
In Middle English, not differentiated from story (n.1); sense of "narrative record of past events" probably first attested late 15c. Meaning "the recorded events of the past" is from late 15c. As a branch of knowledge, from late 15c. Meaning "a historical play or drama" is from 1590s. Sense of "systematic account (without reference to time) of a set of natural phenomena" (1560s) is now obsolete except in natural history (as late as the 1880s published county histories in the U.S. routinely included natural history chapters, with lists of birds and fishes and illustrations of local slugs and freshwater clams). Meaning "an eventful career, a past worthy of note" (a woman with a history) is from 1852. To make history "be notably engaged in public events" is from 1862.
History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us. [Johan Huizinga, "The Task of the Cultural Historian"]
History is more or less bunk [Henry Ford, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1916]
One difference between history and imaginative literature ... is that history neither anticipates nor satisfies our curiosity, whereas literature does. [Guy Davenport, "Wheel Ruts," 1996]