capital of Italy; seat of an ancient republic and empire; city of the Papacy, Old English, from Old French Rome, from Latin Roma, a word of uncertain origin. "The original Roma quadrata was the fortified enclosure on the Palatine hill," according to Tucker, who finds "no probability" in derivation from *sreu- "flow," and suggests the name is "most probably" from *urobsma (urbs, robur) and otherwise, "but less likely" from *urosma "hill" (compare Sanskrit varsman- "height, point," Lithuanian viršus "upper"). Another suggestion [Klein] is that it is from Etruscan (compare Rumon, former name of Tiber River).
Common in proverbs, such as Rome was not buylt in one daye (1540s); for when a man doth to Rome come, he must do as there is done (1590s); All roads lead to Rome (1795).
Biblical prophet (wicked, but not false) whose story is told in Numbers xxii-xxiv; figurative of "one who makes profession of religion for the sake of gain" from 1640s. Balaam's ass speaks in a human voice in Numbers xxii ("And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay."). In old newspaper jargon Balaam came to be used for paragraphs regarding marvelous or incredible events, used to fill out short columns (1826). The name is of uncertain origin.
"of, pertaining to, or resembling in any way Prometheus," 1580s, from Prometheus (q.v.) + -an. Before the introduction of modern matches (see lucifer), promethean was the name given (1830) to small glass tubes full of sulphuric acid, surrounded by an inflammable mixture, which ignited when pressed and afforded a ready light. Related: Prometheans.
Prometheans are small glass bulbs, filled with concentrated sulphuric acid, and hermetically sealed, and surrounded with a mixture of inflammable materials, amongst which the chlorate of potash forms one ; and the whole being again inclosed or surrounded with paper, also rendered still more inflammable by means of resinous matters. Upon pinching the end containing the glass bulb, between the jaws of a pair of pliers, the bulb breaks, and the sulphuric acid instantly kindles the surrounding materials. ["Arcana of Science and Art," London, 1830]
1809, a collection of sculptures and marbles (especially from the frieze of the Parthenon) brought from Greece to England and sold to the British government by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (1766-1841).
The removal of the marbles, many of which were torn violently from their original positions upon the Parthenon, to the further damage of that monument, was in itself an act of vandalism; but their transportation to England at a time when Greece was accessible with difficulty opened the eyes of the world to the preeminence of Greek work. It was one of the first steps toward securing an accurate knowledge of Hellenic ideals, and has thus influenced contemporary civilization. [Century Dictionary]
The place is in Scotland, literally "little Ireland," from Ealg, an early Gaelic name for Ireland, with diminutive suffix -in. "The name would have denoted a colony of Scots who had emigrated here from Ireland ..." [Room].
"religious system revealed by Muhammad," 1816, from Arabic islam, literally "submission" (to the will of God), from root of aslama "he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted," causative conjunction of salima "he was safe," and related to salam "peace."
... Islam is the only major religion, along with Buddhism (if we consider the name of the religion to come from Budd, the Divine Intellect, and not the Buddha), whose name is not related to a person or ethnic group, but to the central idea of the religion. ["The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity," Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2002]
Earlier English names for the faith include Mahometry (late 15c.), Muhammadism (1610s), Islamism (1747), and Ismaelism (c. 1600; see Ismailite). The Ismailites were not numerous in Islam, but among them were the powerful Fatimid dynasty in Egypt and the Assassins, both of which loomed large in European imagination. This use also is in part from Ishmaelite, a name formerly given (especially by Jews) to Arabs, as descendants of Ishmael (q.v.).
It was the typical name in the North and the Northern armies for a Confederate soldier during the American Civil War, and the Southern soldiers were, collectively Johnnies, generically Johnny Reb. In the Mediterranean, it was a typical name for an Englishman by c. 1800. In the Crimean War it became the typical name among the English for "a Turk" (also Johnny Turk), later it was extended to Arabs; by World War II the Arabs were using Johnny as the typical name for "a British man"). Johnny Crapaud as a derogatory generic name for a Frenchman or France is from 1818.
Johnny-come-lately "a new arrival" first attested 1839. Johnny-on-the-spot is from 1896. Johnny-jump-up as an American English name for the pansy is from 1837. Johnny-cocks, a colloquial name for the early purple orchid (Orchis mascula) is attested from 1883.
1507, "the western hemisphere, North and South America," in Cartographer Martin Waldseemüller's treatise "Cosmographiae Introductio," from Modern Latin Americanus, traditionally after Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) who made two trips to the New World as a navigator and claimed to have discovered it. His published works put forward the idea that it was a new continent, and he was first to call it Novus Mundus "New World." Amerigo is more easily Latinized than Vespucci (Latin Vesputius, which might have yielded place-name Vesputia). The sense in English naturally was restricted toward the British colonies, then the United States.
It is a thousand pities that the puny witticisms of a few professional objectors should have the power to prevent, even for a year, the adoption of a name for our country. At present we have, clearly, none. There should be no hesitation about "Appalachia." In the first place, it is distinctive. "America" is not, and can never be made so. We may legislate as much as we please, and assume for our country whatever name we think right — but to use it will be no name, to any purpose for which a name is needed, unless we can take it away from the regions which employ it at present. South America is "America," and will insist upon remaining so. [Edgar Allan Poe, "Marginalia," in Graham's Magazine, Philadelphia, December 1846]
FREDONIA, FREDONIAN, FREDE, FREDISH, &c. &c. These extraordinary words, which have been deservedly ridiculed here as well as in England, were proposed sometime ago, and countenanced by two or three individuals, as names for the territory and people of the United States. The general term American is now commonly understood (at least in all places where the English language is spoken,) to mean an inhabitant of the United States; and is so employed, except where unusual precision of language is required. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary, or Collection of Words and Phrases Which Have Been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]
The man's name Amerigo is Germanic, said to derive from Gothic Amalrich, literally "work-ruler." The Old English form of the name has come down as surnames Emmerich, Emery, etc. The Italian fem. form merged into Amelia.
Colloquial pronunciation "Ameri-kay," not uncommon 19c., goes back to at least 1643 and a poem that rhymed the word with away. Amerika "U.S. society viewed as racist, fascist, oppressive, etc." is attested from 1969; the spelling is German but it also might suggest the KKK.
masc. proper name, from Old High German Erchanbald, literally "genuine-bold," from erchan "genuine" + bald (see bold). Archie, British World War I military slang for "German anti-aircraft fire" or the guns that produce it (1915) is said in contemporary sources to be from the airmen dodging hostile fire and thinking of the refrain of a then-popular music hall song.
It's no use me denying facts, I'm henpecked, you can see!
'Twas on our wedding day my wife commenced to peck at me
The wedding breakfast over, I said, "We'll start off today
Upon our honeymoon."
Then she yelled, "What! waste time that way?"
[chorus] "Archibald, certainly not!
Get back to work at once, sir, like a shot.
When single you could waste time spooning
But lose work now for honeymooning!
Archibald, certainly not!"
[John L. St. John & Alfred Glover, "Archibald, Certainly Not"]
Middle English Saracene, Sarcene, Sarazyn, Sarasine, "a Turk; an Arab; a Muslim," from Old English (in translations from Latin), from Old French Saracin, Sarrasine or Medieval Latin Saracenus, from Greek sarakenos. This usually is said to be from Arabic sharquiyin, accusative plural of sharqiy "eastern," from sharq "east, sunrise," but this is not certain. In medieval times the name was associated with that of Biblical Sarah (q.v.).
Peple þat cleped hem self Saracenys, as þogh þey were i-come of Sarra [Ranulph Higden’s "Polychronicon," mid-14c., John Trevisa's translation, 1380s ]
It was the name Greeks and Romans gave to the nomads of the Syrian and Arabian deserts and the inhabitants of Arabia Felix, in the West it took on a sense of "Middle Eastern Muslim" from the Crusades. It also could be applied to any non-Christian people against whom a crusade was preached (the pagan Lithuanians), and in Middle English it was used generally for "one who is not a Christian or Jew; heathen, pagan" (mid-13c.). From c. 1300 as an adjective. Related: Saracenic; Sarcenism ("Islam"), and compare sarsen. Sarsinrie, "the Saracen people or country," is attested in mid-15c.
first planet discovered that was not known in ancient times, named for the god of Heaven, husband of Gaia, the Earth, from Latin Uranus, from Greek Ouranos literally "heaven, the sky;" in Greek cosmology, the god who personifies the heavens, father of the titans.
The planet was discovered and identified as such in 1781 by Sir William Herschel (it had been observed before, but mistaken for a star; in 1690 John Flamsteed cataloged it as 34 Tauri); Herschel proposed calling it Georgium Sidus, literally "George's Star," in honour of his patron, King George III of England.
I cannot but wish to take this opportunity of expressing my sense of gratitude, by giving the name of Georgium Sidus ... to a star which (with respect to us) first began to shine under His auspicious reign. [Sir William Herschel, 1783]
The planet was known in English in 1780s as the Georgian Planet; French astronomers began calling Herschel, and ultimately German astronomer Johann Bode proposed Uranus as in conformity with other planet names. However, the name didn't come into common usage until c. 1850.