Usually specifically of pardons or offers of pardon for a class of offenses against a government. As a verb from 1809. The non-governmental organization Amnesty International was founded 1961 to call attention to the plight of prisoners of conscience, as Appeal for Amnesty; the name was changed 1963.
"perplex or embarrass by suddenly exciting the conscience, discomfit, make ashamed," late 14c., earlier "lose one's composure, be upset" (early 14c.), from Old French esbaiss-, present stem of esbaer "lose one's composure, be startled, be stunned."
Originally, to put to confusion from any strong emotion, whether of fear, of wonder, shame, or admiration, but restricted in modern times to effect of shame. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
The first element is es "out" (from Latin ex; see ex-). The second may be ba(y)er "to be open, gape" (if the notion is "gaping with astonishment"), possibly ultimately imitative of opening the lips. Middle English Compendium also compares Old French abaissier "bow, diminish, lower oneself" (source of abase). Related: Abashed; abashing. Bashful is a 16c. derivative.
Middle English, from Old English cwealm, cwelm (West Saxon) "death, murder, slaughter; disaster; widespread death by plague, pestilence or illness affecting humans or livestock; torment," utcualm (Anglian) "utter destruction," probably related to cwellan "to kill, murder, execute," cwelan "to die" (see quell).
The sense softened to "feeling of faintness" (1520s); the figurative meaning "uneasiness, doubt" is from 1550s; that of "a scruple of conscience" is from 1640s.
Evidence of a direct path from the Old English and Middle English senses (now obsolete) to the modern senses is wanting (OED 2nd edition has them as separate entries), and the old word seems to have become rare after c. 1400. But it is plausible, via the notion of "fit of sickness." The other suggested etymology, less satisfying, is to take the "fit of uneasiness" sense from Dutch kwalm "steam, vapor, mist" (cognate with German Qualm "smoke, vapor, stupor"), which also might be ultimately from the same Germanic root as quell.
"mental capacity," Old English wit, witt, more commonly gewit "understanding, intellect, sense; knowledge, consciousness, conscience," from Proto-Germanic *wit- (source also of Old Saxon wit, Old Norse vit, Danish vid, Swedish vett, Old Frisian wit, Old High German wizzi "knowledge, understanding, intelligence, mind," German Witz "wit, witticism, joke," Gothic unwiti "ignorance"), from PIE root *weid- "to see," metaphorically "to know." Related to Old English witan "to know" (source of wit (v.)).
Meaning "ability to connect ideas and express them in an amusing way" is first recorded 1540s; that of "person of wit or learning" is from late 15c. For nuances of usage, see humor (n.). Witjar was old slang (18c.) for "head, skull." Witling (1690s) was "a pretender to wit."
A witty saying proves nothing. [Voltaire, Diner du Comte de Boulainvilliers]
Wit ought to be five or six degrees above the ideas that form the intelligence of an audience. [Stendhal, "Life of Henry Brulard"]
fem. proper name (c. 1300), from Old French Margaret (French Marguerite), from Late Latin Margarita, female name, literally "pearl," from Greek margaritēs (lithos) "pearl," which is of unknown origin.
OED writes, "probably adopted from some Oriental language" [OED]. Beekes writes, "An oriental loanword, mostly assumed to be from Iranian" and cites Middle Persian marvarit "pearl." He adds, "The older view" derives it from Sanskrit manjari "pearl; flowering bead," "but the late and rare occurrence of both the Skt. and Greek form is no support for a direct identification." He also reports a suggested origin in Iranian *mrga-ahri-ita- "born from the shell of a bird" = "oyster."
Arabic marjan probably is from Greek, via Syraic marganitha. In Germanic languages the word was widely perverted by folk-etymology, for example Old English meregrot, which has been altered as if it meant literally "sea-pebble." The word was used figuratively in Middle English for "that which is precious or excellent, a priceless quality or attribute." Derk margaryte was "a corrupted conscience."
1620, "the action of throwing out of a window," from Latin fenestra "window." A word invented for one incident: the "Defenestration of Prague," May 21, 1618, when two Catholic deputies to the Bohemian national assembly and a secretary were tossed out the window of the castle of Hradschin by Protestant radicals (the pair landed in a trash heap and survived). It marked the start of the Thirty Years' War.
The extraordinary chance which had saved three lives was a holy miracle or a comic accident according to the religion of the beholder .... Murder or no murder, the coup d'état was complete, and since Thurn had overruled many of his supporters in demanding death it was well for the conscience of his allies that a pile of mouldering filth in the courtyard of the Hradschin had made soft falling for the governors. [Cicely Veronica Wedgwood, "The Thirty Years War," 1938]
Some linguists link fenestra with Greek verb phainein "to show;" others see in it an Etruscan borrowing, based on the suffix -(s)tra, as in Latin loan-words aplustre "the carved stern of a ship with its ornaments," genista "the plant broom," lanista "trainer of gladiators." Related: Defenestrate (1915); defenestrated (1620).
"being but a single unit or individual; being a single person, thing, etc. of the class mentioned;" as a pronoun, "a single person or thing, an individual, somebody;" as a noun, "the first or lowest of the cardinal numerals; single in kind, the same; the first whole number, consisting of a single unit; unity; the symbol representing one or unity;" c. 1200, from Old English an (adjective, pronoun, noun) "one," from Proto-Germanic *ainaz (source also of Old Norse einn, Danish een, Old Frisian an, Dutch een, German ein, Gothic ains), from PIE root *oi-no- "one, unique."
Originally pronounced as it still is in only, atone, alone, and in dialectal good 'un, young 'un, etc.; the now-standard pronunciation "wun" began c. 14c. in southwest and west England (Tyndale, a Gloucester man, spells it won in his Bible translation), and it began to be general 18c. Its use as indefinite pronoun was influenced by unrelated French on and Latin homo.
Before the name of a person, indicating "hitherto unknown" or not known to the speaker.
One and only "sweetheart" is from 1906. Slang one-arm bandit for a type of slot machine is recorded by 1938. One-night stand is 1880 in performance sense; 1963 in sexual sense. One of the boys "ordinary amiable fellow" is from 1893. One-track mind "mind capable of only one line of thought or action" is by 1915. Drinking expression one for the road is from 1950 (as a song title). One-man band is by 1909 in a literal sense, 1914 figurative. One of those things "unpredictable occurrence" is from 1934.
The conscience clause is one of the weaknesses of the Bill. It is one of those things which tend to create the bitterness. The conscience clause is one of those things which are inseparable from a Bill like this. It is one of those things which divides the sheep from the goats—members can pick them out for themselves—in the playground, in the school. ["Religious Exercises in School Bills," New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Aug. 13, 1926]
"inferior or petty attorney employed in small or mean business," or, as Henley has it, "An attorney of the baser sort: a sharking lawyer," 1560s, often treated as two words or hyphenated. The first is petty; the second element is probably provincial fogger "a huckster; a cheat, one who engages in mean or disreputable practices," which is perhaps from obsolete Dutch focker, from Flemish focken "to cheat," or from Middle English fugger; both words seem to be from Fugger the name of the renowned family of merchants and financiers of 15c.-16c. Augsburg. In German, Flemish and Dutch, the surname became a word for "monopolist, rich man, usurer."
A 'petty Fugger' would mean one who on a small scale practices the dishonourable devices for gain popularly attributed to great financiers; it seems possible that the phrase 'petty fogger of the law,' applied in this sense to some notorious person, may have caught the popular fancy. [OED first edition]
However, OED also calls attention to pettifactor "legal agent who undertakes small cases" (1580s), which, though attested slightly later, might be the source of this. Related: Pettifoggery.
A pettie fogger, a silly aduocate or lawyer, rather a trouble-Toune, hauing neither law nor conscience. [Minsheu, "Guide to Tongues," 1627]
early 14c., equite, "quality of being equal or fair, impartiality;" late 14c., "that which is equally right or just to all concerned," from Old French equite (13c.), from Latin aequitatem (nominative aequitas) "the uniform relation of one thing to others, equality, conformity, symmetry;" also "just or equitable conduct toward others," from aequus "even, just, equal" (see equal (adj.)).
In law, "fairness in the adjustment of conflicting interests; the settlement of controversies by the dictates of good conscience" (natural equity), late 14c., from Roman naturalis aequitas, the general principles of justice which corrected or supplemented the legal codes ("governed by benevolence, while justitia yields to another only what is strictly due," Lewis & Short).
Hence, in England and U.S., also "justice based on such principles, the system of jurisprudence as to what is fair and what is not," and "a court or jurisdiction in which these doctrines are applied" (1590s).
The Latin word also meant "a quiet, tranquil state of mind; moderation, evenness of temper."
The L. æquitas was somewhat influenced in meaning by being adopted as the ordinary rendering of Gr. ἐπιεικεια ...,which meant reasonableness and moderation in the exercise of one's rights, and the disposition to avoid insisting on them too rigorously. [OED]
From 1620s as "an equitable right, that to which one is justly entitled," especially a right recognized by courts of equity that is not provided for in the common or statute law (such as certain property rights of wives). Equities, "the ordinary shares of a limited company," carrying certain rights to assets and profits, is attested by 1904.
By 1980s it had taken on extended senses in sociology, e.g.: "allocating benefits in various policy fields in such a way as to provide groups, persons, and places with at least a minimum level of benefits so as to satisfy basic needs" [Stuart S. Nagel, "Equity as a Policy Goal," 1983].
1821, in a German context, "a hangover," American English colloquial, from German Katzenjammer "hangover" (18c.), also figuratively, in colloquial use, "remorse of conscience, vow to mend one's ways," literally "wailing of cats, misery of cats," from katzen, combining form of katze "cat" (see cat (n.)) + jammer "distress, wailing" (see yammer (v.)).
Pleasure can intoxicate, passion can inebriate, success can make you quite as drunk as champagne. The waking from these several stages of delights will bring the same result--Katzenjammer. In English you would call it reaction; but whole pages of English cannot express the sick, empty, weary, vacant feeling which is so concisely contained within these four German syllables. ["Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine," August 1884]
Katzenjammer Kids "spectacularly naughty children" is from the title of the popular newspaper comic strip (based on the German Max und Moritz stories) first drawn by German-born U.S. comic strip artist Rudolph Dirks (1877-1968) in 1897 for the "New York Journal." Hence, katzenjammer in the sense "any unpleasant reaction" (1897). The strip was temporarily de-Germanized during World War I:
"THE SHENANIGAN KIDS" is the new American name for the original "Katzenjammer Kids." Although the original name and idea were pure Holland Dutch, some people may have had the mistaken impression that they were of Germanic origin, and hence the change. It is the same splendid comic as in the past. [International Feature Service advertisement in "Editor & Publisher," July 6, 1918]