Etymology
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ceremony (n.)

late 14c., cerymonye, "a religious observance, a solemn rite," from Old French ceremonie and directly from Medieval Latin ceremonia, from Latin caerimonia "holiness, sacredness; awe; reverent rite, sacred ceremony," an obscure word, possibly of Etruscan origin, or a reference to the ancient rites performed by the Etruscan pontiffs at Caere, near Rome.

Introduced in English by Wyclif. Also from late 14c. as "a conventional usage of politeness, formality." Disparaging sense of "mere formality" is by 1550s.

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league (n.2)
itinerary unit in medieval England, distance of about three statute miles, late 14c., ultimately from Late Latin leuga (source also of French lieue, Spanish legua, Italian lega), which is said by Roman writers to be from Gaulish. A vague measure (perhaps originally an hour's hike), in England it was a conventional, not a legal measure, and in English it is found more often in poetic than in practical writing.
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macaroon (n.)

1610s, "small sweet cake made of ground almonds (instead of flour) and whites of eggs," from French macaron (16c.), from dialectal Italian maccarone, the name of a kind of pasty food made of flour, cheese, and butter (see macaroni). The French meaning is said to have been introduced 1552 by Rabelais. The -oon ending was conventional in 15c.-17c. English to add emphasis to borrowings of French nouns ending in stressed -on.

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punctuate (v.)

in reference to writing and printing, "to indicate pauses or stops by conventional signs" called points or marks of punctuation, 1818, probably a back-formation from punctuation. Hence, figuratively, "interrupt at intervals" (1833); "to emphasize by some significant or forceful action" (1883). Related: Punctuated; punctuating. An earlier, rare or isolated use, of the word in the sense of "to point out" is attested from 1630s, from Medieval Latin punctuatus, past participle of punctuare, from Latin punctus.


 

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charm (v.)

c. 1300, "to recite or cast a magic spell," from Old French charmer (13c.) "to enchant, to fill (someone) with desire (for something); to protect, cure, treat; to maltreat, harm," from Late Latin carminare, from Latin carmen "song, verse, enchantment, religious formula" (see charm (n.)). In Old French used alike of magical and non-magical activity. In English, "to win over by treating pleasingly, delight" from mid-15c.; weaker sense of "be highly pleasing" is by early 18c. Charmed (short for I am charmed) as a conventional reply to a greeting or meeting is attested by 1825.

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solecism (n.)

"gross grammatical error" (as I done it for I did it); loosely "a small blunder in speech; any absurdity or incongruity, a violation of the conventional rules of society," 1570s, from French solécisme (16c.), from Latin soloecismus "mistake in speaking or writing," from Greek soloikismos "a speaking (Greek) incorrectly," from soloikos "speaking incorrectly, using provincialisms," also "awkward or rude in manners," said to have meant originally "speaking like the people of Soloi," a Greek colony in Cilicia (modern Mezitli in Turkey), whose dialect the Athenians considered barbarous. Related: Solecize; solecist; solecistic; solecistical.

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massive (adj.)

c. 1400, massif, "forming or consisting of a large mass, having great size and weight or solidity," from Old French massif "bulky, solid," from masse "lump" (see mass (n.1)). Of immaterial things, "substantial, great or imposing in scale," 1580s. Related: Massively; massiveness.

U.S. Cold War deterrent strategy of massive retaliation "threat of using thermonuclear weapons in response to aggression against the United States or its allies by the Soviet Union," whether nuclear or conventional, was introduced by Secretary of State J.F. Dulles in a speech on Jan. 12, 1954.

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writing (n.)

Old English writing "action of forming letters and characters," verbal noun from write (v.).

From c. 1200 as "text; body of poetry, narrative, etc. in written form; written material." From c. 1300 as "a particular text;" mid-14c. as "act of composing a written text." From late 14c. as "craft of writing;" also "one's own handwriting or penmanship." Also late 14c. in the broad sense of "system of human intercommunication by means of conventional visible marks." Also late 14c. as "act of sending a letter; a letter, message." Writing-desk is from 1610s.

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middlebrow 

1911 (adj.) "having average or moderate cultural interest;" 1912 (n.) "person of average or moderate cultural interests," from middle (adj.) + brow (compare highbrow, lowbrow).

[T]here is an alarmingly wide chasm, I might almost say a vacuum, between the high-brow, who considers reading either as a trade or as a form of intellectual wrestling, and the low-brow, who is merely seeking for gross thrills. It is to be hoped that culture will soon be democratized through some less conventional system of education, giving rise to a new type that might be called the middle-brow, who will consider books as a source of intellectual enjoyment. ["The Nation," Jan, 25, 1912]
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marble (v.)

1590s (implied in marbled), "to give (something) the veined and clouded appearance of marble," from marble (n.). Of meat with "veins" of fat, from 1770. Of books, "having the end papers or edges colored or stained in a conventional imitation of marble," 1670s. Related: Marbling.

It is done in a trough of water covered by a layer of gum tragacanth mixed with a little ox-gall. The fluid colors are sprinkled or spattered over this layer with a brush in the arrangement intended for use or in a manner which will admit of producing the desired figuration by drawing a brass comb over the surface. The dampened paper, held by the ends, is lightly passed in a curve over this surface, taking up the colors, and finished by sizing and burnishing or calendering. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
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