"day on which a memorial is made," by 1819, of any anniversary date, especially a religious anniversary; see memorial (adj.). As a specific end-of-May holiday commemorating U.S. war dead, it began informally in the late 1860s and originally commemorated the Northern soldiers killed in the Civil War. It was officially so called by 1869 among veterans' organizations, but Decoration Day also was used. The Grand Army of the Republic, the main veterans' organization in the North, officially designated it Memorial Day by resolution in 1882:
That the Commander-in-Chief be requested to issue a General Order calling the attention of the officers and members of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the people at large, to the fact that the proper designation of May 30th is Memorial Day and to request that it may be always so called. [Grand Army Blue Book, Philadelphia, 1884]
The South, however, had its own Confederate Memorial Day, and there was some grumbling about the apparent appropriation of the name.
The word "Memorial" was adopted by the Maryland Confederates shortly after the war, and has been generally used throughout the South. It is distinctively Confederate in its origin and use, and I would suggest to all Confederate societies to adhere to it. The Federals' annual day of observance is known as "Decoration Day," having been made so by an act of Congress, and the 30th day of May named as the date. In Maryland there is annually a Decoration Day and a Memorial Day. The two words are expressive not only of the nature of the observance, but also of the people who participate therein. [Confederate Veteran, November 1893]
1897, "scenery and furnishings," from French décor (18c.), back-formation from décorer "to decorate" (14c.), from Latin decorare "to decorate, adorn, embellish, beautify," from decus (genitive decoris) "an ornament," from PIE root *dek- "to take, accept" (on the notion of "to add grace"). The modern word thus duplicates Latin decor "beauty, elegance, charm, grace, ornament."
Originally in English in reference to theater stages; home-decor is by 1900 in reference to copies of old masters paintings used as home decoration; general use for "decorations and furnishings of a room, building, etc." is by 1926.
also shmuck, "contemptible person," 1892, from East Yiddish shmok, literally "penis," probably from Old Polish smok "grass snake, dragon," and likely not the same word as German Schmuck "jewelry, adornments," which is related to Low German smuck "supple, tidy, trim, elegant," and to Old Norse smjuga "slip, step through" (see smock).
In Jewish homes, the word was "regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo" [Leo Rosten, "The Joys of Yiddish," 1968] and Lenny Bruce wrote that saying it on stage got him arrested on the West Coast "by a Yiddish undercover agent who had been placed in the club several nights running to determine if my use of Yiddish terms was a cover for profanity." Euphemized as schmoe, which was the source of Al Capp's cartoon strip creature the shmoo.
"[A]dditional associative effects from German schmuck 'jewels, decoration' cannot be excluded (cross-linguistically commonplace slang: cf. Eng. 'family jewels')" [Mark R.V. Southern, "Contagious Couplings: Transmission of Expressives in Yiddish Echo Phrases," 2005]. But the English phrase refers to the testicles and is a play on words, the "family" element being the essential ones. Words for "decoration" seem not to be among the productive sources of European "penis" slang terms.
curtain hung at the doorway or entrance to a room," 1843, from French portière, which is formed in French from porte "door," or from Medieval Latin portaria, fem. singular of Latin portarius "belonging to a door or gate," from porta "city gate, gate; door, entrance," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over."
A curtain hung at a doorway, or entrance to a room, either with the door or to replace it, to intercept the view or currents of air, etc., when the door is opened, or for mere decoration. [Century Dictionary]
German Pavian "baboon" is from Dutch baviaan, from Middle Dutch baubijn, a borrowing of the Old French word. Century Dictionary says Arabic maimun probably is from the European words.
"picture transferred from a specially prepared paper to some other surface," by 1909, shortening of decalcomania (1864), from French décalcomanie, from décalquer (18c.) "transferring of a tracing from specially prepared paper to glass, porcelain, etc." (in vogue in France 1840s, England 1862-64), from de- "off" (see de-) + calquer "to press," from Italian calcare, from Latin calcare "to tread on, press," from calx (1) "heel" (see calcaneus).
Time was when there were only printers employed in making the sheets that were stuck on the ware, giving the old-time term of "plain print." This form of decoration was succeeded a few years ago by the decalcomania or "decal." This "decal" is an imported sheet, lithographed, and the little sprigs, flowers and scenes are cut out and stuck on the ware. [Brick, the Leading Clay Journal, April 1909]
Middle English purpel, from Old English purpul, a dissimilation (first recorded in Northumbrian, in the Lindisfarne gospel) of purpure "purple dye, a purple garment," purpuren (adj.) "purple; dyed or colored purple," a borrowing by 9c. from Latin purpura "purple color, purple-dyed cloak, purple dye," also "shellfish from which purple was made," and "splendid attire generally." This is from Greek porphyra "purple dye, purple" (compare porphyry), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps Semitic, originally the name for the shellfish (murex) from which it was obtained. Purpur continued as a parallel form until 15c., and through 19c. in heraldry.
Attested from early 15c. as the name of the color formed by the mixture of blue and red (later from nearly violet-blue to not quite crimson; in the Middle Ages also applied to darker, richer reds). Tyrian purple (properly a crimson), produced around Tyre, was prized as dye for royal garments, hence the figurative use of purple for "imperial or regal power," by 1550s. Also the color of mourning or penitence (especially in royalty or clergy).
Rhetorical use in reference to "splendid, gaudy" (since mid-18c. typically of prose) is from 1590s. In U.S. politics, indicating an alternative to the increasing division of the country into red (Republican) and blue (Democratic), by 2004.
Purple Heart, the U.S. decoration for service members wounded in combat, was instituted 1932; originally it was a cloth decoration begun by George Washington in 1782. Hendrix' Purple Haze (1967) is slang for "LSD." Purple death "cheap Italian red wine" is by 1947. Purple finch, the common North American bird, was so called by 1760 in catalogues; "the name is a misnomer, arising from the faulty coloring of a plate by Mark Catesby, 1731" [Century Dictionary]. It also is called house finch, for its domesticity. Purple martin is from 1743.
"style of architecture and decoration which prevailed in Europe late 17c. through much of 18c., later derided as clumsy in form and extravagant in contorted ornamentation," 1765, from French baroque "irregular" (15c.), said to be from Portuguese barroco "imperfect pearl," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Spanish berruca "a wart."
This style in decorations got the epithet of Barroque taste, derived from a word signifying pearls and teeth of unequal size. [Fuseli's translation of Winkelmann, 1765]
The Spanish word is perhaps from Latin verruca "a steep place, a height," hence "a wart," also "an excrescence on a precious stone" (see verruca). But Klein suggests the name may be from Italian painter Federico Barocci (1528-1612), whose work influenced the style. How to tell baroque from rococo, according to Fowler: "The characteristics of baroque are grandeur, pomposity, and weight; those of rococo are inconsequence, grace, and lightness." But the two terms have been used without distinction for styles featuring odd and excessive ornamentation.