"scurf which forms on the scalp or skin of the head and comes off in small scales or dust," 1540s; the first element is obscure (despite much speculation, OED concludes "nothing satisfactory has been suggested"). The second element probably is Northumbrian or East Anglian dialectal huff, hurf "scab," from Old Norse hrufa, from Proto-Germanic *hreufaz, source of Old English hreofla "leper." Middle English words for it were bran (late 14c.), furfur (c. 1400, from Latin), scales (mid-15c.).
mid-15c. (adj.) "extending downward;" c. 1600 (n.) "an individual proceeding from an ancestor in any degree," from French descendant (13c.), present participle of descendre "to come down" (see descend).
Despite a tendency to use descendent for the adjective and descendant for the noun, descendant seems to be prevailing in all uses and appears 5 times more often than its rival in books printed since 1900. Compare dependant. In astrology, "the western horizon or cusp of the seventh house," 1680s.
late 14c., "state or condition of being able; capacity to do or act," from Old French ableté "ability (to inherit)," from Latin habilitatem (nominative habilitas, in Medieval Latin abilitas) "aptitude, ability," noun of quality from habilis "easy to manage, handy" (see able). One case where a Latin silent -h- failed to make a return in English (despite efforts of 16c.-17c. scholars); see H. Also in Middle English, "suitableness, fitness." Abilities "one's talents or mental endowments" is from 1580s.
1670s, nicompoop; modern form from 1713. Despite similarity [noted by Johnson] to Latin legal phrase non compos mentis "insane, mentally incompetent" (c. 1600), the connection is denied by the OED's etymologists because the earliest forms lack the second -n-. Weekley thinks first element may be a proper name, and cites Nicodemus, which he says was used in French for "a fool," or Nicholas. Klein says it is probably an invented word. Century Dictionary has no objection to the non compos mentis theory.
"cat-lover," 1931, with -phile "one that loves" + Greek ailouros "cat" (probably only "wildcat," as "domestic cats were not found in the Greek world" [Beekes]), which is of unknown origin. Usually explained as a compound of aiolos "quick-moving" + oura "tail," hence "with moving tail," which is plausible despite some phonetic difficulties, according to Beekes, who also notes "the word may well have been adapted by folk etymology ...." An earlier attempt at an English word for "cat-lover" was philofelist (1843).
"eager desire to possess something," mid-15c., from Anglo-French cupidite and directly from Latin cupiditatem (nominative cupiditas) "passionate desire, lust; ambition," from cupidus "eager, passionate," from cupere "to desire." This is perhaps from a PIE root *kup-(e)i- "to tremble; to desire," and cognate with Sanskrit kupyati "bubbles up, becomes agitated;" Old Church Slavonic kypeti "to boil;" Lithuanian kupėti "to boil over;" Old Irish accobor "desire."
Despite the primarily erotic sense of the Latin word, in English cupidity originally, and still especially, means "desire for wealth."
"courage," 1930, from Moxie, brand name of a bitter, non-alcoholic drink, 1885, perhaps as far back as 1876 as the name of a patent medicine advertised to "build up your nerve." Despite legendary origin stories put out by the company that made it, it is perhaps ultimately from a New England Indian word (it figures in river and lake names in Maine, where it is apparently from Abenaki and means "dark water"). Much-imitated in its day; in 1917 the Moxie Company won an infringement suit against a competitor's beverage marketed as "Proxie."
c. 1500, santren "to muse, be in reverie," a word of uncertain origin. The meaning "walk with a leisurely gait" is from 1660s, and may be a different word which, despite many absurd speculations, also is of unknown origin. Klein prints the theory (held by Skeat and Murray) that this sense of the word derives via Anglo-French sauntrer (mid-14c.) from French s'aventurer "to take risks." Century Dictionary finds the theory involves difficulties but "it is the only one that has any plausibility," but OED finds it "unlikely." Also see here. Related: Sauntered; saunterer; sauntering.