ammonia (n.)

volatile alkali, a colorless gas with a strong pungent smell, 1799, coined in scientific Latin 1782 by Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman as a name for the gas obtained from sal ammoniac, salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya (see Ammon, and compare ammoniac). The shrine was ancient already in Augustus' day, and the salts, traditionally, first were prepared from mineral deposits "from the sands where the camels waited while their masters prayed for good omens" [Shipley, "Origins of English Words"]. Also known as spirit of hartshorn and volatile alkali or animal alkali.

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aloof (adv.)

1530s, "to windward," from a- (1) "on" + Middle English loof "windward direction," which is probably from Dutch loef (Middle Dutch lof) "the weather side of a ship" (see luff (n.)).

Originally in nautical orders to keep the ship's head to the wind, and thus stay clear of a lee-shore or some other quarter; hence "at a distance but within view" (1530s) and, figuratively, "apart, withdrawn, without community spirit" (with verbs stand, keep, etc.). As an adjective from c. 1600. Related: Aloofly; aloofness.

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eloquence (n.)

late 14c., from Old French eloquence (12c.), from Latin eloquentia, from eloquentem (nominative eloquens) "eloquent," present participle of eloqui "speak out," from ex "out" (see ex-) + loqui "to speak" (from PIE root *tolkw- "to speak"). Earlier in same sense was eloquency (mid-14c.).

Eloquence is a word which has been made the expression for the highest power of speech in producing the effect desired, especially if the desire be to move the feelings or the will. Many efforts have been made to define eloquence, some regarding it as a gift and some as an art. "It is a gift of the soul, which makes us masters of the minds and hearts of others." (La Bruyère.) [Century Dictionary]
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fem. proper name, Old English Eadgyð, from ead "riches, prosperity, good fortune, happiness" + guð "war." A fairly common name; it survived through the Middle Ages, probably on the popularity of St. Eadgyð of Wilton (962-84, abbess, daughter of King Edgar of England), fell from favor 16c., was revived in fashion late 19c. Old English ead (also in eadig "wealthy, prosperous, fortunate, happy, blessed; perfect;" eadnes "inner peace, ease, joy, prosperity") became Middle English edy, eadi "rich, wealthy; costly, expensive; happy, blessed," but was ousted by happy. Late Old English, in its grab-bag of alliterative pairings, had edye men and arme "rich men and poor."

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luke (adj.)

obsolete except in lukewarm (late 14c.), from Middle English leuk "tepid" (c. 1200), a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English *hleoc (cognate with Middle Dutch or Old Frisian leuk "tepid, weak"), an unexplained variant of hleowe (adv.) "warm," from Proto-Germanic *khlewaz (see lee), or from the Middle Dutch or Old Frisian words.

Old English also had wlæc "tepid, lukewarm," which survived in Middle English as wlake. In Middle English lew-warm was a parallel form to luke-warm. Related: Lukely; lukeness. Other now-obsolete formations were luke-hot (late 14c.), luke-hearted (c. 1500).

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comic (adj.)

late 14c., "of comedy in the classical sense, pertaining to comedy as distinct from tragedy," from Latin comicus "of comedy, represented in comedy, in comic style," from Greek komikos "of or pertaining to comedy," from komos (see comedy). Meaning "intentionally funny, raising mirth" is first recorded 1791, and comedic (1630s) has since picked up the older sense of the word.

Speaking of the masters of the comedic spirit (if I call it, as he does, the Comic Spirit, this darkened generation will suppose me to refer to the animal spirits of tomfools and merryandrews) .... [G.B. Shaw, 1897]

Something that is comic has comedy as its aim or origin; something is comical if the effect is comedy, whether intended or not. Comic relief is attested from 1817. 

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teach (v.)

Old English tæcan (past tense tæhte, past participle tæht) "to show, point out, declare, demonstrate," also "to give instruction, train, assign, direct; warn; persuade," from Proto-Germanic *taikijan "to show" (source also of Old High German zihan, German zeihen "to accuse," Gothic ga-teihan "to announce"), from PIE root *deik- "to show, point out." Related to Old English tacen, tacn "sign, mark" (see token). Related: Taught; teaching.

Lemonade Vendor (Edgar Kennedy), enraged: I'll teach you to kick me!
Chico: you don't have to teach me, I know how. [kicks him]

The usual sense of Old English tæcan was "show, declare, warn, persuade" (compare German zeigen "to show," from the same root); while the Old English word for "to teach, instruct, guide" was more commonly læran, source of modern learn and lore.

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decor (n.)

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.

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neopaganism (n.)

also neo-paganism, "a revival or reproduction of paganism," 1858; see neo- "new" + paganism. Related: Neopagan (1854 as an adjective, 1855 as a noun).

[The 'positive' philosopher of the present day] offers in the stead of Christianity a specious phase of neo-paganism, by which the nineteenth century after Christ may be assimilated to the golden age of Mencius and Confucius; or, in other words, may consummate its intellectual freedom, and attain the highest pinnacle of human progress, by reverting to a state of childhood and of moral imbecility. [Introduction to Charles Hardwick, "Christ and Other Masters," Cambridge, 18758]
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shaker (n.)

 c. 1400, "a sieve, a kitchen device;" by mid-15c. in the general sense of "one who or which shakes," agent noun from shake (v.).

From 1640s it was applied (with capital initial) to Christian sects whose devotional exercises gave some participants enthusiastic convulsions (compare Quaker). The best-known among the sects, originally followers of Mother Ann Lee but later based in America, were so called from 1784. The adjective with reference to furniture styles associated with these Shakers is recorded from 1866.

The meaning "container for mixing cocktails, etc." is recorded from 1868 (ancient Greek had seison as the name of a kind of vase, literally "shaker"). Related: Shakeress; Shakerism.

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