1530s, transitive, "unite or blend promiscuously into one mass, body, or assemblage," a back-formation from Middle English myxte (early 15c.) "mingled, blended, composed of more than one element, of mixed nature," from Anglo-French mixte (late 13c.), from Latin mixtus, past participle of miscere "to mix, mingle, blend; fraternize with; throw into confusion," from PIE root *meik- "to mix."
A rare verb before Elizabethan times. Perhaps it was avoided out of potential confusion with a group of common Middle English words such as mixen "dung-hill, pile of refuse," mix "filth, dung, dirt" mixed "foul, filthy," from PIE root *meigh- "to urinate" (source of Latin mingere, etc.).
Meaning "to form by mingling or blending different ingredients" is from 1570s. Intransitive sense of "become united or blended promiscuously" is from 1630s; that of "become joined or associated" is from 1660s. In cinematography and broadcasting, "combine two pictures or sounds by fading out and in," 1922. Old English as miscian (apparently borrowed from the Latin verb) did not survive into Middle English. Related: Mixed; mixing.
"detached, kept apart, divided from the rest," c. 1600, from separate (v.) or from Latin separatus. Separate also was used as a past-participle adjective in Middle English, "cut off from the main body," also, of a spouse, "estranged." The meaning "individual, particular" is from 1670s, on the notion of "withdrawn or divided from something else," hence "peculiar to one but not others."
Separate but equal in reference to U.S. segregation policies on railroads, etc. is attested by 1890 (Henry W. Grady); it was used in 1870s of medical courses for women at universities. Separate development, official name of apartheid in South Africa, is from 1955. Related: Separately (1550s); separateness.
Frequently the colored coach is little better than a cattle car. Generally one half the smoking car is reserved for the colored car. Often only a cloth curtain or partition run half way up separates this so-called colored car from the smoke, obscene language, and foul air of the smokers' half of the car. All classes and conditions of colored humanity, from the most cultured and refined to the most degraded and filthy, without regard to sex, good breeding or ability to pay for better accommodation, are crowded into this separate, but equal (?) half car. [Rev. Norman B. Wood, "The White Side of a Black Subject," 1897]
15c. metathesis of Middle English drit, drytt "excrement, dung, feces, any foul or filthy substance," also "mud, earth," especially "loose earth" (c. 1300), from Old Norse drit, cognate with Old English dritan "to void excrement," from Proto-Germanic *dritan (source also of Dutch drijten, Old High German trizan).
Used abusively of persons from c. 1300; figurative of something worthless from early 14c. Meaning "gossip" first attested 1926 (in Hemingway).
As an adjective, "consisting or made of loose earth," by 1860. The dirt-bike is attested by 1970. Dirt-cheap "as cheap as dirt" is by 1766; dirt-poor "extremely poor" is by 1906. Dirt road, one not paved or macadamized, is attested by 1835, American English. Pay-dirt "earth containing gold" is by 1857, originally California miners' slang.
It is customary to speak of "the golden sands of California;" but a person who should believe that the gold is found in pure sand, would be far wrong. Usually, the pay-dirt is a very stiff clay, full of large gravel and stones. The depth of this pay-dirt varies. In a gully where the water is not more than five feet wide in the heaviest rain, the pay dirt will not usually be more than a foot deep. (etc.) [John S. Hittell, "Mining in the Pacific States of North America," San Francisco, 1861]
c. 1300, "inadequate, unsatisfactory, worthless; unfortunate;" late 14c., "wicked, evil, vicious; counterfeit;" from 13c. in surnames (William Badde, Petri Badde, Asketinus Baddecheese, Rads Badinteheved). Rare before 1400, and evil was more common until c. 1700 as the ordinary antithesis of good. It has no apparent relatives in other languages.* It is possibly from Old English derogatory term bæddel and its diminutive bædling "effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast," which probably are related to bædan "to defile."
The orig. word, AS. bæddel, ME. baddel, on account of its sinister import, is scarcely found in literature, but, like other words of similar sense, it prob. flourished in vulgar speech as an indefinite term of abuse, and at length, divested of its original meaning, emerged in literary use as a mere adj., badde, equiv. to the older evil. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
Comparable words in the other Indo-European languages tend to have grown from descriptions of specific qualities, such as "ugly," "defective," "weak," "faithless," "impudent," "crooked," "filthy" (such as Greek kakos, probably from the word for "excrement;" Russian plochoj, related to Old Church Slavonic plachu "wavering, timid;" Persian gast, Old Persian gasta-, related to gand "stench;" German schlecht, originally "level, straight, smooth," whence "simple, ordinary," then "bad").
Comparative and superlative forms badder, baddest were common 14c.-18c. and used as recently as Defoe (but not by Shakespeare), but yielded to comparative worse and superlative worst (which had belonged to evil and ill).
The meaning "uncomfortable, sorry" is 1839, American English colloquial. To go bad "putrefy" is from 1884. Not bad "fairly good" is by 1771. Ironic use as a word of approval is said to be at least since 1890s orally, originally in African-American vernacular, emerging in print 1928 in a jazz context. It might have emerged from the ambivalence of expressions like bad nigger, used as a term of reproach by whites, but among blacks sometimes representing one who stood up to injustice. In the U.S. West bad man also had a certain ambivalence:
These are the men who do most of the killing in frontier communities, yet it is a noteworthy fact that the men who are killed generally deserve their fate. [Farmer and Henley, "Slang and Its Analogues"]
*Persian has bad in more or less the same sense as the English word, but this is regarded by linguists as a coincidence. The forms of the words diverge as they are traced back in time (Persian bad comes from Middle Persian vat), and such accidental convergences exist across many languages, given the vast number of words in each and the limited range of sounds humans can make to signify them. Among other coincidental matches with English are Korean mani "many," Chinese pei "pay," Nahuatl (Aztecan) huel "well," Maya hol "hole."