1804, "coin of small value," in early use the Spanish half-real, a coin circulating in Louisiana, Florida, and adjacent regions, worth about 6 cents, later a 5 cent piece; probably from Louisiana French picaillon "coin worth 5 cents," earlier the French name of an old copper coin of Savoy (1750), from Provençal picaioun "small copper coin," from picaio "money," a word of uncertain origin. Adjectival figurative sense of "paltry, mean" recorded from 1813.
small flowering tree of eastern North America, 1570s, from Spanish sasafras, which is perhaps an adaptation of saxifraga "saxifrage," from Late Latin saxifragia, variant of saxifraga (see saxifrage). But the dissimilarity of the tree and the rock-garden plant makes the connection difficult, and according to OED the word perhaps represents a name, now lost, in a native language of the Americas that sounded like Spanish saxifraga and was altered to conform to it. The tree supposedly was discovered by the Spanish in Florida in 1528.
"long, narrow projecting strip; something resembling the handle of a pan," 1851, from pan (n.) + handle (n.). Especially in geography, originally American English, in reference to a long, narrow strip projecting from a state or territory interposed between two other states or territories: from 1856, in reference to the spike of Virginia (now West Virginia) between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Florida, Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Alaska also have them.
Meaning "an act of begging" is attested from 1849, perhaps from notion of an arm stuck out like a panhandle, or of one who handles a (beggar's) pan.
"large sea-shell," originally of bivalves, early 15c., from Latin concha "shellfish, mollusk," from Greek konkhē "mussel, cockle," also metaphoric of shell-like objects ("hollow of the ear; knee-cap; brain-pan; case round a seal; knob of a shield," etc.), from PIE root *konkho- (source also of Sanskrit sankha- "mussel") or else from a Pre-Greek word.
Since 18c. used of large gastropods. As a name for natives of Florida Keys (originally especially poor whites) it is attested from at least 1833, from their use of the flesh of the conch as food; the preferred pronunciation there ("kongk") preserves the classical one. Related: Conchate; conchiform; conchoidal.
The white Americans form a comparatively small proportion of the population of Key West, the remainder being Bahama negroes, Cuban refugees, and white natives of the Bahamas and their descendants, classified here under the general title of Conchs. [Circular No. 8, U.S. War Dept., May 1, 1875]
"officer, administrator, or other bureaucrat in a school system," 1968, usually pejorative, "a word that suggests overpaid, underworked and generally useless paper-pushers shielded by a cushion of taxpayer-funded job security" ["Houston Chronicle," Jan. 26, 2017]. The first element is from education; the second is from bureaucrat. The hybrid is said to have been coined by Claude R. Kirk Jr. (1926-2011), governor of Florida 1967-71.
While political leaders and corporate CEOs, focusing as usual on the quarterly return, call for "workers for the new economy," their educational reforms are producing just that: students with a grab-bag of minor skills and competencies and minds that are sadly uneventful, incapable of genuine intellectual achievement and lacking any sense of continuity with the historical and cultural traditions of our society. Their world is small, bleak, and limited; their world will become ours. [David Solway, "The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods," Quebec, 2000]
It also appears in Romanic words from Latin that have been borrowed into English, such as opera, plaza, armada. It figures in scientific names coined in Modern Latin (amoeba, soda, magnolia, etc.) and is common in geographical names formed according to Latin or Greek models (Asia, Africa, America, Arabia, Florida, etc.)
In English it marks sex only in personal names (Julia, Maria, Alberta) and in a few words from Italian or Spanish where a corresponding male form also is in use (donna, senora).
tropical tree of the order Palmae; the date-palm, Middle English palme, from Old English palma, Old French palme, both from Latin palma "palm tree," originally "palm of the hand;" the tree so called from the shape of its leaves, like fingers of a hand (see palm (n.1)).
The word traveled early to northern Europe, where the tree does not grow, via Christianity, and took root in the local languages (such as Old Saxon palma, Old High German palma, Old Norse palmr); Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorating Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, is Old English palm-sunnandæg. In ancient times, a leaf or frond of the palm was carried or worn as a symbol of victory or triumph, or on feast days; hence figurative use of palm for "victory, triumph" (late 14c.).
Palm Beach, Florida, named for the palm groves there, was established as a luxury resort c. 1900 by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Palm court "large room in a hotel, etc., usually decorated with potted palms" is recorded by 1908.
c. 1500 (implied in swamwatyr "swamp-water"), of uncertain origin, perhaps [Barnhart] a dialectal survival from an Old English cognate of Old Norse svöppr "sponge, fungus," from Proto-Germanic *swampuz; but traditionally connected with Middle English sompe "morass, swamp," which probably is from Middle Dutch somp or Middle Low German sump "swamp" (see sump). All of these likely are ultimately related to each other, from PIE *swombho- "spongy; mushroom," via the notion of "spongy ground."
[B]y swamps then in general is to be understood any low grounds subject to inundations, distinguished from marshes, in having a large growth of timber, and much underwood, canes, reeds, wythes, vines, briers, and such like, so matted together, that they are in a great measure impenetrable to man or beast .... [Bernard Romans, "A Concise History of East and West Florida," 1775]
More popular in U.S. (swamp (n.) by itself is first attested 1624 in Capt. John Smith's description of Virginia). Swamp-oak is from 1680s, American English. Swamp Yankee "rural, rustic New Englander" is attested from 1941. Thornton's "American Glossary" (1912) has swamp-angel "dweller in a swamp," swamp-law "might makes right."
Southern U.S. derogatory term for "poor, white trash" (1766), probably an agent noun from crack (v.) in the sense "to boast" (as in not what it's cracked up to be). Cracker "a boaster, a braggart" is attested from c. 1500; also see crack (n.). Compare Latin crepare "to rattle, crack, creak," with a secondary figurative sense of "boast of, prattle, make ado about."
I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode. [letter from colonial officer Gavin Cochrane to the Earl of Dartmouth, June 27, 1766]
But DARE compares corn-cracker "Kentuckian," also "poor, low-class white farmer of Georgia and North Carolina" (1835, U.S. Midwest colloquial).
The word was used especially of Georgians by 1808, though often extended to residents of northern Florida. Another name in mid-19c. use was sand-hiller "poor white in Georgia or South Carolina."
Not very essentially different is the condition of a class of people living in the pine-barrens nearest the coast [of South Carolina], as described to me by a rice-planter. They seldom have any meat, he said, except they steal hogs, which belong to the planters, or their negroes, and their chief diet is rice and milk. "They are small, gaunt, and cadaverous, and their skin is just the color of the sand-hills they live on. They are quite incapable of applying themselves steadily to any labor, and their habits are very much like those of the old Indians." [Frederick Law Olmsted, "A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States," 1856]