Old English bliþe "joyous, kind, cheerful, pleasant," from Proto-Germanic *blithiz "gentle, kind" (source also of Old Saxon bliði "bright, happy," Middle Dutch blide, Dutch blijde, Old Norse bliðr "mild, gentle," Old High German blidi "gay, friendly," Gothic bleiþs "kind, friendly, merciful"). Related: Blithely.
No cognates outside Germanic. "The earlier application was to the outward expression of kindly feeling, sympathy, affection to others, as in Gothic and ON.; but in OE. the word had come more usually to be applied to the external manifestation of one's own pleased or happy frame of mind, and hence even to the state itself" [OED]. Rare since 16c.
British slang word with varied senses, not all of them certainly connected; see Partridge, who lists two noun uses: "female pudenda" (c. 1845), which might be back-slang from fan, shortening of fanny (in the British sense); and "nothing," in prostitutes' slang from c. 1940; a verbal use, a euphemism for fuck (v.) in oaths, imprecations, expletives (as in naff off), 1959, "making it slightly less obvious than eff" [Partridge]; and an adjective naff "vulgar, common, despicable," which is said to have been used in 1960s British gay slang for "unlovely" and thence adopted into the jargons of the theater and the armed forces.
mid-15c., "showy, finely dressed; gay, merry," from Old French galant "courteous," earlier "amusing, entertaining; lively, bold" (14c.), present participle of galer "rejoice, make merry," which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a Latinized verb formed from Frankish *wala- "good, well," from Proto-Germanic *wal- (source also of Old High German wallon "to wander, go on a pilgrimage"), from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (see will (v.)), "but the transition of sense offers difficulties that are not fully cleared up" [OED]. Sense of "politely attentive to women" was adopted early 17c. from French. Attempts to distinguish this sense by accent are an 18c. artifice.
1762, "one who bounces," agent noun from bounce (v.), which originally meant "to thump, hit." Given various specific senses in 19c., such as "boaster, bully, braggart" (1833); also "large example of its kind" (1842); "enforcer of order in a bar or saloon" (1865, American English, originally colloquial).
Now it so happened that the brakeman was what is known, in the language of the road, as a "bouncer." That is, he was a hybrid combining the qualities of a brakeman and a bruiser, and was frequently called into requisition by the conductor to take the dirty work of ejecting tramps off of his hands. ["Staats," "A Tight Squeeze," 1879]
"The Bouncer" is merely the English "chucker out". When liberty verges on license and gaiety on wanton delirium, the Bouncer selects the gayest of the gay, and — bounces him! [London Daily News, July 26, 1883]
a common 18c. colloquial term for "homosexual man" or "man who is deemed effeminate, a sissy," by 1707, perhaps 1690s. The fem. proper name Molly or Moll served as a type-name of a low-class girl or prostitute in old songs and ballads (perhaps in part for the sake of the easy rhymes).
But the colloquial word also resembles Latin mollis "soft," which also had been used classically in a specific pejorative sense in reference to men, "soft, effeminate, unmanly, weak," in Cicero, Livy, etc. A 1629 publication from the Catholic-Protestant theological disputes, "Truth's triumph ouer Trent," written in English with swerves into Latin, at one point describes the denizens of Hell as fideles fornicarios, adulteros, molles, and so forth, and molles is translated parenthetically in the text as "effeminate." Molly House as a term for a brothel frequented by gay men is attested in a court case from 1726.
1650s, "pertaining to a feast," from Latin festivus "festive, joyous, gay," from festum "festival, holiday," noun use of neuter of adjective festus "joyful, merry" (see feast (n.)). The word is unattested in English from 1651 to 1735 (it reappears in a poem by William Somervile, with the sense "fond of feasting, jovial"), and the modern use may be a back-formation from festivity. Meaning "mirthful, joyous" in English is attested by 1774. Related: Festively; festiveness.
When the Day crown'd with rural, chaste Delight
Resigns obsequious to the festive Night;
The festive Night awakes th' harmonious Lay,
And in sweet Verse recounts the Triumphs of the Day.
[Somervile, "The Chace"]
Earlier adjectives in English based on the Latin word were festival "pertaining to a church feast" (late 14c.); festful "joyous" (early 15c.), festial "pertaining to a church feast" (early 15c.), festli "fond of festivity" (late 14c.).
a complicated word of uncertain history. It is attested from late 15c. in the sense "lewd person" (of either sex, but since c. 1700 applied exclusively to women); probably [Middle English Compendium] from Old French baud "gay, licentious" (from Frankish *bald "bold" or some such Germanic source; see bold), despite the doubts of OED.
For the French sense evolution from "bold" to "lewd," compare Old French baudise "ardor, joy, elation, act of boldness, presumption;" baudie "elation, high spirits," fole baudie "bawdry, shamelessness." The Old French word also is the source of French baudet "donkey," in Picardy dialect "loose woman."
The English word perhaps is a shortening of baude-strote "procurer or procuress of prostitutes" (c. 1300). The second element in baude-strote would be trot "one who runs errands," or Germanic *strutt (see strut (v.)). There was an Old French baudestrote, baudetrot of the same meaning (13c.), and this may be the direct source of Middle English baude-strote. The obsolete bronstrops "procuress," frequently found in Middleton's comedies, probably is an alteration of baude-strote.
"trivialities, bits of information of little consequence," by 1932, from the title of a popular book by U.S.-born British aphorist Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) first published in 1902 but popularized in 1918 (with "More Trivia" following in 1921 and a collected edition including both in 1933), containing short essays often tied to observation of small things and commonplace moments. Trivia is Latin, plural of trivium "place where three roads meet;" in transferred use, "an open place, a public place." The adjectival form of this, trivialis, meant "public," hence "common, commonplace" (see trivial).
The Romans also had trivius dea, the "goddess of three ways," another name for Hecate, perhaps originally in her triple aspect (Selene/Diana/Proserpine), but also as the especial divinity of crossroads (Virgil has "Nocturnisque hecate triviis ululata per urbes"). John Gay took this arbitrarily as the name of a goddess of streets and roads for his mock Georgic "Trivia: Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London" (1716); Smith writes in his autobiography that he got the title from Gay.
I KNOW too much; I have stuffed too many of the facts of History and Science into my intellectuals. My eyes have grown dim over books; believing in geological periods, cave dwellers, Chinese Dynasties, and the fixed stars has prematurely aged me. ["Trivia," 1918 edition]
Then noted c. 1965 as an informal fad game among college students wherein one asked questions about useless bits of information from popular culture ("What was Donald Duck's address?") and others vied to answer first.
Nobody really wins in this game which concentrates on sports, comics and television. Everyone knows that Amos's wife on the "Amos 'n' Andy Show" is Ruby, but who knows that she is from Marietta, Georgia? Trivia players do. They also know the fourth man in the infield of Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, the Canadian who shot down Baron Von Richtofen, and can name ten Hardy Boy books. [Princeton Alumni Weekly, Nov. 9, 1965]
The board game Trivial Pursuit was released 1982 and was a craze in U.S. for several years thereafter.
"anything that guides or directs in an intricate case," 1590s, a special use of a revised spelling of clew "a ball of thread or yarn" (q.v.). The word, which is native Germanic, in Middle English was clewe, also cleue; some words borrowed from Old French in -ue, -eu also were spelled -ew in Middle English, such as blew, imbew, but these later were reformed to -ue, and this process was extended to native words (hue, true, clue) which had ended in a vowel and -w. The spelling clue is first attested mid-15c.
The sense shift is originally in reference to the clew of thread given by Ariadne to Theseus to use as a guide out of the Labyrinth in Greek mythology. The purely figurative sense of "that which points the way," without regard to labyrinths, is from 1620s. As something which a bewildered person does not have, by 1948.
Thus hardy Theseus, with intrepid Feet,
Travers'd the dang'rous Labyrinth of Crete;
But still the wandring Passes forc'd his Stay,
Till Ariadne's Clue unwinds the Way
The board game (originally Cluedo) was launched in 1949 in Britain.
coined 1958 by San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen (1916-1997) during the heyday of -nik suffixes in the wake of Sputnik. The first element is from Beat generation (1952), which is associated with beat (n.) in its meaning "rhythm (especially in jazz)" as well as beat (adj.) "worn out, exhausted." Century Dictionary (1902) has slang beat (n.) "a worthless, dishonest, shiftless fellow." Originator Jack Kerouac in 1958 connected it with beatitude.
The origins of the word beat are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than the feeling of weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of the mind. [New York Times Magazine, Oct. 2, 1952]
"Beat" is old carny slang. According to Beat Movement legend (and it is a movement with a deep inventory of legend), Ginsberg and Kerouac picked it up from a character named Herbert Huncke, a gay street hustler and drug addict from Chicago who began hanging around Times Square in 1939 (and who introduced William Burroughs to heroin, an important cultural moment). The term has nothing to do with music; it names the condition of being beaten down, poor, exhausted, at the bottom of the world. [Louis Menand, New Yorker, Oct. 1, 2007]