Etymology
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ab initio 
c. 1600, Latin, literally "from the beginning," from ab "from" (see ab-) + ablative of initium "entrance, beginning," which is from or related to the verb inire "to go into, enter upon, begin" (see initial).
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mutatis mutandis 
"with the necessary changes," Latin, literally "things being changed that have to be changed," from the ablative plurals of, respectively, the past participle and gerundive of mutare "to change" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move").
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main line (n.)

"principal line of a railway," 1841, from main (adj.) + line (n.). Meaning "affluent area of residence" is by 1917, originally (with capitals) that west of Philadelphia, from the "main line" of the Pennsylvania Railroad which added local stops to a string of backwater towns west of the city late 19c. that helped turn them into fashionable suburbs.

The Main Line, Philadelphia's most famous suburban district, was deliberately conceived in the 1870's and 1880's by the [Pennsylvania] Railroad, which built high-toned housing developments, ran hotels, more or less forced its executives to plunk their estates out there, and created a whole series of somewhat spurious Welsh towns along the railroad tracks. ... Now everybody assumes these all date from 1682, like the Robertses; but as Chestnut Hill people like to say, "nobody but Welsh peasants lived on the Main Line till the Railroad built it up." [Nathaniel Burt, "The Perennial Philadelphians," 1963]

The original station stops were, in order out from the city, Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Paoli. The train line for commuters along it is the Paoli Local.

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piss off (v.)

1958, intransitive, "go away," chiefly British; the transitive meaning "annoy (someone)" is by 1968, chiefly U.S.; from piss (v.) + off (adv.). Pissed off "angry, fed up" is attested by 1946 (Partridge says 1937); said to have been used in the military in World War II; in common use from 1970s.

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pick up (v.)

early 14c. as a verbal phrase, "lift and take with the fingers," from pick (v.) + up (adv.). From 1510s as "take or get casually, obtain or procure as opportunity offers." Meaning "take (a person found or overtaken) into a vehicle or vessel," is from 1690s, also, of persons, "make acquaintance or take along" (especially for sexual purposes). Intransitive meaning "improve gradually, reacquire vigor or strength" is by 1741. Sense of "tidy up" is from 1861; that of "arrest" is from 1871; meaning "gain speed" is from 1922; meaning "to pay" (a check, tab, etc.) is from 1945. Pick-me-up "stimulating alcoholic drink" is attested from 1867.

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primum mobile (n.)

"the first source of motion," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin (11c.), literally "the first movable thing;" see prime (adj.) + mobile.

In the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the tenth or outermost of the revolving spheres of the universe, which was supposed to revolve from east to west in twenty-four hours, and to carry the others along with it in its motion; hence, any great or first source of motion. [Century Dictionary]

A translation of Arabic al-muharrik al-awwal "the first moving" (Avicenna). Englished by Chaucer as the firste Moeuyng (c. 1400). Old science also had primum frigidum "pure cold: an elementary substance, according to the doctrine of Parmenides."


 

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obiter dictum 

"statement in passing," a judge's expression of opinion not regarded as binding or decisive, Latin, literally "something said incidentally;" from obiter "by the way" + dictum in the legal sense "a judge's expression of opinion which is not the formal resolution of a case or determination of the court."

Obiter dicta, legal dicta ... uttered by the way (obiter), not upon the point or question pending, as if turning aside for the time from the main topic of the case to collateral subjects. [Century Dictionary]

Latin obiter is from ob "in front of, toward" (see ob-) + iter "journey" (from PIE root *ei- "to go"). Klein's sources, however, say it is ob with the suffix -iter on analogy of circiter "about" from circa. Also see obituary

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hands down (adv.)

to win something hands down (1855) is from horse racing, from a jockey's gesture of letting the reins go loose in an easy victory.

The Two Thousand Guinea Stakes was not the best contested one that it has been our fortune to assist at. ... [T]hey were won by Meteor, with Scott for his rider; who went by the post with his hands down, the easiest of all easy half-lengths. Wiseacre certainly did the best in his power to spoil his position, and Misdeal was at one time a little vexatious. [The Sportsman, report from April 26, 1840]

Ancient Greek had akoniti "without a struggle, easily," from akonitos (adj.), literally "without dust," specifically "without the dust of the arena."

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