by 1942, noun ("a cowardly escape, an evasion") and verb ("sneak off, escape, give up without trying"), American English slang, perhaps from cop a plea (c. 1925) "plead guilty to lesser charges," which is probably from northern British slang cop "to catch" (a scolding, etc.); as in cop a feel "grope someone" (1930s); see cop (v.). Sense of "evade an issue or problem" is from 1960s.
1570s, "to corrupt, contaminate," also "to touch, tinge, imbue slightly" (1590s), from Middle English teynten "to convict, prove guilty" (late 14c.), which is partly from Old French ataint, past participle of ataindre "to touch upon, seize" (see attainder). It also is from Anglo-French teinter "to color, dye" (early 15c.), from Old French teint (12c.), past participle of teindre "to dye, color," from Latin tingere (see tincture). Related: Tainted; tainting.
Old English gefea, gefa "foe, enemy, adversary in a blood feud" (the prefix denotes "mutuality"), from adjective fah "at feud, hostile," also "guilty, criminal," from Proto-Germanic *faihaz (source also of Old High German fehan "to hate," Gothic faih "deception"), perhaps from the same PIE source that yielded Sanskrit pisunah "malicious," picacah "demon;" Lithuanian piktas "wicked, angry," peikti "to blame." Weaker sense of "adversary" is first recorded c. 1600.
1730, shortening of cadet (q.v.); originally used of servants, then (1831) of town boys by students at Oxford and English public schools (though at Cambridge it meant "snob"), then "townsman" generally. Compare caddie. Meaning "person lacking in finer feelings" is from 1838.
A cad used to be a jumped-up member of the lower classes who was guilty of behaving as if he didn't know that his lowly origin made him unfit for having sexual relationships with well-bred women. [Anthony West, "H.G. Wells: Aspects of a Life," 1984]
c. 1400, "sinful, wicked;" mid-15c., "of or pertaining to a legally punishable offense, of the nature of a crime;" late 15c., "guilty of crime," from Old French criminel, criminal "criminal, despicable, wicked" (11c.) and directly from Late Latin criminalis "pertaining to crime," from Latin crimen (genitive criminis); see crime. It preserves the Latin -n-. Other adjectives include criminous (mid-15c.), criminative. Criminal law (or criminal justice) has been distinguished from civil in English at least since late 15c.
mid-14c., "to convince by arguments, convince of wrongdoing or sin" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin convictus, past participle of convincere "to 'overcome' in argument, to overcome decisively; to convict of crime or error," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + vincere "to conquer" (from nasalized form of PIE root *weik- (3) "to fight, conquer").
Meaning "prove or find guilty of an offense charged" is from late 14c. It replaced Old English verb oferstælan. Related: Convicted; convicting.
1670s, "person arraigned for a crime or offense," according to legal tradition from Anglo-French cul prit, a contraction of Culpable: prest (d'averrer nostre bille) "guilty, ready (to prove our case)," words used by prosecutor in opening a trial. See culpable. It seems the abbreviation cul. prit was mistaken in English for an address to the defendant.
Meaning "a criminal, an offender" (1769) is, according to OED, "A change of sense, apparently due to popular etymology, the word being referred directly to L. culpa fault, offense."
early 14c., "corrupted, debased in character," from Old French corropt "unhealthy, corrupt; uncouth" (of language) and directly from Latin corruptus, past participle of corrumpere "to destroy; spoil," figuratively "corrupt, seduce, bribe," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + rup-, past participle stem of rumpere "to break," from a nasalized form of PIE *runp- "to break" (source also of Sanskrit rupya- "to suffer from a stomach-ache;" Old English reofan "to break, tear").
Meaning "decomposing, putrid, spoiled" is from late 14c. Sense of "changed for the worse, debased by admixture or alteration" (of language, etc.) is from late 14c. Meaning "guilty of dishonesty involving bribery" is from late 14c. Related: Corruptly; corruptness.
Middle English dampnen, also damnen, dammen, late 13c. as a legal term, "to condemn, declare guilty, convict;" c. 1300 in the theological sense of "doom to punishment in a future state," from Old French damner "damn, condemn; convict, blame; injure," derivative of Latin damnare "to adjudge guilty; to doom; to condemn, blame, reject," from noun damnum "damage, hurt, harm; loss, injury; a fine, penalty," from Proto-Italic *dapno-, possibly from an ancient religious term from PIE *dap- "to apportion in exchange" [Watkins] or *dhp-no- "expense, investment" [de Vaan]. The -p- in the English word disappeared 16c.
The legal meaning "pronounce judgment upon" evolved in the Latin word. The optative expletive use likely is as old as the theological sense. Damn and its derivatives generally were avoided in print from 18c. to 1930s (the famous line in the film version of "Gone with the Wind" was a breakthrough and required much effort by the studio). Meaning "judge or pronounce (a work) to be bad by public expression" is from 1650s; to damn with faint praise is from Pope.
The noun is recorded from 1610s, "utterance of the word 'damn.'" To be not worth a damn is from 1817. To not give (or care) a damn is by 1760. The adjective is 1775, short for damned; Damn Yankee, the characteristic Southern U.S. term for "Northerner," is attested by 1812 (as damned). Related: Damning.