Etymology
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prune (v.)

late 14c., prouynen, proinen, of a bird, "to trim the feathers with the beak;" of a person, "to dress or groom oneself carefully," from an extended or transferred sense of Old French proignier, poroindre "cut back (vines), prune" (Modern French provigner), a word of unknown origin. Compare preen, which seems to be a variant of this word that kept the original senses.

The main modern sense of "lop superfluous twigs or branches from" is from 1540s, perhaps a separate borrowing of the French word. It is earlier in English in a general sense of "lop off as superfluous or injurious" (early 15c.).

Perhaps [Watkins] from Gallo-Roman *pro-retundiare "cut in a rounded shape in front," from pro "forth" (see pro-) + *retundiare "round off," from Latin rotundus (see round (adj.)). Klein suggests the Old French word is from provain "layer of a vine," from Latin propago (see prop (n.1)).

Related: Pruned; pruning. Pruning hook, knife with a hooked blade used for pruning plants, is from 1610s; pruning knife, knife with a curved blade, is from 1580s.

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bootstrap (n.)
also boot-strap, tab or loop at the back of the top of a men's boot, which the wearer hooked a finger through to pull the boots on, 1870, from boot (n.1) + strap (n.).

Circa 1900, to pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps was used figuratively of an impossible task (among the "practical questions" at the end of chapter one of Steele's "Popular Physics" schoolbook (1888) is, "30. Why can not a man lift himself by pulling up on his boot-straps?" and an excellent question it is). By 1916 the meaning of the phrase had expanded to include "better oneself by rigorous, unaided effort." The meaning "fixed sequence of instructions to load the operating system of a computer" (1953) is from the notion of the first-loaded program pulling itself (and the rest) up by the bootstrap. It was used earlier of electrical circuits (1946).
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griffin (n.)
c. 1200 (as a surname), from Old French grifon "a bird of prey," also "fabulous bird of Greek mythology" (with head and wings of an eagle, body and hind quarters of a lion, believed to inhabit Scythia and guard its gold), named for its hooked beak, from Late Latin gryphus, misspelling of grypus, variant of gryps (genitive grypos) "griffin," from Greek gryps (genitive grypos) "a griffin or dragon," literally "curved, hook-nosed" (opposed to simos).

Klein suggests a Semitic source, "through the medium of the Hittites," and cites Hebrew kerubh "a winged angel," Akkadian karibu, epithet of the bull-colossus (see cherub). The same or an identical word was used in mid-19c. Louisiana to mean "mulatto" (especially one one-quarter or two-fifths white) and in British India from 1793 to mean "newly arrived European," probably via notion of "strange hybrid animal."
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crotchet (n.)

early 14c., "small hook;" mid-15c. "a staff with a hook at the end," from Old French crochet (pronounced "crotchet") "small hook; canine tooth" (12c.), diminutive of croc "hook," from Old Norse krokr "hook," which is of obscure origin but perhaps related to the widespread group of Germanic kr- words meaning "bent, hooked."

As a curved surgical instrument with a sharp hook, from 1750. Figurative use in musical notation for "quarter note" is from mid-15c., from the shape of the notes. Also from 1670s in now-obsolete sense "one of the pair of marks now called 'brackets.'"

Meaning "whimsical fancy, singular opinion," especially one held by someone who has no competency to form a sound one, is from 1570s; the sense is uncertain, perhaps it is the same mechanical image in extended senses of crank; but other authorities link it to the musical notation one (think: "too many notes").

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crown (n.)

early 12c., coroune, croune, "royal crown, ornament for the head as a symbol of sovereignty," from Anglo-French coroune, Old French corone (13c., Modern French couronne) and directly from Latin corona "crown," originally "wreath, garland," related to Greek korōnē "anything curved, a kind of crown."

According to Watkins this is from a suffixed form of PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend." But Beekes considers the "crown" sense as derived from the formally identical Greek word korōnē "crow" (see raven), which, he says, was used metaphorically "of all kinds of curved or hook-formed objects." "Moreover," he writes, "the metaphorical use of [korōnē] 'crow' is nothing remarkable given the use of its cognates ...; the metaphors may have originated from the shape of the beak or the claws of the bird." Compare Latin corax "crow," also "a hooked engine of war," French corbeau "raven," also "cantilever;" English crowbar, etc.

 

Old English used corona, directly from Latin. Figuratively, "regal power," from c. 1200. From late 14c. as "a crowning honor or distinction." From c. 1300 as "top part of the skull or head;" from 1670s as "top of a hat." From 1804 as "part of a tooth which appears above the gum."

Extended late 14c. to "coin bearing the imprint of a crown or a crowned head," especially the British silver 5-shilling piece. Also the name of monetary units in Iceland, Sweden (krona), Norway, Denmark (krone), and formerly in German Empire and Austria-Hungary (krone). Crown of thorns was late Old English þornene crune.

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