late 14c., apartment in the royal palace at Westminster in which members of the king's council sat to exercise jurisdiction 14-15c., it evolved 15c. into a court of criminal jurisdiction, infamous under James I and Charles I for arbitrary and oppressive proceedings. Abolished 1641. Supposedly so called because gilt stars had been painted on the ceiling. Later there was a star on the door.
"philanderer, womanizer," from the legendary dissolute Spanish nobleman whose rakish exploits formed the stuff of popular tales in Spain from early 17c., dramatized by Gabriel Tellez in "Convivado de Piedra." Adapted into French and Italian before 1700; Used attributively in English for "ladies' man, womanizer" from the time of Byron's popular poem about him (1819). Compare Casanova, Lothario, philander, all originally character names.
early 13c., a Greek liturgical formula adopted untranslated into the Latin mass, literally "lord have mercy" (Psalms cxxii.3, Matthew xv.22, xvii.15, etc.). From kyrie, vocative of kyrios "lord, master" (see church (n.)) + eleeson, aorist imperative of eleo "I have pity on, show mercy to," from eleos "pity, mercy" (see alms). Hence, the corresponding part of a musical setting of the Mass or Anglican Communion.
motto of the United States, being one nation formed by uniting several states, 1782, Latin, from e "out of" (see ex-); ablative plural of plus "more" (see plus (n.)); neuter of unus "one" (from PIE root *oi-no- "one, unique"). Not found in classical Latin, though a variant of the phrase appears in Virgil (color est e pluribus unum); the full phrase was the motto of the popular Gentleman's Magazine from 1731 into the 1750s.
Previous to 1883 the methods of measuring time in the United States were so varied and so numerous as to be ludicrous. There were 50 different standards used in the United States, and on one road between New York and Boston, whose actual difference is 12 minutes, there were three distinct standards of time. Even small towns had two different standards one known as "town" or local time and the other "railroad" time.
... At noon on November 18, 1883, there was a general resetting of watches and clocks all over the United States and Canada, and the four great time zones, one hour apart, into which the country was divided came into being. So smoothly did the plan work that the general readjustment was accomplished without great difficulty and it has worked satisfactorily ever since. [Railroad Trainman, September 1909]
1772, from tea + party (n.). Political references to tea party all trace to the Boston tea party of 1773 (the name seems to date from 1824), in which radicals in Massachusetts colony boarded British ships carrying tea and threw the product into Boston Harbor in protest against the home government's taxation policies. It has been a model for libertarian political actions in the U.S. (generally symbolic), including citizen gatherings begun in early 2009 to protest government spending.
1899, American English, some sort of skin condition (sometimes identified with poison ivy infection) that either lasts seven years or returns every seven years. Jocular use for "urge to stray from marital fidelity" is attested from 1952, as the title of the Broadway play (made into a film, 1955) by George Axelrod (1922-2003), in which the lead male character reads an article describing the high number of men have extra-marital affairs after seven years of marriage.
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.
"unkempt; having rough, coarse, long hair," 1580s, from shag (n.) + -y (2). Related: Shaggily; shagginess. Earlier was shagged, from Old English sceacgede "hairy;" compare Old Norse skeggjaðr, Danish skægget "bearded." The shaggy-dog story as a type of absurd joke built into a long, tedious story, is attested from 1943 and was a fad in the mid-40s. The origin of the phrase may be in vaudeville; the most-often cited original example involves an Englishman who offers a reward for a lost shaggy dog, an enterprising American who, with great difficulty, tracks him down and offers a shaggy dog that he claims is the one, and his curt reception: "Not that shaggy." But the story does not seem to be older than the phrase.
late 14c., translating Latin artes liberales; the name for the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, rather than immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (liberal in this sense is opposed to servile or mechanical). They were divided into the trivium — grammar, logic, rhetoric (see trivial) — and the quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy. Explained by Fowler (1926) as "the education designed for a gentleman (Latin liber a free man) & ... opposed on the one hand to technical or professional or any special training, & on the other to education that stops short before manhood is reached."
The study of [the classics] is fitly called a liberal education, because it emancipates the mind from every narrow provincialism, whether of egoism or tradition, and is the apprenticeship that every one must serve before becoming a free brother of the guild which passes the torch of life from age to age. [James Russell Lowell, "Among my Books"]