"seductive woman who exploits men," 1911, short for vampire. First attested use is earlier than the release of the Fox film "A Fool There Was" (January 1915), with sultry Theda Bara in the role of The Vampire. The movie was based on a play of that name that had been on Broadway in 1909 (title and concept from a Kipling poem, "The Vampire," inspired by a Burne-Jones painting). The stage lead seems to have been played by Kathryn Kaelred and Bernice Golden Henderson. At any rate, Bara (born Theodosia Goodman) remains the classic vamp and the word's wide currency is attributable to her performance.
A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care)
But the fool, he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I.)
[Kipling, from "The Vampire"]
month following January, late 14c., ultimately from Latin februarius mensis "month of purification," from februare "to purify," from februa "purifications, expiatory rites" (plural of februum "means of purification, expiatory offerings"), which is of uncertain origin, said to be a Sabine word. De Vaan says from Proto-Italic *f(w)esro-, from a PIE word meaning "the smoking" or "the burning" (thus possibly connected with fume (n.)). The sense then could be either purification by smoke or a burnt offering.
The last month of the ancient (pre-450 B.C.E.) Roman calendar, so named in reference to the Roman feast of purification, held on the ides of the month. The Old English name for it was solmonað, which is said to mean "mud month." English first borrowed the Roman name from Old French Feverier, which yielded Middle English Feverer, Feoverel, etc. (c. 1200) before the 14c. respelling to conform to Latin.
Old English geol, geola "Christmas Day, Christmastide," which is cognate with Old Norse jol (plural), the name of a heathen feast, later taken over by Christianity; the Germanic word is of unknown origin. The Old English (Anglian) cognate giuli was the Anglo-Saxons' name for a two-month midwinter season corresponding to Roman December and January, a time of important feasts but not itself a festival.
After conversion to Christianity the word narrowed to mean "the 12-day feast of the Nativity" (which began Dec. 25), but was replaced by Christmas by 11c., except in the northeast (areas of Danish settlement), where it remained the usual word.
Revived 19c. by writers to mean "the Christmas of 'Merrie England.' " First direct reference to the Yule log is 17c. According to some sources, Old Norse jol was borrowed into Old French as jolif, hence Modern French joli "pretty, nice," originally "festive" (see jolly).
by 1914 (1903 as push), a word of uncertain origin, but there is no evidence for the common derivation from an acronym of port outward, starboard home, supposedly the shipboard accommodations of wealthy British traveling to India on the P & O Lines (to keep their cabins out of the sun); as per OED, see objections outlined in G. Chowdharay-Best in Mariner's Mirror, January 1971; also see here. The acronym story dates from 1955.
More likely it is from slang posh "a dandy" (1890), from thieves' slang meaning "money" (1830), originally "coin of small value, halfpenny," possibly from Romany posh "half" [Barnhart].
The cavalryman, far more than the infantryman, makes a point of wearing "posh" clothing on every possible occasion — "posh" being a term used to designate superior clothing, or articles of attire other than those issued by and strictly conforming to the regulations. [E. Charles Vivian, "The British Army From Within," London, 1914]
early 15c., "spring of water that collects in a pool," from Old French fontaine "natural spring" (12c.), from Medieval Latin fontana "fountain, a spring" (source of Spanish and Italian fontana), from post-classical noun use of fem. of Latin fontanus "of a spring," from fons (genitive fontis) "spring (of water)," from PIE root *dhen- (1) "to run, flow" (source also of Sanskrit dhanayati, Old Persian danuvatiy "flows, runs").
The extended sense of "artificial jet of water" (and the structures that make them) is first recorded c. 1500. Hence also fountain-pen (by 1823), so called for the reservoir that supplies a continuous flow of ink. "A French fountain-pen is described in 1658 and Miss Burney used one in 1789" [Weekley]. Fountain of youth, and the story of Ponce de Leon's quest for it, seem to have been introduced in American English by Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" (January 1837).
"Did you never hear of the 'Fountain of Youth'?" asked Dr. Heidegger, "which Ponce de Leon, the Spanish adventurer, went in search of two or three centuries ago?"
"noisy dance," 1841, Southern U.S., apparently originally the name of a specific dance, perhaps from perceived similarity of dance motions to those of farm chores, hence from hoe (n.).
The step of every negro dance that was ever known, was called into requisition and admirably executed. They performed the "double shuffle," the "Virginny break-down," the "Kentucky heeltap," the "pigeon wing," the "back balance lick," the "Arkansas hoe down," with unbounded applause and irresistible effect. ["Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch's Texas Rangers," 1848]
"Hoe corn, hill tobacco" is noted as a line in the chorus of a slave song in 1838, and Washington Irving writes of a dance called "hoe corn and dig potatoes" in 1807.
The same precedence is repeated until all the merchandise is disposed of, the table is then banished the room, and the whole party hoe it down in straight fours and set dances, till the hour when "ghosts wandering here and there, troop home to church-yards." This is what we kintra folk call a strauss. ["Der Teufelskerl. A Tale of German Pennsylvania," in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, January 1840]
in Britain, "lettuce-like salad plant of the daisy family;" in U.S., "blanched shoots of Cichorium intybus" (a plant related to the Cichorium endiva, the British "endive"), late 14c., from Old French endive (14c.), from Medieval Latin endivia or a related Romanic source, from Latin intibus. This probably is connected in some way with Medieval Greek entybon, which Klein says is perhaps of Eastern origin (compare Egyptian tybi "January," the time the plant grows in Egypt). Century Dictionary says Arabic hindiba is "appar. of European origin."
Few culinary terms cause such confusion as endive and chicory. The basic problem is that what the British call endive the Americans call chicory, and what the British call chicory the Americans call endive (the French side with the Americans: British endive translates as French chicorée). [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"]
The original sense of the word in Middle English was the same as the modern American one, but when the Cichorium endiva, distinguished by its annual root, much longer unequal pappus, and less bitter taste, arrived in Europe from Asia in the 16c., the confusion of names began.
"The name of the machine in which the axe descends in grooves from a considerable height so that the stroke is certain and the head instantly severed from the body." [Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, January 1793], 1791, from French guillotine, named in recognition of French physician Joseph Guillotin (1738-1814), who as a deputy to the National Assembly (1789) proposed, for humanitarian and efficiency reasons, that capital punishment be carried out by beheading quickly and cleanly on a machine, which was built in 1791 and first used the next year. Similar devices on similar principles had been used in the Middle Ages. The verb is attested by 1794. Related: Guillotined; guillotining.
This is the product of Guillotin's endeavors, ... which product popular gratitude or levity christens by a feminine derivative name, as if it were his daughter: La Guillotine! ... Unfortunate Doctor! For two-and-twenty years he, unguillotined, shall hear nothing but guillotine, see nothing but guillotine; then dying, shall through long centuries wander, as it were, a disconsolate ghost, on the wrong side of Styx and Lethe; his name like to outlive Cæsar's. [Carlyle, "French Revolution"]
"worthless sponging idler," 1863, American English slang, perhaps originally Civil War slang, from dead (adj.) + beat. Earlier dead beat was used colloquially as an adjectival expression, "completely beaten, so exhausted as to be incapable of further exertion" (1821), and perhaps the base notion is of "worn out, good for nothing." It is noted in a British source from 1861 as a term for "a pensioner." The English, characteristically, turned up their noses at the American use.
In England "dead beat" means worn out, used up. ... But here, "dead beat" is used, as a substantive, to mean a scoundrel, a shiftless, swindling vagabond. We hear it said that such a man is a beat or a dead beat. The phrase thus used is not even good slang. It is neither humorous nor descriptive. There is not in it even a perversion of the sense of the words of which it is composed. Its origin is quite beyond conjecture. ["Americanisms," in The Galaxy, January 1878]
It also was used of a kind of regulating mechanism in pendulum clocks.
"brownish-purple," literally "flea-color," 1787, from French puce "flea-color; flea," from Latin pucilem (nominative pulex) "flea," from PIE *plou- "flea" (source also of Sanskrit plusih, Greek psylla, Old Church Slavonic blucha, Lithuanian blusa, Armenian lu "flea").
[T]he couleur de Puce, or flea colour, and the couleur de Noix, or nut colour, are the reigning winter taste. [Westminster Magazine, January 1777]
Perhaps so called as the color of the scab or stain that marked a flea-bite; flea-bitten was a color word in English to describe whiter or gray spotted over with dark-reddish spots (by 1620s, often of the skins of horses, dogs, etc.). That it could be generally recognized as a color seems a testimony to our ancestors' intimacy with vermin.
OED sees no connection between this word and obsolete puke (16c.-18c.; hence Shakespeare's puke-stocking) as the name of a dark color of now-uncertain shade (Century Dictionary says perhaps reddish-brown, OED says bluish-black or inky; others suggest grey).