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).
"pertaining to atoms," 1670s as a philosophical term (see atomistic); scientific sense dates from 1811, from atom + -ic. Atomic number is from 1821; atomic mass is from 1848. Atomic energy first recorded 1906 in modern sense (as intra-atomic energy from 1903).
March, 1903, was an historic date for chemistry. It is, also, as we shall show, a date to which, in all probability, the men of the future will often refer as the veritable beginning of the larger powers and energies that they will control. It was in March, 1903, that Curie and Laborde announced the heat-emitting power of radium. [Robert Kennedy Duncan, "The New Knowledge," 1906]
Atomic bomb first recorded 1914 in writings of H.G. Wells ("The World Set Free"), who thought of it as a bomb "that would continue to explode indefinitely."
When you can drop just one atomic bomb and wipe out Paris or Berlin, war will have become monstrous and impossible. [S. Strunsky, Yale Review, January 1917]
Atomic Age is from 1945. Atomical "concerned with atoms," also "very minute," is from 1640s. Atomic clock is from 1938.
c. 1300, dragge, "dragnet," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse dragga "a load," Swedish dragg "grapnel") or from Old English dræge "dragnet," related to dragan "to draw" (see drag (v.)).
From 1708 as "anything attached to a moving body that retards its progress." As the name of a device for retarding or stopping the rotation of wheels, 1795. Sense of "annoying, boring person or thing" is 1813, perhaps from the mechanical senses or the notion of something that must be dragged as an impediment.
Sense of "women's clothing worn by a man" is by 1870, perhaps originally theater slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor (another guess is Yiddish trogn "to wear," from German tragen); drag queen "male transvestite or cross-dresser" is from 1941.
Drag racing (1947), is said to be from thieves' slang drag "automobile" (1935), perhaps ultimately from slang sense of "wagon, buggy" (1755), because a horse would drag it. By 1851 this was transferred to "street," as in the phrase main drag (which some propose as the source of the racing sense).
In addition to the time trials there are a number of "drag races" between two or more cars. They are run, not for record, but to satisfy the desire of most Americans to see who can get from here to there in the fastest time. [Popular Mechanics, January 1947]
No native Anglo-Saxon words begin in v- except those (vane, vat, vixen) altered by the southwestern England habit of replacing initial f- with v- (and initial s- with z-). Confusion of -v- and -w- also was a characteristic of 16c. Cockney accents.
As a Roman numeral, "five." In German rocket weapons systems of World War II, it stood for Vergeltungswaffe "reprisal weapon." V-eight as a type of motor engine is recorded from 1929 (V-engine is attested from 1909), so called for the arrangement. The V for "victory" hand sign was conceived January 1941 by Belgian politician and resistance leader Victor de Laveleye, to signify French victoire and Flemish vrijheid ("freedom"). It was broadcast into Europe by Radio België/Radio Belgique and popularized by the BBC by June 1941, from which time it became a universal allied gesture.
also bellydance, 1883, in a British account of travels in Persia, from belly (n.) + dance (n.). In early use sometimes referred to by the French danse du ventre, which is attested by 1872 in French accounts from the Middle East. It appears as a French term in English by 1883, and its use got a boost from the performances of it at the Paris Exposition of 1889.
We agreed, and made our way to the mimic street called Grand Cairo, where we witnessed the lady contortionist who performs a series of movements, designated with charming frankness on the affiches as "La Danse du Ventre." It might with equal candor be called the Lumbar Wriggle [or] the Pectoral Squirm, for this curious Arab almeh possesses the power of moving any one of her principal sets of muscles quite independently of all the others, and can make any prominent part of her person waggle or surge, while its neighboring lines or curves preserve a statuesque rigidity. [Table Talk, September 1889]
The number of women [in the audience] was ludicrously disproportionate, and the number of American women was noticeable. Some of them seemed slightly pensive, but all were interested. Their large eyes grew larger still. They almost forgot decorum in crowding for a better view, in leaning over the backs of chairs in concentrated absorbed attention. [Scribner's Magazine, January 1890]
The English noun is perhaps a direct translation of the French. As a verb from 1963. Related: Belly-dancer (1922); belly-dancing (n.), 1921.
late 14c., "free choice, freedom to do as one chooses," also "freedom from the bondage of sin," from Old French liberte "freedom, liberty, free will" (14c., Modern French liberté), from Latin libertatem (nominative libertas) "civil or political freedom, condition of a free man; absence of restraint; permission," from liber "free" (see liberal (adj.)). At first of persons; of communities, "state of being free from arbitrary, despotic, or autocratic rule or control" is from late 15c.
The French notion of liberty is political equality; the English notion is personal independence. [William R. Greg, "France in January 1852" in "Miscellaneous Essays"]
Nautical sense of "leave of absence" is from 1758. Meaning "unrestrained action, conduct, or expression" (1550s) led to take liberties "go beyond the bounds of propriety" (1620s). Sense of "privileges by grant" (14c.) led to sense of "a person's private land" (mid-15c.), within which certain special privileges may be exercised, which yielded in 18c. in both England and America a sense of "a district within a county but having its own justice of the peace," and also "a district adjacent to a city and in some degree under its municipal jurisdiction" (as in Northern Liberties of Philadelphia). Also compare Old French libertés "local rights, laws, taxes."
Liberty-cap is from 1803; the American Revolutionary liberty-pole, "tall flagstaff set up in honor of liberty and often surmounted by a liberty-cap" is from 1775. Liberty-cabbage was a World War I U.S. jingoistic euphemism for sauerkraut.
1826, "advocacy of empire, devotion to imperial interests," originally in a Napoleonic context, also of Rome and of British foreign policy; from imperial + -ism. At times in British usage (and briefly in U.S.) with a neutral or positive sense relating to national interests or the spread of the benefits of Western civilization, but from the beginning usually more or less a term of reproach. General sense of "one country's rule over another," first recorded 1878.
It is the old story of 1798, when French republicanism sick of its own folly and misdeeds, became metamorphosed into imperialism, and consoled itself for its incapacity to found domestic freedom by putting an iron yoke upon Europe, and covering it with blood and battle-fields. [Francis Lloyd, St. James's Magazine, January 1842]
The word sharpened its pejorative after 1900, with U.S. revulsion to Philippine insurrection and the publication of J.A. Hobson's book on imperialism, through which the term was taken up in the 1910s by communist writers.
Imperialism is a depraved choice of national life, imposed by self-seeking interests which appeal to the lusts of quantitative acquisitiveness and of forceful domination surviving in a nation from early centuries of animal struggle for existence. Its adoption as a policy implies a deliberate renunciation of that cultivation of the higher inner qualities which for a nation as for an individual constitutes the ascendency of reason over brute impulse. It is the besetting sin of all successful States, and its penalty is unalterable in the order of nature. [J.A. Hobson, "Imperialism: A Study," London, 1902]