ampersand (n.)

1797, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.

The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, which was a different form of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro, which used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, who sprinkled their works with a symbol like a numeral 7 to indicate the word and.

In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."

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cobbler (n.1)

late 14c., (late late 13c. in surnames and place names), cobelere "one who mends shoes," of uncertain origin. It and cobble (v.) "evidently go together etymologically" [OED], but the historical record presents some difficulties. "The cobbler should stick to his last" (ne sutor ultra crepidam) is from the anecdote of Greek painter Apelles.

On one occasion a cobbler noticed a fault in the painting of a shoe, and remarking upon it to a person standing by, passed on. As soon as the man was out of sight Apelles came from his hiding-place, examined the painting, found that the cobbler's criticism was just, and at once corrected the error. ... The cobbler came by again and soon discovered that the fault he had pointed out had been remedied; and, emboldened by the success of his criticism, began to express his opinion pretty freely about the painting of the leg! This was too much for the patience of the artist, who rushed from his hiding place and told the cobbler to stick to his shoes. [William Edward Winks, "Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers," London, 1883]

[The tale is variously told, and the quote is variously reported: Pliny ("Natural History" XXXV.x.36) has ne supra crepidam judicaret, while Valerius Maximus (VIII.xiii.3) gives supra plantam ascendere vetuit. The version cited here confessedly is for the sake of the book name]

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lucubration (n.)

1590s, "close study or thought;" 1610s, "a product of such study or thought, literary work showing signs of too-careful elaboration," from Latin lucubrationem (nominative lucubratio) "nocturnal study, night work," noun of action from past-participle stem of lucubrare, literally "to work by artificial light," from stem of lucere "to shine," from suffixed (iterative) form of PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness." Related: Lucubrations.

The current story in antiquity was that Aeschylus had been killed near Gela in Sicily by a tortoise dropt on his head by an eagle, which mistook the bald shiny pate of the venerable poet for a stone, and hoped to smash the tortoise on it. See Biographi Graeci, ed. Westermann, p. 120 ; Aelian Nat. Anim. vii. 16 ; Suidas, s.v. Αίσχύλοσ ; Valerius Maximus, ix. 12. Ext. 2. This important topic has produced the usual crop of learned dissertations. The late Professor F. G. Welcker gravely discussed it by the help of ornithological information derived from Aesop's fables, notes of travel made by the professor himself on the supposed scene of the catastrophe, and statistics as to the number of bald-headed men in antiquity. The interesting inquiry has since been prosecuted by other scholars with equal judgment and learning. The reader who desires to peruse these ponderous lucubrations should consult Rheinisches Museum, N.F. 7 (1850), pp. 139-144, 285 sq ; id., 9 (1854), pp. 148-155, 160* ; id., 37 (1882), pp. 308-312 ; Fleckeisen's Jahrbücher, 26 (1880), pp. 22-24 ; Welcker, Antike Denkmäler, 2. pp. 337-346. [J.G. Frazer, notes to Pausanias's "Description of Greece," 1898]
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