1903, coined by George Bernard Shaw to translate German Übermensch, "highly evolved human being that transcends good and evil," from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" (1883-91), by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). The German word was first used in German by Hermann Rab (1520s), and also was used by Herder and Goethe. It was Englished as overman (1895) and beyond-man (1896) before Shaw got to the modern version in his play title "Man and Superman" (1903). Application to comic strip hero is from 1938.
So was created ... Superman! champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need! ["Action Comics," June 1, 1938]
His ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound dates from 1941; the "Action Comics" introduction is less succinct: "When maturity was reached, he discovered he could easily: Leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a twenty story building ..."
1650s as a type of surgical instrument; 1760 as "one who takes or removes scalps," agent noun from scalp (v.).
The meaning "person who re-sells tickets at unauthorized prices for a profit" is by 1869 in American English; the earliest reference is to theater tickets, but it more often was used late 19c. of brokers who sold unused portions of railway tickets. [Railways charged less per mile for longer-distance tickets; therefore someone traveling from New York to Chicago could buy a ticket all the way to San Francisco, get out at Chicago and sell it to a scalper, and come away with more money than if he had simply bought a ticket to Chicago; the Chicago scalper would hold the ticket till he found someone looking for a ticket to San Francisco, then sell it to him at a slight advance, but for less than the official price.]
Perhaps from scalp (v.) in some sense; scalper was a generic term for "con man, cheater" in late 19c. Or perhaps the connecting sense is the bounty offered for scalps of certain destructive animals (attested in New England from 1703) and the notion is "one who holds only part of something, but still gets a reward." Some, though, see a connection rather to scalpel, the surgical instrument.
mid-13c., "(one's) native land;" c. 1300, "any geographic area," sometimes with implications of political organization, from Old French contree, cuntrede "region, district, country," from Vulgar Latin *(terra) contrata "(land) lying opposite," or "(land) spread before one," in Medieval Latin "country, region," from Latin contra "opposite, against" (see contra-). The native word is land.
Also from c. 1300 as "area surrounding a walled city or town; the open country." By early 16c. the word was applied mostly to rural areas, as opposed to towns and cities. Meaning "inhabitants of a country, the people" is from c. 1300.
INTERVIEWER [Steve Rossi]: "Would you say you're the best fighter in the country?
PUNCH-DRUNK BOXER [Marty Allen]: "Yeah, but in the city they murder me."
As an adjective from late 14c., "peculiar to one's own country (obsolete); by 1520s as "pertaining to or belonging to the rural parts of a region," typically with implications of "rude, unpolished."
Country air "fresh air" is from 1630s. First record of country-and-western as a music style is by 1942, American English. Country music is by 1968. Country club "recreational and social club, typically exclusive, located in or near the country" is by 1886. Country mile "a long way" is from 1915, American English. Country-mouse is from 1580s; the fable of the mouse cousins is as old as Aesop. Country road "road through rural regions" is from 1873.
late 12c., "loss, lack; " c. 1200, "regret occasioned by loss or absence," from Old English miss "absence, loss," from source of missan "to miss" (see miss (v.)). Meaning "an act or fact of missing; a being without" is from late 15c.; meaning "a failure to hit or attain" is 1550s.
Phrase a miss is as good as a mile (1761) was originally an inch, in a miss, is as good as an ell (1610s; see ell). To give (something) a miss "to abstain from, avoid" is attested by 1919, perhaps from earlier use of the term in billiards, "to avoid hitting the object ball" (1807).
There are few of the niceties of the game that require more care than that of "giving a miss," and particularly when the player wishes to mask the ball. I recollect a game I played with Mr. Burke, of Cheltenham. He went off, and doubled, as was his custom, the red ball nearly over the baulk corner pocket. Not feeling disposed, against so skilful an antagonist, to run the risk of playing for a canon off his ball, I gave a miss, thinking I had masked the ball. His eye, keen and penetrating, discovered at a glance that I had just left him room to pass. He played at the red ball and holed his own ball off it by a fine cut, and scored forty points from the break. [Edward Russell Mardon, "Billiards," London, 1849]
"1 more than three, twice two; the number which is one more than three; a symbol representing this number;" Old English feower "four; four times," from Proto-Germanic *fedwores (source also of Old Saxon fiuwar, Old Frisian fiower, fiuwer, Frankish *fitter-, Dutch vier, Old High German fior, German vier, Old Norse fjorir, Danish fire, Swedish fyra, Gothic fidwor "four"), from PIE root *kwetwer- "four." The phonetic evolution of the Germanic forms has not been fully explained; Watkins explains the -f- as being from the following number (Modern English five).
To be on all fours is from 1719; earlier on all four (14c.). Four-letter word as a euphemism for one of the short words generally regarded as offensive or objectionable is attested from 1923; four-letter man is recorded from 1920 (apparently as a euphemism for a shit). Compare Latin homo trium litterarum, literally "three-letter man," a euphemism for fur "a thief." A four-in-hand (1793) was a carriage drawn by four horses driven by one person; in the sense of "loosely tied necktie" it is attested from 1892. To study The History of the Four Kings (1760, compare French Livres des Quatre Rois) contains an old euphemistic slang phrase for "a pack of cards," from the time when card-playing was considered a wicked pastime for students. Slang 4-1-1 "essential information" (by 1993) is from the telephone number called to get customer information. The four-color problem so called from 1879. The four-minute mile was attained 1954.
[sleep, repose, slumber] Old English ræste, reste "rest; a bed or couch; intermission of labor; mental peace, state of quiet or repose," from Proto-Germanic *rasto- (source also of Old Saxon resta "resting place, burial-place," Dutch rust, Old High German rasta, German Rast "rest, peace, repose"), a word of uncertain origin.
The original prehistoric signification of the Germanic noun was perhaps a measure of distance; compare Old High German rasta, which in addition to "rest" meant "league of miles," Old Norse rost "league, distance after which one rests," Gothic rasta "mile, stage of a journey." If so, perhaps a word from the nomadic period. But if the original sense was "repose," the sense was extended secondarily to "distance between two resting places."
Sense of "absence or cessation of motion" is from late 15c. The meaning "that on which anything leans for support, thing upon which something rests" is attested from 1580s, with specific senses developing later. In music, "an interval of silence," also the mark or sign denoting this, 1570s.
At rest "dead" is from mid-14c., on the notion of "last rest, the big sleep, the grave." The roadside rest stop for drivers on busy highways is by 1970. The colloquial expression give (something) a rest "stop talking about it" is by 1927, American English.
[R]est and repose apply especially to the suspended activity of the body ; ease and quiet to freedom from occupation or demands for activity, especially of the body ; tranquility and peace to the freedom of the mind from harassing cares or demands. [Century Dictionary]
c. 1300, "one-fourth of anything; one of four equal parts or divisions into which anything is or may be divided;" often in reference to the four parts into which a slaughtered animal is cut, from Old French quartier, cartier (12c.), from Latin quartarius "fourth part," from quartus "the fourth, fourth part" (related to quattuor "four," from PIE root *kwetwer- "four"). One of the earliest dated references in English is to "parts of the body as dismembered during execution" (c. 1300).
Used of the phases of the moon from early 15c. The phrase quarter of an hour is attested from mid-15c. In Middle English quarter also meant "one of the four divisions of a 12-hour night" (late 14c.), and the quarter of the night meant "nine o'clock p.m." (early 14c.). As a period of time in a football game, from 1911.
From late 14c. as "one of the four quadrants of the heavens;" hence, from the notion of the winds, "a side, a direction" (c. 1400). In heraldry from mid-14c. as "one of the four divisions of a shield or coat of arms."
Meaning "region, locality, area, place" is from c. 1400. Meaning "distinct portion of a town" (identified by the class or race of people who live there) is first attested 1520s. For military sense, see quarters.
The coin (one fourth of a dollar, originally silver) is peculiar to U.S. and dates to 1783. But quarter could mean "a farthing" (one quarter of a penny) in Middle English (late 14c.), and compare quadrant "a farthing" (c. 1600), and classical Latin quadrans, the name of a coin worth a quarter of an as (the basic unit of Roman currency).
Quarter horse, bred strong for racing on quarter-mile tracks, is recorded by 1834. The word's connection with "four" loosened in Middle English and by 15c. expressions such as six-quartered for "six-sided" are found.
Old English wucu, wice, etc., from Proto-Germanic *wikō(n)- (source also of Old Norse vika, Old Frisian wike, Middle Dutch weke, Old High German wecha, German woche), probably originally with the sense of "a turning" or "succession" (compare Gothic wikon "in the course of," Old Norse vika "sea-mile," originally "change of oar," Old English wican "yield, give way"), from PIE root *weik- (2) "to bend, to wind." The vowel sound seems to have been uncertain in Old and Middle English and -e-, -i-, -o-, -u-, -y-, and various diphthongs are attested for it.
"Meaning primarily 'change, alteration,' the word may once have denoted some earlier time division, such as the 'change of moon, half month,' ... but there is no positive evidence of this" [Buck]. No evidence of a native Germanic week before contact with the Romans. The seven-day week is ancient, probably originating from the 28-day lunar cycle, divisible into four periods of seven day, at the end of each of which the moon enters a new phase. Reinforced during the spread of Christianity by the ancient Jewish seven-day week.
As a Roman astrological convention it was borrowed by other European peoples; the Germanic tribes substituting their own deities for those of the Romans, without regard to planets. The Coligny calendar suggests a Celtic division of the month into halves; the regular Greek division of the month was into three decades; and the Romans also had a market week of nine days. Phrase a week, as in eight days a week recorded by 1540s; see a- (1).
Greek planetary names [for the days of the week] ... are attested for the early centuries of our era, but their use was apparently restricted to certain circles; at any rate they never became popular. In Rome, on the other hand, the planetary names became the established popular terms, too strongly intrenched to be displaced by the eccl[esiastical] names, and spreading through most of western Europe. [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]