1590s, "affecting the emotions or affections, moving, stirring" (now obsolete in this broad sense), from French pathétique "moving, stirring, affecting" (16c.), from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathetikos "subject to feeling, sensitive, capable of emotion," from pathetos "liable to suffer," verbal adjective of pathein "to suffer" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer").
The specific meaning "arousing pity, sorrow, or grief" or other tender feelings is from 1737. The colloquial sense of "so miserable as to be ridiculous" is attested by 1937. Related: Pathetical (1570s); pathetically. The pathetic fallacy (1856, first used by Ruskin) is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects.
Old English wurm, variant of wyrm "serpent, snake, dragon, reptile," also in later Old English "earthworm," from Proto-Germanic *wurmiz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German, German wurm, Old Frisian and Dutch worm, Old Norse ormr, Gothic waurms "serpent, worm"), from PIE *wrmi- "worm" (source also of Greek rhomos, Latin vermis "worm," Old Russian vermie "insects," Lithuanian varmas "insect, gnat"), from PIE *wrmi- "worm," from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."
The ancient category of these was much more extensive than the modern, scientific, one and included serpents, scorpions, maggots, and the supposed causes of certain diseases. For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. As an insult meaning "abject, miserable person" it dates from Old English. Worms "any disease arising from the presence of parasitic worms" is from late Old English. Can of worms figurative for "difficult problem" is from 1951, from the literal can of worms a fisherman might bring with him, on the image of something all tangled up.
1610s, "that may or must be deplored, lamentable, grievous, miserable;" from 1640s as "pitiable, wretched, contemptible," 1610s, from -able + deplore (v.) "lament, bewail, give up as hopeless," from French déplorer (13c.), from Latin deplorare "bewail, lament, give up for lost," from de- "entirely" (see de-) + plorare "weep, cry out," which is of unknown origin.
Perhaps from or inspired by French déplorable or directly from Late Latin deplorabilis. "It is sometimes, in a more lax and jocular sense, used for contemptible; despicable: as deplorable nonsense; deplorable stupidity" [Johnson, 1755]. Related: Deplorably; deplorableness; deplorability.
As a noun it is attested from 1830 as "deplorable ills." Deplorables was used politically in reference to the ministry of Charles X of France in the 1820s (le ministère déplorable). Rare in 19c.-20c.; in U.S. it got a boost 2016 when used by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in reference to supporters of her rival, Donald Trump, some of whom embraced it as a despite-word.
"cat," 1520s, but probably much older than the record, perhaps imitative of the hissing sound commonly used to get a cat's attention or the noise made by the cat in hissing. The same or similar sound is a conventional name for a cat in Germanic languages and as far off as Afghanistan; it is the root of the principal word for "cat" in Rumanian (pisica) and secondary words in Lithuanian (puž, word used for calling a cat), Low German (puus), Swedish dialect katte-pus, Irish puisin "a kitten," etc.
Applied to a girl or woman from c. 1600, originally in a negative sense, implying unpleasant cat-like qualities, but by mid-19c. in affectionate use.
The little puss seems already to have airs enough to make a husband as miserable as it's a law of nature for a quiet man to be when he marries a beauty. ["George Eliot," "Adam Bede," 1859]
Children's game puss-in-the-corner is attested by that name by 17-9.
c. 1300, "evil condition, misfortune; hardship, need, want; wickedness, wrongdoing, evil," from Old French meschief "misfortune, harm, trouble; annoyance, vexation" (12c., Modern French méchef), verbal noun from meschever "come or bring to grief, be unfortunate" (opposite of achieve), from mes- "badly" (see mis- (2)) + chever "happen, come to a head," from Vulgar Latin *capare "head," from Latin caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
Meaning "harm or evil considered as the work of some agent or due to some cause" is from late 15c. Sense of "playful malice" is recorded by 1784. The meaning has softened with time; in Middle English to be full of mischief was to be miserable; to make mischief was "to result in misery."
Mischief Night in 19c. England was the eve of May Day and of Nov. 5, both major holidays, and perhaps the original point was pilfering for the next day's celebration and bonfire; but in Yorkshire, Scotland, and Ireland the night was Halloween. The useful Middle English verb mischieve (early 14c.), used by Skelton and Gavin Douglas, has, for some reason, fallen from currency.
mid-12c., forloren "disgraced, depraved," past participle of obsolete forlesan "be deprived of, lose, abandon," from Old English forleosan "to lose, abandon, let go; destroy, ruin," from for- "completely" + leosan "to lose" (from Proto-Germanic *lausa-, from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart"). In the Mercian hymns, Latin perditionis is glossed by Old English forlorenisse. OED's examples of forlese end in 17c., but the past participle persisted. Sense of "forsaken, abandoned" is 1530s; that of "wretched, miserable" first recorded 1580s.
A common Germanic compound (cognates: Old Saxon farilosan, Old Frisian urliasa, Middle Dutch verliesen, Dutch verliezen, Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").
In English now often in forlorn hope (1570s), which is a partial translation of Dutch verloren hoop, in which hoop means "troop, band," literally "heap," and the sense of the whole phrase is of a suicide mission. The phrase more often than not is used in English as if it meant "a faint hope," and the misuse has colored the meaning of forlorn. Related: Forlornly; forlornness.
late 14c., distressen, "constrain or compel by pain, suffering, or other circumstances; harass," from Old French destresser "restrain, constrain; afflict, distress," from Vulgar Latin *districtiare "restraint, affliction, narrowness, distress," from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere "draw apart, hinder," also, in Medieval Latin "compel, coerce," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stringere "draw tight, press together" (see strain (v.)).
From c. 1400 as "afflict with mental or physical pain, make miserable." From early 15c. as "to damage;" specifically "damage a piece of furniture to make it appear older (and thus more valuable)" by 1926.
My particular job is "distressing" new furniture—banging, hammering and knocking it to give it the wear of time. This is not so easy a task as it seems. The smallest mistake may make all your work useless. In high-class "antiques" such as we carry, you have to satisfy not only the average person but people who go in for furniture as a hobby. ["It's a Wise Man Who Knows a Real Antique," Popular Science Monthly, June 1926]
c. 1200, "free from duplicity, upright, guileless; blameless, innocently harmless," also "ignorant, uneducated; unsophisticated; simple-minded, foolish," from Old French simple (12c.) "plain, decent; friendly, sweet; naive, foolish, stupid," hence "wretched, miserable," from Latin simplus from PIE compound *sm-plo-, from root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with" + *-plo- "-fold."
Sense of "free from pride, humble, meek" is mid-13c. As "consisting of only one substance or ingredient" (opposite of composite or compounded) it dates from late 14c.; as "easily done" (opposite of complicated) it dates from late 15c.
From mid-14c. as "unqualified; mere; sheer;" also "clear, straightforward; easily understood." From late 14c. as "single, individual; whole." From late 14c. of clothing, etc., "modest, plain, unadorned," and of food, "plain, not sumptuous." In medicine, of fractures, etc., "lacking complications," late 14c. As a law term, "lacking additional legal stipulations, unlimited," from mid-14c.
In Middle English with wider senses than recently, such as "inadequate, insufficient; weak, feeble; mere; few; sad, downcast; mournful; of little value; low in price; impoverished, destitute;" of hair, "straight, not curly." As noun, "an innocent or a guileless person; a humble or modest person" (late 14c.), also "an uncompounded substance." From c. 1500 as "ignorant people."
1610s, "of or pertaining to or meant for a pocket," from pocket (n.). Pocket-money "money for occasional or trivial purposes" is attested from 1630s; pocket-handkerchief is from 1640s. Often merely implying a small-sized version of something (for example of of warships, from 1930; also compare Pocket Venus "beautiful, small woman," attested from 1808). Pocket veto attested from 1842, American English.
The "pocket veto" can operate only in the case of bills sent to the President within ten days of Congressional adjournment. If he retain such a bill (figuratively, in his pocket) neither giving it his sanction by signing it, nor withholding his sanction in returning it to Congress, the bill is defeated. The President is not bound to give reasons for defeating a bill by a pocket veto which he has not had at least ten days to consider. In a regular veto he is bound to give such reasons. [James Albert Woodburn, "The American Republic and its Government," Putnam's, 1903]
In English history a pocket borough (by 1798) was one whose parliamentary representation was under the control of one person or family.
BRAMBER, Sussex. This is one of the burgage-tenure or nomination boroughs. The place altogether consists only of twenty-two miserable thatched cottages, and is composed of two intersections of a street, the upper and middle parts of which constitute another pocket borough, called Steyning, which we shall notice in the second class, as belonging to the Duke of Norfolk. ["A Key to the House of Commons," London, 1820]
c. 1200, "lacking money or resources, destitute of wealth; needy, indigent;" also "small, scanty," also voluntarily and deliberately, "devoid of possessions in conformity with Christian virtues," from Old French povre "poor, wretched, dispossessed; inadequate; weak, thin" (Modern French pauvre), from Latin pauper "poor, not wealthy," from pre-Latin *pau-paros "producing little; getting little," a compound from the roots of paucus "little" (from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little") and parare "to produce, bring forth" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").
It replaced Old English earm (from Proto-Germanic *arma-, which is of disputed origin). Late 13c. as "unfortunate, to be pitied or regretted." In contemptuous use, "morally inferior, miserable, wretched," by early 15c. Used figuratively ("spiritually poor") from early 14c. (to be poor in spirit is to be "spiritually humble"). Meaning "deficient in desirable or essential qualities" is from c. 1300. In reference to inhabited places from c. 1300; of soil, etc., from late 14c. In modest or apologetic use, "humble, slight, insignificant," from early 15c.
The poor boy sandwich, made of simple but filling ingredients, was invented and named in New Orleans in 1921. To poor mouth "deny one's advantages" is from 1965 (to make a poor mouth "whine" is Scottish dialect from 1822). Slang poor man's________ "the cheaper alternative to _______," is from 1854. Poor relation "relative or kinsman in humble circumstances" is by 1720.