a modern book-form to represent Old English run, rune "secret, mystery, dark mysterious statement, (secret) council," also "a runic letter" (runstæf), from Proto-Germanic *runo (source also of Old Norse run "a secret, magic sign, runic character," Old High German runa "a secret conversation, whisper," Gothic runa), from PIE *ru-no-, source of technical terms of magic in Germanic and Celtic (source also of Gaelic run "a secret, mystery, craft, deceit, purpose, intention, desire," Welsh rhin "a secret, charm, virtue"). Also see Runnymede.
The word entered Middle English as roun and by normal evolution would have become Modern English *rown, but it died out mid-15c. when the use of runes did. The modern usage is from late 17c., from German philologists who had reintroduced the word in their writings from a Scandinavian source (such as Danish rune, from Old Norse run).
The presumption often is that the magical sense was the original one in the word and the use of runes as letters was secondary to ancient Germanic peoples, but this is questioned by some linguists. The runic alphabet itself is believed to have developed by 2c. C.E. from contact with Greek writing, with the letters modified to be more easily cut into wood or stone. Related: Runed; runecraft.
1640s, "pertaining to Eleusis," town outside Athens, site of the mystery associated with the cult of Demeter, goddess of harvests, and her daughter.
The name is literally "arrival" (eleusis), from eleusomai "to go, come," from PIE *elu-to-, from root *leudh- "to grow up, come out" (see liberal (adj.)). This is also the root of Greek eleutheros "freedom."
The best agreement (semantically and formally) to this old ablauting verb is found in Celtic, with the OIr. preterite lod, luid "I, he went" ... formally as good, but semantically less convincing, is the further comparison with Skt. ró(d)hati, Go. liudan "to grow, rise" (whence the old word for "people", OHG liut, etc. ...). [Beekes]
mid-14c., "demon;" late 14c., "a ragged lout," also in surnames (Isabella Ragamuffyn, 1344), from Middle English raggi "ragged" ("rag-y"?) + "fanciful ending" [OED], or else perhaps second the element is Middle Dutch muffe "mitten." Or, as Johnson has it, "From rag and I know not what else."
Ragged was used of the devil from c. 1300 in reference to his "shaggy" appearance. Raggeman (late 13c. as a surname, presumably "one who goes about in tattered clothes") was used by Langland as the name of a demon (late 14c.), and compare Old French Ragamoffyn, name of a demon in a mystery play. Sense of "dirty, disreputable boy" is from 1580s. Also compare ragabash "idle, worthless fellow" (c. 1600).
But some French sources connect this Old French word with the source of air (n.1), and it also is possible these senses in English developed from or were influenced by air (n.1); compare sense development of atmosphere and Latin spiritus "breath, breeze," also "high spirit, pride," and the extended senses of anima.
The "Detached House" bears its peculiar characteristic on its front; it stands alone, and nothing more can be said about it; but with the "semi-detached house" there is a subtle mystery, much to be marvelled at. Semi-detached! Have the party-walls between two houses shrunk, or is there a bridge connecting the two, as in Mr. Beckford's house in Landsdown Crescent, Bath? A semi-detached house may be a house with a field on one side and a bone-boiling factory on the other. Semi-detached may mean half-tumbling to pieces. I must inquire into it. ["Houses to Let," in Household Words, March 20, 1852]
Another etymology traces it through the obsolete noun lungis "slow, lazy person" (c. 1560), which is from French longis "an idle, stupid dreamer," a special application, for some obscure reason, in Old French of the proper name Longis, which is from Latin Longius, Longinus. In old mystery plays and apocryphal gospels, Longinus is the name of the centurion who pierces Christ's side with a spear; the name perhaps was suggested by Greek longe "a lance" in John xix.34. But popular etymology associated the name directly with long (adj.). Related: Lounged; lounging; lounger.
late 14c., pagent, "a play in a cycle of mystery plays," from Medieval Latin pagina, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin pagina "page of a book" (see page (n.1)) on notion of "manuscript" of a play.
But an early sense in Middle English also was "wheeled stage or scene of a play" (late 14c.) and Klein, Century Dictionary, etc., say a sense of Medieval Latin pagina was "movable scaffold" (probably from the etymological sense of "stake"). The sense might have been extended from the platform to the play presented on it.
With unetymological -t as in ancient (adj.). In Middle English also "a scene in a royal welcome or a Roman triumph" (mid-15c.); "a story, a tale" (early 15c.); "an ornamental hanging for a room" (mid-15c.). The generalized sense of "showy parade, spectacle" is attested by 1805, though this notion is found in pageantry (1650s).
early 15c., from Old French ambre gris "gray amber," "a wax-like substance of ashy colour, found floating in tropical seas, a morbid secretion from the intestines of the sperm-whale. Used in perfumery, and formerly in cookery" [OED], via Medieval Latin from Arabic 'anbar (see amber). Its origin was known to Constantinus Africanus (obit c. 1087), but it was a mystery in Johnson's day, and he records nine different theories; "What sort of thing is Ambergrease?" was a type of a puzzling question beyond conjecture. King Charles II's favorite dish was said to be eggs and ambergris [Macauley, "History of England"].
Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a whole lump of it to his nose, it is a stink and strikes you down. [Pope, c. 1720]
French gris is from Frankish *gris or some other Germanic source (cognates: Dutch grijs, Old High German gris; see gray (adj.)).
late 14c., "force-meat, stuffing;" 1520s, in the dramatic sense "ludicrous satire; low comedy," from French farce "comic interlude in a mystery play" (16c.), literally "stuffing," from Old French farcir "to stuff," (13c.), from Latin farcire "to stuff, cram," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE *bhrekw- "to cram together," and thus related to frequens "crowded."
... for a farce is that in poetry which grotesque is in a picture. The persons and action of a farce are all unnatural, and the manners false, that is, inconsisting with the characters of mankind. [Dryden, "A Parallel of Poetry and Painting"]
According to OED and other sources, the pseudo-Latin farsia was applied 13c. in France and England to praise phrases inserted into liturgical formulae (for example between kyrie and eleison) at the principal festivals, then in Old French farce was extended to the impromptu buffoonery among actors that was a feature of religious stage plays. Generalized sense of "a ridiculous sham" is from 1690s in English.
late 14c., "that which is hidden from human understanding;" early 15c., "that which is hidden from general knowledge;" from Latin secretum "secrecy; a mystery; a thing hidden; secret conversation," also "retirement, solitude," noun from secretus "set apart, withdrawn; hidden, concealed, private." This is a past-participle adjective from secernere "to set apart, part, divide; exclude," from se- "without, apart," properly "on one's own" (see se-) + cernere "to separate" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish").
The meaning "something studiously hidden or concealed; what is not or should not be revealed" in English is from mid-15c. The sense of "key or principle by which some difficulty is solved" is from 1738, perhaps via the notion of "method or process hidden from the uninitiated" (late 15c.).
The alternative form secre, from an Old French variant form of secret, was common 14c.-16c. and seems to have been more frequent originally. It also was a variant of the adjective.
Open secret "matter or fact which is known to many; a secret which all who care to may learn" is from 1828. To keep (a) secret is from mid-15c. Secrets "parts of the body which propriety requires to be concealed" is by 1530s.