Etymology
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poindexter (n.)

"nerdy intellectual," by 1986, U.S. teenager slang, from the character Poindexter, introduced 1959 in the made-for-TV cartoon version of "Felix the Cat." The name originally was a surname, said to be Norman.

There is a rare name Poindexter, appearing in French as Poingdestre, "right fist." I have seen it explained as from the heraldic term point dexter, but it is rather to be taken literally. I find Johannes cum pugno in 1184, and we can imagine that such a name may have been conferred on a medieval bruiser. [Weekley, "The Romance of Names," 1914]
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exchequer (n.)

c. 1300, "a chessboard, checkerboard," from Anglo-French escheker "a chessboard," from Old French eschequier, from Medieval Latin scaccarium "chess board" (see check (n.1); also see checker (n.2)). The governmental sense of "department of the royal household concerned with the receipt, custody, and disbursement of revenue and with judicial determination of certain causes affecting crown revenues"  began under the Norman kings of England and refers to a cloth divided in squares that covered a table on which accounts of revenue were reckoned by using counters, and which reminded people of a chess board. Respelled with an -x- based on the mistaken belief that it originally was a Latin ex- word.

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sterling (n.)

c. 1300, "silver penny," perhaps from Middle English sterre (see star (n.)), according to OED "presumably" from the stars that appeared in the design of certain Norman coins, + diminutive suffix -ling. But starred coins were not especially common among Anglo-Saxon currency, and the stars on them tended to be small. The other theory [Kluge] is that it derives from Old French estedre "stater" (see stater). Sense broadened by 1560s to "money having the quality of the sterling," and c. 1600 to "English money in general." As an adjective from early 15c. From 1640s in general sense of "capable of standing a test" (as a sound coin would). A pound sterling was originally "a pound weight of sterlings," equal to about 240 of them.

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Anglo-Saxon (n.)

Old English Angli Saxones (plural), from Latin Anglo-Saxones, in which Anglo- is an adjective, thus literally "English Saxons," as opposed to those of the Continent (now called Old Saxons). Properly in reference to the Saxons of ancient Wessex, Essex, Middlesex, and Sussex.

I am a suthern man, I can not geste 'rum, ram, ruf' by letter. [Chaucer, "Parson's Prologue and Tale"]

After the Norman-French invasion of 1066, the peoples of the island were distinguished as English and French, but after a few generations all were English, and Latin-speaking scribes, who knew and cared little about Germanic history, began to use Anglo-Saxones to refer to the pre-1066 inhabitants and their descendants. When interest in Old English writing revived late 16c., the word was extended to the language we now call Old English.

In the last years of the reign of Elizabeth, Camden revived the use of the old name Anglosaxones, and, probably for the first time, used lingua Anglosaxonica for the language of England before the Norman conquest. He explains that Anglosaxones means the Saxons of England, in contradistinction to those of the continent; and, in his English Remains, he, accordingly, renders it by "English Saxons." Throughout the seventeenth century, and even later, "English Saxon" continued to be the name ordinarily applied by philologists to the language of king Alfred, but, in the eighteenth century, this gave place to "Anglo-Saxon." [Henry Bradley, in "Cambridge History of English Literature," 1907]

It has been used rhetorically for "English" in an ethnological sense from 1832, and revisioned as Angle + Saxon.

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surname (n.)

c. 1300, "name, title, or epithet added to a person's name," from sur "above" (from Latin super-; see sur- (1)) + name (n.); modeled on Anglo-French surnoun "surname" (early 14c.), variant of Old French sornom, from sur "over" + nom "name." As "family name" from late 14c.

An Old English word for this was freonama, literally "free name." Meaning "family name" is first found late 14c. Hereditary surnames existed among Norman nobility in England in early 12c., among the common people they began to be used 13c., increasingly frequent until near universal by end of 14c. The process was later in the north of England than the south. The verb is attested from 1510s. Related: Surnamed.

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avoirdupois (n.)

1650s, misspelling (with French du for de) of Middle English avoir-de-peise, the Norman form of Old French avoir de pois "goods of weight" (equivalent to Medieval Latin averia ponderis), from aveir "property, goods" (noun use of aveir "have," from Latin habere; from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive") + peis "weight," from Latin pensum, neuter of pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin").

The oldest sense in English is "goods sold by weight" (early 14c.). It is attested from late 15c. as a system of weights in which 1 pound = 16 ounces; introduced into England from Bayonne, from late 15c. it was the standard system of weights used in England for all goods except precious metals, precious stones, and medicine.

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alderman (n.)

Old English aldormonn (Mercian), ealdormann (West Saxon) "Anglo-Saxon ruler, prince, chief; chief officer of a shire," from aldor, ealder "patriarch" (comparative of ald "old;" see old) + monn, mann "man" (from PIE root *man- (1) "man").

Presumably originally of elders of the clan or tribe, but already in Old English used for king's viceroys, regardless of age. In later Old English a more specific title, "chief magistrate of a county," having both civic and military duties. The word yielded under Canute to eorl (see earl), and after the Norman Conquest to count (n.). Having lost its specific sense, alderman was then applied to any head man; meaning "headman of a guild" (early 12c.) passed to "magistrate of a city" (c. 1200) as the guilds became identified with municipal government. Related: Aldermancy; aldermanic.

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goblin (n.)

early 14c., "a devil, incubus, mischievous and ugly fairy," from Norman French gobelin (12c., as Medieval Latin Gobelinus, the name of a spirit haunting the region of Evreux, in chronicle of Ordericus Vitalis), of uncertain origin; said to be unrelated to German kobold (see cobalt), or from Medieval Latin cabalus, from Greek kobalos "impudent rogue, knave," kobaloi "wicked spirits invoked by rogues," of unknown origin. Another suggestion is that it is a diminutive of the proper name Gobel.

Though French gobelin was not recorded until almost 250 years after appearance of the English term, it is mentioned in the Medieval Latin text of the 1100's, and few people who believed in folk magic used Medieval Latin. [Barnhart]
Thou schalt not drede of an arowe fliynge in the dai, of a gobelyn goynge in derknessis [Psalms xci.5 in the later Wycliffe Bible, late 14c.]
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ancient (adj.)

late 14c., auncyen, of persons, "very old;" c. 1400, of things, "having lasted from a remote period," from Old French ancien "old, long-standing, ancient," from Vulgar Latin *anteanus, literally "from before," adjectivization of Latin ante "before, in front of, against" (from PIE *anti "against," locative singular of root *ant- "front, forehead"). The unetymological -t dates from 15c. by influence of words in -ent.

From early 15c. as "existing or occurring in times long past." Specifically, in history, "belonging to the period before the fall of the Western Roman Empire" (c. 1600, contrasted with medieval and modern). In English law, "from before the Norman Conquest."

As a noun, "very old person," late 14c.; "one who lived in former ages," 1530s. Ancient of Days "supreme being" is from Daniel vii.9. Related: Anciently.

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jail (n.)

c. 1300 (c. 1200 in surnames) "a jail, prison; a birdcage." The form in j- is from Middle English jaile, from Old French jaiole "a cage; a prison," from Medieval Latin gabiola "a cage," from Late Latin caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea "a cage, enclosure, stall, coop; a hollow place, a cavity" (see cave (n.)).

The form in g- was the more usual in Middle English manuscripts (gaile, also gaiole), from Old French gaiole "a cage; a prison," a variant spelling that seems to have been frequent in Old North French, which would have been the system familiar to Norman scribes. Now pronounced "jail" however it is spelled. Persistence of gaol (preferred in Britain) is "chiefly due to statutory and official tradition" [OED], and, probably, the fact that it is known the Americans spell it the other way.

In U.S. usually a place of confinement for petty offenders. The Medieval Latin word also is the source of Spanish gayola, Italian gabbiula.

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