"short cannon, ordnance piece short in proportion to the size of its bore," fired at a high angle and meant to secure a vertical fall of the projectile, 1620s, originally mortar-piece (1550s), from French mortier "short cannon," in Old French, "bowl for mixing or pounding" (see mortar (n.2)). So called for its shape.
Old English oferseon "to look down upon, keep watch over, survey, observe;" see over- + see (v.). Meaning "to supervise to superintend" is attested from mid-15c. The verb lacks the double sense of similar overlook, but it sometimes had it and this survives in the noun form oversight. Compare German übersehen, Dutch overzien. Related: Oversaw; overseen.
1630s, "review, examination, enumeration" (senses now obsolete), from Latin recensionem (nominative recensio) "an enumeration," noun of action from past-participle stem of recensere "to count, enumerate, survey," from re-, here perhaps intensive (see re-) + censere "to tax, rate, assess, estimate" (see censor (n.)). From c. 1820 as "a critical or methodical revision" (of a text), also "a text established by critical or systematic revision."
"mental view or survey," 1742, from out- + look (v.). The meaning "prospect for the future" is attested from 1851. Earliest sense was "a place from which an observer looks out or watches anything" (1660s). The literal sense of "vigilant watch, act or practice of looking out" (1815) is rare; look-out being used instead for this.
1796, "a painting on a revolving cylindrical surface," representing scenes too extended to be beheld all at once, coined c. 1789 by inventor, Irish artist Robert Barker, literally "a complete view," from pan- "all" + Greek horama "sight, spectacle, that which is seen," from horan "to look, see," which is possibly from PIE root *wer- (3) "to perceive, observe." Meaning "comprehensive survey, complete or entire view" is by 1801.
"typical U.S. middle class community," 1929, from the title of a book published that year ("Middletown: A Study in Contemporary American Culture") by New York sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd, based on information collected 1924-25 in Muncie, Indiana. The U.S. Geological Survey lists 40 towns by that name, not counting variant spellings; see middle (adj.) + town.
c. 1300, ordinaunce, "an authoritative direction, decree, or command" (narrower or more transitory than a law), from Old French ordenance (Modern French ordonnance) or directly from Medieval Latin ordinantia, from Latin ordinantem (nominative ordinans), present participle of ordinare "put in order," from ordo (genitive ordinis) "row, rank, series, arrangement" (see order (n.)). By early 14c. senses had emerged of "arrangement in ranks or rows" (especially in order of battle), also "warlike provisions, equipment" (a sense now in ordnance).