Etymology
Advertisement
Mendoza line (n.)

in baseball, "a low batting average," (somewhere around .200) with the suggestion that any player hitting below it ought to feel a bit ashamed, by 1984, said to have been in humorous use in baseball clubhouses c. 1979, from the name of former Pirate, Mariner, and Ranger shortstop Mario Mendoza, who was noted for his defense but whose .215 lifetime batting average routinely left him at the bottom of weekly batting averages. The surname is Basque.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
alternative (adj.)
1580s, "offering one or the other of two," from Medieval Latin alternativus, from Latin alternatus, past participle of alternare "do one thing and then another, do by turns," from alternus "one after the other, alternate, in turns, reciprocal," from alter "the other" (see alter). Meaning "purporting to be a superior choice to what is in general use" was current by 1970 (earliest reference is to the media); in popular music, by 1984 in reference to pirate radio. Alternative energy is from 1975. Related: Alternatively.
Related entries & more 
money-pit (n.)
"edifice or project requiring constant outlay of cash with little to show for it," 1986 (year of a movie of the same name); see money (n.) + pit (n.). Before that (1930s), it was used for the shaft on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, that supposedly leads to treasure buried by Capt. Kidd or some other pirate. "Whether that name refers to the treasure or the several million dollars spent trying to get the treasure out is unclear." [Popular Mechanics, Sept. 1976]
Related entries & more 
Algeria 
North African country, named for Algiers, city chosen by the French as its capital when they colonized the region in 1830 + Latinate "country" suffix -ia. The city name is Arabic al-Jazair, literally "the islands" (plural of jezira) in reference to four islands formerly off the coast but joined to the mainland since 1525. Related: Algerian (1620s); a resident of the place (especially indigenous, as opposed to French colonists) also could be an Algerine (1650s), and that word was practically synonymous with "pirate" in English and U.S. usage early 19c.
Related entries & more 
buccaneer (n.)
"piratical rover on the Spanish coast," 1680s; earlier "one who roasts meat on a boucan" (1660s), from French boucanier "a pirate; a curer of wild meats, a user of a boucan," a native grill for roasting meat, from Tupi mukem (rendered in Portuguese as moquem c. 1587): "initial b and m are interchangeable in the Tupi language" [Klein] (the Haitian variant, barbacoa, became barbecue).

Originally used of French settlers working as woodsmen and hunters of wild hogs and cattle in the Spanish West Indies, they became a lawless and piratical set after being driven from their trade by Spanish authorities. Boucan/buccan itself is attested in English from 1610s as a noun, c. 1600 as a verb.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Viking (n.)

Scandinavian pirate, 1801, vikingr, in "The History of the Anglo-Saxons" by English historian Sharon H. Turner; he suggested the second element might be connected to king: But this later was dismissed as incorrect. The form viking is attested in 1820, in Jamieson's notes to "The Bruce."

The name by which the pirates were at first distinguished was Vikingr, which perhaps originally meant kings of the bays. It was in bays that they ambushed, to dart upon the passing voyager. [Turner]

The word is a historians' revival; it was not used in Middle English, but it was reintroduced from Old Norse vikingr "freebooter, sea-rover, pirate, viking," which usually is explained as meaning properly "one who came from the fjords," from vik "creek, inlet, small bay" (cognate with Old English wic, Middle High German wich "bay," and second element in Reykjavik).

But Old English wicing and Old Frisian wizing are almost 300 years older than the earliest attestation of the Old Norse word, and probably derive from wic "village, camp" (large temporary camps were a feature of the Viking raids), related to Latin vicus "village, habitation" (from PIE root *weik- (1) "clan").

The connection between the Norse and Old English words is still much debated. The period of Viking activity was roughly 8c. to 11c. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the raiding armies generally were referred to as þa Deniscan "the Danes," while those who settled in England were identified by their place of settlement. Old Norse viking (n.) meant "freebooting voyage, piracy;" one would "go on a viking" (fara í viking).

Related entries & more 
plank (n.)

late 13c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "thick board used in construction," from Old North French planke, a variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." Planche itself was also used in Middle English.

Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. The political sense of "article or paragraph formulating a distinct principle in a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848, based on the double sense of platform. To be made to walk the plank, "be forced to walk along a plank laid across the bulwarks of a ship until one reaches the end and falls into the sea," popularly supposed to have been a pirate form of execution, is attested from 1789, and most early references are to slave-ships disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.

Related entries & more 
livid (adj.)

early 15c., "of a bluish-leaden color," from Old French livide (13c.) and directly from Latin lividus "of a bluish color, black-and-blue," figuratively "envious, spiteful, malicious," from livere "be bluish," earlier *slivere, from PIE *sliwo-, suffixed form of root *sleiə- "bluish" (source also of Old Church Slavonic and Russian sliva "plum;" Lithuanian slyvas "plum;" Old Irish li, Welsh lliw "color, splendor," Old English sla "sloe").

Somehow it has come to be associated with "pale, colorless." The sense of "furiously angry" (1912) is from the notion of being livid with rage. Perhaps this is the key to the meaning shift. Rage makes some dark-red-faced; purple with rage is not uncommon in old novels (" 'My money! ye pirate! or I'll strangle you.' And he advanced upon him purple with rage, and shot out his long threatening arm, and brown fingers working in the air.") while it makes others go pale, also a figure in old novels ("At this juncture, the door opened, and, pale with rage, her eyes flashing fire, Lady Audley stood before them.")

Related entries & more 
Jolly Roger (n.)

pirate flag, attested under that name by 1724, of unknown origin; jolly here has its otherwise obsolete sense "high-hearted, gallant."  Also see Roger, the sense of which here is, again, uncertain. A glossary of Banffshire words compiled by the Rev. Walter Gregor and published in 1866 gives a definition of Rodger as "anything of its kind large and ugly," also "Any animal big and ugly," also "A big person of rude manners." It also has a verb rodger "to beat with violence." Perhaps there is a connection.

Their Black-Flag, under which they had committed abundance of Pyracies, and Murders was affix'd to one Corner of the Gallows ; It had in it the Portraiture of Death, with an Hour Glass in one Hand, and a Dart in the other striking into a Heart, and Three Drops of Blood delineated as falling from it : This Flag they call'd Old Roger, and used to say, They would live and die under it. [from a description of the execution of 26 pirates in Rhode Island July 26, 1723, in Historical and Political Monthly Mercury, November 1723]

For the use of jolly, compare Jolly robin "handsome or charming man, gaily dressed man, carefree dandy" (late 14c.) also French roger-bontemps "jovial, carefree man" (15c.).

Related entries & more 
berserk (adj.)

1844, from berserk (n.) "Norse warrior" (by 1835), an alternative form of berserker, a word which was introduced (as berserkar) by Sir Walter Scott in "The Pirate" (1822), from Old Norse berserkr (n.) "raging warrior of superhuman strength." It is probably from *ber- "bear" + serkr "shirt," thus literally "a warrior clothed in bearskin" (see bear (n.) + sark). Thus not, as Scott evidently believed, from Old Norse berr "bare, naked" and meaning "warrior who fights without armor."

Thorkelin, in the essay on the Berserkir, appended to his edition of the Kristni Saga, tells that an old name of the Berserk frenzy was hamremmi, i.e., strength acquired from another strange body, because it was anciently believed that the persons who were liable to this frenzy were mysteriously endowed, during its accesses, with a strange body of unearthly strength. If, however, the Berserk was called on by his own name, he lost his mysterious form, and his ordinary strength alone remained. [Notes and Queries, Dec. 28, 1850]

Perhaps later writers mistook the -r for an agent-noun suffix. The picture is further complicated because it has the form of the Old Norse plural, and English berserker sometimes is plural. The adjectival use probably grew from such phrases as berserk frenzy, or as a title (Arngrim the Berserk).

Related entries & more 

Page 3