mid-14c., mortalite, "condition of being subject to death or the necessity of dying," from Old French mortalite "massacre, slaughter; fatal illness; poverty; destruction" (12c.) and directly from Latin mortalitem (nominative mortalitas) "state of being mortal; subjection to death," from mortalis "subject to death, mortal," from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).
Meaning "widespread death, numerousness of deaths; plague" is from c. 1400; meaning "number of deaths from some cause or in a given period" is from 1640s, later especially in proportion to population.
late 14c., contribucioun, "a levy imposed by a body politic upon a district or population" (for example to pay for military defense in a border region), from Old French contribution "payment" and directly from Late Latin contributionem (nominative contributio) "a dividing, a distributing, a contribution," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin contribuere "to bring together, add, contribute," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + tribuere "to allot, pay" (see tribute).
Meaning "the act of giving in common with others" is from mid-15c. Sense of "that which is given toward a common end" is from c. 1600. Sense of "a writing for a magazine or journal" is from 1714.
"great hunter," 1712, a reference to the biblical son of Cush, referred to (Genesis x.8-9) as "a mighty hunter before the Lord." In Middle English he was Nembrot (mid-13c.), founder of cities and builder of the tower of Babel (though Genesis does not name him as such). In 16c.-17c. his name was synonymous with "a tyrant." The word came to mean "geek, klutz" by 1983 in teenager slang, for unknown reasons. (Amateur theories include its occasional use in "Bugs Bunny" cartoon episodes featuring rabbit-hunting Elmer Fudd as a foil; its alleged ironic use, among hunters, for a clumsy member of their fraternity; or a stereotype of deer hunters by the non-hunting population in the U.S.)
"one who immigrates," 1792, American English, perhaps based on French immigrant, from Latin immigrantem (nominative immigrans), present participle of immigrare "to remove, go into, move in" (see immigrate). Emigrant is older. First used in English in Jeremy Belknap's history of New Hampshire, and he generally is credited with having coined it.
There is another deviation from the strict letter of the English dictionaries; which is found extremely convenient in our discourses on population. From the verb migro are derived emigrate and IMMIGRATE; with the same propriety as from mergo are derived emerge and IMMERGE. Accordingly the verb IMMIGRATE and the nouns IMMIGRANT and IMMIGRATION are used without scruple in some parts of this volume. [Preface to vol. III of "The History of New Hampshire," Belknap, 1792]
As an adjective from 1805.
"large sea-shell," originally of bivalves, early 15c., from Latin concha "shellfish, mollusk," from Greek konkhē "mussel, cockle," also metaphoric of shell-like objects ("hollow of the ear; knee-cap; brain-pan; case round a seal; knob of a shield," etc.), from PIE root *konkho- (source also of Sanskrit sankha- "mussel") or else from a Pre-Greek word.
Since 18c. used of large gastropods. As a name for natives of Florida Keys (originally especially poor whites) it is attested from at least 1833, from their use of the flesh of the conch as food; the preferred pronunciation there ("kongk") preserves the classical one. Related: Conchate; conchiform; conchoidal.
The white Americans form a comparatively small proportion of the population of Key West, the remainder being Bahama negroes, Cuban refugees, and white natives of the Bahamas and their descendants, classified here under the general title of Conchs. [Circular No. 8, U.S. War Dept., May 1, 1875]
"bubonic/pneumonic plague epidemic of 1347-51 in Europe," a modern name, introduced in English 1823 by Elizabeth Penrose's history of England. The contemporary 14c. name for it in most European languages was something like "the great dying" or simply "the plague;" in English it was the pestilence (or, looking back after its return in 1361-2, the first pestilence).
The term "Black Death" first turns up in 16c. Swedish and Danish chronicles, but it is used in reference to a visitation of plague in Iceland (which had been spared in the earlier outbreaks) in 1402-3 that carried off much of the population there. The exact sense of "black" is not clear. The term appears in English translations of the Scandinavian works from 1750s. It was picked up in German c. 1770 and applied to the earlier outbreak and was taken from there into English in that sense.
c. 1300, saumple, "something which confirms a proposition or statement, an instance serving as an illustration" (a sense now obsolete in this word), from Anglo-French saumple, which is a shortening of Old French essample, from Latin exemplum "a sample," or a shortening of Middle English ensaumple (see example (n.)).
The meaning "small quantity (of something) from which the general quality (of the whole) may be inferred" (later usually in a commercial sense) is recorded from early 15c. The sense of "specimen for scientific sampling" is by 1878; the sense in statistics, "a portion drawn from a population for study to make statistical estimates of the whole," is by 1903. As an adjective from 1820.
The word also was used in Middle English in many of the senses now only found in example, such as "an incident that teaches a lesson; a model of action or conduct to be imitated."
Increase of population, which is filling the States out to their very borders, together with a new and extended network of railroads and other avenues, and an internal commerce which daily becomes more intimate, is rapidly bringing the States into a higher and more perfect social unity or consolidation. Thus, these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer contact, and collision results.
Shall I tell you what this collision means? They who think that it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agitators, and therefor ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free-labor nation. [William H. Seward, speech at Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 2, 1858]
Related: Irrepressibly. "Common Sense" (1777) has unrepressible.
late 14c., "kiss of peace," from Latin pax (genitive pacis) "peace," in Ecclesiastical Latin, "kiss of peace" (see peace). Capitalized, Pax was the name of the Roman goddess of peace. Used with adjectives from national names, on model of Pax Romana (such as Pax Britannica, 1872); Pax Americana was used by 1884 in reference to the union of the states:
The great state of New York, stronger already in population than Sweden, Portugal, the Dominion of Canada, or any South American state, except Brazil, is surrounded by smaller states, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware. But these last have no anxieties: no standing armies breed taxes and hinder labor; no wars or rumors of wars interrupt trade; there is not only profound peace, but profound security, for the Pax Americana of the Union broods over all. ["Cyclopaedia of Political Science,: John J. Lalor, ed., vol. III, 1884]
The phrase typically meant that at first, but by 1898 was used of theoretical influence of U.S. power beyond its borders, and by 1920 as a practical reality with reference to Latin America.
1530s (transitive), "to reject with scorn," from Latin explodere "drive out or off by clapping, hiss off, hoot off," originally theatrical, "to drive an actor off the stage by making noise," hence "drive out, reject, destroy the repute of" (a sense surviving in an exploded theory), from ex "out" (see ex-) + plaudere "to clap the hands, applaud," which is of uncertain origin. Athenian audiences were highly demonstrative. clapping and shouting approval, stamping, hissing, and hooting for disapproval. The Romans seem to have done likewise.
At the close of the performance of a comedy in the Roman theatre one of the actors dismissed the audience, with a request for their approbation, the expression being usually plaudite, vos plaudite, or vos valete et plaudite. [William Smith, "A First Latin Reading Book," 1890]
English used it to mean "drive out with violence and sudden noise" (1650s), later "cause to burst suddenly and noisily" (1794). Intransitive sense of "go off with a loud noise" is from 1790, American English; figurative sense of "to burst with destructive force" is by 1882; that of "burst into sudden activity" is from 1817; of population by 1959. Related: Exploded; exploding.