Etymology
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rugged (adj.)

c. 1300, "having a rough, hairy, or shaggy surface" (originally of animals), a word probably of Scandinavian origin: compare Old Norse rogg "shaggy tuft" (see rug). "The precise relationship to ragged is not quite clear, but the stem is no doubt ultimately the same" [OED]. In Middle English ruggedy (late 14c.) also was used.

Of ground, "broken, stony," by 1650s. Of made things, "strongly constructed, able to withstand rough use," by 1921. By 1620s, especially of persons or their qualities, as "unsoftened by refinement or cultivation," thence "of a rough but strong or sturdy character" (by 1827). The specific meaning "vigorous, strong, robust, healthy," is American English, attested by 1847.

We were challenged with a peace-time choice between the American system of rugged individualism and a European philosophy of diametrically opposed doctrines — doctrines of paternalism and state socialism. [Herbert Hoover, speech in New York, Oct. 22, 1928]

Hoover said the phrase was not his own, and it is attested from 1897, though not in a patriotic context. Related: Ruggedly; ruggedness.

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mudsill (n.)

1680s, "foundation beam of a dam, railroad, house, or other structure," from mud + sill. The word entered U.S. political history in a figurative sense in a speech by James M. Hammond (1807-1864) of South Carolina, March 4, 1858, in the U.S. Senate, alluding to the necessary lowest class of society. In the speech he also took the ground that Northern white laborers were slaves in fact, if not in name. The term subsequently was embraced by Northern workers in the pre-Civil War sectional rivalry.

In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. This is a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air as to build either the one or the other except on this mud-sill. [Hammond]
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obscene (adj.)

1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," a word of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + caenum "filth."

The meaning "offensive to modesty or decency, impure, unchaste" is attested from 1590s. Legally, "any impure or indecent publication tending to corrupt the mind and to subvert respect for decency and morality." In modern U.S. law, the definition hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; this was refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":

The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Related: Obscenely.

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culture (n.)
Origin and meaning of culture

mid-15c., "the tilling of land, act of preparing the earth for crops," from Latin cultura "a cultivating, agriculture," figuratively "care, culture, an honoring," from past participle stem of colere "to tend, guard; to till, cultivate" (see colony). Meaning "the cultivation or rearing of a crop, act of promoting growth in plants" (1620s) was transferred to fish, oysters, etc., by 1796, then to "production of bacteria or other microorganisms in a suitable environment" (1880), then "product of such a culture" (1884).

The figurative sense of "cultivation through education, systematic improvement and refinement of the mind" is attested by c. 1500; Century Dictionary writes that it was, "Not common before the nineteenth century, except with strong consciousness of the metaphor involved, though used in Latin by Cicero." Meaning "learning and taste, the intellectual side of civilization" is by 1805; the closely related sense of "collective customs and achievements of a people, a particular form of collective intellectual development" is by 1867.

For without culture or holiness, which are always the gift of a very few, a man may renounce wealth or any other external thing, but he cannot renounce hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge. Culture is the sanctity of the intellect. [William Butler Yeats, journal, 7 March, 1909]

Slang culture vulture "one voracious for culture" is from 1947. Culture shock "disorientation experienced when a person moves to a different cultural environment or an unfamiliar way of life" is attested by 1940. Ironic or contemptuous spelling kulchur is attested from 1940 (Pound), and compare kultur.

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rough (adj.)

Middle English rough (late 14c.), also rouhe, rouwe, roghe, rugh, etc., from Old English ruh, rug- "not smooth to the touch, coarse (of cloth); hairy, shaggy;" of hides, "undressed, untrimmed;" of ground, "uncultivated." This is from West Germanic *rukhwaz "shaggy, hairy, rough" (source also of Middle Dutch ruuch, Dutch ruig, Old High German ruher, German rauh), from Proto-Germanic *rukhaz, which is perhaps related to the source of Sanskrit ruksah "rough;" Latin ruere "to rush, fall violently, collapse," ruina "a collapse;" Lithuanian raukas "wrinkle," rukti "to shrink."

The original -gh- sound was guttural, as in Scottish loch. The form row was a regular variant from early 16c. and lingered in dialects. Of actions, "characterized by harshness or disparity," c. 1300; of land, terrain, late 15c. as "rugged, hard to traverse." Of stormy weather from mid-14c.; by late 14c. of turbulent seas, rude language, discordant sounds.

From mid-14c. as "crudely made;" c. 1600 as "rudely sufficient, not smooth or formed by art." Rough stone "undressed stone mortared together" is from mid-15c. Of writing or literary style, "lacking refinement, unpolished," 1530s. The sense of "approximate" is recorded from c. 1600.

Rough draft (or draught) is from 1690s. Rough-and-ready "rude and disorderly" is by 1832, from an earlier noun (1810), originally military; rough-and-tumble "not elaborately or carefully ordered" is from a style of free-fighting characterized by indiscriminate blows and falls (1810). Rough music "din produced by banging pots, pans, etc. for the purpose of annoying or punishing a neighbor" is by 1708. Rough-snout (c. 1300) was an old term for "a bearded face."

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pun (n.)

"a Conceit arising from the use of two Words that agree in the Sound, but differ in the Sense" [Addison]; "An expression in which the use of a word in two different applications, or the use of two different words pronounced alike or nearly alike, presents an odd or ludicrous idea" [Century Dictionary]; 1660s (first attested in Dryden), a word of uncertain origin.

Perhaps from pundigron, meaning the same thing (though attested first a few years later), itself a word of uncertain etymology, perhaps a humorous alteration of Italian puntiglio "equivocation, trivial objection," diminutive of Latin punctum "point." This is pure speculation. Punnet was another early form.

Pun was prob. one of the clipped words, such as cit, mob, nob, snob, which came into fashionable slang at or after the Restoration. [OED]

 The verb, "to make puns," also is attested from 1660s, first in Dryden. Related: Punned; punning.

At the revival of learning, and the spread of what we may term the refinement of society, punning was one of the few accomplishments at which the fine ladies and gentlemen aimed. From the twelfth to the sixteenth century, it was at its greatest height. The conversation of the witty gallants, and ladies, and even of the clowns and other inferior characters, in the comedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, which we may be sure was painted from the life, is full of puns and plays upon words. The unavoidable result of such an excess was a surfeit, and the consequent dégout, which lasted for more than a century. Like other diseases, it broke out again subsequently with redoubled virulence, and made great havoc in the reign of Queen Anne. [Larwood & Hotten, "The History of Signboards from the Earliest Times to the Present Day," London, 1867] 
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