of persons, "extravagantly chivalrous, absurdly romantic," abstractly, "striving for an unattainable or impractical ideal," 1791, from Don Quixote, the romantic, impractical hero of Cervantes' satirical novel "Don Quixote de la Mancha" (1605; in English translation by 1620). Don Quixote as the type of anyone attempting the impossible or holding visionary but impossible ideals is in English from 1670s.
His name literally means "thigh," also "a cuisse" (a piece of armor for the thigh), in Modern Spanish quijote, from Latin coxa "hip" (see coxa). Related: Quixotical; quixotically.
Cervantes smiled Spain's chivalry away;
A single laugh demolish'd the right arm
Of his own country; — seldom since that day
Has Spain had heroes.
[Byron, "Don Juan"]
1570s, "behavior of a courtier," from court (n.) + -ship. Meaning "the wooing of a woman, attention paid by a man to a woman with intention of winning her affection and ultimately her consent to marriage" is from 1590s. By 1830s it was used of a period during which a couple mutually develops a romantic relationship with a view to marriage.
fem. proper name, a familiar form of Sarah. Sadie Hawkins Day (1939) is from name of a character in U.S. newspaper cartoon strip "Li'l Abner," by Al Capp (1909-1979); in reference to a day in early November on which women take the lead in romantic matters.
In early 19th century use, a stage-play (usually romantic and sentimental in plot and incident) in which songs were interspersed and in which the action was accompanied by orchestral music appropriate to the situations. In later use the musical element gradually ceased to be an essential feature of the 'melodrama', and the name now denotes a dramatic piece characterized by sensational incidents and violent appeals to the emotions, but with a happy ending. [OED]
The shift toward "a romantic and sensational dramatic piece with a happy ending" is evident by 1883. Also from French are Spanish melodrama, Italian melodramma, German melodram. Related: Melodramatize.
The melodramatist's task is to get his characters labelled good & wicked in his audience's minds, & to provide striking situations that shall provoke & relieve anxieties on behalf of poetic justice. [Fowler]
mid-14c., "pertaining to chivalry or knight-errantry," from Old French chevaleros "knightly, noble, chivalrous," from chevalier (see chevalier; also compare chivalry). According to OED, obsolete in English and French from mid-16c. Not revived in French, but brought back in English 1770s by romantic writers with a sense of "having high qualities (gallantry, courage, magnanimity) supposed to be characteristic of chivalry." Related: Chivalrously; chivalrousness.
also sheikh, "head of an Arab family," also "head of a Muslim religious order," and later also a general title of respect, 1570s, from Arabic shaykh "chief," literally "old man," from base of shakha "to grow old." Popularized by "The Sheik," the 1919 novel in an Arabian setting by E.M. Hull, and the movie version, "The Sheikh" (1921), starring Rudolph Valentino, which gave the word its colloquial sense of "strong, romantic lover." The word gave French fits: Old French had it as seic, esceque, and later forms included scheik, cheikh.
mid-15c. as "a rejoinder, a reply" (a sense now archaic or obsolete); 1520s, "the return or bounding back of something after striking, act of flying back on collision with another body" in reference to a ball, from rebound (v.); rebounding in this sense is from late 14c.
In modern sports, from 1917 in ice hockey, 1920 in basketball. Transferred and figurative senses from 1560s; the meaning "period of reaction or renewed activity after disturbance" is from 1570s, hence "during a period of reaction after the end of a romantic or marital relationship" (1859).