c. 1600, from French férocité, from Latin ferocitatem (nominative ferocitas) "fierceness," from ferocis, oblique case of ferox "bold, courageous, warlike; fierce, savage, headstrong, cruel," literally "wild-looking," a derivative of ferus "wild" (from PIE root *ghwer- "wild beast") + -ox (genitive -ocis), a suffix meaning "looking or appearing" (cognate with Greek ōps "eye, sight;" from PIE root *okw- "to see").
also headhunter, 1800, "a savage who raids for the purpose of procuring human heads as trophies or for use in religious ceremonies," from head (n.) + hunter. Extended sense "person who finds and recruits desirable workers employed elsewhere to fill job positions" is suggested or in occasional use from 1918, frequent from 1961. Related: Head-hunting (1817).
mid-13c., "proud, noble, bold, haughty," from Old French fers, fiers, nominative form of fer, fier "strong, overwhelming, violent, fierce, wild; proud, mighty, great, impressive" (Modern French fier "proud, haughty"), from Latin ferus "wild, untamed, uncultivated; waste, desert;" figuratively "wild, uncultivated, savage, cruel" (from PIE root *ghwer- "wild beast").
Meaning "ferocious, wild, savage, cruel" of persons is from c. 1300; of beasts from late 14c. Original English sense of "brave, proud" died out 16c., but while this sense was current fierce often was used in English as an epithet (and thus surname), which accounts for the rare instance of a French word entering English in the nominative case. Related: Fiercely; fierceness. In Middle English sometimes also "dangerous, destructive; great, strong; huge (in number)." An early 15c. medical treatise has fers benes for "wild beans."
"We must not indulge in unfavorable views of mankind, since by doing it we make bad men believe that they are no worse than others, and we teach the good that they are good in vain." [Walter Savage Landor, "Imaginary Conversations"]
1704, in a now-obsolete sense "law which makes a criminal process civil," from civil + -ization. Sense of "civilized condition, state of being reclaimed from the rudeness of savage life" first recorded 1772, probably from French civilisation, serving as an opposite to barbarity and a distinct word from civility. From civilize + -ation. Sense of "a particular human society in a civilized condition, considered as a whole over time," is from 1857. Related: Civilizational.
"deep sense of injury, the excitement of passion which proceeds from a sense of wrong offered to one's self or one's kindred or friends," especially when directed at the author of the affront, 1610s, from French ressentiment (16c.), verbal noun from ressentir (see resent). Slightly earlier in English in the French form resentiment (1590s); also compare ressentiment.
"Ridicule often parries resentment, but resentment never yet parried ridicule." [Walter Savage Landor, "Imaginary Conversations"]
early 15c., "hairy, shaggy, bristling," from Latin horridus "bristly, prickly, rough, horrid, frightful, rude, savage, unpolished," from horrere "to bristle with fear, shudder" (see horror). Meaning "horrible, causing horror" is from c. 1600. Sense weakened 17c. to "unpleasant, offensive."
[W]hile both [horrible and horrid] are much used in the trivial sense of disagreeable, horrible is still quite common in the graver sense inspiring horror, which horrid tends to lose .... [Fowler]
monster in Greek mythology, with the head, torso, and arms of a man joined to the body of a horse, late 14c., from Latin centaurus, from Greek Kentauros, a word of disputed origin. In early Greek literature they were a savage, horse-riding tribe from Thessaly; later they were monsters half horse, half man. The southern constellation of Centaurus is attested in English from 1550s but was known by that name to the Romans and known as a centaur to the Greeks. It has often been confused since classical times with Sagittarius. Related: Centauress; centaurian.
Lieut. G.R.R. Savage, R.E., writing from Roorkee, North-West Provinces, India, sends us an account of some interesting experiments he has been making on long-distance telephones. He constructed telephones expressly for long-distance work, and succeeded in getting a bugle-call heard distinctly over 400 miles of Government telegraph line .... ["Nature," May 16, 1878]
1670s, "absurd thing, object of mockery or contempt;" 1680s, "words or actions meant to invoke ridicule or excite laughter at someone's expense," from French ridicule, noun use of adjective (15c.), or from Latin ridiculum "laughing matter, a joke, a jest," noun use of neuter of ridiculus "laughable, funny, absurd," from ridere "to laugh" (see risible).
"He who brings ridicule to bear against truth, finds in his hand a blade without a hilt." [Walter Savage Landor, "Imaginary Conversations"]