masc. proper name, Biblical son of Jacob by Leah, from Hebrew Zebhulun, from zebhul "a dwelling" + diminutive suffix -on (see Genesis xxx.20).
Manhattan district, used figuratively for "African-American culture" by 1925. The N.Y. community was founded 1658 and originally named Nieuw Haarlem for Haarlem in Netherlands, which probably is from Dutch haar "height" + lem "silt," in reference to its position on a slight elevation on the banks of the Spaarne River. The black population grew rapidly in the decade after World War I. Related: Harlemese.
name of a garden on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Matthew xxvi.36-46), from Greek Gethsemane, from Aramaic (Semitic) gath shemani(m) "oil-press."
proprietary name for a surfacing compound, 1927, probably based on German spachtel "putty knife, mastic, filler." The verb is attested from 1940. Related: Spackled; spackling.
type of stereotypical black roles in Hollywood, or in popular culture generally, from stage name (a play on step and fetch it) of popular black vaudeville actor Lincoln Theodore Perry (1902-1985), who first appeared in films under that name in "In Old Kentucky" (1927). Perry said he took the name from a racehorse on which he'd won some money.
military installation in South Carolina, U.S., begun in 1827, named for U.S. Revolutionary War officer and Congressman Thomas Sumter (1734-1832), "The Carolina Gamecock." The family name is attested from 1206, from Old French sommetier "driver of a pack horse" (see sumpter). The U.S. Civil War is held to have begun with the firing of rebel batteries on the government-held fort on April 12, 1861.
town on the Thames in Oxfordshire, site of annual regatta since 1839. The name is Old English hean-leage "(settlement) at or by the high wood."
city on the Gulf coast of the Florida panhandle, named for a Muskogean tribe, from Choctaw, literally "hair-people," from pashi "hair of the head" + oklah "people."
Venezuelan capital, founded 1567 by the Spaniards on the site of a razed village of the Caracas people, whose name is of unknown origin, and named for them.
in the figurative phrase cross (or pass) the Rubicon "take a decisive step," 1620s, a reference to a small stream to the Adriatic on the coast of northern Italy which in ancient times formed part of the southern boundary of Cisalpine Gaul. It was crossed by Caesar, Jan. 10, 49 B.C.E., when he left his province to attack Pompey. The name is from Latin rubicundus "ruddy," in reference to the color of the soil on its banks.