In England, the name replaced native Weodmonað "weed month." Traditionally the first month of autumn in Great Britain, the last of summer in the U.S.
1640, in reference to the Scottish church governed by elders (as opposed to bishops) and holding a modified form of Calvinism, from presbyter "an elder in a church" (1590s), from Late Latin presbyter "an elder," from Ecclesiastical Greek presbyteros "one that presides over assemblies or congregations," noun use of an adjective meaning "elder (of two), old, venerable, advanced in life," comparative of presbys "elderly, aged" (see presby-).
Also used generally (with lower-case p-) of any system of ecclesiastical government by church elders. Presbyterial was used from c. 1600 in the sense "of or pertaining to a presbytery;" also from 1590s as "presbyterian" (adj.). Related: Presbyterianism.
German equivalent of Mister (but also used without a name), 1650s, originally "nobler, superior," from Middle High German herre, from Old High German herro, comparative of hēr "noble, worthy, important, exalted," from PIE *kei- (2), a color adjective (see hue (n.1)), in suffixed form *koi-ro- here meaning "gray, hoary," hence "gray-haired, venerable." Cognate with Old Frisian hera, Dutch heer; perhaps in this usage a loan-translation of Latin senior in the High German area that spread into other Germanic languages. Hence also Herrenvolk "master race," the concept of the German people in Nazi ideology.
Middle English prēst, "cleric ranking below a bishop and above a deacon, a parish priest," from Old English preost, which probably was shortened from the older Germanic form represented by Old Saxon and Old High German prestar, Old Frisian prestere, all from Vulgar Latin *prester "priest," from Late Latin presbyter "presbyter, elder," from Greek presbyteros "elder (of two), old, venerable," comparative of presbys "old" (see presby-).
In Middle English also used generally for any man holding high Church office or anyone duly authorized to be a minister of sacred things; from c. 1200 of pagan and Muslim religious leaders. In the Old Testament sense (Old English), it is a translation of Hebrew kohen, Greek hiereus, Latin sacerdos.
1660s, "willful destroyer of what is beautiful or venerable," from Vandals, name of the Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in 455 under Genseric, from Latin Vandalus (plural Vandali), from the tribe's name for itself (Old English Wendlas), perhaps from Proto-Germanic *wandljaz "wanderer." The literal historical sense in English is recorded from 1550s.
There does not seem to be in the story of the capture of Rome by the Vandals any justification for the charge of willful and objectless destruction of public buildings which is implied in the word 'vandalism.' It is probable that this charge grew out of the fierce persecution which was carried on by [the Vandal king] Gaiseric and his son against the Catholic Christians, and which is the darkest stain on their characters. [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 13th ed., 1926]
1650s, from Greek euphemismos "use of a favorable word in place of an inauspicious one, superstitious avoidance of words of ill-omen during religious ceremonies," also of substitutions such as Eumenides for the Furies. This is from euphemizein "speak with fair words, use words of good omen," from eu- "good, well" (see eu-) + phēmē "speech, voice, utterance, a speaking," from phanai "speak" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"). See also Euxine, and compare Greek Greek aristeros "the better one," a euphemism for "the left (hand)." In English, a rhetorical term at first; broader sense of "choosing a less distasteful word or phrase than the one meant" is first attested 1793. Related: Euphemistic; euphemistically.
All the ancients, but most of all the Athenians, were careful not to use ill-omened words; so they called the prison 'the chamber,' and the executioner 'the public man,' and the Furies (Erinyes) they called 'Eumenides' ('the kindly ones') or 'the Venerable Goddesses.' " [Helladius of Antinoopolis, 4 c. C.E., quoted by Photius]
Thus, in our dialect, a vicious man is a man of pleasure, a sharper is one that plays the whole game, a lady is said to have an affair, a gentleman to be a gallant, a rogue in business to be one that knows the world. By this means, we have no such things as sots, debauchees, whores, rogues, or the like, in the beau monde, who may enjoy their vices without incurring disagreeable appellations. [George Berkeley, "Alciphron or the Minute Philosopher," 1732]
1590s, "close study or thought;" 1610s, "a product of such study or thought, literary work showing signs of too-careful elaboration," from Latin lucubrationem (nominative lucubratio) "nocturnal study, night work," noun of action from past-participle stem of lucubrare, literally "to work by artificial light," from stem of lucere "to shine," from suffixed (iterative) form of PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness." Related: Lucubrations.
The current story in antiquity was that Aeschylus had been killed near Gela in Sicily by a tortoise dropt on his head by an eagle, which mistook the bald shiny pate of the venerable poet for a stone, and hoped to smash the tortoise on it. See Biographi Graeci, ed. Westermann, p. 120 ; Aelian Nat. Anim. vii. 16 ; Suidas, s.v. Αίσχύλοσ ; Valerius Maximus, ix. 12. Ext. 2. This important topic has produced the usual crop of learned dissertations. The late Professor F. G. Welcker gravely discussed it by the help of ornithological information derived from Aesop's fables, notes of travel made by the professor himself on the supposed scene of the catastrophe, and statistics as to the number of bald-headed men in antiquity. The interesting inquiry has since been prosecuted by other scholars with equal judgment and learning. The reader who desires to peruse these ponderous lucubrations should consult Rheinisches Museum, N.F. 7 (1850), pp. 139-144, 285 sq ; id., 9 (1854), pp. 148-155, 160* ; id., 37 (1882), pp. 308-312 ; Fleckeisen's Jahrbücher, 26 (1880), pp. 22-24 ; Welcker, Antike Denkmäler, 2. pp. 337-346. [J.G. Frazer, notes to Pausanias's "Description of Greece," 1898]
type of tall tree native to western Asia, southern Europe, and eastern U.S., also the large "nut" that it produces, 1560s, from chesten nut (1510s), with superfluous nut (n.) + Middle English chasteine, from Old French chastain (12c., Modern French châtaigne), from Latin castanea "chestnut, chestnut tree," from Greek kastaneia, which the Greeks explained as either "nut from Castanea" in Pontus, or "nut from Castana" in Thessaly, but probably both places are named for the trees, not the other way around, and the word is borrowed from a language of Asia Minor (compare Armenian kask "chestnut," kaskeni "chestnut tree"). In reference to the dark reddish-brown color, 1650s. Applied to the horse-chestnut by 1832.
Slang sense of "venerable joke or story" is from 1885, explained by U.S. actor Joseph Jefferson ("Lippincott's Monthly Magazine," January 1888) as probably abstracted from the 1816 melodrama "The Broken Sword" by William Dimond where an oft-repeated story involving a chestnut tree figures in an exchange between the characters "Captain Zavior" and "Pablo":
Zav. Let me see—aye! it is exactly six years since, that peace being restored to Spain, and my ship paid off, my kind brother offer'd me a snug hammock in the dwelling of my forefathers;—I mounted a mule at Barcelona, and trotted away for my native mountains. At the dawn of the fourth day's journey, I entered the wood of Collares, when, suddenly from the thick boughs of a cork-tree—
Pab. [Jumping up.] A chesnut, Captain, a chesnut!
Zav. Bah! you booby, I say, a cork.
Pab. And I swear, a chesnut—Captain! this is the twenty-seventh time I have heard you relate this story, and you invariably said, a chesnut, till now.
Zav. Did I? Well, a chesnut be it then. But, take your seat again.
Jefferson traced the connection through William Warren (1812-1888), "the veteran comedian of Boston" (and Jefferson's cousin) who often played Pablo in the melodrama.
early 15c., "servants of a household," from Latin familia "family servants, domestics collectively, the servants in a household," thus also "members of a household, the estate, property; the household, including relatives and servants," abstract noun formed from famulus "servant, slave," which is of unknown origin.
The Latin word rarely appears in the sense "parents with their children," for which domus (see domestic (adj.)) was used. Derivatives of famulus include famula "serving woman, maid," famulanter "in the manner of a servant," famulitas "servitude," familiaris "of one's household, private," familiaricus "of household slaves," familiaritas "close friendship."
In English, sense of "collective body of persons who form one household under one head and one domestic government, including parents, children, and servants, and as sometimes used even lodgers or boarders" [Century Dictionary] is from 1540s. From 1660s as "parents with their children, whether they dwell together or not," also in a more general sense, "persons closely related by blood, including aunts, uncles, cousins;" earlier "those who descend from a common progenitor, a house, a lineage" (1580s). Hence, "any group of things classed as kindred based on common distinguishing characteristics" (1620s); as a scientific classification, between genus and order, from 1753.
Latin familia often was glossed in Old English by hired, hyred "household, family, retinue" (for which see hide (n.2), and also by hiwscipe, hiwræden, hiwan "members of a family, household, or religious house," which is cognate with Old Norse hjon "one of the household; married couple, man and wife; domestic servant," and with Old High German hiwo "husband," hiwa "wife," also with Lithuanian šeimyna "family," Gothic haims "village," Old English ham "village, home" (see home (n.)). A 15c. glossary has, for Latin familia, Middle English a menge, from Anglo-French maisnie "the household, the whole attendance upon the personal establishment of the feudal lord."
As an adjective from c. 1600; with the meaning "suitable for a family," by 1807. Family values is recorded by 1966. Phrase in a family way "pregnant" is from 1796. Family circle is 1809; family man "man devoted to wife and children, man inclined to lead a domestic life" is 1856 (earlier it meant "thief," 1788, from family in a slang sense of "the fraternity of thieves"). Family tree "graph of ancestral relations" attested from 1752.
He was dressed in his best Coat, which had served him in the same Capacity before my Birth, and possibly, might be but little short in Antiquity, to the Root of his third Family Tree; and indeed, he made a venerable Figure in it. ["A Genuine Account of the Life and Transactions of Howell ap David Price, Gentleman of Wales," London, 1752]