1690s, "aggressive, boisterous," a Scottish word of uncertain origin, probably from rand "to rave," an obsolete variant of rant (v.). "In early use always of beggars, and probably implying vagrant habits as well as rude behavior. Now applied only to women" [OED]. The sense of "lewd, lustful, noisily wanton" is attested by 1847. Compare Scottish and northern English randy (n.) "a sturdy beggar or vagrant" (of males); "a noisy hoyden, a rude, romping girl." Related: Randiness.
1590s, "of Ionia," the districts of ancient Greece inhabited by the Ionians, one of the three (or four) great divisions of the ancient Greek people. The name (which Herodotus credits to an ancestral Ion, son of Apollo and Creusa) probably is pre-Greek, perhaps related to Sanskrit yoni "womb, vulva," and a reference to goddess-worshipping people. As a noun from 1560s.
Ionia included Attica, Euboea, and the north coast of the Peloponnesus, but it especially referred to the coastal strip of Asia Minor, including the islands of Samos and Chios. The old Ionic dialect was the language of Homer and Herodotus, and, via its later form, Attic, that of all the great works of the Greeks. The name also was given to the sea that lies between Sicily and Greece, and the islands in it (1630s in English in this sense). The musical Ionian mode (1844) corresponds to our C-major scale but was characterized by the Greeks as soft and effeminate, as were the Ionians generally.
The Ionians delighted in wanton dances and songs more than the rest of the Greeks ... and wanton gestures were proverbially termed Ionic motions. [Thomas Robinson, "Archæologica Græca," 1807]
"wanton destruction of trees," 1853, from Latin arbor "tree" + ending from suicide, etc. Meaning "one who wantonly cuts down trees" is from 1873. Related: Arboricidal (1865).
Arboricide is a crime, as well as homicide. The name of Gastrell, who cut down Shakspeare's mulberry tree, is justly followed by the execrations of posterity, and hangs forever on a gibbet of reproach, vainly craving the boon of oblivion. [New England Farmer, March 1853]
c. 1200, "the following of a wrong scent by hounds" (a sense now obsolete but in one phrase); early 14c., "debauchery, extravagance, wanton living," from Anglo-French rioute, Old French riot, riote (12c.) "dispute, quarrel, (tedious) talk, chattering, argument, domestic strife," also a euphemism for "sexual intercourse," of uncertain origin. Compare Italian riotta (Medieval Latin riota) "quarrel, dispute, uproar, riot." Perhaps from Latin rugire "to roar."
The meaning "civil disorder, violent disturbance of the peace, public disturbance arising from wanton and disorderly conduct" is attested by late 14c. The meaning "something spectacularly successful" first recorded 1909 in theater slang. The sense of "vivid display of colors" is by 1891.
To run riot "act or move without control or restraint" is by 1520s, a figurative extension of the oldest Middle English meaning of the word, in reference to hounds following the wrong scent. The Riot Act, part of which must be read to a mob before active measures can be taken, was passed 1714 (1 Geo. I, st.2, c.5). Riot girl and alternative form riot grrl first recorded 1992.
"maid, virgin, young woman," mid-15c., especially in historical reference to Joan of Arc, the "Maid of Orleans" (called in Old French la pucelle from c. 1423), according to French sources from Vulgar Latin *pulicella "maid" (source also of Italian pulcella), diminutive of Latin pulla, fem. of pullus "young animal," especially a chicken (see foal (n.)), but there are difficulties with this derivation. Also, in 16c.-17c. English, "a drab, a slut; a wanton girl, a harlot."
[S]urely there is cruelty and gross selfishness in cutting down for our own fleeting gratification that which would have ministered to the enjoyments of all for weeks or months. Frankly do I confess that I dislike a wanton floricide. He has robbed the world of a pleasure; he has blotted out a word from God's earth-written poetry. [New Monthly Magazine, April 1847]
c. 1500, "resembling sauce" (a sense now obsolete), later, of persons, words, etc., "impertinent in speech or conduct, flippantly bold, cheeky" (1520s), from sauce (n.) + -y (2). The connecting notion is sauce in the figurative sense of "that which adds intensity, piquancy in words or actions."
Compare Skelton's have eaten sauce for "be abusive." Also compare sauce malapert "impertinence" (1520s), and sauce (n.) in its obsolete use as a vocative for "impudent person" (1530s). In Shakespeare, with overtones of "wanton, lascivious," it was "a term of serious condemnation" [OED]. Also compare salty in similar senses.
"the female of the domestic fowl," Old English henn "hen," from West Germanic *hannjo (source also of Old Frisian henn, Middle Dutch henne, Old High German henna), fem. of *hanan- "male fowl, cock" (source of Old English hana "cock"), literally "bird who sings (for sunrise)," from PIE root *kan- "to sing."
The original masculine word survives in German (Hahn "cock"), Swedish, Danish, etc. German also has a generic form, Huhn, for either gender of the bird. Extension to "female of any bird species" is early 14c. in English.
Hen as slang for "woman" dates from 1620s; hence hen party "gathering of women," first recorded 1887. To be mad as a wet hen is from 1823, but the figure was used to indicate other states: As wanton as a wet hen is in "Scots Proverbs" (1813). Among Middle English proverbial expressions was nice as a nonne hen "over-refined, fastidiously wanton" (c. 1500); to singen so hen in snowe "sing miserably," literally "sing like a hen in snow" (c. 1200). The figure of the hen with one chick dates to 1590s. Hen's teeth as a figure of scarceness is attested by 1838.
Some, on the contrary, are viciously opposite to these, who act so tamely and so coldly, that when they ought to be angry, to thunder and lighten, as one may say, they are no fuller of Heat, than a wet Hen, as the Saying is; .... ["Life of Mr. Thomas Betterton," London, 1710]
Orth. Out upon you for a dastardly Fellow; you han't the Courage of a wet Hen. ["A Sermon Preached at St. Mary-le-Bow, March 27, 1704"]
archaic plural of cow (n.); a double plural (compare children) or genitive plural of Middle English kye "cows," from Old English cy (genitive cyna), plural of cu "cow." The old theory that it represents a contraction of Old English cowen has been long discarded.
The Old Testament kine of Bashan, railed against in Amos 4:1-3 because they "oppress the poor," "crush the needy," and "say to their masters, Bring and let us drink," usually are said to be a figure for the voluptuous and luxuriously wanton women of Samaria, "though some scholars prefer to see this as a reference to the effeminate character of the wealthy rulers of the land" ["The K.J.V. Parallel Bible Commentary," 1994]. The word there translated Hebrew parah "cow, heifer." The cows of Bashan, east of the Sea of Galilee, grazed in lush pastures and were notably well-fed and strong beasts.