1801, "one of the pieces with which the game of dominoes is played," from French domino (1771), perhaps (on a perceived resemblance to the black tiles of the game) from the earlier meaning "hood with a cloak worn by canons or priests over other vestments in cold weather" (1690s in English), from Latin dominus "lord, master" (from domus "house," from PIE root *dem- "house, household"), but the connection is not clear.
Metaphoric use in geopolitics dates to 1953, when U.S. President Eisenhower used the image in reference to what happens when you set dominoes upright in a row and knock the first one down. It came to be known as the domino theory.
President Eisenhower, on August 4, 1953, explained that if Indonesia fell, "the peninsula, the last little bit of land hanging on down there, would be scarcely defensible." "All India," he continued, "would be outflanked," and "Burma would be in no position for defense. On April 7, 1954, the President was still warning that if Indochina fell, all of southeast Asia would collapse like "falling dominoes." The President said, that as the last domino in the line falls inevitably from the toppling of the first, the loss of Indochina would lead to the loss of Burma, of Thailand, and Indonesia, and a threat to Australia and New Zealand. [Rep. Joseph R. McCarthy, Congressional Record, Aug. 2, 1955]
"small wading bird," mid-15c., rale, from Old French raale (13c.), related to râler "to rattle," which is of unknown origin, perhaps imitative; the bird would be so called for its cry.
1650s, from hand in cap, a game whereby two bettors would engage a neutral umpire to determine the odds in an unequal contest. The bettors would put their hands holding forfeit money into a hat or cap. The umpire would announce the odds and the bettors would withdraw their hands — hands full meaning that they accepted the odds and the bet was on, hands empty meaning they did not accept the bet and were willing to forfeit the money. If one forfeited, then the money went to the other. If both agreed either on forfeiting or going ahead with the wager, then the umpire kept the money as payment. The custom, though not the name, is attested from 14c. ("Piers Plowman").
Reference to horse racing is 1754 (Handy-Cap Match), where the umpire decrees the superior horse should carry extra weight as a "handicap;" this led to sense of "encumbrance, disability" first recorded 1890. The main modern sense, "a mental or physical disability," is the last to develop, early 20c.
1630s, "the 1,000-year period of Christ's anticipated rule on Earth" (Revelation xx.1-5); from Modern Latin millennium, from Latin mille "thousand" (see million) + annus "year" (see annual); formed on analogy of biennium, triennium, etc. For vowel change, see biennial. General (non-theological) sense of "an aggregate of 1,000 years, a period or interval of 1,000 years" is attested by 1711. Meaning "the year 2000 A.D." is attested by 1970.
[T]he men of the modern world—up to a generation ago anyway—saw 2000 as a millennial year in the light of science. Men were then to be freed of want, misery, and disease; reason and advanced technology would rule; all would finally be for the best in what would then be the undoubted best of all possible worlds. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 1962]
mid-14c., auctor, autour, autor "father, creator, one who brings about, one who makes or creates" someone or something, from Old French auctor, acteor "author, originator, creator, instigator" (12c., Modern French auteur) and directly from Latin auctor "promoter, producer, father, progenitor; builder, founder; trustworthy writer, authority; historian; performer, doer; responsible person, teacher," literally "one who causes to grow," agent noun from auctus, past participle of augere "to increase" (from PIE root *aug- (1) "to increase").
From late 14c. as "a writer, one who sets forth written statements, original composer of a writing" (as distinguished from a compiler, translator, copyist, etc.). Also from late 14c. as "source of authoritative information or opinion," which is now archaic but is the sense behind authority, etc.
In Middle English the word sometimes was confused with actor. The -t- changed to -th- 16c., on the model of a change in Medieval Latin which was made on the mistaken assumption of a Greek origin and from confusion with authentic.
...[W]riting means revealing oneself to excess .... This is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why even night is not night enough. ... I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room of a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp. Food would be brought and always put down far away from my room, outside the cellar's outermost door. The walk to my food, in my dressing gown, through the vaulted cellars, would be my only exercise. I would then return to my table, eat slowly and with deliberation, then start writing again at once. And how I would write! From what depths I would drag it up! [Franz Kafka, "Letters to Felice," 1913]