Etymology
Advertisement
ocean (n.)

c. 1300, occean, "the vast body of water on the surface of the globe," from Old French occean "ocean" (12c., Modern French océan), from Latin oceanus, from Greek ōkeanos, the great river or sea surrounding the disk of the Earth (as opposed to the Mediterranean), a word of unknown origin; Beekes suggests it is Pre-Greek. Personified as Oceanus, son of Uranus and Gaia and husband of Tethys.

In early times, when the only known land masses were Eurasia and Africa, the ocean was an endless river that flowed around them. Until c. 1650, commonly ocean sea, translating Latin mare oceanum. Application to individual bodies of water began 14c. (occean Atlantyke, 1387); five of them are usually reckoned, but this is arbitrary. The English word also occasionally was applied to smaller subdivisions, such as German Ocean "North Sea."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
homunculus (n.)
"tiny human being produced artificially," 1650s, from Latin homunculus (plural homunculi), literally "little person," with -culus, diminutive suffix, + homo (genitive hominis), which technically meant "male human," but it also was used with a sense "the human race, mankind;" while in Vulgar Latin it could be used as "one, anyone, they, people" and in logical and scholastic writing as "a human being, person."

This is conjectured to be from PIE *(dh)ghomon- (source also of Old Irish duine, Welsh dyn, Breton den "man;" Old Prussian smunents, smunets "man;" Old Lithuanian žmuo "person," Lithuanian žmogus "man," žmones "people," Gothic guma, Old High German gomo, Old Norse gume, Old English guma "man"). The literal sense is "earthling," from PIE root *dhghem- "earth" (compare human (adj.)). Other Latin diminutives from homo included homullus, homuncio.
Related entries & more 
May 

fifth month of the modern calendar, early 12c., Mai, from Old French mai and directly from Latin Majus, Maius mensis "month of May," possibly from Maja, Maia, a Roman earth goddess (wife of Vulcan) whose name is of unknown origin; possibly from PIE *mag-ya "she who is great," fem. suffixed form of root *meg- "great" (cognate with Latin magnus).

"[R]eckoned on the continent of Europe and in America as the last month of spring, but in Great Britain as the first of summer" [Century Dictionary, 1897]. Replaced Old English þrimilce, month in which cows can be milked three times a day. May marriages have been considered unlucky at least since Ovid's day. May-apple, perennial herb native to North America, so called for its time of blooming and its yellowish fruit, is attested from 1733, American English.

Related entries & more 
down (adv.)

"in a descending direction, from a higher to a lower place, degree, or condition," late Old English shortened form of Old English ofdune "downwards," originally of dune "off from (the) hill," from dune "from the hill," dative of dun "hill" (see down (n.2)). The "hill" word is general in Germanic, but this sense development is peculiar to English. As a preposition, "in a descending direction upon or along,"  from late 14c.

To be down on "express disapproval of" is by 1851. Down home is from 1828 as "in one's home region," as an adjective phrase meaning "unpretentious" by 1931, American English. Down the hatch as a toast is from 1931. Down to the wire is 1901, from horse-racing.

Down Under "Australia and New Zealand" attested from 1886; Down East "Maine" is from 1825; Down South "in the Southern states of the U.S." is attested by 1834. Down the road "in the future" is by 1964, U.S. colloquial. Down-to-earth "everyday, ordinary, realistic" is by 1932.

Related entries & more 
meteor (n.)

late 15c., "any atmospheric phenomenon," from Old French meteore (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin meteorum (nominative meteora), from Greek ta meteōra "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteōron, literally "thing high up," noun use of neuter of meteōros (adj.) "high up, raised from the ground, hanging," from meta "by means of" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, lifted up, suspended, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (from PIE root *wer- (1) "to raise, lift, hold suspended").

Specific sense of "fireball in the sky, shooting star" is attested from 1590s. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as aerial meteors (wind), aqueous meteors (rain, snow, hail), luminous meteors (aurora, rainbows), and igneous meteors (lightning, shooting stars). All the other senses have fallen away. When still in space beyond the atmosphere it is a meteoroid; when fallen to earth it is a meteorite. A periodically recurring fall of them (usually associated with a comet) is a meteor shower (by 1853).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
sphere (n.)
mid-15c., Latinized spelling of Middle English spere (c. 1300) "cosmos; space, conceived as a hollow globe about the world," from Anglo-French espiere, Old French espere (13c., Modern French sphère), from Latin sphaera "globe, ball, celestial sphere" (Medieval Latin spera), from Greek sphaira "globe, ball, playing ball, terrestrial globe," a word of unknown origin.

From late 14c. in reference to any of the supposed concentric, transparent, hollow, crystalline globes of the cosmos believed to revolve around the earth and contain the planets and the fixed stars; the supposed harmonious sound they made rubbing against one another was the music of the spheres (late 14c.). Also from late 14c. as "a globe; object of spherical form, a ball," and the geometric sense "solid figure with all points equidistant from the center." Meaning "range of something, place or scene of activity" is first recorded c. 1600 (as in sphere of influence, 1885, originally in reference to Anglo-German colonial rivalry in Africa).
Related entries & more 
*mele- 

*melə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to crush, grind," with derivatives referring to ground or crumbling substances and crushing or grinding instruments.

It forms all or part of: amyl; amyloid; blintz; emmer; emolument; immolate; maelstrom; mall; malleable; malleolus; mallet; malleus; maul; meal (n.2) "edible ground grain;" mill (n.1) "building fitted to grind grain;" millet; mola; molar (n.); mold (n.3) "loose earth;" molder; ormolu; pall-mall.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Hittite mallanzi "they grind;" Armenian malem "I crush, bruise;" Greek mylos "millstone," myle "mill;" Latin molere "to grind," mola "millstone, mill," milium "millet;" Old English melu "meal, flour;" Albanian miel "meal, flour;" Old Church Slavonic meljo, Lithuanian malu, malti "to grind;" Old Church Slavonic mlatu, Russian molotu "hammer."

Related entries & more 
corduroy (n.)

"thick, cotton stuff with a corded or ridged surface," 1774, probably from cord + obsolete 17c. duroy, name of a coarse fabric made in England, which is of unknown origin. Folk etymology is from *corde du roi "the king's cord," but this is not attested in French, where the term for the cloth was velours à côtes. As an adjective from 1789. Applied in U.S. to a road of logs across swampy ground (1780s) on similarity of appearance.

CORDUROY ROAD. A road or causeway constructed with logs laid together over swamps or marshy places. When properly finished earth is thrown between them by which the road is made smooth; but in newly settled parts of the United States they are often left uncovered, and hence are extremely rough and bad to pass over with a carriage. Sometimes they extend many miles. They derive their name from their resemblance to a species of ribbed velvet, called corduroy. [Bartlett]
Related entries & more 
black swan (n.)

proverbial for "something extremely rare or non-existent" (late 14c.) is from Juvenal ["Sat." vi. 164], but the real thing turned up in Australia (Chenopsis atratus).

"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than all the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war—a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. [Juvenal]

Blue dahlia also was used 19c. for "something rare and unheard of."

Related entries & more 
planet (n.)
Origin and meaning of planet

late Old English planete, in old astronomy, "star other than a fixed star; star revolving in an orbit," from Old French planete (Modern French planète) and directly from Late Latin planeta, from Greek planētēs, from (asteres) planētai "wandering (stars)," from planasthai "to wander," a word of uncertain etymology.

Perhaps it is from a nasalized form of PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread," on the notion of "spread out," "but the semantics are highly problematic," according to Beekes, who notes the similarity of meaning to Greek plazein "to make devious, repel, dissuade from the right path, bewilder," but adds, "it is hard to think of a formal connection."

So called because they have apparent motion, unlike the "fixed" stars. Originally including also the moon and sun but not the Earth; modern scientific sense of "world that orbits a star" is from 1630s in English. The Greek word is an enlarged form of planes, planetos "who wanders around, wanderer," also "wandering star, planet," in medicine "unstable temperature."

Related entries & more 

Page 30