Etymology
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conspicuous (adj.)

1540s, "open to view, catching the eye," from Latin conspicuus "visible, open to view; attracting attention, striking," from conspicere "to look at, observe, see, notice," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").

Meaning "obvious to the mind, forcing itself upon the attention" is from 1610s; hence "eminent, notable, distinguished." Related: Conspicuously; conspicuousness. Phrase conspicuous by its absence (1859) is said to be from Tacitus ("Annals" iii.76), in a passage about certain images: "sed præfulgebant ... eo ipso quod effigies eorum non visebantur."

Conspicuous consumption "expenditure on a lavish scale to enhance prestige" is attested by 1895 in published writing of Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Vebeln, made famous in his "The Theory of the Leisure Class" (1899).

Not only must wealth be possessed, but there must be a show of its possession. It must be made obvious to all that there is an inexhaustible reserve. Hence leisure must be made conspicuous by "conspicuous consumption" and "conspicuous waste." If only enough persons and the right persons could see it and know it, it would be highly honorific to light a cigar occasionally with a thousand-dollar bill. A man must not limit his consumption to himself and his family. He must live in a palace many times larger than he can possibly fill, and have a large retinue of servants and retainers, ostensibly to minister to his wants, but really to make clear his ability to pay. [Lester F. Ward, review of "Theory of the Leisure Class" in The American Journal of Sociology, May 1900]
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domestic (adj.)

early 15c., "prepared or made in the house," from Old French domestique (14c.) and directly from Latin domesticus "belonging to the household," from domus "house," from PIE *dom-o- "house," from root *dem- "house, household."

From 1610s as "relating to or belonging to the home or household affairs." From 1650s as "attached to home, devoted to home life." Meaning "pertaining to a nation (considered as a family), internal to one's country" is from 1540s. Of animals, "tame, living under the care of humans," from 1610s. Related: Domestically.

The noun meaning "a household servant" is from 1530s (a sense also found in Old French domestique); the full phrase servaunt domestical is attested in English from mid-15c. Domestics, originally "articles of home manufacture," is attested from 1620s; in 19c. U.S. use especially "home-made cotton cloths." Domestic violence is attested from 19c. as "revolution and insurrection;" 1977 as "spouse abuse, violence in the home."

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the Legislature, or of the executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence. [Article IV, Section 4, U.S. Constitution, 1787]
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borough (n.)

Old English burg, burh "a dwelling or dwellings within a fortified enclosure," from Proto-Germanic *burgs "hill fort, fortress" (source also of Old Frisian burich "castle, city," Old Norse borg "wall, castle," Old High German burg, buruc "fortified place, citadel," German Burg "castle," Gothic baurgs "city"), which Watkins derives from from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills, hill forts, and fortified elevations.

In German and Old Norse, chiefly as "fortress, castle;" in Gothic, "town, civic community." The meaning shifted in Old English from "fortress," to "fortified town," then simply "town" (16c., especially one possessing municipal organization or sending representatives to Parliament). In some U.S. states (originally Pennsylvania, 1718) often an incorporated town; in Alaska, however, it is the equivalent of a county. As "one of the five administrative divisions of New York City," it dates from the consolidation of 1898; in London, its use dates from the London Government Act of 1899.

The Scottish form is burgh. The Old English dative singular byrig survives in many place names as -bury.

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mudsill (n.)

1680s, "foundation beam of a dam, railroad, house, or other structure," from mud + sill. The word entered U.S. political history in a figurative sense in a speech by James M. Hammond (1807-1864) of South Carolina, March 4, 1858, in the U.S. Senate, alluding to the necessary lowest class of society. In the speech he also took the ground that Northern white laborers were slaves in fact, if not in name. The term subsequently was embraced by Northern workers in the pre-Civil War sectional rivalry.

In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. This is a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air as to build either the one or the other except on this mud-sill. [Hammond]
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continental (adj.)

1818 as a purely geographical term, "relating to or of the nature of a continent," from continent (n.) + -al (1). In reference to the European mainland (as opposed to Great Britain), recorded from 1760.

Continental breakfast (the kind eaten on the continent as opposed to the kind eaten in Britain) is attested by 1855. As "pertaining to the government and affairs of the 13 revolutionary British American colonies," from 1774; the Continental Congress was so called from 1775.

Continental divide "line across a continent such that the drainage on one side feeds into one ocean or sea and that on the other feeds into a different body of water," was in use by 1865; continental slope "slope between the outer edge of the continental shelf and the ocean floor" is from 1849. Continental shelf "area of shallow sea around a continent, geologically part of the continent" is attested from 1888.

Continental drift "gradual movement of the continents across the earth's surface through geological time" (1925) is a translation of German Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c. 1950.

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justice (n.)

mid-12c., "the exercise of authority in vindication of right by assigning reward or punishment;" also "quality of being fair and just; moral soundness and conformity to truth," from Old French justice "justice, legal rights, jurisdiction" (11c.), from Latin iustitia "righteousness, equity," from iustus "upright, just" (see just (adj.)).

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit. ["The Federalist," No. 51]

Meaning "right order, equity, the rewarding to everyone of that which is his due" in English is from late 14c. The Old French word had widespread senses including also "uprightness, equity, vindication of right, court of justice, judge." To the Greek philosophers (Plato, Aristotle) the notion was of each thing in its proper sphere or serving its proper purpose; inequality of aptitudes and outcomes was implied.

In English c. 1400-1700 sometimes also with a vindictive sense "infliction of punishment, legal vengeance." As a title for a judicial officer, c. 1200. Justice of the peace is attested from early 14c. To do justice to (someone or something) "deal with as is right or fitting" is from 1670s. In the Mercian hymns, Latin iustitia is glossed by Old English rehtwisnisse.

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subject (n.)

early 14c., "person under control or dominion of another," specifically a government or ruler, from Old French sogit, suget, subget "a subject person or thing" (12c., Modern French sujet), from noun use of Latin subiectus "lying under, below, near bordering on," figuratively "subjected, subdued," past participle of subicere, subiicere "to place under, throw under, bind under; to make subject, subordinate," from sub "under" (from PIE root *upo "under") + combining form of iacere "to throw" (from PIE root *ye- "to throw, impel"). In 14c., sugges, sogetis, subgit, sugette; form re-Latinized in English 16c.

Meaning "person or thing regarded as recipient of action, one that may be acted upon" is recorded from 1590s. Grammatical sense is recorded from 1630s, from Latin subjectum "grammatical subject," noun use of the neuter of the Latin past participle. Likewise some restricted uses in logic and philosophy are borrowed directly from Latin subjectum as "foundation or subject of a proposition," a loan-translation of Aristotle's to hypokeimenon. Meaning "subject matter of an art or science" is attested from 1540s, probably short for subject matter (late 14c.), which is from Medieval Latin subjecta materia, a loan translation of Greek hypokeimene hylē (Aristotle), literally "that which lies beneath."

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legal (adj.)

mid-15c. "of or pertaining to the law," from Old French légal "legal" (14c.) or directly from Latin legalis "pertaining to the law," from lex (genitive legis) "an enactment; a precept, regulation, principle, rule; formal proposition for a law, motion, bill; a contract, arrangement, contrivance." This probably is related to legere "to gather," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak (to 'pick out words')." Perhaps the noun is from the verb on the notion of "a collection of rules," but de Vaan seems to imply that the evolution is the reverse:

The verb legare and its compounds all have a meaning which involves a 'task, assignment,' and can therefore be interpreted as derivatives of lex 'law.' The [Proto-Italic] root noun *leg- 'law' can be interpreted as a 'collection' of rules. Whether the root noun existed already in PIE is uncertain for lack of precise cognates.

Sense of "permitted by law" is from 1640s. Related: Legally. Not etymologically related to law (n.), q.v. The usual Old French form was leial, loial (see leal, loyal). Legal tender "money which the creditor is bound by law to accept" is from 1740 (see tender (n.2)). A legal holiday (1867) is one established by statute or proclamation and during which government business is usually suspended.

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blue laws 

severe Puritanical code said to have been enacted mid-17c. at the founding of New Haven and Connecticut colonies, 1781; of uncertain signification, perhaps from the notion of coldness, or from one of the figurative senses in blue (adj.1). Blue was the color adopted by 17c. Scottish Covenanters (in contradistinction to the royal red) and hence the color for a time acquired an association with strictness in morals or religion. Or perhaps connected to bluestocking in the sense of "puritanically plain or mean" (see bluestocking, which is a different application of the same term); the parliament of 1653 was derisively called the bluestocking parliament.

The assertion by some writers of the existence of the blue laws has no other basis than the adoption by the first authorities of the New Haven colony of the Scriptures as their code of law and government, and their strict application of Mosaic principles. [Century Dictionary]

Long, detailed lists of them often are given, but the original reference (in an anonymous history of Connecticut printed in London during the Revolution) says they were so-called by the neighboring colonies, "were never suffered to be printed," and then gives its own long list of them in quotations. The common explanation (dating to 1788) that they were written on blue paper is not now considered valid.

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sedition (n.)

mid-14c., sedicioun, "rebellion, uprising, revolt, factitious commotion in the state; concerted attempt to overthrow civil authority; violent strife between factions, civil or religious disorder, riot; rebelliousness against authority," from Old French sedicion (14c., Modern French sédition) and directly from Latin seditionem (nominative seditio) "civil disorder, dissension, strife; rebellion, mutiny," literally "a going apart, separation." This is from sed- "without, apart, aside" (see se-) + itio "a going," from ire "to go" (from PIE root *ei- "to go").

In early use, 'factious with tumult, turbulent' (J.); now chiefly, engaged in promoting disaffection or inciting to revolt against constituted authority [OED]

The meaning "conduct or language inciting to rebellion against a lawful government" is attested by 1838. Less serious than treason, as wanting an overt act.

But it is not essential to the offense of sedition that it threaten the very existence of the state or its authority in its entire extent. Thus, there are seditious assemblies, seditious libels, etc., as well as direct and indirect threats and acts amounting to sedition — all of which are punishable as misdemeanors by fine and imprisonment. [Century Dictionary]

Latin seditio was glossed in Old English by unsib, folcslite.  

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