c. 1300, "fabulous man-like creature of enormous size," from Old French geant, earlier jaiant "giant, ogre" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *gagantem (nominative gagas), from Latin gigas "a giant," from Greek Gigas (usually in plural, Gigantes), one of a race of divine but savage and monstrous beings (personifying destructive natural forces), sons of Gaia and Uranus, eventually destroyed by the gods. The word is of unknown origin, probably from a pre-Greek language. Derivation from gegenes "earth-born" is considered untenable.
In þat tyme wer here non hauntes Of no men bot of geauntes. [Wace's Chronicle, c. 1330]
It replaced Old English ent, eoten, also gigant (from Latin). The Greek word was used in Septuagint to refer to men of great size and strength, hence the expanded use in modern languages; in English of very tall and unusually large persons from 1550s; of persons who have any quality in extraordinary degree from 1530s. As a class of stars, from 1912. As an adjective from early 15c. Giant-killer is from 1726.
masc. personal name, from French Georges, Late Latin Georgius, from Greek Georgos "husbandman, farmer," properly an adjective, "tilling the ground," from gē "earth" (see Gaia) + -ergos "that works," from ergon "work" (from PIE root *werg- "to do").
The name introduced in England by the Crusaders (a vision of St. George played a key role in the First Crusade), but not common until after the Hanoverian succession (18c.). St. George began to be recognized as patron of England in time of Edward III, perhaps because of his association with the Order of the Garter (see garter). His feast day is April 23. The legend of his combat with the dragon is first found in "Legenda Aurea" (13c.). The exclamation by (St.) George! is recorded from 1590s.
The cult of George reached its apogee in the later Middle Ages: by then not only England, but Venice, Genoa, Portugal, and Catalonia regarded him as their patron: for all he was the personification of the ideals of Christian chivalry. ["The Oxford Dictionary of Saints"]
late 14c., revolucioun, originally of celestial bodies, "one (apparent) rotation about the earth," also the time required for this, also "act or fact of moving in a circular course," from Old French revolucion "course, revolution" of celestial bodies (13c.) or directly from Late Latin revolutionem (nominative revolutio) "a revolving," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin revolvere "turn, roll back" (see revolve).
From early 15c. as "a cyclical reoccurrence, a round or recurrent changes or events;" also "the revolving of a wheel." By 1660s as "action on the part of an object or person of turning round or moving round a point."
The sense of "an instance of great change in affairs" is recorded from mid-15c. The political meaning "overthrow of an established political or social system" is recorded by c. 1600, derived from French, and was especially applied in England to the expulsion of the Stuart dynasty under James II in 1688 and transfer of sovereignty to William and Mary under a purer constitutional government. Green revolution in global food production is attested from 1970.
"heavenly body which revolves about the earth monthly," Middle English mone, from Old English mona, from Proto-Germanic *menon- (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German mano, Old Frisian mona, Old Norse mani, Danish maane, Dutch maan, German Mond, Gothic mena "moon"), from PIE *me(n)ses- "moon, month" (source also of Sanskrit masah "moon, month;" Avestan ma, Persian mah, Armenian mis "month;" Greek mene "moon," men "month;" Latin mensis "month;" Old Church Slavonic meseci, Lithuanian mėnesis "moon, month;" Old Irish mi, Welsh mis, Breton miz "month"), from root *me- (2) "to measure" in reference to the moon's phases as an ancient and universal measure of time.
A masculine noun in Old English. In Greek, Italic, Celtic, and Armenian the cognate words now mean only "month." Greek selēnē (Lesbian selanna) is from selas "light, brightness (of heavenly bodies)." Old Norse also had tungl "moon," ("replacing mani in prose" - Buck), evidently an older Germanic word for "heavenly body," cognate with Gothic tuggl, Old English tungol "heavenly body, constellation," of unknown origin or connection. Hence Old Norse tunglfylling "lunation," tunglœrr "lunatic" (adj.).
Extended 1665 to satellites of other planets. Typical of a place impossible to reach or a thing impossible to obtain, by 1590s. Meaning "a month, the period of the revolution of the moon about the earth" is from late 14c.
To shoot the moon "leave without paying rent" is British slang from c. 1823 (see shoot (v.)); the card-playing sense perhaps was influenced by gambler's shoot the works (1922) "go for broke" in shooting dice. The moon race and the U.S. space program of the 1960s inspired a number of coinages, including, from those skeptical of the benefits to be gained, moondoggle (based on boondoggle). The man in the moon "fancied semblance of a man seen in the disk of the full moon" is mentioned since early 14c.; he carries a bundle of thorn-twigs and is accompanied by a dog. Some Japanese, however, see a rice-cake-making rabbit in the moon. The old moon in the new moon's arms (1727) is the appearance of the moon in the first quarter, in which the whole orb is faintly visible by earthshine.
early 15c., quint-essence, in ancient philosophy and medieval alchemy, "a pure essence latent in all things, and the substance of which the heavenly bodies are composed," literally "fifth essence," from Old French quinte essence (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin quinta essentia, from Latin quinta, fem. of quintus "fifth" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + essentia "being, essence," abstract noun formed (to translate Greek ousia "being, essence") from essent-, present-participle stem of esse "to be" (from PIE root *es- "to be").
The Latin term is a loan-translation of Greek pempte ousia, the "ether" that was added by Aristotle (perhaps following the Pythagoreans) to the four known elements (water, earth, fire, air) and said to permeate all things. It was naturally bright, incorruptible, and endowed with circular motion. Its extraction was one of the chief goals of alchemy.
The transferred or figurative sense of "purest essence" (of a situation, character, etc.), "an extract from anything containing in a small quantity its virtues or most essential part" is by 1560s.
"fine, dry particles of earth or other matter so light that they can be raised and carried by the wind," Old English dust, from Proto-Germanic *dunstaz (source also of Old High German tunst "storm, breath," German Dunst "mist, vapor," Danish dyst "milldust," Dutch duist), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, smoke, vapor" (source also of Sanskrit dhu- "shake," Latin fumus "smoke").
Meaning "elementary substance of the human body, that to which living matter decays" was in Old English, hence, figuratively, "mortal life." Sense of "a collection of powdered matter in the air" is from 1570s. Dust-cover "protective covering to keep dust off" is by 1852; dust-jacket "detachable paper cover of a book" is from 1927.
To kick up the (or a) dust "cause an uproar" is from 1753, but the figurative use of dust in reference to "confusion, disturbance" is from 1560s, and compare Middle English make powder fly "cause a disturbance or uproar" (mid-15c.). For bite the dust see bite (v.).
Old English plante "young tree or shrub, herb newly planted, a shoot or strip recently sprouted from seed," from Latin planta "sprout, shoot, cutting" (source of Spanish planta, French plante), which is perhaps from an unattested verb *plantare "to drive in with the feet, push into the ground with the feet," or perhaps "to level the earth," from planta "sole of the foot," from nasalized form of PIE root *plat- "to spread." German Pflanz, Irish cland, Welsh plant also are from Latin.
Broader sense of "any small vegetable life, vegetation generally" (sometimes popularly excluding trees), "an individual living being with material organization but not animal in nature" is recorded by 1550s.
Most extended usages are from the verb, on the notion of "something planted;" such as "construction for an industrial process," 1789, at first with reference to the machinery, tools, apparatus, etc., later also the building; also slang meaning "a spy" (1812). Many of these follow similar developments in the French form of the word.
"artificial satellite," extended from the name of the one launched by the Soviet Union Oct. 4, 1957, from Russian sputnik "satellite," literally "traveling companion" (in this use short for sputnik zemlyi, "traveling companion of the Earth") from Old Church Slavonic supotiniku, from Russian so-, s- "with, together" + put' "path, way," from Old Church Slavonic poti, from PIE *pent- "to tread, go" (see find (v.)) + agent suffix -nik.
The electrifying impact of the launch on the West can be gauged by the number of new formations in -nik around this time (the suffix had been present in a Yiddish context for at least a decade before); Laika, the stray dog launched aboard Sputnik 2 (Nov. 2, 1957), which was dubbed muttnik in the Detroit Free Press, etc. The rival U.S. satellite which failed to reach orbit in 1957 (because the Vanguard rocket blew up on the launch pad) derided as a kaputnik (in the Daytona Beach Morning Journal), a dudnik (Christian Science Monitor), a flopnik (Youngstown Vindicator, New York Times), a pffftnik (National Review), and a stayputnik (Vancouver Sun).
1560s, "sweet potato," from Spanish patata, from a Carib language of Haiti batata "sweet potato." Sweet potatoes were first to be introduced to Europe; they were in cultivation in Spain by mid-16c. and in Virginia by 1648. Early 16c. Portuguese traders carried the crop to all their shipping ports and the sweet potato was quickly adopted from Africa to India and Java.
"This was the original application of the name, and it is in this sense that the word is generally to be understood when used by English writers down to the middle of the seventeenth century" [Century Dictionary].
The name later (1590s) was extended (based on general likeness, both being esculent tubers) to the common white potato, native to Peru, which was at first (mistakenly) called Virginia potato, or, because at first it was of minor importance compared to the sweet potato, bastard potato. Spanish invaders in Peru began to use white potatoes as cheap food for sailors 1530s.
The first potato from South America reached Pope Paul III in 1540; it was grown in France at first as an ornamental plant. According to popular tradition, it was introduced to Ireland 1565 by John Hawkins. It was brought to England from Colombia by Sir Thomas Herriot, 1586.
German Kartoffel (17c.) is a dissimilation from tartoffel, ultimately from Italian tartufolo (Vulgar Latin *territuberem), originally "truffle." Frederick II forced its cultivation on Prussian peasants in 1743. The French is pomme de terre, literally "earth-apple;" a Swedish dialectal word for "potato" is jordpäron, literally "earth-pear."
Colloquial pronunciation tater is attested in print from 1759. Potato salad is by 1842 as a typical German dish; by 1844 in English cookery books. For Potato chip see chip (n.1); for the British alternative potato crisp see crisp (adj.). Slang potato trap "mouth" is attested from 1785. The Potato Famine in Ireland from 1845 to 1849 was so called by 1851, mostly outside Ireland; in it it is typically the Great Famine, Great Hunger, or Great Starvation.
To drop (something) like a hot potato is from 1824. Children's counting-out rhyme that begins one potato, two potato is recorded by 1885 in Canada.
1540s, "follower or attendant of a superior person" (but rare in this sense before late 18c.), from French satellite (14c.), from Latin satellitem (nominative satelles) "an attendant" upon a distinguished person; "a body-guard, a courtier; an assistant," in Cicero often in a bad sense, "an accomplice, accessory" in a crime, etc. A word of unknown origin.
Perhaps it is from Etruscan satnal (Klein), or a compound of roots *satro- "full, enough" + *leit- "to go" (Tucker); for the latter, compare English follow, which is constructed of similar roots. De Vaan has nothing on it.
Meaning "planet that revolves about a larger one" is attested 1660s, on the notion of "an attendant," in reference to the moons of Jupiter, from Latin satellites, which was used in this sense 1610s by German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). Galileo, who had discovered them, called them Sidera Medicæa in honor of the Medici family.
Meaning "man-made machinery orbiting the Earth" is recorded by 1936 as theory, by 1957 as fact. Meaning "country dependent and subservient to another" is recorded by 1800 (John Adams, in reference to America). Related: Satellitic; satellitious.