late 14c., "upper regions of space," from Old French ether (12c.) and directly from Latin aether "the upper pure, bright air; sky, firmament," from Greek aithēr "upper air; bright, purer air; the sky" (opposed to aēr "the lower air"), from aithein "to burn, shine," from PIE *aidh- "to burn" (see edifice).
In ancient cosmology, the element that filled all space beyond the sphere of the moon, constituting the substance of the stars and planets. Conceived of as a purer form of fire or air, or as a fifth element. From 17c.-19c., it was the scientific word for an assumed "frame of reference" for forces in the universe, perhaps without material properties. The concept was shaken by the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) and discarded early 20c. after the Theory of Relativity won acceptance, but before it went it gave rise to the colloquial use of ether for "the radio" (1899).
The name also was bestowed c. 1730 (Frobenius; in English by 1757) on a volatile chemical compound known since 14c. for its lightness and lack of color (its anesthetic properties weren't fully established until 1842).
"shining by night," as the eyes of a cat, glow-worms, decaying wood, or certain high clouds seen in northern latitudes, 1812, from Latin noct-, stem of nox "night" (see noct-) + lucentem (nominative lucens), present participle of lucere "to shine, glow, be bright," from PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness." The word was originally used of tiny sea creatures, by contemporary observers reported to be nereids, but that identification is now considered doubtful.
These are the animals that illuminate the sea, like glow-worms, but with brighter splendor. I have at night, in rowing, seen the whole element as if on fire round me; every oar spangled with them; and the water burnt with more than ordinary brightness. I have taken up some of the water in a bucket, seen them for a short space illuminate it; but when I came to search for them their extreme smallness eluded my examination. [Thomas Pennant, "British Zoology," London, 1812]
Also noctilucous (1774). Noctilucid is rarely used, but could be valuable if it meant "only making sense at night." Related: Noctilucence.
"chaste, pure, virgin," 1590s, originally (early 15c.) "belonging to or dedicated to Vesta," Roman goddess of hearth and home, from Latin vestalis. The noun is recorded from 1570s, short for Vestal virgin, one of four (later six) priestesses (Latin virgines Vestales) in charge of the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta in Rome. From 1580s in reference to any virgin or chaste woman.
They entered the service of the goddess at from six to ten years of age, their term of service lasting thirty years. They were then permitted to retire and to marry, but few did so, for, as vestals, they were treated with great honor, and had important public privileges. Their persons were inviolable, any offense against them being punished with death, and they were treated in all their relations with the highest distinction and reverence. A vestal who broke her vow of chastity was immured alive in an underground vault amid public mourning. There were very few such instances; in one of them, under Domitian, the chief of the vestals was put to death under a false charge trumped up by the emperor. [Century Dictionary]
"next in order after the third; an ordinal numeral; being one of four equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" mid-15c., alteration (by influence of four), of ferthe, from Old English feorða "fourth," from Proto-Germanic *feurthan (source also of Old Saxon fiortho, Old Norse fiorðe, Dutch vierde, Old High German fiordo, German vierte); see four + -th (1). As a noun from 1590s, both of fractions and in music.
Among the old Quakers, who rejected the pagan weekday names, fourth day was Wednesday, often a secondary day of meeting for worship. Fourth-dimension attested from 1844. The theatrical fourth wall is from 1807. The celebration of the Fourth of July as the epoch of American independence is attested from 1777.
That there is due to Daniel Smith, of the city tavern, for his bill of expences of Congress, on the 4 of July last, including a balance of an old account, the sum of 729 68/90 dollars; also a bill for materials, workmanship, &c furnished for the fire works on the 4 July, the sum of 102 69/90 dollars .... [Auditor General's report, Aug. 8, 1777, Journals of Congress, vol. VII]
"time limit," 1920, American English newspaper jargon, from dead (adj.) + line (n.). Perhaps influenced by earlier use (1864) to mean the "do-not-cross" line in Civil War prisons, which figured in the trial of Henry Wirz, commander of the notorious Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia.
And he, the said Wirz, still wickedly pursuing his evil purpose, did establish and cause to be designated within the prison enclosure containing said prisoners a "dead line," being a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall enclosing said prison and about twenty feet distant from and within said stockade; and so established said dead line, which was in many places an imaginary line, in many other places marked by insecure and shifting strips of [boards nailed] upon the tops of small and insecure stakes or posts, he, the said Wirz, instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might touch, fall upon, pass over or under [or] across the said "dead line" .... ["Trial of Henry Wirz," Report of the Secretary of War, Oct. 31, 1865]
c. 1200, purgatorie, "place or condition of temporal punishment for spiritual cleansing after death of souls dying penitent and destined ultimately for Heaven," from Old French purgatore, purgatoire and directly from Medieval Latin purgatorium (St. Bernard, early 12c.), in Latin, "means of cleansing," noun use of neuter of purgatorius (adj.) "purging, cleansing," from purgat-, past-participle stem of Latin purgare "to cleanse, purify" (see purge (v.)).
It is not considered as a place of probation ; for the ultimate salvation of those in purgatory is assured, and the impenitent are not received into purgatory. The souls in purgatory are supposed, however, to receive relief through the prayers of the faithful and through the sacrifice of the mass. The common belief in the Latin Church is that the purgatorial suffering is by fire ; the Greek Church, however, does not determine its nature. [Century Dictionary]
The figurative use for "state of mental or emotional suffering, expiation, etc." is from late 14c., originally especially when due to unrequited love, or, (seemingly paradoxically), marriage (e.g. Lydgate's wyfly purgatorye). In old New England it was used of narrow gorges and steep-sided ravines. Related: Purgatorial; purgatorian.
early 15c., "of a bluish-leaden color," from Old French livide (13c.) and directly from Latin lividus "of a bluish color, black-and-blue," figuratively "envious, spiteful, malicious," from livere "be bluish," earlier *slivere, from PIE *sliwo-, suffixed form of root *sleiə- "bluish" (source also of Old Church Slavonic and Russian sliva "plum;" Lithuanian slyvas "plum;" Old Irish li, Welsh lliw "color, splendor," Old English sla "sloe").
Somehow it has come to be associated with "pale, colorless." The sense of "furiously angry" (1912) is from the notion of being livid with rage. Perhaps this is the key to the meaning shift. Rage makes some dark-red-faced; purple with rage is not uncommon in old novels (" 'My money! ye pirate! or I'll strangle you.' And he advanced upon him purple with rage, and shot out his long threatening arm, and brown fingers working in the air.") while it makes others go pale, also a figure in old novels ("At this juncture, the door opened, and, pale with rage, her eyes flashing fire, Lady Audley stood before them.")
in geology, "formed by volcanic agencies," especially in reference to fast-moving, dense, superheated surges of ash, gas and rock in a volcanic eruption; by 1862 in reference to the rocks that result; see pyro- "fire" + clastic, indicating "broken in pieces, fragments."
The word "ash" is not a very good one to include all the mechanical accompaniments of a subaerial or subaqueous eruption, since ash seems to be restricted to a fine powder, the residuum of combustion. A word is wanting to express all such accompaniments, no matter what their size and condition may be, when they are accumulated in such mass as to form beds of "rock." We might call them perhaps "pyroclastic materials," but I have endeavoured in vain to think of an English word which should express this meaning, and believe, therefore, that the only plan will be to retain the word "ash," giving it an enlarged technical meaning, so as to include all the fragments accumulated during an igneous eruption, no matter what size or what shape they may be. [J. Beete Jukes, "The Student's Manual of Geology," Edinburgh, 1862]
1670s, "of or pertaining to Dalmatia" (q.v.); as a noun, 1580s, "inhabitant of Dalmatia."
The breed of spotted dogs so called from 1893, short for Dalmatian dog (1810), presumably named for Dalmatia, but dog breeders argue over whether there is a Croatian ancestry for the breed, which seems to be represented in Egyptian bas-reliefs and Hellenic friezes. They were popular in early 1800s as carriage dogs, trotting alongside carriages and guarding the vehicles in owner's absence (the alternative name coach-dog is attested from 1792). Even fire departments nowadays tend to spell it *Dalmation.
THE use to which this beautiful and shewy breed is applied, being so universally known both in Town and Country, needs a bare mention: how long it has been the fashion to keep these dogs, as attendants of the Coach Horse Stable, and as precursors to the Carriage, as if to clear the way and announce its approach, does not appear in our common books of reference on the subject; but the practice may probably be a century or two old, and was doubtless derived from Continental usage. ["The Sportsman's Repository," London, 1831]
Old English fætt "fat, fatted, plump, obese," originally a contracted past participle of fættian "to cram, stuff," from Proto-Germanic *faitida "fatted," from verb *faitjan "to fatten," from *faita- "plump, fat" (source also of Old Frisian fatt, Old Norse feitr, Dutch vet, German feist "fat"), from PIE *poid- "to abound in water, milk, fat, etc." (source also of Greek piduein "to gush forth"), from root *peie- "to be fat, swell" (source also of Sanskrit payate "swells, exuberates," pituh "juice, sap, resin;" Lithuanian pienas "milk;" Greek pion "fat; wealthy;" Latin pinguis "fat").
Meaning "abounding in comforts, prosperous" is late 14c. Teen slang meaning "attractive, up to date" (also later phat) is attested from 1951. Fat cat "privileged and rich person" is from 1928; fat chance "no chance at all" attested from 1905, perhaps ironic (the expression is found earlier in the sense "good opportunity"). Fathead is from 1842; fat-witted is from 1590s; fatso is first recorded 1943. Expression the fat is in the fire originally meant "the plan has failed" (1560s).
Spanish gordo "fat, thick," is from Latin gurdus "stupid, doltish; heavy, clumsy," which also is the source of French gourd "stiff, benumbed" (12c.), engourdir "to dull, stupefy, benumb" (13c.).