also rag-time, "syncopated, jazzy piano music," 1896, perhaps from rag "dance ball" (1895, American English dialect), or a shortening of ragged, in reference to the syncopated melody. Rag (n.) "ragtime dance tune" is from 1897.
If rag-time was called tempo di raga or rague-temps it might win honor more speedily. ... What the derivation of the word is[,] I have not the faintest idea. The negroes call their clog-dancing "ragging" and the dance a "rag." [Rupert Hughes, Boston Musical Record, April 1900]
Conceive the futility of trying to reduce the intangible ragness to a strict system of misbegotten grace notes and untimely rests! In attempting to perfect, and simplify, art is destroying the unhampered spirit in which consists the whole beauty of rag-time music. The very essence of rag-time is that it shall lack all art, depending for the spirit to be infused more upon the performer than upon the composer himself. [Yale Literary Magazine, June 1899]
Her first "rag-time" was "The Bully," in which she made great sport by bringing a little coloured boy on the stage with her. Miss [May] Irwin says the way to learn to sing "rag-time" is to catch a negro and study him. [Lewis C. Strang, "Famous Actresses of the Day in America," Boston, 1899]
late 13c., "coarse cloth;" mid-14c., "tablecloth, bedspread;" from Old French carpite "heavy decorated cloth, a carpet" (Modern French carpette), from Medieval Latin or Old Italian carpita "thick woolen cloth," probably from Latin carpere "to card, pluck" and so called because it was made from unraveled, shredded, "plucked" fabric; from PIE root *kerp- "to gather, pluck, harvest." From 15c. in reference to floor coverings, which since 18c. has been the main sense. The smaller sort is a rug.
Formerly the carpet (usually in a single piece, like the Persian carpet) was also used (as it still is in the East) for covering beds, couches, tables, etc., and in hangings. [Century Dictionary]
From 16c.-19c., by association with luxury, ladies' boudoirs, and drawing rooms, it was used as an adjective, often with a tinge of contempt, in reference to men (as in carpet-knight, 1570s, one who has seen no military service in the field; carpet-monger, 1590s, a lover of ease and pleasure, i.e. one more at home on a carpet).
On the carpet "summoned for reprimand" is 1900, U.S. colloquial (but compare carpet (v.) "call (someone) to be reprimanded," 1823, British servants' slang). This may have merged with older on the carpet "up for consideration" (1726) literally "on the tablecloth," with the word's older sense, hence "a subject for investigation." To sweep or push something under the carpet in the figurative sense is first recorded 1953.
Old English scot, sceot "a shot, a shooting, an act of shooting; that which is discharged in shooting, what is shot forth; darting, rapid motion," from Proto-Germanic *skutan (source also of Old Norse skutr, Old Frisian skete, Middle Dutch scote, German Schuß "a shot"), related to sceotan "to shoot," from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, chase, throw."
Meaning "discharge of a bow, missile," also is from related Old English gesceot. Extended to other projectiles in Middle English, and to sports (hockey, basketball, etc.) 1868. Another original meaning, "payment" (perhaps literally "money thrown down") is preserved in scot-free. "Throwing down" might also have led to the meaning "a drink," first attested 1670s, the more precise meaning "small drink of straight liquor" by 1928 (shot glass is by 1955). Camera view sense is from 1958.
Sense of "hypodermic injection" first attested 1904; figurative phrase shot in the arm "stimulant" is by 1922. Meaning "try, attempt" is from 1756; sense of "remark meant to wound" is recorded from 1841. Meaning "an expert in shooting" is from 1780. To call the shots "control events, make decisions" is American English, 1922, perhaps from sport shooting. Shot in the dark "uninformed guess" is from 1885. Big shot "important person" is from 1861.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
[Emerson, from "Concord Hymn"]
BOMB, or BOMB SHELL, now called simply Shell (Fr. Bombe). A hollow iron ball or shell filled with gunpowder, having a vent or fuze-hole into which a fuzee is fitted to set the powder on fire after the shell is thrown out of a mortar. This destructive missile is intended to do injury both by its force in falling, and by bursting after it falls. [Arthur Young, "Nautical Dictionary," London, 1863]
The figurative sense of "shattering or devastating thing or event" is attested by 1859. In reference to a pretty woman "of startling vitality or physique" [OED], especially a blonde, it is attested by 1942. "Bombshell" as title of a movie starring blond U.S. actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) is from 1933; it was believed to have been loosely based on the life of screen star Clara Bow.
The producers of the current hilarious Jean Harlow-Lee Tracy photoplay were not satisfied with the original title "Bombshell" so they renamed it "The Blond Bombshell." We wonder, in passing, why they didn't call it "The Private Life of Clara Bow" originally and let it go at that. [The Oklahoma News, Nov. 19, 1933]
1910, medical Latin, "one of the highest class of feeble-minded persons," from Greek (Attic) mōron, neuter of mōros "foolish, dull, sluggish, stupid," a word of uncertain origin. The former connection with Sanskrit murah "idiotic" (see moratorium) is in doubt. Latin morus "foolish" is a loan-word from Greek.
Adopted by the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-minded with a technical definition "adult with a mental age between 8 and 12;" used as an insult since 1922 and subsequently dropped from technical use. Linnæus had introduced morisis "idiocy."
The feeble-minded may be divided into: (1) Those who are totally arrested before the age of three so that they show the attainment of a two-year-old child or less; these are the idiots. (2) Those so retarded that they become permanently arrested between the ages of three and seven; these are imbeciles. (3) Those so retarded that they become arrested between the ages of seven and twelve; these were formerly called feeble-minded, the same term that is applied to the whole group. We are now proposing to call them morons, this word being the Greek for "fool." The English word "fool" as formerly used describes exactly this grade of child—one who is deficient in judgment or sense. [Henry H. Goddard, in "Journal of Proceedings and Addresses" of the National Education Association of the United States, July 1910]
also yegg-man, 1901, a word popular in the first decade of the 20th century and meaning vaguely "hobo burglar; safe-breaker; criminal beggar."
The great majority [of the Chicago criminal population] are what certain detectives call "Yegg-men," which is a term, by the way, that the detectives would do well to define. As far as I can discover it means tramp-thieves, but the average tramp seldom uses the word. Hoboes that break safes in country post-offices come under the Yegg-men classification. [McClure's Magazine, February 1901]
Popularized by the Pinkerton agency detectives. The 1900 "Proceedings of the 26th annual convention of the American Bankers' Association," whose members were protected by the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, reported a letter dated Nov. 23 or 24, 1899, returning $540, taken earlier that year, to the Scandinavian-American Bank of St. Paul, Minn., noting that the thieves had been so hounded by detectives that they gave up the gains and advised the bank to advertise that it was a member of the American Bankers Association, because "the American Bankers Association is too tough for poor 'grafters.'" The letter supposedly was signed "John Yegg," but this was said to be a pseudonym and the report identified the man arrested later in the case as William Barrett.
mid-13c., "yell (something) out, utter" (transitive); c. 1300, "beg, implore; speak earnestly and loudly; advertise by calling out," from Old French crier, from Vulgar Latin *critare, from Latin quiritare "to wail, shriek" (source of Italian gridare, Old Spanish cridar, Spanish and Portuguese gritar), which is of uncertain origin.
Perhaps it is a variant of quirritare "to squeal like a pig," from *quis, echoic of squealing. Ancient folk etymology explained it as "to call for the help of the Quirites," the Roman constabulary.
The meaning was extended 13c. to the sense "shed tears" that had formerly been in weep, which it largely replaced by 16c., via the notion of "utter a loud, vehement, inarticulate sound." To cry (one's) eyes out "weep inordinately" is by 1704.
Most languages, in common with English, use the general word for "cry out, shout, wail" to also mean "weep, shed tears to express pain or grief." Romance and Slavic, however, use words for this whose ultimate meaning is "beat (the breast)," compare French pleurer, Spanish llorar, both from Latin plorare "cry aloud," but probably originally plodere "beat, clap the hands." Also Italian piangere (cognate with French plaindre "lament, pity") from Latin plangere, originally "beat," but especially of the breast, as a sign of grief. Related: Cried; crying.
also God; Old English god "supreme being, deity; the Christian God; image of a god; godlike person," from Proto-Germanic *guthan (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch god, Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ), which is of uncertain origin; perhaps from PIE *ghut- "that which is invoked" (source also of Old Church Slavonic zovo "to call," Sanskrit huta- "invoked," an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- "to call, invoke." The notion could be "divine entity summoned to a sacrifice."
But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- "poured," from root *gheu- "to pour, pour a libation" (source of Greek khein "to pour," also in the phrase khute gaia "poured earth," referring to a burial mound; see found (v.2)). "Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound" [Watkins]. See also Zeus. In either case, not related to good.
Popular etymology has long derived God from good; but a comparison of the forms ... shows this to be an error. Moreover, the notion of goodness is not conspicuous in the heathen conception of deity, and in good itself the ethical sense is comparatively late. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
Originally a neuter noun in Germanic, the gender shifted to masculine after the coming of Christianity. Old English god probably was closer in sense to Latin numen. A better word to translate deus might have been Proto-Germanic *ansuz, but this was used only of the highest deities in the Germanic religion, and not of foreign gods, and it was never used of the Christian God. It survives in English mainly in the personal names beginning in Os-.
I want my lawyer, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God, because it means that I shall be cheated and robbed and cuckolded less often. ... If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. [Voltaire]
God bless you after someone sneezes is credited to St. Gregory the Great, but the pagan Romans (Absit omen) and Greeks had similar customs. God's gift to _____ is by 1931. God of the gaps means "God considered solely as an explanation for anything not otherwise explained by science;" the exact phrase is from 1949, but the words and the idea have been around since 1894. God-forbids was rhyming slang for kids ("children"). God squad "evangelical organization" is 1969 U.S. student slang. God's acre "burial ground" imitates or partially translates German Gottesacker, where the second element means "field;" the phrase dates to 1610s in English but was noted as a Germanism as late as Longfellow.
How poore, how narrow, how impious a measure of God, is this, that he must doe, as thou wouldest doe, if thou wert God. [John Donne, sermon preached in St. Paul's Jan. 30, 1624/5]
1707 as a direct phrase, but implied much earlier, and Old Norse had bikkju-sonr. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918; form sumbitch attested in writing by 1969.
Abide þou þef malicious!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c. 1330]
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle. [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]
Elsewhere, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, Mencken writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."
It was in 1934 also that the New York Daily News, with commendable frankness, in reporting a hearing in Washington at which Senator Huey P. Long featured, forsook the old-time dashes and abbreviations and printed the complete epithet "son of a bitch." [Stanley Walker, "City Editor," 1934]
"that which feels, wills, and thinks; the intellect," late 12c., mynd, from Old English gemynd "memory, remembrance; state of being remembered; thought, purpose; conscious mind, intellect, intention," Proto-Germanic *ga-mundiz (source also of Gothic muns "thought," munan "to think;" Old Norse minni "mind;" German Minne (archaic) "love," originally "memory, loving memory"), from suffixed form of PIE root *men- (1) "to think," with derivatives referring to qualities of mind or states of thought.
Meaning "mental faculty, the thinking process" is from c. 1300. Sense of "intention, purpose" is from c. 1300. From late 14c. as "frame of mind. mental disposition," also "way of thinking, opinion." "Memory," one of the oldest senses, now is almost obsolete except in old expressions such as bear in mind (late 14c.), call to mind (early 15c.),keep in mind (late 15c.).
Mind's eye "mental view or vision, remembrance" is from early 15c. To pay no mind "disregard" is recorded by 1910, American English dialect. To make up (one's) mind "determine, come to a definite conclusion" is by 1784. To have a mind "be inclined or disposed" (to do something) is by 1540s; to have half a mind to "to have one's mind half made up to (do something)" is recorded from 1726. Out of (one's) mind "mad, insane" is from late 14c.; out of mind "forgotten" is from c. 1300; phrase time out of mind "time beyond people's memory" is attested from early 15c.