Etymology
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bite (v.)

Old English bitan "to pierce or cut with the teeth" (class I strong verb; past tense bat, past participle biten), from Proto-Germanic *beitanan (source also of Old Saxon bitan, Old Norse and Old Frisian bita "cut, pierce, penetrate," Middle Dutch biten, Dutch bijten, German beissen, Gothic beitan "to bite"), from PIE root *bheid- "to split," with derivatives in Germanic referring to biting.

To bite the bullet is said to be 1700s military slang, from old medical custom of having the patient bite a lead bullet during an operation to divert attention from pain and reduce screaming. Figurative use of this is from 1891; the custom itself attested from 1840s.

Figurative bite (one's) tongue "refrain from speaking" is by 1590s; to bite (one's) lip to repress signs of some emotion or reaction is from early 14c. To bite off more than one can chew (c. 1880) is U.S. slang, from plug tobacco.

To bite the dust "be thrown or struck down," hence "be vanquished, die, be slain, perish in battle" is from 1750, earlier bite the ground (1670s), lick the dust (late 14c.), which OED identifies as "a Hebraism," but Latin had the same image; compare Virgil's procubuit moriens et humum semel ore momordit.

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cross (v.)

c. 1200, "make the sign of a cross as an act of devotion," from cross (n.) and in part from French croiser. Sense of "to go across, pass from side to side of, pass over" is from c. 1400; that of "to cancel by drawing a line over or crossed lines over" is from mid-15c.

From late 14c. as "lie across; intersect;" also "place (two things) crosswise of each other; lay one thing across another." From early 15c. as "mark a cross on." Meaning "thwart, obstruct, hinder, oppose" is from 1550s. Meaning "to draw or run a line athwart or across" is from 1703. Also in Middle English in now-archaic sense "crucify" (mid-14c.), hence, figuratively, crossed "carrying a cross of affliction or penance."

Sense of "cause to interbreed" is from 1754. In telegraphy, electricity, etc., in reference to accidental contact of two wires on different circuits or different parts of a circuit that allows part of the current to flow from one to the other, from 1884. Meaning "to cheat" is by 1823.

Cross my heart as a vow is from 1898. To cross over as euphemistic for "to die" is from 1930. To cross (someone's) path "thwart, obstruct, oppose" is from 1818. Of ideas, etc., to cross (someone's) mind "enter into" (of an idea, etc.) is from 1768; the notion is of something entering the mind as if passing athwart it.

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paraphilia (n.)

"sexual perversion, deviate desires," 1913, from German paraphilie (by 1903), apparently coined by Austrian ethnologist Friedrich Salomo Krauss (1859-1938) as meaning "inverted erotic instinct," from Greek para- "beside, aside" (see para- (1)) + philos "loving" (see -phile). Popularized in psychology circles in English from c. 1918 in translation of work by Viennese-born psychotherapist Wilhelm Stekel (1868-1940); not in widespread use until 1950s. It was added to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" in 1980 as a morally neutral and more dignified label than perversion, to which it is nonetheless etymologically similar. Related: Paraphiliac; paraphilic.

The neurotic whose accompanying fancies always lead into forbidden ground (and this is what constitutes the guilt feeling of pollutions) fights against masturbation [pollutions] because it is connected with incest fancies, criminal desires, perversions, or as F.S. Krauss calls them, paraphilias. [Wm. J. Robinson, M.D., "Masturbation — Injurious or Harmless," "American Journal of Urology," May 1913]
Krauss bereichert uns um das neue Wort "Paraphilie" anstelle der "Psychopathie," ein fortschrittlich-oppositionelles Wort zwar, aber auch nur ein Wort und als Aufklärung etwa so bedeutsam wie "Seitensprünge." ["Rezensionen" über die "Anthropophyteia Jahrbücher," Leipzig, 1907]
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murder (n.)

"unlawful killing of another human being by a person of sound mind with premeditated malice," c. 1300, murdre, earlier morþer, from Old English morðor (plural morþras) "secret killing of a person, unlawful killing," also "mortal sin, crime; punishment, torment, misery," from Proto-Germanic *murthran (source also of Goth maurþr, and, from a variant form of the same root, Old Saxon morth, Old Frisian morth, Old Norse morð, Middle Dutch moort, Dutch moord, German Mord "murder"), from suffixed form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).

The spelling with -d- probably reflects influence of Anglo-French murdre, from Old French mordre, from Medieval Latin murdrum, which is from the Germanic word. A parallel form murther persisted into 19c.

In Old Norse, custom distinguished morð "secret slaughter" from vig "slaying." The former involved concealment, or slaying a man by night or when asleep, and was a heinous crime. The latter was not a disgrace, if the killer acknowledged his deed, but he was subject to vengeance or demand for compensation.

Mordre wol out that se we day by day. [Chaucer, "Nun's Priest's Tale," c. 1386]

Weakened sense of "very unpleasant situation" is from 1878. Inverted slang sense of "something excellent or terrific" is by 1940. As the name of a parlor or children's game, by 1933.

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alive (adj.)

c. 1200, "in life, living," contraction of Old English on life "in living, not dead," from a- (1) + dative of lif "life" (see life). The full form on live was still current 17c. Of abstract things (love, lawsuits, etc.) "in a state of operation, unextinguished," c. 1600. From 1709 as "active, lively;" 1732 as "attentive, open" (usually with to). Used emphatically, especially with man (n.); as in:

[A]bout a thousand gentlemen having bought his almanacks for this year, merely to find what he said against me, at every line they read they would lift up their eyes, and cry out betwixt rage and laughter, "they were sure no man alive ever writ such damned stuff as this." [Jonathan Swift, "Bickerstaff's Vindication," 1709]

Thus it was abstracted as an expletive, man alive! (1845). Alive and kicking "alert, vigorous," attested from 1823; Farmer says "The allusion is to a child in the womb after quickening," but kicking in the sense "lively and active" is recorded from 1550s (e.g. "the wanton or kicking flesh of yong maydes," "Lives of Women Saints," c. 1610).

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troll (v.)

late 14c., "to go about, stroll," later (early 15c.) "roll from side to side, trundle," probably from Old French troller, a hunting term, "wander, to go in quest of game without purpose" (Modern French trôler), from a Germanic source (compare Old High German trollen "to walk with short steps"), from Proto-Germanic *truzlanan.

Sense of "sing in a full, rolling voice" (first attested 1570s) and that of "fish with a moving line" (c. 1600) both are extended technical uses from the general sense of "roll, trundle," the former from "sing in the manner of a catch or round," the latter perhaps confused with trail or trawl. Figurative sense of "to lure on as with a moving bait, entice, allure" is from 1560s. Meaning "to cruise in search of sexual encounters" is recorded from 1967, originally in homosexual slang.

The internet sense (everyone seems to have his own definition of it) seems to date to the late 1980s or early 1990s and the Newsgroups era, and the verbal use is perhaps older than the noun. It seems to combine troll (v.) in the "fish with a moving line" sense (itself confused with trawl) and troll (n.1) "troublesome imp supposed to live underground."

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position (n.)

late 14c., posicioun, as a term in logic and philosophy, "statement of belief, the laying down of a proposition or thesis," from Old French posicion "position, supposition" (Modern French position) and directly from Latin positionem (nominative positio) "act or fact of placing, situation, position, affirmation," noun of state from past-participle stem of ponere "put, place." Watkins tentatively identifies this as from PIE *po-s(i)nere, from *apo- "off, away" (see apo-) + *sinere "to leave, let" (see site). But de Vaan identifies it as from Proto-Italic *posine-, from PIE *tkine- "to build, live," from root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home" (see home (n.)).

The meaning "place occupied by a person or thing" especially a proper or appropriate place, is from 1540s; hence "status, standing, social rank" (1832); "official station, employment" (1890). The meaning "manner in which some physical thing is arranged or posed, aggregate of the spatial relations of a body or figure to other such bodies or figures" is recorded by 1703; specifically in reference to dance steps, 1778, to sexual intercourse, 1883. Military sense of "place occupied or to be occupied" is by 1781.

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yellow (adj.)

Middle English yelwe, from Old English geolu, geolwe, "yellow," from Proto-Germanic *gelwaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German gelo, Middle Dutch ghele, Dutch geel, Middle High German gel, German gelb, Old Norse gulr, Swedish gul "yellow"), from PIE root *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives denoting "green" and "yellow" (such as Greek khlōros "greenish-yellow," Latin helvus "yellowish, bay").

In Middle English it also was used of a color closer to blue-gray or gray, of frogs or hazel eyes, and as a translation of Latin caeruleus or glauco. The meaning "light-skinned" (in reference to black persons) is recorded by 1808. It was applied to Asiatics by 1787, though that first reference is to Turkish words for inhabitants of India.

Yellow peril translates German die gelbe gefahr. The sense of "cowardly" is by 1856, of unknown origin; the color was traditionally associated rather with jealousy and envy (17c.). Yellow-bellied "cowardly" is from 1924, probably a semi-rhyming reduplication of yellow; earlier yellow-belly was a sailor's name for a half-caste (1867) and a Texas term for Mexican soldiers (1842, based on the color of their uniforms). Yellow dog "mongrel" is attested from c. 1770; the slang sense of "contemptible person" is recorded by 1881. Yellow fever is attested from 1748, American English (jaundice is a symptom).

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nineties (n.)

1857 as the years of someone's life between 90 and 99; from 1848 as the tenth decade of years in a given century; 1849 with reference to Fahrenheit temperature. See ninety.

Many still live who remember those days; if the old men cannot tell you the exact date, they will say: 'It were in the nineties;' (etc.) [Chambers's Journal, Nov. 1, 1856]

Related: Ninetyish "characteristic of the (eighteen-) nineties" (1909). In Britain, the naughty nineties was a popular name 1920s-30s for the 1890s, based on the notion of a relaxing of morality and mood in contrast to earlier Victorian times. In U.S., gay nineties in reference to the same decade is attested from 1927, and was the title of a regular nostalgia feature in "Life" magazine about that time.

The long, dreary blue-law Sunday afternoons were periods of the Nineties which no amount of rosy retrospect will ever be able to recall as gay, especially to a normal healthy boy to whom all activities were taboo except G. A. Henty and the bound volumes of Leslie's Weekly of the Civil War. [Life magazine, Sept. 1, 1927]
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waltz (n.)

round dance performed to music in triple time, extraordinarily popular as a fashionable dance from late 18c. to late 19c., the dance itself probably of Bohemian origin, 1779 (walse, in a translation of "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers" from a French translation, which has walse), from German Waltzer, from walzen "to roll, dance," from Old High German walzan "to turn, roll," from Proto-Germanic *walt- (cognate with Old Norse velta), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve."


Described in 1825 as "a riotous and indecent German dance" [Walter Hamilton, "A Hand-Book or Concise Dictionary of Terms Used in the Arts and Sciences"].

The music struck up a beautiful air, and the dancers advanced a few steps, when suddenly, to my no small horror and amazement, the gentlemen seized the ladies round the waist, and all, as if intoxicated by this novel juxtaposition, began to whirl about the room, like a company of Bacchanalians dancing round a statue of the jolly god. "A waltz!" exclaimed I, inexpressibly shocked, "have I lived to see Scotch women waltz?" [The Edinburgh Magazine, April 1820]
[T]he waltz became a craze at the end of the [eighteenth] century, a double-dactylic, joyful experience of liberation, breaking resolutely away from the proscriptions of the minuet and the philosophy inherent in the minuet, which had emphasized a pattern of order and reason overseen by a sovereign, the individual submerged in the pattern. [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry"]
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