late 14c., Pigmei, "member of a fabulous race of dwarfs," described by Homer and Herodotus and said to inhabit Egypt or Ethiopia and India, from Latin Pygmaei (singular Pygmaeus), from Greek Pygmaioi, plural of Pygmaios "a Pygmy," noun use of adjective meaning "dwarfish."
It means etymologically "of the length of a pygmē; a pygmē tall," from pygmē "a cubit" (literally "a fist"), the measure of length from the elbow to the knuckle (equal to 18 "fingers," or about 13.5 inches; related to pyx "with clenched fist" and to Latin pugnus "fist" (from PIE root *peuk- "to prick"). The Greek use of the word in reference to the people presumably represents a folk etymology adaptation of a foreign word.
Figurative use for "person of small importance" is from 1590s. Believed in 17c. to refer to chimpanzees or orangutans, and occasionally the word was used in this sense. The ancient word was applied by Europeans to the equatorial African race, then newly discovered by them, from 1863, but the tribes probably were known to the ancients and likely were the original inspiration for the legend. As an adjective from 1590s. Related: Pygmean; Pygmaean.
Middle English bresten, from Old English berstan (intransitive) "break suddenly, shatter as a result of pressure from within" (class III strong verb; past tense bærst, past participle borsten), from a West Germanic metathesis of Proto-Germanic *brest- (source also of Old Saxon brestan, Old Frisian bersta, Middle Dutch berstan, Low German barsten, Dutch barsten, Old High German brestan, German bersten "to burst").
The forms reverted to brest- in Middle English from influence of Old Norse brestan/brast/brosten, from the same Germanic root, but it was re-metathesized late 16c. and emerged in the modern form, though brast was common as past tense through 17c. and survives in dialect.
In Old English "Chiefly said of things possessing considerable capacity for resistance and breaking with loud noise; often of cords, etc., snapping under tension; also of spears, swords, etc., shivered in battle" [OED]; in late Old English also "break violently open as an effect of internal forces." Figuratively, in reference to being over-full of excitement, anticipation, emotion, etc., from c. 1200.
The transitive sense ("to cause to break, cause to explode") is from late 13c. The meaning "to issue suddenly and abundantly" is from c. 1300 (literal), mid-13c. (figurative). The meaning "break (into) sudden activity or expression" is from late 14c. Related: Bursting.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to see."
It forms all or part of: advice; advise; belvedere; clairvoyant; deja vu; Druid; eidetic; eidolon; envy; evident; guide; guidon; guise; guy (n.1) "small rope, chain, wire;" Gwendolyn; Hades; history; idea; ideo-; idol; idyll; improvisation; improvise; interview; invidious; kaleidoscope; -oid; penguin; polyhistor; prevision; provide; providence; prudent; purvey; purview; review; revise; Rig Veda; story (n.1) "connected account or narration of some happening;" supervise; survey; twit; unwitting; Veda; vide; view; visa; visage; vision; visit; visor; vista; voyeur; wise (adj.) "learned, sagacious, cunning;" wise (n.) "way of proceeding, manner;" wisdom; wiseacre; wit (n.) "mental capacity;" wit (v.) "to know;" witenagemot; witting; wot.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit veda "I know;" Avestan vaeda "I know;" Greek oida, Doric woida "I know," idein "to see;" Old Irish fis "vision," find "white," i.e. "clearly seen," fiuss "knowledge;" Welsh gwyn, Gaulish vindos, Breton gwenn "white;" Gothic, Old Swedish, Old English witan "to know;" Gothic weitan "to see;" English wise, German wissen "to know;" Lithuanian vysti "to see;" Bulgarian vidya "I see;" Polish widzieć "to see," wiedzieć "to know;" Russian videt' "to see," vest' "news," Old Russian vedat' "to know."
late 14c., "meaning, signification, interpretation" (especially of Holy Scripture); c. 1400, "the faculty of perception;" from Old French sens "one of the five senses; meaning; wit, understanding" (12c.) and directly from Latin sensus "perception, feeling, undertaking, meaning," from sentire "perceive, feel, know."
This probably is a figurative use of a literal meaning "find one's way," or "go mentally." According to Watkins and others, this is from a PIE root *sent- "to go" (source also of Old High German sinnan "to go, travel, strive after, have in mind, perceive," German Sinn "sense, mind," Old English sið "way, journey," Old Irish set, Welsh hynt "way").
The application to any one of the external or outward senses (touch, sight, hearing, any special faculty of sensation connected with a bodily organ) in English is recorded from 1520s. They usually are reckoned as five; sometimes a "muscular sense" and "inner (common) sense" are added (perhaps to make the perfect seven), hence the old phrase the seven senses, sometimes meaning "consciousness in its totality." For the meaning "consciousness, mind generally," see senses.
The meaning "that which is wise, judicious, sensible, or intelligent" is from c. 1600. The meaning "capacity for perception and appreciation" also is from c. 1600 (as in sense of humor, attested by 1783, sense of shame, 1640s). The meaning "a vague consciousness or feeling" is from 1590s.
1868, from German Entropie "measure of the disorder of a system," coined 1865 (on analogy of Energie) by German physicist Rudolph Clausius (1822-1888), in his work on the laws of thermodynamics, from Greek entropia "a turning toward," from en "in" (see en- (2)) + trope "a turning, a transformation" (from PIE root *trep- "to turn"). The notion is supposed to be "transformation contents." Related: Entropic.
It was not until 1865 that Clausius invented the word entropy as a suitable name for what he had been calling "the transformational content of the body." The new word made it possible to state the second law in the brief but portentous form: "The entropy of the universe tends toward a maximum," but Clausius did not view entropy as the basic concept for understanding that law. He preferred to express the physical meaning of the second law in terms of the concept of disgregation, another word that he coined, a concept that never became part of the accepted structure of thermodynamics. [Martin J. Klein, "The Scientific Style of Josiah Willard Gibbs," in "A Century of Mathematics in America," 1989]
small city in Illinois, U.S., originally the name of a subdivision of the Miami/Illinois people (1673), from native /peewaareewa/. Their own name is said to mean "carriers." The place name also is found in Oklahoma and Iowa, but it is the Illinois city that has been proverbially regarded as the typical measure of U.S. cultural and intellectual standards at least since Ambrose Bierce (c. 1890). Also the butt of baseball player jokes (c. 1920-40, when a team there was part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system) and popularized in the catchphrase It'll play in Peoria (often negative), meaning "the average American will approve," which was popular in the Nixon White House (1969-74) but seems to have had a vaudeville origin. Personification in little old lady in Peoria is said to be from Harold Ross of the New Yorker. Peoria's rivals as embodiment of U.S. small city values and standards include Dubuque, Iowa; Hoboken and Hackensack, N.J.; Oakland (Gertrude Stein: "When you get there, there isn't any there there") and Burbank, Calif., and the entire state of North Dakota.
"simple earthen or glass cylindrical vessel," early 15c., possibly from rare Old French jarre "liquid measure smaller than a barrel," or more likely from Medieval Latin jarra (13c.) or Spanish or Catalan jarra (13c.), all ultimately from Arabic jarrah "earthen water vessel, ewer" (whence also Provençal jarra, Italian giarra), a general word in the 13c. Mediterranean sea-trade, which is from Persian jarrah "a jar, earthen water-vessel." Originally in English a large container used for importing olive oil.
In Britain in the 15th to 17th centuries, oil-lamps were overall not often used, because the oil was too expensive. Usage increased in the 17th century despite the expense. Olive oil was the most-often-used type of oil in the oil-lamps until the 18th century. The indications are good that no country or region exported more oil to Britain than southern Spain did in the 15th-17th centuries, with southern Italy coming second. ["English Words of Arabic Ancestry"]
Middle English drie "without moisture, comparatively free from water or fluid," from Old English dryge, from Proto-Germanic *draugiz (source also of Middle Low German dröge, Middle Dutch druge, Dutch droog, Old High German trucchon, German trocken, Old Norse draugr), from Germanic root *dreug- "dry."
Meaning "barren" is mid-14c. Of persons, "showing no emotion," c. 1200; of humor or jests, "without show of pleasantry, caustic, sarcastic" early 15c. (implied in dryly). Sense of "uninteresting, tedious" is from 1620s. Of wines, brandy, etc., "free from sweetness or fruity flavor," 1700. Of places prohibiting alcoholic drink, 1870 (dry feast, one at which no liquor is served, is from late 15c.); colloquial dry (n.) "prohibitionist" is by 1888, American English political slang.
Dry goods (1650s) were those dispensed in dry, not liquid, measure. Dry land (that not under the sea) is from early 13c. Dry-nurse "nurse who attends and feeds a child but does not suckle it" is from 1590s. Dry run "rehearsal" is by 1941. Dry ice "solid carbon dioxide" is by 1925.
"stake, staff," late Old English pal "stake, pole, post," a general Germanic borrowing (Old Frisian and Old Saxon pal "stake," Middle Dutch pael, Dutch paal, Old High German pfal, Old Norse pall) from Latin palus "a stake," from PIE *pakslo-, suffixed form of root *pag- "to fasten." Later specifically "a long, slender, tapering piece of wood."
Racing sense of "inside pole-fence surrounding a course" is from 1851; hence pole position in auto racing (1904). A ten-foot pole as a metaphoric measure of something one would not touch something (or someone) else with is by 1839, American English. The ten-foot pole was a common tool used to set stakes for fences, etc., and the phrase "Can't touch de bottom with a ten foot pole" is in the popular old minstrel show song "Camptown Races."
"I saw her eat."
"No very unnatural occurrence I should think."
"But she ate an onion!"
"Right my boy, right, never marry a woman who would touch an onion with a ten foot pole."
[The Collegian, University of Virginia, June 1839]
"terminal part of the leg of a vertebrate animal," Old English fot "foot," from Proto-Germanic *fōts (source also of Old Frisian fot, Old Saxon fot, Old Norse fotr, Danish fod, Swedish fot, Dutch voet, Old High German fuoz, German Fuß, Gothic fotus "foot"), from PIE root *ped- "foot." Plural form feet is an instance of i-mutation.
The linear measure was in Old English (the exact length has varied over time), this being considered the length of a man's foot; a unit of measure used widely and anciently. In this sense the plural is often foot. The current inch and foot are implied from measurements in 12c. English churches (Flinders Petrie, "Inductive Metrology"), but the most usual length of a "foot" in medieval England was the foot of 13.2 inches common throughout the ancient Mediterranean. The Anglo-Saxon foot apparently was between the two. All three correspond to units used by the Romans, and possibly all three lengths were picked up by the Anglo-Saxons from the Romano-Britons. "That the Saxon units should descend to mediæval times is most probable, as the Normans were a ruling, and not a working, class." [Flinders Petrie, 1877]. The medieval Paul's Foot (late 14c.) was a measuring standard cut into the base of a column at the old St. Paul's cathedral in London. The metrical foot (late Old English, translating Latin pes, Greek pous in the same sense) is commonly taken to represent one rise and one fall of a foot: keeping time according to some, dancing according to others.
In Middle English also "a person" (c. 1200), hence non-foot "nobody." Meaning "bottom or lowest part of anything eminent or upright" is from c. 1200. Of a bed, grave, etc., from c. 1300. On foot "by walking" is from c. 1300. To get off on the wrong foot is from 1905 (the right foot is by 1907); to put one's best foot foremost first recorded 1849 (Shakespeare has the better foot before, 1596); Middle English had evil-foot (adv.) "through mischance, unluckily." To put one's foot in (one's) mouth "say something stupid" is attested by 1942; the expression put (one's) foot in something "make a mess of it" is from 1823. To have one foot in the grave "be near death" is from 1844. Colloquial exclamation my foot! expressing "contemptuous contradiction" [OED] is attested by 1923, probably euphemistic for my ass in the same sense, which dates to 1796 (also see eyewash).