Etymology
Advertisement
French fries (n.)

1903, American English, earlier French fried potatoes (by 1856); see French (adj.) + fry (v.). Literally "potatoes fried in the French style." The name is from the method of making them by immersion in fat, which was then considered a peculiarity of French cooking.

There are 2 ways of frying known to cooks as (1) wet frying, sometimes called French frying or frying in a kettle of hot fat; and (2) dry frying or cooking in a frying pan. The best results are undoubtedly obtained by the first method, although it is little used in this country. ["The Household Cook Book," Chicago, 1902]

French frieds (1944) never caught on. Simple short form fries attested by 1973. In the Upper Midwest of the U.S., sometimes called, with greater accuracy, American fries (1950), and briefly during a period of mutual ill feeling, an attempt was made at freedom fries (2003; compare liberty-cabbage for sauerkraut during World War I). Related: French-fry.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
indri (n.)

1839, European name for the babakoto, a lemur-like arboreal primate of Madagascar (Indris Lichanotus); the common story since late 19c. is that the name was given in error by French naturalist Pierre Sonnerat (1748-1814), c. 1780, from mistaken use of Malagasy indry! "Look! See!" this being what his native guides said when they spotted the creature and called his attention to it.

However, as Hacking (1981) pointed out, Sonnerat was far too familiar with indris — he described and figured them in detail, and apparently kept at least one in captivity — for this story to be plausible. Furthermore, endrina is actually recorded as a native name for the indri (Cousins, 1885), and indri could easily be a variant of this name. Although the word endrina is first recorded in Malagasy only in 1835, there is no evidence that it could be a back-formation from the French indri (Hacking, 1981), and it seems implausible that the Malagasy would adopt an erroneous French name for an animal they were them selves familiar with. [Dunkel, Alexander R., et al., "Giant rabbits, marmosets, and British comedies: etymology of lemur names, part 1," in "Lemur News," vol. 16, 2011-2012, p.67]
Related entries & more 
mafia (n.)

1875, from Italian Mafia "Sicilian secret society of criminals" (the prevailing sense outside Sicily), earlier, "spirit of hostility to the law and its ministers." A member is a mafioso (1870), fem. mafiosa, plural mafiosi, and this may be the older word in this sense. Arabic is often cited as the ultimate source (the Arabs ruled Sicily for more than two centuries in the Middle Ages), but which Arabic word is a matter of disagreement.

The most likely origin of the actual meaning of mafioso and its derivative mafia — as suggested by the nineteenth-century Sicilian ethnographer Giuseppe Pitrè — is a play by Placido Rizzoto, I Mafiusi della Vicaria, first performed in 1863. ... The play concerns a group of prisoners in the Palermo jail who command particular respect: although individualistic and quarrelsome, they are members of an association with distinct patterns of behavior (including an initiation ritual) and a hierarchy, which claims it can influence the political and administrative system of the island. [Diego Gambetta, "The Sicilian Mafia," Harvard, 1993]

The immediate source of mafioso, then, would be 19c. Sicilian mafiusu, "signifying a bully, arrogant but also fearless, enterprising, and proud" [Gambetta], who favors as the Arabic source an adjective from marfud "rejected."

Related entries & more 
client (n.)

late 14c., "one who lives under the patronage of another," from Anglo-French clyent (c. 1300), from Latin clientem (nominative cliens) "follower, retainer" (related to clinare "to incline, bend"), from PIE *klient-, a suffixed (active participle) form of root *klei- "to lean." The notion apparently is "one who leans on another for protection." In ancient Rome, a plebeian under the guardianship and protection of a patrician (who was called patronus in this relationship; see patron).

The meaning "a lawyer's customer" is attested from c. 1400, and by c. 1600 the word was extended to any customer who puts a particular interest in the care and management of another. Related: Cliency.

The relation of client and patron between a plebeian and a patrician, although at first strictly voluntary, was hereditary, the former bearing the family name of the latter, and performing various services for him and his family both in peace and war, in return for advice and support in respect to private rights and interests. Foreigners in Rome, and even allied or subject states and cities, were often clients of Roman patricians selected by them as patrons. The number of a patrician's clients, as of a baron's vassals in the middle ages, was a gage his greatness. [Century Dictionary]
Related entries & more 
cone (n.)
Origin and meaning of cone

1560s, "A solid generated by the revolution of a right-angled triangle upon one of its sides as an axis" [Century Dictionary], from French cone (16c.) or directly from Latin conus "a cone, peak of a helmet," from Greek konos "cone, spinning top, pine cone," which is perhaps from a PIE root *ko- "to sharpen" (source also of Sanskrit sanah "whetstone," Latin catus "sharp," Old English han "stone"), but Beekes considers it likely a Pre-Greek word.

There is a use from c. 1400 as "angle or corner of a quadrant," from Latin. From 1560s as "dry, cone-shaped fruit of the pine;" from 1771 as "hill surrounding the crater of a volcano; 1867 as "minute structure in the retina of the eye;" by 1909 as "a conical wafer to hold ice-cream." Cone-shell is from 1770, so called for its shape; cone-flower is from 1822, so called for its conical receptacles.

Probably the greatest "rage" of the year in the eating line has been the ice cream cone. The craze has known no section, although the Middle West has eaten more than any other section, and the South has yet to acquire the habit. As a result of this craze hundreds of cone factories have sprung up, and every one has made large profits. Thus an important side line has come to the fore in aid of the ice cream industry. [The Ice Cream Trade Journal, October 1909]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
Three Rs (n.)

1824; said to have been given as a toast by Sir William Curtis (1752-1829), a beloved lord mayor of London in the 1820s, who seems to have been a figure of fun to whom many mangled phrases were attributed. Among the toasts he is alleged to have given at public dinners were "The Female Ladies of London;" "The three C's—Cox, King, and Curtis;" and "The three R's—Reading, Writing, and Rithmetic."

It has been very much the fashion amongst a class of persons to attribute to Sir W. C. ... a vulgarity and ignorance of speech which are by no means consistent with his character and conduct. The worthy and hospitable baronet has a rapid mode of speech, but it is always correct ; and although some eccentricities are mixed up in his composition, he is highly honourable, and has been a very useful member of society, particularly to his London constituents. [The Mirror, Jan. 29, 1825]

After listing some examples, the article continues:

It is, however, very certain, that at a city festival some years ago, having indulged very freely, he fell asleep, when some wag, choosing to consider him dead, wrote his epitaph, which was found next morning pinned to the baronet's dress coat:—
"Here lies the great Curtis,
Of London, Lord May'r:
He's left this here world,
And gone to that there."
Related entries & more 
autumn (n.)

season after summer and before winter, late 14c., autumpne (modern form from 16c.), from Old French autumpne, automne (13c.), from Latin autumnus (also auctumnus, perhaps influenced by auctus "increase"), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Etruscan, but Tucker suggests a meaning "drying-up season" and a root in *auq- (which would suggest the form in -c- was the original) and compares archaic English sere-month "August." De Vaan writes, "Although 'summer', 'winter' and 'spring' are inherited IE words in Latin, a foreign origin of autumnus is conceivable, since we cannot reconstruct a PIE word for 'autumn'".

Harvest (n.) was the English name for the season until autumn began to displace it 16c. Astronomically, from the descending equinox to the winter solstice; in Britain, the season is popularly August through October; in U.S., September through November. Compare Italian autunno, Spanish otoño, Portuguese outono, all from the Latin word.

As de Vaan notes, autumn's names across the Indo-European languages leave no evidence that there ever was a common word for it. Many "autumn" words mean "end, end of summer," or "harvest." Compare Greek phthinoporon "waning of summer;" Lithuanian ruduo "autumn," from rudas "reddish," in reference to leaves; Old Irish fogamar, literally "under-winter."

Related entries & more 
Munchkin (n.)

1900, coined by U.S. author L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." He never explained how he got the word.

The word most like it is perhaps mutchkin, an old Scottish measure of capacity for liquids, which was used by Scott. (It comes from Middle Dutch mutseken, originally "a little cap," from mutse "cap," earlier almutse "amice, hood, headdress," from Latin amictus "mantle, cloak," noun use of past participle of amicire "to wrap, throw around," a compound from ambi- "around" (see ambi-) + iacere "to throw" (see jet (v.)).

But some Baum scholars see a possible inspiration in Münchner Kindl, the name of the emblem of the city of Munich (German München) or in German Männchen, literally "little man," which is cognate with mannequin.

While she stood looking at the strange and beautiful sights, she noticed coming toward her a group of the queerest people she had ever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk she had always been used to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older. ["The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"]
Related entries & more 
improvise (v.)

1808, from Italian improvisare "to sing or speak extempore," from Latin improviso "unforeseen; not studied or prepared beforehand," ablative of improvisus "not foreseen, unexpected," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + provisus "foreseen," also "provided," past participle of providere "foresee, provide" (see provide). Also partly from French improviser.

Regarded as a foreign word and generally printed in italics in English in early 19c. Other verbs were improvisate (1825), improvisatorize (1828), the latter from improvisator "one of a class of noted extemporaneous poets of Italy" (1765), the earliest word of the group to appear in English. Related: Improvised; improvising.

The metre generally adopted for these compositions was the ottava rima, although Doni affirms that the Florentines used to improvise* in all kinds of measure.
* This new-coined verb is introduced to avoid circumlocution, for this time only: therefore I hope your readers will excuse it. I conjugate it after the regular verb to revise — improvise — improvising — improvised. ["On the Improvvisatori of Italy," in The Athenaeum, August 1808]
Our travellers have introduced among us the substantive improvisatore unaltered from the Italian; but as the verb improvisare could not be received without alteration, we lack it altogether, though the usage of the noun requires that of the verb: I here endeavor to supply the deficience by the word improvisate. [Samuel Oliver Jr., "A General, Critical Grammar of the Inglish Language," London, 1825]
Related entries & more 
tailor (n.)

c. 1300, from Anglo-French tailour, Old French tailleor "tailor," also "stone-mason" (13c., Modern French tailleur), literally "a cutter," from tailler "to cut," from Late Latin or old Medieval Latin taliare "to split" (compare Medieval Latin taliator vestium "a cutter of clothes"), from Latin talea "a slender stick, rod, staff; a cutting, twig."

Although historically the tailor is the cutter, in the trade the 'tailor' is the man who sews or makes up what the 'cutter' has shaped. [OED]

The post-Latin sense development would be "piece of a plant cut for grafting," hence a verb, "cut a shoot," then, generally, "to cut." Possible cognates include Sanskrit talah "wine palm," Old Lithuanian talokas "a young girl," Greek talis "a marriageable girl" (for sense, compare slip of a girl, twiggy), Etruscan Tholna, name of the goddess of youth.

Kent. ... You cowardly rascal, nature disclaims in thee; a tailor made thee.
Corn. Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man?
Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone cutter, or a painter, could not have made him so ill, though they had been but two hours at the trade.
["King Lear"]

One who makes outer garments to order, as opposed to a clothier, who makes them for sale ready-made. Tailor-made first recorded 1832 (in a figurative sense); literal sense was "heavy and plain, with attention to exact fit and with little ornamentation," as of women's garments made by a tailor rather than a dress-maker.

Related entries & more 

Page 4