late 14c., "open disregard or disobedience" (of authority, the law, etc.); general sense of "act of despising, scorn for what is mean, vile, or worthless" is from c. 1400; from Old French contempt, contemps, and directly Latin contemptus "scorn," from past participle of contemnere "to scorn, despise," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + *temnere "to slight, scorn, despise," which is of uncertain origin.
De Vaan has it from PIE *tmn(e)- "to cut," with cognates in Middle Irish tamnaid "cuts," Greek tamno (Attic temno) "to cut;" Lithuanian tinti "to whet," colloquially to beat;" archaic Russian tjat' "to beat." He adds, "The compound contemnere is the older verb, from which temnere has been backformed more recently. The etymology is disputed: the meaning 'scorn' has probably developed from a more concrete meaning ...."
Latin also had contemptrix "she who despises." Phrase contempt of court "open disregard or disrespect for the rules, orders, or process of judicial authority" is attested by 1719, but the idea is in the earliest uses of contempt.
early 15c., practicale "of or pertaining to matters of action, practice, or use; applied," with -al (1) + earlier practic (adj.) "dealing with practical matters, applied, not merely theoretical" (early 15c.) or practic (n.) "method, practice, use" (late 14c.).
In some cases directly from Old French practique (adj.) "fit for action," earlier pratique (13c.) and Medieval Latin practicalis, from Late Latin practicus "practical, active," from Greek praktikos "fit for action, fit for business; business-like, practical; active, effective, vigorous," from praktos "done; to be done," verbal adjective of prassein (Attic prattein) "to do, act, effect, accomplish; come to an end, succeed," literally "to pass through, travel," from PIE *per(h)- "go through, cross," an enlargement of the root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over."
Of persons, in reference to skills or occupations, "whose knowledge is derived from practice rather than theory," 1660s. The noun meaning "examination or lesson devoted to practice in a subject" is by 1934. Practical joke "trick played on someone for the sake of annoying him and raising a laugh at his expense" is from 1771 on the notion of "a jest carried into action" (earlier handicraft joke, 1741).
late 14c., oratour, "an eloquent or skilled speaker; one who pleads or argues for a cause," from Anglo-French oratour (Modern French orateur) and directly from Latin orator "speaker," from ōrare "to speak, speak before a court or assembly, pray to, plead."
This is sometimes said to be from PIE root *or- "to pronounce a ritual formula" (source also of Sanskrit aryanti "they praise," Homeric Greek are, Attic ara "prayer," Hittite ariya- "to ask the oracle," aruwai- "to revere, worship"). But according to de Vaan, the Latin word is rather from Proto-Italic *ōs- "mouth," from PIE *os- "mouth" (see oral). He writes:
The chronology of the attestations shows that 'to plead, speak openly' is the original meaning of orare .... The alternative etymology ... seems very unlikely to me: a connection with Skt. a-aryanti 'they acknowledge' and Ru. orat' 'to shout', since nothing suggests a meaning 'to shout' for the Latin verb, nor does it seem onomatopoeic.
The general meaning "public speaker," is attested from early 15c. Fem. forms were oratrice (early 15c., from Anglo-French); oratrix (mid-15c., from Latin); oratress (1580s).
Middle English roste, "a chicken's perch," from late Old English hrost "wooden framework of a roof; pole or perch upon which domestic fowl perch or rest for the night," from Proto-Germanic *hro(d)-st- (source also of Old Saxon hrost "framework of a roof, attic," Middle Dutch, Flemish, Dutch roest "roost," Old Norse hrot, Gothic hrot "roof"), a word of unknown origin. Extended sense "hen-house" is from 1580s; that of "fowls which occupy the roost collectively" is by 1827.
To rule the roost is recorded from 1769, according to OED apparently an alteration of earlier rule the roast "be the master, have authority " (c. 1500), which, OED reports, was "In very common use from c 1530 onwards." However, Fowler (1926) has doubts: "most unliterary persons say roost & not roast ; I have just inquired of three such, & been informed that they never heard of rule the roast, & that the reference is to a cock keeping his hens in order. Against this tempting piece of popular etymology the OED offers us nothing more succulent than "None of the early examples throw any light on the precise origin of the expression'." The spelling in the earliest example is reule the roste.
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]
1540s, "structure of any kind," from Middle French machine "device, contrivance," from Latin machina "machine, engine, military machine; device, trick; instrument" (source also of Spanish maquina, Italian macchina), from Greek makhana, Doric variant of Attic mēkhanē "device, tool, machine;" also "contrivance, cunning," traditionally (Watkins) from PIE *magh-ana- "that which enables," from root *magh- "to be able, have power." But Beekes, on formal grounds, objects to the connection to words in Germanic and Slavic. He finds the Greek word isolated and is convinced that it is Pre-Greek.
Main modern sense of "device made of moving parts for applying mechanical power" (1670s) probably grew out of mid-17c. senses of "apparatus, appliance" and "military siege-tower." It gradually came to be applied to an apparatus that works without the strength or skill of the workman.
From 17c.-19c. also "a vehicle; a stage- or mail-coach; a ship," and, from 1901, "a motor-car." Also in late 19c. slang the word was used for both "penis" and "vagina," one of the few so honored.
The political sense "a strict organization of the working members of a political party to secure a predominating influence for themselves and their associates" is U.S. slang, attested by 1876. Machine age, a time notable for the extensive use of mechanical devices, is attested by 1882, though there is this:
The idea of remodelling society at public meetings is one of the least reasonable which ever entered the mind of an agitator: and the notion that the relations of the sexes can be re-arranged and finally disposed of by preamble and resolution, is one of the latest, as it should have been the last, vagary of a machine age. ["The Literary World," Nov. 1, 1851]
Machine for living(in) "house" translates Le Corbusier's machine à habiter (1923).
also dumbbell, "one of a pair of weighted bars used for exercise," by 1785, earlier (from 1711), according to OED, an apparatus like that used to ring a church bell, but without the bell (hence dumb); used for physical exercise but sometimes also to practice ringing changes. See dumb (adj.) + bell (n.). If this is right, the word must have been transferred; earlier 18c. references make mention of "pulling" or "ringing" dumb-bells and note that it can be done only indoors. The following is a footnote to the 1903 reprint of Joseph Strutt's 1801 "The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England":
The origin of the term is somewhat curious. Dumb-bells take their name by analogy, as was pointed out in Notes and Queries in 1861, "from a machine used for exercise, consisting of a rough, heavy, wooden flywheel with a rope passing through and round a spindle ... and set in motion like a church bell." This statement, however, does not sufficiently explain the transference of such a name to the short bar and rounded lead or iron ends of a hand dumb-bell. This difficulty was explained by the late Chancellor Ferguson in a paper read before the Archaeological Institute in 1895, wherein a dumb-bell apparatus, now at Lord Sackville's seat at Knowle, was described and illustrated. The roller round which the rope winds and unwinds has four iron arms, each of which has a leaden poise or ball at the end, just like the end of an ordinary hand dumb-bell. This Knowle example is fixed in an attic and the rope passed through to a gallery beneath. Anyone pulling the rope would get much the same exercise as in pulling a bell rope in a church tower, but without annoying his neighbours by the noise. There used to be a similar apparatus at New College, Oxford.
Figurative sense of "blockhead, stupid person" attested by 1918, American English college slang.