mid-15c., "written acknowledgment of a debt" (early 15c. in Anglo-Latin), from Latin debentur "there are due" (said to have been the first word in formal certificates of indebtedness in Medieval Latin, debentur mihi "there are owing to me"), passive present indicative third-person plural of debere "to owe," originally, "keep something away from someone," from de "away" (see de-) + habere "to have" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive"). In recent use especially of a bond issued by a corporation (1837). Related: Debentured.
1510s, "teacher's pointer," alteration of festu "piece of straw, twig" (late 14c.), from Old French festu "straw; object of little value" (12c., Modern French fétu), from Vulgar Latin *festucum, from Latin festuca "straw, stalk, rod," probably related to ferula "reed, whip, rod" (see ferule). Sense of "pasture, lawn grass" is first recorded 1762. Wyclif (1382) has festu in Matthew vii.3 for the "mote" in the eye. In Old French rompre le festu was to symbolically break a straw to signify the breaking of a bond.
device for fastening or holding, c. 1300, probably from Middle Dutch clampe (Dutch klamp), from Proto-Germanic *klam-b- "clamp, cleat;" cognate with Middle Low German klampe "clasp, hook," Old High German klampfer "clip, clamp;" also probably related to Middle Dutch klamme "a clamp, hook, grapple," Danish klamme "a clamp, cramp," Old English clamm "a tie, fetter," perhaps from the same root as Latin glomus "ball-shaped mass" (see glebe).
It took the place of earlier clam "clamp, brace," from Old English clamm "bond, fetter, grip, grasp" (see clam (n.)).
bivalve mollusk, c. 1500 (in clam-shell), originally Scottish, apparently a particular use of Middle English clam "pincers, vice, clamp" (late 14c.), from Old English clamm "bond, fetter, grip, grasp," from Proto-Germanic *klam- "to press or squeeze together" (source also of Old High German klamma "cramp, fetter, constriction," German Klamm "a constriction"), possibly from a PIE *glem- or *glom- "contain, embrace" (see glebe).
If this is right then the original reference is to the shell. Clam-chowder attested from 1822. To be happy as a clam is from 1833, but the earliest uses do not elaborate on the notion behind it, unless it be self-containment.
mid-14c., junke "old cable or rope," cut in bits and used for caulking, etc., a nautical word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French junc "rush, reed," also used figuratively as a type of something of little value, from Latin iuncus "rush, reed" (but OED finds "no evidence of connexion").
It was extended to "old refuse from boats and ships" (1660s), then to "old or discarded articles of any kind" (1884), usually with a suggestion of reusability. Meaning "salt meat used on long voyages" is from 1762. Meaning "narcotic drug" is from 1925. Junk food is from 1971; junk art is from 1961; junk mail first attested 1954; junk bond from 1979.
mid-13c., paire, "a set of two, two of a kind coupled in use," from Old French paire "pair, couple," and directly from Medieval Latin paria "equals," neuter plural of Latin par (genitive paris) "a pair, counterpart, equal," noun use of par (adj.) "equal, equal-sized, well-matched" (see par (n.)).
Originally of things. Of persons from late 14c., "a couple, a sexual pair." Used from late 14c. with a plural noun to denote a single tool or device composed essentially of two pieces or parts (shears, tongs, spectacles, etc.). Meaning "a woman's breasts" is attested from 1922. Pair bond (v.) is first attested 1940, in reference to birds mating.
early 14c., reconisaunce, in law, "a bond acknowledging some obligation binding one over to do some particular act," from Old French reconissance "acknowledgment, recognition" (12c., Modern French reconnaissance), from reconoiss-, present-participle stem of reconoistre (see recognize).
By c. 1400 as "acknowledgment of subjection or allegiance" (to God or a temporal power). The general sense of "act of recognizing, acknowledgement of a person or thing" is from 15c. To be discharged or released (up)on (one's) own recognizance (1851) as a phrase for "be released without bail on condition of good behavior" in the jargon of police blotters and district courts, is based on the written promise that you sign to get it, to appear in court as required. Related: Recognizant.
as in the real McCoy, "the real thing; the genuine article," by 1881, said to be from Scottish the real Mackay (1883), which is of uncertain origin, though there are many candidates, the most likely of which is that it refers to whiskey distilled by A. and M. Mackay of Glasgow (the phrase the real McCoy became popular during Prohibition to describe liquor). Other stories credit it to Charles S. "Kid" McCoy (1872-1940), former welterweight boxing champ; and to a claimant for chief of the northern branch of the clan Mackay.
"By jingo! yes; so it will be. It's the 'real McCoy,' as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there." [James S. Bond, "The Rise and Fall of the Union Club," Yorkville, Canada, 1881]
c. 1300, reine, "strap of a bridle," attached to it on either side of the head, by which the rider or driver restrains and guides the animal, from Old French rene, resne "reins, bridle strap, laces" (Modern French rêne), probably from Vulgar Latin *retina "a bond, check," a back-formation from Latin retinere "hold back" (see retain). Compare Latin retinaculum "a tether, halter, rein."
The figurative extension of reins to "guidance, means of controlling; control, check, restraint" is by mid-14c. Hence many expressions, originally from horse-management: Hold the reins "wield power" (early 15c.); take the reins "assume the power of guidance or government" (1610s). To give something free rein also is originally of horses; to give (a horse) the reins (1620s) is to allow it free motion.
Old English botm, bodan "ground, soil, foundation, lowest or deepest part of anything," from Proto-Germanic *buthm- (source also of Old Frisian boden "soil," Old Norse botn, Dutch bodem, Old High German bodam, German Boden "ground, earth, soil"). This is perhaps from PIE root *bhudhno- "bottom" (source also of Sanskrit budhnah, Avestan buna- "bottom," Greek pythmen "foundation," Latin fundus "bottom, piece of land, farm," Old Irish bond "sole of the foot").
Meaning "fundamental character, essence" is from 1570s; to get to the bottom of some matter is from 1773. Meaning "posterior of a person" (the sitting part) is from 1794. Bottoms up as a call to finish one's drink is from 1875. Bottom dollar "the last dollar one has" is from 1857. To do or feel something from the bottom of (one's) heart is from 1540s. Bottom-feeder, originally of fishes, is from 1866.