mid-14c., pencel, "an artist's small, fine brush of camel hair," used for painting, manuscript illustration, etc., from Old French pincel "artist's paintbrush" (13c., Modern French pinceau) and directly from Medieval Latin pincellus, from Latin penicillus "painter's brush, hair-pencil," literally "little tail," diminutive of peniculus "brush," itself a diminutive of penis "tail" (see penis).
Small brushes formerly were used for writing before modern lead or chalk pencils. Sticks of pure graphite (commonly known as black lead) were used for marking things in England from the mid-16c., and the wooden enclosure for them was developed in the same century on the Continent. This seems to have been the time the word pencil was transferred from a type of brush to "graphite writing implement." The modern clay-graphite mix was developed early 19c., and pencils of this sort were mass-produced from mid-19c. Hymen L. Lipman of Philadelphia obtained a patent for the pencil with an attached eraser in 1858.
Derogatory slang pencil-pusher "office worker" is from 1881 (pen-driver, jocular for "clerk, writer," is from 1820); pencil neck "weak person" first recorded 1973. Pencil-sharpener as a mechanical device for putting the point on a lead pencil is by 1854.
And here is a new and serviceable invention—a pencil sharpener. It is just the thing to carry in the pocket, being no larger than a lady's thimble. It sharpens a lead pencil neatly and splendidly, by means of a small blade fitted in a cap, which is turned upon the end of a pencil. A patent has been applied for. Made by Mr. W. K. Foster, of Bangor. ["The Portland Transcript," Portland, Maine, Sept. 30, 1854]
in reference to a bit of wire mesh on a handle, 1917, from fly (n.) + agent noun from swat (v.). Simple swatter was used in this sense by 1906. Other older names for similar implements were fly-duster (1860), fly-whisk (1836), fly-brush (1823), fly-fan (1821), fly-flap (mid-15c., glossing Latin muscarium).
"implement or machine for combing, brush with wire teeth used in disentangling fibers for spinning," late 14c. (mid-14c. in surname Cardmaker), from Old French carde "card, teasel," from Old Provençal cardo or some other Romanic source (compare Spanish and Italian carda "thistle, tease, card," back-formation from cardar "to card" (see card (v.2)). The English word probably also comes via Anglo-Latin cardo, from Medieval Latin carda "a teasel," from Latin carduus.
"ancient tool for scraping the skin after a bath," 1580s, from Latin strigilis "scraper, horse-comb," from stringere (1) "draw along a surface, graze, touch lightly; strip off, pluck off, cut away; clip, prune; lay bare, unsheathe," figuratively "waste, consume, reduce; touch, move, affect, cause pain," from PIE root *strig- "to stroke, rub, press" (source also of Latin striga "stroke, strike, furrow," stria "furrow, channel;" Old Church Slavonic striga "shear;" Old English stracian "to stroke;" German streichen "to stroke, rub").
Etymologists dispute over whether this is connected to Latin stringere (2) "to tie, tighten," root of strain (v.). Based on the sense differences, de Vaan writes, "It appears that a merger occurred of two different PIE verbs, *strig- 'to brush, strip' and *strengh- 'to tie'."
1590s (implied in marbled), "to give (something) the veined and clouded appearance of marble," from marble (n.). Of meat with "veins" of fat, from 1770. Of books, "having the end papers or edges colored or stained in a conventional imitation of marble," 1670s. Related: Marbling.
It is done in a trough of water covered by a layer of gum tragacanth mixed with a little ox-gall. The fluid colors are sprinkled or spattered over this layer with a brush in the arrangement intended for use or in a manner which will admit of producing the desired figuration by drawing a brass comb over the surface. The dampened paper, held by the ends, is lightly passed in a curve over this surface, taking up the colors, and finished by sizing and burnishing or calendering. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
1550s, "a coarse, heavy, woolen fabric," a word of Scandinavian origin; compare Norwegian dialectal rugga "coarse coverlet," from Old Norse rogg "shaggy tuft," from Proto-Germanic *rawwa-. Perhaps it is related to rag (n.1) and rough (adj.), and compare rugged.
The original meaning is obsolete. The sense evolved or expanded to "thick coverlet or lap-robe, heavy woolen wrap" used for various purposes (1590s), then "mat for the floor" (by 1808). The meaning "toupee" is theater slang attested by 1940.
To cut a rug "dance" is slang attested by 1942 (rug-cutter "expert dancer" is recorded by 1938). To sweep or brush something under the rug in the figurative sense of "conceal in hopes it won't be noticed or remembered" is by 1954. Figurative expression pull the rug out from under (someone) "suddenly deprive of important support" is from 1936, American English. Earlier in same sense was cut the grass under (one's) feet (1580s).
late 14c., "a low, stunted tree; a shrub," variant of shrobbe, from Old English scrybb, scrub (see shrub, which is the common form of the same word), perhaps influenced by a cognate Scandinavian word (such as Danish dialectal skrub, Old Danish skrubbe, "a stunted tree, brushwood").
The collective sense of "brush, stunted trees, shrubs; a tract of these" is attested by 1805. Transferred sense of "mean, insignificant fellow" is from 1580s; earlier it meant a small breed of cattle (1550s). The U.S. sports meaning "athlete not on the varsity team" is recorded from 1892, probably from this "insignificant" sense, but compare scrub "hard-working servant, drudge" (1709), which is perhaps from influence of scrub (v.).
As an adjective from 1710, "of inferior breed or stunted growth," from the noun. Scrub oak for a kind of low American species, is recorded from 1766.
Old English cniht "boy, youth; servant, attendant," a word common to the nearby Germanic languages (Old Frisian kniucht, Dutch knecht, Middle High German kneht "boy, youth, lad," German Knecht "servant, bondman, vassal"), of unknown origin. For pronunciation, see kn-. The plural in Middle English sometimes was knighten.
Meaning "military follower of a king or other superior" is from c. 1100. It began to be used in a specific military sense in the Hundred Years War, and gradually rose in importance until it became a rank in the nobility from 16c. Hence in modern British use, a social privilege or honorary dignity conferred by a sovereign as a reward, without regard for birth or deeds at arms. In 17c.-19c. a common jocularism was to call a craftsman or tradesman a knight of the and name some object associated with his work; e.g. knight of the brush for "painter." Knight in shining armor in the figurative sense is from 1917, from the man who rescues the damsel in distress in romantic dramas (perhaps especially "Lohengrin"). For knight-errant, see errant.
The horse-headed chess piece so called from mid-15c. Knights of Columbus, society of Catholic men, founded 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.; Knights of Labor, trade union association, founded in Philadelphia, 1869; Knights of Pythias, secret order, founded in Washington, 1864.
1530s, "thing that rubs" (a brush, cloth, etc.), agent noun from rub (v.). By c. 1600 as "one who applies friction or massage in some process."
The meaning "elastic substance from tropical plants" is recorded by 1788, short for India rubber. Earlier known also as catouchou, caoutchouc, it was introduced to Europe 1744 by Charles Marie de la Condamine, so called because it originally was used to erase pencil marks from paper, etc. Later extended to synthetic substances having the same qualities.
This substance is very useful in drawing, &c., for erasing the strokes of black lead pencils, and is popularly called rubber, and lead-eater. [from the entry for Caoutchouc in George Selby Howard, "New Royal Cyclopaedia," 1788]
The meaning "an overshoe made of rubber" is 1842, American English; slang sense of "contraceptive sheath, condom" is by 1930s. As an adjective by 1844, "In very common use from about 1875" [OED]. Some figurative phrases are from the notion of rubber automobile tires.
Rubber cement "adhesive compound containing rubber" is attested from 1856 (from 1823 as India-rubber cement). Rubber check (one that "bounces") is from 1927. The decorative household rubber plant is so called by 1876 (earlier India-rubber plant, by 1805). Rubber-chicken circuit "after-dinner speaking tour" is by 1959, in reference to the likely quality of the food.
mid-14c. (implied in Tartary, "the land of the Tartars"), from Medieval Latin Tartarus, from Persian Tatar, first used 13c. in reference to the hordes of Ghengis Khan (1202-1227), said to be ultimately from Tata, a name of the Mongols for themselves. Form in European languages probably influenced by Latin Tartarus "hell" (e.g. letter of St. Louis of France, 1270: "In the present danger of the Tartars either we shall push them back into the Tartarus whence they are come, or they will bring us all into heaven").
The historical word for what now are called in ethnological works Tatars. A Turkic people, their native region was east of the Caspian Sea. Ghengis' horde was a mix of Tatars, Mongols, Turks, etc. Used figuratively for "savage, rough, irascible person" (1660s). To catch a Tartar "get hold of what cannot be controlled" is recorded from 1660s; original sense not preserved, but probably from some military story similar to the old battlefield joke:
Irish soldier (shouting from within the brush): I've captured one of the enemy.
Captain: Excellent! Bring him here.
Soldier: He won't come.
Captain: Well, then, you come here.
Soldier: I would, but he won't let me.
Among the adjectival forms that have been used are Tartarian (16c.), Tartarous (Ben Jonson), Tartarean (17c.); Byron's Tartarly (1821) is a nonce-word (but a good one). Tartar sauce is attested by 1855, from French sauce tartare.