massive (adj.)

c. 1400, massif, "forming or consisting of a large mass, having great size and weight or solidity," from Old French massif "bulky, solid," from masse "lump" (see mass (n.1)). Of immaterial things, "substantial, great or imposing in scale," 1580s. Related: Massively; massiveness.

U.S. Cold War deterrent strategy of massive retaliation "threat of using thermonuclear weapons in response to aggression against the United States or its allies by the Soviet Union," whether nuclear or conventional, was introduced by Secretary of State J.F. Dulles in a speech on Jan. 12, 1954.

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Babbitt (n.)

"conventional, complacent, materialistic American businessman," 1923, from the name of the title character of Sinclair Lewis' novel (1922).

His name was George F. Babbitt. He was forty-six years old now, in April 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the selling of houses for more money than people could afford to pay. [Sinclair Lewis, "Babbitt," 1922]

Earlier the name was used in metallurgy (1857) in reference to a type of soft alloy (1875).

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writing (n.)

Old English writing "action of forming letters and characters," verbal noun from write (v.).

From c. 1200 as "text; body of poetry, narrative, etc. in written form; written material." From c. 1300 as "a particular text;" mid-14c. as "act of composing a written text." From late 14c. as "craft of writing;" also "one's own handwriting or penmanship." Also late 14c. in the broad sense of "system of human intercommunication by means of conventional visible marks." Also late 14c. as "act of sending a letter; a letter, message." Writing-desk is from 1610s.

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1911 (adj.) "having average or moderate cultural interest;" 1912 (n.) "person of average or moderate cultural interests," from middle (adj.) + brow (compare highbrow, lowbrow).

[T]here is an alarmingly wide chasm, I might almost say a vacuum, between the high-brow, who considers reading either as a trade or as a form of intellectual wrestling, and the low-brow, who is merely seeking for gross thrills. It is to be hoped that culture will soon be democratized through some less conventional system of education, giving rise to a new type that might be called the middle-brow, who will consider books as a source of intellectual enjoyment. ["The Nation," Jan, 25, 1912]
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as a conventional title of courtesy before a man's Christian name, mid-15c., unaccented variant of master (n.), but without its meaning. As a form of address when the man's name is unknown (often with a tinge of rudeness), from 1760.

The disappearance of master and mister, and the restricted and obsolescent use of sir, as an unaccompanied term of address, and the like facts with regard to mistress, Mrs., and madam, tend to deprive the English language of polite terms of address to strangers. Sir and madam or ma'am as direct terms of address are old-fashioned and obsolescent in ordinary speech, and mister and lady in this use are confined almost entirely to the lower classes. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
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marble (v.)

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]
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mourn (v.)

Middle English mornen, from Old English murnan "to feel or express sorrow, grief, or regret; bemoan, long after," also "be anxious about, be careful" (class III strong verb; past tense mearn, past participle murnen), from Proto-Germanic *murnan "to remember sorrowfully" (source also of Old Saxon mornon, Old High German mornen, Gothic maurnan "to mourn," Old Norse morna "to pine away"), probably from suffixed form of PIE root *(s)mer- (1) "to remember." Or, if the Old Norse sense is the base one, from *mer- "to die, wither."

Specifically, "to lament the death of" from c. 1300. Meaning "display the conventional appearance of grieving for a period following the death of someone" is from 1520s. Related: Mourned; mourning.

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cube (n.)

1550s, "regular geometric body with six square faces," also "product obtained by multiplying the square of a quantity by the quantity itself," from French cube (13c.) and directly from Latin cubus, from Greek kybos "a six-sided die," used metaphorically of dice-like blocks of any sort, also "cake; piece of salted fish; vertebra," of uncertain origin. Beekes points out that "words for dice are often loans" and that "the Lydians claimed to have invented the game" of kybos.

The mathematical also was in the ancient Greek word: the Greeks threw with three dice; the highest possible roll was three sixes. The word was attested in English from late 14c. in Latin form. The 1960s slang sense of "extremely conventional person" (1959) is from the notion of a square squared. Cube-root is from 1550s (in Middle English this was simply a cubick).

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red (n.)

 "the color red; red pigment; ruddiness; red wine," mid-13c., from red (adj.1). Compare Old High German roti, German röthe "redness, red," from the adjective in German. As "a person with red hair" from early 14c. In finance, in the red for "overdrawn, losing money" is by 1926, from the color formerly conventional for recording debts and balances in accounts.

Red is one of the most general color-names, and embraces colors ranging in hue from rose aniline to scarlet iodide of mercury and red lead. A red yellower than vermillion is called scarlet; one much more purple is called crimson. A very dark red, if pure or crimson, is called maroon; if brownish, chestnut or chocolate. A pale red — that is, one of low chroma and high luminosity — is called a pink, ranging from rose-pink, or pale crimson, to salmon-pink, or pale scarlet. [Century Dictionary]
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c. 1300, formal term of address to a lady (a woman of rank or authority, or the mistress of a household), from Old French ma dame, literally "my lady," from Latin mea domina (see Donna, and compare madonna). It became a conventional term of address to women of any degree (but chiefly to the married and matronly); also "a woman of fashion or pretension" (often with a suggestion of disparagement) by 1590s. From 1719 as "a courtesan, a prostitute;" the meaning "female owner or manager of a brothel" is attested by 1871.

The title of Madam is sometimes given here, and generally in Charleston (S. Carolina), and in the South, to a mother whose son has married, and the daughter-in-law is then called Mrs. By this means they avoid the inelegant phraseology of old Mrs. A., or the Scotch, Mrs. A senior. [Sir Charles Lyell, "A Second Visit to the United States of North America," 1849]
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