Etymology
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lower (adj.)

Middle English lawar, lower, lougher, earlier lahre (c. 1200), comparative of lah "low" (see low (adj.)). As an adverb from 1540s. Lower-class is from 1772. Lower 48, "the forty-eight contiguous states of the United States of America, excluding Alaska and Hawaii," is by 1961 in an Alaska context (Hawaii actually is "lower" on the globe than all of them).

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lemniscus (n.)

"a plane curve with a characteristic 'figure-eight' shape consisting of two loops that meet at a central point," 1811, from Late Latin lemniscus "a pendent ribbon," from Greek lēmniskos "woolen ribbon, woolen tape," perhaps originally or literally "of Lemnos," the island in the Aegean, but if so the reason is obscure. Related: Lemniscate (adj.), 1781.

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May Day 

"first of May," on which the opening of the season of flowers and fruit formerly was celebrated throughout Europe, mid-13c.; see May + day (n.). May Queen "girl or young woman crowned with flowers and honored as queen at the games held on May Day," seems to be a Victorian re-invented tradition; the phrase Queen of Maij is attested from c. 1500.

May Day's association with communism (and socialism and anarchism) dates to 1890. A U.S. general strike for an eight-hour workday began May 1, 1886, and culminated in the Haymarket bombing affair in Chicago on May 4. By 1890 strikes, protests, and rallies were being held in Europe by socialist and labor organizations on May 1, at first in support of the eight-hour day, more or less in commemoration of the 1886 strike.

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mazurka (n.)

lively Polish dance, properly for four or eight pairs of dancers, also mazourka, 1818, from Russian mazurka, from Polish mazurek "dance of the Mazur," a reference to inhabitants of Mazowsze (Medieval Latin Mazovia), ancient region in central Poland. The Polish accusative in tańczyć mazurka "to dance the mazurek" was interpreted in Russian as a feminine affix, hence the -ka ending. Also the name for the music of such, which is moderately rapid and in triple time. Popularized by Chopin.

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ballade (n.)
late 14c., an earlier borrowing of ballad (q.v.) with a specific metrical sense. Technically, a poem consisting of one or more triplets of seven- (later eight-) lined stanzas, each ending with the same line as the refrain, usually with an envoy. Popularized 19c. as a type of musical composition by Frédéric Chopin. Ballade royal, in which each line consists of ten syllables, is recorded from late 15c.
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Mother Goose 
probably a translation of mid-17c. French contes de ma mère l'oye, which meant "fairy tales." The phrase appeared on the frontispiece of Charles Perrault's 1697 collection of eight fairy tales ("Contes du Temps Passé"), which was translated in English 1729 as "Mother Goose's Tales", and a very popular collection of traditional nursery rhymes published by John Newbery c. 1765 was called "Mother Goose's Melody." Her own biographical story is no earlier than 1806.
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nine (adj., n.)

"the cardinal number one more than eight or one less than ten; the number which is one more than eight;" Middle English nīn, from Old English nigen, from Proto-Germanic *newun (source also of Old Saxon nigun, Old Frisian niugun, Old Norse niu, Swedish nio, Middle Dutch neghen, Dutch negen, Old High German niun, German neun, Gothic niun "nine").

This is from PIE root *newn "nine" (source also of Sanskrit nava, Avestan nava, Greek ennea (with unetymological initial e-), Albanian nende, Latin novem (with change of -n- to -m- by analogy of septem, decem), Lithuanian devyni, Old Church Slavonic deveti (the Balto-Slavic forms by dissimilation of -n- to -d-), Old Irish noin, Welsh naw).

As "a symbol representing the number nine," late 14c. The proverbial nine lives of a cat are attested from 17c.  Nine-to-five "the average workday" is attested from 1935. Nine days (or nights) has been proverbial since mid-14c. for the time which a wonder or novelty holds attention; the expression nine days' wonder is from 1590s. The Nine "the Muses" is from c. 1600. Also see nines.

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figure (n.)

c. 1200, "numeral;" mid-13c., "visible appearance of a person;" late 14c., "visible and tangible form of anything," from Old French figure "shape, body; form of a word; figure of speech; symbol, allegory" (10c), from Latin figura "a shape, form, figure; quality, kind, style; figure of speech," in Late Latin "a sketch, drawing" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build").

Philosophical and scientific senses are from use of Latin figura to translate Greek skhema. Meaning "lines forming a shape" is from mid-14c. From mid-14c. as "human body as represented by art;" late 15c. as "a body, the human form as a whole."  From late 14c. as "a cut or diagram inserted in text."

The rhetorical use of figure, "peculiar use of words giving meaning different from usual," dates to late 14c.; hence figure of speech (1550s). Figure-skating is from 1835, so called for the circular patterns skaters formerly made on the ice to demonstrate control; they were dropped from international competition in 1990, but the name remains. Figure eight as a shape was originally figure of eight (c. 1600).

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piaster (n.)

also piastre, 1620s, "Spanish dollar, piece of eight," also used as the name of a monetary unit and coin of Turkey (1610s, in Turkish called ghurush, but originally debased Spanish dollars), from French piastre, from Italian piastra "thin metal plate," short for impiastro "plaster," from Latin emplastrum, from Greek emplastron (see plaster (n.)). The Italian word was applied to the Spanish silver peso, later to the Turkish coin based on it. Compare shinplaster.

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yakuza (n.)
traditional Japanese organized crime cartel, literally "eight-nine-three" (ya, ku, sa) the losing hand in the traditional baccarat-like Japanese card game Oicho-Kabu. The notion may be "good for nothing," or "bad luck" (such as that suffered by someone who runs afoul of them), or it may be a reference to the fact that a player who draws this hand requires great skill to win.
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