region or island at northernmost part of the world, Old English, from Latin, from Greek Thyle "land six days' sail north of Britain" (Strabo, quoting a lost portion of a work by Polybius, itself based on a lost account of a voyage to the north by 4c. B.C.E. geographer Pytheas). The identity of the place and the source of the name have sparked much speculation; Polybius doubted the whole thing, and since Roman times the name has been used in a transferred sense of "extreme limits of travel" (Ultima Thule).
The barbarians showed us where the sun set. For it happened in those places that the night was extremely short, lasting only two or three hours; and the sun sunk under the horizon, after a short interval reappeared at his rising. [Pytheas]
The name was given to a trading post in Greenland in 1910, site of a U.S. air base in World War II.
"native or inhabitant of Denmark," early 14c. (in plural, Danes), from Danish Daner, (Medieval Latin Dani), which is perhaps ultimately from a source related to Old High German tanar "sand bank," in reference to their homeland, or from Proto-Germanic *den- "low ground," for the same reason.
It replaced Old English Dene (plural), which was used of Northmen generally. Shakespeare has Dansker "a Dane" (c. 1600). Dane was applied by 1774 to a breed of large dogs.
Danegeld (attested from 1086; it was first imposed in 991) supposedly originally was a tax to pay for protection from the Northmen (either to outfit defensive armies or to buy peace), continued under later kings for other purposes. Danelaw (c. 1050) was "the body of Danish law in force over that large part of England under Viking rule after Alfred's treaty in 878;" the application to the land itself is modern (1837, Danelagh).
third day of the week, Old English tiwesdæg, from Tiwes, genitive of Tiw "Tiu," from Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz "god of the sky," the original supreme deity of ancient Germanic mythology, differentiated specifically as Tiu, ancient Germanic god of war, from PIE *deiwos "god," from root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god." Cognate with Old Frisian tiesdei, Old Norse tysdagr, Swedish tisdag, Old High German ziestag.
The day name (second element dæg, see day) is a translation of Latin dies Martis (source of Italian martedi, French Mardi) "Day of Mars," from the Roman god of war, who was identified with Germanic Tiw (though etymologically Tiw is related to Zeus), itself a loan-translation of Greek Areos hēmera. In cognate German Dienstag and Dutch Dinsdag, the first element would appear to be Germanic ding, þing "public assembly," but it is now thought to be from Thinxus, one of the names of the war-god in Latin inscriptions.
sixth day of the week, Old English frigedæg "Friday, Frigga's day," from Frige, genitive of *Frigu (see Frigg), Germanic goddess of married love. The day name is a West Germanic translation of Latin dies Veneris "day of (the planet) Venus," which itself translated Greek Aphrodites hēmera.
Compare Old Norse frijadagr, Old Frisian frigendei, Middle Dutch vridach, Dutch vrijdag, German Freitag "Friday," and the Latin-derived cognates Old French vendresdi, French vendredi, Spanish viernes. In Germanic religion, Freya (q.v.) corresponds more closely in character to Venus than Frigg does, and some early Icelandic writers used Freyjudagr for "Friday."
A fast-day in the Church, hence Friday face (17c.) for a gloomy countenance. Black Friday as the name for the busy shopping day after U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is said to date from 1960s and perhaps was coined by those who had the job of controlling the crowds, not by the merchants; earlier it was used principally of Fridays when financial markets crashed (1866, 1869, 1873).
An Old English masc. noun meaning "male witch, wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, astrologer, magician;" see witch. Use of the word in modern contexts traces to English folklorist Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), who is said to have joined circa 1939 an occult group in New Forest, Hampshire, England, for which he claimed an unbroken tradition to medieval times. Gardner seems to have first used it in print in 1954, in his book "Witchcraft Today" ("Witches were the Wica or wise people, with herbal
knowledge and a working occult teaching usually used for good ...."). In published and unpublished material, he apparently only ever used the word as a mass noun referring to adherents of the practice and not as the name of the practice itself. Some of his followers continue to use it in this sense. According to Gardner's book "The Meaning of Witchcraft" (1959), the word, as used in the initiation ceremony, played a key role in his experience:
I realised that I had stumbled upon something interesting; but I was half-initiated before the word, 'Wica' which they used hit me like a thunderbolt, and I knew where I was, and that the Old Religion still existed. And so I found myself in the Circle, and there took the usual oath of secrecy, which bound me not to reveal certain things.
In the late 1960s the term came into use as the title of a modern pagan movement associated with witchcraft. The first printed reference in this usage seems to be 1969, in "The Truth About Witchcraft" by freelance author Hans Holzer:
If the practice of the Old Religion, which is also called Wicca (Craft of the Wise), and thence, witchcraft, is a reputable and useful cult, then it is worthy of public interest.
And, quoting witch Alex Sanders:
"No, a witch wedding still needs a civil ceremony to make it legal. Wicca itself as a religion is not registered yet. But it is about time somebody registered it, I think. I've done all I can to call attention to our religion."
Sanders was a highly visible representative of neo-pagan Witchcraft in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time he appears to have popularized use of the term in this sense. Later books c. 1989 teaching modernized witchcraft using the same term account for its rise and popularity, especially in U.S.
second day of the week, Middle English monedai, from Old English mōndæg, contraction of mōnandæg "Monday," literally "day of the moon," from mona (genitive monan; see moon (n.)) + dæg (see day). A common Germanic name (compare Old Norse manandagr, Old Frisian monendei, Dutch maandag, German Montag). All are loan-translations of Late Latin Lunæ dies, which also is the source of the day name in Romance languages (French lundi, Italian lunedi, Spanish lunes), itself a loan-translation of Greek Selēnēs hēmera. The name for this day in Slavic tongues generally means "day after Sunday."
Yf cristemas day on A munday be,
Grete wynter þat yere ye shull see.
[proverb, c. 1500]
Phrase Monday morning quarterback is attested from 1932, Monday being the first day back at work after the weekend, where school and college football games played over the weekend were discussed. Black Monday (late 14c.) is the Monday after Easter day, though how it got its reputation for bad luck is a mystery (none of the usual explanation stories holds water). Saint Monday (1753) was "used with reference to the practice among workmen of being idle Monday, as a consequence of drunkenness on the Sunday" before [OED]. Clergymen, meanwhile, when indisposed complained of feeling Mondayish (1804) in reference to effects of Sunday's labors.
seventh or last day of the week, Old English sæterdæg, sæternesdæg, literally "day of the planet Saturn," from Sæternes (genitive of Sætern; see Saturn) + Old English dæg (see day). Partial loan-translation of Latin Saturni dies "Saturn's day" (compare Dutch Zaterdag, Old Frisian Saterdi, Middle Low German Satersdach; Irish dia Sathuirn, Welsh dydd Sadwrn). The Latin word itself is a loan-translation of Greek kronou hēmera, literally "the day of Cronus."
German Samstag (Old High German sambaztag) appears to be from a Greek *sambaton, a nasalized colloquial form of sabbaton "sabbath" (see Sabbath), which also yielded Old Church Slavonic sabota, Polish sobota, Russian subbota, Hungarian szombat, French samedi.
Unlike other English day names there was no Germanic substitution, perhaps because the northern European pantheon lacks a match to Roman Saturn. A homely ancient Nordic custom seems to be preserved in Old Norse day names laugardagr, Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "bath day" (Old Norse laug "bath").
Saturday night has been figurative of revelry and especially "drunkenness and looseness in relations between the young men and young women" ["Clara Hopwood"] at least since 1847. Saturday-night special "cheap, low-caliber handgun" is American English, attested from 1976 (earlier Saturday-night pistol, 1929).
10th letter of the English alphabet, pronounced "jay," as in "kay" for -k-, but formerly written out as jy, rhyming with -i- and corresponding to French ji.
One of the most stable English letters (it has almost always the same sound), it is a latecomer to the alphabet and originally had no sound value. The letter itself began as a scribal modification of Roman -i- in continental Medieval Latin. The scribes added a "hook" to small -i-, especially in the final position in a word or roman numeral, to distinguish it from the strokes of other letters. The dot on the -i- (and thus the -j-) and the capitalization of the pronoun I are other solutions to the same problems.
In English, -j- was used as a roman numeral throughout Middle English, but the letter -y- was used to spell words ending an "i" sound, so -j- was not needed to represent a sound. Instead, it was introduced into English c. 1600-1640 to take up the consonantal sound that had evolved from the Roman i- since Late Latin times. In Italian, g- was used to represent this, but in other languages j- took the job. This usage is attested earliest in Spanish, where it was in place before 1600.
No word beginning with J is of Old English derivation. [OED]
English dictionaries did not distinguish words beginning in -i- and -j- until 19c., and -j- formerly was skipped when letters were used to express serial order.
In Latin texts printed in modern times, -j- often is used to represent Latin -i- before -a-, -e-, -o-, -u- in the same syllable, which in Latin was sounded as the consonant in Modern English you, yam, etc., but the custom has been controversial among Latinists:
The character J, j, which represents the letter sound in some school-books, is an invention of the seventeenth century, and is not found in MSS., nor in the best texts of the Latin authors. [Lewis]
In English words from Hebrew, -j- represents yodh, which was equivalent to English consonantal y (hence hallelujah) but many of the Hebrew names later were conformed in sound to the modern -j- (compare Jesus).