"delivery of a child by cutting through the abdomen of the mother," 1923, shortening of Caesarian section (1610s); caesar as "baby delivered by caesarian section is from 1530s. Section (n.) here has the literal Latin sense of "act or action of cutting," attested from 1550s but outside of medicine rare in English.
Supposedly from Caius Julius Caesar, who was said to have been delivered surgically, thus legend traces his cognomen to Latin caesus, past participle of caedere "to cut" (see -cide). But if this is the etymology of the name, it was likely an ancestor who was so born (Caesar's mother lived to see his triumphs and such operations would have been fatal to the woman in ancient times). Rather, caesar here may come directly from caesus.
The operation was prescribed in Rome for cases of dead mothers; the first recorded instance of it being performed on a living woman is c. 1500, but as late as the early 19c., before antiseptics and blood transfusions, it had a 50% mortality rate.
masc. personal name, from French Georges, Late Latin Georgius, from Greek Georgos "husbandman, farmer," properly an adjective, "tilling the ground," from gē "earth" (see Gaia) + -ergos "that works," from ergon "work" (from PIE root *werg- "to do").
The name introduced in England by the Crusaders (a vision of St. George played a key role in the First Crusade), but not common until after the Hanoverian succession (18c.). St. George began to be recognized as patron of England in time of Edward III, perhaps because of his association with the Order of the Garter (see garter). His feast day is April 23. The legend of his combat with the dragon is first found in "Legenda Aurea" (13c.). The exclamation by (St.) George! is recorded from 1590s.
The cult of George reached its apogee in the later Middle Ages: by then not only England, but Venice, Genoa, Portugal, and Catalonia regarded him as their patron: for all he was the personification of the ideals of Christian chivalry. ["The Oxford Dictionary of Saints"]
late 14c., Pigmei, "member of a fabulous race of dwarfs," described by Homer and Herodotus and said to inhabit Egypt or Ethiopia and India, from Latin Pygmaei (singular Pygmaeus), from Greek Pygmaioi, plural of Pygmaios "a Pygmy," noun use of adjective meaning "dwarfish."
It means etymologically "of the length of a pygmē; a pygmē tall," from pygmē "a cubit" (literally "a fist"), the measure of length from the elbow to the knuckle (equal to 18 "fingers," or about 13.5 inches; related to pyx "with clenched fist" and to Latin pugnus "fist" (from PIE root *peuk- "to prick"). The Greek use of the word in reference to the people presumably represents a folk etymology adaptation of a foreign word.
Figurative use for "person of small importance" is from 1590s. Believed in 17c. to refer to chimpanzees or orangutans, and occasionally the word was used in this sense. The ancient word was applied by Europeans to the equatorial African race, then newly discovered by them, from 1863, but the tribes probably were known to the ancients and likely were the original inspiration for the legend. As an adjective from 1590s. Related: Pygmean; Pygmaean.
"fellow, lad, man," 1550s, rhyming nickname for Rick, short for Richard, one of the commonest English names, it has long been a synonym for "fellow," and so most of the slang senses are probably very old, but naturally hard to find in the surviving records. The meaning "penis" is attested from 1891 in Farmer's slang dictionary (possibly British army slang). Meaning "detective" is recorded from 1908, perhaps as a shortened variant of detective. As a verb, "to bungle; to waste time," also "to cheat, treat badly," by 1969, American English (often with off or around).
The story of Dick Whittington's cat is an old one, told under other names throughout Europe, of a poor boy who sends a cat he had bought for a penny as his stake in a trading voyage; the captain sells it on his behalf for a fortune to a foreign king whose palace is overrun by rats. The hero devotes part of his windfall to charity, which may be why the legend in England has been attached since 16c. to Sir Richard Whittington (d. 1423), three times Lord Mayor of London, who died childless and devoted large sums in his will to churches, almshouses, and St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
"to defecate," 1846, from a cluster of older nouns, now dialectal or obsolete, applied to things cast off or discarded (such as "weeds growing among corn" (early 15c.), "residue from renderings" (late 15c.), underworld slang for "money" (18c.), and in Shropshire, "dregs of beer or ale"), all probably from Middle English crappe "grain that was trodden underfoot in a barn, chaff" (mid-15c.), from French crape "siftings," from Old French crappe, from Medieval Latin crappa, crapinum "chaff." Related: Crapped; crapping.
For connection of the idea of defecation with that of shedding or casting off from the body, compare shit (v.). Despite the etymological legend, the word is not from the name of Thomas Crapper (1837-1910) who was, however, a busy plumber and may have had some minor role in the development of modern toilets. The name Crapper is a northern form of Cropper (attested from 1221), an occupational surname, obviously, but the exact reference is unclear. Crap (v.) as a variant of crop (v.) was noted early 19c, as a peculiarity of speech in Scotland and what was then the U.S. Southwest (Arkansas, etc.).
Draw out yere sword, thou vile South'ron!
Red wat wi' blude o' my kin!
That sword it crapped the bonniest flower
E'er lifted its head to the sun!
[Allan Cunningham (1784-1842), "The Young Maxwell"]
1580s, Latin form of Greek lykeion, name of a grove or garden with covered walks in the eastern suburb of ancient Athens, also the site of an athletic facility. Aristotle taught there. The name is from the neuter of Lykeios, an epithet of Apollo under which he had a temple nearby, which probably meant or was understood to mean "wolfish" (the exact legend appears to have become muddled), from lykos "wolf" (see wolf (n.)). Frazer (Pausanias) notes "The same epithet was applied to Apollo at Sicyon and Argos," and adds that "Wolves were dear to Apollo ... and they frequently appear in the myths told of him," and lists several.
But what gives the Lyceum its chief interest is that here, pacing the shady walks of the gymnasium, Aristotle expounded to his disciples that philosophy which was destined to influence so profoundly the course of European thought for two thousand years. [Frazer, "Pausanias's Description of Greece"]
Hence lycée, name given in France to secondary schools maintained by the state (a pupil is a lycéen). In England, early 19c., lyceum was the name taken by a number of literary societies (based on a similar use in late 18c. French); in U.S., after c. 1820, it was taken by institutes that sponsored popular lectures in science and literature, and their halls. Related: Lyceal
"male homosexual," 1914, American English slang, probably from earlier contemptuous term for "woman" (1590s), especially an old and unpleasant one, in reference to faggot (n.1) "bundle of sticks," as something awkward that has to be carried (compare baggage "worthless woman," 1590s). It may also be reinforced by Yiddish faygele "homosexual" (n.), literally "little bird." It also may have roots in British public school slang noun fag "a junior who does certain duties for a senior" (1785), with suggestions of "catamite," from fag (v.). This also spun off a verb (see fag (v.2).
He [the prefect] used to fag me to blow the chapel organ for him. ["Boy's Own Paper," Aug. 3, 1889]
Other obsolete British senses of faggot were "man hired into military service merely to fill out the ranks at muster" (1700) and "vote manufactured for party purposes" (1817).
The explanation that male homosexuals were called faggots because they were burned at the stake as punishment is an etymological urban legend. Burning sometimes was a punishment meted out to homosexuals in Christian Europe (on the suggestion of the Biblical fate of Sodom and Gomorrah), but in England, where parliament had made homosexuality a capital offense in 1533, hanging was the method prescribed. Use of faggot in connection with public executions had long been obscure English historical trivia by the time the word began to be used for "male homosexual" in 20th century American slang, whereas the contemptuous slang word for "woman" (in common with the other possible sources or influences listed here) was in active use early 20c., by D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce, among others.
c. 1300, devis, "intent, desire; an expressed intent or desire; a plan or design; a literary composition," from Old French devis "division, separation; disposition, wish, desire; coat of arms, emblem; a bequest in a will, act of bequeathing," from deviser "arrange, plan, contrive," literally "dispose in portions," from Vulgar Latin *divisare, frequentative of Latin dividere "to divide" (see divide (v.)).
The basic sense is "method by which something is divided," which arose in Old French and led to the range of modern meanings via the notion of "something invented or fitted to a particular use or purpose," hence "an invention; a constructed tool; inventiveness; a contriving, a plan or scheme."
In English from c. 1400 as "artistic design, work of art; ornament," hence especially "a representation of some object or scene, accompanied by a motto or legend, used as an expression of the bearer's aspirations or principles." Also from c. 1400 as "mechanical contrivance," such as a large crossbow fitted with a crank. From mid-15c. as "a bequest in a will." Since c. 1996 the word has come to be used especially for "hand-held or mobile computing or electronic instrument."
We live in a kind of world and in an age of the world where devices of all sorts are growing in complexity, where, therefore, the necessity for alertness and self-mastery in the control of device is ever more urgent. If we are democrats we know that especial perils beset us, both because of the confusion of our aims and because it is easier for the mob than for the individual to mistake appetite for reason, and advantage for right. [Hartley Burr Alexander, "'Liberty and Democracy,' and Other Essays in War-Time," 1918]
"to have sexual intercourse with" (transitive), until recently a difficult word to trace in usage, in part because it was omitted as taboo by the editors of the original OED when the "F" entries were compiled (1893-97). Johnson also had excluded the word, and fuck wasn't in a single English language dictionary from 1795 to 1965. "The Penguin Dictionary" broke the taboo in the latter year. Houghton Mifflin followed, in 1969, with "The American Heritage Dictionary," but it also published a "Clean Green" edition without the word, to assure itself access to the public high school market.
Written form attested from at least early 16c.; OED 2nd edition cites 1503, in the form fukkit, and the earliest attested appearance of current spelling is 1535 ("Bischops ... may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit" [Sir David Lyndesay, "Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits"]). Presumably it is a more ancient word, but one not written in the kind of texts that have survived from Old English and Middle English [September 2015: the verb appears to have been found recently in an English court manuscript from 1310]. Buck cites proper name John le Fucker from 1278, but that surname could have other explanations. The word apparently is hinted at in a scurrilous 15c. poem, titled "Flen flyys" ["Fleas, Flies (and Friars)"], written in bastard Latin and Middle English. The relevant line reads:
Non sunt in celi
quia fuccant uuiuys of heli
"They [the monks] are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of [the town of] Ely." Fuccant is pseudo-Latin, and in the original it is written in cipher. The earliest examples of the word otherwise are from Scottish, which suggests a Scandinavian origin, perhaps from a word akin to Norwegian dialectal fukka "copulate," or Swedish dialectal focka "copulate, strike, push," and fock "penis."
Another theory traces the Modern English verb to Middle English fyke, fike "move restlessly, fidget" (see fike) which also meant "dally, flirt," and probably is from a general North Sea Germanic word (compare Middle Dutch fokken, German ficken "fuck," earlier "make quick movements to and fro, flick," still earlier "itch, scratch;" the vulgar sense attested from 16c.). This would parallel in sense the vulgar Middle English term for "have sexual intercourse," swive, from Old English swifan "to move lightly over, sweep" (see swivel). But OED remarks that these "cannot be shown to be related" to the English word. Liberman has this to say:
Germanic words of similar form (f + vowel + consonant) and meaning 'copulate' are numerous. One of them is G. ficken. They often have additional senses, especially 'cheat,' but their basic meaning is 'move back and forth.' ... Most probably, fuck is a borrowing from Low German and has no cognates outside Germanic.
Chronology and phonology rule out Shipley's attempt to derive it from Middle English firk "to press hard, beat." The unkillable urban legend that this word is an acronym of some sort (a fiction traceable on the internet to 1995 but probably predating that), and the "pluck yew" fable, are results of ingenious trifling (also see here). The Old English verb for "have sexual intercourse with" was hæman, from ham "dwelling, home," with a sense of "take home, co-habit." French foutre and Italian fottere seem to resemble the English word but are unrelated, descending rather from Latin futuere, which perhaps is from PIE root *bhau- "to strike," extended via a figurative use "from the sexual application of violent action" [Shipley; compare the sexual slang use of bang, etc.].
Fuck was outlawed in print in England (by the Obscene Publications Act, 1857) and the U.S. (by the Comstock Act, 1873). The word continued in common speech, however. During World War I:
It became so common that an effective way for the soldier to express this emotion was to omit this word. Thus if a sergeant said, 'Get your ----ing rifles!' it was understood as a matter of routine. But if he said 'Get your rifles!' there was an immediate implication of urgency and danger. [John Brophy, "Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918," pub. 1930]
The legal barriers against use in print broke down in mid-20c. with the "Ulysses" decision (U.S., 1933) and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (U.S., 1959; U.K., 1960). The major breakthrough in publication was James Jones' "From Here to Eternity" (1950), with 50 fucks (down from 258 in the original manuscript).
The abbreviation F (or eff) probably began as euphemistic, but by 1943 it was regarded as a cuss word in its own right. In 1948, the publishers of "The Naked and the Dead" persuaded Norman Mailer to use the euphemism fug. When Mailer later was introduced to Dorothy Parker, she greeted him with, "So you're the man who can't spell 'fuck' " [The quip sometimes is attributed to Tallulah Bankhead]. As a written euphemism, muck is attested by 1929 (Hemingway used it in "For Whom the Bell Tolls," 1940). Related: Fucked; fucking.
Fuck-all "nothing" first recorded 1960. Verbal phrase fuck up "to ruin, spoil, destroy" is attested from c. 1916. A widespread group of Slavic words (such as Polish pierdolić) can mean both "fornicate" and "make a mistake." Fuck off is attested from 1929; as a command to depart, by 1944. Egyptian legal agreements from the 23rd Dynasty (749-21 B.C.E.) frequently include the phrase, "If you do not obey this decree, may a donkey copulate with you!" [Reinhold Aman, "Maledicta," Summer 1977].