also bibliothek, Old English biblioðece "the Bible, the Scriptures," from Latin bibliotheca "library, room for books; collection of books" (in Late Latin and Medieval Latin especially "the Bible"), from Greek bibliothēkē, literally "book-repository," from biblion "book" (see biblio-) + thēkē "case, chest, sheath," from suffixed form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put." Used of the Bible by Jerome and serving as the common Latin word for it until Biblia began to displace it 9c. (see Bible). The word was later reborrowed from French as bibliotheque (16c.).
mid-15c., "bedroom, bedchamber," from Latin cubiculum "bedroom," from cubare "to lie down," which is perhaps from a PIE *kub-, with cognates in Middle Welsh kyscu, Middle Cornish koska, Middle Breton cousquet "to sleep," but de Vaan regards the PIE origin of the Latin word as "uncertain." Compare cubit.
Obsolete from 16c. but revived by 1858 for "dormitory sleeping compartment," especially in an English public school. The sense of "any partitioned space" (such as a library carrel or, later, office work station) is attested by 1926. Related: Cubicular.
heavenly hall in which Odin receives the souls of heroes slain in battle, 1696 (in Archdeacon Nicolson's "English Historical Library"), from Old Norse Valhöll "hall of the battle-slain;" first element from valr "those slain in battle," from Proto-Germanic *walaz (source also of Old English wæl "slaughter, bodies of the slain," Old High German wal "battlefield, slaughter"), from PIE root *wele- (2) "to strike, wound" (source also of Avestan vareta- "seized, prisoner," Latin veles "ghosts of the dead," Old Irish fuil "blood," Welsh gwel "wound"). Second element is from höll "hall," from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save." Reintroduced by 18c. antiquaries. Figurative sense is from 1845.
late 14c. as the name of a small French coin; 1550s as "white space in the center of a target," from the same source as blank (adj.). Meaning "empty space" (in a document, etc.) is from c. 1570. Meaning "losing lottery ticket" (1560s) is behind the figurative expression draw a blank "come up with nothing" (by 1822).
The court has itself a bad lottery's face,
Where ten draw a blank before one draws a place;
For a ticket in law who would give you thanks!
For that wheel contains scarce any but blanks.
[from "That the World is a Lottery" in "The Vocal Library," 1822]
The word has been "for decorum's sake, substituted for a word of execration" [OED] at least since 1854 (for compound words, blankety-blank), from the use of blank lines in printing to indicate where such words or the letters forming the bulk of them have been omitted. From 1896 as short for blank cartridge (itself from 1826).
late 15c., in chess, "to attack the king; to put (the opponent's king) in check;" earlier (late 14c.) in a figurative sense, "to stop, arrest; block, barricade;" from check (n.1) or Old French eschequier, from the noun in French. A player in chess limits his opponent's ability to move when he places his opponent's king in check.
The other senses seem all to have developed from the chess sense, or from the noun: "To arrest, stop," then "to hold in restraint" (1620s); "to hold up or control" (an assertion, a person, etc.) by comparison with some authority or record (1690s); of baggage, etc., "to hand over in return for a check that serves as a means of identifying" (1846); "to note with a mark as having been examined, etc., mark off from a list" (1928).
Hence, to check off (1839); to check up (1883); to check in or out (in a hotel, of a library book, etc., 1909). To check out (something) "to look at, investigate" is from 1959. Related: Checked; checking.
1580s, "act of referring" (some matter, to someone for consideration), from refer + -ance, or else from French référence, from Medieval Latin *referentia, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre.
Meaning "direction to a book or passage" where certain information may be found is recorded from 1610s. By 1837 as "one who or that which may be referred to." The meaning "testimonial" is from 1895. Reference book , a dictionary, encyclopedia, or similar book intended to be consulted as occasion requires, dates from 1808; reference library is by 1834. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s. "By slipshod extension, the word is often now made to mean a person to whom r[eference] is permitted as a witness to character, & even a written testimonial" [Fowler, 1926]. The earlier word for "one who gives characters for people seeking employment" was referee (1862) but this word had a bad savor, of literate accomplices of professional beggars and thieves.
c. 1400, erþe-worme, popular name of the worms of the family Lumbricidae, from earth + worm (n.). In this sense Old English had eorðmata, also regnwyrm, literally "rain-worm." Old English also had angel-twæcce "earthworm used as bait" (with second element from root of twitch), sometimes used in medieval times as a medicament:
For the blake Jawndes take angylltwacches, er þei go in to the erth in the mornynge and fry hem. Take ix or x small angyltwacches, and bray hem, and giff the syke to drynke fastynge, with stale ale, but loke þat thei bene grounden so small that þe syke may nat se, ne witt what it is, for lothynge. [Book of Medical Recipes in Medical Society of London Library, c. 1450]
The people who inhabit the highlands of Southern Brazil have a firm belief in the existence of a gigantic earthworm fifty yards or more in length, five in breadth, covered with bones as with a coat-of-mail, and of such strength as to be able to uproot great pine-trees as though they were blades of grass, and to throw up such quantities of clay in making its way underground as to dam up streams and divert them into new courses. This redoubtable monster is known as the "Minhocao." [Popular Science, August 1878]
Old English denn "wild animal's lair, hollow place in the earth used by an animal for concealment, shelter, and security," from Proto-Germanic *danjan (source also of Middle Low German denne "lowland, wooded vale, den," Old English denu "valley," Old Frisian dene "down," Old High German tenni, German tenne "threshing floor," perhaps from a PIE word meaning "low ground").
Transferred to den-like places in human habitations in Middle English: "secret lurking place of thieves, place of retreat" (late 13c.); "apartment, private chamber" (late 14c.), but the modern use for "small room or lodging in which a man can seclude himself for work or leisure" [OED] is a modern development, originally colloquial, attested by 1771. By 1956, however, at least in U.S., the den had come to be a sort of family all-purpose room. In 19c. it also often had a bad sense, "a haunt, squalid place of retreat" (as in the set phrase den of iniquity for a brothel, etc.).
For, in truth, without a den or place of refuge, a man can achieve neither tranquility nor greatness. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in a quiet rooming house in Philadelphia. The soaring ideas that went into it evolved during hours of reading and contemplation in a secluded library. Had it been a study-TV-guest-family room, the United States might still be a colony. [The Kiplinger Magazine, September 1956]
"liquor distilled from the juice of sugar cane or molasses," 1650s, apparently a shortening of rumbullion (1651), rombostion (1652), words all of uncertain origin, but suspicion falls on rum (adj.) "excellent, fine, good, valuable;" the phrase rum bouse "good liquor" is attested from 1560s and through 17c. The English word was borrowed into Dutch, German, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and Russian.
In the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, is a manuscript entitled "A briefe description of the Island of Barbados." It is undated but from internal evidence it must have been written about the year 1651. In describing the various drinks in vogue in Barbados, the writer says : "The chief fudling they make in the Island is Rumbullion alias Kill-Divill, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish, and terrible liquor. ["The Etymology of the Word Rum," in Timehri, 1885]
Rum was used from c.1800 in North America as a general (hostile) name for intoxicating liquors, hence rum-runner and much other Prohibition-era slang.
Rum I take to be the name which unwashed moralists apply alike to the product distilled from molasses and the noblest juices of the vineyard. Burgundy in "all its sunset glow" is rum. Champagne, soul of "the foaming grape of Eastern France," is rum. ... Sir, I repudiate the loathsome vulgarism as an insult to the first miracle wrought by the Founder of our religion! [Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table," 1871]
"mortuary, place where bodies of persons found dead are taken to be claimed by family or friends," 1821, from French Morgue, originally a specific building in Paris where bodies were exposed for identification:
There is, in the most populous part of the French metropolis, an establishment entitled La Morgue, destined for the reception and exposition of bodies drowned in the Seine, and caught in nets, which are placed in different parts of the river for that purpose. The object of this exposition is, that the deceased may be recognised by their friends or relatives, and receive the rights of sepulture accordingly. The Morgue is open at all hours of the day, to passengers of every description, and often displays at a time, five or six horrible carcasses stretched, without covering, on an inclined platform, and subjected to the promiscuous gaze of the mob. ["American Review," January 1811]
Before that it was the place where new prisoners were displayed to keepers to establish their identification. Thus the name is believed to be probably from French morgue "haughtiness, pride," originally "a sad expression, solemn look," from Old French morguer "look solemnly," from Vulgar Latin *murricare "to make a face, pout," from *murrum "muzzle, snout." The 1768 Dictionnaire Royal François-Anglois Et Anglois-François defines French morgue both as "A proud, big, haughty or stately look, stare, surliness, or surly look" and "A little gratel room wherein a new prisoner is set, and must continue some hours, that the Jailer's ordinary servants may the better take notice of his face."
Adopted 1880s as a general term in U.S., replacing earlier dead house, etc. In newspaper slang, "collection of pre-written obituary material of living persons" (1898), thence extended generally to "library of clips, photos, etc." (1918).