sea-nymph, in Greek mythology, late 14c., Nereides (plural), via Latin from Greek Nēreis (genitive Nēreidos), daughter of the ancient sea-god Nēreus, son of Pontus and Gaia, husband of Doris, whose name is related to naros "flowing, liquid, I flow" (see Naiad). In zoology, "a sea-centipede" (1840).
The most famous among them were Amphitrite, Thetis, and Galatea. The Nereids were beautiful maidens helpful to voyagers, and constituted the main body of the female, as the Tritons did of the male, followers of Poseidon or Neptune. They were imagined as dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, wooed by the Tritons, and passing in long processions over the sea seated on hippocamps and other sea-monsters. Monuments of ancient art represent them lightly draped or nude, in poses characterized by undulating lines harmonizing with those the ocean, and often riding on sea-monsters of fantastic forms. [Century Dictionary]
The branch of Islam that recognizes Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, as the lawful successor of the Prophet; the minority who believed, after the death of the Prophet, that spiritual and political authority followed his family line, as opposed to the Sunni, who took Abu Bakr as the political leader of the community. The Arabic name is short for Shi'at Ali "the party of Ali."
"the southern United States," 1859, of obscure origin, first attested in the song of that name, which was popularized, if not written, by Ohio-born U.S. minstrel musician and songwriter Dan Emmett (1815-1904); perhaps a reference to the Mason-Dixon Line, but there are other well-publicized theories dating to the Civil War. Popularized nationwide in minstrel shows. Dixieland style of jazz developed in New Orleans c. 1910, so called by 1919 (in the name of a band).
It is interesting to remember that the song which is essentially Southern — "Dixie" — and that which is essentially Northern — "Yankee Doodle" — never really had any serious words to them. [The Bookman, June 1910]
"woman considered stylish at the turn of the 20th century," 1894, named for U.S. artist and illustrator Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), whose main model was his wife, Irene Langhorne (1873-1956). The Gibson cocktail (gin, vermouth, and a pearl onion) is attested by 1914, in some stories ascribed to him but the origin of the term is unknown.
"She looks like a Gibson girl" is not an uncommon saying; and to look like a Gibson girl, is not without its merits. Although our artist has expressed in his drawings disapproval of women usurping the spheres of men, his girls suggest intellectuality. He has none of the doll-like inanely pretty faces which artists used to give women in olden days. His girls look as if they would have opinions of their own and would act with discrimination in the affairs of life. They are tall and graceful and although not in the least like fashion plates, their clothes are becoming and fit perfectly. [National Magazine, May 1898]
1550s in astronomy, in reference to a celestial circle, a line around the sky which, in any location, bounds the stars which are ever-visible from that latitude (in the Northern Hemisphere its center point is the celestial north pole); the concept goes back to the ancient Greeks, for whom this set of constellations included most prominently the two bears (arktoi), hence the name for the circle (see arctic). In Middle English it was the north cercle (late 14c.).
In geography, from 1620s as "the circle roughly 66 degrees 32 minutes north of the equator" (based on obliquity of the ecliptic of 23 degrees 28 minutes), marking the southern extremity of the polar day, when the sun at least theoretically passes the north point without setting on at least one summer day and does not rise on at least one winter one.
also Hallow-e'en, Hallow e'en, 1781, in a Scottish context, the word and the magical lore about the date were popularized by Burns' poem (1785, and he attached a footnote explaining it), but it probably dates to 17c. in Scotland and is attested as the name of a tune in 1724. The tune is mentioned again in an English-Scots songbook ("The Chearful Companion") in 1783, and Burns was not the first to describe the customs in print.
Hallow-E'en, or Holy Eve, is the evening previous to the celebration of All Saints. That it is propitious to the rites of divination, is an opinion still common in many parts of Scotland. [John Main, footnote to his poem "Hallow-E'en," Glasgow, 1783]
It is a Scottish shortening of Allhallow-even "Eve of All Saints, last night of October" (1550s), the last night of the year in the old Celtic calendar, where it was Old Year's Night, a night for witches. A pagan holiday given a cursory baptism. Otherwise obsolete hallow (n.) "holy person, saint," is from the source of hallow (v.). Also see even (n.), and compare hallows. Hallow-day for "All-Saints Day" is from 1590s; earlier was halwemesse day (late 13c.).
1796 in reference to members of a secret politico-religious society founded 1795 in Belfast to promote Protestant power in Northern Ireland, named for William of Orange (who became King William III of England and triumphed in Ireland at the head of a Protestant army at the Battle of the Boyne), of the German House of Nassau. His cousins and their descendants constitute the royal line of Holland.
The name is from the town of Orange on the Rhone in France, which became part of the Nassau principality in 1530. Its Roman name was Arausio, which is said in 19c. sources to be from aura "a breeze" and a reference to the north winds which rush down the valley, but perhaps this is folk etymology of a Celtic word. The name subsequently was corrupted to Auranche, then Orange.
The town has no obvious association with the fruit other than being on the road from Marseilles to Paris, along which masses of oranges were transported to northern France and beyond. In this roundabout way the political/religious movement of Northern Irish Protestantism acquired an association with the color orange, the Irish national flag acquired its orange band, and Syracuse University in New York state acquired its "Otto the Orange" mascot.