1510s, "to dance, frolic," from Middle English adjective frisk "lively" (mid-15c.), from Old French frisque "lively, brisk," also "fresh, new; merry, animated" (13c.), which is ultimately from a Germanic source (compare Middle Dutch vrisch "fresh," Old High German frisc "lively;" see fresh (adj.1)). Sense of "pat down in a search" first recorded 1781. Related: Frisked; frisking. As a noun, "a frolic, a gambol," from 1520s.
1620s, "festive dress or attire" (obsolete), from French en gala, perhaps from Old French gale "merriment," from galer "rejoice, make merry" (see gallant). Klein suggests the French word is from Italian gala (as in phrase vestito di gala "robe of state"), perhaps from Arabic khil'a "fine garment given as a presentation." Sense of "festive occasion" (characterized by display of finery) first recorded 1777. Quasi-adjectival use in gala day "day of festivities," etc.
"a medley, hash, hodge-podge," 1550s, from French galimafrée "hash, ragout, dish made of odds and ends," from Old French galimafree, calimafree "sauce made of mustard, ginger, and vinegar; a stew of carp" (14c.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French galer "to make merry, live well" (see gallant) + Old North French mafrer "to eat much," from Middle Dutch maffelen [Klein]. Weekley sees in the second element the proper name Maufré. Hence, figuratively, "any inconsistent or absurd medley."
mid-14c., roundeaboute, "by a circuitous route," also "on all sides, all about," from round (adv.), for which see round (adj.), + about. As an adjective, "in a ring or circle," by mid-14c. By late 15c. (Caxton) as a preposition. As an adjective from c. 1600. Noun sense of "traffic circle" is attested from 1927. It was used earlier of other things, such as "circular course or object" (1530s), "a plump, rounded figure" (1812), "a detour" (1755), "a merry-go-round" (1763). Related: Roundaboutness.
early 14c., jolyfte, iolite, "merrymaking, revelry," also "agreeableness, attractiveness, beauty, elegance;" from Old French jolivete "gaity, cheerfulness; amorous passion; life of pleasure," from jolif "festive, merry" (see jolly).
From late 14c. as "lightheartedness, cheerfulness." A word with more senses in Middle and early Modern English than recently: "sexual pleasure or indulgence, lust" (mid-14c.); "insolent presumptuousness, impudence" (mid-14c.); "vigor, strength" (mid-14c.); "love; a love affair" (c. 1300, hence in jollity "by fornication, out of wedlock"); "gallantry" (1530s); "state of splendor" (1540s).
"spree, frolic, merry adventure," 1811, slang, of uncertain origin. Possibly a shortening of skylark (1809), sailors' slang for "play rough in the rigging of a ship" (larks were proverbial for high-flying). Or perhaps it is an alteration of English dialectal or colloquial lake/laik "to play, frolic, make sport" (c. 1300, from Old Norse leika "to play," from PIE *leig- (3) "to leap") with unetymological -r- common in southern British dialect. The verb lake, considered characteristic of Northern English vocabulary, is the opposite of work but lacks the other meanings of play. As a verb, from 1813. Related: Larked; larking.
1640s, "tilting match, playful tournament of knights in chariots or on horseback," from French carrousel "a tilting match," from Italian carusiello, possibly from carro "chariot," from Latin carrus "two-wheeled wagon" (see car). The modern meaning "merry-go-round" as an amusement ride is by 1895, though there are suggestions of such a thing earlier:
A new and rare invencon knowne by the name of the royalle carousell or tournament being framed and contrived with such engines as will not only afford great pleasure to us and our nobility in the sight thereof, but sufficient instruction to all such ingenious young gentlemen as desire to learne the art of perfect horsemanshipp. [letter of 1673]
1729, "jester, merry fellow, one who jokes," agent noun from joke (v.). In generic slang use for "any man, fellow, chap" by 1811, which probably is the source of the meaning "odd face card in the deck" (1868), also often jolly joker. An 1857 edition of Hoyle's "Games" lists a card game called Black Joke in which all face cards were called jokers.
American manufacturers of playing-cards are wont to include a blank card at the top of the pack; and it is, alas! true that some thrifty person suggested that the card should not be wasted. This was the origin of the joker. ["St. James's Gazette," 1894]
European bird of prey, inferior hawk (Milvus ictinus, but applied elsewhere to similar birds), Old English cyta, probably imitative of its cry (compare ciegan "to call," German Kauz "screech owl"). Of persons who prey on others, 1550s.
The toy kite, a light frame covered with paper or cloth, is first so-called 1660s, from its way of hovering in the air like a bird. The dismissive invitation to go fly a kite is attested by 1942, American English, probably tracing to the popular song of the same name (lyrics by Johnny Burke), sung by Bing Crosby in "The Star Maker" (1939):
Go fly a kite and tie your troubles to the tail
They'll be blown away by a merry gale,
Go fly a kite and toss your worries to the wind
And they won't come back, they'll be too chagrined.
"a frolic, drinking bout," 1804, slang, earliest use in Scottish dialect works, of uncertain origin. Perhaps [Barnhart] an alteration of French esprit "lively wit" (see esprit). According to Klein, Irish spre seems to be a loan-word from Old Norse sprakr. Watkins proposes a possible origin as an alteration of Scots spreath "cattle raid," from Gaelic sprédh, spré, "cattle; wealth," from Middle Irish preit, preid, "booty," ultimately from Latin praeda "plunder, booty" (see prey (n.)).
The splore is a frolic, a merry meeting. In the slang language of the inhabitants of St Giles's, in London, it is called a spree or a go. [Note in "Select Scottish Songs, Ancient and Modern," vol. II, London, 1810]
In Foote's comedy "The Maid of Bath" (1794) the word appears as a Scottish dialect pronunciation of spry: " 'When I intermarried with Sir Launcelot Coldstream, I was en siek a spree lass as yoursel; and the baronet bordering upon his grand climacteric;' " etc.