Etymology
Advertisement
genteel (adj.)

1590s, "fashionably elegant; suitable to polite society, characteristic of a lady or gentleman; decorous in manners or behavior," from French gentil "stylish, fashionable, elegant; nice, graceful, pleasing," from Old French gentil "high-born, noble" (11c.); a reborrowing (with evolved senses) of the French word that had early come into English as gentle (q.v.), with French pronunciation and stress preserved to emphasize the distinction. The Latin source of the French word is the ancestor of English gentile, but the main modern meaning of that word is from a later Scriptural sense in Latin. See also jaunty. OED 2nd ed. reports genteel "is now used, except by the ignorant, only in mockery" (a development it dates from the 1840s).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
human (adj.)
Origin and meaning of human

mid-15c., humain, humaigne, "human," from Old French humain, umain (adj.) "of or belonging to man" (12c.), from Latin humanus "of man, human," also "humane, philanthropic, kind, gentle, polite; learned, refined, civilized." This is in part from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally "earthling, earthly being," as opposed to the gods (from root *dhghem- "earth"), but there is no settled explanation of the sound changes involved. Compare Hebrew adam "man," from adamah "ground." Cognate with Old Lithuanian žmuo (accusative žmuni) "man, male person."

Human interest is from 1824. Human rights attested by 1680s; human being by 1690s. Human relations is from 1916; human resources attested by 1907, American English, apparently originally among social Christians and based on natural resources. Human comedy "sum of human activities" translates French comédie humaine (Balzac); see comedy.

Related entries & more 
respect (n.)
Origin and meaning of respect

late 14c., "relationship, relation; regard, consideration" (as in in respect to), from Old French respect and directly from Latin respectus "regard, a looking at," literally "act of looking back (or often) at one," noun use of past participle of respicere "look back at, regard, consider," from re- "back" (see re-) + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").

Meanings "feeling of esteem excited by actions or attributes of someone or something; courteous or considerate treatment due to personal worth or power." From late 15c. as "an aspect of a thing, a relative property or quality," hence "point, detail, particular feature" (1580s). With all due respect as a polite phrase introducing deferential disagreement is attested by 1670s.

Related entries & more 
excuse (v.)

mid-13c., "attempt to clear (someone) from blame, find excuses for," from Old French escuser (12c., Modern French excuser) "apologize, make excuses; pardon, exonerate," from Latin excusare "excuse, apologize, make an excuse for, plead as an excuse; release from a charge; decline, refuse, excuse the refusal of" (source also of Spanish excusar, Italian scusare), from ex "out, away" (see ex-) + causa "accusation, legal action" (see cause (n.)).

Sense of "forgive, pardon, accept another's plea of excuse" is from early 14c. Meaning "to obtain exemption or release from an obligation or duty; beg to be excused" is from mid-14c. in English, as is the sense "defend (someone or something) as right." Sense of "serve as justification for" is from 1530s. Related: Excused; excusing. Excuse me as a mild apology or statement of polite disagreement is from c. 1600.

Related entries & more 
sambo (n.2)

a stereotypical name for male black person (now only derogatory), 1818, American English, and probably a different word from sambo (n.1); like many such words (Cuffy, Rastus, etc.) a common personal name among U.S. blacks in the slavery days (attested by 1704 in Boston), probably from an African source, such as Foulah sambo "uncle," or a similar Hausa word meaning "second son."

It fell from polite usage about the time of World War II, eventually taking with it, after the 1970s, the once-enormously popular children's book "The Story of Little Black Sambo" by Helen Bannerman, which is about an East Indian child, and the widespread Sambo's chain of U.S. pancake-specialty restaurants (founded in 1957; the name supposedly a merge of the names of the founders, Sam Battistone and Newell "Bo" Bohnett, but the chain's decor and advertising leaned heavily on the book).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
bloomers (n.)

1851, named for U.S. feminist reformer Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894), who promoted them. The surname is attested from c. 1200, said to mean "iron-worker," from Old English bloma (see bloom (n.2)). The original Bloomer costume was a short skirt, loose trousers buttoned round the ankle, and a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat.

The failure of the Bloomer dress seems to have arisen from the mixed character it assumed, and the unpleasant confusion of ideas it occasioned. It partook of the man's the woman's and the child's. A bold assumption of a full male dress, as by Madame Dudevant and Miss Weber, and such as is worn at pleasure by ladies, traveling or on excursions, anywhere on the continent of Europe, would have had a much better chance of tolerance and success. ["The Illustrated Manners Book, A Manual of Good Behavior and Polite Accomplishment," New York, 1855]
Related entries & more 
standing (n.)

late 14c., verbal noun from stand (v.). In the sense of "rank, status," it is first recorded 1570s. Sense of "state of having existed for some time" is 1650s. Legal sense is first recorded 1924. Sports sense is from 1881. To be in good standing is from 1789. Standing room is from 1788, originally in reference to theaters. SRO for "standing room only" is attested by 1890.

A young gentleman attempting to get into Drury-lane play-house, found there was such a croud of people that there was no room. Just without the door, a damsel of the town accosted him with 'can't you get in, sir?' to which he replied in the negative. 'If you'll go along with me, resumed she you may get in very easily, for I can furnish you with very good standing room.' ["The Banquet of Wit, or A Feast for the Polite World," London, 1790]
Related entries & more 
perspire (v.)

1640s, of a volatile liquid, "to evaporate through the pores" (intransitive), a back-formation from perspiration and in part from Latin perspirare "blow or breathe constantly," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + spirare "to breathe, blow" (see spirit (n.)). The meaning "to sweat, to give out watery substance through the pores of the skin" (intransitive) is a polite usage attested from 1725. Medical men tried to maintain a distinction between "sensible" (sweat) and "insensible" perspiration:

[I]t is sufficient for common use to observe, that perspiration is that insensible discharge of vapour from the whole surface of the body and the lungs which is constantly going on in a healthy state; that it is always natural and always salutary; that sweat, on the contrary, is an evacuation, which never appears without some uncommon effort, or some disease to the system, that it weakens and relaxes, and is so far from coinciding with perspiration, that it obstructs and checks it. [Charles White, "A Treatise on the Management of Pregnant and Lying-in Women," London, 1791]

Related: Perspired; perspiring.

Related entries & more 
please (v.)

c. 1300, plesen, "to please or satisfy (a deity), propitiate, appease," from Old French plaisir "to please, give pleasure to, satisfy" (11c., Modern French plaire, the form of which is perhaps due to analogy of faire), from Latin placere "to be acceptable, be liked, be approved," related to placare "to soothe, quiet" (source of Spanish placer, Italian piacere), from PIE *pl(e)hk- "to agree, be pleasant," with cognates in Tocharian plak- "to agree," plaki "permission."

By mid-14c. as "satisfy (a person), be agreeable to, be satisfactory or acceptable; to be satisfied." Meaning "to delight, attract (someone), amuse, entertain, excite agreeable sensations in" in English is from late 14c. Inverted use for "to be pleased, be satisfied" parallels the evolution of like (v.).

Impersonal constructions with it, followed by an object and originally dative are common from mid-14c. Intransitive sense of "to like, choose, think fit" (do as you please) is recorded from c. 1500; imperative use (please do this), is recorded from 1620s (as please to), was probably a shortening of if it please (you) (late 14c.).

This impersonal construction with the indirect object of the person has given way in more familiar use to a personal construction, the original dative you, in if you please, for example, being now taken as the subject. The word in this sense was formerly common in polite request, may it please you, or if it please you, or, elliptically, please you : a mode of speech still common in addressing a judge or persons of rank or position : as, may it please the court ; if it please your honor ; please your worship ; etc. [Century Dictionary] 

Verbs for "please" supply the stereotype polite word ("Please come in," short for may it please you to ...) in many languages (French, Italian), "But more widespread is the use of the first singular of a verb for 'ask, request' " [Buck, who cites German bitte, Polish proszę, etc.]. Spanish favor is short for hace el favor "do the favor." Danish has in this sense vær saa god, literally "be so good."

Related entries & more 
roach (n.1)

a shortened form of cockroach, on the mistaken notion that it is a compound, attested by 1830.

In contemporary writing the shortening sometimes is credited to a polite desire to avoid the sexual connotation in the first syllable of the full word, especially among Americans, but this seems to be another English fiction and early uses typically are in natural history publications.

The Translator must ask pardon of any American lady, into whose hands this book may by chance fall, for making use of so vulgar a term. "Cock-roaches" in the United States, as we are told by one of the numerous English travellers through that country, are always called "roaches" by the fair sex, for the sake of euphony. [B.D. Walsh, footnote in translation of "The Acharnians," 1848] 

The meaning "butt of a marijuana cigarette" is recorded by 1938, perhaps from resemblance to the insect but rather this might be a different word entirely. Related: Roach-clip (by 1968).

Related entries & more 

Page 4