Etymology
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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.

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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).

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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]
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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]
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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.

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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."

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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).

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occupy (v.)

mid-14c., occupien, "to take possession of and retain or keep," also "to take up space or room or time; employ (someone)," irregularly borrowed from Old French ocuper, occuper "occupy (a person or place), hold, seize" (13c.) or directly from Latin occupare "take over, seize, take into possession, possess, occupy," from ob "over" (see ob-) + intensive form of capere "to grasp, seize," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."

The final syllable of the English word is difficult to explain, but it is as old as the record; perhaps it is from a modification made in Anglo-French. During 16c.-17c. the word was a common euphemism for "have sexual intercourse with" (a sense attested from early 15c.), which caused it to fall from polite usage.

"A captaine? Gods light these villaines wil make the word as odious as the word occupy, which was an excellent good worde before it was il sorted." [Doll Tearsheet in "2 Henry IV"]

During the same time occupant could mean "prostitute." Related: Occupied; occupying.

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powerful (adj.)

c. 1400, pouerful, "mighty, having great strength or power," from power (n.) + -ful. Sense of "capable of exerting great force or power" is from 1580s.

Meaning "of great quality or number" is from 1811; hence the colloquial sense of "exceedingly, extremely" (adv.) is from 1822. Thornton ("American Glossary") notes powerful, along with monstrous,  as "Much used by common people in the sense of very," and cites curious expressions such as devilish good, monstrous pretty (1799), dreadful polite, cruel pretty, abominable fine (1803), "or when a young lady admires a lap dog for being so vastly small and declares him prodigious handsome" (1799).

This gross perversion is common in several of the Western counties of Pennsylvania, to which region I had supposed it was limited. A gentleman informs me, however that it is not unfrequent in the South, and that he has even heard it yoked with weak, as, A powerful weak man. [Seth T. Hurd, "A Grammatical Corrector; or, Vocabulary of the Common Errors of Speech," 1847]

Related: Powerfully; powerfulness.

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afraid (adj.)

"impressed with fear, fearful," early 14c., originally the past participle of the now-obsolete Middle English verb afray "frighten," from Anglo-French afrayer, Old French affrai, effrei, esfrei "disturbance, fright," from esfreer (v.) "to worry, concern, trouble, disturb," from Vulgar Latin *exfridare, a hybrid word meaning literally "to take out of peace."

The first element is from Latin ex "out of" (see ex-). The second is Frankish *frithu "peace," from Proto-Germanic *frithuz "peace, consideration, forbearance" (source also of Old Saxon frithu, Old English friu, Old High German fridu "peace, truce," German Freide "peace"), from a suffixed form of PIE root *pri- "to be friendly, to love."

A rare case of an English adjective that never stands before a noun. Because it was used in the King James Bible, it acquired independent standing and thrived while affray faded, and it chased off the once more common afeared. Colloquial sense in I'm afraid "I regret to say, I suspect" (without implication of fear, as a polite introduction to a correction, admission, etc.) is first recorded 1590s.

Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone [Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes," 1820]
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