"mad, crazy," 1844, American English, from Spanish loco (adj.) "insane," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Arabic lauqa, fem. of 'alwaq "fool, crazy person." Loco-weed was the name given to species of western U.S. plants that cause cattle and horse diseases that make them stagger and act strangely. But the adjective seems to be the older word.
also crab-grass, 1590s, from crab (n.1) + grass. Originally a marine grass of salt marshes (Salicornia herbacea) perhaps so called because it was supposed to be eaten by crabs; modern use, in reference to Panicum sanguinale, an annual grass cultivated on waste land (but a noxious weed in lawns and cultivated fields), is from 1743, perhaps partly in reference to its crooked form.
"range of hills or mountains," 1610s, from Spanish sierra "jagged mountain range," literally "saw," from Latin serra "a saw" (compare serrated), which is of unknown origin. De Vaan suggests a PIE *sers-h- "cutting off," and within Latin a possible connection with sarire "to hoe, weed." The word figures in many mountain-chain names in Spain and regions it explored and colonized.
1960, acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation," on pattern of maser (1955). A corresponding verb, lase, was coined by 1962. Related: Lasered; lasering. Laser disc recorded from 1980. Earlier laser was the name of a type of gum-resin from North Africa used medicinally (1570s), from Latin; still earlier it was an Old English and Middle English name for some weed, probably cockle.
"small, hanging piece from a garment," c. 1400, of uncertain origin but probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian tagg "point, prong, barb," Swedish tagg "prickle, thorn") and related to Middle Low German tagge "branch, twig, spike"), from Proto-Germanic *tag-. The sense development might be "point of metal at the end of a cord, string, etc.," hence "part hanging loose." Or perhaps ultimately from PIE *dek-, a root forming words referring to "fringe; horsetail; locks of hair" (see tail (n.1)).
Meaning "a label" is first recorded 1835; sense of "automobile license-plate" is recorded from 1935, originally underworld slang. Meaning "an epithet, popular designation" is recorded from 1961, hence slang verb meaning "write graffiti in public places" (1990).
also sherd, "piece or fragment," especially "piece of baked clay, piece of broken pottery or tile," from Old English sceard "incision, cleft, gap; potshard, a fragment, broken piece," from Proto-Germanic *skardaz (source also of Middle Dutch schaerde "a fragment, a crack," Dutch schaard "a flaw, a fragment," German Scharte "a notch," Danish skaar "chink, potsherd"), a past participle from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut."
Meaning "fragment of broken earthenware" developed in late Old English. Also used, by Gower (late 14c.), as "scale of a dragon." French écharde "prickle, splinter" is a Germanic loan-word.
"garments" (now surviving, if at all, in widow's weeds), plural of archaic weed, from Old English wæd, wæde "robe, dress, apparel, garment, clothing," from Proto-Germanic *wedo (source also of Old Saxon wadi, Old Frisian wede "garment," Old Norse vað "cloth, texture," Old High German wat "garment"), probably from PIE *wedh-, extended form of root *au- (3) "to weave." Archaic since early 19c.
"pokeweed; a strong-growing branching weed of eastern North America used in medicine and dyeing," colonial American English, from native words, possibly a confusion of similar-sounding Native American plant names; from 1630s in English as "tobacco plant," short for uppowoc (1580s), from Algonquian (Virginia) *uppowoc. Later (1708) the word is used in the sense "pokeweed," as a shortened form of puccoon, from Algonquian (Virginia) *puccoon, name of a plant used for dyeing. Native roots for "smoke" and "stain" have been proposed as the origin or origins.
deleterious weed growing in grain fields, c. 1300, from northern dialectal French darnelle; according to one theory the the second element is Old French neelle (Modern French nielle) "cockle," from Vulgar Latin *nigella "black-seeded," from fem. of Latin nigellus "blackish."
But perhaps rather the word is related to Middle Dutch verdaernt, verdarnt "stunned, dumbfounded, angry," Walloon darne, derne "stunned, dazed, drunk," the weed being so called from its well-known inebriating quality (actually caused by a fungus growing on the plant); the French word for it is ivraie, from Latin ebriacus "intoxicated," and the botanical name, Lolium temulentum, is from Latin temulent "drunken," though this sometimes is said to be "from the heavy seed heads lolling over under their own weight."
In some parts of continental Europe it appears the seeds of darnel have the reputation of causing intoxication in men, beasts, and birds, the effects being sometimes so violent as to produce convulsions. In Scotland the name of Sleepies, is applied to darnel, from the seeds causing narcotic effects. [Gouverneur Emerson, "The American Farmer's Encyclopedia," New York, 1860. It also mentions that "Haller speaks of them as communicating these properties to beer."]
"kind of fodder plant, vetch," c. 1300, perhaps cognate with or from Middle Dutch tarwe "wheat," from a Germanic source perhaps related to Breton draok, Welsh drewg "darnel," Sanskrit durva "a kind of millet grass," Greek darata, daratos "bread," Lithuanian dirva "a wheat-field." Used in 2nd Wycliffe version (1388) of Matthew xiii.25 to render Greek zizania as a weed among corn (earlier darnel and cockle had been used in this place); hence figurative use for "something noxious sown among something good" (1711).