Etymology
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dunce (n.)

"dullard, dolt, ignoramus," 1570s, from earlier Duns disciple, Duns man (1520s) "follower of John Duns Scotus" (c. 1265-1308), Scottish scholar of philosophy and theology supposed to have been born at Duns in Berwick. His followers, the Scotists, had control of the universities until the Reformation. By 1520s, humanist reaction against medieval theology had singled him out as the type of the hairsplitting scholastic. It became a general term of reproach applied to obstinate or sophistical philosophical opponents by 1520s, then by 1570s it was extended to any dull-witted student. Dunce's cap is attested by 1792 (compare foolscap).

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kickback (n.)

also kick-back, "mechanical reaction in an engine," from 1905 in various mechanical senses, from the verbal phrase (1895); see kick (v.) + back (adv.). By 1926 the verbal phrase was being used in a slang sense of "be forced to return pelf, pay back to victims," which was extended to illegal partial give-backs of government-set wages that were extorted from workers by employers. Hence the noun in the sense of "illegal or improper payment" (1932). The verbal phrase in the sense "make oneself comfortable, prepare to relax" is from 1975.

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katzenjammer (n.)

1821, in a German context, "a hangover," American English colloquial, from German Katzenjammer "hangover" (18c.), also figuratively, in colloquial use, "remorse of conscience, vow to mend one's ways," literally "wailing of cats, misery of cats," from katzen, combining form of katze "cat" (see cat (n.)) + jammer "distress, wailing" (see yammer (v.)).

Pleasure can intoxicate, passion can inebriate, success can make you quite as drunk as champagne. The waking from these several stages of delights will bring the same result--Katzenjammer. In English you would call it reaction; but whole pages of English cannot express the sick, empty, weary, vacant feeling which is so concisely contained within these four German syllables. ["Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine," August 1884]

Katzenjammer Kids "spectacularly naughty children" is from the title of the popular newspaper comic strip (based on the German Max und Moritz stories) first drawn by German-born U.S. comic strip artist Rudolph Dirks (1877-1968) in 1897 for the "New York Journal." Hence, katzenjammer in the sense "any unpleasant reaction" (1897). The strip was temporarily de-Germanized during World War I:

"THE SHENANIGAN KIDS" is the new American name for the original "Katzenjammer Kids." Although the original name and idea were pure Holland Dutch, some people may have had the mistaken impression that they were of Germanic origin, and hence the change. It is the same splendid comic as in the past. [International Feature Service advertisement in "Editor & Publisher," July 6, 1918]
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dysphemism (n.)

"substitution of a vulgar or derogatory word or expression for a dignified or normal one," 1873, from Greek dys- "bad, abnormal, difficult" (see dys-) + phēmē "speech, voice, utterance, a speaking," from phanai "speak" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say"); Greek dysphemia meant "ill language, words of ill omen"). The opposite of euphemism. Rediscovered 1933 from French formation dysphémisme (1927, Carnoy).

The French psychologist Albert J. Carnoy gave an extensive definition in his study Le Science du Mot, which in translation runs: "Dysphemism is unpitying, brutal, mocking. It is also a reaction against pedantry, rigidity and pretentiousness, but also against nobility and dignity in language" (1927, xxii, 351). [Geoffrey L. Hughes, "An Encyclopedia of Swearing," 2006]
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gut (n.)

Old English guttas (plural) "bowels, entrails," literally "a channel," related to geotan "to pour," from Proto-Germanic *gut-, from PIE root *gheu- "to pour." Related to Middle Dutch gote, Dutch goot, German Gosse "gutter, drain," Middle English gote "channel, stream." Meaning "abdomen, belly" is from late 14c. Meaning "narrow passage in a body of water" is from 1530s. Meaning "easy college course" is student slang from 1916, probably from obsolete slang sense of "feast" (the connecting notion is "something that one can eat up"). Sense of "inside contents of anything" (usually plural) is from 1570s. To hate (someone's) guts is first attested 1918. The notion of the intestines as a seat of emotions is ancient (see bowel) and probably explains expressions such as gut reaction (1963), gut feeling (by 1970), and compare guts. Gut check attested by 1976.

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catharsis (n.)

1770, "a bodily purging" (especially of the bowels), from Latinized form of Greek katharsis "purging, cleansing," from stem of kathairein "to purify, purge," from katharos "pure, clear of dirt, clean, spotless; open, free; clear of shame or guilt; purified" (with most of the extended senses now found in Modern English clear, clean, pure), which is of unknown origin.

Originally medical in English; of emotions, "a purging through vicarious experience," from 1872; psychotherapy sense first recorded 1909, in Brill's translation of Freud's "Selected Papers on Hysteria."

The German abreagiren has no exact English equivalent. It will therefore be rendered throughout the text by "ab-react," the literal meaning is to react away from or to react off. It has different shades of meaning, from defense reaction to emotional catharsis, which can be discerned from the context. [footnote, pp. 5-6]
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foul (adj.)

Old English ful "rotten, unclean, vile, corrupt, offensive to the senses," from Proto-Germanic *fulaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian ful, Middle Dutch voul, Dutch vuil, Old High German fül, German faul, Gothic füls), from PIE *pu- (2) "to rot, decay," perhaps from the sound made in reaction to smelling something bad (see pus).

Old English ful occasionally meant "ugly" (as contrasted with fæger (adj.), modern fair (adj.)), and this sense became frequent in Middle English. The cognate in Swedish is the usual word for "ugly." Of weather from mid-14c. In the sporting sense of "irregular, unfair, contrary to established rule or practice" it is first attested 1797, though foul play is recorded from mid-15c. Baseball sense of "out of play" attested by 1860.

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barnyard (n.)

also barn-yard, 1510s, from barn + yard (n.1). Figurative of coarse or uncivilized behavior from 1920.

The very speeches in which Jefferson and Lincoln spoke of their hope for the future are incomprehensible to most of the voters of that future, since the vocabulary and syntax of the speeches are more difficult—more obscure—than anything the voters have read or heard. For when you defeat me in an election simply because you were, as I was not, born and bred in a log cabin, it is only a question of time until you are beaten by someone whom the pigs brought up out in the yard. The truth that all men are politically equal, the recognition of the injustice of fictitious differences, becomes a belief in the fictitiousness of differences, a conviction that it is reaction or snobbishness or Fascism to believe that any individual differences of real importance can exist. [Randall Jarrell, "The Obscurity of Poetry," 1953]
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kitsch (n.)

1926, from German kitsch, literally "gaudy, trash," from dialectal kitschen "to smear." Earlier as a German word in English.

What we English people call ugliness in German art is simply the furious reaction against what Germans call süsses Kitsch, the art of the picture postcard, and of what corresponds to the royalty ballad. It has for years been their constant reproach against us that England is the great country of Kitsch. Many years ago a German who loved England only too well said to me, 'I like your English word plain; it is a word for which we have no equivalent in German, because all German women are plain.' He might well have balanced it by saying that English has no equivalent for the word Kitsch. [Edward J. Dent, "The Music of Arnold Schönberg," "The Living Age," July 9, 1921]
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vicious (adj.)

late 14c., "unwholesome, impure, of the nature of vice, wicked, corrupting, pernicious, harmful;" of a text, "erroneous, corrupt," from Anglo-French vicious, Old French vicios "wicked, cunning, underhand; defective, illegal" (Modern French vicieux), from Latin vitiosus (Medieval Latin vicious) "faulty, full of faults, defective, corrupt; wicked, depraved," from vitium "fault" (see vice (n.1)).

Meaning "inclined to be savage or dangerous" is first recorded 1711 (originally of animals, especially horses); that of "full of spite, bitter, severe" is from 1825. In law, "marred by some inherent fault" (late 14c.), hence also this sense in logic (c. 1600), as in vicious circle in reasoning (c. 1792, Latin circulus vitiosus), which was given a general sense of "a situation in which action and reaction intensify one another" by 1839. Related: Viciously (mid-14c., "sinfully"); viciousness.

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