1610s, "without taste or perceptible flavor," from French insipide "insipid" (16c.), from Late Latin inspidus "tasteless," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + Latin sapidus "tasty," from sapere "have a taste" (also "be wise;" see sapient). Figurative meaning "uninteresting, dull" first recorded in English 1640s, probably from Medieval Latin or the Romance languages, where it was a secondary sense.
In ye coach ... went Mrs. Barlow, the King's mistress and mother to ye Duke of Monmouth, a browne, beautifull, bold, but insipid creature. [John Evelyn, diary, Aug. 18, 1649]
Of uncertain relationship to similar words in Romance languages (Italian stufa, French étuve "sweating-room;" see stew (v.)). One theory traces them all to Vulgar Latin *extufare "take a steam bath." The meaning "device for heating or cooking" is first recorded 1610s.
"nerdy intellectual," by 1986, U.S. teenager slang, from the character Poindexter, introduced 1959 in the made-for-TV cartoon version of "Felix the Cat." The name originally was a surname, said to be Norman.
There is a rare name Poindexter, appearing in French as Poingdestre, "right fist." I have seen it explained as from the heraldic term point dexter, but it is rather to be taken literally. I find Johannes cum pugno in 1184, and we can imagine that such a name may have been conferred on a medieval bruiser. [Weekley, "The Romance of Names," 1914]
Middle English crucche, "a support for the lame in walking consisting of a staff of proper length with a crosspiece at one end shaped to fit conveniently under the armpit," from Old English crycce "crutch, staff," from Proto-Germanic *krukjo (source also of Old Saxon krukka, Middle Dutch crucke, Old High German krucka, German Kröcke "crutch," related to Old Norse krokr "hook;" see crook (n.)).
Figurative sense of "a prop, a support" is first recorded c. 1600. As a verb, from 1640s.
Century Dictionary writes, "Akin to crook, with which in the Romance languages its derivatives are mingled" (Italian gruccia "crutch," crocco "hook" are Germanic loan-words).
Rude railway-trains, with all your noise and smoke,
I love to see you wheresoe'er ye move :
Though Nature seems such trespass to reprove :
Though ye the soul of old romance provoke,
I thank you, that from misery ye unyoke
Thousands of panting horses.
[Richard Howitt, from "Railway Sonnets," Hood's Magazine, March 1845]
Railway time "standard time adopted throughout a railway system" is by 1847.
"one not belonging to a regular body" of any sort, "one not subject to or not conforming with established regulations," 1610s, from irregular (adj.). Main modern sense of "a soldier not of the regular army" is from 1747.
Doubtless, the life of an Irregular is hard; but the interests of the Greater Number require that it shall be hard. If a man with a triangular front and a polygonal back were allowed to exist and to propagate a still more Irregular posterity, what would become of the arts of life? Are the houses and doors and churches in Flatland to be altered in order to accommodate such monsters? [Edwin Abbot, "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions," 1885]
1670s, from French quadrillion (16c.) from quadri- "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four") + (m)illion. Compare billion. In Great Britain, the fourth power of a million (1 followed by 24 zeroes); in the U.S., the fifth power of a thousand (1 followed by 15 zeroes).
Thomas Hope, first of the family to possess the Deepdene, was the author of "Anastasius," a book of the same class as Beckford's "Vathek." In each case a millionaire (we shall soon have billionaires, trillionaires, quadrillionaires) fettered, imprisoned, by abject opulence, strove to reveal himself to the world through a romance. [Mortimer Collins, "A Walk Through Surrey," Temple Bar, August 1866]
"famous deed, exploit," more commonly "story of great deeds, tale of adventure," c. 1300, from Old French geste, jeste "action, exploit, romance, history" (of celebrated people or actions), from Medieval Latin gesta "actions, exploits, deeds, achievements," noun use of neuter plural of Latin gestus, past participle of gerere "to carry on, wage, perform," which de Vaan says is considered to be from the same root as agere "to set in motion, drive forward, do, perform" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Now only as a deliberate archaism. Jest (n.) is the same word, with a decayed sense.
c. 1300, "an inquest, a judicial inquiry;" early 14c., "a search for something, the act of seeking, pursuit" (especially in reference to hounds seeking game in the hunt), from Old French queste "search, quest, chase, hunt, pursuit; inquest, inquiry" (12c., Modern French quête), properly "the act of seeking," and directly from Medieval Latin questa "search, inquiry," alteration of Latin quaesitus (fem. quaesita) "sought-out, select," past participle of quaerere "seek, gain, ask" (see query (n.)).
The medieval romance sense of "adventure undertaken by a knight" (especially the search for the Grail) is attested from late 14c. Chaucer has questmonger (late 14c.), "one who profits from an unjust action at law."