"confident of performance," by 1952, from expression can do "it is possible" (1903), literally "(I or we) can do (it)," which is perhaps based on earlier no can do (see no).
colorless, odorless gaseous element, 1794, from French nitrogène, coined 1790 by French chemist Jean Antoine Chaptal (1756-1832), from Greek nitron "sodium carbonate" (see nitro-) + French gène "producing," from Greek -gen "giving birth to" (see -gen). The gas was identified in part by analysis of nitre. An earlier name for it was mephitic air (1772), and Lavoisier called it azote (see azo-). It forms about 78% of the weight of the Earth's atmosphere. Related: Nitrogenic; nitrogenous.
Middle English spelling of a common Germanic consonant-cluster (in Old English it was graphed as cn-; see K). The sound it represented persists in most of the sister languages, but in English it was reduced to "n-" in standard pronunciation by 1750, after about a century of weakening and fading. It was fully voiced in Old and Middle English.
"deep red coloring matter," 1610s, from French laque (15c., see lac), from which it was obtained.
aromatic shrubby plant, early 15c., from Old French basile (15c., Modern French basilic), from Medieval Latin basilicum, from Greek basilikon (phyton) "royal (plant)," from basileus "king" (see Basil). It was so called, probably, because it was believed to have been used in making royal perfumes. In Latin, the word was confused with basiliscus (see basilisk) because it was supposed to be an antidote to the basilisk's venom.