boys' knife-throwing game, 1650s, originally mumble-the-peg (1620s), of unknown signification and origin. The usual story is that it is so called because "The last player to complete the series is compelled to draw out of the ground with his teeth a peg which the others have driven in with a certain number of blows with the handle of the knife" [Century Dictionary]; see mumble (v.) in the original sense "eat in a slow, inefficient manner."
1530s, "indication, act of indicating by a name or sign," from Late Latin denotationem (nominative denotatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin denotare "denote, mark out," from de- "completely" (see de-) + notare "to mark, note, make a note" (see note (v.)). Sense of "meaning or signification of a term" is from 1610s. As a term in logic, "that which a word denotes, names, or marks" (contrasted with connotation) from 1843. Related: Denotational.
"of doubtful signification, capable of being understood in different senses," c. 1600, with -al (1) + Late Latin aequivocus "of identical sound, of equal voice, of equal significance, ambiguous, of like sound," past participle of aequivocare, from aequus "equal" (see equal (adj.)) + vocare "to call," which is related to vox (genitive vocis) "voice" (from PIE root *wekw- "to speak"). Earlier in same sense was equivoque (late 14c.). Related: Equivocally (1570s).
As a trademark name for toys made of foam-like material for indoor play, introduced 1970 (Nerf ball). By 1995 this had yielded a verbal sense of "to make less effective" (as a Nerf basketball is softer and lighter than the real thing).
late 14c., deffinen, diffinen, "to specify; to fix or establish authoritatively;" of words, phrases, etc., "state the signification of, explain what is meant by, describe in detail," from Old French defenir, definir "to finish, conclude, come to an end; bring to an end; define, determine with precision," and directly from Medieval Latin diffinire, definire, from Latin definire "to limit, determine, explain," from de "completely" (see de-) + finire "to bound, limit," from finis "boundary, end" (see finish (v.)). From c. 1400 as "determine, declare, or mark the limit of." Related: Defined; defining.
"one of the indeclinable parts of speech, so called from being ordinarily joined to verbs for the purpose of limiting or extending their signification, but used also to qualify adjectives and other adverbs" [Century Dictionary], late 14c., from Late Latin adverbium "adverb," literally "that which is added to a verb" (to extend or limit its meaning), from ad "to" (see ad-) + verbum "verb, word" (from PIE root *were- (3) "to speak;" see verb). Coined by Flavius Sosipater Charisius as a translation of Greek epirrhema "adverb," from epi- "upon, on" + rhema "verb."
late 15c., "with subtraction of," from Latin minus "less," neuter of minor "smaller" (from PIE *mi-nu-, suffixed form of root *mei- (2) "small").
According to OED, this mathematical prepositional use in expressions of calculation was not in the classical Latin word and probably is from North Sea medieval commercial usage of Latin plus and minus to indicate surplus or deficiency of weight or measure.
The origin and original signification of the "minus sign" is disputed. As "deprived of, not having," by 1813. Of temperature, etc., "below 0 or the lowest point of positive reckoning, belonging to the inverse or negative side," by 1811.
early 15c., "a concommitant symptom;" 1530s, "a secondary signification, that which is included in the meaning of a word besides its primary denotation," from Medieval Latin connotationem (nominative connotatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of connotare "signify in addition to the main meaning," a term in logic, literally "to mark along with," from assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + notare "to mark, note, make a note," from nota "mark, sign, means of recognition" (see note (n.)).
The meaning "that which constitutes the meaning of a word" (1829) originated with James Mill, father of John Stuart Mill, who also developed the use of it.
The use, which I shall make, of the term connotation, needs to be explained. There is a large class of words, which denote two things, both together ; but the one perfectly distinguishable from the other. Of these two things, also, it is observable, that such words express the one, primarily, as it were ; the other, in a way which may be called secondary. Thus, white, in the phrase white horse, denotes two things, the colour, and the horse ; but it denotes the colour primarily, the horse secondarily. We shall find it very convenient, to say, therefore, that it notes the primary, connotes the secondary signification. [James Mill, footnote in "Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind," 1829]