"hooked, curved like a scythe or sickle," 1801, from Latin falcatus "sickle-shaped, hooked, curved," from falcem (nominative falx) "sickle," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps a borrowing from a non-Latin Indo-European language of Italy. De Vaan lists cognates as Old Irish delg "thorn, pin," Welsh dala "sting," Lithuanian dilgė "nettle," Old Norse dalkr "pin, spine, dagger," Old English delg "clasp." Related: Falcated; falcation; falciform (1766).
c. 1400, quil, "piece of reed, stalk of cane, hollow stem of a feather" (used as a tube to drain liquid), probably somehow related to Middle High German kil "quill," from Low German quiele, which is of unknown origin. Meaning "writing pen made from one of the larger feathers of a goose, swan, or other bird" is from 1550s; that of "porcupine spine" is from c. 1600. Quill-pen is attested by 1828, after steel pens or nibs came into use.
compound bone at the base of the spine, 1753, from Late Latin os sacrum "sacred bone," from Latin sacrum, neuter of sacer "sacred" (see sacred). Said to be so called because the bone was the part of animals that was offered in sacrifices. The Late Latin phrase is a translation of Greek hieron osteon. Greek hieros also can mean "strong" (see ire), and some sources suggest the Latin is a mistranslation of Galen, who was calling it "the strong bone."
disease caused by vitamin D deficiency, 1630s, of uncertain origin (see note in OED). Originally a local name for the disease in Dorset and Somerset, England. Some derive it from a Dorset word, rucket "to breathe with difficulty," but the sense connection is difficult. The Modern Latin name for the disease, rachitis, comes from Greek rhakhis "spine" (see rachitic), but this was chosen by English physician Daniel Whistler (1619-1684) for resemblance to rickets.
in cookery, denoting a method of grilling a game bird after splitting it open along the spine and laying it flat; a word of obscure origin.
It originated in Ireland in the late eighteenth century as a noun, referring to the bird thus dispatched, and indeed it may have been based on the verb dispatch, with the addition of cock. Another probable influence is the earlier spitchcock, a word of mysterious origin denoting similar treatment meted out to eels and other fish. [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"]
"claw of a bird of prey," late 15c., pownse, probably from Old French ponchon "lance, javelin; spine, quill" (Modern French poinçon; see punch (v.)). So called for being the "claws that punch" holes in things. In falconry, the heel claw is a talon, and others are pounces. Hence, "a stab, thrust" (c. 1400). In Middle English also the name of a tool for punching holes or embossing metal (late 14c.), from pounce (v.) in the special sense of "ornament by perforation." Clothing ornamented with cut-out figures was pounced.
"buttocks, hinder part of an animal," Old English ærs "tail, rump," from Proto-Germanic *arsoz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German, Old Norse ars, Middle Dutch ærs, German Arsch "buttock"), from PIE root *ors- "buttock, backside" (source also of Greek orros "tail, rump, base of the spine," Hittite arrash, Armenian or "buttock," Old Irish err "tail").
To hang the arse "be reluctant or tardy" is from 1630s. Middle English had arse-winning "money obtained by prostitution" (late 14c.). To turn arse over tip is attested by 1884, along with the alternative arse over tit.
Every scrap of Latin Lord Edgecumbe heard at the Encaenia at Oxford he translated ridiculously; one of the themes was Ars Musica : he Englished it Bumfiddle. [Horace Walpole to the Countess of Upper Ossory, Aug. 9, 1773]
1921, originally a registered trademark (Germany, 1919), of unknown origin, perhaps formed from elements of the names of the designers.
Hopping Stilts Are the New French Playthings. ... For France and especially Paris has taken to the "pogo" stick, a stick equipped with two rests for the feet. Inside of the stick is a strong spring so that the "pogoer" may take a series of jumps without straining his powers. The doctors claim that the jarring produced by the successive jumps do not serve to injure the spine, as one might at first suppose. This jumping habit is spreading through France and England and the eastern part of the United States. ["Illustrated World," Sept., 1921]
The fad periodically returned in U.S., but with fading intensity. As a leaping style of punk dance, attested from 1977. The newspaper comic strip of the same name, featuring Pogo Possum ("We have met the enemy and he is us"), by Walt Kelly, debuted in 1948 and ran daily through 1975.
order of lobe-finned fishes, 1850, from Modern Latin Coelacanthus (genus name, 1839, Agassiz), from Greek koilos "hollow" (from PIE root *keue- "to swell," also "vault, hole") + akantha "spine" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"). So called from the hollow fin rays supporting the tail in fossil remains.
Thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago until a living one was fished up off the east coast of South Africa Dec. 22, 1938. The specimen was noticed by museum curator Marjorie Courtney-Latimer, who wrote a description of it to South African ichthyologist J.L.B. Smith.
I stared and stared, at first in puzzlement. I did not know any fish of our own, or indeed of any seas like that; it looked more like a lizard. And then a bomb seemed to burst in my brain, and beyond that sketch and the paper of the letter, I was looking at a series of fishy creatures that flashed up as on a screen, fishes no longer here, fishes that had lived in dim past ages gone, and of which only fragmentary remains in rock are known. [J.L.B. Smith, "Old Fourlegs: The Story of the Coelacanth," 1956]
Old English bæc "back," from Proto-Germanic *bakam (cognates: Old Saxon and Middle Dutch bak, Old Frisian bek), with no known connections outside Germanic. In other modern Germanic languages the cognates mostly have been ousted in this sense by words akin to Modern English ridge (such as Danish ryg, German Rücken).
Many Indo-European languages show signs of once having distinguished the horizontal back of an animal (or a mountain range) from the upright back of a human. In other cases, a modern word for "back" may come from a word related to "spine" (Italian schiena, Russian spina) or "shoulder, shoulder blade" (Spanish espalda, Polish plecy).
By synecdoche, "the whole body," especially with reference to clothing. Meaning "upright part of a chair" is from 1520s. To turn (one's) back on (someone or something) "ignore" is from early 14c. As a U.S. football position by 1876, so called from being behind the line of rushers; further distinguished according to relative position as quarterback, halfback, fullback.
To know (something) like the back of one's hand, implying familiarity, is first attested 1893 in a dismissive speech made to a character in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Catriona":
If I durst speak to herself, you may be certain I would never dream of trusting it to you; because I know you like the back of my hand, and all your blustering talk is that much wind to me.
The story, a sequel to "Kidnapped," has a Scottish setting and context, and the back of my hand to you was noted in the late 19th century as a Scottish expression meaning "I will have nothing to do with you" [see Longmuir's edition of Jamieson's Scottish dictionary]. In English generally, the back of (one's) hand has been used to imply contempt and rejection at least since 1300. Perhaps the connection of a menacing dismissal is what made Stevenson choose that particular anatomical reference.