masc. proper name, name of an Israelite judge and warrior [Judges vi:11-viii:25], from Hebrew Gidh'on, literally "feller," from stem of gadha "he cut off, hewed, felled." In reference to the Bible propagation society, 1906, formally Christian Commercial Young Men's Association of America, founded 1899. The hotel room Gideon Bible so called by 1922.
"one of the native people who dominated the central highlands of Mexico in 1519 at the time of the Spanish invasion," 1787, from Spanish Azteca, from Nahuatl aztecatl (plural aztecah), meaning "coming from Aztlan," name of their legendary place of origin, which is usually said to lie somewhere in what is now southwestern U.S. Related: Aztecan.
former name of southern Spain, from Spanish, from al Andalus, Arabic name for the entire peninsula, which probably is from Late Latin *Vandalicia "the country of the Vandals" (see vandal) in reference to the Germanic tribe that, with others, overran the Western Empire 3c.-4c., and for a time settled in southern Spain. See vandal. Related: Andalusian.
large island off the southwest tip of Italy, from Latin Sicilia, from Greek Sikelia, from Sikeloi (plural) "Sicilians," the name of an ancient people living along the Tiber, some of whom emigrated to the island that thereafter bore their name. The Greeks distinguished Sikeliotēs "a Greek colonist in Sicily" from Sikelos "a native Sicilian." Sicel for "member of an ancient race of Sicily" is a modern coinage (1838). Related: Sicilian.
islands discovered by Columbus in 1492, settled by English in 1648, long after the native population had been wiped out by disease or carried off into slavery; the name is said to be from Spanish baja mar "low sea," in reference to the shallow water here, but more likely represents a local name, Guanahani, the origin of which had been lost and the meaning forgotten.
1890, in reference to a punch-card system used in a mechanical tabulator and later for data processing in in the earliest computers, from name of U.S. inventor Herman Hollerith (1860-1929), who designed the system. For a time, in mid-20c. it sometimes was used figuratively in reference to modern society viewed as a processing machine.
in the figurative phrase cross (or pass) the Rubicon "take a decisive step," 1620s, a reference to a small stream to the Adriatic on the coast of northern Italy which in ancient times formed part of the southern boundary of Cisalpine Gaul. It was crossed by Caesar, Jan. 10, 49 B.C.E., when he left his province to attack Pompey. The name is from Latin rubicundus "ruddy," in reference to the color of the soil on its banks.
ancient king of Phrygia, 1560s; the name is of Phrygian origin. He was given by the gods the gift of turning all he touched to gold, but as this included his food he had to beg them to take it back again. Hence Midas touch (1883). But the oldest references to him in English are to the unrelated story of the ass's ears given him by Apollo for being dull to the charms of his lyre.
indigenous people of Guam and the Marianas Islands, 1905, from Spanish Chamorro, literally "shorn, shaven, bald." Supposedly because the men shaved their heads, but the name also has been connected to native Chamoru, said to mean "noble," so perhaps Chamorro is a Spanish folk-etymology.
CHAMORRO a scornful name, given by the Spaniards to the Portuguese, who used to cut off the hair. From the Spanish Chamorro, bald [Anthony Vierya Transtagano, "Dictionary of the Portuguese and English Languages," London, 1773]