Unlike much sex slang, its date of origin probably is pretty close to the date it first is attested in print: as recently as the early 1950s, military pilots could innocently talk of their jet planes as blow jobs according to the "Thesaurus of American Slang."
1590s, an abusive term for a person, perhaps meaning "a pedant;" c. 1600, "a whim;" 1640s, "pun or word-play," a word of unknown origin, said in 17c. to be Oxford University slang. Perhaps the sort of ponderous mock-Latin word that was once the height of humor in learned circles; Skeat suggests Latin conandrum "a thing to be attempted" as the source. Also spelled quonundrum.
From 1745 as "a riddle in which some odd resemblance is proposed between things quite unlike, the answer often involving a pun." (An example from 1745: "Why is a Sash-Window like a Woman in Labour? because 'tis full of Panes").
"ten-dollar bill or note," also saw-buck, American English slang, 1850 (implied in double-sawbuck), so called from the resemblance of X (the Roman numeral 10, prominent in the design of many mid-19c. U.S. bank notes) to the ends of a sawhorse. Sawbuck in the sense of "sawhorse" is attested by 1837 (see saw (n.1) + buck (n.3)).
At the foot of the flag staff four saplings were erected, somewhat after the form of the two ends of a "saw-buck," and not very unlike the characters that denote the value of a ten dollar bill .... [Maumee Express, Maumee City, Ohio, Oct. 21, 1837]
mid-14c., "opposite, opposed, at the opposite point or in the opposite direction; extremely unlike, most unlike," from Anglo-French contrarie, Old French contrarie, and directly from Latin contrarius "opposite, opposed; contrary, reverse," from contra "against" (see contra). Meaning "given to contradiction, perverse, intractable" is from late 14c.; sense of "adverse, unfavorable" is from late 14c. Related: Contrarily.
As a noun from late 13c., "one of a pair of characters, propositions, terms, etc., the most different possible within the same class." The phrase on the contrary "in precise or extreme opposition to what has been said" is attested from c. 1400 as in the contrary.
If we take the statement All men are mortal, its contrary is Not all men are mortal, its converse is All mortal beings are men, & its opposite is No men are mortal. The contrary, however, does not exclude the opposite, but includes it as its most extreme form. Thus This is white has only one opposite, This is black, but many contraries, as This is not white, This is coloured, This is dirty, This is black; & whether the last form is called the contrary, or more emphatically the opposite, is usually indifferent. But to apply the opposite to a mere contrary (e.g. to I did not hit him in relation to I hit him, which has no opposite), or to the converse (e.g. to He hit me in relation to I hit him, to which it is neither contrary nor opposite), is a looseness that may easily result in misunderstanding; the temptation to go wrong is intelligible when it is remembered that with certain types of sentence (A exceeds B) the converse & the opposite are identical (B exceeds A). [Fowler]
late Old English planete, in old astronomy, "star other than a fixed star; star revolving in an orbit," from Old French planete (Modern French planète) and directly from Late Latin planeta, from Greek planētēs, from (asteres) planētai "wandering (stars)," from planasthai "to wander," a word of uncertain etymology.
Perhaps it is from a nasalized form of PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread," on the notion of "spread out," "but the semantics are highly problematic," according to Beekes, who notes the similarity of meaning to Greek plazein "to make devious, repel, dissuade from the right path, bewilder," but adds, "it is hard to think of a formal connection."
So called because they have apparent motion, unlike the "fixed" stars. Originally including also the moon and sun but not the Earth; modern scientific sense of "world that orbits a star" is from 1630s in English. The Greek word is an enlarged form of planes, planetos "who wanders around, wanderer," also "wandering star, planet," in medicine "unstable temperature."
c. 1600, "loss or impairment of the qualities proper to the race or kind," also figurative, "descent to an inferior state," from French dégéneration (15c.) or directly from Late Latin degenerationem (nominative degeneratio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin degenerare "to be inferior to one's ancestors, to become unlike one's race or kind, fall from ancestral quality," used of physical as well as moral qualities, from phrase de genere, from de "down from, away from" (see de-) + genus (genitive generis) "birth, descent" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget").
[Degeneration] means literally an unkinding, the undoing of a kind, and in this sense was first used to express the change of kind without regard to whether the change was to perfect or to degrade; but it is now used exclusively to denote a change from a higher to a lower kind, that is to say, from a more complex to a less complex organisation; it is a process of dissolution, the opposite of that process of involution which is pre-essential to evolution. [Henry Maudsley, "Body and Will," 1884]
"single combat with lances by riders on horseback," c. 1300, from Old French joste "a jounst, single combat" (12c., Modern French joute), from joster "fight with, engage in single combat" (see joust (v.)). The sport was popular with Anglo-Norman knights; the usual form in Middle English and Old French was plural, in reference to a series of contests and the accompanying revelry.
These early tournaments were very rough affairs, in every sense, quite unlike the chivalrous contests of later days; the rival parties fought in groups, and it was considered not only fair but commendable to hold off until you saw some of your adversaries getting tired and then to join in the attack on them; the object was not to break a lance in the most approved style, but frankly to disable as many opponents as possible for the sake of obtaining their horses, arms, and ransoms. [L.F. Salzman, "English Life in the Middle Ages," Oxford, 1950]
prefix of Germanic origin affixed to nouns and verbs and meaning "bad, wrong," from Old English mis-, from Proto-Germanic *missa- "divergent, astray" (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon mis-, Middle Dutch misse-, Old High German missa-, German miß-, Old Norse mis-, Gothic missa-), perhaps literally "in a changed manner," and with a root sense of "difference, change" (compare Gothic misso "mutually"), and thus possibly from PIE *mit-to-, from root *mei- (1) "to change."
Productive as word-forming element in Old English (as in mislæran "to give bad advice, teach amiss"). In 14c.-16c. in a few verbs its sense began to be felt as "unfavorably," and it came to be used as an intensive prefix with words already expressing negative feeling (as in misdoubt). Practically a separate word in Old and early Middle English (and often written as such). Old English also had an adjective (mislic "diverse, unlike, various") and an adverb (mislice "in various directions, wrongly, astray") derived from it, corresponding to German misslich (adj.). It has become confused with mis- (2).
seventh or last day of the week, Old English sæterdæg, sæternesdæg, literally "day of the planet Saturn," from Sæternes (genitive of Sætern; see Saturn) + Old English dæg (see day). Partial loan-translation of Latin Saturni dies "Saturn's day" (compare Dutch Zaterdag, Old Frisian Saterdi, Middle Low German Satersdach; Irish dia Sathuirn, Welsh dydd Sadwrn). The Latin word itself is a loan-translation of Greek kronou hēmera, literally "the day of Cronus."
German Samstag (Old High German sambaztag) appears to be from a Greek *sambaton, a nasalized colloquial form of sabbaton "sabbath" (see Sabbath), which also yielded Old Church Slavonic sabota, Polish sobota, Russian subbota, Hungarian szombat, French samedi.
Unlike other English day names there was no Germanic substitution, perhaps because the northern European pantheon lacks a match to Roman Saturn. A homely ancient Nordic custom seems to be preserved in Old Norse day names laugardagr, Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "bath day" (Old Norse laug "bath").
Saturday night has been figurative of revelry and especially "drunkenness and looseness in relations between the young men and young women" ["Clara Hopwood"] at least since 1847. Saturday-night special "cheap, low-caliber handgun" is American English, attested from 1976 (earlier Saturday-night pistol, 1929).
Middle English never, from Old English næfre "not ever, at no time," a compound of ne "not, no" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + æfre "ever" (see ever). Early used as an emphatic form of not (as still in never mind). Old English, unlike its modern descendant, had the useful custom of attaching ne to words to create their negatives, as in nabban for na habban "not to have."
Italian giammai, French jamais, Spanish jamas are from Latin iam "already" + magis "more;" thus literally "at any time, ever," originally with a negative, but this has been so thoroughly absorbed in sense as to be formally omitted.
Phrase never say die "don't despair" is from 1818. Never Never Land is first attested in Australia as a name for the uninhabited northern part of Queensland (1884), perhaps so called because anyone who had gone there once never wished to return. Meaning "imaginary, illusory or utopian place" is attested by 1900 in American English. J.M. Barrie's use of the full form for the island home of the Lost Boys is by 1905.