[Phenomenal] is a metaphysical term with a use of its own. To divert it from this proper use to a job for which it is not needed, by making it do duty for remarkable, extraordinary, or prodigious, is a sin against the English language. [Fowler]
1550s, "ominous, portentous" (a sense now obsolete), from French prodigieux and directly from Latin prodigiosus "strange, wonderful, marvelous, unnatural," from prodigium "an omen, portent, monster" (see prodigy).
From 1560s as "causing wonder or amazement;" 1570s as "unnatural, abnormal." The meaning "vast, enormous, wonderfully large" is from c. 1600. As a pseudo-adverb, "exceedingly," by 1670s. Related: Prodigiously; prodigiousness; prodigiosity.
1884, American English, a commercial name, probably an alteration of earlier bazoo "trumpet" (1877), which probably is ultimately imitative (compare bazooka). In England, formerly called a Timmy Talker, in France, a mirliton.
Kazoos, the great musical wonder, ... anyone can play it; imitates fowls, animals, bagpipes, etc. [1895 Montgomery Ward catalogue, p.245]
exclamation of pain, surprise, wonder, etc., attested by 1916. The number of -o-s may vary. Combined with aah from 1953. Ooh-la-la, exclamation of surprise or appreciation, is attested by 1918, from French ô là! là! and suggestive of the supposed raciness of the French.
France is one fine country and we have been having a pretty good time. The people treat the Americans very well and the pretty girls,—'ooh, la, la!", as they say. ["The Princeton Alumni Weekly," May 29, 1918]
"the cardinal number one more than eight or one less than ten; the number which is one more than eight;" Middle English nīn, from Old English nigen, from Proto-Germanic *newun (source also of Old Saxon nigun, Old Frisian niugun, Old Norse niu, Swedish nio, Middle Dutch neghen, Dutch negen, Old High German niun, German neun, Gothic niun "nine").
This is from PIE root *newn "nine" (source also of Sanskrit nava, Avestan nava, Greek ennea (with unetymological initial e-), Albanian nende, Latin novem (with change of -n- to -m- by analogy of septem, decem), Lithuanian devyni, Old Church Slavonic deveti (the Balto-Slavic forms by dissimilation of -n- to -d-), Old Irish noin, Welsh naw).
As "a symbol representing the number nine," late 14c. The proverbial nine lives of a cat are attested from 17c. Nine-to-five "the average workday" is attested from 1935. Nine days (or nights) has been proverbial since mid-14c. for the time which a wonder or novelty holds attention; the expression nine days' wonder is from 1590s. The Nine "the Muses" is from c. 1600. Also see nines.
"to reflect, ponder, meditate; to be absorbed in thought," mid-14c., from Old French muser (12c.) "to ponder, dream, wonder; loiter, waste time," which is of uncertain origin; the explanation in Diez and Skeat is literally "to stand with one's nose in the air" (or, possibly, "to sniff about" like a dog who has lost the scent), from muse "muzzle," from Gallo-Roman *musa "snout," itself a word of unknown origin. The modern word probably has been influenced in sense by muse (n.). Related: Mused; musing.
also laughingstock; 1510s, formed by analogy with whipping-stock "whipping post," later also "object of frequent whipping" (but that word is not attested in writing in this sense until 1670s). See laughing + stock (n.1). Also in the same sense was jesting-stock (1530s), and compare gaping-stock "person or thing regarded as an object of wonder;" loathing-stock "person who is an object of general contempt" (1620s); scoffing-stock (1570s). A Latin word for it was irridiculum.
mid-15c., prodige, "a sign, portent, something extraordinary from which omens are drawn," from Old French prodige and directly from Latin prodigium "prophetic sign, omen, portent, prodigy," from pro "forth, before" (see pro-) + -igium, a suffix or word of unknown origin, perhaps from the same source as aio "I say" (see adage) or agere "to drive" (de Vaan), from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").
Meaning "person or thing so extraordinary as to excite wonder or astonishment" is from 1620s; the specific meaning "child with exceptional abilities" is by 1650s. Related: Prodigial.