Etymology
Advertisement
cotton-picking (adj.)

as a deprecatory term first recorded in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but a similar noun cotton-picker meaning "contemptible person" dates to around 1919, perhaps with racist overtones that have faded over the years. Before mechanization, cotton picking was the most difficult labor on a plantation.

I drove out to a number of the farms near Denison and found many very young white children working all day in the hot sun picking and dragging sacks of cotton. In one field the labor corps consisted of one woman and six children, one of them 5 years, one 6 years, one 7 years, one 9 years, and two about 11. The father was plowing. The 5 and 6 year olds worked all day as did the rest. The 7-year-old said he picked 50 pounds a day and the 9 year old 75 pounds. (A good picker averages several hundred a day.) School begins late on account of the cotton picking, but the children nearly all prefer school to the picking. Picking hours are long, hot, and deadly monotonous. While the very young children seem to enjoy it, very soon their distaste for it grows into all-absorbing hatred for all work. ["Field Notes of Lewis W. Hine, Child-Labor Conditions in Texas," report to U.S. Congressional Commission on Industrial Relations, 1916]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
mud (n.)

late 14c., mudde, "moist, soft earth," cognate with and probably from Middle Low German mudde, Middle Dutch modde "thick mud," from Proto-Germanic *mud- from PIE *(s)meu-/*mu- [Buck], found in many words denoting "wet" or "dirty" (source also of Greek mydos "damp, moisture," Old Irish muad "cloud," Polish muł "slime," Sanskrit mutra- "urine," Avestan muthra- "excrement, filth"); related to German Schmutz "dirt," which also is used for "mud" in roads, etc., to avoid dreck, which originally meant "excrement." Welsh mwd is from English. The older word is fen.

Meaning "lowest or worst of anything" is from 1580s. As a word for "coffee," it is hobo slang from 1925; as a word for "opium" from 1922. Mud-puppy "salamander" is by 1855, American English; the mud-dauber wasp was so called by 1856. The children's mud-pie is attested from 1788. Mud-flat "muddy, low-lying ground near a shore" is by 1779. Mud-room "room for removing wet or muddy footwear" is by 1938.

The expression clear as mud (that is, "not clear at all") is by 1796. To throw or hurl mud "make disgraceful accusations" is from 1762. To say (one's) name is mud and mean "(one) is discredited" is recorded from 1823, from mud in obsolete sense of "a stupid twaddling fellow" (1708). Mud in your eye as a toast is recorded from 1912, American English.

Related entries & more 
like (adj.)

"having the same characteristics or qualities" (as another), c. 1200, lik, shortening of y-lik, from Old English gelic "like, similar," from Proto-Germanic *(ga)leika- "having the same form," literally "with a corresponding body" (source also of Old Saxon gilik, Dutch gelijk, German gleich, Gothic galeiks "equally, like").

This is a compound of *ga- "with, together" + the Germanic root *lik- "body, form; like, same" (source also of Old English lic "body, corpse;" see lich). Etymologically analogous to Latin conform. The modern form (rather than *lich) may be from a northern descendant of the Old English word's Norse cognate, glikr.

Formerly with comparative liker and superlative likest (still in use 17c.). The preposition (c. 1200) and the adverb (c. 1300) both are from the adjective. As a conjunction, first attested early 16c., short for like as, like unto. Colloquial like to "almost, nearly" ("I like to died laughing") is 17c., short for was like to/had like to "come near to, was likely." To feel like "want to, be in the mood for" is 1863, originally American English. Proverbial pattern as in like father, like son is recorded from 1540s.

Meaning "such as" ("A Town Like Alice") attested from 1886. The word has been used as a postponed filler ("going really fast, like") from 1778; as a presumed emphatic ("going, like, really fast") from 1950, originally in counterculture slang and bop talk. Phrase more like it "closer to what is desired" is from 1888.

Related entries & more 
side (n.)

Old English side "flanks of a person, the long part or aspect of anything," from Proto-Germanic *sīdō (source also of Old Saxon sida, Old Norse siða, "flank; side (of meat); coast," Danish side, Swedish sida, Middle Dutch side, Dutch zidje, Old High German sita, German Seite), from adjective *sithas "long" (source of Old English sid "long, broad, spacious," Old Norse siðr "long, hanging down"), from PIE root *se- "long; late" (see soiree).

The "long part of anything" sense is preserved hillside, it also was in 16c.-17c. side-coat "long coat." From 14c. as "lateral half of the body of a slaughtered animal." In reference to bacon, it indicates position relative to the ribs. The meaning "a region, district" is from c. 1400, as in South Side, countryside.

The figurative sense of "position or attitude of a person or set of persons in relation to another" (as in choose sides, side of the story) is recorded by mid-13c. As "an aspect" of anything immaterial (the bright side, etc.), by mid-15c.

The meaning "one of the parties in a transaction" is from late 14c.. The sense of "one of the parties in a sporting contest or game" is from 1690s. The meaning "music on one side of a phonograph record" is attested by 1936. As short for side-dish, by 1848.

The phrase side by side "close together and abreast, placed with sides near together" is recorded from c. 1200. Colloquial on the side "in addition," especially "unacknowledged," with connotations of "illicit, shady," is by 1893.

Related entries & more 
German (n.)

"a native of Germany," 1520s, from Latin Germanus (adjective and noun, plural Germani), first attested in writings of Julius Caesar, who used Germani to designate a group of tribes in northeastern Gaul, of unknown origin and considered to be neither Latin nor Germanic. Perhaps originally the name of an individual tribe, but Gaulish (Celtic) origins have been proposed, from words perhaps originally meaning "noisy" (compare Old Irish garim "to shout") or "neighbor" (compare Old Irish gair "neighbor"). Middle English had Germayns (plural, late 14c.), but only in the sense "ancient Teuton, member of the Germanic tribes." The earlier English word was Almain (early 14c., via French; see Alemanni) or Dutch. Shakespeare and Marlowe have Almain for "German; a German."

Þe empere passede from þe Grees to þe Frenschemen and to þe Germans, þat beeþ Almayns. [Ranulph Higden’s "Polychronicon," mid-14c., John Trevisa's translation,  1380s]

Their name for themselves, die Deutschen (see Dutch), dates from 12c. Roman writers also used Teutoni as a German tribal name, and writers in Latin after about 875 commonly refer to the German language as teutonicus (see Teutonic). Meaning "the German language" in English is from 1748. High German (1823 in English) and Low German as a division of dialects is geographical: High German (from 16c. established as the literary language) was the German spoken in the upland regions in southern Germany, Low German (often including Dutch, Frisian, Flemish), also called Plattdeutsch was spoken in the regions near the North Sea. In the U.S. German also was used of descendants of settlers from Germany.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
park (n.)

mid-13c., "tract of land enclosed as a preserve for beasts of the chase," from Old French parc "enclosed wood or heath land used as a game preserve" (12c.), probably ultimately from West Germanic *parruk "enclosed tract of land" (source also of Old English pearruc, root of paddock (n.2), Old High German pfarrih "fencing about, enclosure," German pferch "fold for sheep," Dutch park).

Internal evidence suggests the West Germanic word is pre-4c. and originally meant the fencing, not the place enclosed. It is found also in Medieval Latin as parricus "enclosure, park" (8c.), which likely is the direct source of the Old French word, as well as Italian parco, Spanish parque, etc. Some claim the Medieval Latin word as the source of the West Germanic, but the reverse seems more likely. Some later senses in English represent later borrowings from French. OED discounts the notion of a Celtic origin: Welsh parc, Gaelic pairc are from English.

Meaning "enclosed lot in or near a town, set aside and maintained for public recreation" is attested from 1660s, originally in reference to London; the sense evolution is via royal parks in the original, hunting sense being overrun by the growth of London and being opened to the public. It was applied to sporting fields in American English from 1867.

New York's Park Avenue as an adjective meaning "luxurious and fashionable" (1956) was preceded in the same sense by London's Park Lane (1880). As a surname, Parker "keeper of a park" is attested in English from mid-12c. As a vehicle transmission gear, park (n.) is attested from 1949.

Related entries & more 
sardine (n.)

"pilchard, type of small oily fish," migratory and highly esteemed as a food, early 15c., from Latin sardina, sarda, from late Greek sardinē, sardinos, earlier sardē, which is often said to be from or related to Sardō "Sardinia" (see Sardinia), the Mediterranean island, near which the fish probably were caught and from which they were exported.

But Klein writes, "It is hardly probable that the Greeks would have obtained fish from so far as Sardinia at a time relatively so early as that of Aristotle, from whom Athenaios quotes a passage in which the fish sardinos is mentioned." There were other place names in Sard- in the region. D'Arcy Thompson ("A Glossary of Greek Fishes") writes that "The pilchard does not reach Palestine, and the various Clupeids to be found in Greece are not well identified," and also notes that Greek sarda, whatever its origin, "became a very general name, not only for pickled Tunny and Pelamyd, but for a great variety of other potted fish." 

When cold the fish are placed on tables, to be arranged in the boxes, in oil dipped from barrels. The oil being worth more than the fish, bulk for bulk, it is an object to fill the boxes as closely as possible with fish. [Century Dictionary]

Hence, as a verb, "to pack closely" (by 1895); the colloquial phrase packed like sardines (in a tin, etc.) is recorded by 1845. As the name of a hide-and-seek party game where each person who finds the hider then joins in hiding, by 1924.

Related entries & more 
lucubration (n.)

1590s, "close study or thought;" 1610s, "a product of such study or thought, literary work showing signs of too-careful elaboration," from Latin lucubrationem (nominative lucubratio) "nocturnal study, night work," noun of action from past-participle stem of lucubrare, literally "to work by artificial light," from stem of lucere "to shine," from suffixed (iterative) form of PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness." Related: Lucubrations.

The current story in antiquity was that Aeschylus had been killed near Gela in Sicily by a tortoise dropt on his head by an eagle, which mistook the bald shiny pate of the venerable poet for a stone, and hoped to smash the tortoise on it. See Biographi Graeci, ed. Westermann, p. 120 ; Aelian Nat. Anim. vii. 16 ; Suidas, s.v. Αίσχύλοσ ; Valerius Maximus, ix. 12. Ext. 2. This important topic has produced the usual crop of learned dissertations. The late Professor F. G. Welcker gravely discussed it by the help of ornithological information derived from Aesop's fables, notes of travel made by the professor himself on the supposed scene of the catastrophe, and statistics as to the number of bald-headed men in antiquity. The interesting inquiry has since been prosecuted by other scholars with equal judgment and learning. The reader who desires to peruse these ponderous lucubrations should consult Rheinisches Museum, N.F. 7 (1850), pp. 139-144, 285 sq ; id., 9 (1854), pp. 148-155, 160* ; id., 37 (1882), pp. 308-312 ; Fleckeisen's Jahrbücher, 26 (1880), pp. 22-24 ; Welcker, Antike Denkmäler, 2. pp. 337-346. [J.G. Frazer, notes to Pausanias's "Description of Greece," 1898]
Related entries & more 
octopus (n.)

1758, genus name of a type of eight-armed cephalopod mollusks, from Latinized form of Greek oktōpous, literally "eight-foot," from oktō "eight" (see eight) + pous "foot," from PIE root *ped- "foot."

The more usual Greek word seems to have been polypous (also pōlyps), from polys "many" + pous, but for this word Thompson ["Glossary of Greek Fishes," 1947] suggests folk-etymology and a non-Hellenic origin.

The classically correct Greek plural (had the word been used in this sense in ancient Greek) would be octopodes. Octopi (1817) regards the -us in this word as the Latin noun ending that takes -i in plural. Like many modern scientific names of creatures, it was formed in Modern Latin from Greek elements, so it might be allowed to partake of Latin grammar in forming the plural. But it probably is best to let such words follow the grammar of the language that uses them, and octopuses probably works best in English (unless one wishes also to sanction diplodoci for the dinosaurs).

Used figuratively since at least 1882 of powers having far-reaching influence (usually as considered harmful and destructive). To the ancients, the octopus was crafty and dangerous, thrifty (stores food in its nest), and proverbial of clever and adaptable men, based on the animal's instinct of changing color when frightened or for disguise.

It also was thought to be amphibious and to climb trees near shores to steal grapes and olives (the giant ones were said to raid whole warehouses). Thompson writes that "the eggs look remarkably like ripe olives; hence the story." 

Related entries & more 
pace (n.)

late 13c., "a step in walking," also "rate of motion; the space traveled by the foot in one completed movement in walking," from Old French pas "a step, pace, trace," and directly from Latin passus, passum "a step, pace, stride," noun use of past participle of pandere "to stretch (the leg), spread out," probably from PIE *pat-no-, nasalized variant form of root *pete- "to spread."

It also was, from late 14c., a lineal measurement of vague and variable extent, representing the space naturally traversed by the adult human foot in walking. In some places and situations it was reckoned as the distance from the place where either foot is taken up, in walking, to that where the same foot is set down again (a great pace), usually 5 feet or a little less. The pace of a single step (military pace) is about 2.5 feet.

To keep pace (with) "maintain the same speed, advance at an equal rate" is from 1580s. Pace-setter "one who establishes trends in fashion," is by 1895; it also had literal meanings.

It is customary for the contractor to employ some expert as a pace setter. A man who can thin an acre of beets a day commands as high as $2.00 per day as a pace setter. The other employees are paid in the proportion their work bears to that of the pace setter. The weak, lazy and unskillful get the smallest wage. Besides that the contractor runs a commissary department and feeds the gang. They sleep in tents or in the shade of trees near where they work. [report on Oxnard, Calif., beet harvesting in "The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer," May 13, 1899] 
Related entries & more 

Page 41