surname taken as the type of excessive hype and promotion, by 1850s, from circus owner P.T. Barnum (1810-1891), described in OED as "a pushing American show-proprietor." The surname is from the place-name Barnham.
The very speeches in which Jefferson and Lincoln spoke of their hope for the future are incomprehensible to most of the voters of that future, since the vocabulary and syntax of the speeches are more difficult—more obscure—than anything the voters have read or heard. For when you defeat me in an election simply because you were, as I was not, born and bred in a log cabin, it is only a question of time until you are beaten by someone whom the pigs brought up out in the yard. The truth that all men are politically equal, the recognition of the injustice of fictitious differences, becomes a belief in the fictitiousness of differences, a conviction that it is reaction or snobbishness or Fascism to believe that any individual differences of real importance can exist. [Randall Jarrell, "The Obscurity of Poetry," 1953]
"instrument for measuring the weight or pressure of the atmosphere," 1660s, from Greek baros "weight" (from suffixed form of PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy") + -meter. The name probably was coined (and certainly popularized) by English scientist Robert Boyle (1627-1691). The instrument was invented 1643 by Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli and was at first known as the Torricelli tube.
c. 1200, "a member of the nobility," also a low rank in the peerage, from Old French baron (nominative ber) "baron, nobleman, military leader, warrior, virtuous man, lord, husband," probably from or related to Late Latin baro "man" (source of Spanish varon, Italian barone), which is of uncertain origin. It is perhaps from Celtic or from Frankish *baro "freeman, man" or another Germanic source. In England the word merged with (probably) cognate Old English beorn "nobleman."
"wife of a baron; lady holding a baronial title," early 15c., from Old French barnesse "lady of quality, noblewoman" (also, ironically, "woman of low morals, slut") or Medieval Latin baronissa (see baron).
c. 1300, "domain of a baron," from Old French baronie "assembly of barons, qualities of a baron," from Late Latin *baronia, from baro (see baron).
"style of architecture and decoration prevailing in Europe from late 17c. through much of 18c.," later derided as clumsy in form and extravagant in contorted ornamentation, 1765, from French baroque "irregular" (15c.), said to be from Portuguese barroco "imperfect pearl," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Spanish berruca "a wart."
This style in decorations got the epithet of Barroque taste, derived from a word signifying pearls and teeth of unequal size. [Fuseli's translation of Winkelmann, 1765]
The Spanish word is perhaps from Latin verruca "a steep place, a height," hence "a wart," also "an excrescence on a precious stone" (see verruca). But Klein suggests the name may be from Italian painter Federico Barocci (1528-1612), whose work influenced the style.
How to tell baroque from rococo, according to Fowler: "The characteristics of baroque are grandeur, pomposity, and weight; those of rococo are inconsequence, grace, and lightness." But the two terms have been used without distinction for styles featuring odd and excessive ornamentation.