solid ungulate quadruped beast of burden of the horse kind, but smaller and with long ears and a short mane, native to southwest Asia, Old English assa (Old Northumbrian assal, assald) "he-ass." The English word is cognate with Old Saxon esil, Dutch ezel, Old High German esil, German Esel, Gothic asilus, and, beyond Germanic, Lithuanian asilas, Old Church Slavonic osl, Russian oselŭ, etc. All probably are ultimately from Latin asinus. De Vaan says the form of asinus suggests it was a loan-word into Latin, and adds, "Most IE words for 'ass' are loanwords."
Together with Greek onos it is conjectured to be from a language of Asia Minor (compare Sumerian ansu). The initial vowel of the English word might be by influence of Celtic forms (Irish and Gaelic asal), from Old Celtic *as(s)in "donkey." In Romanic tongues the Latin word has become Italian asino, Spanish asno, Old French asne, French âne.
In familiar use, the name ass is now to a great extent superseded by donkey (in Scotland cuddie); but ass is always used in the language of Scripture, Natural History, proverb, and fable; also, in ordinary use, in Ireland. [OED]
Sure-footed and patient in domestication, since ancient Greek times, in fables and parables, the animal has typified clumsiness and stupidity (hence ass-head, late 15c., etc.). To make an ass of oneself is from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1590). Asses' Bridge (c. 1780), from Latin Pons Asinorum, is fifth proposition of first book of Euclid's "Elements." In Middle English, someone uncomprehending or unappreciative would be lik an asse that listeth on a harpe. In 15c., an ass man was a donkey-driver.
For al schal deie and al schal passe, Als wel a Leoun as an asse. [John Gower, "Confessio Amantis," 1393]
"brilliant crimson dyestuff consisting of the dried bodies of a species of insect," 1580s, from French cochenille (16c.), probably from Spanish cochinilla, from a diminutive of Latin coccinus (adj.) "scarlet-colored," from coccum "berry (actually an insect) yielding scarlet dye" (see kermes). But some sources identify the Spanish source word as cochinilla "wood louse" (a diminutive form related to French cochon "pig").
The insect (Coccus Cacti) was so called from 1590s. It lives on the prickly pear cactus in Mexico and Central America and is a relative of the kermes and has similar, but more intense, dying qualities. Aztecs and other Mexican Indians used it as a dyestuff. It first is mentioned in Europe in 1523 in Spanish correspondence to Hernán Cortés in Mexico. Specimens were brought to Spain in the 1520s, and cloth merchants in Antwerp were buying cochineal in insect and powdered form in Spain by the 1540s. It soon superseded the use of kermes as a tinctorial substance. Other species of coccus are useless for dye and considered mere pests, such as the common mealy bug.
"shield on which a coat of arms is depicted," late 15c., from Old North French escuchon, variant of Old French escusson "half-crown (coin); coat of arms, heraldic escutcheon," from Vulgar Latin *scutionem, from Latin scutum "shield," from PIE *skoito- "piece of wood, sheath, shield" (source also of Old Irish sciath, Welsh ysgwyd, Breton scoed "shield;" Old Prussian staytan "shield;" Russian ščit "shield"), probably a noun derivative of a variant of PIE root *skei- "to cut, split," on the notion of "board."
Escutcheon of pretense, in her., a small escutcheon charged upon the main escutcheon, indicating the wearer's pretensions to some distinction, or to an estate, armorial bearings, etc., which are not his by strict right of descent. It is especially used to denote the marriage of the bearer to an heiress whose arms it bears. Also called inescutcheon. [Century Dictionary]
Clev. Without doubt: he is a Knight?
Jord. Yes Sir.
Clev. He is a Fool too?
Jord. A little shallow[,] my Brother writes me word, but that is a blot in many a Knights Escutcheon.
[Edward Ravenscroft, "Mamamouchi, or the Citizen Turn'd Gentleman," 1675]
"baby's bed," usually mounted on rockers or suspended for rocking or swinging, c. 1200, cradel, from Old English cradol "little bed, cot," from Proto-Germanic *kradulaz "basket" (source also of Old High German kratto, krezzo "basket," German Krätze "basket carried on the back").
Figurative sense of "the place where any person or thing is nurtured in the early stages of existence" is from 1580s. The word also was used from late 14c. in reference to various mechanical devices for holding or hoisting. As "frame of wood with long, curved teeth and a scythe blade for cutting grain and laying it in a straight swath," 1570s. As "rest on a telephone for the receiver when not in use" is from 1903.
The children's game of cat's-cradle is so called by 1768. Cradle-snatching "amorous pursuit of younger person" is from 1906.
"It's like cradle-snatching to want to marry a girl of sixteen, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself, for you can't be much more than twenty one yourself." ["Edith Van Dyne" (L. Frank Baum), "Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad," 1906]
"record of observations, readings, etc.," originally "record of a ship's progress," 1842, sailor's shortening of log-book (1670s), the daily record of a ship's speed, progress, etc., which is from log (n.1) "piece of wood." The book so called because it recorded the speed measurements made by means of a weighted chip of a tree log on the end of a reeled log line (typically 150 to 200 fathoms). The log lay dead in the water, and sailors counted the time it took the line to play out. The line was marked by different numbers of knots, or colored rags, tied at regular intervals; hence the nautical measurement sense of knot (n.). Similar uses of the cognate word are continental Germanic and Scandinavian (such as German Log). General sense "any record of facts entered in order" is by 1913.
It [the log-book] is a journal of all important items happening on shipboard, contains the data from which the navigator determines his position by dead-reckoning ... and is, when properly kept, a complete meteorological journal. On board merchant ships the log is kept by the first officer: on board men-of-war, by the navigator. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
"stake, staff," late Old English pal "stake, pole, post," a general Germanic borrowing (Old Frisian and Old Saxon pal "stake," Middle Dutch pael, Dutch paal, Old High German pfal, Old Norse pall) from Latin palus "a stake," from PIE *pakslo-, suffixed form of root *pag- "to fasten." Later specifically "a long, slender, tapering piece of wood."
Racing sense of "inside pole-fence surrounding a course" is from 1851; hence pole position in auto racing (1904). A ten-foot pole as a metaphoric measure of something one would not touch something (or someone) else with is by 1839, American English. The ten-foot pole was a common tool used to set stakes for fences, etc., and the phrase "Can't touch de bottom with a ten foot pole" is in the popular old minstrel show song "Camptown Races."
"I saw her eat."
"No very unnatural occurrence I should think."
"But she ate an onion!"
"Right my boy, right, never marry a woman who would touch an onion with a ten foot pole."
[The Collegian, University of Virginia, June 1839]
c. 1400, reguler, "belonging to or subject to a religious or monastic rule," from Old French reguler "ecclesiastical" (Modern French régulier) and directly from Late Latin regularis "containing rules for guidance," from Latin regula "rule, straight piece of wood" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line"). The classical -a- was restored 16c.
In earliest use, the opposite of secular. Extended from late 16c. to shapes, verbs, etc., that followed predictable, proper, or uniform patterns. From 1590s as "marked or distinguished by steadiness or uniformity in action or practice;" hence, of persons, "pursuing a definite course, observing a universal principle in action or conduct" (c. 1600).
The sense of "normal, conformed or conforming to established customs" is from 1630s. The meaning "orderly, well-behaved" is from 1705. By 1756 as "recurring at repeated or fixed times," especially at short, uniform intervals. The military sense of "properly and permanently organized, constituting part of a standing army" is by 1706. The colloquial meaning "real, genuine, thorough" is from 1821.
Old English borrowed Latin regula and nativized it as regol "rule, regulation, canon, law, standard, pattern;" hence regolsticca "ruler" (instrument); regollic (adj.) "canonical, regular."
a phrase that stands for "absurd etymology," or generally "anything illogical, outrageous hypothesis," 1711, from the Latin phrase, taken as the outstanding example of such an error.
"A grove (lucus) [is so called] from not (a non) being light" (lucendo, ablative of lucere "to shine;" see light (n.)). That is, it is called a grove because light doesn't get into it. This explanation is found in a commentary on Virgil (Aeneid 1.22) by Servius, a 4th century grammarian, among other places. Other ancient grammarians (notably Quintilian) found it paradoxical and absurd, based on nothing more than the similarity in sound between the two words.
Modern scholarship, however, concludes that lucus and lucere probably do come both from the same PIE root (*leuk-) meaning "light, bright." De Vaan writes: "Lucus 'sacred grove, wood,' from PIE *louk-o- 'light place,' with cognates in Sanskrit loka- 'free space, world,' Lithuanian laukas 'field, land,' Latvian lauks 'field, clearing in the woods,' Old High German loh 'clearing' and English lea 'open field, meadow, piece of untilled grassy ground.' " Apparently the primeval notion in *louk-o- was a lighter place in a thick forest. Migration, change of climate, or felling of the woods might have shifted the meaning.
It forms all or part of: abscissa; conscience; conscious; ecu; escudo; escutcheon; esquire; nescience; nescient; nice; omniscience; omniscient; plebiscite; prescience; prescient; rescind; rescission; science; scienter; scilicet; sciolist; scission; schism; schist; schizo-; schizophrenia; scudo; sheath; sheathe; sheave (n.) "grooved wheel to receive a cord, pulley;" shed (v.) "cast off;" shin (n.) "fore part of the lower leg;" shingle (n.1) "thin piece of wood;" shit (v.); shive; shiver (n.1) "small piece, splinter, fragment, chip;" shoddy; shyster; skene; ski; skive (v.1) "split or cut into strips, pare off, grind away;" squire.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit chindhi, chinatti "to break, split up;" Avestan a-sista- "unsplit, unharmed," Greek skhizein "to split, cleave, part, separate;" Latin scindere "to cut, rend, tear asunder, split;" Armenian c'tim "to tear, scratch;" Lithuanian skiesti "to separate, divide;" Old Church Slavonic cediti "to strain;" Old English scitan, Old Norse skita "to defecate;" Old English sceað, Old High German sceida "sheath;" Old Irish sceid "to vomit, spit;" Welsh chwydu "to break open."
late 14c., "something written, a written document," earlier scrite (c. 1300), from Anglo-French scrit, Old French escrit "piece of writing, written paper; credit note, IOU; deed, bond" (Modern French écrit) and directly from Latin scriptum "a writing, book; law; line, mark," noun use of neuter past participle of scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut, separate, sift"). The original notion is of carving marks in stone, wood, etc.
The meaning "handwriting, handwritten characters, style of handwriting" (as distinguished from print (n.)) is recorded by 1860; earlier, in typography, script was the name for a face cut to resemble handwriting (1838). Theatrical use, short for manuscript, is attested from 1884. In the study of language, "a writing system," by 1883.
The importance of Rome to the spread of civilization in Europe is attested by the fact that the word for "write" in Celtic and Germanic (as well as Romanic) languages derives from scribere (French écrire, Irish scriobhaim, Welsh ysgrifennu, German schreiben "to write," Dutch schrift "writing"). The cognate Old English scrifan means "to allot, assign, decree, to fine" (see shrive; also compare Old Norse skript "penance"). Modern English instead uses write (v.) to express this action.