late 14c., "upper regions of space," from Old French ether (12c.) and directly from Latin aether "the upper pure, bright air; sky, firmament," from Greek aithēr "upper air; bright, purer air; the sky" (opposed to aēr "the lower air"), from aithein "to burn, shine," from PIE *aidh- "to burn" (see edifice).
In ancient cosmology, the element that filled all space beyond the sphere of the moon, constituting the substance of the stars and planets. Conceived of as a purer form of fire or air, or as a fifth element. From 17c.-19c., it was the scientific word for an assumed "frame of reference" for forces in the universe, perhaps without material properties. The concept was shaken by the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887) and discarded early 20c. after the Theory of Relativity won acceptance, but before it went it gave rise to the colloquial use of ether for "the radio" (1899).
The name also was bestowed c. 1730 (Frobenius; in English by 1757) on a volatile chemical compound known since 14c. for its lightness and lack of color (its anesthetic properties weren't fully established until 1842).
c. 1200, "separate parts of anything written" (such as the statements in the Apostles' Creed, the clauses of a statute or contract), from Old French article (13c.), from Latin articulus "a part, a member," also "a knuckle; the article in grammar," diminutive of artus "a joint" (from PIE *ar(ə)-tu-, suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together").
The meaning "literary composition in a journal, etc." (independent and on a specific topic, but part of a larger work) is recorded by 1712. The older sense is preserved in Articles of War "military regulations" (1716), Articles of Confederation (U.S. history), etc. The extended meaning "piece of property, material thing, commodity" (clothing, etc.) is attested by 1796, originally in rogue's cant.
The grammatical sense of "word used attributively, to limit the application of a noun to one individual or set of individuals" is from 1530s, from this sense in Latin articulus, translating Greek arthron "a joint." The part of speech (with different meanings in ancient Greek and modern English) was so called on the notion of the "pivots" or "joints" on which the propositions in a sentence are variously tied together.
"a flat strip," also "something that binds," Middle English bende, from Old English bend "bond, fetter, shackle, chain, that by which someone or something is bound; ribbon, ornament, chaplet, crown," with later senses and spelling from cognate Old Norse band and technical senses from Old French bande "strip, edge, side" (12c., Old North French bende), all three ultimately from Proto-Germanic *bindan, from PIE root *bhendh- "to bind."
The meaning "a flat strip" (late 14c.) is from French. In Middle English, this was sometimes distinguished by the spelling bande, bonde, but with loss of terminal -e the words have fully merged via the notion of "flat strip of flexible material used to wind around something."
The meaning "broad stripe of color, ray of colored light" is from late 14c.; the electronics sense of "range of frequencies or wavelengths" is from 1922. Most of the figurative senses ("legal or moral commitment; captivity, imprisonment," etc.) have passed into bond (n.), which originally was a phonetic variant of this band. The Middle English form of the word is retained in heraldic bend (n.2) "broad diagonal stripe on a coat-of-arms."
Middle English mille, "building fitted to grind grain," Old English mylen "a mill" (10c.), an early Germanic borrowing from Late Latin molina, molinum "mill" (source of French moulin, Spanish molino), originally fem. and neuter of molinus "pertaining to a mill," from Latin mola "mill, millstone," related to molere "to grind," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." The -n- gradually was lost in English but survives in the surname Milner. Also from Late Latin molina, directly or indirectly, are German Mühle, Old Saxon mulin, Old Norse mylna, Danish mølle, Old Church Slavonic mulinu.
The meaning "mechanical device for grinding grain for food" is from 1550s. The broader sense of "machine for grinding or pulverizing any solid substance" is attested from 1670s. Other types of manufacturing machines driven by wind or water, that transform raw material by a process other than grinding began to be called mills by early 15c. Sense of "large building fitted with machinery for manufacturing" is from c. 1500. In old slang also "a typewriter" (1913); "a boxing match or other pugilistic bout" (1819).
"a very hard stone," mid-14c., adamant, adamaunt, from Old French adamant "diamond; magnet" or directly from Latin adamantem (nominative adamas) "adamant, hardest iron, steel," also used figuratively, of character, from Greek adamas (genitive adamantos), the name of a hypothetical hardest material.
It is a noun use of an adjective meaning "unbreakable, inflexible," which was metaphoric of anything unalterable (such as Hades) and is of uncertain origin. It is perhaps literally "invincible, indomitable," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + daman "to conquer, to tame," from PIE root *deme- "to constrain, force, break (horses)," for which see tame (adj.). "But semantically, the etymology is rather strange," according to Beekes, who suggests it might be a foreign word altered in Greek by folk etymology, and compares Akkadian (Semitic) adamu.
Applied in antiquity to a metal resembling gold (Plato), white sapphire (Pliny), magnet (Ovid, perhaps through confusion with Latin adamare "to love passionately"), steel, emery stone, and especially diamond, which is a variant of this word. "The name has thus always been of indefinite and fluctuating sense" [Century Dictionary]. The word had been in Old English as aðamans, but the modern word is a re-borrowing.
"small cube marked on each face with spots numbering from one to six, used in gaming," early 14c. (as a plural, late 14c. as a singular), from Old French de "die, dice," which is of uncertain origin. Common Romanic (cognates: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian dado, Provençal dat, Catalan dau), perhaps from Latin datum "given," past participle of dare "to give" (from PIE root *do- "to give"), which, in addition to "give," had a secondary sense of "to play" (as a chess piece); or else the notion is "what is given" (by chance or Fortune).
The numbers on the opposite sides always add up to seven; otherwise there is no uniformity to their arrangement. Sense of "engraved stamping block or tool used for stamping a softer material" is from 1690s. Perhaps so called because they often were used in pairs (to impress on both sides, as of a coin).
Figurative phrase the die is cast "the decisive stem is taken" is from 1630s, in reference to the throw of the dice. The expression translates Latin alea iacta est (or iacta alea est), famously uttered by Caesar when he crossed the Rubicon.
1781, "a shoemaker, a shoemaker's apprentice," of unknown origin. It came to be used in Cambridge University slang c. 1796, often contemptuously, for "townsman, local merchant," and passed then into literary use, where by 1831 it was being used for "person of the ordinary or lower classes." Meaning "person who vulgarly apes his social superiors" is by 1843, popularized 1848 by William Thackeray's "Book of Snobs." The meaning later broadened to include those who insist on their gentility, in addition to those who merely aspire to it, and by 1911 the word had its main modern sense of "one who despises those considered inferior in rank, attainment, or taste." Inverted snob is from 1909.
Then there is that singular anomaly, the Inverted Snob, who balances a chip on his shoulder and thinks that everyone of wealth or social prominence is necessarily to be distrusted; that the rich are always pretentious and worldly, while those who have few material possessions are themselves possessed (like Rose Aylmer) of every virtue, every grace. [Atlantic Monthly, February 1922]
"large oblong bag," Middle English sak, from Old English sacc (West Saxon), sec (Mercian), sæc (Old Kentish) "large cloth bag," also "sackcloth," from Proto-Germanic *sakkiz (source also of Middle Dutch sak, Old High German sac, Old Norse sekkr, but Gothic sakkus probably is directly from Greek), an early borrowing from Latin saccus (also source of Old French sac, Spanish saco, Italian sacco), from Greek sakkos "bag (made of goat hair); sieve; burlap, large burlap cloak," which is from Semitic (compare Hebrew, Phoenician saq "sack, cloth of hair, bag, mourning-dress").
The wide spread of this word for "a bag" probably is due to the incident in the Biblical story of Joseph in which a sack of corn figures (Genesis xliv). In English, the meaning "a sack or sack material used as an article of clothing" as a token of penitence or mourning is from c. 1200. The baseball slang sense of "a base" is attested from 1913.
The slang meaning "bunk, bed" is by 1825, originally nautical, hence many slang phrases, originally nautical, such as sack duty "sleep;" the verb meaning "go to bed" is recorded from 1946. Sack-race (n.) is attested from 1805.
"water-worn detritus finer than gravel; fine particles of rocks (largely crystalline rocks, especially quartz); the material of the beach, desert, or sea-bed;" Old English sand, from Proto-Germanic *sandam (source also of Old Norse sandr, Old Frisian sond, Middle Dutch sant, Dutch zand, German Sand), from PIE *bhs-amadho- (source also of Greek psammos "sand;" Latin sabulum "coarse sand," which is the source of Italian sabbia, French sable), suffixed form of root *bhes- "to rub."
Historically, the line between sand and gravel cannot be distinctly drawn. Used figuratively in Old English in reference to innumerability and instability. General Germanic, but not attested in Gothic, which used in this sense malma, related to Old High German melm "dust," the first element of the Swedish city name Malmö (the second element meaning "island"), and to Latin molere "to grind."
Metaphoric for innumerability since Old English. In compounds, often indicating "of the shore, found on sandy beaches." In old U.S. colloquial use, "grit, endurance, pluck" (1867), especially in have sand in (one's) craw. Sands "tract or region composed of sand," is by mid-15c.
1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," a word of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + caenum "filth."
The meaning "offensive to modesty or decency, impure, unchaste" is attested from 1590s. Legally, "any impure or indecent publication tending to corrupt the mind and to subvert respect for decency and morality." In modern U.S. law, the definition hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; this was refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.