"strong, brave, spirited, valiant," Middle English doughti, from Old English dohtig "competent, good, valiant," from dyhtig "strong," related to dugan "to be fit, be able, be strong," and influenced by its past participle, dohte.
All from Proto-Germanic *duhtiz- (source also of Middle High German tuhtec, German tüchtig "efficient, capable," Middle Dutch duchtich "large, sturdy, powerful," Danish dygtig "virtuous, proficient," Gothic daug "is fit"), from PIE *dheugh- "to be fit, be of use, proper; meet, hit the mark" (source also of Sanskrit duh "gives milk;" Greek teukhein "to manufacture, accomplish; make ready;" Irish dual "becoming, fit;" Russian duij "strong, robust;" German Tugend "virtue").
Rare after 17c.; in deliberately archaic or mock-heroic use since c. 1800. If it had survived in living language, its modern form would be dighty.
1640s (in Anglo-Latin from early 14c.), shortening of posse comitatus "the force of the county" (1620s, in Anglo-Latin from late 13c.), from Medieval Latin posse "body of men; power," from Latin posse "have power, be able" (see potent) + comitatus "of the county," genitive of Late Latin word for "court palace" (see comitatus). General sense of "an armed force" is from 1640s; the modern slang meaning "small gang" probably is from Western movies.
Posse comitatus, the power of the county; in law, the body of men which the sheriff is empowered to call into service to aid and support him in the execution of the law, as in case of rescue, riot, forcible entry and occupation, etc. It includes all male persons above the age of fifteen. In Great Britain peers and clergymen are excluded by statute. The word comitatus is often omitted, and posse alone is used in the same sense. [Century Dictionary]
c. 1300, qualite, "temperament, character, disposition," from Old French calite, qualite "quality, nature, characteristic" (12c., Modern French qualité), from Latin qualitatem (nominative qualitas) "a quality, property; nature, state, condition" (said [Tucker, etc.] to have been coined by Cicero to translate Greek poiotēs), from qualis "what kind of a" (from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns).
In early use, and for long thereafter, with awareness of the word's use in Aristotelian philosophy. From late 14c. as "an inherent attribute," also "degree of goodness or excellence." Meaning "social rank, position" is c. 1400, hence "nobility, gentry." From 1580s as "a distinguished and characteristic excellence."
Noun phrase quality time "time spent giving undivided attention to another person to build a relationship" is recorded by 1977. Quality of life "degree to which a person is healthy and able to participate in or enjoy life events" is from 1943. Quality control "maintenance of desired quality in a manufactured product" is attested from 1935.
late 15c. (Caxton), "capable of movement, capable of being moved, not fixed or stationary," from Old French mobile (14c.), from Latin mobilis "movable, easy to move; loose, not firm," figuratively, "pliable, flexible, susceptible, nimble, quick; changeable, inconstant, fickle," contraction of *movibilis, from movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away"). Sociology sense of "able to move into different social levels" is by 1927. Mobile home "large trailer permanently parked and used as a residence" is recorded by 1936. Mobile phone is by 1983.
A long-distance number tapped into an Illinois Bell car telephone glowed red on a display. Satisfied that the digits were correct, I pushed the SEND button on the phone. Familiar beeps and boops emerged from the handset. Then, before a half block of this Chicago suburb had slipped by, I was in contact with my New York office. ["Take-along Telephones," Popular Science, October 1983]
late 14c., magike, "art of influencing or predicting events and producing marvels using hidden natural forces," also "supernatural art," especially the art of controlling the actions of spiritual or superhuman beings; from Old French magique "magic; magical," from Late Latin magice "sorcery, magic," from Greek magike (presumably with tekhnē "art"), fem. of magikos "magical," from magos "one of the members of the learned and priestly class," from Old Persian magush, which is possibly from PIE root *magh- "to be able, have power."
The transferred sense of "legerdemain, optical illusion, etc." is from 1811. It displaced Old English wiccecræft (see witch); also drycræft, from dry "magician," from Irish drui "priest, magician" (see Druid). Natural magic in the Middle Ages was that which did not involve the agency of personal spirits; it was considered more or less legitimate, not sinful, and involved much that would be explained scientifically as the manipulation of natural forces.
late 14c., possessen, "to hold, occupy, inhabit" (without regard to ownership), a back formation from possession and in part from Old French possesser "to have and hold, take, be in possession of" (mid-13c.), from Latin possessus, past participle of possidere "to have and hold, hold in one's control, be master of, own," probably a compound of potis "having power, powerful, able" (from PIE root *poti- "powerful; lord") + sedere, from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit."
According to Buck, Latin possidere was a legal term first used in connection with real estate. The meaning "to hold as property" in English is recorded from c. 1500. That of "to seize, take possession of" is from 1520s; the demonic sense of "have complete power or mastery over, control" is recorded from 1530s (implied in possessed); the weakened sense of "fascinate, enthrall, affect or influence intensely" is by 1590s. Related: Possessed; possessing. The other usual Latin verb for "to possess," tenere, originally was "to hold," then "occupy, possess" (see tenet).
[I]n English law, a peculiar form of theft, which is distinguished from the ordinary crime in two points:— (1) It is committed by a person who is in the position of clerk or servant to the owner of the property stolen; and (2) the property when stolen is in the possession of such clerk or servant. The definition of embezzlement as a special form of theft arose out of the difficulties caused by the legal doctrine that to constitute larceny the property must be taken out of the possession of the owner. Servants and others were thus able to steal with impunity goods entrusted to them by their masters. A statute of Henry VIII. (1529) was passed to meet this case; and it enacted that it should be felony in servants to convert to their own use caskets, jewels, money, goods or chattels delivered to them by their masters. [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910]
Old English mægen (Mercian megen) "power, bodily strength; force, violent effort; strength of mind or will; efficacy; supernatural power," from Proto-Germanic *maginam "power" (source also of Old High German megin "strength, power, ability"), suffixed form of PIE root *magh- "to be able, have power."
Original sense of "power" is preserved in phrase might and main. Also used in Middle English for "royal power or authority" (c. 1400), "military strength" (c. 1300), "application of force" (c. 1300). Meaning "chief or main part" (c. 1600) now is archaic or obsolete. Meaning "principal duct, pipe, or channel in a utility system" is first recorded 1727 in main drain.
Used since 1540s for "continuous stretch of land or water;" in nautical jargon used loosely for "the ocean," but in Spanish Main the word is short for mainland and refers to the coast between Panama and Orinoco (as contrasted to the islands of the West Indies).
c. 1200, kene, from Old English cene "bold, brave, fearless," in later Old English "clever, prudent, wise, intelligent," common Germanic (cognate with Old Norse kænn "skillful, wise," Middle Dutch coene "bold," Dutch koen, Old High German kuon "pugnacious, strong," German kühn "bold, daring"), but according to OED there are no cognates outside Germanic and the original meaning is "somewhat obscure"; it seem to have been both "brave" and "skilled." Perhaps the connection notion was "to be able" and the word is connected to the source of can (v.1).
Sense of "eager (to do something), vehement, ardent" is from c. 1300. The physical meaning "sharp, sharp-pointed, sharp-edged" (c. 1200) is peculiar to English. Extended senses from c. 1300: Of sounds, "loud, shrill;" of cold, fire, wind, etc. "biting, bitter, cutting." Of eyesight c. 1720. A popular word of approval in teenager and student slang from c. 1900. Keener was 19c. U.S. Western slang for a person considered sharp or shrewd in bargaining.
Increase of population, which is filling the States out to their very borders, together with a new and extended network of railroads and other avenues, and an internal commerce which daily becomes more intimate, is rapidly bringing the States into a higher and more perfect social unity or consolidation. Thus, these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer contact, and collision results.
Shall I tell you what this collision means? They who think that it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agitators, and therefor ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free-labor nation. [William H. Seward, speech at Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 2, 1858]
Related: Irrepressibly. "Common Sense" (1777) has unrepressible.