Etymology
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rich (adj.)

Old English rice "strong, powerful; great, mighty; of high rank" (senses now obsolete), in later Old English "wealthy;" from Proto-Germanic *rikijaz (source also of Old Norse rikr, Swedish rik, Danish rig, Old Frisian rike "wealthy, mighty," Dutch rijk, Old High German rihhi "ruler, powerful, rich," German reich "rich," Gothic reiks "ruler, powerful, rich"), borrowed from a Celtic source akin to Gaulish *rix, Old Irish ri (genitive rig) "king," from Proto-Celtic *rix, from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule" (compare rex).

The form of the word was influenced in Middle English by Old French riche "wealthy, magnificent, sumptuous," which is, with Spanish rico, Italian ricco, from Frankish *riki "powerful," or some other cognate Germanic word. Old English also had a noun, rice "rule, reign, power, might; authority; empire" (compare Reich). The evolution of the word reflects a connection between wealth and power in the ancient world, though the "power" sense seems to be the oldest.

In transferred and extended senses from c. 1200. The meaning "magnificent" is from c. 1200; that of "of great value or worth" is from mid-13c. Of food and colors, "having an abundance of a characteristic quality that pleases the senses," from early 14c.; of sounds, from 1590s; of soils from 1570s. Sense of "entertaining, amusing" is recorded from 1760. The noun meaning "the wealthy" was in Old English.

English once had a related verb rixle "have domination, rule," from Old English rixian "to rule."

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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.

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staff (n.)

Old English stæf (plural stafas), "walking stick, strong pole used for carrying, rod used as a weapon, pastoral staff," probably originally *stæb, from Proto-Germanic *stab- (source also of Old Saxon staf, Old Norse stafr, Danish stav, Old Frisian stef, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch staf, Old High German stab, German Stab, Gothic *stafs "element;" Middle Dutch stapel "pillar, foundation"), from PIE root *stebh- "post, stem, to support, place firmly on, fasten" (source also of Old Lithuanian stabas "idol," Lithuanian stiebas "staff, pillar;" Old Church Slavonic stoboru "pillar;" Sanskrit stabhnati "supports;" Greek stephein "to tie around, encircle, wreathe," staphyle "grapevine, bunch of grapes;" Old English stapol "post, pillar").

As "pole from which a flag is flown," 1610s. In musical notation from 1660s. Sense of "group of military officers that assists a commander" is attested from 1702, apparently from German, from the notion of the "baton" that is a badge of office or authority (a sense attested in English from 1530s); hence staff officer (1702), staff-sergeant (1811). Meaning "group of employees (as at an office or hospital)" is first found 1837. Staff of life "bread" is from the Biblical phrase break the staff of bread meaning "cut off the supply of food" (Leviticus xxvi.26), translating Hebrew matteh lekhem.

The Old English word, in plural, was the common one used for "letter of the alphabet, character," hence "writing, literature," and many compounds having to do with writing, such as stæfcræft "grammar," stæfcræftig "lettered," stæflic "literary," stæfleahtor "grammatical error," with leahtor "vice, sin, offense."

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pizza (n.)

"a savoury dish of Italian origin, consisting of a base of dough, spread with a selection of such ingredients as olives, tomatoes, cheese, anchovies, etc., and baked in a very hot oven" [OED], 1931, from Italian pizza, originally "cake, tart, pie," a name of uncertain origin. The 1907 "Vocabolario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana" reports it is said to be from dialectal pinza "clamp" (from Latin pinsere "to pound, stamp"). Klein suggests a connection with Medieval Greek pitta "cake, pie" (see pita). Watkins says it is (perhaps via Langobardic) from a Germanic source akin to Old High German bizzo, pizzo "bite, morsel," from Proto-Germanic *biton- (see bit (n.1)). Ayto ["Diner's Dictionary"] seems inclined toward this explanation, too.

The notion of taking a flat piece of bread dough and baking it with a savoury topping is a widespread one and of long standing — the Armenians claim to have invented it, and certainly it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans — but it is Italy, and particularly Naples, that has given its version of the dish to the world. ... Since then it has undergone a series of metamorphoses in base, topping, and general character that would make it hard for Neapolitans to recognize as their own, but which have transformed it into a key item on the international fast-food menu. [Ayto]
A pizza is manufactured, as far as I can ascertain, by garnishing a slab of reinforced asphalt paving with mucilage, whale-blubber and the skeletons of small fishes, baking same to the consistency of a rubber heel, and serving piping-hot with a dressing of molten lava. ["Simon Stylites," in The Bergen Evening Record, May 15, 1931]
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melt (v.)

Middle English melten, from Old English meltan (intransitive) "become liquid through heat" (class III strong verb; past tense mealt, past participle molten), from Proto-Germanic *meltanan; fused with Old English gemæltan (Anglian), gemyltan (West Saxon) "make liquid, reduce from a solid to a fluid state by means of heat" (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *gamaltijan (source also of Old Norse melta "to digest").

Both Germanic words are from PIE *meldh- (source also of Sanskrit mrduh "soft, mild," Greek meldein "to melt, make liquid," Latin mollis "soft, mild"), from root *mel- (1) "soft." Also in Middle English "dissolve" (of salt, sugar, etc.), "corrode" (of iron), "putrefy" (of flesh). Meaning "pass imperceptibly from one thing into another" is by 1781. Related: Melted; melting.

Figurative use "to diminish, wane; be touched, grow tender" is by c. 1200; transitive sense of "soften" (to love, pity, tenderness) is by early 14c. Of food, to melt in (one's) mouth is from 1690s. Melting point "degree of temperature at which a solid body melts" is by 1807. Melting pot is from early 15c.; figurative use from 1855; popularized with reference to immigrant assimilation in the United States by the play "The Melting Pot" by Israel Zangwill (1908):

DAVID Yes, East and West, and North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross—how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with his purging flame! Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God. Ah, Vera, What is the glory of Rome and Jerusalem where all nations and races come to worship and look back, compared with the glory of America where all races and nations come to labour and look forward!
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fish (n.)

"a vertebrate which has gills and fins adapting it for living in the water," Old English fisc "fish," from Proto-Germanic *fiskaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German fisc, Old Norse fiskr, Middle Dutch visc, Dutch vis, German Fisch, Gothic fisks), perhaps from PIE root *pisk- "a fish." But Boutkan on phonetic grounds thinks it might be a northwestern Europe substratum word.

Popularly, since Old English, "any animal that lives entirely in the water," hence shellfish, starfish (an early 15c. manuscript has fishes bestiales for "water animals other than fishes"). The plural is fishes, but in a collective sense, or in reference to fish meat as food, the singular fish generally serves for a plural. In reference to the constellation Pisces from late 14c.

Fish (n.) for "person" is from 1750 with a faintly dismissive sense; earlier it was used in reference to a person considered desirable to "catch" (1722). Figurative sense of fish out of water "person in an unfamiliar and awkward situation" attested by 1610s. To drink like a fish is from 1744. Fish-story "incredible or extravagant narration" is attested by 1819, U.S. colloquial, from the tendency to exaggerate the size of the catch (or the one that got away).

Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish. ["Mark Twain," in "More Maxims of Mark" by Merle Johnson (1927)]

To have other fish to fry "other objects which invite or require attention" is from 1650s. Fish-eye as a type of lens is from 1961. Fish-and-chips is from 1876; fish-fingers from 1962.

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Yankee (n.)

1683, a name applied disparagingly by Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) to English colonists in neighboring Connecticut. It may be from Dutch Janke, literally "Little John," diminutive of common personal name Jan; or it may be from Jan Kes familiar form of "John Cornelius," or perhaps an alteration of Jan Kees, dialectal variant of Jan Kaas, literally "John Cheese," the generic nickname the Flemings used for Dutchmen.

[I]t is to be noted that it is common to name a droll fellow, regarded as typical of his country, after some favorite article of food, as E[nglish] Jack-pudding, G[erman] Hanswurst ("Jack Sausage"), F[rench] Jean Farine ("Jack Flour"). [Century Dictionary, 1902, entry for "macaroni"]

Originally it seems to have been applied insultingly to the Dutch, especially freebooters, before they turned around and slapped it on the English. A less-likely theory (attested by 1832) is that it represents some southern New England Algonquian language mangling of English. In English a term of contempt (1750s) before its use as a general term for "native of New England" (1765); during the American Revolution it became a disparaging British word for all American natives or inhabitants. Contrasted with southerner by 1828. Shortened form Yank in reference to "an American" first recorded 1778. Latin-American form Yanqui attested in English by 1914 (in Mexican Spanish by 1835).

The rule observed in this country is, that the man who receives that name [Yankee] must come from some part north of him who gives it. To compensate us for giving each other nicknames, John Bull "lumps us all together," and calls us all Yankees. ["Who is a Yankee?" Massachusetts Spy, June 6, 1827]
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serve (v.)

late 12c., "to render habitual obedience to," also "minister, give aid, give help," from Old French servir "to do duty toward, show devotion to; set table, serve at table; offer, provide with," from Latin servire "be a servant, be in service, be enslaved;" figuratively "be devoted; be governed by; comply with; conform; flatter," originally "be a slave," related to servus "slave," which is of uncertain origin.

Perhaps from Etruscan (compare Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve, Latinized as Servius), but de Vaan says it is from Proto-Italic *serwo- "shepherd," *serwā- "observation," from PIE *seruo- "guardian" (source also of Avestan haraiti "heeds, protects"):

Rix 1994a argues that the original meaning of *serwo- probably was 'guard, shepherd', which underwent a pejorative development to 'slave' in Italy between 700 and 450 BC. Servire would be the direct derivative of servus, hence 'be a slave'; servare would in his view be derived from an older noun *serwa- or *serwom 'observation, heedance'.

By c. 1200 also as "to be in the service of, perform a service for; attend upon, be personal servant to; be a slave; owe allegiance to; officiate at Mass or other religious rites;" from early 13c. as "set food at table;" mid-14c. as "to wait on (customers)." From late 14c. as "treat (someone or something) in some fashion."

To serve (someone) right "to treat as he deserves" is recorded from 1580s. Sense of "be useful, be beneficial, be suitable for a purpose or function" is from early 14c.; that of "take the place or meet the needs of, be equal to the task" is from late 14c.; that of "suffice" is from mid-15c. Meaning "render active military service" is from 1510s. Sporting sense, in tennis, badminton, etc., first recorded 1580s. Legal sense "present" (a writ, warrant, etc.), "give legal notice of" is from early 15c.

He no schuld neuer wond
To seruen him fro fot to hond
["Amis and Amiloun," c. 1330]
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pork (n.)

c. 1300 (early 13c. in surname Porkuiller), "flesh of a pig as food," from Old French porc "pig, swine, boar," and directly from Latin porcus "pig, tame swine," from PIE root *porko- "young pig." Also in Middle English "a swine, a hog" (c. 1400).

Pork barrel in the literal sense "barrel in which pork is kept" is from 1801, American English; the meaning "state's financial resources (available for distribution)" is attested from 1907 (in full, national pork barrel); it was noted as an expression of U.S. President President William Howard Taft:

"Now there is a proposition that we issue $500,000,000 or $1,000,000,000 of bonds for a waterway, and then that we just apportion part to the Mississippi and part to the Atlantic, a part to the Missouri and a part to the Ohio. I am opposed to it. I am opposed to it because it not only smells of the pork barrel, but it will be the pork barrel itself. Let every project stand on its bottom." [The Outlook, Nov. 6, 1909, quoting Taft]

The magazine article that includes the quote opens with:

We doubt whether any one knows how or when, or from what application of what story, the phrase "the National pork barrel" has come into use. If not a very elegant simile, it is at least an expressive one, and suggests a graphic picture of Congressmen eager for local advantage going, one after another, to the National pork barrel to take away their slices for home consumption.

Pork in this sense is attested from 1862 (compare figurative use of bacon). Pork chop "slice of meat from the ribs of a pork" is attested from 1858. Pork pie "pie made of pastry and minced pork" is from 1732; pork-pie hat (1855) originally described a woman's style popular c. 1855-65, but also worn by men. It was distinguished by a brim turned up around the low crown, a shape that resembled a deep pork pie.

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cover (n.)
Origin and meaning of cover

mid-14c., "something laid, placed or spread (on something else),"  from cover (v.). Sense of "something which veils or screens from sight" is from c. 1400. From c. 1500 as "shelter" of any kind, later especially in hunting, "shrubbery, brush, or thickets which conceal game" (1719).

Meaning "binding or wrapper of a book" is from 1590s; that of "envelope or wrapper for a letter" is by 1748. Meaning "recording of a song already recorded by another" is by 1970, short for cover version (1966). Cover-band "band that plays only cover songs" is by 1981. Cover girl is U.S. slang from 1915, shortening of magazine-cover girl (1899).

Cover-charge is attested by 1913. The immediate sense of cover in it appears to be the old one of "plate, knives, forks, spoons, napkin, wine glasses, etc., used at the table by one person," from French couvert, literally "a cover," in the same sense; supposedly they were so called because they were originally brought together in a case.

According to contemporary publications, cover came to include table condiments and bread and butter, and c. 1910 some restaurants began to charge extra for these. ["... a smart New York restauranteur recently made a 'cover charge' of twenty-five cents for bread and butter and ice-water. Others followed." - Edward Hungerford, "The Personality of American Cities," 1913]

In this sense, cover also probably involves the banquet service use of cover for a charge which includes ("covers") everything provided with the food — menu card, flowers, music, etc.

In recent years hotels, particularly those featuring entertainment in their restaurants, have made a so-called cover charge which includes entertainment in addition to the table service. For instance, at some of the larger hotels in New York, where there is dancing, or cabaret, or high-priced soloists, or entertainment of costly nature provided, there is a cover charge, sometimes as high as $1 the seat. [Hotel Monthly, December 1917]
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