Etymology
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bull (n.1)

"male of a bovine animal," c. 1200, bule, from Old Norse boli "bull, male of the domestic bovine," perhaps also from an Old English *bula, both from Proto-Germanic *bullon- (source also of Middle Dutch bulle, Dutch bul, German Bulle), perhaps from a Germanic verbal stem meaning "to roar," which survives in some German dialects and perhaps in the first element of boulder (q.v.). The other possibility [Watkins] is that the Germanic word is from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell."

An uncastrated male, reared for breeding, as opposed to a bullock or steer. Extended after 1610s to males of other large animals (elephant, alligator, whale, etc.). Stock market sense "one who seeks to cause a rise in the price of a stock" is from 1714 (compare bear (n.)). The meaning "policeman" is attested by 1859.

Bull-necked is from 1640s. Figurative phrase take the bull by the horns "boldly face or grapple with some danger or difficulty" is recorded by 1711 (Swift). To be a bull in a china shop, figurative of careless and inappropriately destructive use of force, is attested from 1812 and was the title of a popular humorous song in 1820s England.

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over- 

word-forming element meaning variously "above; highest; across; higher in power or authority; too much; above normal; outer; beyond in time, too long," from Old English ofer (from PIE root *uper "over"). Over and its Germanic relations were widely used as prefixes, and sometimes could be used with negative force. This is rare in Modern English, but compare Gothic ufarmunnon "to forget," ufar-swaran "to swear falsely;" Old English ofercræft "fraud."

In some of its uses, moreover, over is a movable element, which can be prefixed at will to almost any verb or adjective of suitable sense, as freely as an adjective can be placed before a substantive or an adverb before an adjective. [OED]

Among the old words not now existing are Old English oferlufu (Middle English oferlufe), literally "over-love," hence "excessive or immoderate love." Over- in Middle English also could carry a sense of "too little, below normal," as in over-lyght "of too little weight" (c. 1400), overlitel "too small" (mid-14c.), overshort, etc.

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push (v.)

c. 1300, pushen, "to shove, move onward, strike with a thrusting motion, thrust forcibly against for the purpose of impelling," from Old French poulser (Modern French pousser), from Latin pulsare "to beat, strike, push," frequentative of pellere (past participle pulsus) "to push, drive, beat" (from PIE root *pel- (5) "to thrust, strike, drive").

Transitive meaning "urge, incite, press" is by 1570s; that of "promote, advance or extend by persistence or diligent effort" is from 1714; intransitive sense of "make one's way with force and persistence (against obstacles, etc.)" is by 1718. The meaning "approach a certain age" is from 1937. For palatization of -s-, OED compares brush (n.1); quash. Related: Pushed; pushing.

To push up daisies "be dead and buried" is from World War I, but variants with the same meaning date back to 1842.

"Pushing up the daisies now," said a soldier of his dead comrade. [The American Florist, vol. xlviii, March 31, 1917]

To push (someone) around "bully, browbeat, domineer" is by 1923. To push (one's) luck is from 1754. To push the envelope in the figurative sense is by late 1980s.

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dig (v.)

c. 1200, diggen, "to make a ditch or other excavation," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps related to dike and ditch, either via Anglo-French diguer, from Old French digue "dike" (which is ultimately from Proto-Germanic *dīk-, from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix") or directly from an unrecorded Old English verb. The older native words were deolfan (see delve), grafan (see grave (v.)).

Transitive meanings "form by excavation, make by digging," also "obtain or remove by excavation" are from late 14c.; figurative sense of "discover by effort or search" is from early 15c. Meaning "to penetrate" is from mid-15c.; transitive sense of "cause to penetrate, thrust or force in" is by 1885.

In 19c. U.S. student slang it meant "study hard, give much time to study" (1827); the 20c. slang sense of "understand" is recorded by 1934 in African-American vernacular. Both probably are based on the notion of "excavate." A slightly varied sense of "appreciate" emerged by 1939. The strong past participle dug appeared in 16c. but is not etymological.

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pluck (v.)

Middle English plukken, "pull (something) off or out from a surface" (especially hair or feathers, but also teeth), from late Old English ploccian, pluccian "pull off, cull," from West Germanic *plokken (source also of Middle Low German plucken, Middle Dutch plocken, Dutch plukken, Flemish plokken, German pflücken). This is perhaps from an unrecorded Gallo-Roman or Vulgar Latin *piluccare (source of Old French peluchier, late 12c.; Italian piluccare), a frequentative, ultimately from Latin pilare "pull out hair," from pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)). But despite the similarities, OED finds difficulties with this and cites gaps in historical evidence. From late 14c. as "to pull sharply with a sudden jerk or force (of the strings of a bow, harp, etc.). Related: Plucked; plucking.

To pluck a rose, an expression said to be used by women for going to the necessary house, which in the country usually stands in the garden. [F. Grose, "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785]

This euphemistic use is attested from 1610s. To pluck up "summon up" (courage, heart, etc.) is from c. 1300.

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start (v.)

Old English *steortian, *stiertan, Kentish variants of styrtan "to leap up" (attested only in Northumbrian past participle sturtende), from Proto-Germanic *stert- (source also of Old Frisian stirta "to fall, tumble," Middle Dutch sterten, Dutch storten "to rush, fall," Old High German sturzen, German stürzen "to hurl, throw, plunge"). According to Watkins, the notion is "move briskly, move swiftly," and the Proto-Germanic word is from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff."

From "move or spring suddenly," sense evolved by c. 1300 to "awaken suddenly, flinch or recoil in alarm," and by 1660s to "cause to begin acting or operating." Meaning "begin to move, leave, depart" (without implication of suddenness) is from 1821. The connection probably is from sporting senses ("to force an animal from its lair," late 14c.). Transitive sense of "set in motion or action" is from 1670s; specifically as "to set (machinery) in action" from 1841.

Related: Started; starting. To start something "cause trouble" is 1915, American English colloquial. To start over "begin again" is from 1912. Starting-line in running is from 1855; starting-block in running first recorded 1937.

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carry (v.)

early 14c., "to bear or convey, take along or transport," from Anglo-French carier "transport in a vehicle" or Old North French carrier "to cart, carry" (Modern French charrier), from Gallo-Roman *carrizare, from Late Latin carricare, from Latin carrum originally "two-wheeled Celtic war chariot," from Gaulish (Celtic) karros, from PIE *krsos, from root *kers- "to run."

The meaning "take by force, gain by effort" is from 1580s. The sense of "gain victory, bear to a successful conclusion" is from 1610s; specifically in reference to elections from 1848, American English.

The meaning "to conduct, manage" (often with an indefinite it) is from 1580s. The meaning "bear up and support" is from 1560s. The commercial sense of "keep in stock" is from 1848. In reference to mathematical operations from 1798. Of sound, "to be heard at a distance" by 1858.

To carry out "conduct to completion" is from c. 1600. To carry it off "brazen a thing out" is from 1704; carried off as a euphemism for "killed" is from 1670s. To be carried (away) in the figurative sense "transported, having the attention fully absorbed" is from 1560s. Carrying capacity is attested from 1836. Carry-castle (1590s) was an old descriptive term for an elephant.

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sink (v.)

Middle English sinken, from Old English sincan (intransitive) "become submerged, go under, subside" (past tense sanc, past participle suncen), from Proto-Germanic *senkwan (source also of Old Saxon sinkan, Old Norse sökkva, Middle Dutch sinken, Dutch zinken, Old High German sinkan, German sinken, Gothic sigqan), from PIE root *sengw- "to sink."

The transitive use "force or drag gradually downward" (attested from late 12c.) supplanted Middle English sench (compare drink/drench) which died out 14c. The sense of "go in, penetrate" (of a blow, a weapon, etc.) is from c. 1300; by early 14c. as "make a penetrating impression on the mind." Related: Sank; sunk; sinking.

From early 14c. as "be reduced to a lower or worse state;" late 14c. as "fall or fail as from weakness or under a heavy blow." From 1590s as "decrease, be reduced in value, amount, etc." Of the sun, moon, etc., "to set," c. 1600. Of land, "dip downward gradually," by 1726.

Contrasted with swim (v.) since 14c.; the adjectival phrase sink or swim is from 1660s. To sink without a trace is World War I military jargon, translating German spurlos versenkt.

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muscle (n.)

"contractible animal tissue consisting of bundles of fibers," late 14c., "a muscle of the body," from Latin musculus "a muscle," literally "a little mouse," diminutive of mus "mouse" (see mouse (n.)).

So called because the shape and movement of some muscles (notably biceps) were thought to resemble mice. The analogy was made in Greek, too, where mys is both "mouse" and "muscle," and its combining form gives the medical prefix myo-. Compare also Old Church Slavonic mysi "mouse," mysica "arm;" German Maus "mouse; muscle," Arabic 'adalah "muscle," 'adal "field mouse;" Cornish logodenfer "calf of the leg," literally "mouse of the leg." In Middle English, lacerte, from the Latin word for "lizard," also was used as a word for a muscle.

Musclez & lacertez bene one selfe þing, Bot þe muscle is said to þe fourme of mouse & lacert to þe fourme of a lizard. [Guy de Chauliac, "Grande Chirurgie," c. 1425]

Hence muscular and mousy are relatives, and a Middle English word for "muscular" was lacertous, "lizardy." Figurative sense of "muscle, strength, brawn" is by 1850; that of "force, violence, threat of violence" is 1930, American English. Muscle car "hot rod" is from 1969.

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gain (v.)

1520s, "obtain as profit," from French gagner, from Old French gaaignier "to earn, gain; trade; capture, win," also "work in the fields, cultivate land," from Frankish *waidanjan "hunt, forage," also "graze, pasture," from Proto-Germanic *waithanjan "to hunt, plunder," from *waithjo- "pursuit, hunting" (source also of Old English waþ "hunting," German Weide "pasture, pasturage," Old Norse veiðr "hunting, fishing, catch of fish").

This is from PIE root *weie- "to go after, strive after, pursue vigorously, desire," with noun derivatives indicating "force, power" (related to *wi-ro- "man;" see virile). Cognates include Sanskrit padavi- "track, path, trail," veti- "follows, strives, leads, drives;" Avestan vateiti "follows, hunts;" Greek hiemai "move oneself forward, strive, desire;" Lithuanian vyti "to chase, pursue;" Old Norse veiðr "chase, hunting, fishing;" Old English OE wað "a chase, hunt."

Meaning "obtain by effort or striving" is from 1540s; intransitive sense of "profit, make gain" is from 1570s. Meaning "arrive at" is from c. 1600. Of timepieces by 1861. Related: Gained; gaining. To gain on "advance nearer" is from 1719. To gain ground (1620s) was originally military.

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