Etymology
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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").

This is reconstructed to be 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). The meaning "group of employees (as at an office or hospital)" is attested by 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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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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sin (n.)

Middle English sinne, from Old English synn, syn "violation of divine law, offense against God; moral wrongdoing," also "injury, mischief; enmity, feud; guilt, crime, misdeed," from Proto-Germanic *sundiō "sin" (source also of Old Saxon sundia, Old Frisian sende, Middle Dutch sonde, Dutch zonde, German Sünde "sin, transgression, trespass, offense," extended forms).

The notion is probably ultimately "it is true," i.e. "the sin is real" (compare Gothic sonjis, Old Norse sannr "true"), from PIE *snt-ya-, a collective form from *es-ont- "becoming," present participle of the root *es- "to be."

The semantic development would be via the notion of "to be truly the one (who is guilty)," as in Old Norse phrase verð sannr at "be found guilty of," and the use of the phrase "it is being" in Hittite confessional formula. The same process probably yielded the Latin word sons (genitive sontis) "guilty, criminal" from present participle of sum, esse "to be, that which is." Some etymologists believe the Germanic word was an early borrowing directly from the Latin genitive. Also see sooth.

The details of the purely theological definition are much contested. Sin-eater is attested from 1680s, "one who, for pay, takes on the sins of a deceased person," typically by eating certain food in the presence of the corpse. To live in sin "cohabit without marriage" is from 1838; the phrase was used since Middle English in a more general sense (to sin with has been "commit fornication or adultery with" since c. 1200). Ice hockey slang sin bin "penalty box" is attested from 1950.

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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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season (n.)

c. 1300, sesoun, seson, "a period of the year," with reference to weather or work, also "proper time, suitable occasion," from Old French seison, seson, saison "season, date; right moment, appropriate time" (Modern French saison) "a sowing, planting," from Latin sationem (nominative satio) "a sowing, planting," noun of action from past-participle stem of serere "to sow" (from PIE root *sē- "to sow").

The sense shifted in Vulgar Latin from "act of sowing" to "time of sowing," especially "spring," regarded as the chief sowing season. In Old Provençal and Old French (and thus in English), this was extended to "any one of the four natural periods of the year," especially as determined astronomically by solstices and equinoxes. Later it was extended to the recurring annual wet and dry periods of the Tropics (1719).

In other Indo-European languages, generic "season" (of the year) words typically are from words for "time," sometimes with a word for "year" (as in Latin tempus (anni), German Jahreszeit). Spanish estacion, Italian stagione are unrelated, being from Latin statio "station."  

The season, short for some particular annual festivity, is by 1791 (hence season's greetings, etc.). Sometimes merely meaning "period of time," as in for a season. Man for all seasons, one for all times and circumstances, is from 1510s.

The meaning "time of year when an animal is hunted or killed for food" (as in in season) is from late 14c. The sense of "period of time regularly devoted to a particular sport or amusement" is by 1680s. Meaning "time of year during which a place is most frequented" is from 1705. Season ticket, one giving the holder unlimited use, admission, etc. for a specified period, is attested from 1820.

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service (n.1)

c. 1100, "celebration of public religious worship according to prescribed forms or methods," from Old French servise "act of homage; servitude; service at table; Mass, church ceremony," from Latin servitium (in Medieval Latin also servicium) "slavery, condition of a slave, servitude," also "slaves collectively" (in Medieval Latin "service"), from servus "slave" (see serve (v.)).

The meaning "act of serving, occupation of an attendant servant" is attested from c. 1200, as is that of "assistance, help; a helpful act." From c. 1300 as "provision of food; sequence of dishes served in a meal;" from late 14c. as "service at table, attendance during a meal." The sense of "the furniture of the table" (tea service, etc.) is from mid-15c.

Meanings "state of being bound to undertake tasks for someone or at someone's direction" and "labor performed or undertaken for another" are mid-13c. The sense of "service or employment in a court or administration" is from c. 1300, as is that of "military service (especially by a knight); employment as a soldier;" hence "the military as an occupation" (1706).

The meaning "the supplying of electricity, water, gas, etc., for domestic use" is by 1879; later extended to broadcasting (1927), etc. The meaning "expert care or assistance given by manufacturers or dealers to the purchasers of their goods" is by 1919. Service industry (as distinct from production) is attested from 1938; service there indicates the section of the economy that supplies consumer needs but makes no tangible goods (a sense attested by 1936). Service-charge is attested by 1929. A service station originally was a gas stop that also repaired cars.

At your service as a phrase of politeness is attested by c. 1600. Service-book, containing forms for public worship, is attested from 1570s. Also in Middle English, service was "the devotion or suit of a lover" (late 14c.), and "sexual intercourse, conjugal relations" (mid-15c.; service of Venus, or flesh's service). 

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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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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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break (v.)

Old English brecan "to divide solid matter violently into parts or fragments; to injure, violate (a promise, etc.), destroy, curtail; to break into, rush into; to burst forth, spring out; to subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekanan (source also of Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break."

Closely related to breach (n.), brake (n.1), brick (n.). The old past tense brake is obsolete or archaic; the past participle is broken, but shortened form broke is attested from 14c. and was "exceedingly common" [OED] 17c.-18c.

Of bones in Old English. Formerly also of cloth, paper, etc. The meaning "escape by breaking an enclosure" is from late 14c. The intransitive sense of "be or become separated into fragments or parts under action of some force" is from late 12c. The meaning "lessen, impair" is from late 15c. That of "make a first and partial disclosure" is from early 13c. The sense of "destroy continuity or completeness" in any way is from 1741. Of coins or bills, "to convert to smaller units of currency," by 1882.

In reference to the heart from early 13c. (intransitive); to break (someone's) heart is late 14c. Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. To break ground is from 1670s as "to dig, plow," from 1709 in the figurative sense of "begin to execute a plan." To break the ice "overcome the feeling of restraint in a new acquaintanceship" is from c. 1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind is attested from 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it.

The ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg (by 1948, said to be from at least 1920s) has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (see Macbeth). According to Farmer & Henley, in 17c. the expression was used euphemistically, of a woman, "to have a bastard."

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