late 14c., direccioun, "action of directing or guiding," from Latin directionem (nominative directio) "a making straight, a straight line, a directing (toward something)," noun of action from past-participle stem of dirigere "to set straight, arrange; give a particular direction to," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + regere "to direct, to guide, keep straight" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line").
Meaning "the act of governing, administration" is from early 15c. Sense of "relative position without regard to distance" is from 1660s. Meaning "course pursued by a moving object" is from 1660s.
Sense of "order, instruction in how to proceed" is from early 15c.; specific sense of "instruction in how to get somewhere" is from 1590s (directions in this sense is by 1749). Related: Directional.
early 15c., procusie, proccy, prokecye, "agency of one who acts instead of another, office or authority of a substitute; letter of power of attorney," contraction of Anglo-French procuracie (c. 1300), from Medieval Latin procuratia "administration," from Latin procuratio "a caring for, management," from procurare "manage" (see procure). Also compare proctor (n.).
Meaning "person who is deputed to represent or act for another" is from 1610s. Of things, "that which takes the place of something else," 1630s. Meaning "vote sent by a deputy" is from 1650s in a Rhode Island context. Proxy war, one started or stoked by, but not directly involving, a major power is by 1955.
late 14c., dispensacioun, "power to dispose of," also "act of dispensing or dealing out," also "a relaxation of the law in some particular case," from Old French despensacion (12c., Modern French dispensation) and directly from Latin dispensationem (nominative dispensatio) "management, charge," noun of action from past-participle stem of dispensare "disburse, administer, distribute (by weight)" (see dispense). Related: Dispensational.
Theological sense "method or scheme by which God has developed his purposes and revealed himself to man" (late 14c.) is from the use of the Latin word to translate Greek oikonomoia "office, method of administration" (see economy). Hence "particular period during which a religious system has prevailed" (1640s), with Patriarchal, Mosaic, Christian, etc. Also "a particular distribution (for good or ill) by divine providence" (1650s).
Middle English doome, from Old English dom "a law, statute, decree; administration of justice, judgment; justice, equity, righteousness," from Proto-Germanic *domaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian dom, Old Norse domr, Old High German tuom "judgment, decree," Gothic doms "discernment, distinction"), perhaps from PIE root *dhe- "to set, place, put, do" (source also of Sanskrit dhaman- "law," Greek themis "law," Lithuanian domė "attention").
Originally in a neutral sense but sometimes also "a decision determining fate or fortune, irrevocable destiny." A book of laws in Old English was a dombec. Modern adverse sense of "fate, ruin, destruction" begins early 14c. and is general after c. 1600, from doomsday and the finality of the Christian Judgment. Crack of doom is the last trump, the signal for the dissolution of all things.
1805, in geology and mineralogy, "tendency (of rocks or gems) to break cleanly along natural fissures," from cleave (v.1) + -age. General meaning "action or state of cleaving or being cleft" is from 1867.
The sense of "cleft between a woman's breasts in low-cut clothing" is first recorded 1946, defined in a "Time" magazine article [Aug. 5] as the "Johnston Office trade term for the shadowed depression dividing an actress' bosom into two distinct sections;" traditionally first used in this sense by U.S. publicist Joseph I. Breen (1888-1965), head of the Production Code Administration (replaced 1945 by Eric Johnston), enforcers of Hollywood self-censorship, in reference to Jane Russell's costumes and poses in "The Outlaw."
The signification, qualifications, and methods of administration have been much debated. Figurative sense "any ceremonial ablution as a sign of purification, dedication, etc." is from late 14c. Old English used fulluht in this sense (John the Baptist was Iohannes se Fulluhtere).
Phrase baptism of fire "a soldier's first experience of battle" (1857) translates French baptême de feu; the phrase originally was ecclesiastical Greek baptisma pyros and meant "the grace of the Holy Spirit as imparted through baptism;" later it was used of martyrdom, especially by burning.
Old English wir "metal drawn out into a fine thread," from Proto-Germanic *wira- (source also of Old Norse viravirka "filigree work," Swedish vira "to twist," Old High German wiara "fine gold work"), from PIE root *wei- "to turn, twist, plait."
A wire as marking the finish line of a racecourse is attested from 1883; hence the figurative down to the wire. Wire-puller in the political sense is by 1842, American English, on the image of pulling the wires that work a puppet; the image itself in politics is older:
The ministerial majority being thus reduced to five in a house of five hundred and eighty-three, Lord John Russell and Lord Melbourne respectively announce the breaking up of the administration, and the curtain falls on the first act of the political farce, to the infinite annoyance and surprise of the prime wire-puller in the puppet-show. [British and Foreign Review, vol. IX, July-October 1839]
early 15c., "to guide, accompany and show the way," from Latin conductus, past participle of conducere "to lead or bring together; contribute, serve," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + ducere "to lead" (from PIE root *deuk- "to lead").
Sense of "to lead, command, direct, manage" is from mid-15c., originally military. General meaning "to direct, manage, act as leader of" is from 1630s; especially of a musical performance (1791).
Meaning "behave in a certain way" is from 1710. In physics, "to carry, convey, transmit," 1740. Related: Conducted; conducting. An earlier verb in the same sense was condyten (c. 1400), which goes with conduit.
To conduct is to lead along, hence to attend with personal supervision; it implies the determination of the main features of administration and the securing of thoroughness in those who carry out the commands; it is used of both large things and small, but generally refers to a definite task, coming to an end or issue: as, to conduct a religious service, a funeral, a campaign. [Century Dictionary]
1857, "mathematical condition of being at right angles, state or fact of being normal in geometry," from normal + -cy. The word has been associated since 1920 with U.S. president Warren G. Harding (who campaigned that year under the slogan "Return to Normalcy," meaning pre-World War I conditions). Previously normalcy was used mostly in the mathematical sense and the word preferred by purists for "a normal situation" is normality. Harding's use of it was derided during his administration as an example of his much-belittled incompetence with the language (Democratic politician William G. McAdoo Jr. called Harding’s speeches "an army of pompous phrases moving across the landscape in search of an idea").
America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality. [Harding, "Readjustment" speech, May 24, 1920]
c. 1500, "without speech, silent, not speaking," from Latin silentem (nominative silens) "still, calm, quiet," present participle of silere "be quiet or still" (see silence (n.)). Meaning "free from noise or sound" is from 1580s.
Of letters, c. 1600; of films, 1914. In the looser sense "of few words," from 1840. Phrase strong, silent (type) is attested from 1905. Silent majority in the political sense of "mass of people whose moderate views are not publicly expressed and thus overlooked" is first attested 1955 in a British context and was used by John F. Kennedy but is most associated in U.S. with the rhetoric of the Nixon administration (1969-74).
It is time for America's silent majority to stand up for its rights, and let us remember the American majority includes every minority. America's silent majority is bewildered by irrational protest. [Spiro T. Agnew, May 9, 1969]
In Victorian use, the phrase meant "the dead" (1874; compare Roman use of the noun plural of "silent" to mean "the dead"). Silence is golden (1831) is Carlyle's translation ["Sartor Resartus"] of part of the "Swiss Inscription" Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden. In one 14c. text Latin "one who is silent" is translated by a beere stille.