capital of old Brabant and modern Belgium, a name of Germanic origin, from brocca "marsh" + sali "room, building," from Latin cella (see cell). It arose 6c. as a fortress on an island in a river. As a type of carpet, from 1799; as a type of lace, from 1748.
Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea gemmifera) is attested from 1748 (the first written description of them is from 1580s); they have long been associated with Flanders and especially Brussels (compare the French name, choux de Bruxelles).
"effeminate man, male homosexual who takes the passive role," 1924, from female name Nancy (q.v.), which was in use as an adjective meaning "effeminate" (applied to men) by 1904 in prison slang, a shortening of earlier Miss Nancy, a derogatory term for a finicky, effeminate man which is attested by 1824; Nancy boy "effeminate male homosexual" is attested by 1939.
Nancy, Miss, an opprobrious epithet for an exceedingly effeminate, over-nice young man. The original Miss Nancy, however, was a Mrs. Anna Oldfield, a celebrated actress, who died in 1730 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. She was extremely vain and nice about her dress, and as she lay in state, attended by two noblemen, she was attired, as she had directed shortly before her death, in "a very fine Brussels lace head-dress, a Holland shift with a tucker and double ruffles of the same lace, a pair of new kid gloves," etc., a circumstance alluded to by Pope .... [William S. Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," 1892]
Walsh's proposed origin might not be exact. Related: Nancified.
"type of neck-cloth worn usually by men," 1650s, from French cravate (17c.), from Cravate, literally "Croatian," from German Krabate, from Serbo-Croatian Hrvat "a Croat" (see Croat). Cravats came into fashion 1650s in imitation of linen scarves worn by the Croats or Crabats, 17th-century light cavalry forces who fought on the side of the Catholic League in the Thirty Years' War. The name in this context was not an ethnic label as much as a generic designation for light cavalry from the Hapsburg Military Frontier, which included Croats, Hungarians, Serbs, Wallachians, Poles, Cossacks and Tatars.
When first introduced, it was commonly of lace, or of linen edged with lace. ... The modern cravat is rather a necktie, passed once round the neck, and tied in front in a bow, or, as about 1840 and earlier (when the cravat consisted of a triangular silk kerchief, usually black), twice round the neck, in imitation of the stock. Formerly, when starched linen cravats were worn, perfection in the art of tying them was one of the great accomplishments of a dandy. The cravat differs properly from the scarf, which, whether tied, or passed through a ring, or held by a pin, hangs down over the shirt front. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
mid-15c., "cord, lace, or ribbon of fine material worn as an ornament or token of victory," from Old French cordon "ribbon, cord," diminutive of corde "cord" (see cord). Military sense of "a line of troops or military posts guarding a place" is by 1758.
The original sense is preserved in cordon bleu (1727) "the highest distinction," literally "blue ribbon," for the sky-blue ribbon worn by the old French order of Knights-grand-cross of the Holy Ghost (the highest order of chivalry under the Bourbons). Extended figuratively to other persons of distinction, especially, in jocular use, to a first-rate cook.
Cordon sanitaire (1857) is French, a line of troops or military posts set around an infected district to keep the disease from spreading.
mid-15c., "foolish person," of unknown origin, perhaps related to obsolete verb fop "make a fool of," from a continental source akin to German foppen "jeer at, make a fool of." Sense of "dandy, coxcomb, man ostentatiously nice in manner and appearance" is from 1670s, perhaps given in derision by those who thought such things foolish. The 18c. was their period of greatest florescense. The junior variety was a fopling (1680s).
His was the sumptuous age of powder and patches. He was especially dainty in the matters of sword-knots, shoe-buckles, and lace ruffles. He was ablaze with jewelry, took snuff with an incomparable air out of a box studded with diamonds, and excelled in the "nice conduct of a clouded cane." [Charles J. Dunphie, "Fops and Foppery," New York, 1876]
late 14c., mitain (from mid-13c. in surnames) "a glove, a covering for the hand," especially "a covering for the hand, differing from a glove in not having a separate covering for each finger, the thumb only being separated," from Old French mitaine "mitten, half-glove" (12c.) and from Medieval Latin mitta, both of uncertain origin; both perhaps from Middle High German mittemo, Old High German mittamo "middle, midmost" (reflecting the notion of "half-glove"), or from Vulgar Latin *medietana "divided in the middle," from Latin medius (see medial (adj.)).
From 1755 as "lace or knitted silk glove for women covering the forearm, the wrist, and part of the hand," worn fashionably by women in the early 19c. and revived towards the end of it. Hence get the mitten (1825), of men, "be refused or dismissed as a lover" (colloquial), from the notion of receiving the mitten instead of the "hand."
[self-propelling projectile] 1610s, "projectile consisting of a cylindrical tube of pasteboard filled with flammable or explosive matter," from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko "distaff," Middle Dutch rokke, Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon- (from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn").
Originally of fireworks rockets, the meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" is recorded by 1919 (Goddard); rocket-ship in the space-travel sense is attested from February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985; rocket scientist is from 1952.
That such a feat is considered within the range of possibility is evidenced by the activities of scientists in Europe as well as in America. Two of them, Prof. Herman Oberth and Dr. Franz Hoeff, of Vienna, are constructing a five-ton rocket ship in which they hope to reach the moon in two days. [Popular Science, February 1927]
fem. proper name, name of the faithful wife in the "Odyssey," from Greek Pēnelopē, Pēnelopeia, which is perhaps related to pēne "thread on the bobbin," from pēnos "web," cognate with Latin pannus "cloth garment" (see pane (n.)). But Beekes suggests rather a connection with pēnelops "duck or wild goose with colored neck." Used in English as the type of the virtuous wife (1580) as it was in Latin.
Penelope, the daughter of Icarus, was a rare and perfect example of chastity. For though it was generally thought that her husband Ulysses was dead, since he had been absent from her twenty years; yet, neither the desires of her parents, nor the solicitations of her lovers, could prevail on her to marry another man, and to violate the promises of constancy which she gave to her husband when he departed. And when many noblemen courted her, and even threatened her with ruin, unless she declared which of them should marry her, she desired that the choice might be deferred till she had finished the piece of needle-work about which she was then employed: but undoing by night what she had worked by day, she delayed them till Ulysses returned and killed them all. Hence came the proverb, "To weave Penelope's web;" that is, to labour in vain; when one hand destroys what the other has wrought. [Andrew Tooke, "The Pantheon, Representing the Fabulous Histories of the Heathen Gods and Most Illustrious Heroes, in a Plain and Familiar Method," London: 1824]