word-forming element meaning "having a head" (of a specified type), from Greek kephalē "head" (see cephalo-).
late 14c., "middle point of a circle; point round which something revolves," from Old French centre (14c.), from Latin centrum "center," originally the fixed point of the two points of a drafting compass (hence "the center of a circle"), from Greek kentron "sharp point, goad, sting of a wasp," from kentein "stitch," from PIE root *kent- "to prick" (source also of Breton kentr "a spur," Welsh cethr "nail," Old High German hantag "sharp, pointed").
The spelling with -re was popularized in Britain by Johnson's dictionary (following Bailey's), though -er is older and was used by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. The meaning "the middle of anything" attested from 1590s. Figuratively, "point of concentration" (of power, etc.), from 1680s. The political use, originally in reference to France, "representatives of moderate views" (between left and right) is from 1837. Center of gravity is recorded from 1650s. Center of attention is from 1868.
"mark placed under the letter -c- in certain situations," 1590s, from Spanish cedilla, zedilla, literally "little z," from a Latin-like diminutive of Greek zēta "the letter 'z'" (see zed). The mark, mainly used in French and Portuguese (formerly also used in Spanish), was derived from that letter and indicates a "soft" sound in letters in positions where normally they have a "hard" sound. Sometimes the word is used as though it means the entire character ç.
late 14c., "judicial sentence," originally ecclesiastical, from Latin censura "judgment, opinion," also "office of a censor," from census, past participle of censere "appraise, estimate, assess" (see censor (n.)). The general sense of "a finding of fault and an expression of condemnation" is from c. 1600.
"person of moderate or intermediate political views," 1872, from French centriste, from centre (see center (n.)). Originally in English with reference to French politics; general application to other political situations is by 1889.
Where M. St. Hilaire is seen to most advantage, however, is when quietly nursing one of that weak-kneed congregation who sit in the middle of the House, and call themselves "Centrists." A French Centrist is—exceptis eoccipiendis—a man who has never been able to make up his mind, nor is likely to. ["Men of the Third Republic," London, 1873]
1846, "capable of being declared as true," from certify + -able. The meaning "so deranged as to be certifiably insane" is recorded from 1870, from certify in the specific sense "officially declare (someone) to be insane" (1822). The certification was done by local officials, later medical officers, and often included a statement as to whether the person was harmless or dangerous, curable or incurable.
early 15c., "ligament in the neck," from Latin cervix "the neck, nape of the neck," from PIE *kerw-o-, from root *ker- (1) "horn; head." Applied to various neck-like structures of the body, especially that of the uterus (by 1702), where it is shortened from medical Latin cervix uteri (17c.). Sometimes in 18c.-19c. medical writing it is cervix of the uterus to distinguish it from the neck.
late 14c., "a relinquishing, act of yielding," from Old French cession "cession; death" (13c.), from Latin cessionem (nominative cessio) "a giving up, surrendering," noun of action from past-participle stem of cedere "to go away, yield" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield"). Related: Cessionary.