1815, from the true Simon Pure "the genuine person or thing" (1795), from Simon Pure, name of a Quaker who is impersonated by another character (Colonel Feignwell) in part of the comedy "A Bold Stroke for a Wife" (1717) by Susannah Centlivre, English dramatist and actress. The real Simon Pure is dealt with as an impostor in the play and is believed only after he has proved his identity.
mid-14c., "condition or relation of being other or different," also "any special mode of non-identity," from Old French difference"difference, distinction; argument, dispute" (12c.) and directly from Latin differentia "diversity, difference," from differentem (nominative differens), present participle of differre "to set apart," from assimilated form of dis- "apart, away from" (see dis-) + ferre "to bear, carry," from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry." Sense of "controversy, dispute, a quarrel" is from late 14c.
The neuter genitive pronoun in Middle English was his, but the clash between grammatical gender and sexual gender, or else the application of the word to both human and non-human subjects, evidently made users uncomfortable. Restriction of his to the masculine and avoidance of it as a neuter pronoun is evidenced in Middle English, and of it and thereof (as in KJV) were used for the neuter possessive. In literary use, his as a neuter pronoun continued into the 17c. In Middle English, simple it sometimes was used as a neuter possessive pronoun (c. 1300).
1590s, "assembly of persons wearing masks and usually other disguises," from French mascarade or Spanish mascarada "masked party or dance," from Italian mascarata "a ball at which masks are worn," variant of mascherata "masquerade," from maschera (see mask (n.)).
Extended sense of "disguise in general, concealment or apparent change of identity by any means" is from 1660s; figurative sense of "false outward show" is from 1670s.
fem. proper name, from Aramaic (Semitic) Maretha, literally "lady, mistress," fem. of mar, mara "lord, master." As the type name of one concerned with domestic affairs, it is from Luke x.40-41. Martha's Vineyard was discovered 1602 by English explorer Gabriel Archer and apparently named by him, but the identity of the Martha he had in mind is unknown now.
late 15c., "immoral woman," later (16c.) also "rascal, knave" (regardless of gender); probably from a continental Germanic source, compare Middle Flemish sloovin "a scold," sloef "untidy, shabby," Dutch slof "careless, negligent," Middle Low German sloven "put on clothes carelessly," from Proto-Germanic *slaubjan, from PIE root *sleubh- "to slide, slip." Meaning "person careless of dress or negligent of cleanliness" is from 1520s. Also see slut.