From c. 1300 in the general sense "legal validity," also "authoritative book; authoritative doctrine" (opposed to reason or experience); "author whose statements are regarded as correct." From mid-14c. as "right to rule or command, power to enforce obedience, power or right to command or act." In Middle English also "power derived from good reputation; power to convince people, capacity for inspiring trust." From c. 1400 as "official sanction, authorization." Meaning "persons in authority" is from 1610s; Authorities "those in charge, those with police powers" is recorded from mid-19c.
as a metaphysical concept, "belief that the world tends to become better or is capable of improvement;" in practical terms, "the improvement of society by regulated practical means;" by 1868, attributed to "George Eliot" (Mary Anne Evans), from Latin melior "better" (see meliorate) + -ism. Related: Meliorist (1835); melioristic.
In her general attitude towards life, George Eliot was neither optimist nor pessimist. She held to the middle term, which she invented for herself, of "meliorist." She was cheered by the hope and by the belief in gradual improvement of the mass; for in her view each individual must find the better part of happiness in helping another. ["Life and Letters"]
I don't know that I ever heard anybody use the word "meliorist" except myself. But I begin to think that there is no good invention or discovery that has not been made by more than one person. The only good reason for referring to the "source" would be, that you found it useful for the doctrine of meliorism to cite one unfashionable confessor of it in the face of the fashionable extremes. ["George Eliot," letter to James Sully, Jan. 19, 1877]
The English word is said in some dictionaries to be probably not from French, but the 1868 citations are in a French context: The velocipedes, about which the Parisians have run mad at the present moment, are of various kinds. ... The two wheel velocipedes, the bicycles as they are styled, are intended for the male sex only, and are by far the swiftest machines. ["Supplement to the Courant," Hartford, Conn., Dec. 16, 1868]. Pierre Lallement, employee of a French carriage works, improved Macmillan's 1839 pedal velocipede in 1865 and took the invention to America. See also pennyfarthing. As a verb, from 1869.
The velocipede of 1869 was worked by treadles operating cranks on the axle oi the front wheel. This was modified in the earliest form of the bicycle by greatly increasing the relative size of the driving-wheel and bringing the rider directly over it. Later the "safety" bicycle was introduced, in which the wheels were made of equal or nearly equal size, and for the direct action upon the front wheel was substituted indirect action upon the rear wheel, by means of a chain and sprocket-wheels .... [Century Dictionary]
1550s, "large kind of four-wheeled, covered carriage," from French coche (16c.), from German kotsche, from Hungarian kocsi (szekér) "(carriage) of Kocs," village where it was first made. In Hungary, the thing and the name for it date from 15c., and forms are found since 16c. in most European languages (Spanish and Portuguese coche, Italian cocchino, Dutch koets). Vehicles often were named for the place of their invention or first use (compare berlin, landau, surrey). Applied to railway passenger cars by 1866, American English. Sense of "economy or tourist class" is from 1949.
Meaning "instructor/trainer" is c. 1830 Oxford University slang for a private tutor who "carries" a student through an exam (compare pony in the student slang sense "translation"). Transferred sense in sports, "person employed to train athletes for a contest" is attested from 1861. A more classical word for an athletic trainer was agonistarch, from Greek agonistarkhes "one who trains (someone) to compete in the public games and contests."
All panelled carriages with seats for four persons inside, and an elevated coachman's seat, are designated coaches. The town coach proper, has windows in the doors, and one in each end, the quarters being panelled. [Henry William Herbert ("Frank Forester"), "Hints to Horse-Keepers," New York, 1859]
"pertaining to the state of consciousness when awaking from sleep," 1897, coined by English man of letters Frederic W. H. Myers (1843-1901) from hypno- "sleep" + second element from Greek pompe "sending away," from pempein "to send" (see pomp).
Hypnagogic — Illusions hypnagogiques (Maury) are the vivid illusions of sight or sound—"faces in the dark," etc.—which sometimes accompany the oncoming of sleep. To similar illusions accompanying the departure of sleep, as when a dream-figure persists for a few moments into waking life, I have given the name hypnopompic. [F.W.H. Myers, "Glossary of Terms used in Psychical Research," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. xii, 1896-97, supplement]
By hypnagogic paramnesia I mean a false memory occurring in the antechamber of sleep, but not necessarily before sleep. Mr. Myers' invention of the word "hypnopompic" seems to me unnecessary except for pedantic reasons. I take the condition of consciousness to be almost the same whether the sleep is coming on or passing away. In the dream I have recorded it is even impossible to say whether the phenomenon is "hypnagogic" or "hypnopompic"; in such a case the twilight consciousness is as much conditioned by the sleep that is passing away as by the sleep that is coming on. [H. Ellis, "A Note on Hypnagogic Paramnesia," in Mind, vol. vi, 1897]
"one endowed with the gift and power of imaginative invention and creation, attended by corresponding eloquence of expression, commonly but not necessarily in a metrical form" [Century Dictionary, 1895], early 14c., "a poet, an author of metrical compositions; one skilled in the art of making poetry; a singer" (c. 1200 as a surname), from Old French poete (12c., Modern French poète) and directly from Latin poeta "a poet," from Greek poētēs "maker, author, poet," variant of poiētēs, from poein, poiein "to make, create, compose," from PIE *kwoiwo- "making," from root *kwei- "to pile up, build, make" (source also of Sanskrit cinoti "heaping up, piling up," Old Church Slavonic činu "act, deed, order").
Replaced Old English scop (which survives in scoff). Used in 14c., as in classical languages, for all sorts of writers or composers of works of literature. Poète maudit, "a poet insufficiently appreciated by his contemporaries," literally "cursed poet," is attested by 1930, from French (1884, Verlaine). For poet laureate see laureate.
"Communication" will not explain poetry. I will not say that there is not always some varying degree of communication in poetry, or that poetry could exist without any communication taking place. There is room for very great individual variation in the motives of equally good individual poets; and we have the assurance of Coleridge, with the approval of Mr. Housman, that "poetry gives most pleasure when only generally and not perfectly understood." [T.S. Eliot, "The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism"]
c. 1300, devis, "intent, desire; an expressed intent or desire; a plan or design; a literary composition," from Old French devis "division, separation; disposition, wish, desire; coat of arms, emblem; a bequest in a will, act of bequeathing," from deviser "arrange, plan, contrive," literally "dispose in portions," from Vulgar Latin *divisare, frequentative of Latin dividere "to divide" (see divide (v.)).
The basic sense is "method by which something is divided," which arose in Old French and led to the range of modern meanings via the notion of "something invented or fitted to a particular use or purpose," hence "an invention; a constructed tool; inventiveness; a contriving, a plan or scheme."
In English from c. 1400 as "artistic design, work of art; ornament," hence especially "a representation of some object or scene, accompanied by a motto or legend, used as an expression of the bearer's aspirations or principles." Also from c. 1400 as "mechanical contrivance," such as a large crossbow fitted with a crank. From mid-15c. as "a bequest in a will." Since c. 1996 the word has come to be used especially for "hand-held or mobile computing or electronic instrument."
We live in a kind of world and in an age of the world where devices of all sorts are growing in complexity, where, therefore, the necessity for alertness and self-mastery in the control of device is ever more urgent. If we are democrats we know that especial perils beset us, both because of the confusion of our aims and because it is easier for the mob than for the individual to mistake appetite for reason, and advantage for right. [Hartley Burr Alexander, "'Liberty and Democracy,' and Other Essays in War-Time," 1918]
mid-14c., pencel, "an artist's small, fine brush of camel hair," used for painting, manuscript illustration, etc., from Old French pincel "artist's paintbrush" (13c., Modern French pinceau) and directly from Medieval Latin pincellus, from Latin penicillus "painter's brush, hair-pencil," literally "little tail," diminutive of peniculus "brush," itself a diminutive of penis "tail" (see penis).
Small brushes formerly were used for writing before modern lead or chalk pencils. Sticks of pure graphite (commonly known as black lead) were used for marking things in England from the mid-16c., and the wooden enclosure for them was developed in the same century on the Continent. This seems to have been the time the word pencil was transferred from a type of brush to "graphite writing implement." The modern clay-graphite mix was developed early 19c., and pencils of this sort were mass-produced from mid-19c. Hymen L. Lipman of Philadelphia obtained a patent for the pencil with an attached eraser in 1858.
Derogatory slang pencil-pusher "office worker" is from 1881 (pen-driver, jocular for "clerk, writer," is from 1820); pencil neck "weak person" first recorded 1973. Pencil-sharpener as a mechanical device for putting the point on a lead pencil is by 1854.
And here is a new and serviceable invention—a pencil sharpener. It is just the thing to carry in the pocket, being no larger than a lady's thimble. It sharpens a lead pencil neatly and splendidly, by means of a small blade fitted in a cap, which is turned upon the end of a pencil. A patent has been applied for. Made by Mr. W. K. Foster, of Bangor. ["The Portland Transcript," Portland, Maine, Sept. 30, 1854]
Otherworldliness is recorded from 1819. Phrase other world is from c. 1200 (oþre weorlde) as "afterlife, spirit-land, world to come;" c. 1300 as "world of idealism or fantasy, a state of existence different from normal," but otherworldliness seems to have been formed from worldliness. Leigh Hunt used it first in print, in "The Examiner" [Dec. 19, 1819], but a reported use of it by Coleridge, printed in Thomas Allsop's selections from Coleridge's letters and conversations (1836), which apparently cover the years 1818-22, was better-known thereafter, and the word is sometimes attributed to Coleridge:
As there is a worldliness or the too much of this life, so there is another-worldliness, or rather other worldliness, equally hateful and selfish with this worldliness.
Hunt, in his "Autobiography" (1850), writes:
I hope I am not giving fresh instance of a weakness which I suppose myself to have outgrown; much less appropriating an invention which does not belong to me; but an accomplished authoress one day (Mrs. Jameson), at the table of my friend Barry Cornwall, quoted the term "otherworldliness" from Coleridge. I said Coleridge was rich enough not to need the transference to him of other men's property; and that I felt so much honoured by the supposition in this instance, that I could not help claiming the word as my own. If Coleridge, indeed, used it before me, I can only say that I was not aware of it, and that my own reflections, very much accustomed to that side of speculation, would have suggested an identical thought.
"stick for striking fire." Late 14c., macche, "wick of a candle or lamp," a sense now obsolete, from Old French meiche "wick of a candle," from Vulgar Latin *micca/*miccia (source also of Catalan metxa, Spanish mecha, Italian miccia), which is of uncertain origin, probably ultimately from Latin myxa, from Greek myxa "lamp wick," originally "mucus," based on notion of wick dangling from the spout of a lamp like snot from a nostril, from PIE root *meug- "slimy, slippery" (see mucus). English snot also had a secondary sense from late 14c. of "snuff of a candle, burnt part of a wick," surviving at least to late 19c. in northern dialects.
The modern spelling is from mid-15c. The meaning "piece of cord or tow soaked in sulfur, used for lighting fires, lamps, candles, etc." is from 1530. It was used by 1830 for the modern type of sulfur-tipped wooden friction match, which were perfected about that time, and competed with lucifer for much of 19c. as the name for this invention. An earlier version consisted of a thin strip of wood tipped with combustible matter that required contact with phosphorous carried separately in a box or vial.
In the manufacture of matches much trouble has been occasioned by the use of phosphorous .... In some of the small and poorly-managed factories the men and children are never free from the fumes; their clothes and breath are luminous in the dark, and in the daytime white fumes may be seen escaping from them whenever they are seated by the fire. ... The danger arising from the use of matches was magnified, because they could sometimes be seen in the dark, were liable to ignite on a warm shelf, and were poisonous to such an extent that children had been killed by using them as playthings. [John A. Garver, "Matches," in The Popular Science Monthly, August 1877]