c. 1200, of areas, "great in expanse," of persons, "bountiful, inclined to give or spend freely," from Old French large "broad, wide; generous, bounteous" (12c.), from Latin largus "abundant, copious, plentiful; bountiful, liberal in giving, generous" (source also of Spanish largo "long," Italian largo "wide"), a word of unknown origin.
The modern English meanings "extensive; big in overall size; great in number" emerged 14c. Adjective phrase larger-than-life first attested 1840 (bigger than life is from 1640s). Large-handed has meant both "grasping, greedy" (c. 1600) and "generous, liberal" (1620s); also "having large hands" (1896). Living large is a modern colloquial expression (1994 in African-American vernacular), but large in the sense of "prodigal, lavish" is from late 14c. and, of circumstances, "comfortable, easy" from 1738, and in more recent use Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") have it as "impressively, to excess" from 1852.
In mod.Eng., a general designation for considerable magnitude, used instead of great when it is not intended to convey the emotional implication now belonging to that word. [OED]
An older sense of "freedom from prison or restraining influence" is preserved in at large "at (one's) liberty, free from imprisonment or confinement free to move openly" (late 14c.). The phrase, with the meaning "free or at liberty in a general way (without particulars)" is from 1620s; specifically of electors from 1741, American English.
c. 1500, of persons, "given to extravagant expenditure, lavish, wasteful," a back-formation from prodigality, or else from French prodigal and directly from Late Latin prodigalis, from Latin prodigus "wasteful," from prodigere "drive away, waste," from pro "forth" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward") + agere "to set in motion, drive; to do, perform" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").
Most often in prodigal son (Vulgate Latin filius prodigus) from the parable told in Luke xv.11-32. The meaning "very liberal, lavishly bountiful" is by 1590s. As a noun, "prodigal person, one who expends money lavishly and without necessity," 1590s, from the adjective (the Latin adjective also was used as a noun). Related: Prodigially.
1630s, in philology, "root part of a word, primitive verbal element serving as the root of inflected or derivative words," from radical (adj.) Political sense of "extremist, person who holds radical principles, one who pursues a theory to its furthest limit" is by 1802; chemical sense is by 1816.
In the political sense, in which the word has been most used, a Radical is one who aims at thorough reform in government from a liberal or democratic point of view, or desires the establishment of what he regards as abstract principles of right and justice, by the most direct and uncompromising methods. ... The name Radical is often applied as one of reproach to the members of a party by their opponents. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
1530s, "general course of instruction," from Modern Latin encyclopaedia (c. 1500), thought to be a false reading by Latin authors of Greek enkyklios paideia taken as "general education," but literally "training in a circle," i.e. the "circle" of arts and sciences, the essentials of a liberal education; from enkyklios "circular," also "general" (from en "in;" see in + kyklos "circle;" from PIE root *kwel- (1) "revolve, move round") + paideia "education, child-rearing," from pais (genitive paidos) "child" (see pedo-).
Modern sense of "reference work arranged alphabetically" is from 1640s, often applied specifically to the French Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts, et des Métiers (1751-65). Related: Encyclopedist.
"hostility or discrimination against Muslims," supposedly rooted in dread or hatred of Islam, by 1996, from Islam + -phobia, as used in Judaeophobia, Francophobia, etc. Related: Islamophobic; Islamophobe.
The term [a report by the liberal think-tank Runnymede Trust] uses, 'Islamophobia,' is so recently coined that it has yet to be recognised in the Oxford English Dictionary, but according to the trust the phenomenon it refers to 'has existed in western countries and cultures for centuries.' ["Islamophobia," Third Way, April 1997]
The related words have been in occasional use for more than a century, however. Islamophobe is attested in 1877 in English and by 1914 in French.
"designate as worthy of priority," by 1967 in U.S. government jargon, apparently popularized during the 1972 U.S. presidential contest, from root of priority + -ize. "A word that at present sits uneasily in the language" [OED, 1989]. Related: Prioritized; prioritizing.
Sen. Pete Dominick (R-Colo.) claims that it took him and his staff almost six years (Dominick is up for election next year) just to learn "governmentalese." He notes words such as "generalizationable" and "prioritize" and other words constructed with liberal use of hyphens: "quasi-pseudo-anti-regionalism" and "multi-duplex-co-establishment." [Don MacLean, "Washington Watch" newspaper column, February, 1967]
"person felt by the writer or speaker to be deficient in liberal culture," 1827, originally in Carlyle, popularized by him and Matthew Arnold, from German Philister "enemy of God's word," literally "Philistine," inhabitants of a Biblical land, neighbors (and enemies) of Israel (see Philistine).
Popularized in German student slang (supposedly first at Jena, late 17c.) as a contemptuous term for "townies," and hence, by extension, "any uncultured person." Philistine had been used in a humorous figurative sense of "an unfeeling enemy" in English from c. 1600. Related: Philistinism.
The people who believe most that our greatness and welfare are proved by our being very rich, and who most give their lives and thoughts to becoming rich, are just the very people whom we call Philistines. [Matthew Arnold, "Sweetness and Light," 1869]
1867, "calf or yearling found without an owner's brand," a word from the great cattle ranches of the American West, so called for Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner who was notoriously negligent in branding his calves.
All neat stock found running at large in this State, without a mother, and upon which there is neither mark nor brand, shall be deemed a maverick, and shall be sold to the highest bidder for cash, at such time and place, and under such rules and regulations, as the round-up commissioners of the district shall prescribe. [act to amend the General Statutes of the State of Colorado, approved April 8, 1885]
The family name is an old one in Boston, and a different Samuel Maverick was killed in the Boston Massacre. The sense of "individualist, unconventional person" is said to be attested by 1886, via the notion of "masterless," but its modern popularity seems to date to the late 1930s and the career of Maury Maverick (1895-1954) of Texas, grandson of Samuel the rancher and a Democratic congressman 1935-1939 famous for his liberal independent streak, who also coined gobbledygook.
"The Crisis" (April 1939) wrote that "During his stormy career in Washington Maverick became known as the one dependable liberal among the southerners. He recognized the broad problems of our nation, refusing to allow his vision to be limited by sectional prejudices, or racial or economic bugaboos. He was the only southern congressman to vote for the Gavagan federal anti-lynching bill. Not only did he vote for it, but he made a speech on the floor of the House in support of it."