a modern book-form to represent Old English run, rune "secret, mystery, dark mysterious statement, (secret) council," also "a runic letter" (runstæf), from Proto-Germanic *runo (source also of Old Norse run "a secret, magic sign, runic character," Old High German runa "a secret conversation, whisper," Gothic runa), from PIE *ru-no-, source of technical terms of magic in Germanic and Celtic (source also of Gaelic run "a secret, mystery, craft, deceit, purpose, intention, desire," Welsh rhin "a secret, charm, virtue"). Also see Runnymede.
The word entered Middle English as roun and by normal evolution would have become Modern English *rown, but it died out mid-15c. when the use of runes did. The modern usage is from late 17c., from German philologists who had reintroduced the word in their writings from a Scandinavian source (such as Danish rune, from Old Norse run).
The presumption often is that the magical sense was the original one in the word and the use of runes as letters was secondary to ancient Germanic peoples, but this is questioned by some linguists. The runic alphabet itself is believed to have developed by 2c. C.E. from contact with Greek writing, with the letters modified to be more easily cut into wood or stone. Related: Runed; runecraft.
1640s, "dowsing, use of a divining rod" (especially to find things hidden in the earth, ores or underground water), with -mancy "divination by means of" (from Greek manteia "divination, oracle") + Greek rhabdos "rod, wand; magic wand; fishing rod; spear-shaft; a staff of office; a rod for chastisement; twig, stick." Greek rhabdos is from PIE *wer- (2), base of roots meaning "to turn, bend" (source also of Lithuanian virbas "twig, branch, scion, rod," Latin verbena "leaves and branches of laurel").
The Greek noun was used to represent Roman fasces. Related: Rhabdomantic; rhabdomancer.
c. 1300, "to recite or cast a magic spell," from Old French charmer (13c.) "to enchant, to fill (someone) with desire (for something); to protect, cure, treat; to maltreat, harm," from Late Latin carminare, from Latin carmen "song, verse, enchantment, religious formula" (see charm (n.)). In Old French used alike of magical and non-magical activity. In English, "to win over by treating pleasingly, delight" from mid-15c.; weaker sense of "be highly pleasing" is by early 18c. Charmed (short for I am charmed) as a conventional reply to a greeting or meeting is attested by 1825.
Witchcraft was declared a crime in English law in 1542, at the beginning of the Protestant era; trials there peaked in the 1580s and 1640s but fell sharply after 1660. The last, in 1717, ended in acquittal. The Witchcraft Act was repealed 1736. Lecky ("Rationalism in Europe," 1866) examines Hutchinson and Buckle and concludes that belief in witchcraft and sorcery had been common in England even among the most educated at the time of the Restoration in 1660. By 1688, the majority disbelieved it; by 1718 the minority was reduced to the ignorant and an insignificant section of the clergy.
1580s, Harlicken, one of the stock characters of Italian commedia del'arte, from French harlequin, from Italian arlecchino, which is possibly from the same source as Old French Herlequin, Hellequin, etc., leader of la maisnie Hellequin, a troop of demons who rode the night air on horses. This is perhaps of Germanic origin; he seems to correspond to Old English Herla cyning "King Herla," mythical character sometimes identified as Woden, and possibly also to German Erlkönig, the "Elf King" of the Goethe poem. Sometimes also associated with Herrequin, 9c. count of Boulogne, who was proverbially wicked. In English pantomime, a mute character who carries a magic wand. From his ludicrous dress comes the English adjective meaning "particolored" (1779).
violet-colored quartz, late 13c., amatist, from Old French ametiste (12c., Modern French améthyste) and directly from Medieval Latin amatistus, from Latin amethystus, from Greek amethystos "amethyst," noun use of an adjective, literally "not intoxicating; not drunken," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + methyskein "make drunk," from methys "wine," from PIE root *medhu- "honey; mead" (see mead (n.1)).
The stone had a reputation among the ancients for preventing drunkenness; this was perhaps sympathetic magic suggested by its wine-like color. Beekes writes that the stone "was named after its color: the red of wine diluted with water such that it is no longer intoxicating." When drinking, people wore rings made of it to ward off the effects. The spelling was restored in early Modern English.
also (and originally) kapnography, "the art of drawing by means of smoke" (or carbon deposited by a flame), 1871, from Greek kapnos "smoke" (see capnomancy) + -graphy. Related: Capnographic; kapnographic.
Kapnography—if we are called on to christen the new Art—may be said to be the very reverse of photography. In the one, the subtle play and reflexion of light is imprisoned by the magic chemistry of the sunbeam ; in the other the human imagination guides the hand to trace designs on the very type of change and emblem of destruction. To fix the faces seen in the fire, or to delineate the ever-changing forms of the clouds, does not seem to be a more unpromising task, than that of producing Alps and glaciers, forests and châlets, waterfalls and wood-hung streams, out of very vapour of combustion—the smoke of a candle. [The Art-Journal, vol. X, 1871]
geometric figure, "oblique-angled equilateral parallelogram," 1570s, from French rhombe, from Latin rhombus "a magician's circle," also a kind of fish, which in Late Latin took on also the geometric sense. This is from Greek rhombos "circular movement, spinning motion; spinning-top; magic wheel used by sorcerers; tambourine;" also "a geometrical rhomb," also the name of a flatfish.
Watkins has this from rhembesthai "to spin, whirl," from PIE *wrembh-, from *werbh- "to turn, twist, bend" (source also of Old English weorpan "to throw away"), from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend" (see versus). But Beekes connects rhombos to rhembomai "to go about, wander, roam about, act random," despite this being attested "much later," a word of no clear etymology.
In general use in reference to any lozenge-shaped object. Related: Rhombic.
early 14c., "a devil, incubus, mischievous and ugly fairy," from Norman French gobelin (12c., as Medieval Latin Gobelinus, the name of a spirit haunting the region of Evreux, in chronicle of Ordericus Vitalis), of uncertain origin; said to be unrelated to German kobold (see cobalt), or from Medieval Latin cabalus, from Greek kobalos "impudent rogue, knave," kobaloi "wicked spirits invoked by rogues," of unknown origin. Another suggestion is that it is a diminutive of the proper name Gobel.
Though French gobelin was not recorded until almost 250 years after appearance of the English term, it is mentioned in the Medieval Latin text of the 1100's, and few people who believed in folk magic used Medieval Latin. [Barnhart]
Thou schalt not drede of an arowe fliynge in the dai, of a gobelyn goynge in derknessis [Psalms xci.5 in the later Wycliffe Bible, late 14c.]