Etymology
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mortuary (n.)

late 14c., mortuarie, "customary gift due to the minister of a parish on the death of a parishioner," from Anglo-French mortuarie (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin mortuarium, noun use of neuter of Late Latin adjective mortuarius "pertaining to the dead," from Latin mortuus, past participle of mori "to die" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).

Selden says that the usage anciently was, bringing the mortuary along with the corpse when it came to be buried, and to offer it to the church as a satisfaction for the supposed negligence and omissions the defunct had been guilty of, in not paying his personal tithes; and from thence it was called a corse-present; a term which bespeaks it to have been once a voluntary donation. [Sir Thomas Edlyne Tomlins, "The Law Dictionary," London, 1835]

From mid-15c. as "a funeral service." Meaning "place where bodies of the dead are kept temporarily" is recorded by 1865, a euphemism for earlier deadhouse.

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circuit (n.)

late 14c., "a circumference; a periphery, a line going around (an area), whether circular or not; a circular or circuitous course," from Old French circuit (14c.) "a circuit; a journey (around something)," from Latin circuitus "a going around," from stem of circuire, circumire "go around," from circum "round" (see circum-) + ire "to go" (from PIE root *ei- "to go").

From c. 1400 as "space enclosed within certain limits." Hence, "district in which any business involving periodic journeys is done (1570s), especially of judicial assignments involving the journey of a judge from one place to another; in reference to routes followed by itinerant entertainers from 1834. Hence also circuit-rider "Methodist minister who rides a circuit, preaching successively in different stations" (by 1834); to ride circuit "take a roundabout course" is from 1650s.

Electrical sense "arrangement by which a current is kept up between two poles" is from 1746. Circuit-breaker "device for automatically opening an electrical circuit" is recorded from 1874. Related: Circuital.

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iris (n.)

late 14c. as the name of a flowering plant (Iris germanica); early 15c. in reference to the eye membrane, from Latin iris (plural irides) "iris of the eye; iris plant; rainbow," from Greek iris (genitive iridos) "a rainbow;" also "iris plant" and "iris of the eye," a word of uncertain origin, traditionally derived from PIE root *wei- "to bend, turn, twist."

Iris was the name of the minister and messenger of the Olympian gods (especially of Hera), visibly represented by the rainbow (which was regarded as the descent of a celestial messenger). From the oldest parts of the Iliad the word is used of both the messenger and the rainbow.

The eye region was so called (early 15c. in English) for being the part that gives color to the eye; the Greek word was used of any brightly colored circle, "as that round the eyes of a peacock's tail" [Liddell & Scott]. Another sense in Middle English was "prismatic rock crystal." Related: Iridian; iridine.

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superintendent (n.)

1550s, originally an ecclesiastical word meaning "bishop" or "minister who supervises churches within a district" (ultimately a loan-translation of Greek episkopos "overseer"), from Medieval Latin superintendentem (nominative superintendens), present participle of Late Latin superintendere "oversee," from Latin super "above" (see super-) + intendere "turn one's attention to, direct" (see intend). Famously used by 16c. radical Protestants in place of bishop, which to them was tainted by Papacy.

[Martinists] studie to pull downe Bishopps, and set vp Superintendents, which is nothing else, but to raze out good Greeke, & enterline bad Latine. [Lyly, "Pappe with an Hatchet," 1589]

The general sense of "a person who has charge of some business" is first recorded 1580s. Meaning "janitor, custodian" is from c. 1935. Shortened form super first attested 1857, especially at first of overseers of sheep ranches in Australia. As an adjective meaning "superintending," from 1590s.

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conspicuous (adj.)

1540s, "open to view, catching the eye," from Latin conspicuus "visible, open to view; attracting attention, striking," from conspicere "to look at, observe, see, notice," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").

Meaning "obvious to the mind, forcing itself upon the attention" is from 1610s; hence "eminent, notable, distinguished." Related: Conspicuously; conspicuousness. Phrase conspicuous by its absence (1859) is said to be from Tacitus ("Annals" iii.76), in a passage about certain images: "sed præfulgebant ... eo ipso quod effigies eorum non visebantur."

Conspicuous consumption "expenditure on a lavish scale to enhance prestige" is attested by 1895 in published writing of Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Vebeln, made famous in his "The Theory of the Leisure Class" (1899).

Not only must wealth be possessed, but there must be a show of its possession. It must be made obvious to all that there is an inexhaustible reserve. Hence leisure must be made conspicuous by "conspicuous consumption" and "conspicuous waste." If only enough persons and the right persons could see it and know it, it would be highly honorific to light a cigar occasionally with a thousand-dollar bill. A man must not limit his consumption to himself and his family. He must live in a palace many times larger than he can possibly fill, and have a large retinue of servants and retainers, ostensibly to minister to his wants, but really to make clear his ability to pay. [Lester F. Ward, review of "Theory of the Leisure Class" in The American Journal of Sociology, May 1900]
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serve (v.)

late 12c., "to render habitual obedience to," also "minister, give aid, give help," from Old French servir "to do duty toward, show devotion to; set table, serve at table; offer, provide with," from Latin servire "be a servant, be in service, be enslaved;" figuratively "be devoted; be governed by; comply with; conform; flatter," originally "be a slave," related to servus "slave," which is of uncertain origin.

Perhaps from Etruscan (compare Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve, Latinized as Servius), but de Vaan says it is from Proto-Italic *serwo- "shepherd," *serwā- "observation," from PIE *seruo- "guardian" (source also of Avestan haraiti "heeds, protects"):

Rix 1994a argues that the original meaning of *serwo- probably was 'guard, shepherd', which underwent a pejorative development to 'slave' in Italy between 700 and 450 BC. Servire would be the direct derivative of servus, hence 'be a slave'; servare would in his view be derived from an older noun *serwa- or *serwom 'observation, heedance'.

By c. 1200 also as "to be in the service of, perform a service for; attend upon, be personal servant to; be a slave; owe allegiance to; officiate at Mass or other religious rites;" from early 13c. as "set food at table;" mid-14c. as "to wait on (customers)." From late 14c. as "treat (someone or something) in some fashion."

To serve (someone) right "to treat as he deserves" is recorded from 1580s. Sense of "be useful, be beneficial, be suitable for a purpose or function" is from early 14c.; that of "take the place or meet the needs of, be equal to the task" is from late 14c.; that of "suffice" is from mid-15c. Meaning "render active military service" is from 1510s. Sporting sense, in tennis, badminton, etc., first recorded 1580s. Legal sense "present" (a writ, warrant, etc.), "give legal notice of" is from early 15c.

He no schuld neuer wond
To seruen him fro fot to hond
["Amis and Amiloun," c. 1330]
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