c. 1200, furen, "arouse, inflame, excite" (a figurative use); literal sense of "set fire to" is attested from late 14c., from fire (n.). The Old English verb fyrian "to supply with fire" apparently did not survive into Middle English. Related: Fired; firing.
Meaning "expose to the effects of heat or fire" (of bricks, pottery, etc.) is from 1660s. Meaning "to discharge artillery or a firearm" (originally by application of fire) is from 1520s; extended sense of "to throw (as a missile)" is from 1580s. Fire away in the figurative sense of "go ahead" is from 1775.
The sense of "sack, dismiss from employment" is recorded by 1877 (with out; 1879 alone) in American English. This probably is a play on the two meanings of discharge (v.): "to dismiss from a position," and "to fire a gun," influenced by the earlier general sense "throw (someone) out" of some place (1871). To fire out "drive out by or as if by fire" (1520s) is in Shakespeare and Chapman. Fired up "angry" is from 1824 (to fire up "become angry" is from 1798).
"to move quickly, shoot or fly along with haste," 1530s, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps echoic somehow, or perhaps it is a variant of Middle English scut "rabbit, rabbit's tail," in reference to its movements (see scut (n.1)), but there are phonetic difficulties with that. Perhaps it is rather from a North Sea Germanic source akin to Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schudden "to shake" (see quash). OED is against connection with Danish skyde "shoot, push, shove," Old English sceotan "to shoot." Related: Scudded; scudder; scudding.
Especially nautical, "to run before a gale with little or no sail set" (1580s). As a noun, "act or action of scudding," by c. 1600, from the verb. With many extended senses, such as "small shreds of clouds driven rapidly along under a mass of storm cloud," attested by 1660s. The noun also was the NATO reporting name for a type of Soviet missile introduced in the 1960s.
1550s, "bundle of straw to lie on," a word of obscure origin (perhaps a merger of several separate words), possibly from or related to Low German or obsolete Flemish pad "sole of the foot," which is perhaps from PIE *pent- "to tread, go" (see find (v.)), but see path (n.).
Sense of "soft cushion" is from 1560s, originally a soft saddle. Generalized sense of "something soft" is from c. 1700. Meaning "cushion-like part on the sole of an animal foot" in English is from 1790. The sense of "a number of sheets fastened or glued together at the edge" (in writing-pad, drawing-pad, etc.) is from 1865.
Sense of "takeoff or landing place for a helicopter or missile" is from 1949; the notion is of something to prevent friction or jarring. The word persisted in underworld slang from early 18c. in the sense "sleeping place," and this was popularized again c. 1959, originally in beatnik speech (later hippie slang) in its original English sense of "place to sleep temporarily," also "a room to use drugs."
late Old English hyttan, hittan "come upon, meet with, fall in with, 'hit' upon," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse hitta "to light upon, meet with," also "to hit, strike;" Swedish hitta "to find," Danish and Norwegian hitte "to hit, find," from Proto-Germanic *hitjan, which is of uncertain origin. Meaning shifted in late Old English period to "strike, come into forcible contact" via the notion of "to reach with a blow or missile," and the word displaced Old English slean (modern slay) in this sense. Original sense survives in phrases such as hit it off (1780, earlier in same sense hit it, 1630s) and is revived in slang hit on (1970s).
To hit the bottle "drink alcohol" is from 1933 (hit the booze in the same sense is from 1889, and hit the pipe "smoke opium" is also late 19c.). To figuratively hit the nail on the head (1570s) is from archery. To hit the hay "go to bed" is from 1912. Hit the road "leave" is from 1873; hit the bricks is from 1909, originally trade union jargon meaning "go out on strike." To hit (someone) up "request something" is from 1917. To not know what hit (one) is from 1923. Related: Hitting.
"royal tax," a term that survived in old law and in scot-free; late Old English, "municipal charges and taxes," also "a royal tax or contribution sometimes levied for support of local officers." This is from Old Norse skot "contribution," etymologically "a shooting, shot; a thing shot, a missile" (from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, chase, throw"). The Old Norse verb form, skjota, has a secondary sense of "transfer to another; pay." It is related to Old English sceotan "to pay, contribute," Middle English scotten "to bear one's share of;" Dutch schot, German Schoß "tax, contribution."
Also via Old French escot "reckoning, payment" (Modern French écot "share"), and via Medieval Latin scotum, scottum, both from Germanic, as is Spanish ecote.
From c. 1300 as "payment for food or drink at a social gathering," also figurative (late 12c.), a sense also in the Old French word. Hence scot-ale (n.) "a drinking party, probably compulsory, held by a sheriff, forester, bailiff, etc., for which a contribution was exacted" [Middle English Compendium], attested from late 12c., with ending as in bridal. "Scot implies a contribution toward some object to which others contributed equally" [Century Dictionary].
"to project, propel," c. 1300, from Old English þrawan "to twist, turn, writhe, curl," (past tense þreow, past participle þrawen), from Proto-Germanic *threw- (source also of Old Saxon thraian, Middle Dutch dræyen, Dutch draaien, Old High German draen, German drehen "to turn, twist;" not found in Scandinavian or Gothic), from PIE root *tere- (1) "to rub, turn," with derivatives referring to twisting.
Not the usual Old English word for "to throw" (weorpan, related to warp (v.) was common in this sense). The sense evolution may be via the notion of whirling a missile before throwing it. The sense of "put by force" (as in throw in jail) is first recorded 1550s; that of "confuse, flabbergast" is from 1844; that of "lose deliberately" is from 1868. To throw a party was in U.S. college slang by 1916.
To throw the book at(someone) is 1932, from notion of judge sentencing a criminal from a law book full of possible punishments. To throw (one's) hat in the ring "issue a challenge," especially to announce one's candidacy, first recorded 1917. To throw up "vomit" is first recorded 1732. To throw (someone) off "confuse by a false scent" is from 1891.
Old English strican (past tense strac, past participle stricen) "pass lightly over, stroke, smooth, rub," also "go, move, proceed," from Proto-Germanic *strikan- (source also of Old Norse strykva "to stroke," Old Frisian strika, Middle Dutch streken, Dutch strijken "to smooth, stroke, rub," Old High German strihhan, German streichen), from PIE root *strig- "to stroke, rub, press" (see strigil). Related to streak and stroke, and perhaps influenced in sense development by cognate Old Norse striuka.
Sense of "to deal a blow" developed by early 14c.; meaning "to collide" is from mid-14c.; that of "to hit with a missile" is from late 14c. Meaning "to cancel or expunge" (as with the stroke of a pen) is attested from late 14c. A Middle English sense is preserved in strike for "go toward." Sense of "come upon, find" is from 1835 (especially in mining, well-digging, etc., hence strike it rich, 1854). Baseball sense is from 1853. To strike a balance is from the sense "balance accounts" (1530s).
Meaning "refuse to work to force an employer to meet demands" is from 1768, perhaps from notion of striking or "downing" one's tools, or from sailors' practice of striking (lowering) a ship's sails as a symbol of refusal to go to sea (1768), which preserves the verb's original sense of "make level, smooth."
Old English scot, sceot "a shot, a shooting, an act of shooting; that which is discharged in shooting, what is shot forth; darting, rapid motion," from Proto-Germanic *skutan (source also of Old Norse skutr, Old Frisian skete, Middle Dutch scote, German Schuß "a shot"), related to sceotan "to shoot," from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, chase, throw."
Meaning "discharge of a bow, missile," also is from related Old English gesceot. Extended to other projectiles in Middle English, and to sports (hockey, basketball, etc.) 1868. Another original meaning, "payment" (perhaps literally "money thrown down") is preserved in scot-free. "Throwing down" might also have led to the meaning "a drink," first attested 1670s, the more precise meaning "small drink of straight liquor" by 1928 (shot glass is by 1955). Camera view sense is from 1958.
Sense of "hypodermic injection" first attested 1904; figurative phrase shot in the arm "stimulant" is by 1922. Meaning "try, attempt" is from 1756; sense of "remark meant to wound" is recorded from 1841. Meaning "an expert in shooting" is from 1780. To call the shots "control events, make decisions" is American English, 1922, perhaps from sport shooting. Shot in the dark "uninformed guess" is from 1885. Big shot "important person" is from 1861.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
[Emerson, from "Concord Hymn"]
BOMB, or BOMB SHELL, now called simply Shell (Fr. Bombe). A hollow iron ball or shell filled with gunpowder, having a vent or fuze-hole into which a fuzee is fitted to set the powder on fire after the shell is thrown out of a mortar. This destructive missile is intended to do injury both by its force in falling, and by bursting after it falls. [Arthur Young, "Nautical Dictionary," London, 1863]
The figurative sense of "shattering or devastating thing or event" is attested by 1859. In reference to a pretty woman "of startling vitality or physique" [OED], especially a blonde, it is attested by 1942. "Bombshell" as title of a movie starring blond U.S. actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937) is from 1933; it was believed to have been loosely based on the life of screen star Clara Bow.
The producers of the current hilarious Jean Harlow-Lee Tracy photoplay were not satisfied with the original title "Bombshell" so they renamed it "The Blond Bombshell." We wonder, in passing, why they didn't call it "The Private Life of Clara Bow" originally and let it go at that. [The Oklahoma News, Nov. 19, 1933]
"round object, compact spherical body," also "a ball used in a game," c. 1200, probably from an unrecorded Old English *beal, *beall (evidenced by the diminutive bealluc "testicle"), or from cognate Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (source also of Dutch bal, Flemish bal, Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell."
Meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. (compare ballocks). Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. Meaning "rounded missile used in warfare" is from late 14c. A ball as an object in a sports game is recorded from c. 1200; meaning "a game played with a ball" is from mid-14c. Baseball sense of "pitch that does not cross the plate within the strike zone" is by 1889, probably short for high ball, low ball, etc.
Ball-point pen is by 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is c. 1900. Many phrases are from sports: To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c. 1400. To be on the ball is from 1912; to keep (one's) eye on the ball in the figurative sense is by 1907, probably ultimately on golf, where it was an oft-repeated item of advice. Figurative use of ball in (someone's) court is by 1956, from tennis.
The head must necessarily be steady, for it is most important that you should keep your eye fixedly on the ball from the moment that the club-head is lifted from the ground until the ball is actually struck. "Keep your eye on the ball," should be your companion text to "Slow back." [Horace G. Hutchinson, "Hints on the Game of Golf," 1886]
Once a meeting is over, someone will be expected to do something. Make sure it is someone else. This is known as keeping the ball in their court. [Shepherd Mead, "How to Get Rich in TV Without Really Trying," 1956]