Etymology
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alderman (n.)

Old English aldormonn (Mercian), ealdormann (West Saxon) "Anglo-Saxon ruler, prince, chief; chief officer of a shire," from aldor, ealder "patriarch" (comparative of ald "old;" see old) + monn, mann "man" (from PIE root *man- (1) "man").

Presumably originally of elders of the clan or tribe, but already in Old English used for king's viceroys, regardless of age. In later Old English a more specific title, "chief magistrate of a county," having both civic and military duties. The word yielded under Canute to eorl (see earl), and after the Norman Conquest to count (n.). Having lost its specific sense, alderman was then applied to any head man; meaning "headman of a guild" (early 12c.) passed to "magistrate of a city" (c. 1200) as the guilds became identified with municipal government. Related: Aldermancy; aldermanic.

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ancient (adj.)

late 14c., auncyen, of persons, "very old;" c. 1400, of things, "having lasted from a remote period," from Old French ancien "old, long-standing, ancient," from Vulgar Latin *anteanus, literally "from before," adjectivization of Latin ante "before, in front of, against" (from PIE *anti "against," locative singular of root *ant- "front, forehead"). The unetymological -t dates from 15c. by influence of words in -ent.

From early 15c. as "existing or occurring in times long past." Specifically, in history, "belonging to the period before the fall of the Western Roman Empire" (c. 1600, contrasted with medieval and modern). In English law, "from before the Norman Conquest."

As a noun, "very old person," late 14c.; "one who lived in former ages," 1530s. Ancient of Days "supreme being" is from Daniel vii.9. Related: Anciently.

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goblin (n.)

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.]
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jail (n.)

c. 1300 (c. 1200 in surnames) "a jail, prison; a birdcage." The form in j- is from Middle English jaile, from Old French jaiole "a cage; a prison," from Medieval Latin gabiola "a cage," from Late Latin caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea "a cage, enclosure, stall, coop; a hollow place, a cavity" (see cave (n.)).

The form in g- was the more usual in Middle English manuscripts (gaile, also gaiole), from Old French gaiole "a cage; a prison," a variant spelling that seems to have been frequent in Old North French, which would have been the system familiar to Norman scribes. Now pronounced "jail" however it is spelled. Persistence of gaol (preferred in Britain) is "chiefly due to statutory and official tradition" [OED], and, probably, the fact that it is known the Americans spell it the other way.

In U.S. usually a place of confinement for petty offenders. The Medieval Latin word also is the source of Spanish gayola, Italian gabbiula.

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joust (n.)

"single combat with lances by riders on horseback," c. 1300, from Old French joste "a jounst, single combat" (12c., Modern French joute), from joster "fight with, engage in single combat" (see joust (v.)). The sport was popular with Anglo-Norman knights; the usual form in Middle English and Old French was plural, in reference to a series of contests and the accompanying revelry.

These early tournaments were very rough affairs, in every sense, quite unlike the chivalrous contests of later days; the rival parties fought in groups, and it was considered not only fair but commendable to hold off until you saw some of your adversaries getting tired and then to join in the attack on them; the object was not to break a lance in the most approved style, but frankly to disable as many opponents as possible for the sake of obtaining their horses, arms, and ransoms. [L.F. Salzman, "English Life in the Middle Ages," Oxford, 1950]
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sh- 

a sound represented in Old English by -sc- (fisc "fish"), which originally was pronounced "-sk-" but which by late Old English had softened to "-sh-." Modern English words with -sc- mostly are imports (generally Scandinavian).

The "sh" sound did not exist in Old French, therefore French scribes in England after the Norman conquest often represented it with -ssh- in medial and final positions, and sch- in initial positions (schape, schamful, schaft for shape, shameful, shaft). But the spelling -sh- has been standard since Caxton, probably as a worn-down form of Middle English -sch-.

In some East Anglian texts from 14c.-15c., x- is used (xal, xulde for shall, should), which would have given the language a very different look had it prevailed, but the London-based sh- ended up as the standard form. The same Germanic sound has become, by natural evolution, modern German and Dutch sch-, Scandinavian sk-.

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creek (n.)

mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (compare dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").

Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). In U.S. commonly pronounced and formerly sometimes spelled crick. Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own.

Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble" (often especially "pregnant") is attested by 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol," or perhaps a cleaned-up version of the older up shit creek in the same sense.

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W 

not in the Roman alphabet, but the Modern English sound it represents is close to the devocalized consonant expressed by Roman -U- or -V-. In Old English, this originally was written -uu-, but by 8c. began to be expressed by the runic character wyn (Kentish wen), which looked like this: ƿ (the character is a late addition to the online font set and doesn't display properly on many computers, so it's something like a combination of lower-case -p- and a reversed -y-).

In 11c., Norman scribes introduced -w-, a ligatured doubling of Roman -u- which had been used on the continent for the Germanic "w" sound, and wyn disappeared c. 1300. -W- is not properly a letter in the modern French alphabet, and it is used there only in borrowed foreign words, such as wagon, weekend, Western, whisky, wombat. Charles Mackay ("Extraordinary Popular delusions and the Madness of Crowds") reports that the Scotsman John Law, author of the Mississippi stock swindle of 1720, was known in France as Monsieur Lass "to avoid the ungallic sound, aw."

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cherry (n.)

pulpy drupe of a well-known type of tree, c. 1300, earlier in surname Chyrimuth (1266, literally "Cherry-mouth"); from Anglo-French cherise, from Old North French cherise (Old French, Modern French cerise, 12c.), from Vulgar Latin *ceresia, from late Greek kerasian "cherry," from Greek kerasos "cherry tree," possibly from a language of Asia Minor. Beekes writes, "As the improved cherry came from the Pontos area ..., the name is probably Anatolian as well."

Mistaken in Middle English for a plural and stripped of its -s (compare pea). Old English had ciris "cherry" from a West Germanic borrowing of the Vulgar Latin word (cognate with German Kirsch), but it died out after the Norman invasion and was replaced by the French word.

Short for cherry-tree from 1620s. As an adjective, "of the color of a cherry," mid-15c.

The meaning "maidenhead, virginity" is by 1928, U.S. slang, from supposed resemblance to the hymen, but perhaps also from the long-time use of cherries as a symbol of the fleeting quality of life's pleasures (and compare English underworld slang cherry "young girl," attested from 1889). Cherry-bounce, popular name of a cordial made from fermented cherries, is from 1690s.

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separate (adj.)

"detached, kept apart, divided from the rest," c. 1600, from separate (v.) or from Latin separatus. Separate also was used as a past-participle adjective in Middle English, "cut off from the main body," also, of a spouse, "estranged." The meaning "individual, particular" is from 1670s, on the notion of "withdrawn or divided from something else," hence "peculiar to one but not others."

Separate but equal in reference to U.S. segregation policies on railroads, etc. is attested by 1890 (Henry W. Grady); it was used in 1870s of medical courses for women at universities. Separate development, official name of apartheid in South Africa, is from 1955. Related: Separately (1550s); separateness.

Frequently the colored coach is little better than a cattle car. Generally one half the smoking car is reserved for the colored car. Often only a cloth curtain or partition run half way up separates this so-called colored car from the smoke, obscene language, and foul air of the smokers' half of the car. All classes and conditions of colored humanity, from the most cultured and refined to the most degraded and filthy, without regard to sex, good breeding or ability to pay for better accommodation, are crowded into this separate, but equal (?) half car. [Rev. Norman B. Wood, "The White Side of a Black Subject," 1897]
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