1540s, "structure of any kind," from Middle French machine "device, contrivance," from Latin machina "machine, engine, military machine; device, trick; instrument" (source also of Spanish maquina, Italian macchina), from Greek makhana, Doric variant of Attic mēkhanē "device, tool, machine;" also "contrivance, cunning," traditionally (Watkins) from PIE *magh-ana- "that which enables," from root *magh- "to be able, have power." But Beekes, on formal grounds, objects to the connection to words in Germanic and Slavic. He finds the Greek word isolated and is convinced that it is Pre-Greek.
Main modern sense of "device made of moving parts for applying mechanical power" (1670s) probably grew out of mid-17c. senses of "apparatus, appliance" and "military siege-tower." It gradually came to be applied to an apparatus that works without the strength or skill of the workman.
From 17c.-19c. also "a vehicle; a stage- or mail-coach; a ship," and, from 1901, "a motor-car." Also in late 19c. slang the word was used for both "penis" and "vagina," one of the few so honored.
The political sense "a strict organization of the working members of a political party to secure a predominating influence for themselves and their associates" is U.S. slang, attested by 1876. Machine age, a time notable for the extensive use of mechanical devices, is attested by 1882, though there is this:
The idea of remodelling society at public meetings is one of the least reasonable which ever entered the mind of an agitator: and the notion that the relations of the sexes can be re-arranged and finally disposed of by preamble and resolution, is one of the latest, as it should have been the last, vagary of a machine age. ["The Literary World," Nov. 1, 1851]
Machine for living(in) "house" translates Le Corbusier's machine à habiter (1923).
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]
"one of a class of celestial bodies which move about the sun in great, elliptical orbits," c. 1200, from Old French comete (12c., Modern French comète), from Latin cometa, from Greek (aster) komētēs, literally "long-haired (star)," from komē "hair of the head" (compare koman "let the hair grow long"), which is of unknown origin. So called from resemblance of a comet's tail to streaming hair.
Visible only when near the sun, they were anciently regarded as omens of ruin, pestilence, and the overthrow of kingdoms. Halley in 1682 established the fact that many were periodic. Comet-wine (1833), that made in any year in which notable comets have been seen, was reputed to have a superior flavor (the original reference is to the Great Comet of 1811). Related: Cometary; cometic; cometical.
Their sudden appearance in the heavens, and the imposing and astonishing aspect which they present, have, even in recent times, inspired alarm and terror. One however—the splendid comet of 1811—escaped somewhat of the general odium; for as it was supposed to be an agent concerned in the remarkably beautiful autumn of that year, and was also associated with the abundant and superior yield of the continental vineyards, the wine of that season was called the comet wine. [The Leisure Hour, April 15, 1852]
Beware of wine named after noted vintages long passed, which is generally a clap-trap, the genuine wines being all before secured for years in private stocks. If "comet wine," or any other noted vintage, be offered, decline it, and nine times out of ten you escape an imposition. [Cyrus Redding, "Every Man His Own Butler," London, 1852]
"adult female human," late Old English wimman, wiman (plural wimmen), literally "woman-man," alteration of wifman (plural wifmen) "woman, female servant" (8c.), a compound of wif "woman" (see wife) + man "human being" (in Old English used in reference to both sexes; see man (n.)). Compare Dutch vrouwmens "wife," literally "woman-man."
It is notable that it was thought necessary to join wif, a neuter noun, representing a female person, to man, a masc. noun representing either a male or female person, to form a word denoting a female person exclusively. [Century Dictionary]
The formation is peculiar to English and Dutch. Replaced older Old English wif and quean as the word for "female human being," as in Jesus's answer to his mother, in Anglo-Saxon gospels la, wif, hwæt is me and þe? (John ii:4 "Woman, what have I to do with thee?").
The pronunciation of the singular altered in Middle English by the rounding influence of -w-; the plural retains the original vowel. Meaning "wife," now largely restricted to U.S. dialectal use, is attested from mid-15c.
In American English, lady is "In loose and especially polite usage, a woman" [Craigie, "Dictionary of American English"]. This peculiarity was much commented upon by English travelers; in the U.S. the custom was considered especially Southern, but the English didn't bother with nice distinctions and regarded it simply as American. "This noble word [woman], spirit-stirring as it passes over English ears, is in America banished, and 'ladies' and 'females' substituted; the one to English taste mawkish and vulgar; the other indistinctive and gross. The effect is odd." [Harriet Martineau, 1837]
Woman-hater "misogynist" is from c. 1600. Women's work, that considered appropriate to women, is from 1660s. Women's liberation is attested from 1966; women's rights is from 1840, with an isolated example in 1630s.
mid-14c., "generous," also "nobly born, noble, free;" from late 14c. as "selfless, magnanimous, admirable;" from early 15c. in a bad sense, "extravagant, unrestrained," from Old French liberal "befitting free people; noble, generous; willing, zealous" (12c.), and directly from Latin liberalis "noble, gracious, munificent, generous," literally "of freedom, pertaining to or befitting a free person," from liber "free, unrestricted, unimpeded; unbridled, unchecked, licentious."
This is conjectured to be from PIE *leudh-ero-, which probably originally meant "belonging to the people," though the precise semantic development is obscure; but compare frank (adj.). This was a suffixed form of the base *leudh- (2) "people" (source also of Old Church Slavonic ljudu, Lithuanian liaudis, Old English leod, German Leute "nation, people;" Old High German liut "person, people").
Who hath indeed, most like a liberal villain,
Confess'd the vile encounters they have had
A thousand times in secret.
["Much Ado," IV.1.93]
Liberal was used 16c.-17c. as a term of reproach with the meaning "free from restraint in speech or action." The Enlightenment revived it in a positive sense "free from prejudice, tolerant, not bigoted or narrow," which emerged 1776-88. In 19c. often theological rather than political, opposed to orthodox, used of Unitarians, Universalists, etc. For educational use, see liberal arts.
Purely in reference to political opinion, "tending in favor of freedom and democracy," it dates from c. 1801, from French libéral. In English the label at first was applied by opponents (often in the French form and with suggestions of foreign lawlessness) to the party more favorable to individual political freedoms. But also (especially in U.S. politics) tending to mean "favorable to government action to effect social change," which seems at times to draw more from the religious sense of "free from prejudice in favor of traditional opinions and established institutions" (and thus open to new ideas and plans of reform), which dates from 1823.
This is the attitude of mind which has come to be known as liberal. It implies vigorous convictions, tolerance for the opinions of others, and a persistent desire for sound progress. It is a method of approach which has played a notable and constructive part in our history, and which merits a thorough trial today in the attack on our absorbingly interesting American task. [Guy Emerson, "The New Frontier," 1920]
"1 more than six; the cardinal number which is one more than six; a symbol representing this number;" Old English seofon, from Proto-Germanic *sebun (source also of Old Saxon sibun, Old Norse sjau, Swedish sju, Danish syv, Old Frisian sowen, siugun, Middle Dutch seven, Dutch zeven, Old High German sibun, German sieben, Gothic sibun), from PIE *septm "seven" (source also of Sanskrit sapta, Avestan hapta, Hittite shipta, Greek hepta, Latin septem, Old Church Slavonic sedmi, Lithuanian septyni, Old Irish secht, Welsh saith).
Long regarded as a number of perfection (seven wonders; seven sleepers, the latter translating Latin septem dormientes; seven against Thebes, etc.), but that notion is late in Old English and in German a nasty, troublesome woman could be eine böse Sieben "an evil seven" (1662). Magical power or healing skill associated since 16c. with the seventh son ["The seuenth Male Chyld by iust order (neuer a Gyrle or Wench being borne betweene)," Thomas Lupton, "A Thousand Notable Things," 1579]. The typical number for "very great, strong," as in seven-league boots in the fairy story of Hop o'my Thumb. Also, formerly, in combination with days, years, etc., indicating merely a very long time.
By early 15c. as "the hour of 7 o'clock." As a high-stakes number for a throw in dice, late 14c. The Seven Years' War (1756-63) is also the Third Silesian War. The Seven Stars (Old English sibunsterri), usually refers to the Pleiades, though in 15c. and after this name occasionally was given to the Big Dipper (which also has seven stars), or the seven planets of classical astronomy. Popular as a tavern sign, it might also (with six in a circle, one in the center) be a Masonic symbol.
FOOL: ... The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
LEAR: Because they are not eight?
FOOL: Yes, indeed: thou wouldst make a good fool.
["King Lear," I.v.]