Etymology
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box (n.1)

"rectangular wooden container," usually with a lid, Old English box, also the name of a type of shrub, from Late Latin buxis, from Greek pyxis "boxwood," pyxion "writing table, box," made of boxwood, from pyxos "box tree," which is of uncertain origin. Beekes suggests a loan-word from Italy, as that is where the tree is native. Dutch bus, German Büchse "box; barrel of a gun," also are Latin loan-words.

The meaning "compartment at a theater" is from c. 1600 (box seat in the theatrical sense is by 1850). The meaning "pigeon-hole at a post office" is from 1832. The meaning "television" is from 1950 (earlier "gramophone player," 1924). The meaning "station of a player in baseball" is from 1881. The graphics sense of "space enclosed within borders and rules" is from 1929. The slang meaning "vulva" is attested 17c., according to "Dictionary of American Slang;" modern use seems to date from c. World War II, perhaps originally Australian, on the notion of box of tricks. Box lunch (n.) is attested from 1899. The box set "multiple-album, CD or cassette issue of the work of an artist" is attested by 1955. To think or act outside the box "contrary to convention" is attested by 1994.

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clay (n.)

Old English clæg "stiff, sticky earth; clay," from Proto-Germanic *klaijaz (source also of Old High German kliwa "bran," German Kleie, Old Frisian klai, Old Saxon klei, Middle Dutch clei, Danish klæg "clay;" also Old English clæman, Old Norse kleima, Old High German kleiman "to cover with clay").

Some sources see these as being from a common PIE root meaning "slime; glue" also forming words for "clay" and verbs for "stick together." Compared words include Latin gluten "glue, beeswax;" Greek gloios "sticky matter;" Lithuanian glitus "sticky," glitas "mucus;" Old Church Slavonic glina "clay," glenu "slime, mucus;" Old Irish glenim "I cleave, adhere;" Old English cliða "plaster." But Beekes writes that "Not all comparisons are convincing," and notes that most words cited are from Balto-Slavic or Germanic, "which suggests European substrate origin."

In Scripture, the stuff from which the body of the first man was formed; hence "human body" (especially when dead). As an adjective, "formed of clay," 1520s. Clay-pigeon "saucer of baked clay used as a flying target in trap-shooting," in place of live birds, is from 1881. Feet of clay "fundamental weakness" is from Daniel ii.33.

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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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passenger (n.)

mid-14c., passager "a passer-by; a traveler," from Old French passagier, passageor "traveler, passer-by" (Modern French passager), noun use of passagier (adj.) "passing, fleeting, traveling," from passage "mountain pass, passage" (11c.), from passer "to go by," from Vulgar Latin *passare "to step, walk, pass," from Latin passus "step, pace" (from PIE root *pete- "to spread").

And in this I resemble the Lappwing, who fearing hir young ones to be destroyed by passengers, flyeth with a false cry farre from their nestes, making those that looke for them seeke where they are not .... [John Lyly, "Euphues and His England," 1580]

The -n- was added early 15c. (compare messenger, harbinger, scavenger, porringer). The oldest sense now is obsolete; meaning "one traveling in a public vehicle or vessel," especially in exchange for a fare, is attested from 1510s; hence, in modern use, "one riding in a private vehicle driven by another." The railroad passenger-car is attested from 1832. The North American passenger-pigeon was so called from 1802 for its extensive wanderings in search of food; they have been extinct since 1914.

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pimp (n.)

"one who provides others with the means and opportunity of gratifying their sexual lusts," c. 1600, of unknown origin, perhaps from French pimpant "alluring in dress, seductive," present participle of pimper "to dress elegantly" (16c.), from Old French pimpelorer, pipelorer "decorate, color, beautify." Weekley suggests French pimpreneau, defined in Cotgrave [French-English Dictionary, 1611] as "a knave, rascall, varlet, scoundrell," but Liberman is against this.

Judging by such recorded meanings of pimp as 'helper in mines; servant in logging camps,' this word was originally applied to boys and servants. [Liberman]

The word also means "informer, stool pigeon" in Australia and New Zealand and in South Africa, where by early 1960s it existed in Swahili form impimpsi. Pimpmobile first recorded 1973 (six years before Popemobile).

PIMP. A male procurer, or cock bawd; also a small faggot used about London for lighting fires, named from introducing the fire to the coals. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, 1785]

Among the lists of late Middle English terms for animal groupings was a pimpe of chickens (or birds), mid-15c., a variant of pipe "flock" (mid-14c.), from Old French pipee.

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shell (n.)

"hard outer covering," Middle English shel, shelle, from Old English sciell, scill, Anglian scell "seashell; eggshell," which is related to Old English scealu "shell, husk," from Proto-Germanic *skaljo "piece cut off; shell; scale" (source also of West Frisian skyl "peel, rind," Middle Low German schelle "pod, rind, egg shell," Gothic skalja "tile"), with the shared notion of "covering that splits off," from PIE root *skel- (1) "to cut." Italian scaglia "chip" is from Germanic.

Also in late Old English as "a coating or layer." The general sense of "protective outer covering of some invertebrates" is in Middle English (by c. 1400 as "house of a snail;" by 1540s in reference to a tortoise or turtle); the meaning "outer layer of a nut" (or a fruit considered as a nut) is by mid-14c. With notion of "mere exterior," hence "empty or hollow thing" by 1650s. The meaning "hollow framework" is from 1791; that of "structure for a band or orchestra" is attested from 1938. To be out of (one's) shell "emerged into life" is by 1550s.

Military use for "explosive projectile" is by 1640s, first of hand grenades, and originally in reference to the metal case in which the gunpowder and shot were mixed; the notion is of a "hollow object" filled with explosives. Hence shell shock, "traumatic reaction to the stress of battle," recorded by 1915.

Shell game "a swindle" is from 1890, from a version of the three-card game played with a pea and walnut shells.

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bean (n.)

Old English bean "bean, pea, legume," from Proto-Germanic *bauno (source also of Old Norse baun, Middle Dutch bone, Dutch boon, Old High German bona, German Bohne), and related to Latin faba "bean;" Greek phakos "lentil;" Albanian bathë "horse-bean;" Old Prussian babo, Russian bob "bean," but the original form is obscure. Watkins suggests a PIE reduplicated root *bha-bhā- "broad bean;" de Vaan writes that the Italic, Slavic and Germanic "are probably independent loanwords from a European substratum word of the form *bab- (or similar) 'bean'."

As a metaphor for "something of small value" it is attested from c. 1300 (hill of beans as something not much to amount to is from 1863). The meaning "head" is U.S. baseball slang 1905 (in bean-ball "a pitch thrown at the head"); thus slang verb bean meaning "to hit on the head," attested from 1910. Bean-shooter as a child's weapon for mischief, a sort of small sling-shot to fire beans, is attested from 1876. Derisive slang bean-counter "accountant" is recorded by 1971.

The notion of lucky or magic beans in English folklore is from the exotic beans or large seeds, carried from the Caribbean or South America by the Gulf Stream, that wash up occasionally in Cornwall and western Scotland. They were cherished, believed to ward off the evil eye and aid in childbirth.

To not know beans "be ignorant" is attested by 1842 in American English, often said to be a New England phrase; it is perhaps from the "object of little worth" sense. Some of the earliest citations give it in a fuller form, but they do not agree: "why, I sometimes think they don't know beans when the bag is open" ["The History of the Saints," 1842]; "This feller don't know beans from porridge, no how." ["Etchings of a Whaling Cruise," 1850]. It might have a connection to the English colloquial expression know how many beans make five "be a clever fellow" (1824).

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