Also from mid-14c., "a pledge, guarantee, surety" (usually in plural), and (c. 1400) "a promise or pledge to meet in battle." The "payment for service" sense by late 14c. extended to allotments of money paid at regular intervals for continuous or repeated service. Traditionally in English wages were payment for manual or mechanical labor and somewhat distinguished from salary or fee. Modern French cognate gages (plural) means "wages of a domestic," one of a range of French "pay" words distinguished by class, such as traitement (university professor), paye, salaire (workman), solde (soldier), récompense, prix. The Old English word was lean, related to loan and representing the usual Germanic word (Gothic laun, Dutch loon, German Lohn). Wage-earner attested from 1871.
"erectile organ of female mammals," 1610s, coined in Modern Latin from Late Greek kleitoris, a diminutive, but the exact sense intended by the coiners is uncertain. Perhaps from Greek kleiein "to sheathe," also "to shut," in reference to its being covered by the labia minora. The related Greek noun kleis has a secondary meaning "a key, a latch or hook (to close a door);" see close (v.), and compare slot (n.2).
Alternatively [Watkins], from Greek kleitys, a variant of klitys "side of a hill," from PIE *kleitor-, suffixed form of root *klei- "to lean," via with a sense of "little hill." Some ancient medical sources give a supposed Greek verb kleitoriazein "to touch or titillate lasciviously, to tickle" (compare German slang der Kitzler "clitoris," literally "the tickler"), but in this case the verb is likely from the anatomy.
As for the Greeks themselves, they seem to have called the thing nymphē, a figurative use, literally "bride, lovely young woman;" Beekes also has kystho-korone "clitoris," literally "crown of the vagina."
The anatomist Mateo Renaldo Colombo (1516-1559), professor at Padua, claimed to have discovered it ("De re anatomica," 1559, p. 243). He called it amor Veneris, vel dulcedo "the love or sweetness of Venus." It had been known earlier to women.
Old English flea "flea," from Proto-Germanic *flauhaz (source also of Old Norse flo, Middle Dutch vlo, German Floh), perhaps related to Old English fleon "to flee," with a notion of "the jumping parasite," but more likely from PIE *plou- "flea" (source also of Latin pulex, Greek psylla; see Pulex).
Chaucer's plural is fleen. Flea-bag is from 1839 as low slang for "a bed;" by 1942 in British slang as "a dog." Flea-collar is from 1953. Flea-pit (1937) is an old colloquial name for a movie-house, or, as OED puts it, "an allegedly verminous place of public assembly." Flea-circus is from 1886.
"A man named 'Mueller' put on the first trained-flea circus in America at the old Stone and Austin museum in Boston nearly forty years ago. Another German named 'Auvershleg' had the first traveling flea circus in this country thirty years ago. In addition to fairs and museums, I get as high as $25 for a private exhibition." ["Professor" William Heckler, quoted in Popular Mechanics, February 1928. Printed at the top of his programs were "Every action is visible to the naked eye" and "No danger of desertion."]
by 1912, American English, first attested in baseball slang; as a type of music, attested by 1915. Perhaps ultimately from slang jasm(1860) "energy, vitality, spirit," perhaps especially in a woman. This is perhaps from earlier gism in the same sense (1842).
By the end of the 1800s, "gism" meant not only "vitality" but also "virility," leading to the word being used as slang for "semen." But — and this is significant — although a similar evolution happened to the word "jazz," which became slang for the act of sex, that did not happen until 1918 at the earliest. That is, the sexual connotation was not part of the origin of the word, but something added later. [Lewis Porter, "Where Did 'Jazz,' the Word, Come From?" http://wbgo.org Feb. 26, 2018]
Meaning "rubbish, unnecessary talk or ornamentation" is from 1918. Slang all that jazz "et cetera" first recorded 1939. Further observations from Porter's summation of the research:
"Jazz" seems to have originated among white Americans, and the earliest printed uses are in California baseball writing, where it means "lively, energetic." (The word still carries this meaning, as in "Let’s jazz this up!") The earliest known usage occurs on April 2, 1912, in an article discovered by researcher George A. Thompson, and sent to me courtesy of [Professor Gerald ] Cohen.
... By 1915, jazz was being applied to a new kind of music in Chicago. It seems to have been first applied to Tom Brown's all-white band, which hailed from New Orleans. This was followed by many printed references to jazz as a musical style.
common name of any lepidopterous insect active in daylight, Old English buttorfleoge, evidently butter (n.) + fly (n.), but the name is of obscure signification. Perhaps based on the old notion that the insects (or, according to Grimm, witches disguised as butterflies) consume butter or milk that is left uncovered. Or, less creatively, simply because the pale yellow color of many species' wings suggests the color of butter. Another theory connects it to the color of the insect's excrement, based on Dutch cognate boterschijte. Also see papillon.
Applied to persons from c. 1600, originally in reference to vain and gaudy attire; by 1806 in reference to transformation from early lowly state; in reference to flitting tendencies by 1873. The swimming stroke so called from 1935. As a type of mechanical nut, 1869. Butterflies "light stomach spasms caused by anxiety" is from 1908. "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" is from Pope.
The butterfly effect is a deceptively simple insight extracted from a complex modern field. As a low-profile assistant professor in MIT's department of meteorology in 1961, [Edward] Lorenz created an early computer program to simulate weather. One day he changed one of a dozen numbers representing atmospheric conditions, from .506127 to .506. That tiny alteration utterly transformed his long-term forecast, a point Lorenz amplified in his 1972 paper, "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" [Peter Dizikes, "The Meaning of the Butterfly," The Boston Globe, June 8, 2008]
c. 1300, "one who deceives or commits treason; one who is wicked or evil; evil-doer," used of Lucifer and Herod, from Old French felon "evil-doer, scoundrel, traitor, rebel, oath-breaker, the Devil" (9c.), from Medieval Latin fellonem (nominative fello) "evil-doer," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Frankish *fillo, *filljo "person who whips or beats, scourger" (source of Old High German fillen "to whip"); or from Latin fel "gall, poison," on the notion of "one full of bitterness." Celtic origins also have been proposed.
Another theory (advanced by Professor R. Atkinson of Dublin) traces it to Latin fellare "to suck" (see fecund), which had an obscene secondary meaning in classical Latin (well-known to readers of Martial and Catullus), which would make a felon etymologically a "cock-sucker." OED inclines toward the "gall" explanation, but finds Atkinson's "most plausible" of the others.
Also by c. 1300 in English in a general legal sense "criminal; one who has committed a felony," however that was defined. Century Dictionary notes, "the term is not applicable after legal punishment has been completed." In Middle English it also was an adjective, "traitorous, wicked, malignant." Australian official James Mudie (1837), coined felonry "as the appellative of an order or class of persons in New South Wales,—an order which happily exists in no other country in the world."
1530s, "to break wind without noise," probably altered from obsolete fist, from Middle English fisten "break wind" (see feisty) + frequentative suffix -le. Related: Fizzled; fizzling.
Meaning "make a noise as of a liquid or gas forced out a narrow aperture" is from 1859, "usually with special reference to the weakness and sudden diminution or cessation of such sound" [Century Dictionary], hence the figurative sense "prove a failure, stop abruptly after a more-or-less brilliant start." But this sense is earlier and dates to at least 1847 in American English college slang, along with the noun sense of "failure, fiasco" (1846), also originally U.S. college slang, "a failure in answering an examination by a professor." Barnhart says it is "not considered as derived from the verb." Halliwell ("Archaic and Provincial Words," 1846) has fizzle (v.) as "To do anything without noise," which might connect the college slang with the older word via some notion of mumbled and stifled performance:
In many colleges in the United States, this word is applied to a bad recitation, probably from the want of distinct articulation, which usually attends such performances. It is further explained in the Yale Banger, November 10, 1846: "This figure of a wounded snake is intended to represent what in technical language is termed a fizzle. The best judges have decided that to get just one third of the meaning right constitutes a perfect fizzle." [John Bartlett, "A Collection of College Words and Customs," Cambridge, 1851]
1550s, "member of a black-skinned race of Africa," from Spanish or Portuguese negro "black," from Latin nigrum (nominative niger) "black, dark, sable, dusky" (applied to the night sky, a storm, the complexion), figuratively "gloomy, unlucky, bad, wicked," according to de Vaan a word of unknown etymology; according to Watkins, perhaps from PIE *nekw-t- "night." The Latin word also was applied to the black peoples of Africa, but the usual terms were Aethiops and Afer.
As an adjective from 1590s. Use with a capital N- became general early 20c. (e.g. 1930 in "New York Times" stylebook) in reference to U.S. citizens of African descent, but because of its perceived association with white-imposed attitudes and roles the word was ousted late 1960s in this sense by Black (q.v.).
Professor Booker T. Washington, being politely interrogated ... as to whether negroes ought to be called 'negroes' or 'members of the colored race' has replied that it has long been his own practice to write and speak of members of his race as negroes, and when using the term 'negro' as a race designation to employ the capital 'N' [Harper's Weekly, June 2, 1906]
Meaning "African-American vernacular, the English language as spoken by U.S. blacks" is from 1704. French nègre is a 16c. borrowing from Spanish negro. Older English words were Moor and blackamoor. A Middle English word for "Ethiopian" (perhaps also "a negro" generally) was blewman "blue man."
c. 1600, from Irish lupracan, metathesis of Old Irish luchorpan, which traditionally is explained as literally "a very small body," from lu "little, small" (from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight") + corpan, diminutive of corp "body," from Latin corpus "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance"). However, Celtic linguistic scholarship has recently found a different explanation and connected the word to Latin Lupercalia:
New research by Simon Rodway, Michael Clarke and Jacopo Bisagni, published in the journal Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, traces them back to the Roman Luperci. The Luperci were bands of aristocratic youths who ran naked through ancient Rome in the festival of Lupercalia on the 15 February. In the fifth century A.D. St Augustine of Hippo compared the Luperci with the Greek werewolves who were believed to change from men into wolves by swimming through a lake in Arcadia. Two centuries later Irish scholars misunderstood Augustine. They thought he meant that the Luperci were an ancient non-human race. Because they could swim they were supposed to have survived Noah's Flood and taken refuge in Ireland. So in medieval Irish legends the leprechauns or 'little Luperci' still lived under water. The wolf connection was soon forgotten and eventually the 'little Lupercus' became the familiar land-dwelling leprechaun of modern Irish folklore and tourism. [Patrick Sims-Williams, Professor of Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth University, Wales, cited at Languagelog]
Commonly spelled lubrican in 17c. English; "Century Dictionary" (1902) has it under leprechawn. Variant leithbragan probably is Irish folk etymology, from leith "half" + brog "brogue," because the spirit was "supposed to be always employed in making or mending a single shoe."
"unfounded belief that one is sick," by 1816; a narrowing from the earlier sense "depression or melancholy without real cause" (1660s); from Middle English medical term ipocondrie "lateral regions of the upper abdomen" (late 14c.). This is from Late Latin hypochondria, from Greek hypokhondria (neuter plural of hypokhondrios), from hypo- "under" (see hypo-) + khondros "cartilage" (in this case, of the false ribs); see chondro-.
The sense "morbid melancholy" reflects the ancient belief that the viscera of the hypochondria (liver, gall bladder, spleen) were the seat of melancholy and the source of the vapors that caused such feelings. The attempt to put it on a scientific bases passes through hypochondriasis. Also see hype (n.). The poet Cowper is an oft-cited example in late 18c. literature. The focus of sense on the particular symptom "unfounded belief that one is sick" seems to begin 1790s with William Cullen, M.D., professor of physic in the University of Edinburgh, who made a specialty of the topic:
A languor, listlessness, or want of resolution and activity, with respect to all undertakings; a disposition to seriousness, sadness, and timidity; as to all future events, an apprehension of the worst or most unhappy state of them; and, therefore, often upon slight grounds an apprehension of great evil. Such persons are particularly attentive to the state of their own health, to every the smallest change of feeling in their bodies; and from any unusual sensation, perhaps of the slightest kind, they apprehend great danger, and even death itself. In respect to these feelings and fears, there is commonly the most obstinate belief and persuasion. [Cullen, "First Lines of the Practice of Physic," Edinburgh, 1791]
Though to Cullen the clinical definition of hypochondria also included physical symptoms and pains as well as these mental delusions. As the old medical beliefs faded, the word dropped from clinical use but remained in popular use for "groundless morbid fear for one's health." In the 1830s hypochondria could mean merely "morbid melancholy," also "apprehension of evil respecting health, without sufficient cause," and "upper abdomen."