mid-14c., proposicioun, "a riddle" (a sense now obsolete); late 14c., in rhetoric, "a setting forth as a topic for discussion or discourse," from Old French proposicion "proposal, submission, (philosophical) proposition" (12c.), from Latin propositionem (nominative propositio) "a setting forth, statement, a presentation, representation; fundamental assumption," noun of action from past-participle stem of proponere "put forth, set forth, lay out, display, expose to view" (see propound). Meaning "action of proposing something to be done, an offered plan of action," is from late 14c. General sense of "matter, problem, undertaking" recorded by 1877. Related: Propositional; propositionally.
"irritable, short-tempered," 1906, from snark (v.) "to find fault with, nag" (1882), literally "to snort" (1866), from an imitative source akin to Low German snarken, North Frisian snarke, Swedish snarka; and compare snarl (v.2), sneer (v.). Also compare narky "bad-tempered, sarcastic" (1895), British slang from earlier nark "annoying, quarrelsome, or unpleasant person" (1846), from nark (q.v.).
It seems to have emerged anew as a vogue word c. 1997 to indicate a "hostile, knowing, bitter tone of contempt." The back-formation snark (n.) "caustic, opinionated, and critical rhetoric" is by c. 2002 (compare snark (n.)). Related: Snarkily; snarkiness.
1580s, earlier dialatik (late 14c.), "critical examination of the truth of an opinion, formal reason and logic applied to rhetoric and refutation," from Old French dialectique (12c.) and directly from Latin dialectica, from Greek dialektike (techne) "(art of) philosophical discussion or discourse," fem. of dialektikos "of conversation, discourse," from dialektos "discourse, conversation" (see dialect).
Originally synonymous with logic; in modern philosophy refined by Kant ("the theory of false argumentation leading to contradictions and fallacies), then by Hegel, who made it mean "process of resolving or merging contradictions in character to attain higher truths." Used generally in 20c. Marxism for "evolution by means of contradictions." Related: Dialectics.
1770, from German Terminologie, a hybrid coined by Christian Gottfried Schütz (1747-1832), professor of poetry and rhetoric at Jena, from Medieval Latin terminus "word, expression" (see terminus) + Greek -logia "a dealing with, a speaking of" (see -logy). Related: Terminological.
Decandolle and others use the term Glossology instead of Terminology, to avoid the blemish of a word compounded of two parts taken from different languages. The convenience of treating the termination ology (and a few other parts of compounds) as not restricted to Greek combinations, is so great, that I shall venture, in these cases, to disregard this philological scruple. [William Whewell, "The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences," 1847]
in rhetoric, a trope or figure of speech in which the name of one thing is substituted for that of another that is suggested by or closely associated with it (such as the bottle for "alcoholic drink," the Kremlin for "the Russian government"); 1560s, from French métonymie (16c.) and directly from Late Latin metonymia, from Greek metōnymia, literally "change of name," related to metonomazein "to call by a new name; to take a new name," from meta "change" (see meta-) + onyma, dialectal form of onoma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name"). It often serves to call up associations not suggested by the literal name. Related: Metonymic; metonymical; metonymically.
The earliest use of the word in English was early 15c., a separate borrowing in the academic sense "of the trivium" (the first three liberal arts -- grammar, rhetoric, and logic); from Medieval Latin use of trivialis in the sense "of the first three liberal arts," from trivium, neuter of the Latin adjective trivius "of three roads, of the crossroads." Related: Trivially. For sense evolution to "pertaining to useless information," see trivia.
late 14c., exclamacioun, "a calling or crying aloud; that which is uttered with emphasis or passion, a vehement speech or saying," from Latin exclamationem (nominative exclamatio) "an exclamation" (in rhetoric), "a loud calling or crying out," noun of action from past-participle stem of exclamare "cry out loud" (see exclaim).
The punctuation symbol known as the exclamation point (1824) or exclamation mark (1926) was earliest called an exclamation note or note of exclamation (1650s); Shakespeare has note of admiration (1611). Another name for it was shriek-mark (1864). The mark itself is said to date to c. 1400 among writers in Italy and to represent the Latin io!, an exclamation of delight or triumph, written with the -i- above the -o-.
1570s, "intensity of expression," from Latin emphasis, from Greek emphasis "an appearing in, outward appearance;" in rhetoric, "significance, indirect meaning," from emphainein "to present, exhibit, display, let (a thing) be seen; be reflected (in a mirror), become visible," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + phainein "to show" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine").
In Greek and Latin, originally a figure of expression implying, in context, more than would ordinarily be meant by the words. Hence "the mode of delivery appropriate to suggestive expression, rhetorical stress," and thence, in general, extra stress or force of voice given to the utterance of a word, phrase, or part of a word in speech as a clue that it implies something more than literal meaning. In pure Latin, significatio.
late 14c., translating Latin artes liberales; the name for the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, rather than immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (liberal in this sense is opposed to servile or mechanical). They were divided into the trivium — grammar, logic, rhetoric (see trivial) — and the quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy. Explained by Fowler (1926) as "the education designed for a gentleman (Latin liber a free man) & ... opposed on the one hand to technical or professional or any special training, & on the other to education that stops short before manhood is reached."
The study of [the classics] is fitly called a liberal education, because it emancipates the mind from every narrow provincialism, whether of egoism or tradition, and is the apprenticeship that every one must serve before becoming a free brother of the guild which passes the torch of life from age to age. [James Russell Lowell, "Among my Books"]
1580s, in the rhetorical sense ("a chain of reasoning in graduating steps from weaker to stronger"), from Late Latin climax (genitive climacis), from Greek klimax "propositions rising in effectiveness," literally "ladder," from suffixed form of PIE root *klei- "to lean."
Originally in rhetoric an arrangement of successive clauses so that the last important word of one is repeated as the first important word of the next, as in Romans v.3-5: "... but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed ...." Compare anadiplosis. From the rhetorical meaning, the word evolved through "series of steps by which a goal is achieved," to "escalating steps," to (1789) "high point of intensity or development," a usage credited by the OED to "popular ignorance."
The meaning "sexual orgasm" is recorded by 1880 (also in terms such as climax of orgasm), and is said to have been promoted from c. 1900 by birth-control pioneer Marie Stopes (1880-1958) and others as a more accessible word than orgasm (n.).