"post-larval stage of a metamorphosizing insect," 1773, a special use by Linnæus (1758) of Latin pupa "girl, doll, puppet" (see pupil (n.1)) on notion of "undeveloped creature." Related: Pupal; pupiform.
1560s, pejorative, "one who believes himself possessed of divine revelations or special communication from God," from Greek enthousiastes "a person inspired," from enthousiazein (see enthusiasm). General sense (not always entirely pejorative) is from mid-18c.
"knowledge," especially "special knowledge of spiritual mysteries," 1703, from Greek gnōsis "a knowing, knowledge; a judicial inquiry, investigation; a being known," in Christian writers, "higher knowledge of spiritual things," from PIE *gnō-ti-, from root *gno- "to know."
mid-15c., "belonging exclusively to one person," also "special, particular," from Old French peculiaire and directly from Latin peculiaris "of one's own (property)," from peculium "private property," literally "property in cattle" (in ancient times the most important form of property), from pecu "cattle, flock," related to pecus "cattle" (see pecuniary).
The meaning "unusual, uncommon, odd" is by c. 1600 (earlier "distinguished, special, particular, select," 1580s; for sense development, compare idiom). The euphemistic phrase peculiar institution for U.S. slavery is by 1838. Related: Peculiarly.
as a noun, in biology, "genetic variant of an animal," 1955; as a verb, in cinematic special effects, c. 1987, short for metamorphosis. Related: Morphed; morphing. Earlier it was a slang shortening of morphine (1912).
"potency, power, strength," early 15c., from Old French potence "power," from Latin potentia,from potis "powerful, able, capable," from PIE root *poti- "powerful; lord." The potence in watch-making, etc. (1670s) is from a special sense of French potence "a crutch."