Etymology
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exceptional (adj.)

1828, "out of the ordinary course, forming an exception, unusual," from exception + -al (1). Related: Exceptionally. Exceptionalism "fact or quality of being exceptional" in some way, usually implying superiority to the unexceptional, is attested from 1864; the phrase American exceptionalism is attested by 1929, originally among communists, in reference to the argument about whether the United States is in some sense not subject to the historical rules of Marxism; it has been used in other ways since, often implying (and implicitly criticizing) a belief that the U.S. is somehow uniquely virtuous. Other noun forms include exceptionalness (1868), exceptionality (1851).

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strange (adj.)

late 13c., straunge, "from elsewhere, foreign, unknown, unfamiliar, not belonging to the place where found," from Old French estrange "foreign, alien, unusual, unfamiliar, curious; distant; inhospitable; estranged, separated" (Anglo-French estraunge, strange, straunge; Modern French étrange), from Latin extraneus "foreign, external, from without" (source also of Italian strano "strange, foreign," Spanish extraño), from extra "outside of" (see extra-). In early use also strounge. The surname Lestrange is attested from late 12c. Sense of "queer, surprising" is attested from c. 1300, also "aloof, reserved, distant; estranged." In nuclear physics, from 1956.

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special (adj.)

c. 1200, "given or granted in unusual circumstances, exceptional;" also "specific" as opposed to general or common; from Old French special, especial "special, particular, unusual" (12c., Modern French spécial) and directly from Latin specialis "individual, particular" (source also of Spanish especial, Italian speziale), from species "appearance, kind, sort" (see species).

Meaning "marked off from others by some distinguishing quality; dear, favored" is recorded from c. 1300. Also from c. 1300 is the sense of "selected for an important task; specially chosen." From mid-14c. as "extraordinary, distinguished, having a distinctive character," on the notion of "used for special occasions;" hence "excellent; precious."

From late 14c. as "individual, particular; characteristic." The meaning "limited as to function, operation, or purpose" is from 14c., but developed especially in the 19c. Special effects first attested 1951. Special interest in U.S. political sense is from 1910. Special pleading is recorded by 1680s, a term that had a sound legal meaning once but now is used generally and imprecisely. Special education in reference to those whose learning is impeded by some mental or physical handicap is from 1972.

Special pleading. (a) The allegation of special or new matter, as distinguished from a direct denial of matter previously alleged on the other side. ... (c) In popular use, the specious but unsound or unfair argumentation of one whose aim is victory rather than truth. [Century Dictionary]
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uncouth (adj.)

Old English uncuð "unknown, strange, unusual; uncertain, unfamiliar; unfriendly, unkind, rough," from un- (1) "not" + cuð "known, well-known," past participle of cunnan "to know" (see can (v.1)), from PIE root *gno- "to know." Meaning "strange, crude, clumsy" is first recorded 1510s. The compound (and the thing it describes) widespread in IE languages, such as Latin ignorantem, Old Norse ukuðr, Gothic unkunþs, Sanskrit ajnatah, Armenian ancanaut', Greek agnotos, Old Irish ingnad "unknown."

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extravagant (adj.)

late 14c., in constituciouns extravagaunt, a term in Canon Law for papal decrees not originally included or codified in the Decretals, from Medieval Latin extravagantem (nominative extravagans), present participle of extravagari "wander outside or beyond," from Latin extra "outside of" (see extra-) + vagari "wander, roam" (see vague).

In 15c. it also could mean "rambling, irrelevant; extraordinary, unusual." Extended sense of "excessive, extreme, exceeding reasonable limits" first recorded 1590s, probably via French; that of "wasteful, lavish, exceeding prudence in expenditure" is from 1711. Related: Extravagantly. Wordsworth ("Prelude") used extravagate (v.).

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flock (n.1)

Old English flocc "a group of persons, company, troop," related to Old Norse flokkr "crowd, troop, band," Middle Low German vlocke "crowd, flock (of sheep);" of unknown origin, not found in other Germanic languages; perhaps related to folc "people," but the metathesis would have been unusual for Old English.

In Old English of humans only; extended c. 1200 to "a number of animals of one kind moving or feeding together;" of domestic animals c. 1300. The special reference to birds is recent (19c.). Transferred to bodies of Christians, in relation to Christ or their pastor, from mid-14c.

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peeler (n.)

"one who or that which pares off the rind" of fruit, etc., 1590s, agent noun from peel (v.).  In Middle English it meant "robber, thief" (mid-14c.), and in American English it meant "person of exceptional or unusual qualities" (1833). Meaning "strip-tease artist" (1951) is from peel (v.) in the colloquial sense of "strip off clothing" (1785). 

Sense of "policeman," 1817, British colloquial, originally a member of the Irish constabulary, named for Sir (at that time Mr.) Robert Peel (1788-1850) who founded the Irish Constabulary and later improved the police system of London. Compare bobby.

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amend (v.)

early 13c., amenden, "to free from faults, rectify," from Old French amender "correct, set right, make better, improve" (12c.), from Latin emendare "to correct, free from fault," from ex "out" (see ex-) + menda, mendum "fault, physical blemish; error," from PIE *mend- "physical defect, fault" (source also of Sanskrit minda "physical blemish," Old Irish mennar "stain, blemish," Welsh mann "sign, mark;" Hittite mant- "something harming").

The spelling with a- is unusual but early and also is found in Provençal and Italian. In English, the word has been supplanted in senses of "repair; cure" by its shortened offspring mend (v.). The meaning "to add to legislation" (ostensibly to correct or improve it) is recorded from 1777. Related: Amended; amending.

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inner (adj.)

c. 1400, from Old English inra, comparative of inne (adv.) "inside" (see in (adv.)). Similar formation in Old High German innaro, German inner. The original order of comparison was in/inner/inmost; the evolution has been unusual for a comparative, and inner has not been used with than since Middle English.

Inner man "the soul" is from late Old English; as "the spiritual part of man" by late 14c. The Quaker inner light is attested by that name from 1833. Inner tube in the pneumatic tire sense is from 1894. Inner city is attested from 1690s; as a euphemism for "urban poverty and crime," from 1963.

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grateful (adj.)

1550s, "pleasing to the mind," also "full of gratitude, disposed to repay favors bestowed," from obsolete adjective grate "agreeable, pleasant," from Latin gratus "pleasing" (from suffixed form of PIE root *gwere- (2) "to favor"). "A most unusual formation" [Weekley]. A rare, irregular case of English using -ful to make an adjective from an adjective (the only other one I can find is direful "characterized by or fraught with something dreadful," 1580s). Related: Gratefully (1540s); gratefulness.

Grateful often expresses the feeling and the readiness to manifest the feeling by acts, even a long time after the rendering of the favor; thankful refers rather to the immediate acknowledgment of the favor by words. [Century Dictionary]
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