bright star in the constellation Canis Minor (the 8th brightest in the sky), 1650s, from Latin, from Greek Prokyōn, the name of the star or the constellation (which has few other visible stars), from pro "before" (see pro-) + kyōn "dog" (from PIE root *kwon- "dog"). So called from its rising just before the "Dog Star," Sirius.
By Roman astronomers, sometimes Latinized as Antecanis. A mid-15c. English Prochion seems to refer to the constellation.
c. 1200, "numeral;" mid-13c., "visible appearance of a person;" late 14c., "visible and tangible form of anything," from Old French figure "shape, body; form of a word; figure of speech; symbol, allegory" (10c), from Latin figura "a shape, form, figure; quality, kind, style; figure of speech," in Late Latin "a sketch, drawing" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build").
Philosophical and scientific senses are from use of Latin figura to translate Greek skhema. Meaning "lines forming a shape" is from mid-14c. From mid-14c. as "human body as represented by art;" late 15c. as "a body, the human form as a whole." From late 14c. as "a cut or diagram inserted in text."
The rhetorical use of figure, "peculiar use of words giving meaning different from usual," dates to late 14c.; hence figure of speech (1550s). Figure-skating is from 1835, so called for the circular patterns skaters formerly made on the ice to demonstrate control; they were dropped from international competition in 1990, but the name remains. Figure eight as a shape was originally figure of eight (c. 1600).
late 13c., "come into view," from stem of Old French aparoir, aperer "appear, come to light, come forth" (12c., Modern French apparoir), from Latin apparere "to appear, come in sight, make an appearance," from ad "to" (see ad-) + parere "to come forth, be visible; submit, obey," which is of uncertain origin; de Vaan says from a PIE *prh-o- "providing." Of persons, "present oneself," late 14c. Meaning "seem, have a certain appearance" is late 14c. Related: Appeared; appearing.
late 14c., optik, "of or pertaining to the eye as the organ of vision," from Old French optique, obtique (c. 1300) and directly from Medieval Latin opticus "of sight or seeing," from Greek optikos "of or having to do with sight," from optos "seen, visible," related to ōps "eye," from PIE root *okw- "to see." Meaning "relating to or pertaining to vision or sight" is from 1590s. Optics "eyes" is from 1640s; "formerly the learned and elegant term; afterwards pedantic, and now usually humorous" [OED].
c. 1400, revelen, "disclose, divulge, make known (supernaturally or by divine agency, as religious truth)," from Old French reveler "reveal" (14c.), from Latin revelare "reveal, uncover, disclose," literally "unveil," from re- "back, again," here probably indicating "opposite of" or transition to an opposite state (see re-) + velare "to cover, veil," from velum "a veil" (see veil (n.)). Related: Revealed; revealer; revealing. Meaning "display, make clear or visible, expose to sight" is from c. 1500.
Middle English sightlie is attested from mid-15c. but only in the sense "visible;" unsightly is attested in Middle English only as an adverb meaning "invisibly" (late 15c.). Sightly as "pleasing to the eye" is from 1560s. Middle English also had unsighty "difficult or displeasing to look at" (early 15c., from sighty "attractive," late 14c.), also unsightily in the same sense (c. 1400).
late 14c., "existing only in imagination, produced by (mental) fantasy," from Old French fantastique (14c.), from Medieval Latin fantasticus, from Late Latin phantasticus "imaginary," from Greek phantastikos "able to imagine," from phantazein "make visible" (middle voice phantazesthai "picture to oneself"); see phantasm. Trivial sense of "wonderful, marvelous" recorded by 1938. Old French had a different adjective form, fantasieus "weird; insane; make-believe." Medieval Latin also used fantasticus as a noun, "a lunatic," and Shakespeare and his contemporaries had it in Italian form fantastico "one who acts ridiculously."
"act of going before or moving forward, an advance," 1590s, from Late Latin praecissionem (nominative praecissio) "a coming before," from past-participle stem of Latin praecedere "to go before" (see precede). Originally used in reference to calculations of the equinoxes, which come slightly earlier each year, a phenomenon discovered by Hipparchus (190 B.C.E.-120 B.C.E.).
Alpha Centauri was still visible at the latitude of New York, B. C. 300. Ten thousand years ago its meridian altitude at the latitude of Washington was about 30 degrees. At that time Sirius did not appear above our horizon ; and it is interesting to observe that in our latitude these two magnificent stars can never be within the circle of perpetual occultation at the same time. The whole constellation of the Southern Cross was visible in Southern Europe until after the commencement of historic times. Its brightest star, however, will not reappear in the latitude of New York till about A. D. 20,000. [Prof. Daniel Kirkwood, "Changes in Celestial Scenery," in Our Monthly, July 1871]
The word is attested much older (early 14c.) as an error for procession. Related: Precessional.