plural maculae, "a spot, blotch," especially on the skin or eye, c. 1400, from Latin macula "spot, stain," used of various spots (sunspots, markings on minerals, etc.), from Proto-Italic *smalto-, which is of uncertain origin. The macula lutea of the eye, the yellow spot of the retina opposite the pupil (the position of the most distinct vision), is from 1848.
1560s, "relating to or connected with the science of optics; pertaining to vision," from optic + -al (1). Of abstract art, from 1964. In astronomy, in reference to double stars that appear so only because they lie in the same line of sight from earth, by 1868. Optical illusion is attested by 1757. Related: Optically.
"sequence of sensations or images passing through the mind of a sleeping person," mid-13c., probably related to Old Norse draumr, Danish drøm, Swedish dröm, Old Saxon drom "merriment, noise," Old Frisian dram "dream," Dutch droom, Old High German troum, German Traum "dream." These all are perhaps from a Proto-Germanic *draugmas "deception, illusion, phantasm" (source also of Old Saxon bidriogan, Old High German triogan, German trügen "to deceive, delude," Old Norse draugr "ghost, apparition"). Possible cognates outside Germanic are Sanskrit druh- "seek to harm, injure," Avestan druz- "lie, deceive."
Old English dream meant "joy, mirth, noisy merriment," also "music." Much study has failed to prove that Old English dream is the source of the modern word for "sleeping vision," despite being identical in form. Perhaps the meaning of the word changed dramatically, or "vision" was an unrecorded secondary Old English meaning of dream, or there are two words here.
OED offers this theory for the absence of dream in the modern sense in the record of Old English: "It seems as if the presence of dream 'joy, mirth, music,' had caused dream 'dream' to be avoided, at least in literature, and swefn, lit. 'sleep,' to be substituted ...."
The dream that meant "joy, mirth, music" faded out of use after early Middle English. According to Middle English Compendium, the replacement of swefn (Middle English swevn) by dream in the sense "sleeping vision" occurs earliest and is most frequent in the East Midlands and the North of England, where Scandinavian influence was strongest.
Dream in the sense of "that which is presented to the mind by the imaginative faculty, though not in sleep" is from 1580s. The meaning "ideal or aspiration" is from 1931, from the earlier sense of "something of dream-like beauty or charm" (1888). The notion of "ideal" is behind dream girl (1850), etc.
Before it meant "sleeping vision" Old English swefn meant "sleep," as did a great many Indo-European "dream" nouns originally, such as Lithuanian sapnas, Old Church Slavonic sunu, and the Romanic words (French songe, Spanish sueño, Italian sogno all from Latin somnium. All of these (including Old English swefn) are from PIE *swep-no-, which also is the source of Greek hypnos (from PIE root *swep- "to sleep"). Old English also had mæting in the "sleeping vision" sense.
c. 1300, descriven, "to see, discern," probably from Old French descrier "publish, proclaim, announce" (Modern French décrier), from Latin describere "to write down, copy" (see describe). From mid-14c. as "detect, find out, discover" (something concealed), also "discover by vision, get sight of." Since early 15c. the word has been more or less confused with descry (v.2). Related: Descried; descrying.
"state or character of being perspicacious; keenness of sight, clearness of understanding," 1540s, from French perspicacité (15c.) and directly from Late Latin perspicacitas "sharp-sightedness, discernment," from Latin perspicax "sharp-sighted, having the power of seeing through," from perspicere "look through, look closely at," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + specere "look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). An earlier word was perspicience "ability to see all things, infinite vision" (c. 1400).
This became Middle English blindfellen "to strike blind," also "to cover (the eyes) to block vision" (c. 1200). This was most common in the past-participle, blindfelled, blindfeld," whence the -d was, in the 15th c., erroneously admitted to the stem of the vb." [OED]. It was further altered early 16c. by similarity to fold, from the notion of "folding" a band of cloth over the eyes. Related: Blindfolded; blindfolding.
early 14c., "illusory appearance," from Old French fantaisie, phantasie "vision, imagination" (14c.), from Latin phantasia, from Greek phantasia "power of imagination; appearance, image, perception," from phantazesthai "picture to oneself," from phantos "visible," from phainesthai "appear," in late Greek "to imagine, have visions," related to phaos, phōs "light," phainein "to show, to bring to light" (from PIE root *bha- (1) "to shine").
Sense of "whimsical notion, illusion" is pre-1400, followed by that of "fantastic imagination," which is first attested 1530s. Sense of "day-dream based on desires" is from 1926. In early use in English also fantasie, phantasy, etc. As the name of a fiction genre, by 1948.
early 14c., "lose brightness, grow pale," from Old French fader "become weak, wilt, wither," from fade (adj.) "pale, weak; insipid, tasteless" (12c.), probably from Vulgar Latin *fatidus, which is said to be a blending of Latin fatuus "silly, tasteless" and vapidus "flat, flavorless." Related: Faded; fading. Of sounds, by 1819. Transitive sense from 1590s; in cinematography from 1918.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:" Do I wake or sleep?
[Keats, from "Ode to a Nightingale"]