Etymology
Advertisement
idle (adj.)

Old English idel "empty, void; vain; worthless, useless," from Proto-West Germanic *idla- (source also of Old Saxon idal, Old Frisian idel "empty, worthless," Old Dutch idil, Old High German ital, German eitel "vain, useless, mere, pure"), a word of unknown origin.

Subsequent developments are peculiar to English: sense "not employed, not doing work" was in late Old English in reference to persons; from 1520s of things; from 1805 of machinery. Meaning "lazy, slothful" is from c. 1300. In Elizabethan English it also could mean "foolish, delirious, wandering in the mind." Idle threats preserves original sense.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
vacuum (n.)

1540s, "emptiness of space," from Latin vacuum "an empty space, vacant place, a void," noun use of neuter of vacuus "empty, unoccupied, devoid of," figuratively "free, unoccupied," from Proto-Italic *wakowos, related to the source of Latin  vacare "to be empty" (from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out"), with adjectival suffix -uus. Properly a loan-translation of Greek kenon, literally "that which is empty."

Meaning "a space emptied of air" is attested from 1650s. Vacuum tube "glass thermionic device" is attested from 1859. Vacuum cleaner is from 1903; shortened form vacuum (n.) first recorded 1910.

The metaphysicians of Elea, Parmenides and Melissus, started the notion that a vacuum was impossible, and this became a favorite doctrine with Aristotle. All the scholastics upheld the maxim that "nature abhors a vacuum." [Century Dictionary]
Related entries & more 
reverse (v.)

early 14c., reversen, (transitive), "change, alter" (a sense now obsolete); late 14c., "turn (someone or something) in an opposite direction, turn the other way, turn inside out," also in a general sense, "alter to the opposite;" from Old French reverser "reverse, turn around; roll, turn up" (12c.), from Late Latin reversare "turn about, turn back," frequentative of Latin revertere "turn back, turn about; come back, return" (see revert).

From c. 1400 as "turn (something) upside down;" from early 15c. as "go backward" (intransitive). Of judicial sentences, "set aside, make void," mid-15c. In mechanics, "cause to revolve or act in a contrary direction," by 1860; the sense of "put a motor vehicle in reverse gear" is by 1902. Related: Reversed; reversing.

Related entries & more 
melancholy (n.)

c. 1300, melancolie, malencolie, "mental disorder characterized by sullenness, gloom, irritability, and propensity to causeless and violent anger," from Old French melancolie "black bile; ill disposition, anger, annoyance" (13c.), from Late Latin melancholia, from Greek melankholia "sadness," literally (excess of) "black bile," from melas (genitive melanos) "black" (see melano-) + khole "bile" (see cholera).

Old medicine attributed mental depression to unnatural or excess "black bile," a secretion of the spleen and one of the body's four "humors," which help form and nourish the body unless altered or present in excessive amounts. The word also was used in Middle English for "sorrow, gloom" (brought on by love, disappointment, etc.), by mid-14c. As belief in the old physiology of humors faded out in the 18c. the word remained with a sense of "a gloomy state of mind," particularly when habitual or prolonged.

The Latin word also is the source of Spanish melancolia, Italian melancolia, German Melancholie, Danish melankoli, etc. Old French variant malencolie (also in Middle English) is by false association with mal "sickness."

When I go musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
   All my joys to this are folly,
   Naught so sweet as melancholy.
When I lie waking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
   All my griefs to this are jolly,
   Naught so sad as melancholy.
[Robert Burton, from "Anatomy of Melancholy," 17c.]
Related entries & more 
sensation (n.)

1610s, "a reaction to external stimulation of the sense organs," from French sensation (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin sensationem (nominative sensatio) "perception," from Late Latin sensatus "endowed with sense, sensible," from Latin sensus "feeling" (see sense (n.)).

The general sense of "action or faculty of receiving a mental impression from any affectation of the body" is attested in English by 1640s.

The great object of life is sensation — to feel that we exist, even though in pain. It is this 'craving void' which drives us to gaming — to battle, to travel — to intemperate, but keenly felt, pursuits of any description, whose principal attraction is the agitation inseparable from their accomplishment. [Lord Byron, letter, Sept. 6, 1813]

 The meaning "state of shock, surprise, or excited feeling or interest in a community" is recorded by 1779. Meaning "that which produces excited interest or feeling in a community" is by 1864.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
polygamy (n.)

"marriage with more than one spouse," 1590s, from Late Latin polygamia, from Late Greek polygamia "polygamy," from polygamos "often married," from polys "many" (see poly-) + gamos "marriage" (see gamete). The word is not etymologically restricted to marriage of one man and multiple women (technically polygyny), but often used as if it were. Related: Polygamist; polygamize.

In Christian countries, when a man has more wives than one, or a woman more husbands than one, at the same time, he or she is punishable for polygamy ; but if there was a separate marriage with each the first marriage would be valid notwithstanding the subsequent ones, and the later ones would be void. The offense of contracting the subsequent marriage is now termed bigamy. But polygamy in the form of polygyny is allowed in some countries, especially among Mohammedans, and was held a matter of faith and duty by the Mormons. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
Related entries & more 
cucking-stool (n.)
The Cucking-stool was a means adopted for the punishment of scolds and incorrigible women by ducking them in the water, after having secured them in a chair or stool, fixed at the end of a long pole, serving as a lever by which they were immersed in some muddy or stinking pond. [Willis's Current Notes, February 1851]

early 13c., from verbal noun from cuck "to void excrement," from Old Norse kuka "feces," from PIE root *kakka- "to defecate." So called because they sometimes resembled the old close stool of the pre-plumbing days, a portable indoor toilet that looked like a chair with a box under the seat. Old folk etymology made the first element a corruption of cotquean. For second element, see stool. Also known as trebucket and castigatory, it was used on fraudulent tradesmen, in addition to disorderly women, either for public exposure to ridicule or for ducking.

Related entries & more 
widow (n.)

Old English widewe, wuduwe, from Proto-Germanic *widuwō (source also of Old Saxon widowa, Old Frisian widwe, Middle Dutch, Dutch weduwe, Dutch weeuw, Old High German wituwa, German Witwe, Gothic widuwo), from PIE adjective *widhewo (source also of Sanskrit vidhuh "lonely, solitary," vidhava "widow;" Avestan vithava, Latin vidua, Old Church Slavonic vidova, Russian vdova, Old Irish fedb, Welsh guedeu "widow;" Persian beva, Greek eitheos "unmarried man;" Latin viduus "bereft, void"), from root *uidh- "to separate, divide" (see with).

Extended to "woman separated from or deserted by her husband" from mid-15c. (usually in a combination, such as grass widow). As a prefix to a name, attested from 1570s. Meaning "short line of type" (especially at the top of a column) is 1904 print shop slang. Widow's mite is from Mark xii.43. Widow's peak is from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead is an omen of early widowhood, suggestive of the "peak" of a widow's hood. The widow bird (1747) so-called in reference to the long black tail feathers of the males, suggestive of widows' veils.

Related entries & more 
resolve (v.)

late 14c., resolven, "melt, dissolve, reduce to liquid; separate into component parts; alter, alter in form or nature by application of physical process," " intransitive sense from c. 1400; from Old French resolver or directly from Latin resolvere "to loosen, loose, unyoke, undo; explain; relax; set free; make void, dispel."

This is from re-, here perhaps intensive or meaning "back" (see re-), + solvere "to loosen, untie, release, explain," from PIE *se-lu-, from reflexive pronoun *s(w)e- (see idiom) + root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart."

From the notion of "separate into components" comes the sense in optics (1785; see resolution). From the notion of "reduce by mental analysis into its basic forms" (late 14c.) comes the meaning "determine, decide upon" after analysis (1520s), hence "pass a resolution" (1580s); "decide, settle" a dispute, etc. (1610s). For sense evolution, compare resolute (adj.).

In Middle English also "vaporize a solid, condense a vapor into a liquid, etc.;" a mid-15c. document has Sche was resoluyd in-to terys where a later writer might have she dissolved in tears. Related: Resolved; resolving.

Related entries & more 
dirt (n.)

15c. metathesis of Middle English drit, drytt "excrement, dung, feces, any foul or filthy substance," also "mud, earth," especially "loose earth" (c. 1300), from Old Norse drit, cognate with Old English dritan "to void excrement," from Proto-Germanic *dritan (source also of Dutch drijten, Old High German trizan).

Used abusively of persons from c. 1300; figurative of something worthless from early 14c. Meaning "gossip" first attested 1926 (in Hemingway).

As an adjective, "consisting or made of loose earth," by 1860. The dirt-bike is attested by 1970. Dirt-cheap "as cheap as dirt" is by 1766; dirt-poor "extremely poor" is by 1906. Dirt road, one not paved or macadamized, is attested by 1835, American English. Pay-dirt "earth containing gold" is by 1857, originally California miners' slang.

It is customary to speak of "the golden sands of California;" but a person who should believe that the gold is found in pure sand, would be far wrong. Usually, the pay-dirt is a very stiff clay, full of large gravel and stones. The depth of this pay-dirt varies. In a gully where the water is not more than five feet wide in the heaviest rain, the pay dirt will not usually be more than a foot deep. (etc.) [John S. Hittell, "Mining in the Pacific States of North America," San Francisco, 1861]
Related entries & more 

Page 5