"a spider's web," early 14c., coppewebbe; the first element is Old English -coppe, in atorcoppe "spider," literally "poison-head" (see attercop). Spelling with -b- is from 16c., perhaps from cob. Cob as a stand-alone for "a spider" was an old word nearly dead even in dialects when J.R.R. Tolkien used it in "The Hobbit" (1937).
Figurative use for "something flimsy and easily broken through" is by 1570s. Plutarch attributes to Anacharsis, the 6c. B.C.E. Scythian-born philosopher in Athens, the statement, variously given, that laws were like cobwebs that entangled the little flies but wasps and hornets never failed to break through them. An old Norfolk term for a misty morning was cobweb-morning (1670s).
"morbid fear of clowns," by 2001 (said in Web sites to date from 1990s or even 1980s), a popular term, not from psychology, possibly facetious, though the phenomenon is real enough; said to be built from Greek kolon "limb," with some supposed sense of "stilt-walker," hence "clown" + -phobia.
Ancient Greek words for "clown" were sklêro-paiktês, from paizein "to play (like a child);" or deikeliktas. Greek also had geloiastes "a jester, buffoon" (from gelao "to laugh, be merry"); there was a khleuastes "jester," but it had more of a sense of "scoffer, mocker," from khleuazo "treat with insolence." Other classical words used for theatrical clowns were related to "rustic," "peasant" (compare Latin fossor "clown," literally "laborer, digger," related to fossil).
Coulrophobia looks suspiciously like the sort of thing idle pseudo-intellectuals invent on the internet and which every smarty-pants takes up thereafter; perhaps it is a mangling of Modern Greek klooun "clown," which is the English word borrowed into Greek.
early 15c., "written statement calling attention to (something), public notice" (of anything, but often of a sale); from Old French avertissement (15c., later respelled pedantically as advertissement, a change rejected in French but accepted in English), from stem of avertir "to turn, direct, make aware" (see advertise). Meaning "public notice (usually paid) in a newspaper or other publication," the main modern sense, emerged 1580s and was fully developed by 18c.; later extended to Web sites.
Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetick. Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement. I remember a washball that had a quality truly wonderful—it gave an exquisite edge to the razor! ... The trade of advertising is now so near to perfection that it is not easy to propose any improvement. [Johnson, "The Idler," Jan. 20, 1758]
late 14c., "wording of anything written," from Old French texte, Old North French tixte "text, book; Gospels" (12c.), from Medieval Latin textus "the Scriptures, text, treatise," in Late Latin "written account, content, characters used in a document," from Latin textus "style or texture of a work," literally "thing woven," from past participle stem of texere "to weave, to join, fit together, braid, interweave, construct, fabricate, build" (from PIE root *teks- "to weave, to fabricate, to make; make wicker or wattle framework").
An ancient metaphor: thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns — but the true storyteller, the poet, is a weaver. The scribes made this old and audible abstraction into a new and visible fact. After long practice, their work took on such an even, flexible texture that they called the written page a textus, which means cloth. [Robert Bringhurst, "The Elements of Typographic Style"]
To Socrates, a word (the name of a thing) is "an instrument of teaching and of separating reality, as a shuttle is an instrument of separating the web." The meaning "a digital text message" is by 2005.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to weave," also "to fabricate," especially with an ax, also "to make wicker or wattle fabric for (mud-covered) house walls."
It forms all or part of: architect; context; dachshund; polytechnic; pretext; subtle; technical; techno-; technology; tectonic; tete; text; textile; tiller (n.1) ""bar to turn the rudder of a boat;" tissue; toil (n.2) "net, snare."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: *teks- "to weave, to fabricate, to make; make wicker or wattle framework" (source also of Sanskrit taksati "he fashions, constructs," taksan "carpenter;" Avestan taša "ax, hatchet," thwaxš- "be busy;" Old Persian taxš- "be active;" Latin texere "to weave, fabricate," tela "web, net, warp of a fabric;" Greek tekton "carpenter," tekhnē "art;" Old Church Slavonic tesla "ax, hatchet;" Lithuanian tašau, tašyti "to carve;" Old Irish tal "cooper's ax;" Old High German dahs, German Dachs "badger," literally "builder;" Hittite taksh- "to join, unite, build."
c. 1300 (mid-13c. as a surname), sotil, "penetrating; ingenious; refined" (of the mind); "sophisticated, intricate, abstruse" (of arguments), from Old French sotil, soutil, subtil "adept, adroit; cunning, wise; detailed; well-crafted" (12c., Modern French subtil), from Latin subtilis "fine, thin, delicate, finely woven;" figuratively "precise, exact, accurate," in taste or judgment, "fine, keen," of style, "plain, simple, direct," from sub "under" (see sub-) + -tilis, from tela "web, net, warp of a fabric," from PIE root *teks- "to weave," also "to fabricate." According to Watkins, the notion is of the "thread passing under the warp" as the finest thread.
From early 14c. in reference to things, "of thin consistency;" in reference to craftsmen, "cunning, skilled, clever;" Depreciative sense "insidious, treacherously cunning; deceitful" is from mid-14c. Material senses of "not dense or viscous, light; pure; delicate, thin, slender; fine, consisting of small particles" are from late 14c. sotil wares were goods sold in powdered form or finely ground. Partially re-Latinized in spelling, and also by confusion with subtile.
1640s, of textile fabric, "downy, fuzzy," later "flimsy, unsubstantial" (1660s), a word of unknown origin. One theory is that it is a corruption of Silesia, the German region, where thin linen or cotton fabric was made for export. Silesia, in reference to cloth, is attested in English from 1670s; and sleasie, sleazy as an abbreviated form is attested from late 17c., but OED finds the evidence to be against "any original connexion." The sense of "sordid, squalid" is from 1941. Related: Sleazily; sleaziness.
"Slesie linnen, so calld becaus brought from the province of Silesia, or as the Germans call it Schlesia, wher the capital city Breslaw is maintaind by this manufacture, which is the chief if not the only merchandize of that place." [from notes on Lansdowne manuscripts by antiquarian Bishop White Kennett (1660-1728), quoted in Halliwell]
A day is a more magnificent cloth than any muslin, the mechanism that makes it is infinitely cunninger, and you shall not conceal the sleazy, fraudulent, rotten hours you have slipped into the piece, nor fear that any honest thread, or straighter steel, or more inflexible shaft, will not testify in the web. [Emerson, "The Conduct of Life," 1860]
mid-14c., "material consisting of a compacted web or felting of vegetable fibers, commonly as a thin, flexible sheet for writing, printing, etc.," from Anglo-French paper, Old French papier "paper, document," and directly from Latin papyrus "paper, paper made of papyrus stalks," from Greek papyros "any plant of the paper plant genus," a loan-word of unknown origin, often said to be Egyptian (see papyrus).
Sense of "essay, dissertation on a topic" is from 1660s. Meaning "bills of exchange, paper money" is attested by 1722. As "paper for covering the walls of interiors," 1764. As "printed sheet of news" (a shortened form of newspaper), attested by 1640s. Papers, "collection of documents which establish one's identity, standing, credentials, etc.," it is attested from 1680s.
Paper-clip is by 1875; paper-cutter as a type of machine is by 1969. Paper-hanger is by 1796. Paper-wasp " type of wasp that builds a nest out of paper-like material" is by 1805. Paper chase is by 1856 in British English for the game of hare-and-hounds, from the bits of paper scattered as "scent" by the "hares;" the slang meaning "effort to earn a diploma or college degree" is by 1932.
Old English wulf "wolf, wolfish person, devil," from Proto-Germanic *wulfaz (source also of Old Saxon wulf, Old Norse ulfr, Old Frisian, Dutch, Old High German, German wolf, Gothic wulfs), from PIE root *wlkwo- "wolf" (source also of Sanskrit vrkas, Avestan vehrka-; Albanian ul'k; Old Church Slavonic vluku; Russian volcica; Lithuanian vilkas "wolf;" Old Persian Varkana- "Hyrcania," district southeast of the Caspian Sea, literally "wolf-land;" probably also Greek lykos, Latin lupus).
This manne can litle skyl ... to saue himself harmlesse from the perilous accidentes of this world, keping ye wulf from the doore (as they cal it). ["The Institution of a Gentleman," 1555]
Probably extinct in England from the end of the 15th century; in Scotland from the early 18th. Wolves as a symbol of lust are ancient, such as Roman slang lupa "whore," literally "she-wolf" (preserved in Spanish loba, Italian lupa, French louve). The equation of "wolf" and "prostitute, sexually voracious female" persisted into 12c., but by Elizabethan times wolves had become primarily symbolic of male lust. The specific use of wolf for "sexually aggressive male" first recorded 1847; wolf-whistle attested by 1945, American English, at first associated with sailors. The image of a wolf in sheep's skin is attested from c. 1400. See here for a discussion of "wolf" in Indo-European history. The wolf-spider so called for prowling and leaping on its prey rather than waiting in a web.