bright white star in constellation Leo, 1550s, Modern Latin, apparently first so-called by Copernicus, literally "little king," diminutive of rex "king" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule"). Probably a translation of Basiliskos "little king," a Hellenistic Greek name for the star, mentioned in Geminos and Ptolemy (in the "Almagest," though elsewhere in his writings it is usually "the star on the heart of Leo"); perhaps a translation of Lugal "king," said to have been the star's Babylonian name. Klein holds it to be a corruption of Arabic rijl (al-asad) "paw of the lion" (compare Rigel).
ancient name of England, attested in Old English, from Latin, sometimes said to be from the non-Indo-European base *alb "mountain," which also is suggested as the source of Latin Alpes "Alps," Albania, and Alba, an Irish name for "Scotland." But more likely from Latin albus "white" (see alb), which would be an apt description of the chalk cliffs of the island's southern coast.
Breoton is garsecges ealond, ðæt wæs iu geara Albion haten. [translation of Bede's "Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum," c. 900 C.E.]
Perfidious Albion, a reference to the supposedly treacherous policies of Britain when dealing with foreign powers, translates French rhetorical phrase la perfide Albion, said to have been in use since 16c. but popularized by Napoleon in the recruiting drive of 1813.
small city in Illinois, U.S., originally the name of a subdivision of the Miami/Illinois people (1673), from native /peewaareewa/. Their own name is said to mean "carriers." The place name also is found in Oklahoma and Iowa, but it is the Illinois city that has been proverbially regarded as the typical measure of U.S. cultural and intellectual standards at least since Ambrose Bierce (c. 1890). Also the butt of baseball player jokes (c. 1920-40, when a team there was part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm system) and popularized in the catchphrase It'll play in Peoria (often negative), meaning "the average American will approve," which was popular in the Nixon White House (1969-74) but seems to have had a vaudeville origin. Personification in little old lady in Peoria is said to be from Harold Ross of the New Yorker. Peoria's rivals as embodiment of U.S. small city values and standards include Dubuque, Iowa; Hoboken and Hackensack, N.J.; Oakland (Gertrude Stein: "When you get there, there isn't any there there") and Burbank, Calif., and the entire state of North Dakota.