Sense of "molasses" is first recorded 1690s (the connection may be from the use of molasses as a laxative, or its use to disguise the bad taste of medicine); that of "anything too sweet or sentimental" is from 1771. Related: Treacly.
cited as a typical authority on card or board games, by 1755, a reference to Edmond Hoyle (1672-1769), author of several works on card-playing. The surname, according to Bardsley, represents a Northern English dialectal pronunciation of hole. "In Yorks and Lancashire hole is still dialectically hoyle. Any one who lived in a round hollow or pit would be Thomas or Ralph in the Hoyle." ["Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," London, 1901]
To the making of rule-books there is no end, and books on card games are no exception to the rule. Many claim to be the last word in 'Official Rules', and to this end disguise themselves under the name of HOYLE as an earnest of proof and authority. It may therefore be rather surprising to learn that Hoyle died over 200 years ago, and positively disconcerting find that most card games do not actually have official rules. What's more, the original Hoyle, an eighteenth-century Whist tutor, only described some half-dozen card games, and in not a single instance did he write any rules explaining how the game is played. [David Parlett, "A History of Card Games," 1991]
c. 1600, from French férocité, from Latin ferocitatem (nominative ferocitas) "fierceness," from ferocis, oblique case of ferox "bold, courageous, warlike; fierce, savage, headstrong, cruel," literally "wild-looking," a derivative of ferus "wild" (from PIE root *ghwer- "wild beast") + -ox (genitive -ocis), a suffix meaning "looking or appearing" (cognate with Greek ōps "eye, sight;" from PIE root *okw- "to see").
mid-13c., "proud, noble, bold, haughty," from Old French fers, fiers, nominative form of fer, fier "strong, overwhelming, violent, fierce, wild; proud, mighty, great, impressive" (Modern French fier "proud, haughty"), from Latin ferus "wild, untamed, uncultivated; waste, desert;" figuratively "wild, uncultivated, savage, cruel" (from PIE root *ghwer- "wild beast").
Meaning "ferocious, wild, savage, cruel" of persons is from c. 1300; of beasts from late 14c. Original English sense of "brave, proud" died out 16c., but while this sense was current fierce often was used in English as an epithet (and thus surname), which accounts for the rare instance of a French word entering English in the nominative case. Related: Fiercely; fierceness. In Middle English sometimes also "dangerous, destructive; great, strong; huge (in number)." An early 15c. medical treatise has fers benes for "wild beans."
1729, "jester, merry fellow, one who jokes," agent noun from joke (v.). In generic slang use for "any man, fellow, chap" by 1811, which probably is the source of the meaning "odd face card in the deck" (1868), also often jolly joker. An 1857 edition of Hoyle's "Games" lists a card game called Black Joke in which all face cards were called jokers.
American manufacturers of playing-cards are wont to include a blank card at the top of the pack; and it is, alas! true that some thrifty person suggested that the card should not be wasted. This was the origin of the joker. ["St. James's Gazette," 1894]