Etymology
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creek (n.)

mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (compare dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").

Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). In U.S. commonly pronounced and formerly sometimes spelled crick. Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own.

Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble" (often especially "pregnant") is attested by 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol," or perhaps a cleaned-up version of the older up shit creek in the same sense.

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communism (n.)

1843, "social system based on collective ownership," from French communisme (c. 1840), from commun (Old French comun "common, general, free, open, public;" see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism).

Originally a theory of society. As the name of a political or economic  theory which rests upon the abolition of the right of private property, especially the means of production and distribution, and seeks the overthrow of capitalism by revolutions, it is attested from 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels' "Manifesto of the Communist Party." Compare communist

By 1919 and through mid-20c. it was a general a term of abuse for revolutionaries, implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]
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atrium (n.)

1570s, in ancient Roman architecture, "entrance-hall," the most important and usually the most splendid apartment of a house. from Latin atrium "central court or first main room of a house, room which contains the hearth," from Proto-Italic *atro-, sometimes said (on authority of Varro, "De Lingua Latina") to be Etruscan.

Watkins suggests it is from PIE root *ater- "fire," on notion of "place where smoke from the hearth escapes" (through a hole in the roof). De Vaan finds this not very compelling, "since soot is black, but not the fire itself," and prefers a different PIE root, *hert-r- "fireplace," with cognates in Old Irish aith, Welsh odyn "furnace, oven," Avestan atarš "fire."

The appurtenance of atrium depends on the interpretation that this room originally contained the fireplace. This etymology was already current in ancient times, but there is no independent evidence for it. Still, there is no good alternative. [de Vaan]

The anatomical sense of "either of the upper cavities of the heart" is recorded by 1870. The meaning "sky-lit central court in a public building" is attested by 1967.

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thug (n.)

1810, "member of a gang of murderers and robbers in India who strangled their victims," from Marathi thag, thak "cheat, swindler," Hindi thag, perhaps from Sanskrit sthaga-s "cunning, fraudulent," from sthagayati "(he) covers, conceals," from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover."

The thugs roamed about the country in bands of from 10 to 100, usually in the disguise of peddlers or pilgrims, gaining the confidence of other travelers, whom they strangled, when a favorable opportunity presented itself, with a handkerchief, an unwound turban, or a noosed cord. The shedding of blood was seldom resorted to. The motive of the thugs was not so much lust of plunder as a certain religious fanaticism. The bodies of their victims were hidden in graves dug with a consecrated pickax, and of their spoil one third was devoted to the goddess Kali, whom they worshiped. [Century Dictionary]

The more correct Indian name is phanseegur (from phansi "noose"), and the activity was described in English as far back as c. 1665. Rigorously prosecuted by the British from 1831, they were driven from existence by century's end. Transferred sense of "ruffian, cutthroat, violent lowbrow" is from 1839.

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troll (v.)

late 14c., "to go about, stroll," later (early 15c.) "roll from side to side, trundle," probably from Old French troller, a hunting term, "wander, to go in quest of game without purpose" (Modern French trôler), from a Germanic source (compare Old High German trollen "to walk with short steps"), from Proto-Germanic *truzlanan.

Sense of "sing in a full, rolling voice" (first attested 1570s) and that of "fish with a moving line" (c. 1600) both are extended technical uses from the general sense of "roll, trundle," the former from "sing in the manner of a catch or round," the latter perhaps confused with trail or trawl. Figurative sense of "to lure on as with a moving bait, entice, allure" is from 1560s. Meaning "to cruise in search of sexual encounters" is recorded from 1967, originally in homosexual slang.

The internet sense (everyone seems to have his own definition of it) seems to date to the late 1980s or early 1990s and the Newsgroups era, and the verbal use is perhaps older than the noun. It seems to combine troll (v.) in the "fish with a moving line" sense (itself confused with trawl) and troll (n.1) "troublesome imp supposed to live underground."

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Scientology (n.)

1951, system of beliefs founded by U.S. author L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986); a hybrid word coined by him. In the book "Scientology: 8-80" (1952, The Hubbard Association of Scientologists Inc.) Hubbard described his thinking in coining the word:

"Scientology" is a new word which names a new science. It is formed from the Latin word, "scio", which means KNOW, or DISTINGUISH, being related to the word "scindo", which means CLEAVE. (Thus, the idea of differentiation is strongly implied.) It is formed from the Greek word "logos", which means THE WORD or OUTWARD FORM BY WHICH THE INWARD THOUGHT IS EXPRESSED AND MADE KNOWN: also, THE INWARD THOUGHT or REASON ITSELF. Thus, SCIENTOLOGY means KNOWING ABOUT KNOWING, or SCIENCE OF KNOWLEDGE.

The elements of it are Latin scire "to know" (for which see science) and Greek logos "word, speech, statement, discourse," also "computation, account," also "reason," from PIE *log-o-, suffixed form of root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak," on notion of "to pick out words." There was a German scientologie (A. Nordenholz, 1937). Related: Scientologist.

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phoenix (n.)

mythical bird of great beauty worshiped in Egypt, Old English and Old French fenix, from Medieval Latin phenix, from Latin phoenix, from Greek phoinix. The bird was the only one of its kind, ans after living 500 or 600 years in the Arabian wilderness, "built for itself a funeral pile of spices and aromatic gums, lighted the pile with the fanning of its wings, and was burned upon it, but from its ashes revived in the freshness of youth" [Century Dictionary]. 

Ðone wudu weardaþ wundrum fæger
fugel feþrum se is fenix hatan
["Phoenix," c.900]

Compare Phoenician, which seems to be unrelated. Forms in ph- begin to appear in English late 15c. and the spelling was assimilated to Greek in 16c. (see ph). Figurative sense of "that which rises from the ashes of what was destroyed" is attested from 1590s.

The constellation was one of the 11 added to Ptolemy's list in the 1610s by Flemish cartographer Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) after Europeans began to explore the Southern Hemisphere. The city in Arizona, U.S., was so called because it was founded in 1867 on the site of an ancient Native American settlement.

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marten (n.)

agile, short-legged, bushy-tailed, medium-sized carnivorous mammal in the weasel family, largely nocturnal and found in forests across the colder parts of the northern hemisphere, c. 1300, martrin, "skin or fur of the marten," from Old French martrine "marten fur," noun use of fem. adjective martrin "of or pertaining to the marten," from martre "marten," from Frankish *martar or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *marthuz (source also of Old Saxon marthrin "of or pertaining to the marten," Old Frisian merth, Middle Dutch maerter, Dutch marter, Old High German mardar, German Marder, Old English mearþ, Old Norse mörðr "marten").

The ultimate etymology is unknown. Some suggest it is from PIE *martu- "bride," on some fancied resemblance. Or it might be a substrate word or a Germanic euphemism for the real name of the animal, which might have been taboo. In Middle English the animal itself typically was called marter, directly from Old French martre, but martrin took over this sense in English after c. 1400. The form marten is from late 16c., perhaps due to association with the masc. proper name Martin.

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mustard (n.)

late 13c. (late 12c. as a surname), "seed of the mustard plant crushed and used as a condiment paste or for medicinal purposes," from Old French mostarde "mustard; mustard plant" (Modern French moutarde), from moust "must," from Latin mustum "new wine" (see must (n.1)); so called because it was originally prepared by adding must to the ground seeds of the plant to make a paste. As the name of the plant itself, by mid-14c. in English. As a color name, it is attested from 1848.

Mustard-pot is attested from early 15c. Mustard gas, World War I poison (first used by the Germans at Ypres, 1917), so called for its color and smell and burning effect on eyes and lungs; chemical name is dichlordiethyl sulfide; it contains no mustard and is an atomized liquid, not a gas. To cut the mustard (1907, usually in negative) is probably from slang mustard "genuine article, best thing" (1903) on notion of "that which enhances flavor."

I'm not headlined in the bills, but I'm the mustard in the salad dressing just the same. [O. Henry, "Cabbages and Kings," 1904]
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ampersand (n.)

1797, contraction of and per se and, meaning "(the character) '&' by itself is 'and' " (a hybrid phrase, partly in Latin, partly in English). An earlier form of it was colloquial ampassy (1706). The distinction is to avoid confusion with & in such formations as &c., a once-common way of writing etc. (the et in et cetera is Latin for "and"). The letters a, I, and o also formerly (15c.-16c.) sometimes were written a per se, etc., especially when standing alone as words.

The symbol is based on the Latin word et "and," and comes from an old Roman system of shorthand signs (ligatures) attested in Pompeiian graffiti, and not (as sometimes stated) from the Tironian Notes, a different system of shorthand, probably invented by Cicero's companion Marcus Tullius Tiro. It used a different symbol, something like a reversed capital gamma, to indicate et. This Tironian symbol was maintained by some medieval scribes, including Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, in whose works a symbol resembling a numeral 7 indicates the word and.

In old schoolbooks the ampersand was printed at the end of the alphabet and thus by 1880s the word ampersand had acquired a slang sense of "posterior, rear end, hindquarters."

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