Old English negel "tapering metal pin," nægl "fingernail (handnægl), toenail," from Proto-Germanic *naglaz (source also of Old Norse nagl "fingernail," nagli "metal nail;" Old Saxon and Old High German nagel, Old Frisian neil, Middle Dutch naghel, Dutch nagel, German Nagel "fingernail; small metal spike"), from PIE root *(o)nogh "nail of the finger or toe" (source also of Greek onyx "claw, fingernail;" Latin unguis "fingernail, claw;" Old Church Slavonic noga "foot," noguti "fingernail, claw;" Lithuanian naga "hoof," nagutis "fingernail;" Old Irish ingen, Old Welsh eguin "fingernail, claw").
The "fingernail" sense seems to be the original one, but many figurative uses are from the "small metal spike" sense: hard as nails is from 1828. To hit the nail on the head "say or do just the right thing" is by 1520s; in Middle English driven in the nail (c. 1400) was "to drive home one's point, clinch an argument," and smiten the nail on the hed was "tell the exact truth" (mid-15c.). Phrase on the nail "on the spot, exactly" is from 1590s, of obscure origin; OED says it is not certain it belongs to this sense of nail.
As a unit of English cloth measure (about 2 1/4 inches) from late 14c.; perhaps from a nail being used to mark that length on the end of a yardstick.
late 13c., "place where streets or walls meet;" early 14c., "intersection of any two converging lines or surfaces; an angle," from Anglo-French cornere (Old French corner, corniere), from Old French corne "horn; corner," from Vulgar Latin *corna, from Latin cornua, plural of cornu "horn, hard growth on the head of many mammals," from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head."
Latin cornu was used of pointed or stiff things but not of corners, for which angulus was the word. Meaning "a region or district" is from late 14c.; the four corners of the known earth is from late 14c. Sense of "either of the places where the upper and lower eyelids meet" is from late 14c. Meaning "a small, secret, or retired place" is from late 14c.
In boxing, from 1853. In soccer, short for corner-kick, by 1882. Sense of "a monopolizing of the market supply of a stock or commodity" is from 1853. As an adjective, from 1530s. Corner-shop is from late 13c.
To turn the corner "change direction," literally or figuratively, is from 1680s. To be just around the corner in the extended sense of "about to happen" is by 1905. To cut corners is by 1847 as "pass round a corner or corners as closely as possible;" figurative use, in reference to an easy or economical but risky course of action, is by 1882.
11c., from Old English ginȝifer, ginȝiber, from Late Latin gingiber, from Latin zingiberi, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian word that also produced the modern name for the spice, inchi-ver (inchi "ginger", ver "root").
Bishop Caldwell and Drs. Burnell and Gundert considered that the Tamil iñci must have had an initial ś- formerly, that the Sanskrit śṛṅgabera was an imitation of the (supposititious) Tamil ciñcivēr and that European zingiber was derived from the Tamil name. [R. Swaminatha Aiyar, Dravidian Theories]
The word apparently was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (12c., Modern French gingembre). In reference to coloring, by 1785 of fighting cocks, 1885 of persons (gingery with reference to hair is from 1852). The meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, American English (see gin (v.1)).
Ginger-ale is recorded by 1822, the term adopted by manufacturers to distinguish their product from ginger beer (1809), which was sometimes fermented. Ginger-snap as a type of hard cookie flavored with ginger is by 1855, American English.
"metal vessel used for boiling or heating liquids over a flame," Old English cetil, citel (Mercian), from Proto-Germanic *katilaz (compare Old Saxon ketel, Old Frisian zetel, Middle Dutch ketel, Old High German kezzil, German Kessel), which usually is said to be derived from Latin catillus "deep pan or dish for cooking," a diminutive of catinus "deep vessel, bowl, dish, pot," from Proto-Italic *katino-.
This word has been connected with Greek forms such as [kotylē] "bowl, dish." Yet the Greek word is no perfect formal match, and words for types of vessels are very often loanwords. It seems best to assume this for catinus too. [de Vaan]
One of the few Latin loan-words in Proto-Germanic, along with *punda- "measure of weight or money" (see pound (n.1)) and a word relating to "merchant" that yielded cheap (adj.). "[I]t is striking that all have something to do with trade" [Don Ringe, "From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic," Oxford 2006]. Perhaps the Latin word was confused with a native Germanic one.
Spelling with a -k- (c. 1300) probably is from influence of Old Norse cognate ketill. The smaller sense of "tea-kettle" is attested by 1769.
Kettle of fish "complicated and bungled affair" (1715), sometimes is said to be from a Scottish custom of a kettle full of fish cooked al fresco at a boating party or picnic, but this custom is not attested by that phrase until 1790. Perhaps it is rather a variant of kittle/kiddle "weir or fence with nets set in rivers or along seacoasts for catching fish" (c. 1200, in the Magna Charta as Anglo-Latin kidellus), from Old French quidel, probably from Breton kidel "a net at the mouth of a stream."
Kettle was used in geology for "deep circular hollow in a river bed or other eroded area, pothole" (1866), hence kettle moraine (1883), one characterized by such features.
A book containing either all or the principal words of a language, or words of one or more specified classes, arranged in a stated order, usually alphabetical, with definitions or explanations of their meanings and other information concerning them, expressed either in the same or in another language; a word-book; a lexicon; a vocabulary .... [Century Dictionary]
1520s, from Medieval Latin dictionarium "collection of words and phrases," probably a shortening of dictionarius (liber) "(book) of words," from Latin dictionarius "of words," from dictio "a saying, expression," in Late Latin "a word," noun of action from past-participle stem of dicere "speak, tell, say," from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly."
The Medieval Latin word is said to have been first used by Johannes de Garlandia (John of Garland) as the title of a Latin vocabulary published c. 1220. Probably first English use in title of a book was in Sir Thomas Elyot's "Latin Dictionary" (1538).
As an adjective, "of or pertaining to a dictionary," from 1630s. Dictionarist "compiler of a dictionary" (1610s) is older than dictionarian (1806 as a noun, 1785 as an adjective). Grose's 1788 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" has "RICHARD SNARY. A dictionary."
DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work. [Bierce]
"fanatical enthusiasm for a cause or person, blindly shared by the masses;" 1845, a German word in a specialized philosophical sense taken whole into English (in the Edinburgh Review, which adds "a word untranslatable, because the thing itself is un-English"), from German Schwärmerei "noisy, dissolute pleasures; religious fanaticism," from schwärmen "to swarm," figuratively "to be enthusiastic" (related to the noun Schwarm; see swarm (n.)).
The second element might be the German equivalent of -ery, but the sense is not clear. Perhaps the meaning in -rei is essentially diminutive and also denotes ridiculousness or contemptibility [a suggestion from D. Boileau, "Nature and Genius of the German Language," 1843, who cites among other examples Liebelei, "vulgar, insipid sweet-hearting," Ausländerei "too-frequent use of foreign words." Also compare later Schweinerei, "obnoxious behavior; a repulsive incident or thing," literally "piggishness"].
Used in German by Kant, Schelling, Hölderlin; used in late 19c. English by Carlyle, Ruskin, etc.
But we are in hard times, now, for all men's wits; for men who know the truth are like to go mad from isolation; and the fools are all going mad in "Schwärmerei,"—only that is much the pleasanter way. [Ruskin, "Fors Clavigera"]
In mid-20c. also "schoolgirl crush." Related: Schwärmerisch.
"lower extremity of the face below the mouth," Old English cin, cinn "chin," a general Germanic word (compare Old Saxon and Old High German kinni; Old Norse kinn; German Kinn "chin;" Gothic kinnus "cheek"), from PIE root *genu- (2), probably originally "jaw, jawbone," but also forming words for "chin, cheek."
The West Germanic words generally mean "chin," but there are traces of earlier use as "jaw," such as Old English cinbane "jawbone," and the words for "cheek," "chin," and "jaw" naturally overlap and interchange; compare cheek (n.), which originally meant "jaw," and Latin maxilla, which gave Italian mascella "jaw," but Spanish mejilla "cheek."
To take it on the chin "be hit hard" in a figurative sense (sometimes suggesting "ability to withstand punishment"), is from 1924, an image from pugilism. To keep (one's) chin up "remain optimistic amid adversity" is from 1913, though the image itself is older.
I discovered the other day another simple means of producing cheerfulness—raise the chin—with the chin up, the whole mental attitude is changed. If you feel a bit blue or discouraged, just raise your chin, and you will find that things look different; whereas the mere appearance of a man with his chin down suggests that he is disconsolate. [National Magazine, November 1906]
Old English bæcere "baker, one who bakes (especially bread)," agent noun from bacan "to bake" (see bake (v.)). Cognate with Dutch bakker, German Bäcker, Becker. In the Middle Ages, the craft had two divisions, braun-bakeres and whit-bakeres.
White bakers shall bake no hors brede..broune bakers shall bake whete brede as it comyth grounde fro the mylle withoute ony bultyng of the same. Also the seid broune bakers shall bake hors brede of clene benys and pesyn, And also brede that is called housholdersbrede. [Letterbook in the City of London Records Office, Guildhall, 1441]
Baker's dozen "thirteen" is from 1590s.
These dealers [hucksters] ... on purchasing their bread from the bakers, were privileged by law to receive thirteen batches for twelve, and this would seem to have been the extent of their profits. Hence the expression, still in use, "A baker's dozen." [H.T. Riley, "Liber Albus," 1859]
But Brewer says the custom originated when there were heavy penalties for short weight, bakers giving the extra bread to secure themselves.
Baker, to spell, an expression for attempting anything difficult. In old spelling-books, baker was the first word of two syllables, and when a child came to it, he thought he had a hard task before him. [Barrère and Leland, "A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant," 1897].
late 14c., "to skirt, to go around the sides, to go along the border" of something (as a ship does the coastline), from Anglo-French costien, from the French source of coast (n.).
The meaning "sled downhill," first attested 1834 in American English, is a separate borrowing or a new development from the noun. In bicycle-riding, "descend a hill with the feet off the pedals," from 1879. Of motor vehicles, "to move without thrust from the engine," from 1896; figurative use, of persons, "not to exert oneself," by 1934. Related: Coasted; coasting.
"Coasting" consists in throwing the legs up over the handles and allowing the bicycle to rush of its own impetus down hill. It can only be done with safety where the road is perfectly smooth, hard, and free from obstructions; but, under such conditions, bicycle coasting affords one of the most glorious and exhilarating of sensations, and, next to ballooning, its motion most nearly resembles the flight of a bird. [Harper's Weekly, Dec. 20, 1879]
The reckless coasting down the long hills on the route was scarcely more defensible. Speeds of 25 to 30 miles an hour were reached in some instances. The common road is not the proper place for such exhibitions, especially in populous centres. The risk is altogether too great, both for occupants of the vehicle and for other frequenters of the highway. [account of an automobile race on the streets of New York in The Horseless Age, June 1896]