1590s, intransitive, "dig a covered trench toward the enemy's position," from French saper, from sappe "spade," from Late Latin sappa "spade, mattock" (source also of Italian zappa, Spanish zapa "spade"), which is of unknown origin. The transitive sense of "undermine (a wall, etc.), render unstable by digging into or eating away the foundations" is from 1650s.
The extended transitive sense (of health, confidence, etc.), "weaken or destroy insidiously," is by 1755 and perhaps has been influenced or reinforced in sense by the verb form of sap (n.1), on the notion of "draining the vital sap from," and later by sap (v.2) "beat with a club or stick."
It also sometimes is used as a noun, "a narrow, covered ditch or trench by which a fortress or besieged place can be approached under fire" (1640s). Sap (n.) in the "tool for digging" sense also occasionally is met in 16th century English. Related: Sapped; sapping.
The spelling -ea- was used in Middle English to represent the sound we mis-call "long e." Meaning "abundant meal" (whether public or private) is by late 14c. Meaning "any enjoyable occasion or event" is from late 14c.
"variety of magnetite characterized by its power of attracting iron and steel," mid-15c. (earlier magnes, late 14c.), from Old French magnete "magnetite, magnet, lodestone," and directly from Latin magnetum (nominative magnes) "lodestone," from Greek ho Magnes lithos "the Magnesian stone," from Magnesia (see magnesia), region in Thessaly where magnetized ore was obtained. Figurative sense of "something which attracts" is from 1650s.
It has spread from Latin to most Western European languages (German and Danish magnet, Dutch magneet, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese magnete), but it was superseded in French by aimant (from Latin adamas; see adamant (n.)). Italian calamita "magnet" (13c.), French calamite (by 16c., said to be from Italian), Spanish caramida (15c., probably from Italian) apparently is from Latin calamus "reed, stalk or straw of wheat" (see shawm) "the needle being inserted in a stalk or piece of cork so as to float on water" [Donkin]. Chick magnet attested from 1989.
"form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class," 1570s, from French oligarchie (14c.), from Latinized form of Greek oligarkhia "government by the few," from stem of oligos "few, small, little" (a word of uncertain origin) + -arkhia, from arkhein "to rule" (see archon). An earlier form of the word in English was oligracie (c. 1500, from Old French).
Aristotle, after some preliminary remarks, concludes by defining a democracy to be, when the freemen and those not the rich, being the majority, possess the sovereign power; and an oligarchy, when the rich and those of noble birth, being few, are in possession of the sovereign power. This definition of an oligarchy necessarily implies that the majority are excluded from participating in the sovereign power. It might be inferred, on the other hand, that in this definition of a democracy the few are excluded from the sovereign power: and such in this passage should be the meaning of the author, if he is consistent with himself. ["Political Dictionary," London 1845]
1550s "massive monumental stone structure of polygonl plan, the sides of which slope in planes to a common apex," also a geometrical solid resembling this, (earlier in Latin form piramis, late 14c., or nativized in Middle English as piram), from French pyramide (Old French piramide "obelisk, stela," 12c.), from Latin pyramides, plural of pyramis "one of the pyramids of Egypt," from Greek pyramis (plural pyramides) "a pyramid," which is apparently an alteration of Egyptian pimar "pyramid."
Greek pyramis also meant "kind of cake of roasted wheat-grains preserved in honey," and in this sense is said to derive from pyros "wheat" on the model of sesamis. According to some old sources the Egyptian pyramids were so called from their resemblance to the form of the cake, but Beekes points out that "the form of the cake is actually unknown."
Figurative of anything with a broad base and a small tip. Financial senses are by 1911. Related: Pyramidal (late 14c., piramidal).
Oldest sense in English is preserved in golf (to address a ball). Meaning "direct for transmission, write as a destination on a message" is from mid-15c. Meaning "to direct spoken words (to someone)" is from late 15c. Late 14c. as "to set in order, repair, correct." The attempt (falsely) re-Latinize the spelling to add- began in France 15c. but failed there (the Modern French verb is adresser), however it stuck in English. Related: Addressed; addressing.
Old English dæge "female servant, woman who handles food in a household, housekeeper," from Proto-Germanic *daigjon (source also of Old Norse deigja "maid, female servant," Swedish deja "dairymaid"), from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build." Now obsolete (though OED says, "Still in living use in parts of Scotland"), it forms the first element of dairy and the second of lady.
OED says the ground sense of the ancient word seems to be "kneader, maker of bread;" it would have then advanced via Old Norse deigja and Middle English daie to mean "female servant, woman employed in a house or on a farm." By c. 1200 it had acquired the specific sense of "woman in charge of milking and making butter and cheese, dairy-maid." Dæge as "servant" is the second element in many surnames ending in -day (such as Faraday, and perhaps Doubleday, if it means "servant of the Twin," etc.).
in reference to the branch of Turks which founded and ruled the Ottoman Empire, 1580s (n.), c. 1600 (adj.), from French Ottoman via Italian Ottomano, ultimately from Arabic 'Uthmani "of or belonging to 'Uthman," Arabic masc. proper name, which in Turkish is pronounced Othman (see Osmanli). The founder of the dynasty reigned 1259-1326. Because -i was a plural inflection in Italian, the ending of the word was altered by formation of a new false singular. Byron used the more correct form Othman (perhaps for the sake of metrics as well as accuracy), and a few writers have followed him.
The type of couch or cushioned seat without back or arms (used in drawing-rooms and sitting-rooms) was so called by 1806, because one reclines on it, which was associated with Eastern customs (see couch (n.1)). By 1849 the word was extended to a small version of this used as a footstool or low seat.
late 14c., "open letter or official document from some authority granting permission to do something; a licence granting an office, right, title, etc.," shortened from Anglo-French lettre patent (also in Medieval Latin litteræ patentes), literally "open letter" (late 13c.), from Old French patente "open," from Latin patentem (nominative patens) "open, lying open," present participle of patere "lie open, be open" (from PIE root *pete- "to spread").
The Letters Patent were ... written upon open sheets of parchment, with the Great Seal pendent at the bottom ... [while] the 'Litteræ Clausæ,' or Letters Close, ... being of a more private nature, and addressed to one or two individuals only, were closed or folded up and sealed on the outside. [S.R. Scargill-Bird, "A Guide to the Principal Classes of Documents at the Public Record Office," 1891]
Meaning "a licence granted by a government covering a new and useful invention, conferring exclusive right to exploit the invention for a specified term of years" is from 1580s.
c. 1300, repenten, "be grieved over one's past and seek forgiveness; feel such regret for sins, crimes, or omissions as produces amendment of life," from Old French repentir (11c.), from re-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see re-), + Vulgar Latin *penitire "to regret," from Latin poenitire "make sorry," from poena (see penal).
The distinction between regret (q.v.) and repent is made in many modern languages, but the differentiation is not present in older periods. To repent is to regret so deeply as to change the mind or course of conduct in consequence and develop new mental and spiritual habits. Also from c. 1300 in Middle English and after in an impersonal reflexive sense, especially as (it) repenteth (me, him, etc.).
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
[Genesis vi.6, KJV, 1611]
Related: Repented; repenting.