Etymology
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coward (n.)

"one who lacks courage to meet danger or shrinks from the chance of being hurt," mid-13c., from Anglo-French couard, couart, Old French coart "coward" (no longer the usual word in French, which has now in this sense poltron, from Italian, and lâche), from coe "tail," from Latin coda, popular dialect variant of cauda "tail" (see coda) + -ard, an agent noun suffix denoting one that carries on some action or possesses some quality, with derogatory connotation (see -ard).

The word probably reflects an animal metaphoric sense still found in expressions like turning tail and tail between legs. Coart was the name of the hare in Old French versions of "Reynard the Fox." Italian codardo, Spanish cobarde (Old Spanish couarde) are from French. The spelling in English was influenced by cow (v. and n.).

[S]o strong is the false belief that every bully must be a coward that acts requiring great courage are constantly described as cowardly or dastardly if they are so carried out as not to give the victim a sporting chance; the throwing of a bomb at a king's carriage is much less dastardly than shooting a partridge, because the thrower takes a very real risk .... [Fowler]

As a surname (attested from mid-13c.) it represents Old English cuhyrde "cow-herd." As an adjective, "lacking courage, timorous," from late 13c. Farmer has coward's castle "a pulpit," "Because a clergyman may deliver himself therefrom without fear of contradiction or argument."

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missing (adj.)

"not present or found, absent," 1520s, present-participle adjective from miss (v.). Military sense of "not present after a battle but not known to have been killed or captured" is from 1845. As a noun by 1855.

Missing link was used in various figurative senses before is attested 1846 in reference to forms of plant and animal life [Chambers, "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation"]; in reference to a hypothetical creature between man and the apes, as a component of Darwin's theory of evolution, by 1860.

But then, where are the missing links in the chain of intellectual and moral being? What has become of the aspirants to the dignity of manhood whose development was unhappily arrested at intermediate points between the man and the monkey? It will not be doubted, we presume, that there exists at present an enormous gap between the intellectual capabilities of the lowest race of men and those of the highest race of apes; and if so, we ask again, why should the creatures intermediate to them—exalted apes or degraded men—have been totally exterminated, while their less worthy ancestors have successfully struggled through the battle of life? [William Hopkins, "Physical Theories of the Phenomena of Life," Fraser's Magazine, July, 1860]

In a popular religious tract of the late 1850s, "The Missing Link of the London Poor," the missing link was the Bible. Missing person, one who has disappeared and whose condition, whether alive or dead, is unknown, is by 1820.

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maneuver (n.)

"planned movement of troops or warship," 1757, from French manoeuvre "manipulation, maneuver," from Old French manovre "manual labor" 13c.), from Medieval Latin manuopera (source of Spanish maniobra, Italian manovra), from manuoperare "work with the hands," from Latin manu operari, from manu, ablative of manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand") + operari "to work, operate" (from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance").

The same word had been borrowed from French into Middle English in a sense "hand-labor" (late 15c.; compare manure). General meanings "artful plan, ingenious scheme," also " an agile or adroit movement" (by a person or animal) are by 1774. Related: Maneuvers.

Coup de main, and Manoeuvre, might be excusable in Marshal Saxe, as he was in the service of France, and perfectly acquainted with both; but we cannot see what apology can be made for our officers lugging them in by head and shoulders, without the least necessity, as a sudden stroke might have done for one, and a proper motion, for the other. Reconnoitre is another favourite word in the military way; and as we cannot find out that it is much more significant than take a view, we beg leave it may be sent home again. ["The humble remonstrance of the mob of Great Britain, against the importation of French words, &c.," in Annual Register for the Year 1758] 
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imperialism (n.)

1826, "advocacy of empire, devotion to imperial interests," originally in a Napoleonic context, also of Rome and of British foreign policy; from imperial + -ism. At times in British usage (and briefly in U.S.) with a neutral or positive sense relating to national interests or the spread of the benefits of Western civilization, but from the beginning usually more or less a term of reproach. General sense of "one country's rule over another," first recorded 1878. 

It is the old story of 1798, when French republicanism sick of its own folly and misdeeds, became metamorphosed into imperialism, and consoled itself for its incapacity to found domestic freedom by putting an iron yoke upon Europe, and covering it with blood and battle-fields. [Francis Lloyd, St. James's Magazine, January 1842]

The word sharpened its pejorative after 1900, with U.S. revulsion to Philippine insurrection and the publication of J.A. Hobson's book on imperialism, through which the term was taken up in the 1910s by communist writers.

Imperialism is a depraved choice of national life, imposed by self-seeking interests which appeal to the lusts of quantitative acquisitiveness and of forceful domination surviving in a nation from early centuries of animal struggle for existence. Its adoption as a policy implies a deliberate renunciation of that cultivation of the higher inner qualities which for a nation as for an individual constitutes the ascendency of reason over brute impulse. It is the besetting sin of all successful States, and its penalty is unalterable in the order of nature. [J.A. Hobson, "Imperialism: A Study," London, 1902]
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pool (n.2)

game similar to billiards, 1848, originally (1690s) the name of a card game played for collective stakes, from pool "collective stakes of players in a game," which is from French poule "stakes, booty, plunder," literally "hen," from Old French poille "hen, young fowl," from Vulgar Latin *pulla, fem. of Latin pullus "young animal," especially "young fowl," from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little."

Perhaps the original notion is from jeu de la poule, supposedly a game in which people threw things at a chicken and the player who hit it, won it, which speaks volumes about life in the Middle Ages. The notion behind the word, then, is "playing for money." The connection of "hen" and "stakes" is also present in Spanish polla and Walloon paie.

By 1868 it came to mean "combination of a number of persons, each staking a sum of money on the success of a horse in a race, a contest in a game, etc., the money to be divided among the successful bettors," thus also "collective stakes" in betting. The sense of "common reservoir of resources" is from 1917. Meaning "group of persons who share duties or skills" (typist pool, etc.) is from 1928. From 1933 as short for football pool in wagering.

Pool shark is from 1898. The phrase dirty pool "underhanded or unsportsmanlike conduct," especially in politics (1951), seems to belong here now, but the phrase dirty pool of politics, with an image of pool (n.1) is recorded from 1871 and was in use early 20c.

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stake (n.1)

"pointed stick or post; stick of wood sharpened at one end for driving into the ground, used as part of a fence, as a boundary-mark, as a post to tether an animal to, or as a support for something (a vine, a tent, etc.)," Old English staca "pin, stake," from Proto-Germanic *stakon (source also of Old Norse stiaki "a stake, pole, candlestick,"Old Frisian stake, Middle Dutch stake, Dutch staak "a stake, post," Middle Low German stake "a stake, post, pillory, prison"), from PIE root *steg- (1) "pole, stick." The Germanic word was borrowed in Romanic (Spanish and Portuguese estaca "a stake," Old French estaque, estache, Italian stacca "a hook"), and was borrowed back as attach.

Meaning "post to which a person condemned to death by burning is bound" is from c. 1200, also "post to which a bear to be baited is tied" (late 14c.). Meaning "vertical bar fixed in a socket or in staples on the edge of the bed of a platform railway-car or of a vehicle to secure the load from rolling off, or, when a loose substance, as gravel, etc., is carried, to hold in place boards which retain the load," is by 1875; hence stake-body as a type of truck (1903).

Pull up stakes was used c. 1400 as "abandon a position" (the allusion is to pulling up the stakes of a tent); the modern American English figurative expression in the sense of "move one's habitation" is by 1703.

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shack (n.)

"very roughly built house or cabin," 1878, American English and Canadian English, originally in reference to temporary dwellings made by homesteaders while securing a claim, a word of unknown origin. Perhaps it is from Mexican Spanish jacal (from Nahuatl (Aztecan) xacalli "wooden hut"). Or perhaps it is a back-formation from dialectal English shackly "shaky, rickety" (1843), a derivative of shack, a dialectal variant of shake (v.). Another theory derives shack from ramshackle.

Yet another derives it from the verb shack meaning "to hibernate," as a bear or other animal, which is also a variant of shake (v.) in the sense of "be shed or fall," used of grain fallen from the ear and available for food for hogs, etc. (1520s); hence "the act or right of sending pigs or poultry out to 'run shack' after a harvest." Also compare shake-down "impromptu bed made upon loose straw" (1730).

The slang meaning "house" is attested by 1910. In early radio enthusiast slang, it was the word for a room or office set aside for wireless use, 1919, perhaps from earlier U.S. Navy use (1917).

The perhaps-related verb in the "hibernate" sense by 1891 in the U.S. West was used in reference to men who "hole up" for the winter; it is attested from 1927 as "to put up for the night;" the phrase shack up "cohabit" is recorded by 1935 (Zora Neale Hurston).

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side (n.)

Old English side "flanks of a person, the long part or aspect of anything," from Proto-Germanic *sīdō (source also of Old Saxon sida, Old Norse siða, "flank; side (of meat); coast," Danish side, Swedish sida, Middle Dutch side, Dutch zidje, Old High German sita, German Seite), from adjective *sithas "long" (source of Old English sid "long, broad, spacious," Old Norse siðr "long, hanging down"), from PIE root *se- "long; late" (see soiree).

The "long part of anything" sense is preserved hillside, it also was in 16c.-17c. side-coat "long coat." From 14c. as "lateral half of the body of a slaughtered animal." In reference to bacon, it indicates position relative to the ribs. The meaning "a region, district" is from c. 1400, as in South Side, countryside.

The figurative sense of "position or attitude of a person or set of persons in relation to another" (as in choose sides, side of the story) is recorded by mid-13c. As "an aspect" of anything immaterial (the bright side, etc.), by mid-15c.

The meaning "one of the parties in a transaction" is from late 14c.. The sense of "one of the parties in a sporting contest or game" is from 1690s. The meaning "music on one side of a phonograph record" is attested by 1936. As short for side-dish, by 1848.

The phrase side by side "close together and abreast, placed with sides near together" is recorded from c. 1200. Colloquial on the side "in addition," especially "unacknowledged," with connotations of "illicit, shady," is by 1893.

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limb (n.1)

"part or member," Old English lim "limb of the body; any part of an animal body, distinct from the head and trunk;" main branch of a tree," from Proto-Germanic *limu- (source also of Old Norse limr "limb," lim "small branch of a tree"), a variant of *lithu- (source of Old English liþ, Old Frisian lith, Old Norse liðr, Gothic liþus "a limb;" and with prefix ga-, source of German Glied "limb, member").

The unetymological -b began to appear late 1500s for no etymological reason (perhaps by influence of limb (n.2)). The Old English plural was often limu; limen and other plural forms in -n lasted into Middle English. Since c. 1400 especially of a leg; in Victorian English this usage was somewhat euphemistic, "out of affected or prudish unwillingness to use the word leg" [Century Dictionary]. However in Old and Middle English, and until lately in dialects, it could mean "any visible body part":

The lymmes of generacion were shewed manyfestly. [Caxton, "The subtyl historyes and fables of Esope, Auyan, Alfonce, and Poge," 1484]

Hence, limb-lifter "fornicator" (1570s). Limb of the law was 18c. derisive slang for a lawyer or police officer. To go out on a limb in figurative sense "enter a risky situation" is from 1897. Alliterative life and limb in reference to the body inclusively is from c. 1200. Obsolete limb-meal (adv.) "limb-from-limb, piecemeal" is from late Old English lim-mælum.

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body (n.)

Middle English bodi, from Old English bodig "trunk of a man or beast; the whole physical structure of a human or animal; material frame, material existence of a human; main or principal part of anything," related to Old High German botah, but otherwise of unknown origin. Not elsewhere in Germanic, and the word has died out in German (replaced by Leib, originally "life," and Körper, from Latin), "but in English body remains as a great and important word" [OED].

The extension to "a person, a human being" is by c. 1300. The meaning "main part" of anything was in late Old English, hence its use in reference to vehicles (1520s). From 1580s as "part of the dress which covers the body."

It is attested from 1590s as "main part of a group, any number of individuals spoken of collectively" and from 1660s as "main portion of a document." Contrasted with soul at least since mid-13c. The meaning "corpse" ("dead body") is from c. 1200. The word was transferred to matter generally in Middle English (as in heavenly body, late 14c.).

Body politic "the nation, the state, whole body of people living under an organized government" is recorded from late 15c., with French word order. Body image was coined 1934. Body count "number of enemy killed in battle or otherwise" is from 1968, from the Vietnam War. Body language is attested from 1967, perhaps from French langage corporel (1966). Body-snatcher "one who secretly disinters the bodies of the recently dead for dissection" is from 1834. Defiant phrase over my dead body attested by 1833.

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