Etymology
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marriage (n.)
Origin and meaning of marriage

c. 1300, mariage, "action of entering into wedlock;" also "state or condition of being husband and wife, matrimony, wedlock;" also "a union of a man and woman for life by marriage, a particular matrimonial union;" from Old French mariage "marriage; dowry" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *maritaticum (11c.), from Latin maritatus, past participle of maritare "to wed, marry, give in marriage" (see marry (v.)). The Vulgar Latin word also is the source of Italian maritaggio, Spanish maridaje, and compare mariachi.

Meanings "the marriage vow, formal declaration or contract by which two join in wedlock;" also "a wedding, the celebration of a marriage; the marriage ceremony" are from late 14c. Figurative use (non-theological) "intimate union, a joining as if by marriage" is from late 14c.

[W]hen two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition until death do them part. [G.B. Shaw, preface to "Getting Married," 1908]

Marriage counseling is recorded by that name by 1939. Marriage bed, figurative of marital intercourse generally, is attested from 1580s (bed of marriage is from early 15c.).

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shrew (n.)

[small insectivorous mammal; malignant woman], Middle English shreue, which is recorded only in the sense of "rascal, evil-doer; scolding woman; undisciplined child;" which is apparently from Old English screawa "shrew-mouse," a word of uncertain origin.

OED calls the word's absence in the "animal" sense from Old English to the 16c. "remarkable." It gives the two words separate entries (2nd ed. print) and speculates that the "malignant person" sense might be original. Perhaps it is from Proto-Germanic *skraw-, from PIE *skreu- "to cut; cutting tool" (see shred (n.)), in reference to the shrew's pointed snout. An alternative Old English word for it was scirfemus, from sceorfan "to gnaw." Middle English Compendium points to Middle High German shröuwel, schrowel, schrewel "devil."

The specific meaning "peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman" [Johnson's definition] is c. 1300, from earlier sense of "spiteful person" (male or female), mid-13c., which is traditionally said to derive from some supposed malignant influence of the animal, which was once believed to have a venomous bite and was held in superstitious dread (compare beshrew). Shrews were paired with sheep from 1560s through 17c. as the contrasting types of wives.

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speak (v.)

Old English specan, variant of sprecan "to speak, utter words; make a speech; hold discourse (with others)" (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, past participle sprecen), from Proto-Germanic *sprekanan (source also of Old Saxon sprecan, Old Frisian spreka, Middle Dutch spreken, Old High German sprehhan, German sprechen "to speak," Old Norse spraki "rumor, report"), from PIE root *spreg- (1) "to speak," perhaps identical with PIE root *spreg- (2) "to strew," on notion of speech as a "scattering" of words.

The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from influence of Danish spage "crackle," also used in a slang sense of "speak" (compare crack (v.) in slang senses having to do with speech, such as wisecrack, cracker, all it's cracked up to be). Elsewhere, rare variant forms without -r- are found in Middle Dutch (speken), Old High German (spehhan), dialectal German (spächten "speak").

Not the primary word for "to speak" in Old English (the "Beowulf" author prefers maþelian, from mæþel "assembly, council," from root of metan "to meet;" compare Greek agoreuo "to speak, explain," originally "speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly").

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humanities (n.)

1702; plural of humanity (n.), which had been used in English from late 15c. in a sense "class of studies concerned with human culture" (opposed variously and at different times to divinity or sciences). Latin literae humaniores, the "more human studies" (literally "letters") are fondly believed to have been so called because they were those branches of literature (ancient classics, rhetoric, poetry) which tended to humanize or refine by their influence, but the distinction was rather of secular topics as opposed to divine ones (literae divinae).

From the late Middle Ages, the singular word humanity served to distinguish classical studies from natural sciences on one side and sacred studies (divinity) on the other side. ... The term's modern career is not well charted. But by the eighteenth century humanity in its academic sense seems to have fallen out of widespread use, except in Scottish universities (where it meant the study of Latin). Its revival as a plural in the course of the following century apparently arose from a need for a label for the multiple new 'liberal studies' or 'culture studies' entering university curricula. [James Turner, "Philology," 2014]
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rhyme (v.)

a modern spelling variant or replacement of Middle English rime, rimen, from Old French rimer, from rime "verse" (see rhyme (n.)). The Middle English word is attested from late 12c. as "poetic measure, meter," from c. 1300 as "agreement in terminal sounds of words or metrical lines; a rhyming song or ballad."

 The spelling shifted from mid-17c. by influence of rhythm and Latin rhythmus, from the same Greek source, and the intermediate form rhime is frequent for a while (Dryden and Steele have rhime; Pope and Scott rhyme). Related: Rhymed; rhyming; rhymer (Middle English rimer, early 15c., from rime, also from Anglo-French rimour, Old French rimeur).

The poetaster's rhyming dictionary is attested from 1775 (in John Walker's introduction to his "Dictionary of the English Language, Answering at once the Purposes of Rhyming, Spelling, and Pronouncing. On a Plan Not Hitherto Attempted"). The phrase rhyming slang for the Cockney disguised speech in which a word is replaced by a phrase which rhymes with it is attested from 1859 (the thing itself described by 1851). Especially if the rhyming word is then omitted, which seals the reference from the uninitiated: Richard, in rhyming slang "a girl" (a couple of likely Richards), short for Richard the Third, chosen to rhyme with bird "girl."

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self-made (adj.)

1610s, "made by ones own actions or efforts," from self- + made. Self-made man is attested from 1826, American English; the notion is "having attained material success in life without extraneous advantages."

This expression, in the sense in which I here use it, is perhaps peculiar to our own country ; for it denotes a class of men to be found in no other part of the world. It is true, that in Europe there have been those, who, having a bent of the mind, or a genius, as it is called, for some particular employment, have by their own unassisted, persevering efforts, risen to eminence in their favorite pursuit. But the self-made men of our country differ much from these. Genius in them is sterling common senses ; and their object was not the gratification of the mind in some strong predilection for a favorite employment, but rather the attainment of those intellectual habits and resources, which might prepare them for usefulness, and give them influence and eminence among their fellow men. [Samuel P. Newman, "Address Delivered Before the Benevolent Society of Bowdoin College, Tuesday Evening, Sept. 5, 1826"]
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purse (n.)

Middle English purs, purse, from Old English pursa "little bag or pouch made of leather," especially for carrying money, from Medieval Latin bursa "leather purse" (source also of Old French borse, 12c., Modern French bourse; compare bourse), from Late Latin bursa, variant of byrsa "hide," from Greek byrsa "hide, leather." Change of b- to p- perhaps is by influence of Old English pusa, Old Norse posi "bag."

From c. 1300 as "the royal treasury;" figurative sense of "money, means, resources, funds" is from mid-14c. Meaning "sum of money collected as a prize in a race, etc.," is from 1640s. Meaning "woman's handbag" is attested by 1879. Also in Middle English "scrotum" (c. 1300).

Purse-strings, figurative for "control of money," is by early 15c. Purse-snatcher first attested 1902 (earlier purse-picker, 1540s; purse-cutter, mid-15c.; pursekerver, late 14c.). The notion of "drawn together by a thong" also is behind purse-net "bag-shaped net with a draw string," used in hunting and fishing (c. 1400). Purse-proud (1680s) was an old term for "proud of one's wealth."

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pax (n.)

late 14c., "kiss of peace," from Latin pax (genitive pacis) "peace," in Ecclesiastical Latin, "kiss of peace" (see peace). Capitalized, Pax was the name of the Roman goddess of peace. Used with adjectives from national names, on model of Pax Romana (such as Pax Britannica, 1872); Pax Americana was used by 1884 in reference to the union of the states:

The great state of New York, stronger already in population than Sweden, Portugal, the Dominion of Canada, or any South American state, except Brazil, is surrounded by smaller states, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware. But these last have no anxieties: no standing armies breed taxes and hinder labor; no wars or rumors of wars interrupt trade; there is not only profound peace, but profound security, for the Pax Americana of the Union broods over all. ["Cyclopaedia of Political Science,: John J. Lalor, ed., vol. III, 1884]

The phrase typically meant that at first, but by 1898 was used of theoretical influence of U.S. power beyond its borders, and by 1920 as a practical reality with reference to Latin America. 

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listen (v.)

Old English hlysnan (Northumbrian lysna) "to listen, hear; attend to, obey" (transitive), from Proto-Germanic *hlusinon (source also of Dutch luisteren, Old High German hlosen "to listen," German lauschen "to listen"), from PIE root *kleu- "to hear."

This root is the source also of Sanskrit srnoti "hears," srosati "hears, obeys;" Avestan sraothra "ear;" Middle Persian srod "hearing, sound;" Lithuanian klausau, klausyti "to hear," šlovė "splendor, honor;" Old Church Slavonic slusati "to hear," slava "fame, glory," slovo "word;" Greek klyo "hear, be called," kleos "report, rumor, fame glory," kleio "make famous;" Latin cluere "to hear oneself called, be spoken of;" Old Irish ro-clui-nethar "hears," clunim "I hear," clu "fame, glory," cluada "ears;" Welsh clywaf "I hear;" Old English hlud "loud," hleoðor "tone, tune;" Old High German hlut "sound;" Gothic hiluþ "listening, attention."

The -t- probably is by influence of Old English hlystan (see list (v.2)). For vowel evolution, see bury. Intransitive sense is from c. 1200. To listen in (1905) was originally in reference to radio broadcasts.

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act (v.)

mid-15c., acten, "to act upon or adjudicate" a legal case, from Latin actus, past participle of agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," also "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

The verb is original in Latin, but most of the modern verbal senses in English probably are from the noun. The general sense of "to do, perform, transact" is from c. 1600. Of things, "do something, exert energy or force," by 1751. In theater use from 1590s as "perform as an actor" (intransitive), 1610s as "represent by performance on the stage" (transitive). The general meaning "perform specific duties or functions," often on a temporary basis, is by 1804.

To act on "exert influence on" is from 1810. To act up "be unruly" is by 1900 (in reference to a horse). Earlier it meant "acting in accordance with" a duty, expectation, or belief (1640s). To act out "behave anti-socially" (1974) is from psychiatric sense of "expressing one's unconscious impulses or desires" (acting out is from 1945). Related: Acted; acting.

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