late 14c., posen, "suggest (something is so), suppose, assume; grant, concede," from Old French poser "put, place, propose," a term in debating, from Late Latin pausare "to halt, rest, cease, pause" (source also of Italian posare, Spanish posar; see pause (v.)). The Late Latin verb also had a transitive sense, "cause to pause or rest," and hence the Old French verb (in common with cognates in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) acquired the sense of Latin ponere "to put, place" (past participle positus; see position (n.)), by confusion of the similar stems.
One of the most remarkable facts in F[rench] etymology is the extraordinary substitution whereby the Low Lat. pausare came to mean 'to make to rest, to set,' and so usurped the place of the Lat. ponere, to place, set, with which it has no etymological connection. And this it did so effectually as to restrict the F. pondre, the true equivalent of Lat. ponere, to the sense of 'laying eggs;' whilst in all compounds it completely thrust it aside, so that compausare (i.e. F. composer) took the place of Lat. componere, and so on throughout. Hence the extraordinary result, that whilst the E. verbs compose, depose, impose, propose, &c. exactly represent in sense the Lat. componere, deponere, imponere, proponere, &c., we cannot derive the E. verbs from the Lat. ones since they have (as was said) no real etymological connection. [W.W. Skeat, "Etymological Dictionary of the English Language," 1898]
The meaning "put in a certain position" in English is from early 15c. The intransitive sense of "assume a certain attitude or character" (with implications of artificiality) is from 1840; the transitive sense in reference to an artist's model, etc. is from 1850. Related: Posed; posing.
late Old English niht (West Saxon neaht, Anglian næht, neht) "the dark part of a day; the night as a unit of time; darkness," also "absence of spiritual illumination, moral darkness, ignorance," from Proto-Germanic *nahts (source also of Old Saxon and Old High German naht, Old Frisian and Dutch nacht, German Nacht, Old Norse natt, Gothic nahts).
The Germanic words are from PIE *nekwt- "night" (source also of Greek nyx "a night," Latin nox, Old Irish nochd, Sanskrit naktam "at night," Lithuanian naktis "night," Old Church Slavonic nosti, Russian noch', Welsh henoid "tonight"), according to Watkins, probably from a verbal root *neg- "to be dark, be night." For spelling with -gh- see fight. The vowel indicates that the modern English word derives from oblique cases (genitive nihte, dative niht).
The fact that the Aryans have a common name for night, but not for day (q.v.), is due to the fact that they reckoned by nights. [Weekley]
Thus in Old English combinations night was "the night before (a certain day or feast day);" compare German Weihnachten "Christmas," literally "holy night." In early times, the day was held to begin at sunset, so Old English monanniht "Monday night" was the night before Monday, or what we would call Sunday night; so saeterniht "Friday night." The Greeks, by contrast, counted their days by mornings.
To work nights preserves the Old English genitive of time. Night soil "excrement" (1770) is so called because it was removed (from cesspools, etc.) after dark. Night train is attested from 1838; night-school from 1520s; night-life "habitual nocturnal carousing" is attested from 1852.
"a child bereaved of one or both parents, generally the latter," c. 1300, from Late Latin orphanus "parentless child" (source of Old French orfeno, orphenin, Italian orfano), from Greek orphanos "orphaned, without parents, fatherless," literally "deprived," from orphos "bereft."
This is from PIE *orbho- "bereft of father," also "deprived of free status," from root *orbh- "to change allegiance, to pass from one status to another" (source also of Hittite harb- "change allegiance," Latin orbus "bereft," Sanskrit arbhah "weak, child," Armenian orb "orphan," Old Irish orbe "heir," Old Church Slavonic rabu "slave," rabota "servitude" (see robot), Gothic arbja, German erbe, Old English ierfa "heir," Old High German arabeit, German Arbeit "work," Old Frisian arbed, Old English earfoð "hardship, suffering, trouble").
As an adjective from late 15c., "bereft of parents," said of a child or young dependent person. Figurative use is from late 15c. The Little Orphan Annie U.S. newspaper comic strip created by Harold Gray (1894-1968) debuted in 1924 in the New York "Daily News." Earlier it was the name (as Little Orphant Annie) of the character in James Whitcomb Riley's 1885 poem, originally titled "Elf Child":
LITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Orphant was an old, corrupt form of orphan, attested from 17c.
Middle English quik, from Old English cwic "living, alive, animate, characterized by the presence of life" (now archaic), and figuratively, of mental qualities, "rapid, ready," from Proto-Germanic *kwikwaz (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian quik, Old Norse kvikr "living, alive," Dutch kwik "lively, bright, sprightly," Old High German quec "lively," German keck "bold"), from PIE root *gwei- "to live." Sense of "lively, active, swift, speedy, hasty," developed by c. 1300, on notion of "full of life."
NE swift or the now more common fast may apply to rapid motion of any duration, while in quick (in accordance with its original sense of 'live, lively') there is a notion of 'sudden' or 'soon over.' We speak of a fast horse or runner in a race, a quick starter but not a quick horse. A somewhat similar feeling may distinguish NHG schnell and rasch or it may be more a matter of local preference. [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]
Of persons, "mentally active, prompt to perceive or respond to impressions" from late 15c. Of an action, process, etc., "done in little time," 1540s. Also in Middle English used of soft soils, gravel pits, etc. where the ground is shifting and yielding (mid-14c., compare quicksand). Also in Middle English "with child, in an advanced state of pregnancy" (when the woman can feel the child move within). Also formerly of bright flowers or colors (c. 1200).
As an adverb, "quickly, in a quick manner," from c. 1300. To be quick about something is from 1937. Quick buck is from 1946, American English. Quick-change artist (1886) originally was an actor expert in playing different roles in the same performance of a show. Quick-witted is from 1520s.
late 14c., poetrie, "poetry, composition in verse; a poem; ancient literature; poetical works, fables, or tales," from Old French poetrie (13c.), and perhaps directly from Medieval Latin poetria (c. 650), from Latin poeta (see poet). In classical Latin, poetria meant "poetess."
Figurative use is from 1660s. Old English had metergeweorc "verse," metercræft "art of versification." Also scop-cræft "the poet's art." Modern English lacks a true verb form in this group of words, though poeticize (1804), poetize (1580s, from French poétiser), and poetrize (c. 1600) have been tried. Poetry in motion (1826) perhaps is from poetry of motion (1813) "dance" (also poetry of the foot, 1660s). Poetry slam is by 1993.
It is only by a miracle that poetry is written at all. It is not recoverable thought, but a hue caught from a vaster receding thought. A poem is one undivided unimpeded expression fallen ripe into literature, and it is undividedly and unimpededly received by those for whom it was matured. [Thoreau, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers"]
Poetry — meaning the aggregate of instances from which the idea of poetry is deduced by every new poet — has been increasingly enlarged for many centuries. The instances are numerous, varied and contradictory as instances of love; but just as 'love' is a word of powerful enough magic to make the true lover forget all its baser and falser, usages, so is 'poetry' for the true poet. [Robert Graves, "The White Goddess"]
And the relation of the forms of poetry to the requirements of actual song is so fixed, that the laws of the four great groups of metre which we now successively to examine—the trimetre, tetrametre, pentametre, and hexametre—all depend upon the physical power of utterance in the breath. [Ruskin, "Elements of English Prosody, for use in St. George's Schools," 1880]
card game for two or more played with a full pack, 1834, American English, of obscure origin, perhaps from the first element of German Pochspiel, name of a card game similar to poker, from pochen "to brag as a bluff," literally "to knock, rap" (see poke (v.)). A popular alternative theory traces the word to French poque, also said to have been a card game resembling poker. "[B]ut without documentation these explanations are mere speculation" [Barnhart]. The earlier version of the game in English was called brag.
The game itself originated apparently by 1829, according to later reminiscences, in and around the lower Mississippi region, perhaps among riverboat gamblers. The original form seems to have been played with a 20-card pack (A-K-Q-J-10) evenly dealt among four players; the full-deck version was played by the 1840s.
Slang poker face (n.) "deadpan" is from 1874.
A good player is cautious or bold by turns, according to his estimate of the capacities of his adversaries, and to the impression he wants to make on them. 7. It follows that the possession of a good poker face is an advantage. No one who has any pretensions to good play will betray the value of his hand by gesture, change of countenance, or any other symptom. ["Cavendish," "Round Games at Cards," dated 1875]
To any one not very well up in these games, some parts of the book are at first sight rather puzzling. "It follows," we read in one passage, "that the possession of a good poker face" (the italics are the author's) "is an advantage." If this had been said by a Liverpool rough of his wife, the meaning would have been clear to every one. Cavendish, however, does not seem to be writing especially for Lancashire. [from a review of the above book, Saturday Review, Dec. 26, 1874]
Old English halig "holy, consecrated, sacred; godly; ecclesiastical," from Proto-Germanic *hailaga- (source also of Old Norse heilagr, Danish hellig, Old Frisian helich "holy," Old Saxon helag, Middle Dutch helich, Old High German heilag, German heilig, Gothic hailags "holy"), from PIE *kailo- "whole, uninjured" (see health). Adopted at conversion for Latin sanctus.
The primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not possible to determine, but probably it was "that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated," and connected with Old English hal (see health) and Old High German heil "health, happiness, good luck" (source of the German salutation Heil). Holy water was in Old English.
Holy is stronger and more absolute than any word of cognate meaning. That which is sacred may derive its sanction from man ; that which is holy has its sanctity directly from God or as connected with him. Hence we speak of the Holy Bible, and the sacred writings of the Hindus. He who is holy is absolutely or essentially free from sin; sacred is not a word of personal character. The opposite of holy is sinful or wicked; that of sacred is secular, profane, or common. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
Holy has been used as an intensifying word from 1837; in expletives since 1880s (such as holy smoke, 1883, holy mackerel, 1876, holy cow, 1914, holy moly etc.), most of them euphemisms for holy Christ or holy Moses. Holy Ghost was in Old English (in Middle English often written as one word). Holy League is used of various European alliances; the Holy Alliance was that formed personally by the sovereigns of Russia, Austria, and Prussia in 1815; it ended in 1830.
Old English riht (West Saxon, Kentish), reht (Anglian), "that which is morally right, duty, obligation," also "rule of conduct; law of a land;" also "what someone deserves; a just claim, what is due, equitable treatment;" also "correctness, truth;" also "a legal entitlement (to possession of property, etc.), a privilege," from Proto-Germanic *rehtan (see right (adj.1)). In Middle English often contrasted to might or wrong. From early 14c. as "a right action, a good deed," hence the right "that which is just or true, righteousness."
From what has been said it will be seen that the adjective right has a much wider signification than the substantive Right. Every thing is right which is conformable to the Supreme Rule of human action ; but that only is a Right which, being conformable to the Supreme Rule, is realized in Society, and vested in a particular person. Hence the two words may often be properly opposed. We may say that a poor man has no Right to relief, but it is right he should have it. A rich man has a Right to destroy the harvest of his fields, but to do so would not be right. [William Whewell, "Elements of Morality," 1858]
The meaning "the right hand or right side" (as opposed to the left) is from mid-13c.; see right (adj.2) for sense development. As "the right wing of an army" by 1707. Political use is from 1825. Meaning "a blow with the right fist" is from 1898; the meaning "a right-hand turn" is by 1961. The phrase to rights "at once, straightway" is 1660s, from an earlier meaning "in a proper manner" (Middle English). Adjectival phrase right-to-work is attested from 1958; right-to-die by 1976. To do or something in one's own right (1610s) is from the legal use for "title or claim to something possessed by one or more" (12c.).
Old English frogga "frog," a diminutive of frosc, forsc, frox "frog," a common Germanic word but with different formations that are difficult to explain (cognates: Old Norse froskr, Middle Dutch vorsc, German Frosch "frog"), probably literally "hopper" (if from PIE root *preu- "to hop," source also of Sanskrit provate "hops," Russian prygat "to hop, jump"). Watkins calls the Old English -gga an "obscure expressive suffix."
The Latin word for it (rana) is imitative of croaking. Also in Middle English as frok, vrogge, frugge, and with sometimes plural form froggen. Collateral Middle English forms frude, froud are from Old Norse frauðr "frog," and native alternative form frosk "frog" survived in English dialects into the 19c.
I always eat fricasseed frogs regretfully; they remind one so much of miniature human thighs, and make one feel cannibalistic and horrid .... [H. Ellen Browning, "A Girl's Wanderings in Hungary," 1896]
As a British derogatory term for "Frenchman," 1778 (short for frog-eater), but before that (1650s) it meant "Dutch" (from frog-land "marshy land," in reference to their country).
The principal inn on the island of Texel is called the Golden Frog, (de Goude kikker). We may wonder that there are not more examples of this sign in Holland, for there are, without doubt, as many frogs in that country as there are Dutchmen ; and even unto this day it is a mooted point, which of the two nations has more right to the possession of the country ; both however are of a pacific disposition, so that they live on in a perfect entente cordiale. [Larwood and Hotten, "The History of Signboards," 1866]
To have a frog in the throat "be hoarse" is from 1892, from frog as a name for a lump or swelling in the mouth (1650s) or throat infections causing a croaking sound.
Middle English singen, from Old English singan "to chant, sing," especially in joy or merriment; "celebrate, or tell in song" (class III strong verb; past tense sang, past participle sungen), from Proto-Germanic *sengwan (source also of Old Saxon singan, Old Frisian sionga, Middle Dutch singhen, Dutch zingen, Old High German singan, German singen, Gothic siggwan, Old Norse syngva, Swedish sjunga), from PIE root *sengwh-"to sing, make an incantation." Also used in late Old English of birds and wolves, and sometimes in Middle English also "play on a musical instrument."
There are said to be no related forms in other languages, unless perhaps it is connected to Greek omphe "voice" (especially of a god), "oracle;" and Welsh dehongli "explain, interpret." The typical Indo-European root for "to sing" is represented by Latin canere (see chant (v.)). Other words meaning "sing" derive from roots meaning "cry, shout," but Irish gaibim is literally "take, seize," with sense evolution via "take up" a song or melody.
The sense of "utter enthusiastically" (of praises, etc.) is from 1560s. The criminal slang sense of "to confess to authorities" is attested as early as 1610s, but modern use probably is a fresh formation early 20c. To sing for one's supper, implying lack of funds, is by 1745.
Every child should be taught, from its youth, to govern its voice discreetly and dexterously, as it does its hands ; and not to be able to sing should be more disgraceful than not being able to read or write. For it is quite possible to lead a virtuous and happy life without books, or ink ; but not without wishing to sing, when we are happy ; nor without meeting with continual occasions when our song, if right, would be a kind service to others. [Ruskin, "Rock Honeycomb"]