Etymology
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tram (n.)
c. 1500, "beam or shaft of a barrow or sledge," also "a barrow or truck body" (1510s), Scottish, originally in reference to the iron trucks used in coal mines, probably from Middle Flemish tram "beam, handle of a barrow, bar, rung," a North Sea Germanic word of unknown origin. The sense of "track for a barrow, tramway" is first recorded 1826; that of "streetcar" is first recorded 1879, short for tram-car "car used on a tramway" (1873).
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garrote (n.)

also garrotte, 1620s, "Spanish method of capital punishment by strangulation," from Spanish garrote "stick for twisting cord" (the method used in the execution), of unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French guaroc "club, stick, rod, shaft of a crossbow," probably ultimately Celtic, but possibly from Frankish *wrokkan "to twist" (cognate with Middle Dutch wroken "to twist").

I have no hesitation in pronouncing death by the garrot, at once the most manly, and the least offensive to the eye. [Major John Richardson, "British Legion," 1837]
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gnomon (n.)

"vertical shaft that tells time by the shadow it casts" (especially the triangular plate on a sundial), 1540s, from Latin gnomon, from Greek gnōmōn "indicator (of a sundial), carpenter's rule," also, in plural, "the teeth that mark the age of a horse or mule," literally "one that discerns or examines, interpreter, expert," from gignōskein "to come to know," from PIE root *gno- "to know." In geometry from 1560s, from a use in Greek. In early use in English sometimes folk-etymologized as knowman. Related: Gnomonic.

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limber (adj.)
"pliant, flexible," 1560s, of uncertain origin, possibly from limb (n.1) on notion of supple boughs of a tree [Barnhart], or from limp (adj.) "flaccid" [Skeat], or somehow from Middle English lymer "shaft of a cart" (see limber (n.)), but the late appearance of the -b- in that word argues against it. Related: Limberness. Dryden used limber-ham (see ham (n.1) in the "joint" sense) as a name for a character "perswaded by what is last said to him, and changing next word."
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debut (n.)

"first appearance in public or before society," 1751, from French début "first appearance," a figurative use from débuter "make the first stroke at billiards," also "to lead off at bowls" (a game akin to bowling), 16c., from but "mark, goal," from Old French but "end" (see butt (n.3)). The verb is first attested 1830. Related: Debuted; debuting.

Début can only be pronounced as French, and should not be used by anyone who shrinks from the necessary effort. [Fowler]
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money-pit (n.)
"edifice or project requiring constant outlay of cash with little to show for it," 1986 (year of a movie of the same name); see money (n.) + pit (n.). Before that (1930s), it was used for the shaft on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, that supposedly leads to treasure buried by Capt. Kidd or some other pirate. "Whether that name refers to the treasure or the several million dollars spent trying to get the treasure out is unclear." [Popular Mechanics, Sept. 1976]
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punt (v.1)

"to kick a ball dropped from the hands before it hits the ground," 1845, first in a Rugby list of football rules, of obscure origin; perhaps from dialectal punt "to push, strike," alteration of Midlands dialect bunt "to push, butt with the head," of unknown origin, perhaps echoic (compare bunt).

Student slang meaning "give up, drop a course so as not to fail," 1970s, is because a U.S. football team punts when it cannot advance the ball. Related: Punted; punting.

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rhabdomancy (n.)

1640s, "dowsing, use of a divining rod" (especially to find things hidden in the earth, ores or underground water), with -mancy "divination by means of" (from Greek manteia "divination, oracle") + Greek rhabdos "rod, wand; magic wand; fishing rod; spear-shaft; a staff of office; a rod for chastisement; twig, stick." Greek rhabdos is from PIE *wer- (2), base of roots meaning "to turn, bend" (source also of Lithuanian virbas "twig, branch, scion, rod," Latin verbena "leaves and branches of laurel").

The Greek noun was used to represent Roman fasces. Related: Rhabdomantic; rhabdomancer.

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scullion (n.)

"low-ranking domestic servant who performs menial kitchen tasks," late 15c., sculioun, scwlioun, perhaps, with substitution of suffix, from Anglo-French sculier, a variant of Old French escuelier, from escouve "broom, twig," from Latin scopa (plural scopæ) "broom," related to scapus "shaft, stem" (see scape (n.2)). Or it might be an alteration of Old French souillon "scullion" (but this is not attested before 16c.), by influence of scullery. "The word is now generally associated in thought with scullery, which is, however, of different origin" [Century Dictionary].

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makeweight (n.)

also make-weight, 1690s, "small quantity of something added to make the total reach a certain weight," from make (v.) + weight. Meaning "thing or person of little account made use of" is from 1776.

MAKE WEIGHT. A small candle: a term applied to a little slender man. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, 1785]

For the formation, compare makeshift, also make-sport (1610s), makegame (1762) "a laughing stock, a butt for jokes;" makebate "one who excites contentions and quarrels" (1520s); makepeace "a peace-maker, one who reconciles persons at variance" (early 13c. as a surname).

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