"one-twelfth part of a year; one of the twelve parts into which the calendar year is arbitrarily divided," Old English monað, from Proto-Germanic *menoth- (source also of Old Saxon manoth, Old Frisian monath, Middle Dutch manet, Dutch maand, Old High German manod, German Monat, Old Norse manaðr, Gothic menoþs "month"), which is related to *menon- "moon" (see moon (n.)). Originally the month was the interval between one new moon and the next (a sense attested from late Old English).
Its cognates mean only "month" in the Romance languages, but in Germanic they generally continue to do double duty. The development of the calendrical meaning for words from this root in Greek (mēn) and Latin (mensis) was accompanied by the creation of new words for "moon" (selēnē, luna). The phrase a month of Sundays "a very long time" is from 1832 (roughly 7 and a half months but never used literally).
Compare similar form evolution in Dutch lente (Middle Dutch lentin), German Lenz (Old High German lengizin) "spring." But the Church sense is peculiar to English. The -en in Lenten (n.) was perhaps mistaken for an affix.
month following January, late 14c., ultimately from Latin februarius mensis "month of purification," from februare "to purify," from februa "purifications, expiatory rites" (plural of februum "means of purification, expiatory offerings"), which is of uncertain origin, said to be a Sabine word. De Vaan says from Proto-Italic *f(w)esro-, from a PIE word meaning "the smoking" or "the burning" (thus possibly connected with fume (n.)). The sense then could be either purification by smoke or a burnt offering.
The last month of the ancient (pre-450 B.C.E.) Roman calendar, so named in reference to the Roman feast of purification, held on the ides of the month. The Old English name for it was solmonað, which is said to mean "mud month." English first borrowed the Roman name from Old French Feverier, which yielded Middle English Feverer, Feoverel, etc. (c. 1200) before the 14c. respelling to conform to Latin.
third month of our year, first month of the ancient Roman calendar, c. 1200, from Anglo-French marche, Old French marz, from Latin Martius (mensis) "(month) of Mars," from Mars (genitive Martis). The Latin word also is the source of Spanish marzo, Portuguese março, Italian marzo, German März, Dutch Maart, Danish Marts, etc.
Replaced Old English hreðmonaþ, the first part of which is of uncertain meaning, perhaps from hræd "quick, nimble, ready, active, alert, prompt." Another name for it was Lide, Lyde (c.1300), from Old English hlyda, which is perhaps literally "noisy" and related to hlud "loud" (see loud). This fell from general use 14c. but survived into 19c. in dialect.
For March hare, proverbial type of madness, see mad (adj.). The proverb about coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb is since 1630s. March weather has been figurative of changeableness since mid-15c.
"pertaining to or derived from Julius Caesar, 1590s, originally and especially in reference to the calendar system that began with his reforms in 46 B.C.E. (superseded by the Gregorian). The masc. proper name is from Latin Iulianus, from Iulius. The Julianists were a sect of Monophysites who held the body of Christ to be incorruptible; they were named for their leader, Julian, bishop of Halicarnassus (early 6c.).
Julian period, a period of 7,980 Julian years proposed by Joseph Scaliger in 1582 as a universal standard of comparison in chronology, consisting of the years of the solar and lunar cycles and the cycle of the indiction multiplied into each other (28 x 19 x 15). The first years of these cycles coincided in the year 4713 B.C., from which the period is reckoned. The first year of the Christian era being found by calculation to correspond to the year 4714 of the Julian period, all previous and subsequent comparisons can be made by simple subtraction or addition. This period is still used in the computations of chronologists and astronomers. [Century Dictionary, 1899]
also Hallow-e'en, Hallow e'en, 1781, in a Scottish context, the word and the magical lore about the date were popularized by Burns' poem (1785, and he attached a footnote explaining it), but it probably dates to 17c. in Scotland and is attested as the name of a tune in 1724. The tune is mentioned again in an English-Scots songbook ("The Chearful Companion") in 1783, and Burns was not the first to describe the customs in print.
Hallow-E'en, or Holy Eve, is the evening previous to the celebration of All Saints. That it is propitious to the rites of divination, is an opinion still common in many parts of Scotland. [John Main, footnote to his poem "Hallow-E'en," Glasgow, 1783]
It is a Scottish shortening of Allhallow-even "Eve of All Saints, last night of October" (1550s), the last night of the year in the old Celtic calendar, where it was Old Year's Night, a night for witches. A pagan holiday given a cursory baptism. Otherwise obsolete hallow (n.) "holy person, saint," is from the source of hallow (v.). Also see even (n.), and compare hallows. Hallow-day for "All-Saints Day" is from 1590s; earlier was halwemesse day (late 13c.).
Middle English sabat, from Old English sabat "seventh day of the week in the Jewish calendar; Saturday" as observed by the Jews as a day of rest from secular employment and of religious observance, from Old French sabat and directly from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbath, properly "day of rest," from shabath "he rested" (from labor). The spelling with -th is attested from late 14c. but was not widespread until 16c.
The Babylonians regarded seventh days as unlucky, and avoided certain activities on them; the Jewish observance might have begun as a similar custom. Among European Christians, the time of "Sabbath" shifted from the seventh day to the first (Sunday) via the Christians' celebration of the Lord's resurrection on the first day of the week (a Christian Sabbath) "though no definite law, either divine or ecclesiastical, directed the change" [Century Dictionary], but elaborate justifications have been made. In English Sabbath as "Sunday" is evident by early 15c. The sense change was completed among the English people generally during the Reformation.
The original use of the word is preserved in Spanish Sabado, Italian Sabato, and other languages' names for "Saturday." Hungarian szombat, Rumanian simbata, French samedi, German Samstag "Saturday" are from Vulgar Latin *sambatum, from Greek *sambaton, a vulgar nasalized variant of sabbaton. Gothic Sabbato, Sabbatus probably are directly from Greek.
The meaning "any day (or month or year) in which religious rest is enjoined" is by late 14c.; the word also was used in Medieval Latin of any feast day, the solstice, etc. Sabbath-breaking "act of profaning the Sabbath" is attested from 1650s (to break the Sabbath is from late 14c.), formerly a legal violation in parts of the old U.S., "immoral, disturbing, or unnecessary labors or practices" [Century Dictionary]. Sabbath-school is by 1798.
Old English wucu, wice, etc., from Proto-Germanic *wikō(n)- (source also of Old Norse vika, Old Frisian wike, Middle Dutch weke, Old High German wecha, German woche), probably originally with the sense of "a turning" or "succession" (compare Gothic wikon "in the course of," Old Norse vika "sea-mile," originally "change of oar," Old English wican "yield, give way"), from PIE root *weik- (2) "to bend, to wind." The vowel sound seems to have been uncertain in Old and Middle English and -e-, -i-, -o-, -u-, -y-, and various diphthongs are attested for it.
"Meaning primarily 'change, alteration,' the word may once have denoted some earlier time division, such as the 'change of moon, half month,' ... but there is no positive evidence of this" [Buck]. No evidence of a native Germanic week before contact with the Romans. The seven-day week is ancient, probably originating from the 28-day lunar cycle, divisible into four periods of seven day, at the end of each of which the moon enters a new phase. Reinforced during the spread of Christianity by the ancient Jewish seven-day week.
As a Roman astrological convention it was borrowed by other European peoples; the Germanic tribes substituting their own deities for those of the Romans, without regard to planets. The Coligny calendar suggests a Celtic division of the month into halves; the regular Greek division of the month was into three decades; and the Romans also had a market week of nine days. Phrase a week, as in eight days a week recorded by 1540s; see a- (1).
Greek planetary names [for the days of the week] ... are attested for the early centuries of our era, but their use was apparently restricted to certain circles; at any rate they never became popular. In Rome, on the other hand, the planetary names became the established popular terms, too strongly intrenched to be displaced by the eccl[esiastical] names, and spreading through most of western Europe. [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]
general common name of birds of the genus Corvus (the larger sort being sometimes called ravens), Old English crawe, which is held to be imitative of the bird's cry. Compare Old Saxon kraia, Dutch kraai, Old High German chraja, German Kräke.
Noted for sagacity and sociability. The British and North American species are very similar. Phrase as the crow flies "in a straight line" is from 1810; the image is attested in different form from 1800.
American English figurative phrase eat crow "do or accept what one vehemently dislikes and has opposed defiantly, accept things which, though not unbearable, are yet scarcely to be wished for," is attested by 1870 (originally often eat boiled crow), and seems to be based on the notion that the bird is edible when boiled but hardly agreeable.
There was an oft-reprinted mid-19c. joke about a man who, to settle a bet that he could eat anything, agrees to eat a boiled crow. As he with great difficulty swallows the first to mouthfuls, he says to the onlookers, "I can eat crow, but I don't hanker arter it." The joke is attested by 1854 (Walter Etecroue turns up 1361 in the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London).
I tried my best to eat crow, but it was too tough for me. "How do you like it?" said the old man, as, with a desperate effort, he wrenched off a mouthful from a leg. "I am like the man," said I, "who was once placed in the same position: 'I ken eat crow, but hang me if I hanker arter it.'" "Well," says the captain, "it is somewhat hard; but try some of the soup and dumplings and don t condemn crow-meat from this trial, for you shot the grandfather and grandmother of the flock: no wonder they are tough; shoot a young one next time." "No more crow-meat for me, thank you," said I. [James G. Swan, "The Northwest Coast, or Three Years' Residence in Washington Territory," New York, 1857]
The image of a crow's foot for the wrinkles appearing with age at the corner of the eye is from late 14c. ("So longe mote ye lyve Til crowes feet be growen under youre ye." [Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, c. 1385]).