harp-like instrument, c. 1200, from Old French lire "lyre" (12c.), from Latin lyra, from Greek lyra, a foreign loan-word of uncertain origin. The thing itself is said to be Egyptian, though it became the national musical instrument of ancient Greece. In 18c.-19c. especially the symbol of lyric poetry. Lyra as the name of the ancient northern constellation supposed to resemble a lyre is attested in English from 1650s; the Lyraid (1876) meteors (c. April 20) appear to radiate from there. The lyre-bird (1853) of Australia is so called from the shape of its tail. Related: Lyrate "shaped like a lyre."
1540s, type of shrub or tree fund in warm climates of Africa and Australia, from Latin acacia, from Greek akakia "thorny Egyptian tree," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps it is related to Greek akē "point, thorn" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce"), or perhaps it is a Hellenization of some Egyptian word. Beekes suggests it is probably a word from a pre-Greek Mediterranean language and finds "no reason for an Oriental origin." Greek kaktos also has been compared. From late 14c. in English as the name of a type of gum used as an astringent, etc. Extended 17c. to North American trees.
"make blind, deprive of sight," early 13c., from Old English blendan "to blind, deprive of sight; deceive," from Proto-Germanic *blandjan (source also of Old Frisian blinda, Dutch blinden, Old High German blinden "become blind;" Danish blinde, Gothic gablindjan "make blind"), perhaps, via notion of "to make cloudy, deceive," from an extended Germanic form of the PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn (see blind (adj.)).
The form was influenced in Middle English by the adjective. Related: Blinded; blinding. To blind (someone) with science "confuse by the use of big words or complex explanations" is attested from 1937, originally noted as a phrase from Australia and New Zealand.
"person, animal, or plant that has been in a country or region from earliest times," 1858, mistaken singular of aborigines (1540s; aboriginal is considered the correct singular in English), from Latin aborigines "the first inhabitants," especially of Latium, hence "the first ancestors of the Romans;" possibly a tribal name, or from or made to conform to the Latin phrase ab origine, which means literally "from the beginning."
This is from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + ablative of origo "a rise, commencement, beginning, source; descent, lineage, birth," from stem of oriri "arise, rise; be born, be descended, receive life" (see origin). Extended 1789 to natives of other countries which Europeans have colonized, especially "aboriginal inhabitant of Australia." Australian slang shortening Abo attested from 1922 (n.), 1906 (adj.).
fem. proper name, from French Mathilde, which is of Germanic origin, literally "mighty in battle;" compare Old High German Mahthilda, from mahti "might, power" (see might (n.)) + hildi "battle," from Proto-Germanic *hildiz "battle" (see Hilda). Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of Henry I, claimant to the throne during the Anarchy, usually is not reckoned among the kings and queens of England.
The name also was late 19c. Australian slang for "a traveler's bundle or swag," hence the expression waltzing Matilda "to travel on foot" (by 1889).
In my electorate nearly every man you meet who is not "waltzing Matilda" rides a bicycle. ["Parliamentary Debates," Australia, 1907]
The lyrics of the song of that name, sometimes called the unofficial Australian national anthem, are said to date to 1893.
c. 1300, "in a state of a serf, unfree," from bond (n.) "tenant, farmer holding land under a lord in return for customary service; a married bond as head of a household" (mid-13c.). The Old English form was bonda, bunda "husbandman, householder," but the Middle English word probably is from Old Norse *bonda, a contraction of boande, buande "occupier and tiller of soil, peasant, husbandman," a noun from the past participle of bua, boa "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow").
"In the more despotic Norway and Denmark, bo'ndi became a word of contempt, denoting the common low people. ... In the Icelandic Commonwealth the word has a good sense, and is often used of the foremost men ...." [OED]. The sense of the noun deteriorated in English after the Conquest and the rise of the feudal system, from "free farmer" to "serf, slave" (c. 1300) and the word became associated with unrelated bond (n.) and bound (adj.1).
In parliamentary practice, previous question is the question whether a vote shall be taken on the main issue or not, brought forward before the main question is put by the Speaker.
The great remedy against prolix or obstructive debate is the so called previous question, which is moved in the form, "Shall the main question be now put?" and when ordered closes forthwith all debate, and brings the House to a direct vote on that main question. ... Closure by previous question, first established in 1811, is in daily use, and is considered so essential to the progress of business that I never found any member or official willing to dispense with it. Even the senators, who object to its introduction into their own much smaller chamber, agree that it must exist in a large body like the House. [James Bryce, "The American Commonwealth," vol. I., 1893]
one of three large divisions of western Pacific islands, 1840, from French Mélanésie (by 1835); see melano- "black" + nēsos "island" (see Chersonese) + -ia. Modeled after Polynesia and meant to signify "the islands inhabited by blacks."
La Melanesia comprende la grande isola Australia, e quelle degli arcipelaghi di Salomone, di Lapèrouse, di Quiros, e dei gruppi della Nuova Caledonia, di Norfolk, e della Diemenin. A cagione dei Neri Oceanici, che, quasi esclusivamente, ne popolano le regioni, questa parte della Oceania ebbe dai moderni geografi e viaggiatori (il Graberg, il Rienzi, il d'Urville, ec.) il nome di Melanesia. ["Corso di Geografia Universale," Firenze, 1839]
Related: Melanesian (1835, n., "a native of Melanesia;" 1840, adj., "of or belonging to Melanesia or the peoples inhabiting it").
late 14c., "relating to civil law or life; pertaining to the internal affairs of a state," from Old French civil "civil, relating to civil law" (13c.) and directly from Latin civilis "relating to a society, pertaining to public life, relating to the civic order, befitting a citizen," hence by extension "popular, affable, courteous;" alternative adjectival derivative of civis "townsman" (see city).
Meaning "not barbarous, civilized" is from 1550s. Specifically "relating to the commonwealth as secularly organized" (as opposed to military or ecclesiastical) by 1610s. Meaning "relating to the citizen in his relation to the commonwealth or to fellow citizens" also is from 1610s.
The word civil has about twelve different meanings; it is applied to all manner of objects, which are perfectly disparate. As opposed to criminal, it means all law not criminal. As opposed to ecclesiastical, it means all law not ecclesiastical: as opposed to military, it means all law not military, and so on. [John Austin, "Lectures on Jurisprudence," 1873]
The sense of "polite" was in classical Latin, but English did not pick up this nuance of the word until late 16c., and it has tended to descend in meaning to "meeting minimum standards of courtesy." "Courteous is thus more commonly said of superiors, civil of inferiors, since it implies or suggests the possibility of incivility or rudeness" [OED].
Civil, literally, applies to one who fulfills the duty of a citizen; It may mean simply not rude, or observant of the external courtesies of intercourse, or quick to do and say gratifying and complimentary things. ... Courteous, literally, expresses that style of politeness which belongs to courts: a courteous man is one who is gracefully respectful in his address and manner — one who exhibits a union of dignified complaisance and kindness. The word applies to all sincere kindness and attention. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
Civil case (as opposed to criminal) is recorded from 1610s. Civil liberty "natural liberty restrained by law only so far as is necessary for the public good" is by 1640s.
late 15c., "to use to one's profit, to increase (income)," from Anglo-French emprouwer "to turn to profit" (late 13c.), from Old French en-, a causative prefix or from em-, + prou "profit," from Latin prode "advantageous" (see proud (adj.)).
Spelling with -v- was rare before 17c.; it apparently arose from confusion of -v- and -u-. Spelling otherwise deformed by influence of words in -prove. Meaning "make better, raise to a better quality or condition" first recorded 1610s. Intransitive sense "get better" is from 1727. Phrase improve the occasion retains the etymological sense. Meaning "to turn land to profit" (by clearing it, erecting buildings, etc.) was in Anglo-French (13c.) and survived or was revived in the American colonies and Australia. Hence, "make good use of, occupy (a place) and convert to some purpose."