ancient constellation, 12th sign of the zodiac, representing two fishes united by a cord attached to their tails, late Old English, from Latin pisces, plural of piscis "a fish" (from PIE root *pisk- "a fish"). Applied to persons born under this sign by 1924 (also Piscean).
"kind of velvety cord used in embroidery, fringes, etc.," 1738, from French chenille, properly "caterpillar," literally "little dog" (13c.), from Latin canicula "a dog" (also "a violent woman; the star Sirius; the worst throw in dice"), diminutive of canis "dog" (from PIE root *kwon- "dog"). So called for its furry look. Compare caterpillar.
"purse-like tegumentary investment of the testes and part of the spermatic cord; the cod" [Century Dictionary], 1590s, from Latin scrotum, probably transposed from scortum "a skin, hide" (see corium), perhaps by influence of scrautum "leather quiver for arrows."
"Isn't the sea what Algy calls it: a grey sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotum-tightening sea. Epi oinopa ponton." [Joyce, "Ulysses"]
before vowels neur-, word-forming element meaning "pertaining to a nerve or nerves or the nervous system," from Greek neura "nerve" (Galen), originally "sinew, bowstring," also neuron "sinew, string (of a bow or musical instrument); cord; penis;" in plural "strength, vigor," from PIE *(s)neuro- "tendon, sinew" (see nerve (n.)). In Greek, puppets were neurospastos, literally "drawn by strings."
"pointed iron tool used by sailors to separate strands of rope," 1620s, from spike (n.) + marlin, Middle English merlin (early 15c.) "small line of two strands, used for seizings," from Middle Dutch marlijn "small cord," from marlen "to fasten or secure (a sail)," which is probably frequentative of Middle Dutch maren "to tie, moor" (see moor (v.)). Influenced in Dutch by lijn "line" (n.).
sclerosis of the spinal cord, causing atrophy of the muscles, 1874, in translations from French. Amyotropic is compounded from Greek elements: a- "not, without" (see a- (3)) + combining form of mys "muscle" (see muscle (n.)) + trophikos "feeding," from trophe "nourishment" (see -trophy). Also ALS, and often known in U.S. as Lou Gehrig's disease, after the New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with it in 1939 and died of it in 1941.
a Middle English merger of Old English line "cable, rope; series, row, row of letters; rule, direction," and Old French ligne "guideline, cord, string; lineage, descent" (12c.), both from Latin linea "linen thread, string, plumb-line," also "a mark, bound, limit, goal; line of descent," short for linea restis "linen cord," and similar phrases, from fem. of lineus (adj.) "of linen," from linum "linen" (see linen).
The earliest sense in Middle English was "cord used by builders for taking measurements;" extended late 14c. to "a thread-like mark" (from sense "cord used by builders for making things level," mid-14c.), also "track, course, direction." Meaning "limit, boundary" (of a county, etc.) is from 1590s. The mathematical sense of "length without breadth" is from 1550s. From 1530s as "a crease of the face or palm of the hand." From 1580s as "the equator."
Sense of "things or people arranged in a straight line" is from 1550s. Now considered American English, where British English uses queue (n.), but the sense appears earliest in English writers. Sense of "chronologically continuous series of persons" (a line of kings, etc.) is from late 14c.
Meaning "one's occupation, branch of business" is from 1630s, according to OED probably from misunderstood KJV translation of II Corinthians x.16, "And not to boast in another mans line of things made ready to our hand," where line translates Greek kanon which probably meant "boundary, limit;" the phrase "in another man's line" being parenthetical.
Commercial meaning "class of goods in stock" is from 1930, so called from being goods received by the merchant on a line in the specific sense "order given to an agent" for particular goods (1834). Insurance underwriting sense is from 1899. Line of credit is from 1958.
Meaning "series of public conveyances" (coaches, later ships) is from 1786; meaning "continuous part of a railroad" is from 1825. Meaning "telegraph wire between stations" is from 1847 (later "telephone wire"). Meaning "cord bearing hooks used in fishing" is from c. 1300. Meaning "policy or set of policies of a political faction" is 1892, American English, from notion of a procession of followers; this is the sense in the political party line, and, deteriorated, it is the slang line that means "glib and plausible talk meant to deceive."
In British army, the Line (1802) is the regular, numbered troops, as distinguished from guards, auxiliaries, militia, etc. In the Navy (1704) it refers to the battle line (the sense in ship of the line, which is attested from 1706).
Dutch lijn, Old High German lina, German Leine, Old Norse lina "a cord, rope," are likewise from Latin. Spanish and Italian have the word in the learned form linea. In continental measurements, a subdivision of an inch (one-tenth or one-twelfth in England), attested in English from 1660s but never common. Also see lines.
To get a line on "acquire information about" is from 1903. To lay it on the line is from 1929 as "to pay money;" by 1954 as "speak plainly." End of the line "as far as one can go" is from 1948. One's line of work, meaning "pursuit, interest" is from 1957, earlier line of country (1861). Line-drawing is from 1891. A line-storm (1850) is a type supposed to happen in the 10 days or two weeks around the times the sun crosses the equator.