1650s, "pertaining to a feast," from Latin festivus "festive, joyous, gay," from festum "festival, holiday," noun use of neuter of adjective festus "joyful, merry" (see feast (n.)). The word is unattested in English from 1651 to 1735 (it reappears in a poem by William Somervile, with the sense "fond of feasting, jovial"), and the modern use may be a back-formation from festivity. Meaning "mirthful, joyous" in English is attested by 1774. Related: Festively; festiveness.
When the Day crown'd with rural, chaste Delight
Resigns obsequious to the festive Night;
The festive Night awakes th' harmonious Lay,
And in sweet Verse recounts the Triumphs of the Day.
[Somervile, "The Chace"]
Earlier adjectives in English based on the Latin word were festival "pertaining to a church feast" (late 14c.); festful "joyous" (early 15c.), festial "pertaining to a church feast" (early 15c.), festli "fond of festivity" (late 14c.).
common suffix of Latin origin forming nouns, originally from French and representing Latin -mentum, which was added to verb stems to make nouns indicating the result or product of the action of the verb or the means or instrument of the action. In Vulgar Latin and Old French it came to be used as a formative in nouns of action. French inserts an -e- between the verbal root and the suffix (as in commenc-e-ment from commenc-er; with verbs in ir, -i- is inserted instead (as in sent-i-ment from sentir).
The stems to which -ment is normally appended are those of verbs; freaks like oddment & funniment should not be made a precedent of; they are themselves due to misconception of merriment, which is not from the adjective, but from an obsolete verb merry to rejoice. [Fowler]
"intense and painful self-condemnation and penitence due to consciousness of guilt; the pain of a guilty conscience," late 14c., from Old French remors (Modern French remords) and directly from Medieval Latin remorsum"a biting back or in return," noun use of neuter past participle of Latin remordere "to vex, torment disturb," literally "to bite back, bite again" (but seldom used in the literal sense), from re- "back, again" (see re-) + mordēre "to bite," which is perhaps from an extended form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm."
The sense evolution was via the Medieval Latin phrase remorsus conscientiæ (Chaucer's remors of conscience, also translated into Middle English as ayenbite of inwit). Middle English also had a verb, remord "to strike with remorse, touch with compassion, prick one's conscience" (late 14c.), from Latin remordere. Richard Brome's "Merry Beggars" (1641) delighted that they had
No bargains or accounts to make,
No land or lease to let or take:
Or if we had, should that remore us
When all the world's our own before us[?]
"intoxicating liquor made by malt fermentation," Old English ealu "ale, beer," from Proto-Germanic *aluth- (source also of Old Saxon alo, Old Norse öl), which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a PIE root meaning "bitter" (source also of Latin alumen "alum"), or from PIE *alu-t "ale," from root *alu-, which has connotations of "sorcery, magic, possession, and intoxication" [Watkins]. The word was borrowed from Germanic into Lithuanian (alus) and Old Church Slavonic (olu).
In the fifteenth century, and until the seventeenth, ale stood for the unhopped fermented malt liquor which had long been the native drink of these islands. Beer was the hopped malt liquor introduced from the Low Countries in the fifteenth century and popular first of all in the towns. By the eighteenth century, however, all malt liquor was hopped and there had been a silent mutation in the meaning of the two terms. For a time the terms became synonymous, in fact, but local habits of nomenclature still continued to perpetuate what had been a real difference: 'beer' was the malt liquor which tended to be found in towns, 'ale' was the term in general use in the country districts. [Peter Mathias, "The Brewing Industry in England," Cambridge University Press, 1959]
Meaning "festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk" was in Old English (see bridal).
Old English wæt "moist, rainy, liquid," also as a noun, "moisture; liquid drink," from Proto-Germanic *wed- (source also of Old Frisian wet). Also in part from cognate Old Norse vatr, and all ultimately from PIE root *wed- (1) "water; wet."
Of paint, ink, etc., "not yet dry" from 1510s. Opposed to dry in reference to the U.S. battles over prohibition from 1870. Wet blanket "person who has a dispiriting effect" is by 1830, from the notion of a person who throws a damper on social situations in the way a wet blanket smothers a fire (the phrase is attested in this literal sense from 1660s).
Do we not know them, those wet blankets who come down on our pleasant little fires and extinguish them, with no more ruth than the rain feels when it pours on the encampment of the merry picnic party, or floods the tents of a flower show? ["Wet Blankets," in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, February, 1871]
All wet "in the wrong" is recorded from 1923, American English; earlier simply wet "ineffectual," and perhaps ultimately from slang meaning "drunken" (c. 1700). Wet-nurse is from 1610s. The diver's wet-suit is from 1955. Wet dream is from 1851; in the same sense Middle English had ludificacioun "an erotic dream."
He knew som tyme a man of religion, þat gaff hym gretelie vnto chastitie bothe of his harte & of his body noghtwithstondyng he was tempid with grete ludificacions on þe nyght. ["Alphabet of Tales," c. 1450]
late 14c., "narrative with a happy ending; any composition intended for amusement," from Old French comedie (14c.), "a poem" (not in the theatrical sense) and directly from Latin comoedia, from Greek kōmōidia "a comedy, amusing spectacle," probably [Beekes] from kōmōidos "actor or singer in the revels," from kōmos "revel, carousal, merry-making, festival" + aoidos "singer, poet," from aeidein "to sing," which is related to ōidē (see ode).
The passage on the nature of comedy in the Poetic of Aristotle is unfortunately lost, but if we can trust stray hints on the subject, his definition of comedy (which applied mainly to Menander) ran parallel to that of tragedy, and described the art as a purification of certain affections of our nature, not by terror and pity, but by laughter and ridicule. [Rev. J.P. Mahaffy, "A History of Classical Greek Literature," London, 1895]
The origin of Greek komos is uncertain; perhaps it is from a PIE *komso- "praise," and cognate with Sanskrit samsa "praise, judgment." Beekes suggests Pre-Greek. The old derivation from kome "village" is not now regarded.
The classical sense of the word was "amusing play or performance with a happy ending," which is similar to the modern one, but in the Middle Ages the word meant poems and stories generally (albeit ones with happy endings), such as Dante's "Commedia." The revival of learning 16c. recovered the ancient comedies and shifted the sense of the word to "branch of drama addressing primarily the humorous and ridiculous" (opposed to tragedy). In 18c. this was somewhat restricted to "humorous, but not grossly comical, drama" (opposed to farce).
Comedy aims at entertaining by the fidelity with which it presents life as we know it, farce at raising laughter by the outrageous absurdity of the situation or characters exhibited, & burlesque at tickling the fancy of the audience by caricaturing plays or actors with whose style it is familiar. [Fowler]
Meaning "comic play or drama" is from 1550s (the first modern comedy in English was said to be Nicholas Udall's "Roister Doister"). Extended sense "humorous or comic incident or events in life" is from 1560s. Generalized sense of "quality of being amusing" dates from 1877.