"of or in the mode of James," 1875 in reference to William James (1842-1910), U.S. philosopher and exponent of pragmatism; 1905 in reference to his brother Henry James (1843-1916), U.S. expatriate novelist.
[T]he long sentences piling themselves up in elaborate phrase after phrase, the lightning incision, the pauses, the slightly shaking admonitory gesture with its ‘wu-await a little, wait a little, something will come’; blague and benignity and the weight of so many years’ careful, incessant labour of minute observation always there to enrich the talk. I had heard it but seldom, yet it is all unforgettable. […] No man who has not lived on both sides of the Atlantic can well appraise Henry James; his death marks the end of a period. [Ezra Pound, from “Henry James,” Little Review, August 1918]
as a type of tiny biting insect, 1839, American English, from midge, perhaps with diminutive suffix -et.
Dr. Webster is in error in saying the word "midge" is "not in use" at the present day. In the neighboring Green mountain districts, one or more most annoying species of Simulium that there abound, are daily designated in common conversation as the midges, or, as the name is often corrupted, the midgets. From Dr. Harris' treatise it appears that the same name is in popular use for the same insects in Maine. The term is limited in this country, we believe, exclusively to those minute insects, smaller than the musketoe, which suck the blood of other animals. ["Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society," vol. vi, Albany, 1847]
Transferred sense of "very small person" is attested by 1854. It is also noted mid-19c. as a pet form of Margaret.
c. 1200, "latest, final, following all others," a contraction of Old English latost (adj.) "slowest, latest," superlative of læt (see late); in some uses from late (adv.). Cognate with Old Frisian lest, Dutch laatst, Old High German laggost, German letzt.
Meaning "last in space, furthest, most remote" is from late 14c.; meaning "most unlikely or unsuitable" is from mid-15c. Meaning "most recent, next before the present" (as in last night, last September) is from late 14c.; latest would be more correct, but idiom rules and the last time I saw her might mean the most recent time this hour or the final time forever.
The biblical last days ("belonging to the end") is attested from late 14c. Last hurrah is from the title of Edwin O'Connor's 1956 novel. Last word "final, definitive statement" is from 1650s. A dying person's last words so called by 1740. As an adjective, last-minute attested from 1913. Last-chance (adj.) is from 1962. Expression if it's the last thing I do, expressing strong determination, is attested by 1905.
c. 1200, pointe, "minute amount, single item in a whole; sharp end of a sword, etc.," a merger of two words, both ultimately from Latin pungere "to prick, pierce," from a nasalized form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick."
The Latin neuter past participle punctum was used as a noun, meaning "small hole made by pricking," subsequently extended to anything that looked like one, hence, "dot, particle," etc. This yielded Old French point "dot; smallest amount," which was borrowed in Middle English in the "smallest amount" sense by c. 1300. The meaning "small mark, dot" (mark made by the end of a pointed instrument) in English is from mid-14c.
Meanwhile the Latin fem. past participle of pungere was puncta, which was used in Medieval Latin to mean "sharp tip," and became Old French pointe "point of a weapon, vanguard of an army," which also passed into English (early 14c.). The senses have merged in English, but remain distinct in French.
The sense of "peak or promontory from a land or coast" is from 1550s. The extended senses often are from the notion of "minute, single, or separate items in an extended whole." The sense of "brief period of time, instant" is from late 14c. Meaning "distinguishing feature" (especially a good one) is recorded from late 15c. Meaning "a unit of score in a game" is recorded from 1746.
The meaning "recognized unit of fluctuation of price per share on an exchange" is by 1814. As a typeface unit (in Britain and U.S., one twelfth of a pica), it went into use in U.S. 1883. As a measure of weight for precious stones (one one-hundredth of a carat) it is recorded from 1931. Meaning "diacritical mark indicating a vowel or other modification of sound" is from 1610s.
The point "the matter being discussed" is attested from late 14c.; meaning "sense, purpose, end, aim, advantage" (usually in the negative, as in what's the point?) is recorded by 1903. Point of honor (1610s) translates French point d'honneur. Point of no return (1941) is originally aviators' term for the point in a flight "before which any engine failure requires an immediate turn around and return to the point of departure, and beyond which such return is no longer practical" [Young America's Aviation Annual]. To make a point of "be resolved to do something and do it accordingly" is from 1778.
late 14c., babi, "infant of either sex," diminutive of babe (see babe) with -y (3). Meaning "childish adult person" is from c. 1600. Meaning "youngest of a group" is by 1897. As a term of endearment for one's lover it is attested perhaps as early as 1839, certainly by 1901 (OED writes, "the degree of slanginess in the nineteenth-century examples is not easily determinable"); its popularity perhaps boosted by baby vamp "a popular girl" (see vamp (n.2)), student slang from c. 1922.
Meaning "minute reflection of oneself seen in another's eyes" is from 1590s (compare pupil (n.2)). As an adjective by 1750. Baby food is from 1833. Baby blues for "blue eyes" recorded by 1892 (the phrase also was used for "postpartum depression" 1950s-60s). To empty the baby out with the bath (water) is attested by 1909 (in G.B. Shaw; compare German das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten, attested from 17c.). A baby's breath was noted for sweet smell, which also was supposed to attract cats, hence baby's breath as the name of a type of flower, attested from 1897. French bébé (19c.) is said to be from English, but there were similar words in the same sense in French dialects.
"pertaining to atoms," 1670s as a philosophical term (see atomistic); scientific sense dates from 1811, from atom + -ic. Atomic number is from 1821; atomic mass is from 1848. Atomic energy first recorded 1906 in modern sense (as intra-atomic energy from 1903).
March, 1903, was an historic date for chemistry. It is, also, as we shall show, a date to which, in all probability, the men of the future will often refer as the veritable beginning of the larger powers and energies that they will control. It was in March, 1903, that Curie and Laborde announced the heat-emitting power of radium. [Robert Kennedy Duncan, "The New Knowledge," 1906]
Atomic bomb first recorded 1914 in writings of H.G. Wells ("The World Set Free"), who thought of it as a bomb "that would continue to explode indefinitely."
When you can drop just one atomic bomb and wipe out Paris or Berlin, war will have become monstrous and impossible. [S. Strunsky, Yale Review, January 1917]
Atomic Age is from 1945. Atomical "concerned with atoms," also "very minute," is from 1640s. Atomic clock is from 1938.
Old English nædl "small, pointed instrument for carrying a thread through woven fabric, leather, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *næthlo (source also of Old Saxon nathla, Old Norse nal, Old Frisian nedle, Old High German nadala, German Nadel, Gothic neþla "needle"), literally "a tool for sewing," from PIE *net-la-, from root *(s)ne- "to sew, to spin" (source also of Sanskrit snayati "wraps up," Greek nein "to spin," Latin nere "to spin," German nähen "to sew," Old Church Slavonic niti "thread," Old Irish snathat "needle," Welsh nyddu "to sew," nodwydd "needle") + instrumental suffix *-tla.
To seke out one lyne in all hys bookes wer to go looke a nedle in a meadow. [Thomas More, c. 1530]
Meaning "piece of magnetized steel in a compass" is from late 14c. (on a dial or indicator from 1928); the surgical instrument so called from 1727; phonographic sense from 1902; sense of "leaf of a fir or pine tree" first attested 1797. Needledom "the world of sewing" is from 1847. Needle's eye, figurative of a minute opening, often is a reference to Matthew xix.24.
Old English cnotta "intertwining of ropes, cords, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *knuttan- (source also of Low German knütte, Old Frisian knotta "knot," Dutch knot, Old High German knoto, German Knoten, perhaps also Old Norse knutr "knot, knob"). For pronunciation, see kn-.
Figurative sense of "difficult problem, a perplexity" was in Old English (compare Gordian knot). Symbolic of the bond of wedlock from early 13c. As an ornament of dress, first attested c. 1400. Meaning "thickened part or protuberance on tissue of a plant" is from late 14c. As "small group or cluster of persons" late 14c.
The nautical unit of measure of speed (1630s) is from the practice of attaching knotted string to the log line at equal distances (see log (n.2)). The ship's speed can be measured by the number of knots that play out while the sand glass is running.
The distance between the knots on the log-line should contain 1/120 of a mile, supposing the glass to run exactly half a minute. [Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, "A Voyage to South America" 1760]
Hence the word knot came also to be used as the equivalent of a nautical mile (in pre-World War II use in U.S. and Britain, about 6,080 feet). A speed of 10 knots will cover ten nautical miles in an hour (equivalent to a land speed of about 11.5 mph).
1550s, "act of supplying to fullness, complete satisfaction of an appetite" (Coverdale, a sense now obsolete), formed in English from saturate (q.v.), or else from Late Latin saturationem (nominative saturatio) "a filling, saturating," noun of action from past-participle stem of saturare "to fill full."
The sense in chemistry is by 1670s, "impregnation until no more can be received;" the general sense of "action of thoroughly soaking with fluid, condition of being soaked" is by 1846. By 1964 in reference to a type of color adjustment on a television screen; earlier it had been used in chromatics for "degree of intensity" (1878). Saturation bombing is from 1942 in reference to mass Allied air raids on Cologne and other German cities; the idea is credited to Arthur Harris.
"Saturation bombing," dropping as much as fifty-one tons a minute, depends on clockwork precision and a gigantic organization behind the lines. In the famous German raid on Coventry, 225 tons were dropped over a period of eight hours. In the British raid on Hamburg on July 27-28, 1943, more than 2,300 tons were dropped in forty-five minutes. A single raid of this type uses more than 100,000 air and ground personnel. [British Information Services, "The First Four Years," 1943]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to lead, pass over." A verbal root associated with *per- (1), which forms prepositions and preverbs with the basic meaning "forward, through; in front of, before," etc.
It forms all or part of: aporia; asportation; comport; deport; disport; emporium; Euphrates; export; fare; farewell; fartlek; Ferdinand; fere; fern; ferry; firth; fjord; ford; Fuhrer; gaberdine; import; important; importune; opportune; opportunity; passport; porch; pore (n.) "minute opening;" port (n.1) "harbor;" port (n.2) "gateway, entrance;" port (n.3) "bearing, mien;" port (v.) "to carry;" portable; portage; portal; portcullis; porter (n.1) "person who carries;" porter (n.2) "doorkeeper, janitor;" portfolio; portico; portiere; purport; practical; rapport; report; sport; support; transport; warfare; wayfarer; welfare.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit parayati "carries over;" Greek poros "journey, passage, way," peirein "to pierce, pass through, run through;" Latin portare "to carry," porta "gate, door," portus "port, harbor," originally "entrance, passage," peritus "experienced;" Avestan peretush "passage, ford, bridge;" Armenian hordan "go forward;" Old Welsh rit, Welsh rhyd "ford;" Old Church Slavonic pariti "to fly;" Old English faran "to go, journey," Old Norse fjörðr "inlet, estuary."