Etymology
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corvette (n.)

1630s, also corvet, "wooden ship of war, flush-decked, frigate-rigged, and having only one tier of guns," from French corvette "small, fast frigate" (15c.), perhaps from Middle Dutch korver "pursuit ship," or Middle Low German korf meaning both a kind of boat and a basket, or from Latin corbita (navis) "slow-sailing ship of burden, grain ship" from corbis "basket" (OED, but Gamillscheg is against this).

In late 19c. a class of cruiser-like ships in the British navy; in World War II a fast naval escort vessel used in convoy duty. The U.S. sports car was so named September 1952, after the type of warship, on a suggestion by Myron Scott, employee of Campbell-Ewald, Chevrolet's advertising agency. Italian corvetta, Spanish corbeta are French loan-words.

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fleet (n.)

Old English fleot "a ship, a raft, a floating vessel," also, collectively, "means of sea travel; boats generally," from fleotan "to float, swim," from Proto-Germanic *fleutanan(source also of Old Saxon fliotan, Old Frisian fliata, Old Norse fljta, Old High German fliozzan, Middle Dutch vlieten "to flow"), from PIE *pleud-, extended form of root *pleu- "to flow."

The sense of "naval force, group of ships under one command" is in late Old English. The more usual Old English word was flota "a ship," also "a fleet; a sailor." The fleet for "the navy" is attested by 1712. The Old English word also meant "estuary, inlet, flow of water," especially the one into the Thames near Ludgate Hill, which lent its name to Fleet Street (home of newspaper and magazine houses, hence its use metonymically for "the English press" since at least 1882) and Fleet prison (long used for debtors).

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tin (n.)

Old English tin, from Proto-Germanic *tinom (source also of Middle Dutch and Dutch tin, Old High German zin, German Zinn, Old Norse tin), of unknown origin, not found outside Germanic.

Other Indo-European languages often have separate words for "tin" as a raw metal and "tin plate;" such as French étain, fer-blanc. Pliny refers to tin as plumbum album "white lead," and for centuries it was regarded as a form of silver debased by lead; hence its figurative use for "mean, petty, worthless." The chemical symbol Sn is from Late Latin stannum (see stannic).

Meaning "container made of tin" is from 1795. Tin-can is from 1770; as naval slang for "destroyer," by 1937. Tin-type in photography is from 1864. Tin ear "lack of musical discernment" is from 1909. Tin Lizzie "early Ford, especially a Model T," first recorded 1915.

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rostrum (n.)

"pulpit or platform from which a speaker addresses an audience," 1540s, originally in an ancient Roman context, from Latin rostrum, the name of the platform stand for public speakers in the Forum in ancient Rome. It was decorated with the beaks of ships taken in the first naval victory of the Roman republic, over Antium, in 338 B.C.E., and the Latin word's older sense is "end of a ship's prow," literally "beak, muzzle, snout," originally "means of gnawing," an instrument noun from rodere "to gnaw" (see rodent).

The beaks were an ancient form of ram, a beam spiked with pointed iron for the purpose of sinking other vessels. For the form, compare claustrum "lock, bar," from claudere "to shut." The extended sense, in reference to any platform for public speaking, is attested by 1766.

The classical plural is rostra, though in English this is more common in the original "ship's beak" sense and -rums often is used in the secondary sense.

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gun (n.)

mid-14c., gunne "an engine of war that throws rocks, arrows or other missiles from a tube by the force of explosive powder or other substance," apparently a shortening of woman's name Gunilda, found in Middle English gonnilde "cannon" and in an Anglo-Latin reference to a specific gun from a 1330 munitions inventory of Windsor Castle ("... una magna balista de cornu quae Domina Gunilda ..."). Also compare gonnilde gnoste "spark or flame used to fire a cannon" (early 14c.).

The woman's name is from Old Norse Gunnhildr, a compound of gunnr and hildr, both meaning "war, battle." First element from PIE *gwhen- "to strike, kill" (see bane); for second, see Hilda.

The identification of women with powerful weapons is common historically (such as Big Bertha, Brown Bess, Mons Meg, etc.).

Or perhaps gun is directly from Old Norse gunnr "battle." The word was perhaps influenced by or confirmed by (or possibly from) Old French engon, dialectal variant of engin "engine."

Meaning grew with technology, from cannons to firearms as they developed 15c.; popularly applied to pistols and revolvers from 1744. In modern military use the word is restricted to cannons (which must be mounted), especially long ones used for high velocity and long trajectory. Hence great guns (1884 as an exclamation) distinguished from small guns (such as muskets) from c. 1400. Meaning "thief, rascal" is from 1858. For son of a gun, see son. To jump the gun (1912, American English) is a figurative use from track and field. Guns "a woman's breasts" (especially if prominent) attested by 2006.

[G]un covers firearms from the heaviest naval or siege guns (but in technical use excluding mortars and howitzers) to the soldier's rifle or the sportsman's shotgun, and in current U.S. use even the gangster's revolver. In the other European languages there is no such comprehensive word, but different terms for the small or hand gun of the soldier or sportsman (even these, sometimes differentiated) and the heavy naval guns or artillery pieces .... [Buck, 1949]
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rear (n.)

"hindmost part, the space behind or at the back," c. 1600, abstracted from rerewarde "rear guard, hindmost part of an army or fleet" (mid-14c.), from Anglo-French rerewarde, Old French rieregarde, from the Old French adverb riere "behind" (from Latin retro "back, behind;" see retro-) + Old French garde "guardian" (see guard (n.)).

Earliest use often is specifically military, "hindmost body of an army or fleet." The English word in many early examples also may be a shortened form of arrear (see arrears), perhaps a misdivision of the arrears.

As a euphemism for "buttocks" it is attested by 1796. As an adverb, "behind," early 15c. As an adjective, "hindmost; pertaining to or situated in the rear," c. 1300, from Old French rere.

To bring up the rear "come last in order" is from 1640s. The naval rank of rear admiral is attested from 1580s, said to be so called from his originally ranking "behind" an admiral proper. Rear-view (mirror) is recorded from 1926. Rear-supper (c. 1300) was an old name for "last meal of the day."

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lame duck (n.)

1761, "any disabled person or thing;" especially Stock Exchange slang for "defaulter."

A lame duck is a man who cannot pay his differences, and is said to waddle off. [Thomas Love Peacock, "Gryll Grange," 1861]

Sometimes also in naval use for "an old, slow ship." Modern sense of "public official serving out term after an election" is recorded by 1863, American English. The quote attributed to President Lincoln ("[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for") is from an anecdote of 1878.

It is well known to everybody who knows anything of its history, that this court [Court of Claims] was made a sort of retreat for lame duck politicians that got wounded and had to retreat before the face of popular condemnation. That is just exactly what it was for, a safe retreat for lame ducks; and it was so filled up; (etc.) [Sen. John P. Hale, New Hampshire, Congressional Globe, Jan. 12, 1863, p.271]
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rocket (n.2)

[self-propelling projectile] 1610s, "projectile consisting of a cylindrical tube of pasteboard filled with flammable or explosive matter," from Italian rocchetto "a rocket," literally "a bobbin," diminutive of rocca "a distaff," so called because of cylindrical shape. The Italian word probably is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rocko "distaff," Middle Dutch rokke, Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukkon- (from PIE root *rug- "fabric, spun yarn").

Originally of fireworks rockets, the meaning "device propelled by a rocket engine" is recorded by 1919 (Goddard); rocket-ship in the space-travel sense is attested from February 1927 ("Popular Science"); earlier as a type of naval warship firing projectiles. Rocket science in the figurative sense of "difficult, complex process or topic" is attested by 1985; rocket scientist is from 1952.

That such a feat is considered within the range of possibility is evidenced by the activities of scientists in Europe as well as in America. Two of them, Prof. Herman Oberth and Dr. Franz Hoeff, of Vienna, are constructing a five-ton rocket ship in which they hope to reach the moon in two days. [Popular Science, February 1927]
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flying (adj.)

early 15c., replacing forms from Old English fleogende "flying, winged;" present-participle adjective from fly (v.1). The meaning "attached so as to have freedom of movement" (1670s) is the source of the nautical use (flying jib, etc.). Meaning "designed for rapid movement" (especially in military terms, e.g. flying camp) is from 1660s; meaning "passing, hasty, temporary, rapidly constructed" is from 1763.

Flying fish is from 1510s; flying buttress "segment of an arch projecting from a solid mass and serving to stabilize a wall" is from 1660s. Flying Dutchman, ghost ship off the Cape of Good Hope, is attested since 1790 [John MacDonald "Travels in Various Parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa"]. Various accounts are given of how it came to be condemned to sail the sea, beating against head-winds, till the day of judgment. It is said that the ship sometimes hails vessels with the request that they will take letters home.

Flying colors (1706) probably is from the image of a naval vessel with the national flag bravely displayed. Flying machine is from 1736 as a theoretical device. Flying saucer first attested 1947, though the image of saucers for unidentified flying objects is from at least 1880s.

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