"ten hundred thousand, a thousand thousands," late 14c., milioun, from Old French million (late 13c.), from Italian millione (now milione), literally "a great thousand," augmentative of mille "thousand," from Latin mille, which is of uncertain origin. From the start often used indefinitely for "a very great number or quantity."
In the West it was used mainly by mathematicians until 16c., but India, with its love of large numbers, had names before 3c. for numbers well beyond a billion. The ancient Greeks had no name for a number greater than ten thousand, the Romans for none higher than a hundred thousand. "A million" in Latin would have been decies centena milia, literally "ten hundred thousand." Million to one as a type of "long odds" is attested from 1761. Related: Millions.
late 14c., "action of discussing terms," from treat (v.). Sense of "a treating with food and drink, an entertainment given as a compliment or expression of regard" (1650s) was extended by 1770 to "anything that affords much pleasure."
What treat can we have now? If we were to treat ourselves now—that is, to have dainties a little above our means, it would be selfish and wicked. It is the very little more that we allow ourselves beyond what the actual poor can get at that makes what I call a treat .... But now—what I mean by the word—we never do make much of ourselves. None but the poor can do it. I do not mean the veriest poor of all, but persons as we were, just above poverty. [Lamb, "Old China"]
An earlier G.I. (1908) was an abbreviation of galvanized iron, especially in G.I. can, a type of metal trash can; the term was picked up by U.S. soldiers in World War I as slang for a similar-looking type of German artillery shells. But it is highly unlikely that this G.I. came to mean "soldier." No two sources seem to agree on the entire etymology, but none backs the widespread notion that it stands for *General Infantry. GI Joe "any U.S. soldier" attested from 1942 (date in OED is a typo).
Despite the form lunching in the 1650s source OED discounts that it possibly could be from lunch (v.), which is first attested more than a century later. It suggests perhaps an analogy with truncheon, etc., or to simulate a French origin. Especially in reference to an early afternoon meal eaten by those who have a noontime dinner.
also callisthenics, kind of light gymnastics, 1842, (the adjective calisthenic/callisthenic, of exercises, was in use by 1837), formed on model of French callisthenie, from Latinized combining form of Greek kallos "beauty" (see Callisto) + sthenos "strength, power, ability, might" (perhaps from PIE root *segh- "to have, hold," on the notion of "steadfastness, toughness") + -ics.
"Of this at least I am certain, that none but a born romp and hoyden, or a girl accustomed [to] those new-fangled pulleyhauley exercises, the Calisthenics, is fitted for the boisterous evolutions of a sea-voyage." [Thomas Hood, "The Schoolmistress Abroad," New Monthly Magazine, 1842]
Originally, gymnastic exercises suitable for girls and meant to develop the figure and promote graceful movement. OED describes the word as "chiefly a term of young ladies' boarding-schools." A place for doing it was a calisthenium (1853). The proper Greek, if there was such a word in Greek, would have been *kallistheneia.
"low-waisted two-piece women's bathing suit," 1948, from French, coined 1947, named for the U.S. A-bomb test of June 1946 on Bikini, the Marshall Islands atoll, locally Pikinni and said to derive from pik "surface" and ni "coconut," but this is uncertain. Various explanations for the swimsuit name have been suggested, none convincingly, the best being an analogy of the explosive force of the bomb and the impact of the bathing suit style on men's libidos (compare c. 1900 British slang assassin "an ornamental bow worn on the female breast," so called because it was very "killing," also the figurative sense of bombshell).
Bikini, ce mot cinglant comme l'explosion même ... correspondant au niveau du vêtement de plage à on anéantissement de la surface vêtue; à une minimisation extrême de la pudeur. [Le Monde Illustré, August 1947]
As a style of scanty briefs, from 1960. Variant trikini (1967), with separate bra cups held on by Velcro, falsely presumes a compound in bi-.
"a union of two vowels pronounced in one syllable," late 15c., diptonge, from Late Latin diphthongus, from Greek diphthongos "having two sounds," from di- "double" (from PIE root *dwo- "two") + phthongos "sound, voice," which is related to phthengesthai "to utter a sound, sound, raise one's voice, call, talk," which Beekes reports as of "no certain etymology. None of the existing connections with semantically comparable words ... is phonetically convincing." Related: Diphthongal; diphthongization.
In uttering a proper diphthong both vowels are pronounced; the sound is not simple, but the two sounds are so blended as to be considered as forming one syllable, as in joy, noise, bound, out. An "improper" diphthong is not a diphthong at all, being merely a collocation of two or more vowels in the same syllable, of which only one is sounded, as ea in breach, eo in people, ai in rain, eau in beau. [Century Dictionary]
also corner-stone, late 13c., "stone which lies at the corner of two walls and unites them" (often the starting point of a building), hence, figuratively, "that on which anything is founded;" from corner (n.) + stone (n.). The figurative use is biblical (Isaiah xxvii.16, Job xxxviii.6, Ephesians ii.20), rendering Latin lapis angularis.
In U.S. history, Alexander H. Stephens's Cornerstone speech explaining the new Confederate constitution was given at Savannah, Georgia, March 21, 1861. The image is older in U.S. political discourse and originally referred to the federal union.
I endorse without reserve the much abused sentiment of Governor M'Duffie, that "Slavery is the corner-stone of our republican edifice;" while I repudiate, as ridiculously absurd, that much lauded but nowhere accredited dogma of Mr. Jefferson, that "all men are born equal." No society has ever yet existed, and I have already incidentally quoted the highest authority to show that none ever will exist, without a natural variety of classes. [James H. Hammond, "Letter to an English Abolitionist" 1845]
"woman considered stylish at the turn of the 20th century," 1894, named for U.S. artist and illustrator Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), whose main model was his wife, Irene Langhorne (1873-1956). The Gibson cocktail (gin, vermouth, and a pearl onion) is attested by 1914, in some stories ascribed to him but the origin of the term is unknown.
"She looks like a Gibson girl" is not an uncommon saying; and to look like a Gibson girl, is not without its merits. Although our artist has expressed in his drawings disapproval of women usurping the spheres of men, his girls suggest intellectuality. He has none of the doll-like inanely pretty faces which artists used to give women in olden days. His girls look as if they would have opinions of their own and would act with discrimination in the affairs of life. They are tall and graceful and although not in the least like fashion plates, their clothes are becoming and fit perfectly. [National Magazine, May 1898]
whitish metal element, 1755, the name was coined in 1754 by Swedish mineralogist Axel von Cronstedt (1722-1765) from shortening of Swedish kopparnickel "copper-colored ore" (from which it was first obtained), a half-translation of German Kupfernickel, literally "copper demon," from Kupfer (see copper) + Nickel "demon, goblin, rascal" (a pet form of masc. proper name Nikolaus (compare English Old Nick "the devil;" see Nicholas). According to OED, the ore was so called by miners because it looked like copper but yielded none.
Meaning "coin made partly of nickel" is from 1857, when the U.S. introduced one-cent coins made of nickel to replace the old bulky copper pennies. Application to five-cent piece (originally one part nickel, three parts copper) is from 1883; in earlier circulation there were silver half-dimes. To nickel-and-dime (someone) "make or keep (someone) poor by accumulation of trifling expenses," is by from 1964 (nickels and dimes "very small amounts of money" is attested from 1893).