"tract of open, untilled, more or less elevated ground, often overrun with heath," c. 1200, from Old English mor "morass, swamp," from Proto-Germanic *mora- (source also of Old Saxon, Middle Dutch, Dutch meer "swamp," Old High German muor "swamp," also "sea," German Moor "moor," Old Norse mörr "moorland," marr "sea"), perhaps related to mere (n.1), or from root *mer- "to die," hence "dead land."
The basic sense in place names is 'marsh', a kind of low-lying wetland possibly regarded as less fertile than mersc 'marsh.' The development of the senses 'dry heathland, barren upland' is not fully accounted for but may be due to the idea of infertility. [Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names]
Hence moor-fowl "grouse" (c. 1500); moor-hen (mid-14c.); moor-cock (c. 1200 as a surname).
"feathered, warm-blooded vertebrate animal of the class Aves," Old English bird, a rare collateral form of bridd, originally meaning "young bird, nestling" (the usual Old English for "bird" being fugol, for which see fowl (n.)), which is of uncertain origin with no cognates in any other Germanic language. The suggestion that it is related by umlaut to brood and breed is rejected by OED as "quite inadmissible." The metathesis of -r- and -i- was complete 15c. (compare wright).
Despite its early attestation, bridd is not necessarily the oldest form of bird. It is usually assumed that -ir- from -ri- arose by metathesis, but here, too, the Middle English form may go back to an ancient period. [Liberman]
Up to c. 1400 it still often was used in the specific sense "the young of a bird, fledgling, nestling, chick," and of the young of other animals (bees, fish, snakes) and human children. Compare the usual Balto-Slavic words for "bird" (Lithuanian paukštis, Old Church Slavonic pŭtica, Polish ptak, Russian ptica, etc.), said to be ultimately from the same root as Latin pullus "young of an animal."
The proper designation of the feathered creation is in E. fowl, which in course of time was specially applied to the gallinaceous tribe as the most important kind of bird for domestic use, and it was perhaps this appropriation of the word which led to the adoption of the name of the young animal as the general designation of the race. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
The figurative sense of "secret source of information" is from 1540s. The colloquial meaning "man, fellow, person" is from 1799.
Bird-watching is attested from 1897. Bird's-eye view "the view as seen from above, as if by a bird in flight," is from 1762. Phrase for the birds in reference to anything undesirable is recorded from 1944, supposedly in allusion to birds eating from droppings of horses and cattle. The bird-spider (1800) of the American tropics is a large sort of tarantula that can capture and kill small birds.
A byrde yn honde ys better than three yn the wode. [c. 1530]
The form with bush is attested by 1630s.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to flow."
It forms all or part of: fletcher; fledge; flee; fleet (adj.) "swift;" fleet (n.2) "group of ships under one command;" fleet (v.) "to float, drift; flow, run;" fleeting; flight (n.1) "act of flying;" flight (n.2) "act of fleeing;" flit; float; flood; flotsam; flotilla; flow; flue; flugelhorn; fluster; flutter; fly (v.1) "move through the air with wings;" fly (n.) "winged insect;" fowl; plover; Pluto; plutocracy; pluvial; pneumo-; pneumonia; pneumonic; pulmonary.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit plavate "navigates, swims;" Greek plynein "to wash," plein "to navigate," ploein "to float, swim," plotos "floating, navigable," pyelos "trough, basin;" Latin plovere "to rain," pluvius "rainy;" Armenian luanam "I wash;" Old English flowan "to flow;" Old Church Slavonic plovo "to flow, navigate;" Lithuanian pilu, pilti "to pour out," plauju, plauti "to swim, rinse."
"structure built by a bird or domestic fowl for the insulation and rearing of its young," Old English nest "bird's nest; snug retreat," also "young bird, brood," from Proto-Germanic *nistaz (source also of Middle Low German, Middle Dutch nest, German Nest; not found in Scandinavian or Gothic), from PIE *nizdo- (source also of Sanskrit nidah "resting place, nest," Latin nidus "nest," Old Church Slavonic gnezdo, Old Irish net, Welsh nyth, Breton nez "nest"), probably from *ni "down" + from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit."
From c. 1200 of an animal or insect. Used since Middle English in reference to various accumulations of things, especially of diminishing sizes, each fitting within the next (such as a nest of drawers, early 18c.). Nest egg "retirement savings" is from 1700; it was originally "a real or artificial egg left in a nest to induce the hen to go on laying there" (nest ei, early 14c.), hence "something laid up as the beginning of a continued growth."
"refuse, filth," 1580s; earlier "giblets, refuse of a fowl, waste parts of an animal (head, feet, etc.) used for human food" (early 15c., in early use also gabage, garbish, garbidge ), of unknown origin; OED says probably from Anglo-French "like many other words found in early cookery books." In its sense of "waste material, refuse" it has been influenced by and partly confused with garble (q.v.) in its older sense of "remove refuse material from spices;" Middle English had the derived noun garbelage but it is attested only as the action of removing the refuse, not the material itself.
Perhaps the English word originally is from a derivative of Old French garbe/jarbe "sheaf of wheat, bundle of sheaves," though the sense connection is difficult. This word is from Proto-Germanic *garba- (source also of Dutch garf, German garbe "sheaf"), from PIE *ghrebh- (1) "to seize, reach" (see grab (v.)).
"In modern American usage garbage is generally restricted to mean kitchen and vegetable wastes" [Craigie]. Used figuratively for "worthless, offensive stuff" from 1590s. Garbage can is from 1901. Garbage collector "trash man" is from 1872; Australian shortening garbo attested from 1953. Garbology "study of waste as a social science" is by 1976; garbologist is from 1965.
Middle English roste, "a chicken's perch," from late Old English hrost "wooden framework of a roof; pole or perch upon which domestic fowl perch or rest for the night," from Proto-Germanic *hro(d)-st- (source also of Old Saxon hrost "framework of a roof, attic," Middle Dutch, Flemish, Dutch roest "roost," Old Norse hrot, Gothic hrot "roof"), a word of unknown origin. Extended sense "hen-house" is from 1580s; that of "fowls which occupy the roost collectively" is by 1827.
To rule the roost is recorded from 1769, according to OED apparently an alteration of earlier rule the roast "be the master, have authority " (c. 1500), which, OED reports, was "In very common use from c 1530 onwards." However, Fowler (1926) has doubts: "most unliterary persons say roost & not roast ; I have just inquired of three such, & been informed that they never heard of rule the roast, & that the reference is to a cock keeping his hens in order. Against this tempting piece of popular etymology the OED offers us nothing more succulent than "None of the early examples throw any light on the precise origin of the expression'." The spelling in the earliest example is reule the roste.
Old English cicen (plural cicenu) "young of the domestic hen, the young of any bird;" by early Middle English, "any chicken," regardless of age, from Proto-Germanic *kiukinam (source also of Middle Dutch kiekijen, Dutch kieken, Old Norse kjuklingr, Swedish kyckling, German Küken "chicken"), from root *keuk- (echoic of the bird's sound and possibly also the root of cock (n.1)) + diminutive suffixes. By regular sound changes it should have become Modern English *chichen; the reason it didn't is unknown.
Generic words for "chicken" in Indo-European tend to be extended uses of "hen" words, as hens are more numerous than cocks among domestic fowl, but occasionally they are from words for the young, as in English and in Latin (pullus). Meaning "one who is cowardly or timorous" is from 1610s; adjectival sense of "cowardly" is at least as old as 14c. (compare hen-herte "a chicken-hearted person," mid-15c.). As the name of a game of danger to test courage, it is first recorded 1953.
Chicken-feed "paltry sum of money" is by 1897, American English slang; literal use (it is made from the from lowest quality of grain) is by 1834. Chicken lobster "small lobster," is by 1947, American English, apparently from chicken in its sense of "young." To count (one's) chickens before they hatch "anticipate too confidently the obtaining or doing of something" is from 1570s. Chicken-fried steak (1937) is a U.S. Southern recipe that batters, breads, and fries a thin strip of steak in the way fried chicken typically is made.
1650s, powny, "a very small horse" (less than 13 hands in height), from Scottish, apparently from obsolete French poulenet "little foal" (mid-15c.), diminutive of Old French poulain "foal," from Late Latin pullanus "young of an animal," from Latin pullus "young of a horse, fowl, etc." (from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little") [Skeat's suggestion, still accepted]. Compare, from the same source, foal, filly, Sanskrit potah "a young animal," Greek pōlos "foal," secondarily also of other young animals; Latin pullus "young animal," Lithuanian putytis "young animal, young bird."
A small horse, especially one of a small breed, as opposed to a colt or filly, words which indicate merely young horses. German, sensibly, indicates this animal by attaching a diminutive suffix to its word for "horse," which might yield Modern English *horslet. Modern French poney is a 19c. borrowing from English.
The Shetland breed of ponies are stoutly built, active and hardy, with very full mane and tail, and of gentle, docile disposition. In western parts of the United States all the small hardy horses (mustangs or broncos) used by the Indians are called ponies. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
Meaning "crib of a text as a cheating aid," especially a translation of a Greek or Latin author used unfairly in the preparation of lessons (1827) and "small liquor glass" (1849) both are from notion of "smallness" (the former also "something one rides," a translation being something that enables a student to "get along fast").
As the name of a popular dance, it dates from 1963. The U.S. Pony Express began 1860 (and operated about 18 months before being superseded by the transcontinental telegraph). The figurative one-trick pony is 1897, American English, in reference to circus acts.