c. 1200, "large, strong rope or chain used on a ship," from Old North French cable, from Medieval Latin capulum "lasso, rope, halter for cattle," from Latin capere "to take, seize," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."
Technically, in nautical use, a rope 10 or more inches around, to hold the ship when at anchor; in non-nautical use, a rope of wire (not hemp or fiber). Given a new range of senses in 19c. in telegraphy (1850s), traction-railroads (1880s), etc. Meaning "message received by telegraphic cable" is from 1883, short for cable message (1870), cablegram (1868), cable dispatch (1864). Cable television first attested 1963; shortened form cable in this sense is from 1970.
Speed, speed the Cable; let it run,
A loving girdle round the earth,
Till all the nations 'neath the sun
Shall be as brothers at one hearth;
[T. Buchanan Read, "The Cable," 1858]
"to strip off" the skin, bark, or rind from, developed from Old English pilian "to peel, skin, decorticate, strip the skin or ring," and Old French pillier, both from Latin pilare "to strip of hair," from pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)). Probably also influenced by Latin pellis "skin, hide." Related: Peeled; peeling. Intransitive sense of "to lose the skin or rind" is from 1630s.
The figurative expression keep (one's) eyes peeled "be observant, be on the alert" is by 1852, American English, perhaps a play on the potato "eye," which is peeled by stripping off the skin. Peel out "speed away from a place in a car, on a motorcycle, etc.," is hot-rodders' slang, attested by 1952, perhaps from the notion of leaving behind a "peel" of rubber from the tire as it skids. Aircraft pilot phrase peel off "veer away from formation" is from World War II; earlier American English had slang peel it "run away at full speed" (1860).
1885, verbal noun from ski (v.).
THE new sport which has lately been introduced at Beloit is skeeing. They are long ash planks, carefully and turned up at the end, and are warranted to take down hill quicker than a wink. After some practice performers become very expert, and the speed with which they go is something surprising. [Beloit College, Wisconsin, Round Table, Dec. 18, 1885]
Old English bor "instrument for making holes by boring or turning," from the source of bore (v.1). As "hole made by boring," early 14c. Meaning "cylindrical hole through a tube, gun, etc." is from 1570s; that of "interior diameter of a tube, caliber of a gun" (whether bored or not) is from 1580s. Hence figurative slang full bore (1936) "at maximum speed," from notion of unchoked carburetor on an engine.
1650s, "having no definite aim or purpose, haphazard, not sent in a special direction," from phrase at random (1560s), "at great speed" (thus, "carelessly, haphazardly"), from an alteration of the Middle English noun randon, randoun "impetuosity; speed" (c. 1300). This is from Old French randon "rush, disorder, force, impetuosity," from randir "to run fast," from Frankish *rant "a running" or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *randa (source also of Old High German rennen "to run," Old English rinnan "to flow, to run;" see run (v.)). For spelling shift of -n to -m, compare seldom, ransom.
In 1980s U.S. college student slang it began to acquire a sense of "inferior, undesirable." (A 1980 William Safire column describes it as a college slang noun meaning "person who does not belong on our dormitory floor.") Random access in reference to computer memory that need not be read sequentially is recorded from 1953. Related: Randomly; randomness.
1793, "a walker, one who walks or journeys on foot," from pedestrian (adj.). In early use especially "one who walks or races on foot for a wager; a professional walker; one who has made a notable record for speed or endurance." In 20c. it came to mean especially "person walking on a road or pavement" as opposed to person driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
before vowels meg-, word-forming element often meaning "large, great," but in physics a precise measurement to denote the unit taken a million times (megaton, megawatt, etc.), from Greek megas "great, large, vast, big, high, tall; mighty, important" (fem. megale), from PIE root *meg- "great." Mega began to be used alone as an adjective by 1982.
High-speed computer stores 2.5 megabits [headline in "Electronics" magazine, Oct. 1, 1957]
"record of observations, readings, etc.," originally "record of a ship's progress," 1842, sailor's shortening of log-book (1670s), the daily record of a ship's speed, progress, etc., which is from log (n.1) "piece of wood." The book so called because it recorded the speed measurements made by means of a weighted chip of a tree log on the end of a reeled log line (typically 150 to 200 fathoms). The log lay dead in the water, and sailors counted the time it took the line to play out. The line was marked by different numbers of knots, or colored rags, tied at regular intervals; hence the nautical measurement sense of knot (n.). Similar uses of the cognate word are continental Germanic and Scandinavian (such as German Log). General sense "any record of facts entered in order" is by 1913.
It [the log-book] is a journal of all important items happening on shipboard, contains the data from which the navigator determines his position by dead-reckoning ... and is, when properly kept, a complete meteorological journal. On board merchant ships the log is kept by the first officer: on board men-of-war, by the navigator. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
1948, abbreviation of long-playing phonograph record.
The most revolutionary development to hit the recording industry since the invention of the automatic changer is the Long Playing record, which can hold an entire 45-minute symphony or musical-comedy score on a single 12-inch disk. ... The disks, released a few weeks ago by Columbia Records and made of Vinylite, have phenomenally narrow grooves (.003 of an inch). They are played at less than half the speed of the standard old-style records. [Life magazine, July 26, 1948]