"rectangular block of artificial stone (usually clay burned in a kiln) used as a building material," early 15c., from Old French briche "brick," which is probably from a Germanic source akin to Middle Dutch bricke "a tile," etymologically "a bit, a fragment, a piece broken off," from the verbal root of break (v.).
Of a brick-shaped loaf by 1735. Meaning "a good, honest fellow" is from 1840, probably on notion of squareness (as in fair and square), though in English brick and square when applied to persons generally are not meant as compliments. Brick wall in the figurative sense of "impenetrable barrier" is from 1886. Brick-and-mortar (adj.) as figurative of "physically real" is from 1865. To do something like a ton of bricks "vigorously" is from 1929 (earlier thousand of bricks, 1836), probably from the notion of how hard such a weight of them falls or hits.
word-ending that sometimes distinguish British from American English. In the U.S., the change from -re to -er (to match pronunciation) in words such as fibre, centre, theatre began in late 18c. and became standard there over the next 25 years at the urging of Noah Webster (the 1804 edition of his speller, and especially his 1806 dictionary). The -re spelling, like -our, however, had the authority of Johnson's dictionary behind it and was unmoved in Britain, where it came to be a point of national pride, contra the Yankees.
Despite Webster's efforts, -re was retained in words with -c- or -g- (such as ogre, acre, the latter of which Webster insisted to the end of his days ought to be aker, and it was so printed in editions of the dictionary during his lifetime). The -re spelling generally is more justified by conservative etymology, based on French antecedents. It is met today in the U.S. only in Theatre as an element in the proper names of entertainment showplaces, where it is perhaps felt to inspire a perception of bon ton.
[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]
"organ of hearing," Old English eare "ear," from Proto-Germanic *auzon (source also of Old Norse eyra, Danish øre, Old Frisian are, Old Saxon ore, Middle Dutch ore, Dutch oor, Old High German ora, German Ohr, Gothic auso), from PIE *ous- "ear" (source also of Greek aus, Latin auris, Lithuanian ausis, Old Church Slavonic ucho, Old Irish au "ear," Avestan usi "the two ears").
þe harde harte of man, þat lat in godis word atte ton ere & vt atte toþir. [sermon, c. 1250]
In music, "capability to learn and reproduce by hearing," 1520s, hence play by ear (1670s). The belief that itching or burning ears means someone is talking about you is mentioned in Pliny's "Natural History" (77 C.E.). Until at least the 1880s, even some medical men still believed piercing the ear lobes improved one's eyesight. Meaning "handle of a pitcher" is mid-15c. (but compare Old English earde "having a handle"). To be wet behind the ears "naive" is from 1902, American English. Phrase walls have ears is attested from 1610s. French orielle, Spanish oreja are from Latin auricula (Medieval Latin oricula), diminutive of auris.
1815, "small pellets made of lime or soft plaster, used in Italy during carnival by the revelers for pelting one another in the streets," from Italian plural of confetto "sweetmeat," via Old French, from Latin confectum, confectus (see confection).
The little balls (which left white marks) were substitutes for the small sugar-plum candies that traditionally were thrown during Italian carnivals; the custom was adopted in England by early 19c. for weddings and other occasions, with symbolic tossing of little bits of paper (which are called confetti by 1846).
The chief amusement of the Carnival consists in throwing the confetti—a very ancient practice, and which, with a little research, may be traced up through the Italian Chronicles to the time of the Romans. The confetti were originally of sugar, and the nobility still pique themselves on adhering to so costly a material. The people have degraded them to small balls of lime, which allows more sport, and takes in a much greater number of combatants. [Dr. Abraham Eldon, "The Continental Traveller's Oracle; or, Maxims for Foreign Locomotion," London, 1828]
[The Roman ladies] are generally provided with a small basket of confetti, and as their acquaintance and admirers pass in review, they must be prepared to receive a volley of them. It is thought quite the supreme bon ton for a Roman beau, to mark how many distinguished beauties he is in favour with, by having both his coat and hat covered as white as a miller with the flour of these confetti. [John Bramsen, "Letters of a Prussian Traveller," 1818]