Etymology
Advertisement
preen (v.)

late 14c., of a person, "to trim, to dress up," probably a variation of Middle English proynen, proinen, of a bird, "trim the feather with the beak;" of a person, "to dress or groom oneself carefully" (see prune (v.)). Middle English prene "to pin, pierce, fasten with a pin" probably influenced the form of this word. It is from Old English preon, a general Germanic word (compare Dutch priemen, Low German prünen, East Frisian prinen).

In English, the use in reference to a bird, "to trim the feathers with the beak," is from late 15c. Because of the late medieval popularity of falconry, bird activities were more closely observed and words for them were more precise in English than today.

Youre hawke proynith and not pikith and she prenyth not bot whan she begynnyth at hir leggys, and fetcheth moystour like oyle at hir taill. ["Book of St. Albans," 1486]

Preening as a present-participle adjective meaning "proud, self-confident" is by 1903.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
asparagus (n.)
Origin and meaning of asparagus
plant cultivated for its edible shoots, late 14c., aspergy; late Old English sparage, from Latin asparagus (in Medieval Latin often sparagus), from Greek asparagos/aspharagos, which is of uncertain origin; perhaps with euphonic a- + PIE root *sp(h)er(e)g- "to spring up," but Beekes suggests "it is rather a substrate word," based in part on the p/ph variation.

In Middle English, asperages sometimes was regarded as a plural, with false singular aspergy. By 16c. the word had been Englished as far as sperach, sperage. The classical Latin form of the word is attested in English from mid-16c., but was limited at first to herbalists and botanists; the common form from 17c.-19c. was the folk-etymologized variant sparrowgrass, during which time asparagus had "an air of stiffness and pedantry" [John Walker, "Critical Pronouncing Dictionary," 1791]. Known in Old English as eorðnafela. Related: Asparaginous.
Related entries & more 
just (adv.)

c. 1400, "precisely, exactly;" late 15c., "fittingly, snugly;" c. 1500, "immediately;" from just (adj.) and paralleling the adverbial use of French juste (also compare Dutch juist, German just, from the adjectives).

The original sense of "exactly" in space, time, kind, or degree; "precisely, without interval, deviation, or variation" is preserved in just so"exactly that, in that very way" (1751), just as I thought, etc. But the sense decayed, as it often does in general words for exactness (compare anon, soon), from "exactly, precisely, punctually" to "within a little; with very little but a sufficient difference; nearly; almost exactly;" then by 1660s to "merely, barely, by or within a narrow margin (as in just missed). Hence just now as "a short time ago" (1680s). Also "very lately, within a brief period of time" (18c.). It is also used intensively, "quite" (by 1855).

Just-so story is attested 1902 in Kipling, from just so "exactly that, in that very way."

Related entries & more 
reflection (n.)

late 14c., refleccioun, reflexioun, reflectioun, of surfaces or bodies, "the action of throwing back light or heat," from Old French reflexion, refleccion, and directly from Late Latin reflexionem (nominative reflexio) "a reflection," literally "a bending back," noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin reflectere "to bend back, bend backwards, turn away," from re- "back" (see re-) + flectere "to bend" (see flexible).

Meaning "an image produced by the action of a mirror, etc." is from 1580s. Of the mind, "turning of the thought back upon past experiences or ideas," from 1670s. Meaning "remark made after turning back one's thought on some subject" is from 1640s. Spelling with -ct- recorded from late 14c., established 18c., by influence of the verb. OED considers the version with -x- to be "the etymological spelling," but Fowler (1926) points out that -ct- is usual in the general senses and even technical ones.

A clear differentiation being out of the question, & the variation of form being without essential significance, the best thing to do is to use the commoner spelling, reflection, in all senses. [Fowler, "Modern English Usage," 1926]
Related entries & more 
motion (n.)

late 14c., mocioun, "process of moving; change of place, continuous variation of position;" also "suggestion, proposal or proposition formally made," from Old French mocion "movement, motion; change, alteration" (13c., Modern French motion) and directly from Latin motionem (nominative motio) "a moving, a motion; an emotion," from past-participle stem of movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away").

From c. 1400 in legal sense of "application to a court or judge." To be in motion "in a state of motion" is from c. 1600; to set in motion "set working" is from 1590s. To go through the motions in the figurative sense of "pretend, do in a perfunctory manner" is by 1816 from the notion of "simulate the motions of." Motion picture is attested from 1896; motion sickness by 1942.

Rev. G.S. White said : The Presbytery does not favour the proposition of the Richmond Convention, and thinks the appointment of the Committee unnecessary; yet I suppose, that like the man who had nothing to eat, yet always spread the table, and sat down, and went through the motions—so we, according to our brother, are in honour bound, to appoint the Committee and go through the motions!—[Laughter] [The Presbyterian Magazine, May, 1858]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
cant (n.1)

"pretentious or insincere talk, ostentatious conventionality in speech," 1709. The earliest use is as a slang word for "the whining speech of beggars asking for alms" (1640s), from the verb in this sense (1560s), from Old North French canter (Old French chanter) "to sing, chant," from Latin cantare, frequentative of canere "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing").

Century Dictionary notes the ecclesiastical use of cantus in Medieval Latin, and writes, "The word cant may thus have become associated with beggars; but there may have been also an allusion to a perfunctory performance of divine service and hence a hypocritical use of religious phrases." The sense in English expanded after 1680 to mean "the jargon of criminals and vagabonds," and from thence the word was applied contemptuously by any sect or school to the phraseology of its rival.

... Slang is universal, whilst Cant is restricted in usage to certain classes of the community: thieves, vagrom men, and — well, their associates. ... Slang boasts a quasi-respectability denied to Cant, though Cant is frequently more enduring, its use continuing without variation of meaning for many generations. [John S. Farmer, Forewords to "Musa Pedestris," 1896]
Related entries & more 
climate (n.)

late 14c., "horizontal zone of the earth's surface measured by lines parallel to the equator," from Old French climat "region, part of the earth," from Latin clima (genitive climatis) "region; slope of the earth," from Greek klima "region, zone," literally "an inclination, slope," thus "slope of the earth from equator to pole," from a suffixed form of PIE root *klei- "to lean."

Ancient geographers divided the earth into zones based on the angle of sun on the slope of the earth's surface and the length of daylight. Some reckoned 24 or 30 climates between Meroe on the upper Nile in Sudan and the mythical Riphaean Mountains which were supposed to bound the Arctic; a change of climate took place, going north, at a place where the day was a half hour longer or shorter, according to season, than the starting point. Others counted 7 (each dominated by a particular planet) or 12 (dominated by zodiac signs).

Change of temperature gradually came to be considered more important, and by late 14c. the word was being used in the sense "a distinct region of the earth's surface considered with respect to weather." The sense shift to "combined results of weather associated with a region, characteristic condition of a country or region with reference to the variation of heat, cold, rainfall, wind, etc.," is attested by c. 1600. Figuratively, of mental or moral atmosphere, from 1660s.

Related entries & more 
latitude (n.)
Origin and meaning of latitude

late 14c., "breadth," from Old French latitude (13c.) and directly from Latin latitudo "breadth, width, extent, size," from lātus (adj.) "wide, broad, extensive" Old Latin stlatus, from PIE *stleto-, suffixed form of root *stele- "to spread, to extend" (source also of Old Church Slavonic steljo "to spread out," Armenian lain "broad").

Geographical and astronomical senses also are from late 14c., literally "breadth" of a map of the known world. Figurative sense of "allowable degree of variation, extent of deviation from a standard" is early 15c. Related: Latitudinal "pertaining to geographic latitude" (1777); latitudinous "having broadness of interpretation" (1829, American English).

The ancients supposed the torrid and the frigid zones to be uninhabitable and even impenetrable by man, but while the earth, as known to them, was bounded westwardly by the Atlantic Ocean, it extended indefinitely towards the east. The dimensions of the habitable world then (and ancient geography embraced only the home of man ....,) were much greater, measured from west to east, than from south to north. Accordingly, early geographers called the greater dimension, or the east and west line, the length, longitudo, of the earth, the shorter dimension, or the north and south line, they denominated its breadth, latitudo. These Latin terms are retained in the modern geography of most European nations, but with a modified meaning. [George P. Marsh, "Lectures on the English Language," 1882]
Related entries & more 
poet (n.)
Origin and meaning of poet

"one endowed with the gift and power of imaginative invention and creation, attended by corresponding eloquence of expression, commonly but not necessarily in a metrical form" [Century Dictionary, 1895], early 14c., "a poet, an author of metrical compositions; one skilled in the art of making poetry; a singer" (c. 1200 as a surname), from Old French poete (12c., Modern French poète) and directly from Latin poeta "a poet," from Greek poētēs "maker, author, poet," variant of poiētēs, from poein, poiein "to make, create, compose," from PIE *kwoiwo- "making," from root *kwei- "to pile up, build, make" (source also of Sanskrit cinoti "heaping up, piling up," Old Church Slavonic činu "act, deed, order").

Replaced Old English scop (which survives in scoff). Used in 14c., as in classical languages, for all sorts of writers or composers of works of literature. Poète maudit, "a poet insufficiently appreciated by his contemporaries," literally "cursed poet," is attested by 1930, from French (1884, Verlaine). For poet laureate see laureate.

"Communication" will not explain poetry. I will not say that there is not always some varying degree of communication in poetry, or that poetry could exist without any communication taking place. There is room for very great individual variation in the motives of equally good individual poets; and we have the assurance of Coleridge, with the approval of Mr. Housman, that "poetry gives most pleasure when only generally and not perfectly understood." [T.S. Eliot, "The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism"]
Related entries & more 
hell (n.)

also Hell, Old English hel, helle, "nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions, place of torment for the wicked after death," from Proto-Germanic *haljō "the underworld" (source also of Old Frisian helle, Old Saxon hellia, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja "hell"). Literally "concealed place" (compare Old Norse hellir "cave, cavern"), from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save."

Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija "one who covers up or hides something")was the name of Loki's daughter who ruled over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl "mist") It might have reinforced the English word "as a transfer of a pagan concept to Christian theology and its vocabulary" [Barnhart].

In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for "state of misery, any bad experience" at least since late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.

To have hell break loose is from c. 1600. Expression hell in a handbasket is attested by 1867, in a context implying use from a few years before, and the notion of going to Heaven in a handbasket is from 1853, implying "easy passage" to the destination. Hell or high water (1874) apparently is a variation of between the devil and the deep blue sea. To wish someone would go to hell is in Shakespeare ("Merchant of Venice"). Snowball's chance in hell "no chance" is from 1931; till hell freezes over "never" is from 1832.

To do something  for the hell of it "just for fun" is from 1921. To ride hell for leather is from 1889, originally with reference to riding on horseback. Hell on wheels is from 1843 as the name of a steamboat; its general popularity dates from 1869 in reference to the temporary workers' vice-ridden towns along the U.S. transcontinental railroad. Scottish had hell-wain (1580s) "a phantom wagon seen in the sky at night."

Related entries & more 

Page 6