Etymology
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drone (n.)

Middle English drane, drone, "male honeybee," from Old English dran, dræn, from Proto-Germanic *dran- (source also of Middle Dutch drane; Old High German treno; German Drohne, which is from Middle Low German drone), probably imitative (compare Lithuanian tranni, Greek thronax "a drone"). Given a figurative sense of "idler, lazy worker" (male bees make no honey) 1520s. Meaning "pilotless aircraft directed by remote control" is from 1946.

Drones, as the radio-controlled craft are called, have many potentialities, civilian and military. Some day huge mother ships may guide fleets of long-distance, cargo-carrying airplanes across continents and oceans. Long-range drones armed with atomic bombs could be flown by accompanying mother ships to their targets and in for perfect hits. [Popular Science, November 1946]

Meaning "a deep, continuous humming sound" is from c. 1500, apparently an independent imitative formation (compare threnody). Meaning "bass pipe of a bagpipe" is from 1590s.

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smith (n.)

Old English smið "blacksmith, armorer, one who works in metal" (jewelers as well as blacksmiths), more broadly, "handicraftsman, practitioner of skilled manual arts" (also including carpenters), from Proto-Germanic *smithaz "skilled worker" (source also of Old Saxon smith, Old Norse smiðr, Danish smed, Old Frisian smith, Old High German smid, German Schmied, Gothic -smiþa, in aiza-smiþa "coppersmith"), from PIE root *smi- "to cut, work with a sharp instrument" (source also of Greek smile "knife, chisel").

Attested as a surname at least since c. 975. Other common surnames meaning "smith" in nearby languages include Ferraro (Italian), Haddad (Arabic), Kovács (Hungarian, a Slavic loan-word), Kowalski (Polish), Herrero (Spanish), Kuznets (Russian), MacGowan (Irish, "son of the blacksmith").

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salary (n.)

late 13c., salarie, "compensation, payment," whether periodical, for regular service or for a specific service; from Anglo-French salarie, Old French salaire "wages, pay, reward," from Latin salarium "an allowance, a stipend, a pension," said to be originally "salt-money, soldier's allowance for the purchase of salt" [Lewis & Short] noun use of neuter of adjective salarius "of or pertaining to salt; yearly revenue from the sale of salt;" as a noun, "a dealer in salt fish," from sal (genitive salis) "salt" (from PIE root *sal- "salt").

Over time by 19c. it became restricted to recompense stipulated to be paid a person periodically for services, usually a fixed sum. The Via Salaria was so called because the Sabines used it to fetch sea-salt near the Porta Collina. Japanese sarariman "male salaried worker," literally "salary-man," is from English.

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lark (n.1)

songbird of the Old World, early 14c., earlier lauerche (c. 1200), from Old English lawerce (late Old English laferce), from Proto-Germanic *laiw(a)rikon (source also of Old Saxon lewerka, Frisian liurk, Old Norse lævirik, Dutch leeuwerik, German Lerche), a word of unknown origin.

Old English and Old Norse forms suggest a contracted compound, perhaps meaning "treason-worker," but "nothing is known in folklore to account for such a designation" [OED]. Noted for its early song and high flying (in contrast to its low nest). When the sky falls, we shall catch larks was an old proverb mocking foolish optimism.

Latin alauda "the lark" (source of Italian aloda, Spanish alondra, Provençal alauza, Old French aloe) is said to be from Gaulish (Celtic). True Latin names for the skylark were galerita, corydalus.

SPLIT the lark and you’ll find the music,
   Bulb after bulb, in silver rolled
[Emily Dickinson] 
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bee (n.)

stinging insect of the genus Apis, living in societies under a queen and producing wax and honey, Old English beo "bee," from Proto-Germanic *bion (source also of Old Norse by, Old High German bia, Middle Dutch bie), from PIE root *bhei- "bee."

Used metaphorically for "busy worker" since 1530s. Sense of "meeting of neighbors to unite their labor for the benefit of one of their number," 1769, American English, probably is from comparison to the combined labor and social activity of the insect; this was extended to other senses (such as spelling bee, attested by 1809; Raising-bee (1814) for building construction; quilting bee (1824, see quilt (v.)); logging-bee for a log-rolling; paring-bee for preparing harvested apples; also hanging bee "a lynching").

To have a bee in (one's) bonnet (1825), said of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.

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Malthusian (n.)

1812 (n.) "a follower of English economist Thomas R. Malthus (1766-1835)," especially with regard to the doctrines set forth in his "Essay on the Principle of Population" (published anonymously in 1798).

In this work he first made prominent the fact that population, unless hindered by positive checks, as wars, famines, etc., or by preventive checks, as social customs that prevent early marriage, tends to increase at a higher rate than the means of subsistence can, under the most favorable circumstances, be made to increase. As a remedy he advocated the principle that society should aim to diminish the sum of vice and misery, and check the growth of population, by the discouragement of early and improvident marriages, and by the practice of moral self-restraint. [Century Dictionary]

As an adjective, "of or pertaining to Malthus," by 1818. Related: Malthusianism "theory of the relation of population to the means of subsistence" (1825). The surname is attested from late 13c., and probably means "worker at a malt-house."

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desert (n.1)

c. 1200, "wasteland, wilderness, barren area," wooded or not, from Old French desert (12c.) "desert, wilderness, wasteland; destruction, ruin" and directly from Late Latin desertum (source of Italian diserto, Old Provençal dezert, Spanish desierto), literally "thing abandoned" (used in Vulgate to translate "wilderness"), noun use of neuter past participle of Latin deserere "forsake" (see desert (v.)).

Sense of "waterless, treeless region of considerable extent" was in Middle English and gradually became the main meaning. Classical Latin indicated this idea with deserta, plural of desertus. Commonly spelled desart in 18c., which is unetymological, but it avoids confusion with the two other senses of the word. 

Every important worker will report what life there is in him. It makes no odds into what seeming deserts the poet is born. Though all his neighbors pronounce it a Sahara, it will be a paradise to him; for the desert which we see is the result of the barrenness of our experience. [Thoreau, Journal, May 6, 1854]
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scrape (v.)

early 13c., scrapen, "make erasures (with a knife), erase" (a sense now obsolete); by late 14c. as "to remove (an outer layer) with a sharp or rough instrument," probably in part from Old Norse skrapa "to scrape, erase" and in part from cognate Old English scrapian "to scrape," both from Proto-Germanic *skrapojan (source also of Dutch schrapen, German schrappen), from PIE *skerb- (an extension of the root *sker- (1) "to cut").

The meaning "gather by great effort, collect with difficulty or by small savings" is from 1540s. From 1640s as "draw back the foot as a gesture of obeisance." By 1741 in the transitive sense of "rub harshly on (a surface) in passing along it so as to cause an abrasion or noise." Related: Scraped; scraping.

To scrape acquaintance "get on terms of acquaintance with by careful effort" is from c. 1600. To scrape the bottom of the barrel in the figurative sense of "make do with the most inferior or defective examples of what is wanted for want of any others" is by 1942, in reference to U.S. employers facing worker shortages during the war (the figurative bottom of the (cracker) barrel is by 1938).

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miracle (n.)
Origin and meaning of miracle

mid-12c., "a wondrous work of God," from Old French miracle (11c.) "miracle, story of a miracle, miracle play," from Latin miraculum "object of wonder" (in Church Latin, "marvelous event caused by God"), from mirari "to wonder at, marvel, be astonished," figuratively "to regard, esteem," from mirus "wonderful, astonishing, amazing," earlier *smeiros, from PIE *smei- "to smile, laugh" (source also of Sanskrit smerah "smiling," Greek meidan "to smile," Old Church Slavonic smejo "to laugh;" see smile (v.)). The Latin word is the source of Spanish milagro, Italian miracolo

From mid-13c. as "something that excites wonder or astonishment, extraordinary or remarkable feat," without regard to divinity or supernatural power. It replaced Old English wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Greek words rendered as miracle in the English bibles were semeion "sign," teras "wonder," and dynamis "power," which in the Vulgate were translated respectively as signum, prodigium, and virtus.

Miracle-drug is by 1939 (in reference to sulfanilamide). Miracle-worker "a thaumaturge" is from 1560s (Middle English had mircleour, early 15c.). Miracle-play "medieval dramatic representation of the life of Christ or a saint or other sacred subjects" is by 1744 (miraclis pleynge is from c. 1400). The condiment Miracle Whip was introduced 1933 by Kraft Foods; apparently the name was first given to the patented machine that made it.

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flapper (n.)

1560s, "one who or that which flaps," agent noun from flap (v.). Sense of "forward young woman" is 1921 slang, but the exact connection is disputed. Perhaps from flapper "young wild-duck or partridge" (1747), with reference to flapping wings while learning to fly, many late 19c. examples of which are listed in Wright's "English Dialect Dictionary" (1900), including one that defines it as "A young partridge unable to fly. Applied in joke to a girl of the bread-and-butter age."

Other suggested sources include a late 19c. northern English dialectal use of the word for "teen-age girl" (on notion of one with the hair not yet put up), or an earlier meaning "prostitute" (1889), which is perhaps from dialectal flap "young woman of loose character" (1610s). Any or all of these might have converged in the 1920s sense. Wright also has flappy, of persons, "wild, unsteady, flighty," with the note that it also was "Applied to a person's character, as 'a flappy lass,'" and further on he lists flappy sket (n.) "an immoral woman." In Britain the word took on political tones in reference to the debate over voting rights.

"Flapper" is the popular press catch-word for an adult woman worker, aged twenty-one to thirty, when it is a question of giving her the vote under the same conditions as men of the same age. [Punch, Nov. 30, 1927]
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