Etymology
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iron curtain (n.)

1794, the name of a fire-protection device to be used in theaters, a literal iron curtain; see iron (n.) + curtain (n.).

The new and exquisitely beautiful theatre of Drury-lane has the peculiar contrivance of an iron-curtain to secure the audience from all danger, in case of fire on the stage. Miss Farren, in the occasional epilogue, delivered on opening this new theatre, pleasantly informs the spectators that, should flames burst out in the part appropriated to the representation, they may comfort themselves with thinking that nothing can be burnt but the scenery and the actors. [The Monthly Review, June 1794]

From 1819 in the figurative sense "impenetrable barrier." In reference to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, famously coined by Winston Churchill March 5, 1946, in speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, but it had been used earlier in this context (for example by U.S. bureaucrat Allen W. Dulles at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 3, 1945). The phrase had been used in the sense of "barrier at the edge of the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union" from 1920. During World War II, Goebbels used it in German (ein eiserner Vorhang) in the same sense. But its popular use in the U.S. dates from Churchill's speech.

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road (n.)

Middle English rode, from Old English rad "riding expedition, journey, hostile incursion," from Proto-Germanic *raido (source also of Old Frisian red "ride," Old Saxon reda, Middle Dutch rede, Old High German reita "foray, raid"), from PIE *reidh- "to ride" (see ride (v.)). Also related to raid (n.).

In Middle English it was still, "a riding, a journey on horseback; a mounted raid;" the sense of "an open passage or way for traveling between two places" is recorded from 1590s, and the older senses now are obsolete. "The late appearance of this sense makes its development from sense 1 somewhat obscure," according to OED, which however finds similar evolutions in Flemish and Frisian words. The modern spelling was established 18c.  

The meaning "narrow stretch of sheltered water near shore where ships can lie at anchor" is from early 14c. (as in Virginia's Hampton Roads). In late 19c. U.S. use it is often short for railroad.

On the road "traveling" is from 1640s. Road test (n.) of a vehicle's performance is by 1906; as a verb from 1937. Road hog "one who is objectionable on the road" [OED] is attested from 1886; road rage is by 1988. Road map is from 1786; road trip is by 1950, originally of baseball teams. Old English had radwerig "weary of traveling."

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news (n.)

late 14c., "new things," plural of new (n.) "new thing" (see new (adj.)); after French nouvelles, which was used in Bible translations to render Medieval Latin nova (neuter plural) "news," literally "new things."

The English word was construed as singular at least from the 1560s, but it sometimes still was regarded as plural 17c.-19c. The odd and doubtful construction probably accounts for the  absurd folk-etymology (attested by 1640 but originally, and in 18c. usually, in jest-books) that claims it to be an abbreviation of north east south west, as though "information from all quarters of the compass."

Meaning "tidings, intelligence of something that has lately taken place" is from early 15c. Meaning "radio or television program presenting current events" is from 1923. Bad news in the extended sense of "unpleasant person or situation" is from 1926. Expression no news, good news can be traced to 1640s. Expression news to me "something I did not know" is from 1889.

News-agent "person who deals in newspapers" is from 1817. News-hound "reporter" is by 1908. The newspaper office news desk is by 1840. News-monger "one who employs much time in hearing and telling news" is from 1590s. The News in the Virginia city Newport News is said to derive from the name of one of its founders, William Newce.

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rock (n.1)

[stone, mass of mineral matter], Middle English rokke, roche "stone as a substance; large rocky formation, rocky height or outcrop, crag," from Old English rocc (as in stanrocc "stone rock or obelisk") and directly from Old North French roque, variant of Old French roche, which is cognate with Medieval Latin rocca (8c.), from Vulgar Latin *rocca, a word of uncertain origin. According to Klein and Century Dictionary, sometimes said to be from Celtic (compare Breton roch). Diez suggests Vulgar Latin *rupica, from Latin rupes "rocks."

In Middle English it seems to have been used principally for large rock formations but occasionally of individual boulders. The extended sense of "a stone of any size" is by 1793, American English colloquial, and long was considered incorrect.

It is an error to use rock for a stone so small that a man can handle it : only a fabulous person or a demi-god can lift a rock. [Century Dictionary]

The meaning "precious stone," especially a diamond, is by 1908, U.S. slang; the sense of "crystallized cocaine" is attested from 1973 in West Coast slang. Also used attributively in names of animals that frequent rocky habitats, as in rockfish, rock badger, rock lobster (the last attested by 1843).

Rock is used figuratively for "a sure foundation, something which gives one protection and security" (especially with reference to Christ), from the 1520s (Tyndale); but it also has been used since the 1520s as "cause or source of peril or destruction," an image from shipwrecks.

Between a rock and a hard place "beset by difficulties with no good alternatives" is attested by 1914 in U.S. Southwest:

to be between a rock and a hard place, vb. ph. To be bankrupt. Common in Arizona in recent panics; sporadic in California. [Dialect Notes, vol. v, part iv, 1921]
As an example of fine distinctions, a party of men were discussing the present situation of the German army, this week. One remarked that the Germans were between the devil and the deep sea; while another corrected him by saying that the Germans were between the upper and nether mill stone. The third man whose name is Pilgreen, and who works in the treasurer's office, simply remarked that the Germans were between a rock and a hard place. [local item in the Pouteau (Oklahoma) Weekly Sun,  Oct. 1, 1914]

The rock-scissors-paper game is attested by that name by 1976 (as paper stone and scissors by 1941). Sources agree it is based on Japanese Jan Ken Po or Jan Ken Pon (or Janken for short); the Japanese game is described in English publications by 1879.

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deep (adj.)

Old English deop "having considerable extension downward," especially as measured from the top or surface, also figuratively, "profound, awful, mysterious; serious, solemn," from Proto-Germanic *deupaz (source also of Old Saxon diop, Old Frisian diap, Dutch diep, Old High German tiof, German tief, Old Norse djupr, Danish dyb, Swedish djup, Gothic diups "deep"), from PIE root *dheub- "deep, hollow" (source also of Lithuanian dubus "deep, hollow," Old Church Slavonic duno "bottom, foundation," Welsh dwfn "deep," Old Irish domun "world," via sense development from "bottom" to "foundation" to "earth" to "world").

By early 14c. "extensive in any direction analogous to downward," as measured from the front. From late 14c. of sound, "low in pitch, grave," also of color, "intense." By c. 1200, of persons, "sagacious, of penetrating mind." From 1560s, of debt., etc., "closely involved, far advanced."

Deep pocket as figurative of wealth is from 1951. To go off the deep end "lose control of oneself" is slang recorded by 1921, probably in reference to the deep end of a swimming pool, where a person on the surface can no longer touch bottom. When 3-D films seemed destined to be the next wave and the biggest thing to hit cinema since talkies, they were known as deepies (1953)., hard to understand

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knot (n.)

Old English cnotta "intertwining of ropes, cords, etc.," from Proto-Germanic *knuttan- (source also of Low German knütte, Old Frisian knotta "knot," Dutch knot, Old High German knoto, German Knoten, perhaps also Old Norse knutr "knot, knob"). For pronunciation, see kn-.

Figurative sense of "difficult problem, a perplexity" was in Old English (compare Gordian knot). Symbolic of the bond of wedlock from early 13c. As an ornament of dress, first attested c. 1400. Meaning "thickened part or protuberance on tissue of a plant" is from late 14c. As "small group or cluster of persons" late 14c.

The nautical unit of measure of speed (1630s) is from the practice of attaching knotted string to the log line at equal distances (see log (n.2)). The ship's speed can be measured by the number of knots that play out while the sand glass is running.

The distance between the knots on the log-line should contain 1/120 of a mile, supposing the glass to run exactly half a minute. [Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, "A Voyage to South America" 1760]

Hence the word knot came also to be used as the equivalent of a nautical mile (in pre-World War II use in U.S. and Britain, about 6,080 feet). A speed of 10 knots will cover ten nautical miles in an hour (equivalent to a land speed of about 11.5 mph).

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distinguish (v.)

1560s, "recognize as different or distinct from what is contiguous or similar; perceive, make out," from French distinguiss-, stem of distinguer, or directly from Latin distinguere "to separate between, keep separate, mark off, distinguish," perhaps literally "separate by pricking," from assimilated form of dis- "apart" (see dis-) + -stinguere "to prick" (compare extinguish and Latin instinguere "to incite, impel").

Watkins says "semantic transmission obscure;" the sense might be from "pricking out" as the old way to make punctuation in parchment or some literal image, but de Vaan derives the second element from a different PIE root meaning "to push, thrust":

The meanings of ex- and restinguere 'to extinguish' and distinguere seem quite distinct, but can be understood if the root meant 'to press' or 'push': ex-stinguere 'to put a fire out', re-stinguere 'to push back, suppress', and dis-stinguere 'to push apart [thence] distinguish, mark off ....

The suffix -ish is due to the influence of many verbs in which it is the equivalent of Old French -iss-, ultimately from Latin inchoative suffix -iscere (this is also the case in extinguish, admonish, and astonish).

Sense of "to mark or note in a way to indicate difference" is from 1570s; that of "separate from others by some mark of honor or preferment" is from c. 1600. Intransitive meaning "make a distinction, find or show difference (between)" is from 1610s. Related: Distinguishing. The Middle English form of the verb was distinguen (mid-14c.).

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cottage (n.)

late 14c., "a cot, a humble habitation," as of a farm-laborer, from Old French cote "hut, cottage" + Anglo-French suffix -age (according to OED the whole probably denotes "the entire property attached to a cote"). Old French cot is probably from Old Norse kot "hut," cognate of Old English cot, cote "cottage, hut," from Proto-Germanic *kutan (source also of Middle Dutch cot, Dutch kot).

Meaning "small country residence or detached suburban house" (without suggestion of poverty or tenancy) is from 1765. Modern French cottage is a 19c. reborrowing from English. Cottage industry, one that can be done at home, is attested from 1854. Cottage cheese, the U.S. name for a kind of soft, white cheese, is attested from 1831, earliest in reference to Philadelphia:

There was a plate of rye-bread, and a plate of wheat, and a basket of crackers; another plate with half a dozen paltry cakes that looked as if they had been bought under the old Court House; some morsels of dried beef on two little tea-cup plates: and a small glass dish of that preparation of curds, which in vulgar language is called smear-case, but whose nom de guerre is cottage-cheese, at least that was the appellation given it by our hostess. ["Miss Leslie," "Country Lodgings," Godey's Lady's Book, July 1831]
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Murphy 

common Irish surname, Gaelic Murchadh "sea-warrior." The Celtic "sea" element is also in names Muriel (q.v.), Murdoch (Old Irish Muireadhach, Old Welsh Mordoc "mariner"), etc. As colloquial for "a potato" by 1811, apparently in allusion ot it being a staple food of the Irish.

Murphy bed (1912; in full Murphy In-A-Dor Bed) is named for U.S. inventor William Lawrence Murphy (1876-1959). By happy coincidence, Murphy was an illiterate 18c.-19c. perversion of Morpheus, god of sleep. Murphy's law (1958) is used of various pessimistic aphorisms. If there ever was a real Murphy his identity is lost to history. Said to be military originally, and it probably pre-dates the earliest printed example (the 1958 citation calls it "an old military maxim").

No history of the subject would be complete without some reference to the semilegendary, almost anonymous Murphy (floreat circa 1940?) who chose to disguise his genius by stating a fundamental systems theorem in commonplace, almost pedestrian terminology. This law, known to schoolboys the world over as Jellybread always falls jelly-side down, is here restated in Murphy's own words, as it appears on the walls of most of the world's scientific laboratories:
If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will.
[John Gall, "Systemantics," 1975]
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wolf (n.)

Old English wulf "wolf, wolfish person, devil," from Proto-Germanic *wulfaz (source also of Old Saxon wulf, Old Norse ulfr, Old Frisian, Dutch, Old High German, German wolf, Gothic wulfs), from PIE root *wlkwo- "wolf" (source also of Sanskrit vrkas, Avestan vehrka-; Albanian ul'k; Old Church Slavonic vluku; Russian volcica; Lithuanian vilkas "wolf;" Old Persian Varkana- "Hyrcania," district southeast of the Caspian Sea, literally "wolf-land;" probably also Greek lykos, Latin lupus).

This manne can litle skyl ... to saue himself harmlesse from the perilous accidentes of this world, keping ye wulf from the doore (as they cal it). ["The Institution of a Gentleman," 1555]

Probably extinct in England from the end of the 15th century; in Scotland from the early 18th. Wolves as a symbol of lust are ancient, such as Roman slang lupa "whore," literally "she-wolf" (preserved in Spanish loba, Italian lupa, French louve). The equation of "wolf" and "prostitute, sexually voracious female" persisted into 12c., but by Elizabethan times wolves had become primarily symbolic of male lust. The specific use of wolf for "sexually aggressive male" first recorded 1847; wolf-whistle attested by 1945, American English, at first associated with sailors. The image of a wolf in sheep's skin is attested from c. 1400. See here for a discussion of "wolf" in Indo-European history. The wolf-spider so called for prowling and leaping on its prey rather than waiting in a web.

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