"bell-ringer, one employed to ring church or processional bells," early 15c. (c. 1200 as a surname), agent noun from ring (v.1). An early 13c. text has belle ringestre "nun who rings the convent bell."
In quoits (and by extension, horseshoes), "a throw cast so as to encircle the pin," from 1863, from ring (v.2).
Expression be a dead ringer for "resemble closely" (1891) preserves ringer in the horse-racing slang sense of "a fast horse entered fraudulently in a race in place of a slow one." The verb to ring in reference to this is attested from 1812, possibly from British ring in "substitute, exchange," via ring the changes, "substitute counterfeit money for good," a pun on ring the changes in the sense of "play the regular series of variations in a peal of bells" (1610s). The meaning "an expert" is recorded from 1918, Australian slang, from earlier meaning "man who shears the most sheep per day" (1871).
late 13c., signifien, "be a sign of (a fact or alleged fact), indicate, mean," also "declare, make known by signs, speech, or action," from Old French signifier (12c.), from Latin significare "to make signs, show by signs, point out, express; mean, signify; foreshadow, portend," from significus (adj.), from signum "identifying mark, sign" (see sign (n.)) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
The intransitive sense of "be of importance" is attested from 1660s. The meaning "engage in mock-hostile banter" is African-American vernacular, by 1932. Related: Signified; signifying.
While writing this essay, I asked a colleague, Dwight Andrews, if he had heard of the Signifying Monkey as a child. "Why, no" he relied intently. "I never head of the Signifying Monkey until I came to Yale and read about him in a book." I had been signified upon. If I had responded to Andrews, "I know what you mean; your Mama read to me from that same book the last time I was in Detroit," I would have signified upon him in return. [Henry Louis Gates Jr., footnote in "Figures in Black," 1987]
late Old English (replacing Old English fers, an early West Germanic borrowing directly from Latin), "line or section of a psalm or canticle," later "line of poetry" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French and Old French vers "line of verse; rhyme, song," from Latin versus "a line, row, line of verse, line of writing," from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." The metaphor is of plowing, of "turning" from one line to another (vertere = "to turn") as a plowman does.
The English New Testament first was divided fully into verses in the Geneva version (1550s). Meaning "metrical composition" is recorded from c. 1300; as the non-repeating part of a modern song (between repetitions of the chorus) by 1918.
The Negroes say that in form their old songs usually consist in what they call "Chorus and Verses." The "chorus," a melodic refrain sung by all, opens the song; then follows a verse sung as a solo, in free recitative; the chorus is repeated; then another verse; chorus again;—and so on until the chorus, sung for the last time, ends the song. [Natalie Curtis-Burlin, "Negro Folk-Songs," 1918]
Middle English rein, from Old English regn "rain, descent of water in drops through the atmosphere," from Proto-Germanic *regna- (source also of Old Saxon regan, Old Frisian rein, Middle Dutch reghen, Dutch regen, German regen, Old Norse regn, Gothic rign "rain"), with no certain cognates outside Germanic, unless it is from a presumed PIE *reg- "moist, wet," which may be the source of Latin rigare "to wet, moisten" (see irrigate).
Rain dance "dance performed by a tribal group in hope of summoning rain" is from 1867; rain date in listings for outdoor events, giving an alternative date should rain interrupt them on the intended day, is from 1948. To know enough to come in out of the rain (usually with a negative) "take ordinary measures for one's protection" is from 1590s. Rain-shower is Old English renscur. Rain-gauge "instrument for collecting and measuring the amount of rainfall at a given place" is by 1769.
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.
late 14c., cressaunt, "crescent-shaped ornament," from Anglo-French cressaunt, from Old French creissant, croisant "crescent of the moon" (12c., Modern French croissant), from Latin crescentum (nominative crescens), present participle of crescere "come forth, spring up, grow, thrive, swell, increase in numbers or strength," from PIE root *ker- (2) "to grow."
Applied in Latin to the waxing moon, luna crescens, but subsequently in Latin mistaken to refer to the shape, not the stage. The original Latin sense is preserved in crescendo.
Meaning "moon's shape in its first or last quarter" is from mid-15c. in English. Meaning "small roll of bread made in the form of a crescent" is from 1886. Adjectival sense of "shaped like the crescent moon" is from c. 1600 (earlier it meant "increasing, growing," 1570s).
A badge or emblem of the Turkish sultans (probably chosen for its suggestion of "increase"); figurative sense of "Muslim political power" is from 1580s, but modern writers often falsely associate it with the Saracens of the Crusades or the Moors of Spain. Horns of the waxing moon are on the viewer's left side; those of the waning moon are on his right.
mid-15c., Scottish gouf, usually taken as an alteration of Middle Dutch colf, colve "stick, club, bat," from Proto-Germanic *kulth- (source also of Old Norse kolfr "clapper of a bell," German Kolben "mace, club, butt-end of a gun"). The game is from 14c., the word is first mentioned (along with fut-bol) in a 1457 Scottish statute on forbidden games (a later ordinance decrees, "That in na place of the realme thair be vsit fut-ballis, golf, or vther sic unprofitabill sportis" [Acts James IV, 1491, c.53]). Despite what you read on the internet, "golf" is not an acronym (this story seems to date back no earlier than 1997). Golf ball attested from 1540s; the motorized golf-cart from 1951. Golf widow is from 1890.
Oh! who a golfer's bride would be,
Fast mated with a laddie
Who every day goes out to tee
And with him takes the caddie.
["The Golf Widow's Lament," in Golf magazine, Oct. 31, 1890]
umbelliferous European plant long cultivated as food, 1660s, sellery, from French céleri (17c., originally sceleri d'Italie), said by French sources to be from Italian (Lombard dialect) seleri (singular selero), from Late Latin selinon, from Greek selinon "parsley" (in Medieval Greek "celery"), a word of uncertain origin. The c- spelling, attested by 1719 in English, is from French. Middle English words for "wild celery" were acheand selinum.
[O]ne day, in a weak and hungry moment, my roommate and I succumbed to a bit of larceny. A greengrocer's truck had parked down the street and was left unattended. We grabbed the first crate we could off the back. It turned out to be celery. For two days we ate nothing but celery and used up more calories chewing than we realized in energy. "Damn it," I said to my roommate, "What're we going to do? We can't starve." "That's funny," he replied. "I thought we could." [Chuck Jones, "Chuck Amuck," 1989]
"narrow track worn or cut in the ground," as by a passing wheeled vehicle, 1570s, probably from Middle English route "way, a road, space for passage" (see route (n.)); though OED finds this "improbable." If so, it is a doublet of route.
Of the lines on the face by 1620s. The figurative meaning "narrow, monotonous routine; habitual mode of behavior or procedure" is attested by 1839 (Carlyle); earlier figurative use was as an obstacle to rapid transit (1705).
Enter an OLD LADY.
[Bosola] You come from painting now.
Old Lady. From what?
Bos. Why, from your scurvy face-physic.
To behold thee not painted, inclines somewhat near
A miracle: these in thy face here, were deep ruts,
And foul sloughs, the last progress.
There was a lady in France, that having the small-pox,
Flay'd the skin off her face, to make it more level;
And whereas before she looked like a nutmeg-grater,
After she resembled an abortive hedgehog.
[Webster, "The Duchess of Malfi"]
The verb meaning "mark with or as with ruts" is by c. 1600. Related: Rutted; rutting.
early 15c., from Latin titan, from Greek titan, "a member of a mythological race of giants" (originally six sons and six daughters of Gaia and Uranus) who were overthrown by Zeus and the other gods. The war was a popular theme for Greek artists and writers. The name is perhaps from titō "sun, day," which probably is a loan-word from a language of Asia Minor. The sense of "person or thing of enormous size or ability" is by 1828.
Titan was given as a name to planet Saturn's largest satellite in 1831 (Greek Kronos, equivalent of Roman Saturn, was leader of the titans). It was discovered 1655 by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, who named it Saturni Luna "moon of Saturn," but others soon were found and thereafter they generally were known by number only. But as new ones were being found orbiting between the known moons, the numbering kept changing. William Herschel proposed giving the multiplying moons of Saturn and Jupiter suitable proper names out of mythology, a proposal readily accepted by the other astronomers. Related: Titaness; titanian.