late 15c., "reciprocally given and received," originally of feelings, from Old French mutuel (14c.), from Latin mutuus "reciprocal, done in exchange," from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move," "with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and services within a society as regulated by custom or law" [Watkins].
The meaning "common" is from 1630s. "Used in this sense loosely and improperly (but not infrequently, and by many writers of high rank), especially in the phrase a mutual friend" [Century Dictionary].
That is common which pertains equally to two or more persons or things. That is mutual which is freely interchanged: mutual love, affection, hatred. The word is sometimes incorrectly used for common: our mutual friend, a phrase of very frequent occurrence, no doubt owing to the perfectly correct 'mutual friendship.' [J.H.A. Günther, "English Synonyms Explained & Illustrated," Groningen, 1904]
Mutual Admiration Society (1851) seems to have been coined by Thoreau. Mutual fund is recorded from 1950.
The Cold War's mutual assured destruction is attested from 1966. Assured destruction was a 1962 term in U.S. military policy circles in reference to nuclear weapons as a deterrent, popularized c. 1964 by Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson, e.g. statement before House Armed Services Committee, Feb. 18, 1965. The notion was "the minimum threat necessary to assure deterrence: the capability to exterminate not less than one third of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' (USSR) population in a retaliatory nuclear attack." [Martin Folly, "Historical Dictionary of U.S. Diplomacy During the Cold War"].
By 1964, as the Soviet Union caught up to NATO in ICBMs, the mutual was added, perhaps first by Donald Brennan, conservative defense analyst and a public critic of the policy, who also noted the acronym MAD.)
1683, a name applied disparagingly by Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) to English colonists in neighboring Connecticut. It may be from Dutch Janke, literally "Little John," diminutive of common personal name Jan; or it may be from Jan Kes familiar form of "John Cornelius," or perhaps an alteration of Jan Kees, dialectal variant of Jan Kaas, literally "John Cheese," the generic nickname the Flemings used for Dutchmen.
[I]t is to be noted that it is common to name a droll fellow, regarded as typical of his country, after some favorite article of food, as E[nglish] Jack-pudding, G[erman] Hanswurst ("Jack Sausage"), F[rench] Jean Farine ("Jack Flour"). [Century Dictionary, 1902, entry for "macaroni"]
Originally it seems to have been applied insultingly to the Dutch, especially freebooters, before they turned around and slapped it on the English. A less-likely theory (attested by 1832) is that it represents some southern New England Algonquian language mangling of English. In English a term of contempt (1750s) before its use as a general term for "native of New England" (1765); during the American Revolution it became a disparaging British word for all American natives or inhabitants. Contrasted with southerner by 1828. Shortened form Yank in reference to "an American" first recorded 1778. Latin-American form Yanqui attested in English by 1914 (in Mexican Spanish by 1835).
The rule observed in this country is, that the man who receives that name [Yankee] must come from some part north of him who gives it. To compensate us for giving each other nicknames, John Bull "lumps us all together," and calls us all Yankees. ["Who is a Yankee?" Massachusetts Spy, June 6, 1827]
late 14c., "calculation and foretelling based on observation of heavenly bodies," from Latin astrologia "astronomy, the science of the heavenly bodies," from Greek astrologia "astronomy," literally "a telling of the stars," from astron "star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star") + -logia "treating of" (see -logy).
Originally identical with astronomy and including scientific observation and description. The special sense of "astronomy applied to prediction of events" was divided into natural astrology "the calculation and foretelling of natural phenomenon" (tides, eclipses, dates of Church festivals, etc.), and judicial astrology "the art of judging occult influences of stars and planets on human affairs."
In Latin and later Greek, astronomia tended to be more scientific than astrologia. In English, the differentiation between astrology and astronomy began late 1400s and by late 17c. this word was limited to the sense of "reading influences of the stars and their effects on human destiny."
And consequently, an Astrology in the World before Astronomy, either in Name or Science. so that (Non obstante whatever any Astronomer shall oppose to the contrary) Astrology hath the right of Primogeniture. And all the Sober and Judiciously Learned must needs acknowledge the Truth hereof.—Howbeit, it were to be wished that the Astrologer understood Astronomy, and that the Astronomer were acquainted with Astrology: Although I do in truth despair of ever finding many to be so happily Accomplished. [John Gadbury, introduction to "Ephemerides of the Celestial Motions," London, 1672]
It is ... an extremely just observation of M. Comte, that [the study of astrology] marks the first systematic effort to frame a philosophy of history by reducing the apparently capricious phenomena of human actions within the domain of law. It may, however, I think, be no less justly regarded as one of the last struggles of human egotism against the depressing sense of insignificance which the immensity of the universe must produce. [W.E.H. Lecky, "History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe," 1866]
Old English cipp "small piece (of wood, stone etc.) separated from a body by a blow from an instrument," perhaps from PIE root *keipo- "sharp post" (source also of Dutch kip "small strip of wood," Old High German kipfa "wagon pole," Old Norse keppr "stick," Latin cippus "post, stake, beam;" the Germanic words perhaps were borrowed from Latin).
Meaning "small disk or counter used in a game of chance" is first recorded 1840. Meaning "piece of dried dung" first attested 1846, American English. Electronics sense "thin, tiny square of semi-conducting material" is from 1962.
Used for thin slices of foodstuffs (originally fruit) since 1769; specific reference to potatoes (what Americans would call French fries) is found by 1859 (in "A Tale of Two Cities"). The fish-and-chips combination was being offered in London by 1860. Potato-chip is attested by 1854, but the context doesn't make it clear whether this is the British version (above) or the U.S. version, "very thin slice of potato fried until crisp" (the British crisp). The American potato-chip is said to have been invented 1853 in Saratoga, N.Y., and is described, more or less, by this name in a recipe book from 1858. OED notes they also were called Saratoga chips (by 1880).
Chip of the old block, familiar term for a child or adult who resembles a parent in some way is used by Milton (1642); earlier form was chip of the same block (1620s); more common modern form of the phrase with off in place of of is by early 20c. To have a chip on one's shoulder is 1830, American English, from the custom of a boy determined to fight putting a wood chip on his shoulder and defying another to knock it off. When the chips are down (1940s) is from the chips being down on the table after the final bets are made in a poker match. Chips as a familiar name for a carpenter is from 1785.
1835, "inflict severe (but not deliberately fatal) bodily punishment (on someone) without legal sanction," from earlier Lynch law (1811), in reference to such activity, which was likely named after William Lynch (1742-1820) of Pittsylvania, Virginia, who c. 1780 led a vigilance committee to keep order there during the Revolution. Other sources trace the name to Charles Lynch (1736-1796) a Virginia magistrate who fined and imprisoned Tories in his district c. 1782, but the connection to him is less likely. The surname is perhaps from Irish Loingseach "sailor."
It implies lawless concert or action among a number of members of the community, to supply the want of criminal justice or to anticipate its delays, or to inflict a penalty demanded by public opinion, though in defiance of the laws. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
Originally any sort of summary justice, done without authority of law, for a crime or public offense; it especially referred to flogging or tarring-and-feathering. At first the act was associated with frontier regions (as in the above citation), though from c. 1835 to the U.S. Civil War it also often was directed against abolitionists. The narrowing of the meaning to "extra-legal execution by hanging" is evident by the 1880s, and after c. 1893 lynching mostly meant killings of blacks by white mobs (especially in retaliation for alleged sexual assaults of white women). This shift in use seems due in part to the work of African-American journalist and activist Ida B. Wells. Lynch mob is attested from 1838. Compare earlier Lydford law, from a place in Dartmoor, England, "where was held a Stannaries Court of summary jurisdiction" [Weekley], hence:
Lydford law: is to hang men first, and indite them afterwards. [Thomas Blount, "Glossographia," 1656]
Also in a similar sense was Jedburgh justice (1706) and, as a verb, to Dewitt (1680s), a reference to two Dutch statesmen of that name, opponents of William of Orange, murdered by a mob in 1672. Related: Lynched; lynching. The city of Lynchburg, Virginia, dates to the 1750s when John Lynch, brother to Charles but a peaceable Quaker, had a ferry landing on the James River there.
c. 1300, gyrle "child, young person" (of either sex but most frequently of females), of unknown origin. One guess [OED] leans toward an unrecorded Old English *gyrele, from Proto-Germanic *gurwilon-, diminutive of *gurwjoz (apparently also represented by Low German gære "boy, girl," Norwegian dialectal gorre, Swedish dialectal gurre "small child," though the exact relationship, if any, between all these is obscure), from PIE *ghwrgh-, also found in Greek parthenos "virgin." But this involves some objectionable philology. Liberman (2008) writes:
Girl does not go back to any Old English or Old Germanic form. It is part of a large group of Germanic words whose root begins with a g or k and ends in r. The final consonant in girl is a diminutive suffix. The g-r words denote young animals, children, and all kinds of creatures considered immature, worthless, or past their prime.
Another candidate is Old English gierela "garment" (for possible sense evolution in this theory, compare brat). A former folk-etymology derivation from Latin garrulus "chattering, talkative" is now discarded. Like boy, lass, lad it is of more or less obscure origin. "Probably most of them arose as jocular transferred uses of words that had originally different meaning" [OED]. Specific meaning of "female child" is late 14c. Applied to "any young unmarried woman" since mid-15c. Meaning "sweetheart" is from 1640s. Old girl in reference to a woman of any age is recorded from 1826. Girl next door as a type of unflashy attractiveness is recorded by 1953 (the title of a 20th Century Fox film starring June Haver).
Doris [Day] was a big vocalist even before she hit the movies in 1948. There, as the latest movie colony "girl next door," sunny-faced Doris soon became a leading movie attraction as well as the world's top female recording star. "She's the girl next door, all right," said one Hollywood admirer. "Next door to the bank." [Life magazine, Dec. 22, 1958]
Girl Friday "resourceful young woman assistant" is from 1940, a reference to "Robinson Crusoe." Girl Scout is from 1909. For the usual Old English word, see maiden.
c. 1600, "shield louse (Coccus ilicis) that yields a red dye" (1590s of the tree on which the insects live), from Medieval Latin cremesinus (also source of French kermès, Italian chermes, Spanish carmes), from Arabic qirmiz "kermes," from Sanskrit krmi-ja a compound meaning "(red dye) produced by a worm."
The Sanskrit compound is krmih "worm" (from PIE root *kwrmi- "worm," source also of Lithuanian kirmis, Old Irish cruim, Albanian krimp "worm") + -ja- "produced" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). The insect lives in the Levant and southern Europe on a species of small evergreen oak (kermes oak) and in ancient Europe were the main source of red and scarlet dye. The dye is prepared from the dried bodies of pregnant females, which alive resemble small roundish grains about the size of peas and cling immobile to the tree on which they live. From this fact kermes dye was, for a long time, mistaken as being from a seed or excrescence of the tree, and the word for it in Greek was kokkos, literally "a grain, seed" (see cocco-). This was passed to Latin as coccum, coccus "berry [sic] yielding scarlet dye," in late use "scarlet color, scarlet garment."
So important was kermes (coccus) as a commercial source of scarlet dye that derivatives of the name for it have displaced the original word for "red" in many languages, such as Welsh coch (from Latin), Modern Greek kokkinos. Also compare Russian čcermnyj "purple-red," Old Church Slavonic čruminu. Compare also crimson (n.).
Kermes dyes have been found in burial wrappings in Anglo-Scandinavian York, but the use of kermes dyes seems to have been lost in Europe from the Dark Ages until early 15c. It fell out of use again with the introduction of cochineal (the word for which itself might be from coccus) from the New World.
Cloths dyed with kermes are of a deep red colour; and though much inferior in brilliancy to the scarlet cloths dyed with real Mexican cochineal, they retain the colour better and are less liable to stain. The tapestries of Brussels and other parts of Flanders, which have scarcely lost any thing of their original brilliancy, even after a lapse of 200 years, were all dyed with kermes. [W.T. Brande, "Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art," London, 1842]
Middle English se, seo, from Old English sæ,"sheet of water, sea, lake, pool," from Proto-Germanic *saiwa- (source also of Old Saxon seo, Old Frisian se, Middle Dutch see, Dutch zee, German See, Swedish sjö), of unknown origin, outside connections "wholly doubtful" [Buck], and an IE etymon "has generally been doubted" [Boutkan]. The meaning "any great mass or large quantity" (of anything) is from c. 1200.
Germanic languages also use the more general Indo-European word (represented by English mere (n.1)), but have no firm distinction between "sea" and "lake," either large or small, by inland or open, salt or fresh. This may reflect the Baltic geography where the languages are thought to have originated. The two words are used more or less interchangeably in Germanic, and exist in opposite senses (such as Gothic saiws "lake, marshland," marei "sea;" but Dutch zee "sea," meer "lake"). Compare also Old Norse sær "sea," but Danish sø, usually "lake" but "sea" in phrases. German See is "sea" (fem.) or "lake" (masc.).
Boutkan writes that the sea words in Germanic likely were originally "lake," and the older word for "sea" is represented by haff. The single Old English word sæ glosses Latin mare, aequor, pontus, pelagus, and marmor. The range in the Old English word included "the expanse of salt water that covers much of the world" to individual great, distinctly limited bodies of water; it also was used of inland seas, bogs, lakes, rivers, and the Bristol Channel.
Meaning "dark area of the moon's surface" is attested from 1660s (see mare (n.2)); before the invention of telescopes they were supposed to be water. The phrase sea change "transformation," literally "a change wrought by the sea," is attested from 1610, first in Shakespeare ("The Tempest," I.ii). Sea legs, humorous colloquial term implying ability to walk on a ship's deck when she is pitching or rolling is from 1712. At sea in the figurative sense of "perplexed" is attested from 1768, from literal sense (in reference to ships) of "out of sight of land" (c. 1300).
"monetary unit or standard of value in the U.S. and Canada," 1550s, daler, originally in English the name of a large, silver coin of varying value in the German states, from Low German daler, from German taler (1530s, later thaler), abbreviation of Joachimstaler, literally "(gulden) of Joachimstal," coin minted 1519 from silver from mine opened 1516 near Sankt Joachimsthal, town in Erzgebirge Mountains in northwest Bohemia. German Tal is cognate with English dale. The spelling had been modified to dollar by 1600.
The thaler was from 17c. the more-or-less standardized coin of northern Germany (as opposed to the southern gulden). It also served as a currency unit in Denmark and Sweden (and later was a unit of the German monetary union of 1857-73 equal to three marks).
English colonists in America used the word dollar from 1580s in reference to Spanish peso or "piece of eight," also a large silver coin of about the same fineness as the thaler. Due to extensive trade with the Spanish Indies and the proximity of Spanish colonies along the Gulf Coast, the Spanish dollar probably was the coin most familiar in the American colonies and the closest thing to a standard in all of them.
When the Revolution came, it had the added advantage of not being British. It was used in the government's records of public debt and expenditures, and the Continental Congress in 1786 adopted dollar as a unit when it set up the modern U.S. currency system, which was based on the suggestion of Gouverneur Morris (1782) as modified by Thomas Jefferson. None were circulated until 1794.
When William M. Evarts was Secretary of State he accompanied Lord Coleridge on an excursion to Mount Vernon. Coleridge remarked that he had heard it said that Washington, standing on the lawn, could throw a dollar clear across the Potomac. Mr. Evarts explained that a dollar would go further in those days than now. [Walsh]
Phrase dollars to doughnuts "an assured thing, a certainty" (such that one would bet a dollar against a doughnut on it) is attested by 1884; dollar diplomacy "financial imperialism, foreign policy based on financial and commercial interests" is from 1910.
The dollar sign ($) is said to derive from the image of the Pillars of Hercules, stamped with a scroll, on the Spanish piece of eight. However, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the U.S. Department of the Treasury:
[T]he most widely accepted explanation is that the symbol is the result of evolution, independently in different places, of the Mexican or Spanish "P's" for pesos, or piastres, or pieces of eight. The theory, derived from a study of old manuscripts, is that the "S" gradually came to be written over the "P," developing a close equivalent of the "$" mark. It was widely used before the adoption of the United States dollar in 1785.