"a conceited, narrow-minded pragmatical person; a dull, precise person; one who cultivates or affects propriety and offends or bores others," 1753, originally in reference to theological scruples (1704), a word of unknown origin.
It could be related to earlier appearances of the same word meaning "a dandy, coxcomb, fop" (1670s), "thief" (c. 1600; in forms prigger, prigman recorded from 1560s). Century Dictionary speculates the modern word is "perhaps a later application (of the "thief" sense) in the general sense, among "the profession," of 'a smart fellow.' " Also compare thieves' cant prig "a tinker" (1560s). In Middle English a prig was a kind of small nail used in roofing or tiling (14c.), perhaps from prick.
A p[rig] is wise beyond his years in all the things that do not matter. A p. cracks nuts with a steam hammer: that is, calls in the first principles of morality to decide whether he may, or must, do something of as little importance as drinking a glass of beer. On the whole, one may, perhaps, say that all his different characteristics come from the combination, in varying proportions, of three things—the desire to do his duty, the belief that he knows better than other people, & blindness to the difference in value between different things. [quoted in Fowler, 1926, who writes that it can be found in "an anonymous volume of essays"]
Also compare prim, primp, prank, prink "make an ostentatious display; dress with pretty ornaments" (1570s); "walk affectedly or daintily" (1690s). Related: Priggish; priggishly; priggery.
"deliberate killing of oneself," 1650s, from Modern Latin suicidium "suicide," from Latin sui "of oneself" (genitive of se "self"), from PIE *s(u)w-o- "one's own," from root *s(w)e- (see idiom) + -cidium "a killing," from caedere "to slay" (from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike").
Probably an English coinage; much maligned by Latin purists because it "may as well seem to participate of sus, a sow, as of the pronoun sui" [Phillips]. The meaning "person who kills himself deliberately" is from 1728. In Anglo-Latin, the term for "one who commits suicide" was felo-de-se, literally "one guilty concerning himself."
Even in 1749, in the full blaze of the philosophic movement, we find a suicide named Portier dragged through the streets of Paris with his face to the ground, hung from a gallows by his feet, and then thrown into the sewers; and the laws were not abrogated till the Revolution, which, having founded so many other forms of freedom, accorded the liberty of death. [W.E.H. Lecky, "History of European Morals," 1869]
In England, suicides were legally criminal if of age and sane, but not if judged to have been mentally deranged. The criminal ones were mutilated by stake and given degrading burial in highways until 1823. Suicide blonde (one who has "dyed by her own hand") first attested 1921. Baseball suicide squeeze is attested from 1937.
1580s, "form of speech peculiar to a people or place;" meaning "phrase or expression peculiar to a language" is from 1620s; from French idiome (16c.) and directly from Late Latin idioma "a peculiarity in language," from Greek idioma "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology" (Fowler writes that "A manifestation of the peculiar" is "the closest possible translation of the Greek word"), from idioumai "to appropriate to oneself," from idios "personal, private," properly "particular to oneself."
This is from PIE *swed-yo-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (referring back to the subject of a sentence), also used in forms denoting the speaker's social group, "(we our-)selves" (source also of Sanskrit svah, Avestan hva-, Old Persian huva "one's own," khva-data "lord," literally "created from oneself;" Greek hos "he, she, it;" Latin suescere "to accustom, get accustomed," sodalis "companion;" Old Church Slavonic svoji "his, her, its," svojaku "relative, kinsman;" Gothic swes "one's own;" Old Norse sik "oneself;" German Sein; Old Irish fein "self, himself").
[G]rammar & idiom are independent categories; being applicable to the same material, they sometimes agree & sometimes disagree about particular specimens of it; the most can be said is that what is idiomatic is far more often grammatical than ungrammatical, but that is worth saying, because grammar & idiom are sometimes treated as incompatibles .... [Fowler]
mid-14c., in the Church sense, "a freeing from temporal punishment for sin, remission from punishment for sin that remains due after absolution," from Old French indulgence or directly from Latin indulgentia "complaisance, a yielding; fondness, tenderness, affection; remission," from indulgentem (nominative indulgens) "indulgent, kind, tender, fond," present participle of indulgere "be kind; yield, concede, be complaisant; give oneself up to, be addicted," a word of uncertain origin. It is evidently a compound, and the second element appears to be from PIE root *dlegh- "to engage oneself, be or become fixed." The first element could be in- "in" for a sense of "let someone be engaged" in something, or in- "not" for a total sense of "not be hard toward" someone.
Sense of "leniency, forbearance of restraint or control of another, gratification of desire or humor" is attested from late 14c. That of "yielding to one's inclinations" (technically self-indulgence) in English is from 1630s. In British history, Indulgence also refers to grants of certain liberties to Nonconformists under Charles II and James II, as special favors rather than legal rights. The sale of indulgences in the original Church sense was done at times merely to raise money and was widely considered corrupt; the one in 1517 helped to spark the Protestant revolt in Germany.
"of or pertaining to the local self-government or corporation of a city or town," 1540s, from French municipal, from Latin municipalis "pertaining to a citizen of a free town, of a free town," also "of a petty town, provincial," from municipium "community, municipality, free town, city whose citizens have the privileges of Roman citizens but are governed by their own laws," from municeps "native, citizen, inhabitant of a free town."
The second element is -cipere, combining form of capere "assume, take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." The first element is from munus (plural munia) "service performed for the community, duty, work," also "public spectacle paid for by the magistrate, (gladiatorial) entertainment, gift," from Old Latin moenus "service, duty, burden," from Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task," from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move," with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and functions or obligations within a society as regulated by custom or law.
As cognates in related senses, de Vaan lists Sanskrit meni- "revenge," Avestan maeini- "punishment, castigation," Old Persian yau-maini- "power of revenge," Middle Welsh tramwy, tremynu "to cross, pass," Old Irish moin "value, treasure," Welsh mwyn "value," Lithuanian mainas "exchange," Old Church Slavonic mena "exchange, substitution," Gothic gamains, Old High German gimeins "common." "A municeps is one who 'takes an obligation,' communis 'who partakes in the duties'" [de Vaan]
late 15c., from French béguine (13c.), Medieval Latin beguina, "a member of a women's spiritual order professing poverty and self-denial, founded c. 1180 in Liege in the Low Countries." They are said to take their name from the surname of Lambert le Bègue "Lambert the Stammerer," a Liege priest who was instrumental in their founding, and it's likely the word was pejorative at first. French bègue is of unknown origin. Related: Beguinage.
The women's order, though sometimes persecuted, generally preserved its good reputation, but it quickly drew imposters who did not; nonetheless it eventually was condemned as heretical. A male order, called Beghards founded communities by the 1220s in imitation of them, but they soon degenerated (compare Old French beguin "(male) Beguin," also "hypocrite") and wandered begging in the guise of religion; they likely were the source of the words beg and beggar, though there is disagreement over whether Beghard produced Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant" or was produced by it. The male order was condemned by the Church early 14c. and vanished by mid-16c.
Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" (1935) refers to a kind of popular dance of West Indian origin, from French colloquial béguin "an infatuation, boyfriend, girlfriend," earlier "child's bonnet," and before that "nun's headdress" (14c.), from Middle Dutch beggaert, ultimately the same word as the above. Compare English biggin "child's cap" (1520s), from the French word.
"one who bears testimony to faith," especially "one who willingly suffers death rather than surrender his or her religious faith," specifically "one of the Christians who in former times were put to death because they would not renounce their beliefs," late Old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, (source also of Old French martir, Spanish martir, Italian martire, etc.), from Doric Greek martyr, earlier martys (genitive martyros), in Christian use "martyr," literally "witness."
This Greek word is sometimes said to be related to mermera "care, trouble," from mermairein "be anxious or thoughtful," from PIE *(s)mrtu- (source also of Sanskrit smarati "remember," Latin memor "mindful"), however Beekes has phonetic objections to this and suggests it is rather a loan-word from Pre-Greek. For sense shift from abstract "testimony" to "a witness," compare French témoin "witness" from Latin testimonium; English witness (n.) "one who testifies," originally "testimony."
The word was adopted directly into most Germanic languages (Old Saxon, Old Frisian martir, Old High German martyr, etc.), but Norse used a native formation pislarvattr, literally "torture-witness." Meaning "one who suffers death or grievous loss in defense or on behalf of any belief or cause" (love, etc.) is from late 14c. General sense of "constant sufferer, a victim of misfortune, calamity, disease, etc.," is from 1550s. Martyr complex "exaggerated desire for self-sacrifice" is attested by 1916.
1650s, powny, "a very small horse" (less than 13 hands in height), from Scottish, apparently from obsolete French poulenet "little foal" (mid-15c.), diminutive of Old French poulain "foal," from Late Latin pullanus "young of an animal," from Latin pullus "young of a horse, fowl, etc." (from PIE root *pau- (1) "few, little") [Skeat's suggestion, still accepted]. Compare, from the same source, foal, filly, Sanskrit potah "a young animal," Greek pōlos "foal," secondarily also of other young animals; Latin pullus "young animal," Lithuanian putytis "young animal, young bird."
A small horse, especially one of a small breed, as opposed to a colt or filly, words which indicate merely young horses. German, sensibly, indicates this animal by attaching a diminutive suffix to its word for "horse," which might yield Modern English *horslet. Modern French poney is a 19c. borrowing from English.
The Shetland breed of ponies are stoutly built, active and hardy, with very full mane and tail, and of gentle, docile disposition. In western parts of the United States all the small hardy horses (mustangs or broncos) used by the Indians are called ponies. [Century Dictionary, 1897]
Meaning "crib of a text as a cheating aid," especially a translation of a Greek or Latin author used unfairly in the preparation of lessons (1827) and "small liquor glass" (1849) both are from notion of "smallness" (the former also "something one rides," a translation being something that enables a student to "get along fast").
As the name of a popular dance, it dates from 1963. The U.S. Pony Express began 1860 (and operated about 18 months before being superseded by the transcontinental telegraph). The figurative one-trick pony is 1897, American English, in reference to circus acts.
"round object, compact spherical body," also "a ball used in a game," c. 1200, probably from an unrecorded Old English *beal, *beall (evidenced by the diminutive bealluc "testicle"), or from cognate Old Norse bollr "ball," from Proto-Germanic *balluz (source also of Dutch bal, Flemish bal, Old High German ballo, German Ball), from PIE root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell."
The meaning "testicle" is from early 14c. (compare ballocks). Ball of the foot is from mid-14c. The meaning "rounded missile used in warfare" is from late 14c.
The meaning "a game played with a ball" is from mid-14c. The baseball sense of "pitch that does not cross the plate within the strike zone" is by 1889, probably short for high ball, low ball, etc.
Ball-point pen is by 1946. Ball of fire when first recorded in 1821 referred to "a glass of brandy;" as "spectacularly successful striver" it is attested from c. 1900. Many phrases are from sports: To have the ball "hold the advantage" is from c. 1400. To be on the ball is from 1912; to keep (one's) eye on the ball in the figurative sense is by 1907, probably ultimately on golf, where it was oft-repeated advice. Figurative use of ball in (someone's) court is by 1956, from tennis.
The head must necessarily be steady, for it is most important that you should keep your eye fixedly on the ball from the moment that the club-head is lifted from the ground until the ball is actually struck. "Keep your eye on the ball," should be your companion text to "Slow back." [Horace G. Hutchinson, "Hints on the Game of Golf," 1886]
Once a meeting is over, someone will be expected to do something. Make sure it is someone else. This is known as keeping the ball in their court. [Shepherd Mead, "How to Get Rich in TV Without Really Trying," 1956]
"identical, equal; unchanging; one in substance or general character," from Proto-Germanic *samaz "same" (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic sama, Old High German samant, German samt "together, with," Gothic samana "together," Dutch zamelen "to collect," German zusammen "together"), from PIE *samos "same," from suffixed form of root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with."
Old English seems to have lost the adjective except in the adverbial phrase swa same "the same as" (literally "so same"). But the word that emerged in Middle English as "the ordinary adjectival pronominal designation of identity" [OED] is considered to be more likely (or mostly) from the Old Norse cognate same, samr "same." In its revival it replaced synonymous ilk.
As a pronoun, "the person or thing just mentioned," from c. 1300. In Middle English also a verb and an adjective, "together, mutually" (as in comen same "gather together, unite," kissen same "embrace one another").
Colloquial phrase same here "the same thing applies to me" as an exclamation of agreement is from 1895. All the same is from 1803 as "nevertheless, in spite of what has been mentioned." Same difference, a curious way to say "not different; equal," is attested from 1945. Often expanded for emphasis: ilk-same (mid-13c.); the self-same (early 15c.); one and the same is in Wycliffe (late 14c.), translating Latin unus atque idem.