Etymology
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sarcasm (n.)
Origin and meaning of sarcasm

1570s, sarcasmus, "a biting taunt or gibe, a satirical remark or expression," from Late Latin sarcasmus, from late Greek sarkasmos "a sneer, jest, taunt, mockery," from sarkazein "to speak bitterly, sneer," literally "to strip off the flesh" (like dogs), from sarx (genitive sarkos) "flesh," properly "piece of meat" (see sarco-). The modern form of the English word is from 1610s. "Now usually in a generalized sense: sarcastic language; sarcastic meaning or purpose" [OED]. Also see humor (n.).

The essential thing about sarcasm is its cutting edge ; it therefore is intensely concentrated, lying in a sentence or a phrase ; it is used to scourge the follies or foibles or vices of men, but has little of reformatory purpose. Satire is more elaborate than sarcasm, is not necessarily bitter, and has, presumably, some aim at the reformation of that which is satirized. [Century Dictionary]
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drift (n.)

early 14c., literally "a being driven" (at first of snow, rain, etc.); not recorded in Old English, it is either a suffixed form of drive (v.) (compare thrift/thrive) or borrowed from Old Norse drift "snow drift," or Middle Dutch drift "pasturage, drove, flock," both from Proto-Germanic *driftiz (source also of Danish and Swedish drift, German Trift), from PIE root *dhreibh- "to drive, push" (see drive (v.)).

"A being driven," hence "anything driven," especially a number of things or a heap of matter driven or moving together (mid-15c.). Figurative sense of "aim, intention, what one is getting at" (on the notion of "course, tendency") is from 1520s. Nautical sense of "deviation of a ship from its course in consequence of currents" is from 1670s. Meaning "controlled slide of a sports car" attested by 1955.

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racism (n.)

by 1928, in common use from 1935, originally in a European context, "racial supremacy as a doctrine, the theory that human characteristics and abilities are determined by race;" see racist, and compare the various senses in race (n.2) and racialism. Applied to American social systems from late 1930s.

This meaning of Nationalism in no sense implies any consent to the doctrine of Racism, which holds that unity of racial origin is the main principle of unity for civil society and that the members of each ethnical branch should properly aim at grouping themselves together into so many national States. Although it is desirable that strongly-felt national aspirations, which often depend on community of race, should be satisfied, as far as this may be compatible with justice, Racism or the Principle of Racial Self determination, as it has been called in recent years is a materialistic illusion contrary to natural law and destructive of civilisation. [James Strachey Barnes, "The Universal Aspects of Fascism," London, 1928]
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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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switch (n.)
1590s, "slender riding whip," probably from a Flemish or Low German word akin to Middle Dutch swijch "bough, twig," or swutsche, variant of Low German zwukse "long thin stick, switch," from Germanic *swih- (source also of Old High German zwec "wooden peg," German Zweck "aim, design," originally "peg as a target," Zwick "wooden peg"), perhaps connected with PIE root *swei- (2) "to swing, bend, to turn."

The meaning "device for changing the direction of something or making or breaking a connection" is first recorded 1797. "The peg sense suits the mech(anical) applications" [Weekley]; also compare switchblade. These senses in English might be a direct borrowing from those senses in Continental Germanic languages rather than a continuation of the "pliant wand" sense. The meaning "a change from one to another, a reversal, an exchange, a substitution" is first recorded 1920; extended form switcheroo is by 1933.
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genocide (n.)

1944, apparently coined by Polish-born U.S. jurist Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) in his work "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe" [p.19], in reference to Nazi extermination of Jews, literally "killing a tribe," from Greek genos "race, kind" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups) + -cide "a killing." The proper formation would be *genticide.

Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. [Lemkin]

Earlier in a similar sense was populicide (1799), from French populicide, by 1792, a word from the Revolution. This was taken into German, as in Völkermeuchelnden "genocidal" (Heine), which was Englished 1893 as folk-murdering. Ethnocide is attested from 1974 in English (1970 in French).

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random (adj.)

1650s, "having no definite aim or purpose, haphazard, not sent in a special direction," from phrase at random (1560s), "at great speed" (thus, "carelessly, haphazardly"), from an alteration of the Middle English noun randon, randoun "impetuosity; speed" (c. 1300). This is from Old French randon "rush, disorder, force, impetuosity," from randir "to run fast," from Frankish *rant "a running" or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *randa (source also of Old High German rennen "to run," Old English rinnan "to flow, to run;" see run (v.)). For spelling shift of -n to -m, compare seldom, ransom.

In 1980s U.S. college student slang it began to acquire a sense of "inferior, undesirable." (A 1980 William Safire column describes it as a college slang noun meaning "person who does not belong on our dormitory floor.") Random access in reference to computer memory that need not be read sequentially is recorded from 1953. Related: Randomly; randomness.

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corset (n.)

late 14c. (mid-13c. in Anglo-Latin), "a kind of laced bodice, close-fitting body garment," from Old French corset (13c.) "bodice, tunic," diminutive of cors "body," from Latin corpus "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance").

Meaning "stiff supporting and constricting undergarment for the waist, worn chiefly by women to shape the figure," is from 1795. They fell from fashion in the changing fashions after World War I. Related: Corseted, corsetted (1829); corseting; corsetry.

With the short skirt went an extraordinary change in the weight and material and amount of women's clothing. The boyishly slender figure became the aim of every woman's ambition, and the corset was so far abandoned that even in so short a period as the three years from 1924 to 1927 the combined sales of corsets and brassières in the department stores of the Cleveland Federal Reserve District fell off 11 per cent. [Frederick Lewis Allen, "Only Yesterday," 1931]
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address (v.)

early 14c., "to guide, aim, or direct," from Old French adrecier "go straight toward; straighten, set right; point, direct" (13c.), from Vulgar Latin *addirectiare "make straight" (source also of Spanish aderezar, Italian addirizzare), from ad "to" (see ad-) + *directiare "make straight," from Latin directus "straight, direct" past participle of dirigere "set straight," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + regere "to direct, to guide, keep straight" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line"). Compare dress (v.)).

The oldest sense in English is preserved in the terminology of golf (to address a ball). The meaning "direct for transmission, write as a destination on a message" is from mid-15c. The meaning "direct spoken words (to someone)" is from late 15c. From late 14c. as "to set in order, repair, correct." The attempt (falsely) re-Latinize the spelling to add- began in France 15c. but failed there (the Modern French verb is adresser); it stuck in English. Related: Addressed; addressing.

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guess (v.)

c. 1300, gessen "to infer from observation, perceive, find out; form an opinion, judge, decide, discern; evaluate, estimate the number, importance, etc. of," perhaps from Scandinavian (compare Middle Danish gitse, getze "to guess," Old Norse geta "guess, get"), or from or influenced by Middle Dutch gessen, Middle Low German gissen "to guess," all from Proto-Germanic *getan "to get" (see get (v.)).

The prehistoric sense evolution then would be from "get," to "take aim at," to "to estimate." Meaning "to hit upon the right answer" is from 1540s. The spelling with gu- is late 16c., sometimes attributed to Caxton and his early experience as a printer in Bruges. Related: Guessed; guessing.

Guessing game attested from 1650s. To keep (someone) guessing "keep him in a state of suspense" is from 1896, American English.

[T]he legitimate, English sense of this word is to conjecture; but with us, and especially in New England, it is constantly used in common conversation instead of to believe, to suppose, to think, to imagine, to fancy. [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]
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