early 13c., pak, pake, "a bundle or package (of cloth, merchandise, etc.)," also "a bag or purse for carrying things," probably from a Low German word (compare Middle Dutch pac, pack "bundle," Middle Low German pak, Middle Flemish pac, attested from late 12c.) and taken into English from the wool traders in Flanders; or possibly from Old Norse pakki. All are of unknown origin. Italian pacco is a Dutch loan word; French pacque probably is from Flemish.
Especially a bundle enclosed in a wrapping and bound fast with cords. Meaning "set of persons" (usually of a low character) is from late 14c. and is older than sense of "group of instinctively herding hunting animals" (mid-15c.). Extended to "complete set of playing cards" (1590s), floating ice (1791), bundled cigarettes (1865), and submarines (1943).
Meaning "knapsack on a frame" is attested from 1916. Pack of lies is attested from 1763. Meaning "a person of low character" (usually with naughty) is by 1520s.
"having sufficient power or means," early 14c., from Old French (h)able "capable; fitting, suitable; agile, nimble" (14c.), from Latin habilem, habilis "easily handled, apt," verbal adjective from habere "to hold" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive").
"Easy to be held," hence "fit for a purpose." The silent h- was dropped in English and resisted academic attempts to restore it 16c.-17c. (see H), but some derivatives (such as habiliment, habilitate) acquired it via French. Able seaman, one able to do any sort of work required on a ship, may be the origin of this:
Able-whackets - A popular sea-game with cards, in which the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors. [Smyth, "Sailor's Word-Book," 1867]
early 14c., scope, "utensil for bailing out," from Middle Dutch schope "bucket for bailing water," from West Germanic *skopo (source also of Middle Low German schope "ladle"), from Proto-Germanic *skop-, from PIE *(s)kep- "to cut, to scrape, to hack" (see scabies). Perhaps to English in part from Old French escope, Old North French escoupe. Compare Dutch schop "a spade," related to German Schüppe "a shovel," also "a spade at cards."
The meaning "hand-shovel with a short handle and a deep, hollow receptacle" is from late 15c. The extended sense of "instrument for gouging out a piece" is by 1706. Meaning "action of scooping" is from 1742; that of "amount in a scoop" is from 1832. The colloquial sense of "a big haul," as if in a scoop-net, is by 1893. The journalistic sense of "the securing and publication of exclusive information in advance of a rival" is by 1874, American English, from earlier commercial slang verbal sense of "appropriate so as to exclude competitors" (c. 1850).
late 15c., dews, "the 2 in dice or cards," also "a roll of 2 in dice" (1510s), from Old French deus (Modern French deux), from Latin duos (nominative duo) "two" (from PIE root *dwo- "two"). The spelling -ce from -s to reflect voiceless pronunciation is as in dice, pence, etc.
The word became a mild oath by 1710, about 50 years after it was first attested in the sense of "bad luck, the devil, etc.," perhaps because two was the lowest score, and probably by similarity to Latin deus and related words meaning "god." According to OED, 16c. Low German had der daus! in the same sense, which perhaps influenced the English form.
In tennis, "a stage of the game in which both players or sides have scored 40, and one must score 2 points to win," 1590s. Deuce coupe is 1940s hot-rodder slang for "souped up two-door car," especially a 1932 Ford. Related: Deuced; deucedly.
Middle English pleien, from Old English plegan, plegian "move lightly and quickly, occupy or busy oneself, amuse oneself; engage in active exercise; frolic; engage in children's play; make sport of, mock; perform music," from Proto-West Germanic *plegōjanan "occupy oneself about" (source also of Old Saxon plegan "vouch for, take charge of," Old Frisian plega "tend to," Middle Dutch pleyen "to rejoice, be glad," German pflegen "take care of, cultivate"), which is apparently connected to the root of plight (v.), but the ultimate etymology is uncertain and the phonetic development is difficult to explain.
Meaning "to take part in" a martial or athletic game is from c. 1200. It has been opposed to work (v.) since late 14c. Meaning "perform or act on the stage" (transitive) is by late 14c., as are the senses of "take the role of" and "make a pretense of, make believe" and "act thoughtlessly or wantonly." Sense of "put forward, move, throw, lay on the table, etc." in the course of a game or contest is by 1560s of chess pieces, 1670s of playing cards. Sense of "operate or cause to operate with continuous or repeated action" is from 1590s. Meaning "to cause (a recording) to reproduce what is on it" is by 1903, probably from the "make music" sense. Related: Played; playing.
Many expressions are from the stage, sports and games, or music, and it is not always easy to say which is from which. To play up "emphasize" is from 1909 (perhaps originally "play music more vigorously"); to play down "minimize" is from 1930; to play along "pretend to agree or cooperate" is from 1929. To play fair "be nice" is from mid-15c. To play house as a children's activity is from 1958.
To play for keeps is from 1861, originally of marbles or other children's games with tokens. To play (something) safe is from 1911; to play favorites is attested from 1902. To play second fiddle in the figurative sense is from 1809 ("Gil Blas"). To play into the hands (of someone) "act in such a way as to give the advantage to one's opponent or a third party" is from 1705. For play the _______ card see card (n.1). For play the field see field (n.). To play with oneself "masturbate" is from 1896 (to play with "have sexual intercourse with" is from mid-13c.). Playing-card "one of a pack of cards used for playing games" is from 1540s.
mid-13c., "fit for a king;" late 14c., "pertaining to a king," from Old French roial "royal, regal; splendid, magnificent" (12c., Modern French royal), from Latin regalis "of a king, kingly, royal, regal," from rex (genitive regis) "king," from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule."
Of institutions, "founded under the patronage of a sovereign" (c. 1500). The meaning "splendid, first-rate" is by 1853. The U.S. colloquial use as an emphasizer, "thorough, total" is attested from 1940s. Battle royal (1670s) preserves the French pattern of adjective after noun (as in attorney general); the sense of the adjective here is "on a grand scale" (compare pair-royal "three of a kind in cards or dice," c. 1600). Royal Oak was the name given to the tree in Boscobel in Shropshire after Charles II hid himself in it during flight from the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Sprigs of oak were worn to commemorate his restoration in 1660.
type of betting card game involving a hand of three cards, 1670s, short for lanterloo (1660s), from French lanturelu, originally (1620s) the refrain of a popular comic song; according to French sources the refrain expresses a mocking refusal or an evasive answer and was formed on the older word for a type of song chorus, turelure; apparently a jingling reduplication of loure "bagpipe" (which is perhaps from Latin lura "bag, purse").
From its primary signification — a kind of bagpipe inflated from the mouth — the word 'loure' came to mean an old dance, in slower rhythm than the gigue, generally in 6-4 time. As this was danced to the nasal tones of the 'loure,' the term 'loure' was gradually applied to any passage meant to be played in the style of the old bagpipe airs. ["Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians," London, 1906]
The refrain sometimes is met in English as turra-lurra. In the game, also the name of the pool or kitty of chips deposited by players before seeing their hands, or of the deposit made in it by a player.
1866, "carousal, noisy drinking bout; any merrymaking," represented in England as a typical American English word, perhaps from jam (n.) on pattern of shivaree [Barnhart]. For the second element, Weekley suggests French bourree, a kind of rustic dance. Century Dictionary calls the whole thing "probably arbitrary." Klein thinks the word of Hindu origin (but he credits its introduction into English, mistakenly, to Kipling). Boy Scouts use is from 1920. It is noted earlier as a term in cribbage:
Jamboree signifies the combination of the five highest cards, as, for example, the two Bowers [jacks], Ace, King, and Queen of trumps in one hand, which entitles the holder to count sixteen points. The holder of such a hand, simply announces the fact, as no play is necessary; but should he play the hand as a Jambone, he can count only eight points, whereas he could count sixteen if he played it, or announced it as a Jamboree. ["The American Hoyle," New York, 1864]
Compare jambone "type of hand played by agreement in the card game of euchre."
late Old English curs "a prayer that evil or harm befall one; consignment of a person to an evil fate," of uncertain origin. No similar word exists in Germanic, Romance, or Celtic. Middle English Compendium says probably from Latin cursus "course" (see course (n.)) in the Christian sense "set of daily liturgical prayers" extended to "set of imprecations" as in the sentence of the great curse, "the formula read in churches four times a year, setting forth the various offenses which entailed automatic excommunication of the offender; also, the excommunication so imposed." Connection with cross is unlikely. Another suggested source is Old French curuz "anger."
Meaning "the evil which has been invoked upon one, that which causes severe trouble" is from early 14c. Curses as a histrionic exclamation ("curses upon him/her/it") is by 1680s. The curse in 19c. was the sentence imposed upon Adam and Eve in Genesis iii.16-19. The slang sense "menstruation" is from 1930. Curse of Scotland, the 9 of diamonds in cards, is attested from 1791, but the signification is obscure.
late 14c., pakken, "to put together in a pack, bundle (something) up," from pack (n.), possibly influenced by Anglo-French empaker (late 13c.) and Medieval Latin paccare "pack," both of which are from Germanic (compare Middle Dutch packen).
Meaning "pack compactly, cram or crowd together" is from mid-15c. Sense of "to fill (a container) with things arranged more or less methodically" is from late 15c. Meaning "to go away, leave" is from mid-15c. Meaning "to force or press down or together firmly" (of dirt, snow, etc.) is by 1850.
Some senses suggesting "make secret arrangement, manipulate so as to serve one's purposes" are from an Elizabethan mispronunciation of pact, as in pack the cards (1590s) "arrange the deck so as to give one undue advantage." The sense of "to carry or convey in a pack" (1805) led to the general sense of "to carry in any manner;" hence "to be capable of delivering" (a punch, etc.), attested from 1921, and pack heat "carry a gun," 1940s underworld slang. To pack it up "give up, finish" is by 1942. Related: Packed; packing.