by 1970, of unknown origin; perhaps arbitrary (see cloud nine). Among the guesses that have been made without real evidence: concrete mixer trucks were said to have dispensed in this amount. Or the yard might be the word used in the slang sense of "one hundred dollars." Several similar phrases meaning "everything" arose in the 1940s (whole ball of wax, which is likewise of obscure origin, whole schmear); older examples include whole hog (see hog (n.)) and whole shooting match (1896); whole shebang (1895).
"natural earthen incline bordering a body of water," c. 1200, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse *banki, Old Danish banke "sandbank," from Proto-Germanic *bankon "slope," cognate with *bankiz "shelf" (see bench (n.)). As "rising ground in a sea or rover, shoal," from c. 1600. As "bench for rowers in an ancient galley," 1590s.
There probably was an Old English cognate but it is not attested in surviving documents. The nasalized form likely is a variant of Old Norse bakki "(river) bank, ridge, mound; cloud bank," cognate with Swedish backe, Danish bakke "hill, rising ground."
"cloud of bees or other insects," Old English swearm "swarm, multitude," from Proto-Germanic *swarmaz (source also of Old Saxon, Middle Low German swarm, Danish sværm "a swarm," Swedish svärm, Middle Dutch swerm, Old High German swaram, German Schwarm "swarm;" Old Norse svarmr "tumult"), by Watkins, etc., derived from PIE imitative root *swer- "to buzz, whisper" (see susurration) on notion of humming sound, and thus probably originally of bees. But OED suggests possible connection with base of swerve and ground sense of "agitated, confused, or deflected motion." General sense "large, dense throng" is from early 15c.
c. 1300, manacen, "to threaten, express a hostile intention toward," from Old French menacier "to threaten; urge" (11c.), Anglo-French manasser, from Vulgar Latin *minaciare "to threaten," from minacia "menace, threat" (see menace (n.)). Intransitive sense of "to be threatening, pose a threat of danger or harm" (of abstractions or objects) is from mid-14c. Related: Menaced; menacing.
Threaten is of very general application, in both great and little things: as, to be threatened with a cold; a threatening cloud; to threaten an attack along the whole line. Threaten is used with infinitives, especially of action, but menace is not; as, to threaten to come, to punish. Menace belongs to dignified style and matters of moment. [Century Dictionary]
"one who communicates with another by letters," 1620s, from correspondent (adj.). The newspaper sense "one who sends regular communications in the form of letters from a distant location" is from 1711.
THE life of a newspaper correspondent, as may naturally be supposed, is one of alternate cloud and sunshine—one day basking in an Andalusian balcony, playing a rubber at the club on the off-nights of the Opera, being very musical when the handsome Prima Donna sings, and very light fantastic toeish when the lively Prima Ballerina dances; another day roughing it over the Balkan, amid sleet and snow, or starving at the tail of an ill-conditioned army, and receiving bullets instead of billets-doux. [New Monthly Magazine, vol. xci, 1852, p.284]
Middle English reke "smoke, fumes; steam, vapor," from Old English rec (Anglian), riec (West Saxon), "smoke from burning material," probably from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse reykr, Danish rǿg, Swedish rök "smoke, steam."
These are reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *raukiz (source also of Old Frisian rek, Middle Dutch rooc, Old High German rouh, German Rauch, Icelandic reykr "smoke, steam"), from PIE *reug- "to vomit, belch;" also "smoke, cloud."
The sense of "stench" is attested 1650s via the notion of "that which rises" (compare reek (v.)). Century Dictionary (1891) marks the word "Obsolete, archaic, or Scotch." According to OED, "As the word has chiefly survived in northern use the palatalized form reech is comparatively rare." A c. 1250 document refers to the period March-April as Reke-fille "the misty month."
complicated two-person game played with a 32-card pack, 1640s, from French piquet, picquet (16c.), a name of uncertain origin, as are many card-game names, and it comes trailing the usual cloud of fanciful and absurd speculations. Perhaps it is a diminutive of pic "pick, pickaxe, pique," from the suit of spades, or from the phrase faire pic, a term said to be used in the game. In the game, a pique was a winning of 30 points before one's opponent scored at all in the same hand. But its earlier name in French (16c.) was Cent, from its target score of 100 points. The classic aristocratic two-handed game, and the unofficial national card game of France, it faded after World War I in the face of simpler, more democratic games. Compare kaput.
"of or pertaining to marriage or the wedding ceremony," late 15c., from French nuptial, or directly from Latin nuptialis "pertaining to marriage," from nuptiae "a wedding," from nupta, fem. past participle of nubere "to marry, get married, wed, take as a husband," which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps it is from a PIE root *sneubh- "to marry, wed" (source also of Old Church Slavonic snubiti "to love, woo," Czech snoubiti "to seek in marriage," Slovak zasnubit "to betroth"). De Vaan finds the old theory that the verb nubere is literally "to cover, veil oneself" (as a bride) semantically attractive but unproven (compare Latin obnubere "to veil, cover the head," from nubes "cloud"). Related: Nuptially.
Nuptial number, a number obscurely described at the beginning of the eighth book of the "Republic" of Plato, and said to preside over the generation of men. The number meant may be 864. [Century Dictionary]
Middle English dusie, from Old English dysig "foolish, stupid" (obsolete in the original sense except in dialect from 13c.), from Proto-Germanic *dusijaz (source also of Low German düsig "dizzy," Dutch duizelen "to be dizzy," Old High German dusig "foolish," German Tor "fool," Old English dwæs, Dutch dwaas "foolish"), perhaps from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, vapor, smoke; to rise in a cloud" (and related notions of "defective perception or wits"). Old English used related dyslic to gloss Latin absurdum, which also seems to imply some defect of the senses (see absurd).
The meaning "having a whirling sensation" is from c. 1400; that of "giddy, thoughtless, heedless," is from c. 1500 and seems to merge the two earlier meanings. Used of the "foolish virgins" in early translations of Matthew xxv; used especially of blondes since 1870s. Related: Dizzily.
1530s, "a cover for the face (with openings for the eyes and mouth), a false face," from French masque "covering to hide or guard the face" (16c.), from Italian maschera, from Medieval Latin masca "mask, specter, nightmare," a word of uncertain origin.
It is perhaps from Arabic maskharah "buffoon, mockery," from sakhira "be mocked, ridiculed." Or it may come via Provençal mascarar, Catalan mascarar, Old French mascurer "to black (the face)," which is perhaps from a Germanic source akin to English mesh (q.v.). But it may be a Provençal word originally: Compare Occitan mascara "to blacken, darken," derived from mask- "black," which is held to be from a pre-Indo-European language, and Old Occitan masco "witch," surviving in dialects; in Beziers it means "dark cloud before the rain comes." [See Walther von Wartburg, "Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch: Eine Darstellung galloromanischen sprachschatzes"].
Figurative meaning "anything used or practiced for disguise or concealment" is by 1570s.